Thursday, November 24, 2011

The State of Comics Today

There is something so incredibly disappointing about the state of comics today.

Some would say that my dissatisfaction stems from viewing them now through the window of adulthood, instead of back when I was enjoying them as a child and a teenager. There may be something to that…but there is more to it than JUST that…

Heroes today are out of touch with what it means to be a hero. The street-level hero is all but gone and forgotten. The Avengers live in their mansion (or there tower, before it was recently destroyed). The FF (I refuse to call them the Future Foundation!) live in their penthouse. The X-Men, on their own island (although recently Wolverine has moved some of them back to Westchester, into the new Jean Grey Academy). Even Doctor Strange has his Sanctum Sanctorum. There heroes, aren’t. They aren’t, because they have forgotten why they became heroes in the first place.

Heroes should be amongst the people, the average and ordinary members of humanity. A hero isn’t necessarily somebody who stops Galactus from destroying the Earth. A hero should be somebody who works the street, who knows the people in the neighbourhood they work by name. A hero of the people, for the people.

Remember the days of Daredevil, Spider-Man (before he was on 50-hundred teams), and Powerman & Ironfist? These guys knew what it meant to be a hero. They had compassion for their fellow man. They were just as interested in stopping some young thugs from shaking down a grocery store owner as they were in going on cosmic adventures, if not more so. To the people of their neighbourhoods, a hero might be the person who bumped into you and then helped you pick up your groceries afterwards, or the lady who offered to share her taxi cab with you, because not only ARE these ordinary people heroes but they might also be the masked heroes that swing by and keep your neighborhood safe as well.

I don’t care about the big events. I don’t. I want my heroes to be heroes, to care about their fellow man – that is why the X-Men will probably never be heroes ever again. They’re too segregated, too fixated on their own issues.

Have you ever realized how many of the X-Men’s foes are bent on world conquest, genocide, or world destruction? What happened when you could read ten issues in a row without ever seeing a villain that nasty, and be better off for it? Do you know how often in comics, in Marvel comics in particular, that towns are destroyed, thousands of people die? WAY TOO OFTEN! It’s a gimmick. Shock value is NOT my friend, it just makes me numb. After a while, I just don’t care about the loss of life anymore; if the heroes don’t seem to really care about humanity, why should I?

I love old comics. I own the Essential Defenders Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 6. I am currently still reading my way through Volume 6, and as I do, I cannot help but notice how awesome the writing is! Never have I seen so much exposition by the characters! They spend 9/10 of their time talking to each other, treating each other like human beings, caring about each other and opening up and trying to help each other through difficulties. Anybody see any of that in comics today? Anybody? Anybody at all? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think Avengers Academy is the bomb; the writing is top-notch. So far, the only thing in this series I have not enjoyed has been the crossover with Fear Itself, which I definitely could have done without! But at least this is one comic where the main focus is on growing the characters. One comic, out of how many series that are put out nowadays by Marvel? Let me tell you something; that’s sad.

On another note, I think this is one of the reasons why my beloved Alpha Flight does not sell well enough to be an ongoing series. I think these heroes should be shown doing heroic things in their day-to-day lives. Walter should be seen reaching out to his estranged teenage son. Shaman should be seen spending time with Talisman. But more than that, I would like to see what they do, as heroes, when Alpha Flight is not needed. I would like to see them, as individual heroes, battling street level crime in the neighbourhoods they live in. Making a difference. Caring about their fellow man. Inspiring others, with and without powers, to follow their example.

Comics today just are not what they used to be. We have lost our innocence, and with it we have lost most of what makes up our very humanity. And we are all very much poorer off for it.