or Why it’s a horrible time for comic books
When I was in high school reading comics wasn’t cool. Being a nerd was like being a leper. But all of a sudden being nerdy is sexy. With comic stuff everywhere, you’d think this was a great time to be a comic nerd. TV shows a plenty. Summer blockbuster movies are made from popular comics. Merchandising is insane. WalMart’s shelves are full of comic book characters and pop culture nostalgia. (See Part 1 of this story to see more of what I mean). So, why am I starting to hate it?
At first I thought, “Maybe I’m being an uptight fanboy, being angry that ALL OF GOTHAM’S POLICE FORCE WENT UNDERGROUND AT THE SAME TIME and that maybe that’s a dumb plan.” or I’m just too rough on the Fantasticar has a HEMI. It’s me. I’m being too uptight. And I finally reached the conclusion, that it definitely wasn’t me. This is all kinds of messed up.
Merchandising is everywhere. I used to have 2 Superman shirts. One was ratty. I wore it around the house. The other stayed as new as I could keep it and I only wore it on special occasions. Then, in a couple of years, when I’d go to Six Flags or some other vacation hotspot I would get a new one. The ratty one would be sadly discarded, and the circle of life would begin anew. I have about 4 Superman shirts right now. And I have 2 Flash, Wolverine, Chewbacca, Deadpool, TMNT…They’re easy to get. Any one can get them. See my point.
TV dramas are running out of ideas. So, they have gleaned comic books for new material. Lois and Clark was Moonlighting with less filtered closeups. Smallville was X-Files meets Dawson’s Creek. No one cared if Clark and Lana got together. It started becoming a little stupid. The Doctor isn’t just on PBS. I love Arrow. I watch it every week. Stephen Amell and Colton Haynes have such enthusiasm for their characters, I would watch it just for them (and have you seen Colton as Arsenal from Entertainment Weekly?)
But really we get about 10 minutes of Arrow in the show and a whole lotta family drama about a bunch of rich people. The only reason I care about who Thea’s real dad is, is because her real dad is Captain Jack.
Image Source: vicariou5.deviantart.com
And the movies, I’m afraid are the worst part. Robert Downey Jr is amazing as Iron Man. When Hulk punched Thor, I laughed. It touched me. Watching Superman fight Zod was pretty cool. Harry Potter killed Voldermort, before his 30th birthday. V was Victorious. But for everything the movies do right, they do something so wrong. The X-Men would never use the Mutant Cure to stop Magneto no matter what he had done. Batman wouldn’t quit because his girlfriend died. His girlfriends die all the time. That’s their part in the story, They find out he’s Batman and they die and he renews his vows on the graves of his parents and his last six girlfriends. Venom. The Fantastic Four movies. Howard the Duck.
The plot of the movies have little character development. They’re only telling a two hour tale, and they aren’t promised a sequel. We lose out on the relationship we’ve built with the characters that we read. We experience their lives. We imagine ourselves there. It’s so easy with just some words to read and pictures. It’s like magic. Everything else can fade, but you know that Hal Jordan is going to pull it off somehow. At the last minute, Tony’s computer system will reboot so he can fire one more blast. And next month, something new happens. They become a part of our lives. Now we’re left with carbon copies that carry traits of characters we love on celluloid. The story is so dumbed down for the masses, it’s barely recognizable sometimes. Studios make choices based on star power, like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The story has to be simplified to fit in a time constraint, like V for Vendetta and Watchmen. Or, it has to match the dark mood of today’s movie goers like Man of Steel, which should have been a bright beacon of hope but only condoned execution.
Even the comics themselves. Now, trying to get new readers, comics are made for anyone to jump in on. Marvel Now gives you a new Number 1 to jump in. You need know nothing to get involved. Don’t worry, if you don’t like this one, we’ll reboot it again in six months. The New 52 tries to keep their comics accessible, but lose out on some character development.
Sure, there’s some winners that have come from Marvel Now and The New 52. Animal Man and Swamp Thing worked. Batman’s great. Thor God of Thunder is amazing. Amazing X-Men has been fun. Iron Man intriguing…But, those are few and far between. And now, anybody can make a comic. Even that weird guy that lives down the street that collects nails from a hardware store in every city he visits, using the nail to hang the picture of the watertower he took in that city. He can write a comic, pay someone to draw it and print it and sell it. A lot of comics have lost their edge.
But I’m hopeful. If there’s anything I’ve learned is that this will pass. Big Bang Theory can’t run forever. Sony will only have the rights to Spider-Man only so many years. People will find a new thing to be cool, and it won’t be us. The real us. The ones that remember that it’s special.