Too much. Too, too much. You walk off for a few months, you come back, and they’ve bred all over the living room floor.
I’m talking about my comic universes, held in the cosmos of my heart since I was about eight years old. I can understand all this multiplication in the capitalistic terms it deserves…but is the writing suffering? Is the art down? Are we venturing towards yet another era of Youngblood? I shudder.
Consider the facts. Comic books are doing very, very well. I don’t think there’s been a better time to be into comic books than perhaps the Golden Age. While issues might not be selling by the millions, they are definitely more readily available than once upon a time. Digital comics, bookstores offering graphic novels. Marvel was bought by Disney. The Dark Knight did very, very well indeed. Iron Man was a surprise hit, prompting studio bigwigs to get excited about the fact a best-selling idea can come from just about anywhere.
So there’s all the financial backing, plenty of investment. San Diego is less of a comic convention and more of a Hollywood-thon these days.
Comics themselves are much better structured too. Geoff Johns came in and chopped down the DC Universe until it felt better. You could say Bendis did much of the same for Marvel.
But is it BETTER? I won’t complain that there’s no variety, but I’ve just come back to reading comics after flitting about for four of five months reading very few titles, and I feel like the little kitten I had grew into about ten lions. I’m cowering in the corner wondering where to start!
There doesn’t even seem to be a scope for a “small” book anymore. Gone were the days when you could read one title that did reasonably well and had very little impact on the rest of the universe. Every time I pick up a book like this, it takes about a good year for everyone to realise it’s actually doing great, and the editors swoop down to steal it for their next big event.
I don’t want to read an eight-part mini-series with a million tie-ins, I’m pretty bored of them. Blackest Night overwhelmed me. I was pretty happy reading Green Lantern, and then everything exploded. I am sure it is still very well written, but everything’s just too damn big. I loved the slow burn of JMS’ Thor, and suddenly Marvel ousted the poor man with the threat of cookie cutter event “Siege”. I turn around for a moment, and there’s now about ten Batman books?! I don’t think there’s been more X-Men books since about the mid 90′s, and we know all about them! Do we really need two X-Force books? Really?
Too much, too much. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I have a poor little brain, but I feel like it’s led to a little too much complacency in the comic universes. All this very movie-like streamlined decompressed business was all very good and clever, but what now? Four Deadpool titles?! I know Jeph Loeb defended things like this quite eloquently once, saying with the sale of these titles, other less popular ones can remain afloat, but still. I get the worrying feeling something’s got to give sometime.
I sound a little doom and gloom. For a return, that’s pretty sad! I apologise, but I thought it would be an interesting idea to collect my thoughts while I’ve been trying (and failing a little) to catch up on comics for the last couple of months. My conclusion is I am more than a little overwhelmed, and fatigued (I have to disagree with Grant Morrison’s thoughts on the event fatigue subject!).
So I’m keeping very strict on my comic reading, and we shall see what happens! Please feel free to recommend anything you think I should at least try, I am not unwilling.
For the moment I am only reading the following:
Action Comics – Paul Cornell’s run involving Lex Luthor is fantastic. I have limited knowledge on Blackest Night and I gave up on Superman halfway through World Of New Krypton, but I still find this pretty easy to follow and one hell of a read.
Gotham City Sirens – I am not overly impressed with this book, but I follow Catwoman as she’s one of my favourites. I still think she should get her own title back. That said, I think I’ll be dropping this in a couple of issues time.
Supergirl – I left reading this for a while and I’m very happy to see Igle and Gates are still packing a very solid punch. Proof that with the right team and good care, any concept can work very well even after floundering.
Superman – I was very excited for JMS to jump onboard. Now, not so much. I thought he’d bring something epic to the book, instead it’s all a bit Hallmark. Let’s see what the new writer does, but talk about crash and burn.
Wonder W0man – I am actually enjoying this, and I am sad to see JMS leaving so soon. I think this is one of his slow burners, much like Thor and Spider-Man. I get the feeling he wants to crumble Diana to rebuild her again, and I am sure the controversial costume won’t be permanent. It’s good to see her back being a warrior too, with plenty of mythology thrown in. More please!
Batman, Inc. – A promising start to a new title. Grant Morrison isn’t being terribly weird in it, but the concept is interesting, Selina Kyle is present, and it’s good to see her and Bruce have a relationship again. I’m sticking with it!
Superboy – The brilliant front cover grabbed me. The Poison Ivy ending kept me there. Love, love, love everything about this promising book. Jeff Lemire is a genius.
Avengers Academy – One of the books I am most looking forward to every month, and definitely the one that took me by surprise. A twisted joy to read, think Thunderbolts meets Xorn’s special class. I’ll be talking more about this one soon!
Fantastic Four – Still the most perfect comic book run I have ever read in a long time. Long may it stay this way.
X-Men Legacy & Uncanny X-Men – The Emma Frost subplot in Uncanny is way juicier than the by-the-numbers Five Lights stuff, but that should go away soon. I hope. No pun intended. Legacy continues to be the consistently brilliant underdog. After a detour into Xavier’s head I think Carey was forced into writing, it is beautiful to see him creating his own little world with strong leads by Rogue and Magneto, and the return of the brilliant villains from Supernova.
It’s good to be back, Mogwai and all.