Saturday, June 23, 2018

Comics Talk: The Time I Wandered Away from Comics

I was discussing comics on Facebook earlier today and wound up writing the following response to someone who said that he quit reading comics a long time ago because he didn't like the "to be continued stories" that were popularized by Marvel Comics. He much preferred the stand-alone stories of the old DC Comics.

The following is based what I wrote (I fleshed it out a bit):

"Back in the day" I loved the continued stories at Marvel Comics. It allowed for more complex stories and really built the mythology that is modern comics storytelling in a shared universe. For me, the thing that killed my love of CURRENT comics is the MEGA EVENT. It all started with Secret Wars, which was okay. It was novel at the time and I liked it. 

But... then along came SW2, Contest of Champions, Marvel Mutant Massacre, and tons of other series-changing events. And then DC got in on the act. I think it was the whole Batman Earthquake mega storyline that got me tired of the gimmicks (the entire arc, including Cataclysm, Aftershock, Road to No Man's Land, No Man's Land, had at least 80 issues!). 

© 2018 DC Comics

That wore me down financially and ate away my enthusiasm because it completely disrupted other ongoing series that I followed, including Nightwing, Robin and Anarchy. All of those had ongoing stories that were either disrupted or destroyed by the mega event. Then, no sooner had the dust settled than they disrupted everything again by the Bruce Wayne: Murderer storyline. 

I'm not saying any of these were bad stories. In fact, a lot of good came out of them. I really liked parts of the No Man's Land (I thought Barbara Gordon's portrayal was some of the best ever). Ditto for some of what happened in the "Murderer" storyline. But, honestly... it was just too much.

I didn't make a conscious decision to quit buying comics, but the local store where I shopped went out of business and at the time I never bothered to find another. 

During this time, I still read comics (notably Archie and various Walt Disney titles, as well as a wide variety of indie comics and graphic novels (Blankets, Sin City,Dropsey Avenue), various gaming comics (Knights of the Dinner Table, Dork Tower, Nodwick and others). But I didn't follow anything by the big companies at all.

It took years before I wandered back into "mainstream" comics, and even then, today I only buy about two Marvel titles (Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl (Hellcat and Howard the Duck were recently canceled). I might pick up an occasional DC trade, or a mini-series (Deadman by Neal Adams was just weird, but the Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77 were a lot of fun), but mostly I'm diving back into the b&w mags of the 1970s (Savage Sword of Conan, Marvel Premiere, Space: 1999, Planet of the Apes, Eerie, Creepy and so forth). 

One of the many issues I've picked up over the past year.
© 1979 Marvel Comics, cover by Bob Larkin

Another old mag I picked up, Marvel Preview #9
© 1976 Marvel Comics, cover by Earl Norem
New comics just don't appeal to me much, any, and the constant barrage of "Mega Events" like Civil War, Rebirth, 52 and all that jazz are definitely a factor in keeping me away. I just don't have the patience for all these constant reboots, especially when coupled with the onslaught of gender, race and orientation changes (Ice Man is gay? Really? I don't give a crap that they have a gay hero, but forcing Bobby to become gay feels like a cheap stunt designed to appeal to Social Justice Warriors). 

There are still good comics out there, but I've moved on from the mainstream and I seriously doubt I will ever move back.

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