On Young Justice, comic books, and the merits of adaptations

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So, I happened to catch an episode of Young Justice the other morning, which is a DC cartoon, in case you were unaware, and it made me realise why I actually enjoy adaptations – movies, TV shows, cartoons – ahead of the actual comic books.

I really like the characters and the concepts from DC and Marvel – the Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, Captain America, Iron Man, Ant-Man and so on and so forth – but I’m not all that sold on comics as a medium. They’re really too expensive, given the fact they don’t tell complete stories, and the time I’d spend reading them doesn’t really justify the price. On top of that, you’ve got a fairly messy continuity, full of retcons and reboots, and a method of storytelling that means you’re never exactly going to see any permanent, long lasting change or growth. Beyond the occasional collected edition, I’ve never really collected comics, and I doubt I ever will.

With the adaptations, though, none of those constraints apply. The characters and concepts can be taken and reimagined, readjusted, and reapplied, all to create a new story. There’s one consistent storyline, and the characters can grow and change and develop throughout.

The MCU movies have never adapted a specific comic in the way you might adapt a book, but there’s clear inspiration and influence from a lot of different storylines, which I think has been to its advantage. The Flash has created its own continuity, it’s own version of different characters, ones we can see in new stories each week. Young Justice did much the same, as have all the cartoons, each one offering something new – taking the entirety of the DC universe, and weaving it together in such a way that you see each character and concept complement each other.

Now, that’s not to say that comics, as a medium, are lesser than the adaptations they spawn; there are things you can do in comics that you couldn’t on TV, and vice versa. You should, of course, always remember where these things originate, after all.

But, personally, I think there are real, definable benefits to the way you can tell stories in the adaptations rather than the comics themselves.

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