I can feel it.
I’m turning into one – a “Grumpy Old Fan”.
I’m saying things like, “That’s not MY Superman!” and “What are Marvel and DC doing?” I look at upcoming solicitations and come up with fewer and fewer titles to add to my Pull List. Characters that I used to admire and adore don’t relate to me anymore.
This is it. I’m getting old. The world has moved on.
But fear not! This post is not going to be (entirely) all doom and gloom. Let’s just try to figure out what happened.
I’m serious when I say that I’m really adding fewer titles to my Pull List; more so, I’m deleting titles more and more. I used to have a steady intake of Avengers, X-Men and Spider-Man titles over the years. Now, I’m down to one. Years ago, I guess we call it “Pre-Flashpoint” now, I collected several DC titles a month. Now I’m down to one. That hole has been filled by several Image titles, but most of them still struggle with a regular schedule and as much as I enjoy the more “mature” genre that Image provides, I’m already starting to miss my kiddy Super-Heroes.
How is it that Super-Heroes are now dominating the box office, becoming more and more recognizable to the general, non-comic book reading population but the comics on the shelves no longer reflect the characters that inspired these blockbusters? Captain America is the African-American Sam Wilson, formally known as the Falcon. Thor is now Jane Foster (spoiler). Batman is Commissioner Gordon.
I get it. We’ve got to move on and create new and different stories. We need to do a better job of representing women and minorities in comics. But do we have to tear down the characters that were the foundation of the collective universes to do it? Can we not create new, representative characters and stories from the ground up? Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) is a good start but it only works because Carol Danvers (the former Ms. Marvel) graduated to Captain Marvel. Would Kamala’s story really be that much different if she was called Mega-Girl or something? I understand the marketing involved with the name recognition, but we are talking about the name of a C-List character at best.
Marvel is certainly living up to its’ newest campaign of “All-New, All Different”. Well, maybe it’s only living up to half of that. It is certainly “All Different” but it doesn’t feel all that new anymore. They’ve been trying to slap an “All-New” on their titles for a couple of years now.
Part of my perceived dissociation with these characters probably stems from the fact that Marvel and DC are making a valiant effort to attract a younger audience by making their characters younger and more youthful, alienating the older generation of fans that survived much worse reboots in the past. The new Avengers line-up consists of three teenaged characters. Miles Morales, the younger, fresher Spider-Man is set to take center stage in the “new” Marvel Universe. The original, teenaged X-Men from the past look like they are here to stay. Again, I understand. I’m not needed here anymore. Move over, old man.
Kids are the future in this industry, as much as they are in any other. They are the ones that are going to keep the flame of these characters burning. I just hope that these kids buy the books enough to keep them going. I’ll say to wait at least another 10 to 15 years so that the characters will come back around to the characters that I recognize a little better. By then, I may not even care about Super-Heroes anymore so this could be just needless ranting.
As a result, I’ve taken refuge in Image Comics lately. These books seem to be directed at a more mature audience. The best books are also, ironically, produced by the creators that made a name for themselves while they were working on said Super-Heroes. Observe the notable omissions of Marvel’s most recent “All-New, All Different” solicitations: Creators such as Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Rick Remender, Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker – former “architects” with exclusive contracts that produced epic runs on long-standing characters are now focusing their efforts on creator-owned projects.
Released from the shackles of their corporate masters, those creators are also producing some of the best work of their careers. Fraction’s Sex Criminals, Casanova and ODY-C are some of the most innovative uses of the comic book medium to date; Hickman’s East of West and The Manhattan Projects are unlike anything released by other Publishers; Rucka’s Lazarus is the consistently one of the best books on the shelves. Those were just a few examples of how even the creators seem to be “growing up” from the Super-Heroes.
It’s not like I am not reading comics any more, but I am forced to seek out comics that appeal to me rather than loyally following a character I have collected for years. I guess it’s time for me to rest on the pine for a bit and let the rookies in the starting line-up. That’s all right. You kids play with our toys. Sooner or later you’re going to break them and give them back to us old guys and gals to fix them.
Thanks for putting up with my rant! I feel better now!