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Sir Winston Churchill

9.30.2005

A Comic Quandary

I'm a comic book geek. I have been since I was old enough to read, and used to schmooze my old man into buying me a nice big stack of back issues at the flea market.

I became disgusted with comics in the 90s, and stopped reading from about 1993 to 2003.

The columnist Captain Comics convinced me to give them another try, and I've been reading for about the past 2 years.

Here's the problem:

98 percent of comics still stink.

They stink badly.

Unimaginative, dark, clicheed, silly, stupid.

It's like nothing has happened since the early 90s.

If anything, trends I hated them have gotten a bit worse now. It was fairly difficult to find lefty political bias in superhero comics in the 90s; now it's overt. I can't even read my favorite character, Captain America, any longer since no matter who writes the book it's now just hate America ranting.

The writing's awful. Godawful. There are too many books and far too many talented writers, and even the ones we have tend to be very long in the tooth. How bad is it? The comic companies have had to recruit writers from TV. From TV! How many well-written television shows can you identify?

Moreover, I used to read comics for the depictions of heroism. Try finding any non-ironic view of heroism on the comics rack today.

I'm to the point now where I'm probably going to drastically cut my pull list and simply go with titles that deliver every month (you can imagine how few those are). Here are my candidates:

1. "Spider-Girl"
2. "Fables"
3. "The Walking Dead"
4. "Powers"
5. "Planetary" (whenever it comes out)

Well, that ought to save some money, I suppose. I honestly can't think of any other books which have consistently high quality.

Que sera, sera.

7 Comments:

Blogger Alex Nunez said...

Is Spider-Girl a Bendis book? I think I heard great things about this title.

I actually think the new Cap is pretty good, and find the current storyline to be entertaining, liberal nonsense moments aside.

I also enjoy The Ultimates, Teen Titans, and Young Avengers. Those are the books my brother-in-law has been feeding me.

My favorite book over the last couple of years, however, was Alias. The former-hero as private detective thing was interesting to me, and I liked seeing other Marvel heroes pass through, but not in the usual heroic ways. I heard Fox is developing Alias (obviously, it would have to be named differently, due to the exceedingly crappy Jennifer Garner show)and the Jessica Jones character for TV. If done properly, it could be fantastic. It could also be an unmitigated disaster. Given that more often than not, Hollywood finds a way to destroy anything good, I fear the latter is the likely outcome if it ever reaches the screen.

Ultimate Spider-Man is fun too, and I got a kick out of the Jim Lee Batman arc a year ago.

I'm with you on the gratuitous left-wing BS that is inserted into superhero books (that Captain America is used this way is a national disgrace), but I try to compartmentalize those aspects away.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Widgett Walls said...

Agreed on Fables and Planetary. Walking Dead is my favorite book, although the "bold new direction" that's coming terrifies me. How many times have the words "bold new direction" turned out to mean "we're going to screw up everything you liked about this title"? But you're right. The DC Universe is dark and stupid. And Marvel, for the most part, is just stupid. Other titles I would suggest to you would be Finder (especially the Talisman TPB), Queen and Country, and Ex Machina. If you dislike the MU Captain America, the Ultimate Captain America is a huge improvement. My Capt. America is indeed a guy who could go hand to hand with the Hulk and in another story would point to the A on his forehead and yell, "Surrender? Do you think this stands for France?" Overall, the industry's dying, sadly.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Widgett Walls said...

Alex: Agreed on Alias. Bendis is a great writer but for a year or so I think he had just overloaded himself. I ditched Ulty Spider-Man after the senseless (and poorly handled) death of a major character (I'm sure you know who I mean). I am, however, enjoying New Avengers (amazingly) and I think Pulse would be good if they would quit hijacking the book for crossovers and stay with the main characters.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Teflon said...

"Spider-Girl" is written by "Two-Fisted" Tom DeFalco, former Marvel Editor-in-Chief. It's quite retro in that it preserves the sense of fun in the old Spider-Man books circa 1970.

I have enjoyed The Ultimates, but with Captain America likely to be the next character in the hopper to be either a traitor or a psycho I think this arc will be my last for this book. I agree that his depiction in the first volume was the best Cap we've seen in many, many years.

Alias was quite excellent, particularly the introduction of a more nuanced Luke Cage, one of my favorite comic book characters, all-time. However, The Pulse has been largely a disappointment---boring, boring, boring.

I've not read Finder yet, although I have read "Queen and Country" (pretty good)and Ex Machina, although I think the latter is unnecessarily political with the gay marriage subplot, particularly when a much more engaging exploration of the hero's guilt over saving one WTC Tower but not the other would seem in order.

As for Bendis, about the only book of his I enjoy now is "Powers". He's gone Marvel fanboy, and listening to him and Joe Quesada gush about their lousy ideas just reminds me how far mainstream comics still have to go.

It's as though these creators were simply strip-mining old plots and repackaging them in lieu of any new ideas.

What longtime fan hasn't noticed this pattern: 9 years of stories which mean nothing, 1 year of a story which means everything and becomes part of the larger mythology surrounding the characters?

Peter David on the Hulk. Walt Simonson on Thor. Claremont and Byrne on X-Men. Lee and Kirby on Fantastic Four. Frank Miller on Daredevil. Marv Wolfman and George Perez on Teen Titans. Geoff Johns on Flash.

The great runs come so infrequently that one must wonder whether it's worth wading through so much garbage to get to a decent storyline.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Nunez said...

Widget, I am only on the first arc of Ult. Spidey, so I haven't gotten to where I'm disappointed yet.

As for Pulse, I read #1 but haven't been back toit. I've been meaning to catch up on it.

As you can probably tell, I'm a more of a casual comic reader at this stage, but I still love the characters.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Nunez said...

Oh yeah, and the Ultimate Captain America is awesome.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Lanz said...

Fables is an amazing comic. taking classic fairytale characters in bold and strange new directions. It's on top of my stack every month.

6:27 PM  

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