The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Am I Finished With Mainstream Comics?

Okay, granted I feel this way at least once a year, but I have never been less interested in the Marvel Universe than I am now. I just cannot find myself caring about what's happening with any of the characters I've grown up with. Right now, Marvel has an event called "Fear Itself" going on. What's happening? I honestly couldn't tell you, because I cannot muster up enough energy to particularly care.

I'm not a DC Comics reader, never really have been. But, if I were, I'd likely be angry about the entire universe being seemingly rebooted. I don't really have a horse in this race, and I've been watching it from afar. I really don't care one way or another, but I empathize with the people who do. And I've heard arguments for and against, and both sides make their point. On the other hand, it now feels less intimidating to go back and read Geoff Johns' "Green Lantern" which I have heard wonderful things about.

But, what it comes down to for me is just how I think character development and storytelling has been sacrificed in order to "maintain characters for future generations." Well, let's be fair, a lot of comic book professionals have been honest and upfront about that. That's the justification we've gotten for the retcon of the Spider-Marriage.

Yes, it's been several years but "One More Day" broke the illusion for me, while I was always aware of the illusion, and had seen through it before, that was the beginning of the end. Nowadays, comics seem to be coming to an end for me. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

I know a lot of people are ecstatic to see Steve Rogers back as Captain America, but I'm not. We've had over sixty years of Steve Rogers as Captain America. Why not let Bucky keep it? That's growth, that's change.

Magneto is one of my favorite characters in all of comics, and it pains me to say this, but maybe Grant Morrison had the right idea to finally try and finish him off. I don't approve of the execution of said idea. But, well, think about how absurd it would be if Hitler came back to menace and ravage the world for the fiftieth time. Magneto and Xavier's days are over, and it is time to pass the baton. It seems like they've been trying to do this lately, but it's only a matter of time before the old status quo is back.

This all hit me recently when I realized that although I am a writer, I do not particularly have any desire to write for mainstream comics. Not when my story could be hijacked by the next event, or knowing that anything I write can easily be hand waved away by the next writer. Maybe this is egotistical of me, but nothing matters in mainstream comics.

I think this is why, after all these years, Greg Weisman's "Gargoyles Universe" still appeals to me. There, change matters and is long lasting. Death isn't a joke. Actions have consequences and there would never be returns to status quos. Actually, that's why creator-driven work appears to me more now in general than the mainstream characters who are now marketing faces. And ironically enough, I wonder if that very thing I love about it was a mark against it, as I've heard it's harder to follow than the others.

I'll admit, I'm not into "Ultimate Spider-Man" and I likely never will be. But a friend of mine explained the appeal to him along similar lines. It's one writer doing what he wants to do, without having his vision interfered with. I may not agree with the elements of that vision, but I definitely see the appeal and can understand it.

I'm not saying I want to give up comics cold turkey. But I find the titles that appeal to me are outside the mainstream. "Kill Shakespeare" for example interests me, and is right up my alley. It's not bound by the same things the mainstream titles are. I guess that's why I still like some of DC's Vertigo titles. I want to read something where actions have consequences.

I'll always love the Marvel superheroes and villains, and universe. But I find myself more excited for the adaptations on television and film than I do the source material. It's not operating on the same constraints, these things won't be running years from now and they know it. They can adapt the best, ignore the worst, and present something new at the same time.

Like I said, I feel this way every now and then, I know it's likely I'll pick up some mainstream comics again some time. But lately, I'm just not feeling it.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, indeed. The allure of indie comics ever increases as DC and Marvel grow stagnant. While I'll more than likely follow a couple of the new titles (Cornell's Stormwatch and Simone's Batgirl peaking my interest for the most part), this reboot just feels like a spit in the face for those wanting to see natural maturation within their heroes.

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  2. http://www.comicsbulletin.com/reviews/114908643164654.htm

    disagree, storytelling isn't being sacrificed,Also constant status quo change doesn't really mean things would get better, if anything it'd risk becoming gimmick though FF is doing fine. Adaptions are streamlined but I doubt consequence of actions is that big a deal it's about strong conclusions on stories. If anything organic status quo is what should be strived, Batman TAS was an adaption, nobody DIED in the show and I didn't except it to, it strung a subtle status quo a subtly changed like a sitcom like Cheers and a status quo change doesn't have to be drastic, for example spiderman could gain a new set of characters but in the end spiderman will still be spiderman

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  3. First off, could you please sign a name to this so I know who I am replying to?

    I love Batman TAS, don't get me wrong. However, if anything, I wish it was more serialized and had evolving characters. What happened to Two-Face's fiance? She and her effect on Harvey were interesting... if that were a Greg Weisman series, she wouldn't have just vanished.

    And I'm sorry, but actions should always have consequences in fiction. Always. Or else, that's not real. Again, to make the Batman to Weisman comparison. Elisa Maza gets shot and nearly dies, she's on crutches in the next episode, and there are still consequences in the episode after that. Jim Gordon gets shot and nearly dies, the next episode he's back on duty and the incident is never mentioned ever again.

    Batman TAS is well done, I like it. But the stand-alone episode, mini-movie format is not a favorite of mine. In fact, I look at the series and think it could have been even better if it were serialized and the characters allowed to grow and evolve.

    "Gargoyles," "Babylon 5," "The Sopranos," "The Spectacular Spider-Man," "Dexter," "Avatar the Last Airbender," "Weeds," hell, even "The Venture Bros" all have their characters growing, evolving and the situations changing. That is real, that makes if feel organic. And as great as "Batman" was, and it's a program I have a lot of love and respect for, I think it could have been even better.

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  4. "Avatar the Last Airbender,is not a great show, it's characters are oh so bland http://www.toonzone.net/news/articles/34005/avatar-the-last-airbender-complete-book-i-bending-backwards. The Spectacular Spider-Man
    was good could've made the green goblin stories work better on there own. Character illumination and story twists is a lot more important than storyarcs. Characters constantly changing is NOT real something like Cheers or Fraiser is more like such as a character like Diane losing contact with cheers for six years now THAT is real,Fraiser only seeing his friends from time to time in his own show, is also real. Continuity is a luxury not the meat. Gargoyles was good but it's lack of ability to illuminate it's status quo for more then a few episodes hinders it, for example I would've liked more expansion on how Xantos was feeling about his upcoming newborn child but the show always has to constantly move on that we can't enjoy the change. Not every show is entitiled to follow the seralized rout nor does every show need to do it the same way.

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  5. Mon, you really should try to write your thoughts out better. Look at that very article you linked; it's very well crafted and clear in its opinions and points. Try something more like that.

    Another problem is that a lot of what you said seems contradictory. How can you claim that characters changing isn't "real"? Are you the same person you were a year ago? And continuity as a luxury - seriously? For a lot of people (comic book fans immediately come to mind), a lack of continuity is one of the first things that destroys the illusion of storytelling. "Illuminating the status quo," as you put it, is exactly what happens in any single episode of a story arc - the thing is, the status quo changes over time, just as it does in the real world.

    You speak as if you want an episodic format, something more like most of Star Trek, and then you talk about wanting to see more about Xanatos's reaction to his impending fatherhood (a legitimate point, though I think you could get all you need to know about his feelings from his actions after Alex's birth). You then say "the show always has to constantly move on that we can't enjoy the change." Moving on IS change. You can't have it both ways.

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  6. A few things for Mon:

    -What difference would seeing the Green Goblin Arc in standalone fare MAKE?

    -And why is it so important to see how Xanatos dealing with his newborn coming? What difference would THAT make in how it effects what happens to Goliath and the rest of the protagonists 1 way or another?

    -Also that Avatar: The Last Airbender article loses credibility the second it called the characters in Teen Titans better characterized.

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  7. I can understand your concerns about comics, Greg, and that the animated adaptations are what I'm more enthusiastic for than, say, DC's relaunch.

    Spec Spidey was a better modernised series of the character and his world than Ultimate. I love them both but Ultimate really doesn't feel like proper Spidey to me most of the time. Brave and the Bold has better versions of characters than either the Silver Age or the modern one. Especially Aquaman.

    However there comes a point where the adaptations don't offer anything new because they're just using the same comic stories. Batman cartoons never go farther than Robin becoming Nightwing, X-Men keep using 90s characters and Claremont stories, and Spidey's only had one cartoon where he's not in college.

    Young Justice is doing new takes on characters, as is Brave and the Bold and Avengers, but that’s because most of them having been animated, or done well, before.

    More obscure characters won't get their own cartoon due to lack of brand recognition. As much as I like Blue Beetle we'll never get a cartoon for him so the only place I can get stories of him is in the comics. Same goes for Batgirl's not named Barbara Gordon.

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  8. nygma619

    If the Green Goblin arcs can't work on there own then the series loses the ability to work on multiply levels like Buffy.

    The Avatar review is still credible even if Maxie mentions Teen Titans. The characters were bland, the serialized format is what saved it. So I guess that serialized storytelling can make ANYTHING compelling

    r-e-a-f

    Ultimate Spiderman doesn't feel proper because of the villains being less personal and the approach to teenagers is different.

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  9. *If the Green Goblin arcs can't work on there own then the series loses the ability to work on multiply levels like Buffy.*

    What the hell does this sentence even mean?

    Mon, I'm not trying to be mean, but I don't understand a word of what you are trying to say. Are you from a foreign country and running your posts through a translator. Because you are not coming through clearly. At all.

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  10. mon, that makes it sound like you want it to be like Buffy. Buffy is it's OWN THING; just like Spectacular Spider-Man's style of storytelling is it's own thing. Just like 24's style of storytelling is it's own thing.

    The thing with Avatar is Maxie is judging based on the 1st book, despite the fact the characters develop a hell of a lot more than the characters in Teen Titans ever did. The characters in Teen Titans were superficial, nice on the surface, but once nothing really significant happens to them, they wear out there welcome, especially when they tell the same stories with the characters over & over again.

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  11. Mon, isn't Buffy a prime example of the kind of ever shifting staus quo you're bemoaning?

    You're babbling, you're not making sense. No one here seems to understand a word you're saying. I recommend this: http://www.hookedonphonics.com/

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  12. Antiyonder here. Not sure if you got my private message on Toon Zone (due to the adjustment to the site), but I just realized I can post here without registering. Rambling done.

    Anyway, I recall you mentioning that you read Tom DeFalco's Spider-Girl when he used Roderick Kingsley/Hobgoblin, but have you considered checking out more of the comics and trades associate with the former MC2 Line?

    It may be a possible future, but it gives us a Marvel Universe which has genuinely grown (as opposed to the illusion of change) and continued to see changes (Several examples are pertaining to Spider-Man):

    1. Peter and MJ remain married (OMD never happening in this continuity).

    2. They get to raise their daughter, and had a son in the later portion of the SG series.

    3. Aunt May's death in TASM #400 wasn't retconned.

    4. And something that you will personally enjoy is that Eddie Brock and Cletus Kasady are dead.

    Plus, in addition to May Parker (the baby of course), several children from the Marvel Universe are all grown up (Franklin Richards, Cassie Lang and Kevin Masterson) even becoming heroes.

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  13. ^Cassie Lang is also grown up in the main continuity. She's part of the Young Avengers. But I definitely agree, if you want an evolving, growing world and characters it's best to stick to independent titles like Mark Waid's Irredeemable, or go with alternate universes like Marvel's MC 2 or Ultimate Universe.

    Though with Ultimate Universe you wanna avoid anything Jeph Loeb got his hands onto.


    Marc Wilson

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  14. I have to say the MC2 is the better one if only because it doesn't have to resort to a lot of shock value deaths and handle it's material with care.

    And while part of The Ultimateverse are enjoyable (Mostly the early Spider-Man), almost every MC2 comic has succeeded in being enjoyable.

    Plus MC2 more or less lets us see what the 616 world would be like if they finally moved on, whereas Ultimate is a completely new continuity.

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