Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Am Turning Misanthropic

I visited the comics shop today, more and more a thing I do based on specific books coming out rather than as a once-a-week affair. This time I was looking for FINAL CRISIS #2, being the latest issue in DC's latest opus. It wasn't very good.

This time last year I was doing a lot of comics research. I was chest-deep in a comics writing project and getting ready for my first San Diego Con -- I wanted to know who to talk to, I wanted to understand the latest market trends, I wanted to be up on what comics people were up on. I generally want that anyway, but last summer, it was with a specific ambition and a specific drive that I immersed myself in the online comicsphere.

Well. It's been a long year, yeah? Perhaps evidenced by the last post below this one being from last August.

Last year I was excited by the World Of Comics -- maybe because I was writing a lot of them -- but the comicsphere in June 2008 is a bleak kind of place. There are still comics I love -- American Elf and Achewood are still strips I look at every single day -- but trips to the comics shop tend to be disappointing. Grant Morrison writes superhero comics as good as they come, and a few months ago his and Frank Quitely's ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #10 was probably the finest Superman story that's ever seen print -- but with FINAL CRISIS it feels like a lot of thunder for not a lot of lightning. It's been two issues of talky-vague-exposition thus far, with a bunch of supervillains having constant meetings in an old movie theater. I'm not even sure WHY they're meeting -- Luthor just seems to show up to the meetings to tell everyone else that he doesn't want to be at the meetings, you know? It's lazy, and the sort of thing a writer's room would shoot down, reinvent, and reconstruct into something better. Maybe I, in spite of my natural inclination to favor the auteur, really just want my commercial fiction written by committee.

And not to get all nerdy on y'all, but Marvel's SECRET INVASION isn't much better. It has a different tone than FINAL CRISIS -- it's built on large panels and bang-splash-'sprise moments that unfortunately aren't as iconic or exciting as they're meant to be. Maybe I'm just lamenting my inability to be entertained by the artform I so enjoyed in the halcyon days of youth, but it's seriously a bummer to not be able to pick up a colorful packet of superheroes and walk away at least SOMEWHAT entertained. They're just not being good storytellers at Marvel and DC these days. I don't mean "these days" as compared to whenever you and I were reading comics as kids -- I mean these days as opposed to a few years ago. Or even a few months ago. RUNAWAYS and ASTONISHING X-MEN were able to entertain and tell competent stories, THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST took a decades-old character and did him done right, and BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT DETECTIVE was able to tell a story the way they USED to tell 'em without seeming like a trip down nostalgia lane ...

What I mean to say is, it looks like my own personal comics-universe is in a bit of a slump these days. It's fun to read the FOURTH WORLD reprints and all, but as a rule, I'd much rather get lost in something New and Young and Rad.

More on misanthropy later. Hello, interweb. It's nice to see you again.

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