Before I jump into this month’s rant, let me start by apologizing to Ian, Jose, and my fellow members of the IMJ Nation™. This was not how I expected to start 2013. From nursing a back injury, to an email hack, to the major snowstorm weathercasters inexplicably dubbed with the harmless sounding name Nemo– it’s been a helluva year already. Those are just the highlights I’m willing to share without continually typing the word “redacted”. Setbacks finally put aside, I have awoken from an alcohol induced stupor to say this: Mainstream American Superhero Comics never fail… To disappoint.
I’ve finally finished digesting what’s come from the Big Two (DC & Marvel) in the last few months… And I’ve begun to look at their future 2013 offerings– and all I can see is more mediocre rehashes of a rehash of a rehash that are not only diluting the original concepts of their Universes, but turning them to shit. How many times can a publisher go back to the well and offer an “Earth-Shattering” reboot… Or retcon parts of a beloved character’s backstory? It doesn’t matter how it’s done– softly or stealthily– both rebooting and retconning have gotten so out of hand (and unbelievably constrictive), many creators have caught a glimpse of their future and started running away from their Corporate Overlords as fast as they can.
And I’m not talking about those people who jumped from DC’s New 52 to join Marvel’s NOW initiative– or vice versa. That’s just normal creator musical chairs… And those idiots did nothing but shoot themselves in the feet by switching out one editorial mandate for another. No, I’m talking about talented comic book creators like Grant Morrison and Ed Brubaker— who’ve seen what’s happening at their respective publishers, taken a good look around the industry… And decided to make a go of it on their own.
The best example of this welcome phenomenon has to be Greg Rucka, who got burned out by DC Editorial– left to write the Punisher comic for Marvel, then abandoned that title when Editorial shoved the Punisher into Marvel NOW’s Thunderbolts… And now says he will not write for either publisher for the forseeable future– possibly forever. (There goes my dream of Rucka and J.H. Williams III reteaming on Batwoman.) Rucka’s parting comments on the Big Two– how editorial decisions are now based on “grotesque Hollywoodisation”– are unfortunately true. It’s a sad ramification of working for publishers that are subsidiaries of multibillion dollar Film/TV conglomerates.
So that’s what the major players have devolved into. Instead of true creativity and ingenuity, comic book fans are left with half-wit hacks and editors trying to sell them on lame ideas. Case in point: Superior Spider-Man. I know everyone with an internet connection has talked ad nauseam about this comic… With most of them willing to see where writer Dan Slott goes with this idea. I don’t need to. I know exactly where Slott’s going with Superior Spider-Man– NOWHERE!
That’s the short answer, at least.
It’s more than likely Doctor Octopus’ arrogance will get the best of him and ultimately lead to his downfall… And we’ll have good ol’ Petey Parker back in his body just in time for the currently filming Amazing Spider-Man 2’s release date. Slott isn’t much for subtext or subtle storytelling. Hell, he isn’t much for subplots either… So he’s the perfect mook to serve as a placeholder until the movie arrives.
Think about it, if you haven’t already jumped on this useless, derivative crazy train– I just saved you a shit-ton of time and money. Superior Spider-Man is filler, a way of taking Peter Parker/Spider-Man off the table without REALLY taking Peter Parker/Spider-Man out of the equation. So when they do bring the genuine hero back, his reappearance will drive sales up… What? 3% for the quarter? We’ve seen the core of this story before in Spidey’s own comic and, quite frankly, is was way better. The plot of, “I must assume the identify of my foe as a last-ditch effort to show I’m better than him!” was called Kraven’s Last Hunt.
The current “creative” direction for Spider-Man is not original enough for me– and it’s laughable reading other comic sites advocating the greatness of Peter Parker’s body being invaded by the consciousness of a pervy, overweight forty-year old. I wonder if this a reflection on the writer or the readership? Is this really what Marvel wants one of their marquee titles to be? The silly conceit doesn’t move the character forward… And is only going to hurt Spider-Man in the long run– much like the Clone Saga once did. Plus, how is this idea new reader friendly? (Isn’t that what Marvel NOW is all about?… To entice consumers who saw the most recent movie or animated television show into reading the source material?)
Superior Spider-Man is not the new beginning for Spider-Man it should have been. The comic reads more like a final story arc that will inevitably lead to another reboot– where the next creative team will be left holding the bag desperately trying to fix the previous creators’ missteps.
But it’s not just Superior Spider-Man. I could have just as easily used the latest Captain America comic as an example of the Big Two’s creative decline. Maybe I should, since I couldn’t get past the the first four pages of Rick Remender’s Captain America #1 before I threw that piece of shit in the trash.
I HATED his retcon of Steve Rogers’ youth. It’s so disheartening– but it’s also the perfect example for me (as a fan) being sold on an idea and then buying/reading a shit story. I was attracted to the pulp/sci-fi/adventure aspects of the tale– all things I’ve enjoyed from the writer in the past. (Remender’s Fear Agent Library Edition Vol 1 made my year-end comic graphic novel Top Ten Gift List.)
And I was totally on board with a change of pace for Captain America… As I thought I was getting John Carter of Mars– just with Steve Rogers instead.
But what I received for my time, trouble and money was something completely different. I got a wife-beating deadbeat father, bad dialogue and the use of bullshit Bendis Logic™ to get Cap to Arnim Zola’s Dimension Z. Garbage– almost every single panel of it. (Or just another Marvel title I’m assiduously avoiding for the time being.)
If you want to read a good tale of Rogers’ early life– with a great balance between art and story– then buy the one-and-done book that inspired the look of the first Captain America movie, Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera’s Mythos: Captain America. Otherwise, I look forward to Jason Latour eventually taking over Cap’s Marvel NOW comic, as his characterization of Rogers in A+X #4 was nicely done.
The only Marvel title I’m currently reading is Daredevil. I’m considering picking up Hawkeye, but then again– it’s about Hawkeye. I’m trade-waiting other titles like Winter Soldier and Venom. See Trolls? There are some Marvel titles I actually do like.
There’s nothing I dislike more in modern comics than story decompression… And there’s nothing more uninteresting to me than “event” crossovers. Brian Michael Bendis is a true “master” of both. (Faint praise, I know.) Someone who’s quickly earning his black belt in these miserable techniques is Scott Snyder— the writer of DC’s New 52 Batman comic. He’s taken two years to tell only two Batman stories– both of which were turned into “event” crossovers. I wish I could say more about his work, but I stopped reading this shit at Issue Six. (I also wish those six comics told a complete story with a satisfying ending… But you know what they say about shit and wishes, don’t you?) I just don’t get the attraction to the man’s writing. How is The Court of Owls any different from The League of Assassins… Or even The League of Shadows from Christopher Nolan’s Batman films?
And the upcoming Batman: Year Zero? Snyder taking eleven issues to tell one of the most universally known origin stories in the history of comics? That’s damn ridiculous. I really didn’t think DC would have the stupidity to force ANOTHER retelling of Batman’s origins with Batman: Earth One already on sale… But since that book doesn’t feature New 52 continuity, I guess DC just couldn’t stop themselves from cashing in. And mark my words, DC will clean up with the release of Snyder’s unnecessary tree-killer. Other sites will hand out glowing reviews like Halloween Candy and fanboys will eat it all up… While DC uses the acclaim to their advantage.
DC is selling you familiarity of things by using tropes from various sources, like Nolan’s Dark Knight films. They are not offering creativity or innovation.
Whatever happened to the concept Snyder was knocking about in his Detective Comics run– about there being something strange about Gotham itself? That was a cool concept I always felt was understood, but no writer has ever really explored. Nope, instead I get one uneventful “event” crossover after another… And my patience is tapped out. I’ll be skipping Snyder’s take on the Batman origin, but I’ll continue to support Morrison’s opus– while also taking a look at John Layman’s Detective Comics when it’s finally collected.
Since DC’s New 52 started, the only titles I’ve continued to buy in single issue form are Batwoman and Wonder Woman. That’s about it. Anything else I’ll trade-wait or won’t purchase at all… Because I simply don’t care.
I’d say I don’t know where DC and Marvel’s nostalgia for the 90s is coming from, but I do. They’re in love with the almighty dollar… And creating ingenious new ideas is hard. So they’re looking for big sales by using big gimmicks. This has led to the supremely underwhelming repackaging machinations known as the DC New 52 and Marvel NOW.
And that’s something I simply can’t put my money behind much longer. Sure, I’ll read an issue here or there (possibly for review purposes), but as a whole– the Big Two lack the creative and innovative drive I know I can find elsewhere.