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I Used to Love H.E.R.

December 8th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , ,

In the end, 2009 is going to be the year that I stopped caring about superheroes.

As a kid, I loved them. Then I hit my teens and realized how bad they were and quit them. Then I came back to the US after high school, discovered Frank Miller’s Daredevil for the first time, and got back into them in a big way. Gimme everything you got about Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the X-Men. Add in some Flash, too. And now? Now, I’m bored and tired of them.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Dwayne McDuffie was fired off JLA after being hired, hamstrung, and toyed around with. Hiring McDuffie seemed like a no-brainer. He did a stellar job writing and managing an entire DC Universe, one that’s almost universally loved, and there’s no reason to expect that he wouldn’t bring that same magic to the comic series. Except he was hampered right out of the gate, forced to tie in with the wedding of two C-list characters, and then with every other DC event after that, including such unreadable crap as Tangent, Salvation Run, and Countdown. Then they started picking off team members. The most famous characters? Gone. Flash? Gone. Anyone you’d actually expect to see in a book called JLA? Gone. I’d mention Ed Benes’s art, but I think I’ve talked about him enough recently.

And then there’s the bit where DC made a big deal out of bringing Milestone into the DCU, only to flip the script and stick Static into a book that hasn’t been good in three (or more) years, shuffle the characters off into Brave & the Bold, and then step back like “Oh, we only wanted Static, anyway, you keep all them others.” In other words, “This guy made some other people a fat stack of cash, now we want that stack of cash.”

The thing about the JLA, DC, and McDuffie situation is that it is what is wrong with mainstream comics in miniature. It was an eye opener for me. What is important is not the stories, not growth or evolution, but the trademarks. The characters are what matter. As long as Hal Jordan makes a giant boxing glove and is the manliest man ever, as long as Superman has a spit curl, as long as Wonder Woman is in that stupid looking costume, things are okay. What is important is that books with these characters are on the shelves, because if they are on the shelves, they might get noticed, and if they get noticed, we get a movie or money or a game or something.

This year has seen Geoff Johns repeatedly trying to bring childhood nostalgia in line with adult sensibilities and cranking out books that explain why superheroes wear bowties or that feature dudes having sex with corpses. It’s scare quotes edgy, the sort of thing a teenager draws on a binder when he wants to rebel but isn’t sure how. Of course the love army are a bunch of shrill, possessive, needy women who don’t wear clothes. Of course these anger dudes just vomit blood uncontrollably. Doesn’t all this gore and sexiness makes these books grown up, instead of barely adolescent? Look at it, they’re drowning in it.

(Blackest Night is fundamentally stunted from a storytelling, emotional, and craft perspective.)

Brian Bendis and a few other Marvel writers spent a decent chunk of time this year hammering home the childishly binary view of “Villains kill, heroes don’t.” Meanwhile, their top villain was shooting passenger planes out of the sky, having government employees back handtrucks full of gold bars to known mass murderers and antisocial types, ordering assassinations of American and foreign citizens, and stocking the roster of a government agency with criminals who have pretended to reform. But hey, heroes don’t kill. They just kinda sit around and beat people up a little and sleep the sleep of the just. And in the opening pages of Marvel’s Siege, the newest big ticket crossover, Norman Osborn orchestrates the murder of sixty thousand people at a football game. But hey, in Siege #4, Spider-Man will punch him in the jaw, throw him in jail, and feel good about being a hero.

Have you ever seen the cover to Amazing Adult Fantasy #9, the series that eventually gave birth to Spider-Man? It’s a Steve Ditko joint, apparently. It’s got this giant monster with underpants, a helmet, and boots on, and the cover copy says “Ever since the dawn of time, nothing can match ‘THE TERROR of TIM BOO BA!’” Below that, the copy declares “The magazine that respects your intelligence!”

The Avengers books don’t respect your intelligence. It’s another entry in this absurd game of “Can you top this?” where the villains are getting exponentially more vile (Dr. Light goes from goof-off idiot to stone cold rapist to rape addict to a guy who is doing something vile off-screen to a recently murdered young girl’s skull, the villain of Blackest Night literally has sex with dead bodies because he’s ka-razy go coconuts, even though before he just kinda shot laser beams at people, Moonstone suddenly wants to put it on anything with a third leg when before she was just a scheming psychologist-type) and the heroes are… stuck in 1961.

Put plainer: Spider-Man could pull Norman Osborn’s whole head off at this point and it would be much, much better than watching him and his buddies circle jerk about how “heroes don’t kill.” Man up, you child.

Marvel and DC’s books, with a few notable exceptions, are ugly, stupid, cruel train wrecks that are busy trying to recapture past glories. I love Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner’s Power Girl, but for every one of those, you get a Ms. Marvel, a Mighty Avengers, and a JSA. For every New Mutants, you have to wade through Uncanny X-Men, Dark Avengers, and Flash Rebirth.

And I’m bored. I don’t care why Barry Allen wears a bowtie. That is the exact opposite of what I want to see in a comic book called Flash. I don’t want to see a villain who gropes corpses and has all the depth of the worst of a high schooler’s dirty drawings. I don’t want the fifth version of Superman’s origin to be told in ten years because who cares? Who wants to read this?

I’m bored to death. My pull list for singles is Amazing Spider-Man, Criminal: The Sinners, Hellblazer, King City, and Unknown Soldier. Everything else I either cop off the racks or follow in trade because it just isn’t worth picking up monthly.

I was thinking about this post while I was at work and went poking around for something. The last time I felt invested enough to write something positive about a Marvel or DC tights & fights book released this year, outside of linkblogging-related material, was September, when Black Cat returned to Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve made five negative posts about 2009-era superheroes since, and a whole bunch of posts about old superheroes or books from Viz, Boom! Studios, Image, Dark Horse, and other companies.

There are Marvel and DC cape books that I enjoy and purchase regularly. Spider-Man Noir was a great read and well worth the 15 bucks I spent on it. I like Eric Trautmann’s The Shield, Charlie Huston and Lan Medina’s Deathlok, the Fraction/Larocca Invincible Iron Man is aight, Rucka/JHW3 on Detective Comics is okay, Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin is hilariously uneven… but by and large, I’m bored. I’m reading most of these in trades and I’m not reading B&R at all right now because Philip Tan is terrible.

Marvel and DC did a pretty good job of chasing me out of their universes. I didn’t even really notice it happening until it was done. They don’t want my money, and I’m not in their target audience, and I recognize that now. They’ve built a world that doesn’t interest me at all, and I’d be a fool to keep trying to force myself to care and be a part of that. Talking and blogging about it kept me in the world longer than I probably should’ve been, but I’ve finally learned.

So, like Tim and Chad and Geoff and Cheryl, I’m off that and looking for the next one. I’ll catch the good capery when it hits the trade, read books only when it’s clear the company cares as much about it as the creators do (i.e., no Peter David, Greg Land, Ed Benes, Tony Daniel, army of pencillers/inkers, crossover tie-ins, and so on), and keep on reading comics like I been doing.

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69 comments to “I Used to Love H.E.R.”

  1. “Marvel and DC did a pretty good job of chasing me out of their universes. I didn’t even really notice it happening until it was done. They don’t want my money, and I’m not in their target audience, and I recognize that now. They’ve built a world that doesn’t interest me at all, and I’d be a fool to keep trying to force myself to care and be a part of that.”

    EXACTLY what I realized a couple of years ago, exactly exactly.

    They held the door open, just so I could walk out of it.


  2. I wish I didn’t agree with so much of this.


  3. I hear ya, David. I was actually in a similar boat not long ago, but this was from about 2007-2008 (hello there, Countdown to Final Crisis). I agree 100 percent about the insane amount of editorial interference during Dwayne McDuffie’s Justice League of America run. McDuffie deserved as much creative freedom as Meltzer did. Probably even more, since his work on Justice League Unlimited brought DC’s characters to a much wider audience than the comics have in years.

    But you know, this almost makes me glad DC hasn’t used the Milestone characters very often. Dwayne McDuffie still has control over them; if he doesn’t like what DC’s doing with the characters, he could probably yank them away. I’m sure we’ll eventually see more of the Milestone characters in the DCU; until then, there’s Milestone Forever, right? ;)

    As for Blackest Night… you know, if I’d stopped at issue 1, I’d probably agree with your criticisms of the series. But I’ve actually enjoyed the subsequent issues quite a bit. The gore’s become less graphic and the story’s become less about “who becomes a Black Lantern next?” and more about “lesser” heroes stepping up when the A-Listers can’t.

    That said, I agree with you about the Red Lanterns; the whole vomiting blood thing is just excessive. I could also probably do without the Black Hand text pieces at the back of each Blackest Night issue. And I can only hope the Star Sapphires someday decide to create parka constructs to help them cope with the coldness of space. :b

    “I’m not reading B&R at all right now because Philip Tan is terrible.”

    You know, I liked his first issue, but his third one was just a total mess, sadly. Thank goodness Frazier Irving’s taking over for the next story.

    Last but not least, if I can be honest… I really don’t get the fuss over “the secret origin of the bowtie.” Of all the things to zero in on in that series, why get riled up over a minor scene about a fashion accessory? I think the retconned death of Barry’s mom has a lot more to do with the square quotes edgy trend you were talking about, for example.


  4. I still think this has more to do with how long you have been reading superheroes and your age than the quality of the books.

    Many guys who have read these books since childhood, sometimes straight through, sometimes with the usual high school/college break, tend to get this feeling in their mid-late twenties.

    granted it’s some, not all. Those that keep their diet chock full of it are happy with The Brave & The Bold and never develop a tolerance or higher expectations.

    Writing & discussing it on the level you guys do only accelerates it I bet.

    You are going through The Change, the Superhero Menopause.


  5. Why did you list Peter David with Tan, Land, and Benes? I can’t ever remember you mentioning him so I curious as to why he draws your ire.

    Anyway, add me to the seemingly growing list of people disenchanted with superhero comics of over the past. For me, it began with Secret Invasion. Bendis’s New Avengers was one of the comics that got me back into the habit and the fact that all of my excitement and anticipation turned out to be misguided was a real shock since Secret Invasion was the first big event comic I read as well, along with Final Crisis which I did enjoy, thankfully.


  6. For super-heroes I’m down to one DC ongoing (“Secret Six”) and three Marvel (“Nova”, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Avengers:the Initiative” – though thats on the bubble of late and I’m checking out “S.W.O.R.D.”). But I’m grooving on super-hero comics just fine. Because I’ve got “Invincible” and “Savage Dragon” and “Empowered” and “Dynamo5″ and “G-Man” and “ps238″ and “Jersey Gods” and “Umbrella Academy” and “Ex Machina” and “G0dland” and…well plenty more. I’d love to see McDuffie do a capes book for Image or Dark Horse or one the little guys like Dynamite or Boom or whoever…

    Plus of course super-hero books I don’t like that other people praise like “The Boys” or the one Waid does


  7. Waiting for the superhero trades for only the great products has been where I’ve been at for quite some time. No ads, and it forces you to be more selective about the quality. Skip all the dross and get the ones that are essential to YOU. Not some “big epic event,” but because “yeah that story-arc had great reviews over the last year, let’s check that out.” Time does a wonderful job of filtering out the junk and realizing that most superhero stories aren’t that special. It’s the best ones that stand out to be special. (e.g. All-Star Superman.)


  8. addendum: That said, I still follow the stories via columns and reviews. It’s rather vicarious, but I enjoy knowing the overall picture without zooming in to see the brushstrokes. But it means that I skip the lousy stories that one might otherwise feel obligated to read.

    Which means “No sir” to Blackest Night trade paperbacks for me!


  9. “Dr. Light goes from goof-off idiot to stone cold rapist to rape addict to a guy who is doing something vile off-screen to a recently murdered young girl’s skull” hahaha, that’s nuts. DC keep banging their heads against the same wall, too, with no sign of letting up. In literally the first announcement for this “War of the Supermans” thing, they say it’s “building to a destructive conflict which can have no victors”. So:
    1) Goodbye, dramatic tension!
    2) That sounds fun and not at all depressing!

    At least Marvel are pretending that it’s all gonna be sunshine and adventuring from here on out.


  10. Interesting article, I don’t know if it’s just the review sites I look at, but there really doesn’t seem to have been much love for DC for quite a while now. It’s a wonder they don’t lose more readers.

    I don’t read much DCU (only Detective comics and the odd other bat-title), but I did start this year (and the last few years) reading rather a lot of Marvel U titles. This has dwindled to 2 ongoings and a mini. Incredible Herc (now with the welcome addition of Agents of Atlas)and The Captain America story from Brubaker (which is losing me a bit now that it’s needlessly changed it’s title to “reborn” for 5 issues and added a few unneccessary guest stars and an artist who can’t keep a deadline-I mean, really, what’s the point?).


  11. The saddest thing is the image Dwayne McDuffie uses for the link to the “comics” section of his site: Justice League #31.

    http://www.comics.org/issue/590386/cover/4/?style=default


  12. @plok: seconded.


  13. Well said.


  14. it’s all about licensing. these are corporations and they gotta make money, and the best way they know how is to keep the characters in a certain stasis so that the most iconic iteration is preserved for merchandising. stuff can change a little, but a certain de facto status quo will always bubble back up.


  15. Like one of the first few posters said, I really wish most of this didn’t sound like what goes through my head every Wednesday when I’m at the store. At this point, I have an actual list of what issue I’m buying up to until I drop nearly everything I now get.

    I stopped getting Thor with the Giant Size Finale. I’m buying the last two issues of Reborn, simply to see Steve Rogers come back. I decided long ago to finish the first arc of Kick-Ass, which is only one more issue, I can stand it. God willing they finish that Eye of the Camera series and The Twelve some day soon. Ex Machina and The Boys will end sooner or later, and there’s two more gone. Fables is on-going, as of now, and will probably be the only thing I continue to buy. Siege marks my exit from the Marvel Universe, and the ends of Flash Rebirth, Blackest Night, and tie-in issues of Green Lantern do the same for DC.

    First I thought it was a money (or lack thereof) based decision. Then I figured I was simply growing out of the hobby after a mere 27 years, but I still enjoyed all the older stuff I already had or was picking up in trades (Transmet, Moore’s Swamp Thing, Starman, etc.). Looking through the last three years or so of issues… I realized I’ve been buying mostly out of habit. Either quality has disappeared from books I liked or I’m just plain not interested in what’s going on anymore. Meandering Avengers stories, general chaos in DC, X-men doing god knows what anymore with a bunch of characters I’ve never heard of and don’t care about or bringing back every dead character they’ve got without adding anything new.

    Trade-waiting and filling in holes in my collection seem to be where it’s at for the forseeable future. And that makes me sad.


  16. I’m of the opinion that mainstream comics have always been awesome slash terrible, and it’s not so much the comics that are at fault, but rather the exhaustion stems from the extremely long-term commitment to an entertainment medium that has no finite ending. And the medium is simply in a stage in its current form which you find unattractive. Leave, don’t leave. Come back, don’t come back. The more comics stay the same, the more they stay the same. I think we’ve all gone through this.


  17. I just try to think about what exactly I look for out of this art form and it makes me wonder why something like Bendis’s Dark Avengers comes off as being self satisfied, smug, and kind of a chore for me to read while Andy Diggle’s Thunderbolts (ostensibly about the same thing) comes off as totally bad ass when it mostly features characters I know little to nothing about and is set in basically the same government organization run by the same guy that I am getting very, very tired of.

    It’s like I know that there is entertainment to be gleaned from this stuff but I’m encountering the same issues that got me burned out on the WWF a few years ago, in that once I see the cyclical nature of entertainment I find that I have no interest in getting invested in something only to see it all reset later on.


  18. There’s still loads of good stuff out there. Like Vertigo’s output is pretty strong at the moment.

    Do you think some of us have just been overdoing it? Buying so much that our quality control slips and we end up buying everything, then getting sick of everything collectively and throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

    PS I totally forgot about Eye of the Camera. I was buying that!


  19. @Eric Rupe: PAD is a writer who needs a harsher editor, has some odious opinions on the fan/creator relationship, and has completely crap opinions about race relations in the US. You couldn’t pay me to read his garbage.


  20. This is going to be a gross generalization, but I like the quote nonetheless. Superheroes don’t change, they simply maintain the illusion of change. You grow, the books do not. For me, they just became irrelevant.

    “If you don’t like change, you’ll like being irrelevant even less.”


  21. It seems like every comment thread on every comic blog is a contest between who can read the least.


  22. @Gokitalo: Irving is being pushed to the 5th arc.

    3rd arc being done by Cameron Stewart (Seaguy), 4th arc by Andy Clarke (artist of REBELS which is the absolute best big two book that NO ONE is reading, which is a crime since its awesome)


  23. I’ve been going through the same thing as well, which prompted me to complain over and over again about how static things seem to be in superhero comics. I think that’s why early issues of Invincible were intriguing to me – it seemed like anything could happen. Not the case with the big two – things always seem to snap back to the same status quo, nobody ever really dies, the same villians always come back, etc. I wish somebody at Marvel or DC would try something bold and actually let a quality writer move a character forward in a way that completely changes things in a manner that won’t just snap back over time. Let the writers come up with what is basically a new status quo that is different than what has been done before.


  24. There is absolutely nothing about Superman that makes him, as a character, capable of remaining interesting throughout over 50 years of monthly comics, and no writer should have to try to make him interesting again. You know, they do make comics about things other than superheroes.


  25. Nobody ever said this was forever. You either die a fanboy or live long enough to see yourself become the hate-o. All clichés at the ready, Cap’n!

    What I really think is this: Comics is just another relationship. Something that either burns bright for a short time, then dies off fast, or is broken by external forces, or (at best) matures into something deeper and more fulfilling – and crucially, something you don’t have to walk around with your hand on its ass to let everybody know that you’re Really Super Serious About It!

    (Seriously, guys: ew. Ew ew ew. EW.)

    //Oo/\


  26. So to update the 4th Letter status quo:

    Gavok = Marvel guy
    Esther = DC girl
    david = whatever else


  27. @Doop: I spent most of this year writing about everything but superheroes, but thanks for the tip, I guess.

    @Gavok: Maybe indie snob? Manga jerk? Cynic?

    I’m just gonna go with “The Best” 8)


  28. This article struck a cord with me. For the last couple years, I’ve been reducing my mainstream Big-2 intake drastically.

    At first, I thought I was growing out of superheroes, and givng myself a little shit for not being as “FUCK YEAH COMICS!” as I once was. However it’s dawned on me that I still love superheroes as much as I ever have, just in a different way. I have responsibilities, friends and other hobbies. When I read superheroes, I want to read something that I would actually enjoy. I don’t have time for comics that don’t resonate with me. This isn’t bad or good. It just is.

    I still love the characters, and want to read about them. However, I no longer have the patience, interest or time to keep up with a huge, sprawling universe.

    Give me cool one-shots. Neat minis. Animated series and direct-to-DVD features. Movies. New collections of old material. That sort of thing. That’s what I want. Hell, I’ll even read some of the mainstream series, as long as the run in question is tightly plotted and self-contained. The kind of book, like Brubaker’s Captain America where if a another book or obscure character is referenced it makes sense, is useful to the plot, and everything you need to know is well explained.

    This isn’t slagging on the creators who do the stuff I don’t like, or calling people who keep up with the universes manchildren. Fuck that.

    I think I’m done with floppies. Why should I buy short little story bits when I can hop to the secondhand bookstore and buy used and remaindered trades for great prices? Why should I when I have buddies who buy the floppies and have no qualms with lending them to me? Why should I when I can go to the library and borrow whatever they happen to have?

    @Matthew Craig: You’ve got it. Internet Comics People often act as if you’ve got to be either a drooling fanboy or a barking hater snob, which I see as two sides of the same coin. Comics are just another thing.


  29. I wrote this in 1994. Minus the corpse-humping and Harry Osborn takes over the Marvel U part.

    Man, I just read comics. Some of them have superheroes in them. Some of the are gritty crime. Some of them are horror. Some, not enough, are truly inspired fiction.

    But if you’re gonna say goodbye, don’t wave hello at the same time. Cut the cord and don’t stalk on Facebok.


  30. Sorry you feel that way.

    While lots of people fee themselves growing apart from the comics they love, I feel myself more and more drawn to them.

    I got into seriously buying comics (although I had been exposed before) around Infinite Crisis and Civil War. Now I’ve got huge pull lists, and it seems to grow by the month.


  31. @ReiMehari: I don’t think people are growing apart, it’s just that tastes change. Just because I’m not devouring anything that Marvel and DC are putting out doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly come to hate comics. at all.


  32. @Lugh: I didn’t mean to imply that one would hate comics. I was just saying,m I’ve been hearing this a lot, and yet everything that’s going on in comics is having the opposite effect on me.


  33. @ReiMehari: @Lugh: Actually, I’d say that for me, growing apart is fair. What used to work for me doesn’t any more, and I’ve found other things that work better. If I did a top 10 list of comics for this year, I’d be surprised if any of the top 5 had capes. Spider-Man Noir would be up there, but not much else.

    This is a marked difference from a few years ago, when 52, Seven Soldiers, New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, and several others rocked my world.

    I’m different now, and I’m looking for different comics.


  34. I’ve always had a pick and choose approach to comics, in fact I thought everyone did. You just can’t have guaranteed quality when publishers are putting out 60-70 books out every month, as sad as that may be.

    Granted, I have far more relaxed tastes than the denizens of this blogging community, so I’ll generally pick up more books that are merely decent rather than great (Doom Patrol and Supergirl quickly spring to mind).But, yeah, I mean how are you supposed to publish like 15 X-Men books and guarantee that they’re all good?


  35. @Debaser: I’m with you.

    @david brothers: Yeah, I understand. It’s just that some people are probably coming away from your posts with a “What! He HATES superheroes now! He’s one of THEM!?” attitude and it’s like, why does everything have to be so black and white, so combative? Just because you don’t like superhero comics as much as you used to doesn’t mean you hate them.


  36. I still love superheroes, I find myself enjoying corporate comics much less. There’s something frustrating about knowing that [X] character or [Y] title is being killed, cancelled, or otherwise abused due to editorial fiat, creator bias, etc.

    Nowadays, I much prefer reading a comic produced through the vision and effort of a single creative team. I still read corporate comics, but I read less every week, with more creator-owned books taking their place.


  37. @Gavok: but aren;t you the only one who reads Johns.

    doesn’t really fit by company, go by genre.


  38. if anything it would make more sense (to me at least) to say mainstream, casualish, intellectual (or something)


  39. Is Captain America being used to recruit? Periodically I see one-shots whose sole purpose seems to be patriotism. I don’t see anything wrong with being proud of one’s country, and for an immigrant like me it helps me understand what it is to be an American.

    I find I buy issues 1&2 and then stop. I think this is because the initial issues fail to keep my interest. I list Viontage Avengers, X-Men and the Cap among my faves though.


  40. @Nathan: Thanks, I forgot Camerone Stewart’s up next. Which is fine by me; I loved his art on Catwoman and Seaguy, and Andy Clarke’s no slouch either. And as a matter of fact, I actually did get the last two R.E.B.E.L.S. ;)


  41. @Richie: Cap’s been in a few (pretty good) one shots by Paul Jenkins, usually based around military service and sometimes based on true stories. I’ve enjoyed those overall, I think.


  42. @Lugh: I didn’t read this as David hating superhero comics, just growing apart from them, like friends of mine who feel the same way.

    Sorry if I sounded another way!


  43. Wow, I just recently dumped almost every Marvel book I read, for very similar reasons. (that and I’d rather have one awesome Deadpool book instead of three mediocre book). IIRC I am only reading Cable, PunisherMAX, Astonishing X-Men, and X-Factor. As much as I love Bendis’ writing, Avengers comics are too plentiful and expensive. I also dumped UltMarvel after Jeph Loeb ruined it in Ultimatum and just the fact that it was getting to be just another version of the same old thing. Saving lots of money for more better stuff from Viz!!


  44. I’ve been reading comics for most of my life. Technically I’ve had superhero comics around me since before I could read (hello UK hardback Spiderman and Superman annuals).

    I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the idea of Superheroes, and I’ll always keep one eye on what’s happening in the DCU and Marvel U. That said, my current pull-list is basically:

    The Boys
    Secret Six
    Irredeemable
    Anything by Grant Morrison
    Astonishing X-Men (and this one’s on the bubble)

    I appreciate what Marvel tried to do with the whole Dissasembled to Dark Reign ‘saga’, but the way it’s played out has basically sucked most of the joy, fun and escapism out of the world. I wouldn’t want to live in the Marvel U now. By next door neighbour could be a Skrull infiltrator, and one of the most influential men in the US military is a psychotic murderer.


  45. @John Foley: Haha, that’s so true!

    @wetsprocket: Viz? http://www.viz.co.uk/newstrip.html#


  46. Well said, David.

    Felt this way since the Image boom

    Darwyn


  47. [...] …and David Brothers: Have you ever seen the cover to Amazing Adult Fantasy #9, the series that eventually gave birth to Spider-Man? It’s a Steve Ditko joint, apparently. It’s got this giant monster with underpants, a helmet, and boots on, and the cover copy says “Ever since the dawn of time, nothing can match ‘THE TERROR of TIM BOO BA!’” Below that, the copy declares “The magazine that respects your intelligence!” [...]


  48. [...] can relate to 4thLetter!’s David Brothers when he talks about losing interest in super-heroes, or at least in Marvel and DC. I’ve been primarily a DC fan since the early 1980s, but [...]


  49. @david brothers: gotta say this statement really got me thinking.

    People don’t like to think about it, but pretty much ALL manga that gets translated in the US is mainstream, that’s why they get brought stateside. To count as indy a manga really has to be published by a company other than Shueisha, Square Enix, Kodansha or Shogakukan, which is pretty much everyone.


  50. My budget since I started reading comics has been roughly three ongoings and a trade every two months. And despite my opinion on the industry, the company, or the fictional universes, there has always been, and continues to be enough very good books to fit my budget for me to keep following.

    I don’t CARE about the wider “in-universe” effects of stories or status quo, when I read a book, I want the whole story to be in that book, so I can finish the arc, and that could be that if I didn’t want to read the next trade.

    And books I don’t like? I ignore them, I don’t buy them.

    The stuff I read now is just as good as the stuff I read in the past to meet my limited demand.


  51. Has anyone ever seen a reviewer or blogger make an analytical, reasoned case for Bendis’s various “Avengers” stories constituting good writing? Whenever I see someone praise or compliment a story, he overlooks fairly obvious problems, ranging from faulty premises to flagrant mischaracterization to scientific illiteracy (Challenge: Name one “Avengers” storyline in which he’s handled a technical topic correctly) to a poor vocabulary (using words incorrectly).

    SRS


  52. @valhallan no, Viz Media in San Fransisco lol

    re: Peter David I still some of his stuff but I admit I was a bigger fan of his ’90s Marvel stuff, especially Spidey 2099.


  53. “Marvel and DC did a pretty good job of chasing me out of their universes. I didn’t even really notice it happening until it was done. They don’t want my money, and I’m not in their target audience, and I recognize that now.”

    Yeah. That sums it up pretty well.

    I’ve been reading comics pretty much every week of my life for nigh on 40 years – and up until recently, I never balked at prices going up or have come close to writing off the industry as being on its last legs – not like I do now.

    I still keep up on current events – but through d/l, read & delete – because dropping $4-$5 per issue on habit and/or sub-standard crap has FAR more of an economic bite to it these days. Comics have always been a fairly cheap form of entertainment compared with other venues – but that no longer being the case, it’s difficult to justify dropping (for arguments sake) $5 on an Annual written & drawn by someone other than the regular writer/artist team versus $2 for a DVD rental.

    Marvel is faring a little better than DC – but not by much. Bendis’ work on AVENGERS excels more on his characterization & dialog than on the actual “events” themselves – which are far too drawn-out & plodding to sustain interest month after month after month. DC, on the other hand, is now totally beyond the pale. Between the Revolving Door of Death, the constant tinkering with the Multiverse & major storylines that fall flat on their face at the end (even Morrison’s doing this now – Batman RIP & Final Crisis both seriously failed to live up to expectations) I no longer buy DC titles at all any more – something I have not done since before Alan Moore started writing SWAMP THING.

    A big problem with DC is that they’re giving Geoff Johns the keys to the kingdom in the hopes that he’ll be the next Steve Englehart – taking previous continuity & spinning something wonderful from it – and that’s not happening. In fact, let’s not waste words here: The DC Universe is BORING. Everything is a BIG FUCKING DEAL these days and as a result, NOTHING is a big fucking deal.

    I hate to say this, but the best two DC comics I’ve read this year are two issues of THE BRAVE & THE BOLD: The first by John Rozum where he was allowed to bring back his excellent XOMBI character from Milestone. The second by JMS with BATMAN & ROBBY REED – a single issue, self-contained story that was far more enjoyable & professional in its execution than anything cranked out by committee.


  54. @MHF

    JMS’ run on Brave and the Bold is a trainwreck.


  55. @Debaser: So the dude needs to be clapped in irons and dragged before the Comics Committee for enjoying a single issue that has nothing to do with the main reason it’s a trainwreck?


  56. I only bought one issue of B&B, it had Hardware and that new Blue Beetle kid in it. It was quite fun.


  57. I too feel chased out. I thought maybe its just me but they are systimatically chasing me out of every pocket of the universe.

    Loved Morrisons X-Men. Didn’t like Whedon’s much yellow costumes again really? (even though Im a huge fan of his in general) so that stopped my forays into the x-titles besides wolverine.

    Got bought a Sub to X-force and thought it was awsome. But when the sub ran out during the Messiah x-over I didnt wanto to have to buy cable issues too. Then I heard there was another crossover coming and decided I couldnt justify resubbing.

    Necrosha irritates me for the simple reason that the dead mutants were supposed to be depowered too. I hate resurections in general and the fact that they were either going to be used as fodder or kept around didnt sit well with me either way. That sealed the deal for me on all x-books.

    I like Deadpool but 3 series and minis and one shots are too much. I would have bought maybe two but with three its prompted me to only buy the one. Now with Hitman monkey on the way (ughh) and tie in with Brand New Spider-boy im out I think.

    I loved wolverine and am probably one of few who really love Origins I like that way is sealing his past so it can move into the future, something which seems really opposite to what they are doing with the rest of the MU (Im sick of all wolverine stories stemming from some memory popping up or past tradergy “coming back to haunt him) However with Weapon X retreading the past and just seeming pointless in general, as well as the obsecen amounts of really low quality one shots, his forced and unnecesary appearence in the x-books, which is inexcusable given the huge cast of characters. Im out.

    The Avengers suffer because of the “dont kill, sit around while your enemies murder on mass” thing, even as the last resort to read about spider-man is now gone. And the very ending of SI had so many plot holes.

    I LOVE Venom but the symbiote has none of the depth it used to have. Gone from mute and lonely creature to generic slavering alien, I try to make rationalisations and fanon no-prizey explanations like “it absorbed its evil clone and gone mad from rejections” etc etc but Gavok himself (IIRC) called me up for being a dick on his We care a lot thing. So im loosing interest in DA.

    Spider-Man is obvious, OMD/BND and corny forced psudeo youthfull dialogue (“served” and internet abreviations coming form a near 40 y/o once married man ugh)

    Cap was amazing untill they bought Steve back when bucky was doing fine, having planned it all along it makes me thing “The death of” was nothing but a lie/false advertising along with the fact resurections are almost always stupid.

    Loved Planet and World War Hulk. But rulk? ugh. Huge hulk family in like one year. Ugh.

    MA was good but the Hank Pym elevation is just too irritating to continue, He conceed once Parker was smarter then him and now he is scientist supreme? WTF

    FF suffers for the same reason, look up “Reed richards is useless” on TV tropes.

    And then there was one (Incredible Hercules)

    I have probably spent thousands of GB pounds (its more expensive over here to collect) And I feel spent in every sense of the word. And kind of cheated. Its only sad because comics are the best medium ever, and the marvel characters have massive potential but we get crap like Marvel Divas and Rulk instead of Civil War now.


  58. Jesus, sorry for rambling so much, I guess its just a testament to the relavence and relatability (is that a word) of your post, Nice one.


  59. @Toby S: Totally agree with you on Cap and Herc, but totally disagree about Wolverine. Now, if you’re to take the Way stories as the definitive it reduces future story telling too much and links everything to one crap sounding villain.


  60. [...] their complete and utter dissatisfaction with not just DC, but superhero comics in general. David Brothers has declared 2009 as "the year that I stopped caring about superheroes." Cheryl Lynn announced that [...]


  61. I’ve seen numerous complaints about gore in Blackest Night, but as a person who hates that kind of stuff and has never and will never watch any sort of slasher movie I just don’t see it.


  62. @Valhallahan:

    I would conceed maybe he has killed off too many villians and that will be tough in the future but bearing in mind that Tooth was killed, and Romulous was created by Jeph “I ruin everything I touch” Loeb. Im willing to give it benefit of the doubt untill the end of the series. Lets see where Daken and James end up after the finale in issue 50.

    I agree with the previously stated by marvel “we have to tell his origin because the movies would only do it worse anyway if we didnt”. rather Way then Loeb or someone else too hacky.


  63. I’ve really been enjoying this site since I found it…and I realize, of course, these are your opinions and if you don’t like something, by god, you shouldn’t have to.

    But it really, really honestly seems like you’re trying too hard to NOT enjoy Marvel and DC books, to where even if there were hidden gems amongst what you don’t like, you’d miss them completely due to what appears to be a VERY negative outlook.

    Yes, super-villains have become more “adult/mature” (their labels not mine) in practice, but I believe that’s because the majority of fans need to see their villains as real, horrible threats; if they keep seeing Dr. Doom go through about a hundred different convoluted loop-holes, nefarious schemes, etc. all in the name of harming “The Cursed Richards!” when they KNOW a man with Doom’s resources would probably be a bit better at causing mayhem, it gets old and to an extent, insults their intelligence. I can understand a fan’s need for a real villain, because when I as a 29-year-old man think of “villain” I think murder, rape, and mass destruction. Are these required? No. But again, when dealing with Doom and like-minded characters, I expect something serious on the line…Not a time-travel/bank heist caper where the only thing on the line is POSSIBLY the hero’s life, but again, if the villains aren’t portrayed as real, serious threats that live-up to their potential, you’re never going to buy that the hero is in danger.

    Black Hand, to put it bluntly, was a nobody/nothing and now he’s the focal villain in DC’s largest cross-over/event since “Infinity Crisis”, and I say that only because it has helped the company beat Marvel in sales, finally, after a few decades. He may be over-the-top eeeeeevil now and sex-up some corpses, but now when fans think about him it will be as a threat to their heroes, not a Z-List creep with a ray-gun; and there are PLENTY of Z-Listers to keep that space occupied while a few of their former brothers get a step into the spotlight. Was it needed? Was the Sue Dibney rape-retcon needed? Of course not, but it got people talking, interested, and most importantly buying comic books. Want to know what “I.D. Crisis” would have been without it? A whole lot of nothing with the worst reveal-payoff I can remember. It was a nasty thing to do to an established character with really no bad in her life to speak of, but that’s just the thing…now a former vanilla character has some tragedy and substance, something to build upon, rather than just being the forgotten wife of Elongated Man. I’m not saying it was a good thing to have Dr. Light rape Sue…not at all. But when I very first read the book, barely knowing who Light and Sue were beforehand, I can tell you I understood Arthur Light was a horrible person, a true villain that I wanted to see put to bed, and I felt true sorrow for Sue and cared about her as if she was a flesh-and-blood person. And all I had ever read or seen from the characters previous were random, scattered appearances throughout the last couple decades. I was now emotionally invested in them and the book, and I was rooting for Hawkman to bash Doc’s face in but GOOD. The story as a whole worked in the sense that even though the ending SUCKED, I was now a bigger fan of several DC characters whom I had about zero relationship with before. I cared because the villains were evil in ways I as an adult understand bad-guys should be portrayed, and the heroes weren’t faceless boyscouts, they were split by one side wanting direct, brutal vengeance, while the other side wanted justice. It was a clear direction and one I could get behind, both understanding Elongated Man and his team’s need for revenge, and Batman & Co.’s desire to see the villains brought to jail and stand trial; both in their own ways were justified and could be related to, while at the same time arguments could be made.

    And now to the Super-HERO side of things…this is an argument I get into a lot with friends. Yes, it can be frustrating when Spidey has Osborn by the throat and just punches him dramatically after a dueling, dramatic speech, rather than just telling him to go screw and rip his head off his shoulders. However, if Spider-Man did anything like that, it would destroy the character, and I think you know that. “Man up”? That has nothing to do with manning-up. The character has been portrayed/defined as through-and-through the ultimate everyman, flawed hero who at his core just wants to do the right thing and see everyone he cares about happy, and as an everyman myself, I think about being put in a position where I had the chance to justifiably kill the man who has terrorized me, my family, and murdered my girlfriend and is now unleashing his terror on the entire world, well…I just don’t know. I’ve tried to mentally put myself in that position, and would I be able to kill him? Would it be that simple? No, of course not, and I think fans appreciate that about Spidey. Pulling that trigger isn’t “manning-up”, it’s saying that Peter Parker has given-up all hope on his country’s justice system, all hope that the right thing will prevail, and basically proving JJJ right when he says Spider-Man is a reckless vigilante; this would be a Peter Parker that could NEVER again quote Uncle Ben’s responsibility speech, because the Norman/Peter relationship shows perfectly both sides of that coin: Osborn has great power and is totally irresponsible with it, while Spider-Man has his own great power and does all he can to do the right thing with it. Killing, in any sense of the word and definition, is NOT the right thing. There are plenty of righteous heroes to get that job done, but as a long-time Spidey fan, it would really kill me to see him cross that line when seeing him beat the ever-loving crap out of Norman in epic fashion would be wonderful, if not cliche, but these moments have helped keep Superhero books alive for almost a hundred years…at their core, they should be about great heroes and horrible villains, and in today’s world, random robot attacks and kidnappings and bank robberies aren’t always going to cut it. Sometimes we need to see comic bad guys doing REAL bad guy things, to remind us that yes…they are bad. Yes, if they aren’t stopped, they will do unspeakable things.

    So on that front, I cannot understand for the life of me why a hardcore DC fan, or even a casual DC fan, couldn’t get at least a LITTLE kick out of “Blackest Night”, unless you hate or are tired of the zombie genre, which I can understand. But on a Heroes vs Villains perspective? C’mon, it’s the most evil force in the universe totally mind-screwing the population by making twisted, sinister zombie versions of their deceased loved ones as well as villains they thought were put to rest. It is, for my money (and apparently a bunch of others) the best mash-up of the Superhero and Horror themes in a very long time. Not saying you have to love it because everyone else does, but I’m having problems understanding your issues with gore in a book about zombies. I think you’re trying too hard to NOT be entertained

    And really, I’m getting tired of seeing the comparison between how these characters are designed to that of a rebellious teenager’s notebook drawings. I’ve seen in repeatedly on many, many blogs and websites, and it’s old. You want Marvel and DC to alienate their TARGET AUDIENCE?! Really? Because it was my understanding the rebellious, confused teenagers that need an outlet are rather PERFECT for mainstream Superhero books, and what do you know, that’s who buys the damn things and keeps the industry alive. If the Star Sapphires covered head-to-toe in robes, if the Red Lanterns didn’t vomit blood and therefore didn’t stand-out in some unique way, would they capture a new fan’s imagination? Would they draw them visually (which is key) to the book, allowing them to peruse, buy, and hopefully become invested in them? Maybe, but the numbers would most likely reduce in mass quantities, and while now those characters would be seen and portrayed “As they should/would be if they existed in real life”, now they’re unattractive on the surface and nobody outside of the people who would ALREADY buy the books don’t give a damn. If you honestly wish to see the industry dry-up and never bring new readers in, then by all means, petition the banning of sexy costumes and blood-vomit and whatever else “rebellious notebook drawings” you have issue with.

    There are a dozen-bazillion different comic books out there, many dedicated to the same character, much like the All-Ages line at Marvel. Those books are fun, written smartly and creatively and not at all dumbed-down for the kids, but are also not mired in continuity and without the nasty violence, gore, and outright seriousness of the main stuff. These are new comics being written in the classic style, and they’re perfect for people not satisfied with what’s going on in the MU-proper, and I’ve been hearing good stuff about DC’s All-Ages stuff too. Perhaps give those a shot if you haven’t already. By all means, take a break from the mainstream if it’s bothering you that much, but at least understand why they’re doing what they’re doing: CHA-CHING. They try new things, and when they work, why the hell would they quit? “Blackest Night” might suck from a hardcore fan’s perspective, but THEY BEAT MARVEL. You think DC’s going to listen to a select group of people who were disgusted by corpse-screwing, or to the thousands of people that bought and continue to buy the book and obviously enjoy the hell out of it? Demand, meet supply. And on a personal front, I’m sure DiDio did cartwheels when those numbers came out before he fell to worship at Geoff Johns’ feet, thanking him for allowing the moment where, finally, DC could flip the bird back at Marvel.

    We’re all going to pass-on someday, but hopefully Marvel and DC will be around long, long after we’re dust, and to make that happen new readers must be formed. If the new generation needs zombies, Dark Avengers, and blood-vomit to hold their interest, by god more power to them. Because if those books and concepts didn’t exist, all those lovely little books like “Incredible Herc” and “Guardians Of The Galaxy” would have been canceled long ago, because without mainstream-level money and sales, how can they justify keeping around the ones that do a fifth of those numbers? Exactly…they can’t.

    All of us get passed-by the mainstream eventually, where it gets to the point that everything new is strange and confusing, and maybe you’re going through the comic book version of that. The adjustments are too jarring, the characters aren’t how you’re used to (“When I was your age…”, etc.), and you don’t get how those damn kids can like this stuff. I get it. But while YOU are bored of the mainstream, you should thank the many, many people who aren’t. Because if and when the time comes where your ideal matches what’s popular again, the only reason that time even had the chance to come was because, at one point in history, blood-vomit was all the rage. Get it?

    Thanks for reading my horribly-long rant. I hope you find more joy in your comics someday, but whatever the case, good luck to you sir. Later!


  64. …To clarify since I was a moron and didn’t state it outright, this was NOT just targeting David. This was directed at all of you with these issues with Marvel and DC, and I realize David said he understood the mainstream passed him by. I guess my ranting was more of my own statement/outlook rather than a true argument, if not an outright plea to UNDERSTAND the changes and why they’re needed if you can’t accept them. Thanks again…


  65. The only thing I have a problem with is that you think they should Kill Osborn. It’s lame to me, why because he died already. We all know that doesn’t work. It doesn’t work when Spider-man is talking to the other Avengers and it comes up. Its a one panel answer. Been there, done that.


  66. I’m sure all the civilians Osborn has murdered whether through direct action or his incompetence as head of HAMMER feels better that Spider-Man won’t kill him.

    I think deep in his heart, Bendis thinks American deserve an Osborn to slaughter us willy nilly. Like Ellis, he thinks that’s the only way we’ll learn.


  67. I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head, David. Although I don’t think I personally will ever be able to really give up on superheroes, this trend of the big two trying to have their cake and eat it too is really frustrating. Trying to cater to the middle-aged fanboys by appealing to Silver Age nostalgia by bringing characters or concepts from that time back while at the same time trying to show how “mature” comics can be by turning the villains into completely immoral, violent, sexually deviant psychopaths rings extremely hollow.

    It’s just jarring and frustrating knowing that people like Osborn can commit atrocity after atrocity because writers can’t think of any way to show how a person can evil beyond cheap, schlocky shock value yet you know they’ll get away with a proverbial slap on the wrist. I get that occasionally you’ll have to show the villain “crossing the line” but when it happens month in and month out it winds up losing any sort of impact and just comes off as dopey as the ’90s attempts to show how mature they are.

    It’s why I can’t get into Blackest Night and it’s why Identity Crisis is one of the worst books I’ve ever read (and a book I blame for jumpstarting this current trend in comics in the latter half of the decade).

    With all that said, there are still books like Doom Patrol, New Mutants, ASM and Nomad which will keep me into the superhero genre. New Mutants especially has done a good job of portraying the antagonists as threats in ways that don’t rely on needless shock value to get over that Legion or resurrected/mind-controlled Doug are bad news while at the same time showing the team is able to deal with them in a fine line between the more optimistic Silver Age style and kill-happy ’90s style. It’s able to come off as a more logical modern take on the traditional superhero style as opposed to just mashing conflicting styles together like, say, Flash Rebirth does.

    And really, how can I disagree with any post using a Resurrection song title? :)


  68. [...] Nevett (“I think people are just tired… I can’t really defend things.“), David Brothers (“I’m bored to death”), Dr. Geoff Klock(“It’s diminishing returns… [...]


  69. [...] Nevett (“I think people are just tired… I can’t really defend things.“), David Brothers (“I’m bored to death”), Dr. Geoff Klock(“It’s diminishing returns… [...]