Friday, August 7, 2015

Why I've quit reading comics

I should probably amend that headline statement about comic books.

Yes, that was a bit of clickbait but we've all got to work the marketing angle sometimes. I have quit reading new comics. Even more specifically, new ones from the Big Two.

This has been coming on for a while now with me. In truth, it has been festering since the early days of "event" comics, crossover summers of Infinity Armageddon War of the Gods buy every comic in the chiliad we publish to know what's going on. That culminated in last decade's Final Infinite Crisis Flashpoint Convergence Age of Archie. Everything changes! Nothing will ever be the same! All new! All different! The Watcher had his eyes plucked out by Thor's sister and Bucky has his own reality show!

I know I'm not alone in complaining about this. Fans have bemoaned for years the fact that the suits in marketing so often seem to be at the helm of the publishers and not the creators. More than that though, it's the other changes that have gotten to me. DC Comics launched their "New 52," entirely rebooting their universe. Marvel Comics announced that all of their stories are now officially taking place "post 9/11," which I can only assume means that the Marvel universe only came into being after that moment in time. Everything has changed to the point where I can barely recognize it. The characters used to be people with ideals that I tried to emulate in an effort to help make the world a better place. In their present incarnations, they are mystery to me and I can find no way to relate to them. I can only come to the conclusion that these comics are no longer being written for this lifelong fan.

And that's ok.

I understand that we live in a new world and that things change. Things need to change or else they get boring. Things need to change so they can appeal to younger readers and bring new fans into the fold, thereby keeping the medium alive. So it's ok with me that Clark Kent is a blogger and has a bit of snark to his attitude. It's ok that Batman has changed in ways that I can't quite understand. Maybe someone younger than I am does and can identify with it. Hell, there are probably readers out there for whom these titles will become their own definitive renditions of these characters.

I'm just not going to be  reading it.

More troublesome for me is the issue of tone and content. Gotten pretty dark out there in comics. Everybody seems to need to be Mr. Edgy McEdgerson. I'm well aware of how awful our world can be. I know it's full of crime, divorce, unemployment, torture, animal abuse, starvation, and a dying environment. True, the greatest examples of the medium often took on such social ills. They were great stories too. They were not, however, omnipresent. For me, comics used to provide an escape from what a swirling toilet the world can be. Now, they're a constant reminder if it.

Look, if I want entertainment "ripped from today's headlines," I'll watch Law and Order reruns.

This is not to say that there have not been real gems among the reboots. In the New 52, I have enjoyed such titles as Aquaman and Green Arrow. Over at Marvel, Matt Fraction's work on Hawkeye has been exceptional. Most of it, however, just isn't for me.

I'm also not trying to dissuade anyone from partaking in the new stuff. If it still gets you off to make weekly pilgrimages to the comic book store for your Marvel or DC jones, have at it and have a happy. I'm just not doing it anymore. 

Thankfully, I still have all of my old comics and they're not going anywhere. I'm also happy that the cool old stuff is coming out more and more in collected editions. Plus I can get those from Amazon and avoid the store entirely. So I hereby announce my retirement from first run comics from the Big Two. After almost 40 years, I'm out. I'm done.

Wait.  This just in...

Sounds like Dan Didio will be experimenting with something called "open continuity" at DC. As I understand it (and I might be wrong), this means the following: have a favorite incarnation of the DC universe? It still exists. Alternate timelines and dimensions and whatnot. Will this be enough to get me to buy first run comics again? I'll snoop around on sites like Newsarama and Bleeding Cool and make a decision.

But I wouldn't hold your breath for a positive answer.

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