Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rant-Itorial!

Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but the more I see of how DC Comics is treating their characters -- especially Superman -- in the comic books, the less interest I have in giving DC any of my money (with the exception of buying their Showcase Presents... TPBs).

I'm probably not alone in this, at least among my age group. The costume's messed up, and the characterization is off... and none of the developments in the character have stuck.

Okay, okay, I know that DC's trying to latch on to a younger market out there, because us old fuddy-duddies aren't buying the floppies like we used to. I guess they decided that they're happy to get our money from the trades, and don't need our money every week.

It's a shame that, in order to try to grab a new readership, they have to make things so unpleasant. Is there really no way to keep a current readership AND bring in new readers? Apparently, writing good stories is entirely out of the question, because clearly that is not a goal any more... and neither is writing stories that only last one or two issues.

Remember back in the Silver Age, when Superman was selling amazing numbers? Or even in the Golden Age, when Superman was only outsold by Captain Marvel?

Okay, I don't remember those days, either -- I'm not THAT old!

But anyway, the books back then featured Superman in pretty much only eight-page stories, getting longer only towards the waning years of the Silver Age (and even then, the stories didn't take up the whole book, because there was still a back-up feature for the most part). Superman had his solo stories in Superman and Action Comics, plus his younger self in Superboy, team-ups with Batman in World's Finest, and with his fellow teammates in Justice League of America. Oh, and don't forget his "supporting role" in Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane. By my count, that's seven books that featured Superman, most of them coming out every month. With very rare exceptions, all of these books were "done in one," that is, the story took one issue, period.

These are some of my favorite books to find when I'm at comic book shows, naturally. Do I spend any time trying to track down current DC books at all? Nope. Probably won't happen.

Oh, I've dabbled with some of the recent events that were reprinted in trades that I borrowed from the public library, so I have a passing knowledge of Darkest Night and Final Crisis and some of the other stuff that apparently doesn't mean anything anymore.

Remember back when DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths? Everything (or almost everything) was going to be changing, and it was exciting. We didn't always know what in the past was going to be kept and what was going to be discarded. Some of the changes were pretty minor -- putting the daughter of the original Black Canary as a founding JLA member instead of Wonder Woman, or having Power Girl take Supergirl's place in significant events -- and some of them were a mess because someone didn't always think through things. But at least for a while, we could still read the books every month and start to see where things were fitting together, and what we could still count on as being "reality."

I don't see that happening now. The current reboot is like the second Battlestar Galactica series, in that the names of some of the characters are the same, and some of the relationships are the same, but you can't count on anything else. Even the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek seems to be closer to the original Trek series than the current DC books are to any previous DC books.

Please, don't tell me I should give book "X" a try, or that book "Y" is really cool, I should check it out -- because I don't believe DC is trying to reach me as a reader any more. I don't think they even want me as a reader of their monthly books. Strangely enough, the only new adventures of DC characters that I've been happy to enjoy when they're available are the animated series, like Batman: The Brave and the Bold, or Young Justice -- and yes, I'll even include Green Lantern in that count, because at least based on the pilot episode, I think I'll enjoy that. It looks like some of the DC Nation stuff on Cartoon Network will appeal to me, too.

OK, flashback time again: Remember when Batman: The Animated Series came out, and we all went (pardon the expression) batshit over it? It wasn't exactly the same as Batman was in the comics -- actually, I think it was better than the current Batman in the comics -- nor was it exactly the same as any other incarnation of Batman. Instead, the creators of that show took parts of all incarnations of Batman and put them together in ways that worked.

It's too bad that we can't seem to do that with the print versions of the characters, isn't it? Superman should be recognizable as Superman, dammit!

As it is, the current DC books feel to me more like an extended "Elseworlds" series that I don't need to read, because it's not "real" anyway.

Fortunately, I still have back issues to read, as well as those aforementioned Showcase Presents... volumes.

And don't think I'm letting Marvel off the hook, mind you -- the only Marvel stuff I've been buying for the past several years have been Essentials, and I'm not planning on getting any of their monthly comics, either!

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