Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why I'm Done with Superheroes... Mostly

Today in The Cube:

Alan Moore, in writing Watchmen, famously sought to write the "last" superhero story.
In other words, he wanted to expose the underpinnings, conceits and assumptions of the genre, and essentially either unmake it, or make it more than it was.
The results, of course, were mixed. Both Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, instead of enlightening the storytelling possibilities of the form, accidentally ushered in a generation of "grim & gritty" superhero comics throughout the 1990s and early 2000s – a trend that hasn't fully died out.

All that is prologue to this statement: I think I'm done with superhero comics. Not all of them, and not forever, but I think I'm done.

For one thing, I have an issue with continuity. There's far too much of it. While DC Comics at least had the common decency to throw up their hands and reboot their comics two ears ago, Marvel still persists in its folly. I feel like I can never read an X-Men comic again. Spider-Man? Hah. The weight of all of those years of continuity can only be fixed with a structural cataclysm. I need a scorecard to know who is who anymore. How do they expect to attract new readers this way?

Second, must EVERY superhero comic seek to be some kind of postmodern opus? Over the last 15 years, each one seems to try and outdo the others by being more and more 'meta'. They just end up being repetitive. Remember when Civil War was lauded as an epoch-making Marvel crossover? ... except the same plot was done better a decade earlier in Kingdom Come. And which one's bloodier - Kick-Ass or Wanted? Who CARES???

Third, for God's sake, WHY ARE THE TWO LARGEST COMICS COMPANIES OWNED BY ENORMOUS CONGLOMERATES (Time-Warned owns DC, and Disney owns Marvel)? This, unfortunately, is a bad sign for so many things on so many levels. The possibility for homogeneity, for less diversity in comics, not more – especially with large corporations, who are exceptionally risk-averse – frightens me.

Okay, that's it for my rant.


  1. I started reading Dark Horse a bunch of years ago in part because of the above, but over time they seem to have collected a lot of the baggage as well. Seems hard to avoid.

  2. Agreed! I like the idea of "independent" superhero comics that are their own universe, but those then seem to take on all of the postmodern storytelling issues to stay "relevant." This is why I only read 3-4 comics a month. The benefit of Dark Horse and Image is that their heroes are, by and large, self-contained. The fact that more and more independent companies are finding traction - BOOM Studios, Aspen, etc. – is great. And non-superhero comics like Hellboy and others are increasingly popular, so there's hope, at least.