June 20, 2007

Fanboy Entitlement Writ Large

(First, a reminder - today's the last day to submit your questions for me to podcast, as outlined here. Feel free to leave your questions in today's comments, and I'll have the cast up this weekend. See how easy that is?)

Recently, pal Mike had performed a casual sampling of his readers to find out what they wanted more of in comics, and what they wanted less of. (My answers can be found here). Although I stand by my answers, I did want to make some casual observations, most notably about how the Big Two seem to be operating.

I've always been a fan of creators who worry less about how the market will accept their work, and more about pleasing themselves. It reflects Joel Hodgson's philosophy about MST3K - rather than worry about who will get the joke, just know that the right people will get the joke. However, increasingly it seems as if the Big Two aren't even willing to reflect its creators...or, as many (such as myself) suggest, are pandering to 40 year old fanboys. In short, the two companies seem to be - creatively, at least - reflecting the issues and concerns of its two senior editors.

First, Mr. Quesada has been outspoken about various aspects of Marvel characters - in short, how Spider-Man works better as a single man, how Captain America is out of touch with the times, and basically can't see how having women chained up and covered on goo might not be appropriate for young readers. (And before you knock me with the I'm-taking-this-too-seriously, take the costumes out, and review the picture as a normal picture - if I had posted that kind of picture, the outrage would be palpable). Plus, Marvel has been trying to move towards being more of a "multimedia" company, ranging from movies to games with comics as a secondary source.

And of course, there's Dan DiDio - luckily, DC slightly lumbers ahead with some unique titles (including, but not limited to, Manhunter and Birds of Prey), but creatively, it's starting to move back to 1965. It all started with Green Lantern: Rebirth, in my opinion (someone please explain this one to me), but creatively, DC has been looking back, and not even revamping its characters well. For example - consider Jason Todd: originally killed by a toll free call (actually, if the urban legend is correct, a guy who had a really good autodialer) was brought back in Infinite Crisis, and is angry at Batman. No, not because Todd was left for dead...but because Batman would never kill the Joker.

If that doesn't seem like a Mary Sue for Judd Winnick, I don't know what does...

But anyway, that may explain the recent trend for one-massive-crossover-after-another: rather than give these characters a chance to live and breathe, the emphasis is on making sure that things are constantly in a state of turmoil. What Stan Lee (I believe) once promoted as the illusion of change is now becoming a Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay nightmare.

OK, I'm being a bit needlessly cruel and cynical - personally, the way that I've found to fight bad comics is to not read them. I've been fortunate enough over the past year to prune my reading list, and to not buy anything just because it's there. (I stuck with 52 over a year - does DC really expect me to shell out for another yearly book...just because?) Until there's some creativity in comics (and the fact that there are other companies with other, different types of comics makes me willing to hold out hope), I'm afraid that one reader will be lost due to editorial mandates.

Boy, I know how to bring a place down, don't I?

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