1. I had the scrilla for comics, yielding the ability to comment on many titles.
2. I had the time to write for two blogs (sadly the KBP blog has seen much neglect).
3. Marvel had just started Secret Invasion and it was cool; DC was about to start Final Crisis and it was...well...we’ll see...
4. I wasn’t in graduate school full time, giving my brain enough free space to worry about folks in tights, as opposed to poets in tights writing about others in tights.
Between Joe Quesada, Chief Marvel Editor, and Dan Didio, Chief DC Editor, they have both found the ability to compete for comic futility. To repent for creative choices, both of them write weekly or bi-weekly ‘laments’ on what’s going on behind the scenes. While “Cup of Joe” usually appears after some major Marvel event like an idiotic FEMA for poor plot landings, Didio is brave enough to write apology letters to the mythical “DC Nation,” the group of five or so fans who think the cosmetic shift of the DC Universes has saved us from the grim tales they used to tell.
In honor of both men, I write in their famous approach today...an explanation, an apology, and hope for the future of comics. Allow me at least three caveats:
Caveat 1: Indie Comics
I humbly admit that being a fanboy of the Big Two meant little time (or money) for the multiple other titles on the market. Outside of Scud, I had never really read much of anything else, dipping into the occasional Transformers, or GI Joe, or any randomness that looked interesting. However since procuring ‘The Sandman’ (I get that it’s not 100% indie), collecting every issue of ‘The Boys’, and listening to my friends Ryan ‘Doc’ Johnson and Jed ‘the Coolness’ Dawson that indie writers are taking notice of the Big Two’s lack of writing ability.
This is what also happened to the early Dreamworks movies...and if it wasn’t for Spielberg’s name and CGI prowess that company too would’ve tanked. But indie comics will be the way to go if you’re a young reader wanting to revel in the mystery of comics’ power, or an experienced reader needing a break. So, keep up the good work!
Caveat 2: Not Mostly Their Fault
As much as I’ve spouted off and created a general malaise of hate toward the creative stylings of Mr. Didio and Mr. Quesada (and Dan probably gets it worst since I was a long time DC reader), I get that they have bigger issues...the economy and keeping their jobs. I’m sure every chief editor worries themselves silly and admittedly these two have taken the biggest risks in comic book history (or at least risks considering the amount of massive overhauls of original work and previous risks which they undid).
In their time (SPOILER ALERT!!!) they managed to disassemble the Avengers, kill over 90% of the mutants, shoot and kill Captain America, erase Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson, bring back Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps., kill Martian Manhunter, destroy the entire 4th World and (to me the largest comic sin) bring back Barry Allen. That’s takes large stones...because I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one turned off by many of those choices. At the same time they introduced us to Brad Meltzer and Brian Michael Bendis. And despite their larger shortcomings with the A-list heroes, manage to each eek out a C-lister or two that makes us go, “Oh yeah, that person existed once didn’t they?” And I’m certain they’re banging their heads against the wall to figure out how to revive the comic book industry as a whole.
Caveat 3: I Look to You
The average reader, and yes, even the fanboys, because for those who do dedicate themselves financially to the enormous collection of comics, crossovers, variant covers, and one-shots in an attempt to both collect and keep current with the whole universe, you deserve to be heard. You deserve to keep e-mailing (it’s free!) or sending in letters (40 cents!) or barking at comicons (bit more expensive) so The Big Two can hear how you feel. If you stopped buying comics for one month, I guarantee you that they’d take notice.
Readers are dreamers. I am a dreamer. And I still believe that comics can astound (I just read the Superman/Batman ‘Search for Kryptonite’, great series...great issues). With comic movies holding their own these days the best way to get more comic fans is to stay true to straightforward traditional storytelling and every once in a while, give the people what they want. I do think folks should keep reading...to keep the dreams alive. But recognize the power you all have as readers too...
Phew...alright, now that the air’s cleared, let’s do this...
Cup ‘o Brooks
Wow...you’ve just got done reading Secret Invasion. You’ve just spent the past year wondering who is good and who is bad (common terrorist theme). You’ve marveled (heh!) at the ability for a crossover to effectively alter the course of multiple titles and lives. You’ve seen this massive catastrophe destroy a self described demi-god (Tony Stark) and miraculously bring salvation to him and other heroes at the same time.
And all of this happened in one issue? Sorry, I mean one issue!
Apparently the new theme at Marvel is: We’re gonna thrill you...we’re gonna chill you...then we’re gonna land this big 747 storyline with a sudden drop so you ask the following questions:
-What did happen to Janet Van Dyne?
-How does the president magically trust Norman Osborn?
-How does everyone accept Captain America with a gun?
-Why is the White Queen in cahoots with Victor VonDoom?
Yes friends, Dark Reign is upon us. And let me tell you what will happen:
-Tony Stark will save the day.
-Namor will betray the Dark Illuminati.
-Of course, Doom will betray it first.
-Dr. Strange will return to F-up The Hood.
-The Avengers will be cool again (and do a JLA/JSA thanksgiving).
-Loki...will remain a woman...and be drawn poorly.
-The Luke Cage/Jessica Jones baby will not be found.
-This will last through mid-summer and give way to the Marvel/DC Crossover: Infinite Secret Crisis War, the longest multi-universe war in comic history. Only Spiderman lives.
In fiction and poetry they tell us: show, don’t tell. And yet Marvel has found a way to do this at the beginning and end of their past three major events (Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion). I know Bendis is a great writer and my only thought is that someone’s not giving him the time to let his ideas move and breathe. He knows that to build any comics ethos you have to plant seeds along the way. Sadly, I don’t see many of the seeds this time around (the only believable person in that room is Namor...clearly he hates most surface dwellers and covets Sue Richards).
My Hope for Marvel:
-Let Bendis write, give him room.
-Bring back Mary Jane.
-Don’t bring back Jean Grey.
-Deadshot & Skrull Kill Krew...genius...mostly for the humor and social commentary.
Keep Reading: The Avengers, Wolverine (Old Man Logan is genius), Deadshot, SKK.
Past few weeks it was me telling you about how we’re gonna shelve Batman (huh?), give Supes what he wants (a nation of kryptonians) and take away what he loves (his father), and bring back Bary Allen (oh wait, he’s back...he been chasing a time traveling bullet). I could also go into how DD likes to spend his words talking to DC Nation as if it’s this private forum where the members won’t speculate and dish any ‘secret’ he chooses to tell.
He is the master of tease. In a very non-functional way.
Again, Final Crisis does have some cool things:
-Wonder Woman is a fury.
-The only written appearance of the Anti-Life Equation.
Two...meanwhile, there’s a whole mess of confusing continuity issues that I don’t know if this parallels Grant Morrison’s ‘Rock of Ages’ or a blender of messed up storylines and DC’s own Identity Crisis. I can tell PB Nation two things for certain (unless they go and tell other people...wait what am I saying...someone let Eddie Berganza or Mike Carlin write this space):
1. DC is Dead...no Alive...but really Dead
I’ve spoken about this before. DC was known for having many of their major heroes killed off. And when they returned, they were smart enough to have decent writers bring them back. Taking nothing away from Hal Jordan’s return (since, well, any of the GL series are the best reads right now) why in the world does Barry Allen need to come back?
My friend DJ once had me read the return of Barry Allen and really explained why he shouldn’t come back. Wally fits the mythos of the Flash well because he’s still hot tempered but has grown enough to deal with his issues (and others). Brining Barry back is like having buddy holly come back from the dead. What makes Barry cool is that he seems to be the ONLY hero left who hasn’t been tainted or done anything wrong (even in Identity Crisis...sure he’s the tie breaking vote but who remembers that?).
Bringing him back increases the chances of something bad happening. Of him doing something he shouldn’t. That sucks. And with the bizarre mistrust and alienation of the Supes/Bats/Wondie during Infinite Crisis, and the more bizarre recent storylines: Supes’ world is changed, Batman’s on vacation, WW’s about to be dominated by men (yet...feminist critics unite and kick DD square in the nads); this forced return to the silver age is going to be stained with the blood of the modern age.
2. Screw Generations
Marvel is the house of ideas, because they focus on their big three groups (X-Men, FF, Avengers) and finds ways to weave intricate storylines in and around each. They’ve always stayed away from the generational hero line, preferring a more horizontal expansion to their roster. DC has always, tradiationally, and most welcomedly, been vertical, enabling newer, younger heroes to either take the mantle, or cowl, or some new identity of their own and contribute. Marvel heroes are friends, DC heroes are family.
So, let’s celebrate by canceling Nightwing, Robin, and Birds of Prey (another hit to female driven comic series). Let’s find a refrigerator to shove Wally into (there’s nothing they can do...the flash is not GL...they can’t have a zillion of them). Let’s kill every other B-List hero who at one point was a large contributor to the universe. And if you think DD doesn’t want to do this, read his column. The man almost brags about what he’s doing. Yikes. Really?!
So PB Nation, you must have hope and I’ll tell you...in DD’s column about the return of Barry Allen, he stated that they tried three times to bring back Barry. Something tells me that there’s some resistance inside of DC to that thought (and he can pull Geof Johns into this all he wants...the universe taking his fault solely...). Notice the dearth of quality writers not present in the DC cannon? And sales on FC can’t even be well. I think we’re beginning to see the end of DD, and hopefully the rise of Eddie Berganza who will bring back solid JLA rosters (hey Dan, Marvel only reassembled the Avengers to bring a similar all star line up like the Magnificent 7 JLA).
While I’d like to speculate on Blackest Night (I’m skipping over the Evil thing in January since it’s gonna be weak), it’s the only upcoming major event I’m looking forward to. In fact, you wanna bring back Barry Allen in a heartwrenching, bittersweet moment...give him a black ring.
My Hope for DC:
-Meltzer, Smith, & David all decide to write for DC again.
-Luthor kills Libra.
-Re-kill Barry Allen.
-Stop Trinity...and any other future incarnation.
-Green Lantern series equals moral ambiguity with the new laws...keep it up!
Keep Reading: GL Series...and that’s about it...
Final Secret Thoughts
The economy sucks right now. We have an incoming president whom to many resembles the prowess of a superhero (when I hear pundits attack whether or not he takes off his shirt over anything else about him, I get the feeling that our country’s in for a wake up). Young readers wanna be amazed. Older readers wanna be made to think the classic “what does happen when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object?” Collectors want to invest money, not lose money. Thus, until you start getting quality writers to fix your messes, at the very least...
make comics 75 cents again.