Why I Hate Comic Books
The title of this post is a paradox, because I love comic books. However, there’s a ton of things that really bother me about them. As I’ve mentioned a few times on the website, I was a big comic fan in my youth but around 1996 I gave it up. I don’t really recall why either, I guess I just moved on to other things. In 2012 that all changed, the 16 year hiatus was over. Biff was back and goddamn was there a lot of catching up to do! I started with some older classics I hadn’t read like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. Slowly I’ve been working my way up to more current series to follow. A lot had changed in those 16 years and I’m here to tell you what irks me about new comics as well as the old ones.
1. Story Arcs
Gone are the days when comics use to develop storylines organically over long periods of time where casual readers could dip in and out of the series without feeling isolated. A small part of a greater whole, if you will. Now they are driven by the fact that every storyline will end up in a trade paperback a few months after it’s originally published. I’m sure this is very good for sales and for casual fans to check out minor storylines. But it bothers me that a famous writer who has a story for say, Iron Man can hop on the book for a 6 issue story arc that is completely self-sufficient than give the reigns to someone else. In my opinion, that’s not fair to the readers or the character.
2. Retconning/Character Deaths
This I really, really hate. A writer chooses to do something with a character or a situation and the fans or the next writer doesn’t like it and chances are it’s going to get changed or they will pretend it didn’t happen. To me, that’s lazy writing. I realize that when a writer takes over for a book the previous writer may have done something that’s not what they had in mind for that character…too bad! Show the world why you’re getting paid and work with what the previous writer gave you, good or bad.
Character deaths also plagues me. If we know major characters virtually never die, why bother to kill them off? Knowing they will eventually come back really cheapens the impact and situation. There is nothing wrong with shaking things up a bit for a character. Fan boys be damned!
3. Manga Influenced/Cartoon Style Art
In 1996, when I was on my way out from comics, Joe Madureira was lighting up the world with his manga style on Uncanny X-Men. As a 12 year old who was interested in anime this was crazy. It was so different and exciting. (I can’t recall now, if I liked anime prior to or because of that).
I was downright shocked picking up books now-a-days to find out that this was more or less the norm. I get it, I guess. The idea of comics is kind of cartoony, but I really don’t like it. It seems like a backlash of all the over the top hyper muscular Rob Liefeld style that was so popular in the 1990s. I’ll settle for something a little more realistic than either please.
I know that the Marvel Universe is very big on this. The occasional crossover can be interesting and fun but doing it too much and too often can be expensive and confusing for the reader. I like continuity and the idea of a tight knit shared universe but some people only care about the book/character they follow. They don’t want to have to buy 4 other series to figure why the last 3 issues of Thor didn’t make any sense.
5. Artists Doing The Covers But Not Interiors
I’m not sure when this became a trend, but it bugs me. Back in the day it was the artists duty and right to get the glory of the cover art after doing all the work on the interiors. Every once in a while usually for a landmark issue or a special event someone else would come in and do the covers. Now it seems that they bring in artists (usually ones that are better than the book’s regular penciler) specifically to lure people in. This is done by either catching their eye with an excellent cover or tricking them into a buying a book thinking that’s what the interior will look like. Personally, I don’t think that’s fair. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blown away by a Dynamite Entertainment comic cover by Alex Ross only to flip open the book to be let down by mediocre inside art.
That’s my rant. I may sound like a tired old man, but I don’t care. It’s just some stuff I noticed since coming back to comic books all these years later with a more adult sensibility. Does anyone else agree with me or am I alone on these?
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