A funny thing happened on the way to the forum; I'm feeling a lot less bitter and jaded about comics in general these days. Maybe it's reading all these Marvel Essential and DC Showcase trades(we'll be talking about them in April. Boy howdy will we be talking about them), but there's a feeling of optimism and fun in me in regards to my hobby that I haven't felt in a while.
It's been said by my friends that the only things I enjoy about comics are that they're out once a month and in color. It's a funny little bit of humor between friends, but I'll admit that it's a role that I don't relish. I'm the Old Fan, the one who isn't happy with all the newfangled changes and whatnot and things were better back in my day and we didn't hold to all these scary new ideas and we read our floppies with a slurpie and a smile and we liked it! We lovvvved it!
It's a funny bit to be sure, but is it really anyone you'd want to be? Hell no. Old Fan's no fun. Old Fan is a killjoy and a seething cauldron of Bitter. Nobody wants to be the spectre at the banquet.
I'm passionate about superhero comics, this is true. I wear my love of the genre on my sleeve and make no apologies for it. But at the same time I don't think I should have to go to something I don't find myself all that interested in, which is what I am when it comes to the current crossover crop. It's not that I feel they're bad per se, though I do tend to riff off their elements that I find amusingly irritating (time bullets, the death/gore parade, assorted wheel-spinning), it's just that I'm tired of playing keep-up with the whole big show all the time. It seems these days that you can't just appreciate a single title very much anymore, everything seems geared toward pumping out the crossover issues and the multi-part storylines resolved in other titles and you have to buy this book because herein everything is explained and nothing will be the same again evar(until the next time)! Simply put I began to feel my hobby becoming kind of a second job, and I didn't get down with that. I go to comics for one key factor, one essential element that I absolutely, positively must have: escapism.
A recent article over at Comic Book Resources made me think about my position on certain storyline and moves by the Big Two. If comics truly are catering to me as the graying audience, why is it that I feel more ostracized than ever? Shouldn't I be happy that everything is all about me and my desire for nostalgia trips? Well I'm not. Let me explain why.
The thing I miss about the comics of my youth aren't the fact that they were about the minutiae of the hero's background or why this is the way it is when it's really about this, we just never talked about it. . .until now(DUN DUN DUN)! What I liked about the period of comics I grew up reading was that things were changing. Barry Allen died and Wally West became the Flash. Peter Parker went from a struggling college kid to a professional photographer and husband with his own book published featuring his Spider-Man photos. Hal Jordan got older and more seasoned and was working to pass the torch to the next generation of Green Lanterns. Superman was re-energized as a dynamic character and less of Your Dad's Superhero. It was in the wake of Crisis On Infinite Earths (an attempt by DC to settle it's past decisively before moving into the present) that I went from being a kid who read comics to a comics fan. It was in those moments of change and transition that I came to love the genre with a passionate (some might say too passionate) intensity that continues unabated through to the present.
These days I don't really get that feeling of forward momentum or change. Old characters are coming back, newer and more original takes get shelved, and any outright new characters are largely brushed aside in favor of the Tried 'n True. While I still read books from the Big Two (Power Girl, Warlord, Magog on the DC side, Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova on the Marvel) I by and large skip the mainstream titles, where the past is king. I read books like Atomic Robo or Invincible, Savage Dragon or Dynamo 5, where that feeling of movement, of dynamism is still alive to me. Does that make me an old bitter fart? I don't think so. I think it makes me someone who loves what came before, to be sure, but wants that same feeling of moving with the characters through their lives right now. I don't want the past rehashed. Acknowledged yes, embraced for all it's exuberant goofiness most assuredly, but I'm not saying 'Everything after 1989 is crap!' I'm saying that I want that dynamic feeling back in my escapism. That's what makes stuff like Marvel's The Heroic Age and DC'S First Wave line look so inviting. The chance to get in on the ground floor of something new and bold, something exciting. It's an intriguing time, to be sure, one in which storytelling possibility abounds.
Still if they could throw some gorillas with jetpacks in there? Yeah, that'd be good too. Just sayin' is all. . .