I Thiiiiiiiiiiink I Hate Comic Books

06Sep12

This has been building for a while. I’ve been going to comic book stores for a long while, and I usually snoop out a couple titles to claim, some trusted names (ie Batman) and sometimes some risks (I jumped on “Kick-Ass” pretty early). With the whole DC New 52 push, I decided to stick with “The Flash” for a while, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve sort of enjoyed it, but it hasn’t been compelling. This has lead me to the conclusion that comic books are not great.

Yes, this is a gross generalization. I haven’t read that much of “Sweet Tooth,” or this new run on “Animal Man,” so maybe I’m missing the great stuff while sticking to the mainstream, but the problems I have with comics seem to be symptomatic of the entire market. Basically: my problem is continuity/never-ending stories.
Let’s examine “The Flash,” since I already started doing that. The first story had to do with an army of clones, mounting up to (surprise surprise) take down the Flash. While fighting off these goons, Barry Allen gets pronounced dead, the Flash discovers the speed force*, and a whole bunch of other weird stuff happens, in beautifully drawn yet underwhelming stories. By issue two, I was not super into it, but I figured “It’s probably got one more issue to go.” It went five issues. Somehow.
Actually, I know exactly how it did this: it padded it out and filled and filled, instead of telling stories. Stories with endings.
The trouble I have with comics today (get off my lawn) is that the ignore a very basic, simple promise of their premise, which is that good guys defeat and/or capture bad guys. That’s it. That’s what these stories are. By virtue of having superHEROES, they tell stories of how the HERO fought and defeated a bad guy. That is the end of the story.
Maybe it’s different in other books, but in the few I’ve been checking out — and especially in “The Flash” — the stories are less about The Flash finding and fighting bad guys, and more about the Flash ENCOUNTERING bad guys for a while, before encountering another bad guy in the teaser page which compels you to buy the next book.
To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, “If I wanted a big rambling set of events with no point or ending, I have my life.” Finales are difficult, of course. Conceiving of a compelling, satisfying ending to a story — let alone a great story — remains one of the most testing trials of any writer or artist. But to avoid them completely seems downright cowardly.
Expanding on this, I went to the comic book store today with a special hope of finding some old copies of “Batman Beyond.” Which I did not. I found some old books, but they weren’t of the series based directly on the TV show. They were from the 2011, 2012 runs, which were more in line with the rambling series of events. So I ended up drifting back over to “The Flash.” I noticed there were two new books since the last time I bought, as well as the annual. After looking at the covers and flipping through the pages, I deduced that there was most likely nothing monumental to miss in Issues 11 and 12, so I opted for only the annual (it includes all the Rogues, what can I say?).
Nothing is grabbing me out there, and I selfishly blame the industry. The comic book world is almost as much a black hole as the internet video world, except that comics thrive on collectors. I’m not here to argue that the Flash stories of the 60’s were written better than those of today, but they did have endings. You could pick up a book and read it cover to cover and feel a sense of satisfaction. “Flash gets caught by Gorilla Grodd; Grodd magically makes Flash fat; Fat Flash somehow defeats Grodd… THE END.”
If anyone knows any books out there who can boast anything remotely close to a conclusion, I would love to hear them. I still have love for comic books, but I’m apparently not IN LOVE with them right now.
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One Response to “I Thiiiiiiiiiiink I Hate Comic Books”

  1. Locke & Key, The Unwritten, Morning Glories, American Vampire, The Sixth Gun, Batman: Earth One, Superman: Earth One, The Ultimates.

    Only three of those really count as superhero books, the rest are all supernatural/mystery/action. The New 52 should never have happened. They should have just expanded on their Earth One imprint (because really what they wanted was the success of the Ultimate line that Marvel has had).


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