When it comes to comics, the golden age has passed, the silver age has been gone, the renaissance/bronze age that most grown ups remember from their teens/ youth ended as I was born, we hit an extreme but sad low in the 90’s & now we’re living in what I like to call the ‘Crystal Age’ of comic books & superheroes. Why a crystal age? Well, the quality of superhero books on the market today aren’t really as game changing as the publisher would like you to believe. The look & tone & the quality of comics today is all over the place. Some people love the new Superman while others hate it (I’ll get into that later) & some of the discrepancies are generational. It’s a mixed batch of a comics heyday & a speculative boom full of Variant covers & industry hype. Yet in terms of art, it’s very unique & above the hell that was the erratic ’EXTREME 4 DA KIDZ’ art of the early to mid 90’s, but I also have some issues with this new current comic book art.
Before I get to my complaints/praises, let me take you back to the early 2000’s & late 90’s, in a place where there are no bookstores, no comic shops & at this point in time the only comics you could buy were in Pharmacies, though they were always the boring Archie digest comics. So the only way to get comics was to beg to your dad to drive you some two, three towns over to a comic shop located on the other side of a city’s tracks or the flea market. Despite the two differences in choices, they always resulted in the same response from my parents at the time: “Why do you want those comics? That’s a waste of money. It better not have nuditeh!” Yeah, because everyone in the comics reading public wants to see Superman naked. Mind you, this was pre- Rule 34 internet here, so such a thing couldn’t exist. Or it might have existed in the underground, who knows! I read what I bought & being a comics wanderer & getting stuff at face value, I either ended up with Image comics that were published during their infancy, issues from titles that were in the middle of some story arc or a huge crossover & that would put me at a confusion. Think about it, I didn’t have internet & most of the comics reviewers we have come to grow fond of now (Linkara) weren’t around so all I had was the cover, the number issue on the left hand corner with the publishing logo & hope that it wasn’t going to suck. Most of the flea market comics venders sold nothing but early 90’s comics that they thought would be worth more than just a dollar a piece. My general fare would be ‘Youngblood (yeah, I know), Iron Man, Superboy, Gen 12, Cable & X-Force. All top tier American literature that would make William Golding blush.
One of the first comics I remember buying & loving the ever hell out of, was ‘The Punisher: War Journal #9’
I wasn’t completely ignorant to all the spandex superhero comics, but my preference was mostly of the DC variety. It wasn’t until quite some time ago that I experimented into the not so popular Marvel superheroes. Who else to counter the remorseless, gun totting, vigilante than with a boy scout such as Superman.
After a while I started getting tired of spandex superheroes with the cheap ass one-liners like “It’s Badrock time!” & the cheap fights with the dull 90’s Liefeld poses/art. My interest feigned just as I came across Japanese Manga! This was that new avenue of storytelling with cutting edge art & edgy stories. Rated T for Teen & it’s got black & white gore that American comics are too afraid to show, I ate it up! My manga (Man-guh, Mon-guh. I don‘t care how you call it. Don‘t complain you weebs!) reading got out so out of hand, I started reading stuff I would have never picked up in the first place. I read them because of the art style & at that time everyone was getting bitten by the anime bug when ‘Sailor Moon‘ and ‘Pokemon‘ hit the American airwaves. This was at that right time when ‘Shonen Jump’ and ‘Tokyopop’ started becoming prominent & buying licenses for Japanese franchises up the butt. I never bought a lot of manga, most of my knowledge of that came from the library or buying issues of ‘Shonen Jump’ either through a Schoolastic book fair order or going to a Walgreens in the Asian populated part of town (Because apparently there isn‘t a demand for Japanese comics in a city near the middle school I attended). Then came my issue with manga, so many volumes produced almost every week (Seriously, how many volumes of Naruto did they release?). Most titles fell back into the same tropes of ‘fighting so hard, announcing moves before exacting them, etc, etc.’ Living where I live, if it was already hard enough to find American comics; manga was that golden chalice compared to American comics! Then hearing about grown people talking about how as kids they would pick up their favorite comics from the LIQUOR STORE, it made me envy 80‘s kids. I’m sure you all know where I’m going with this. Thanks alot 1990’s MARVEL!! Yeah, they’re the reason most comic publishers signed into exclusive deals with distributors to have their comics sold only at comic shops.
The hard work, the lack of satisfaction of finding issues to complete a specific arc (This was before Amazon became a thing), the lack of diversity, my parents enforcing what I spent my weekly $5 on & the clichés of both American & Japanese comics burnt me out. I was done for the moment, that was until I made an impulse buy on an issue of Superboy #3. No, that specific title & issue was not the saving grace (The story was crap), it was typical superhero bull, but in that issue was an ad that raised so many questions for me.
What is ‘DC Vertigo’?
Is it a comic? If so, does the art in this comic look like this ad?
I was very curious to find what this Sandman was all about, then I struck gold when I found a trade paperback version of ‘The Sandman: A Game of You’ at the local library. My god, this was the most scary, intelligent, well drawn & disturbing comic I’ve ever read at that point. It was the first time I put down the comic, thought about what in holy terror I just read, then continued reading. At that time all I knew about fantasy was either from heavy metal album covers or the then ‘current’ Harry Potter films which weren’t terrible, it got kids to read but wasn’t my thing. Sandman was that eye opener, comics weren’t just about the spandex or the 90’s one liners. It taught me that the fantasy genre doesn’t have to be the Frazetta painting with some buff guy holding a sword with some woman holding onto his leg, showing off her “GRRREAT ASS!!!”, nor did fantasy have to be about some orphaned boy in a whimsical world. Neil Gaiman deserves all the credit he’s gotten for the book, case closed, I nearly have most of the Sandman comics in trades & single issues. It’s the first ever comic where I saw a baby get eaten by a baby creature, it’s the first comic where I fully understood the literary references, an emphasis on continuity (Though you can read the comics in any order) & it showcased art from a variety of artists I‘ve grown to love (Charles Vess, Malcom Jones III, Dave McKean, Etc,etc). Ever since picking up ‘A Game of You’ I opened up to more of Gaiman’s written work & also hunted down more titles brandishing the DC Vertigo logo.
Several years later (Can’t think of the estimate here) I’m still collecting comics. Though my past biases of obscure, spandex heroes have diminished, I now have a bias between comics with stupid names, stupid character designs & mainly stupid stories. As a kid I was into the look of it all & whether every page has an action sequence, now I’m buying them for the story. Doesn’t matter if the cover is damaged or if it has no cover at all, the story matters. Yeah, I’m still (incidentally) buying crap comics because they’re in polybags & the vendors don’t let me open them up & skim through them. Either way, it’s a mystical journey & it doesn’t get old, especially being older & more financially responsible. My mom isn’t that conservative or unfamiliar with my interest in comics, for all I know she sees that as a better alternative to wasting money on drugs. Artists are right, comics keep kids from drugs & not in the PSA ‘Spiderman VS the Vape Monster’ sort of way.
And now, a criticism/praise of so many comic publishers that have struck me from then till now:
-Marvel: Like I said before, I was never into Marvel comics as a kid. Well, wasn’t into most of Marvel comics as I always frequented on getting issues of The Punisher & any other character I thought would be cool, but really wasn’t like schlock characters such as ‘Ravage 2099’ or ‘Nomad’ when he sported a leather jacket & was pretty much the shotgun wielding vigilante. Nowadays, I’m collecting what I enjoy when it comes to Marvel comics.
As a kid I never read any X-Men comics, mainly because the ones I found were the 90’s comics with the crappy art & Marvel’s stupid editorial mandate that “Every ‘X-’ title had to connect with other ‘X’ books in continuity” bull. Why? Because that was their hot selling comic in the 90’s & just like DC today with Batman, more titles related to our best seller mean more $$$$. My eight year old self should have started with Chris Clearmont, now that’s a writer who can write a darn good X-Men story.
I’m picking up marvel comics I would have never would have read or never would of understood as a kid. ‘Quasar’ is pretty freaking awesome, a clone of ‘Green Lantern’ but the stories are very enjoyable. Same goes to ‘Moon Knight’.
So Marvel, it’s on my list of comics I have fun with. I haven’t read a lot of current or recent Marvel comics, but I’m seeing a mixed bag of quality & a lot of darker/violent titles that I’ll get into later, but I still see them having light fun with their characters. Overall, they’re now changing their comic counterpart’s cosmetics to make them similar to the films. Nothing critical about it, but it kinda annoys me, why let go of Wolverine’s yellow & black costume for that leathery GIMP suit? Why?
-DC: Loved their work as a kid, but now they are the dethroned kings.
In my opinion, DC’s heyday was in the 80’s when Jeanette Khan was taking chances & letting the artists experiment. In the 80’s we had V For Vandetta, Watchmen, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Death in the Family, the return of characters of the pulps from Doc Savage to The Shadow, The reinvigoration of Swamp Thing, then you had some weird artistic risks being taken like rebooting ‘The Sandman’ (Both the black robed eternal & the gasmask guy from the 1930‘s) & ‘Kid Eternity’ by turning them dark & cerebral. And on that same art style you had Grant Morrison’s chilling & trippy ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’ which was a haunted house story featuring Batman & less like what we got with the video games.
One of the short lived comics series I’m trying to look for is a 1987 Doug Moench series he did called ‘Slash Maraud’. I know nothing about the overall plot (saving it before I find some issues) but the covers show me a mix between a detective story mixed with the craziness of ‘Fury Road’. Only 1980’s DC could get away with that.
I said DC is the dethroned king and that’s pretty much correct. After their ‘New 52’ flop, they’re now struggling to rebrand & rebuild since Marvel is pretty much owning the competition (same goes to their film work). They pretty much pissed away all the fans that stuck around since their childhoods, all the continuity that was established was erased, just to make new #1’s. Did you know ‘Action Comics’ was a few issues away from hitting issue #1000 before the reboot was implemented? They could have done this reboot to the low selling titles, but no, had to be everyone from Batman to obscure characters such as ‘Mr.Terrific’. (No, not the fake superhero from that ‘Golden Girls’ episode, there’s really a DC superhero called Mr.Terrific.)
My gripe with these current DC superheroes is they’re all taking that ‘Darker means it’s better’. I know I know, hipocracy coming from a guy who wrote ‘He Came Tumbling Over’, but when it comes to happy go lucky superheroes that were built to be happy go lucky, they don’t need the gritty reboot. Superman does not need to be a brooding emo, Batman kinda does (but it gets annoying after a while). Also, someone at DC’s advertising division must not know how to contain themselves. Every other new DC comic I see mostly contains ads for their other titles & loves to place them in every other page of all their comics. I can understand that logic when it comes to comics given for free on ‘Free Comic Book Day’, but this is a comic people paid money for. $4.99 for a book with a slice of story & a thick order of adverts of reprints of already known classics. I don’t like most of DC’s new comics, but I see a few gems such as ‘Batman 66’.
-Image: The speculator boom, because who cares about a well done story, this issue has a big #1 on it, it clearly says it’s a collector’s item & it comes with a free PAWG pog! It must really mean this will be worth millions & millions of dollars by the year 2002! Wrong, and because of that, the used comic market is full of #1 issues of comics like ‘Wild C.A.T.S, Youngblood, Freak Force & Cyber Force’, all comics riding off the success of X-Men. I’ve read a lot of them as a kid, still read them out of both curiosity & masochistic enjoyment.
Image in it’s early years published a lot of muscled schlock, but amongst the current criticism, there are some neat titles I read that don’t fall into the criticism that you hear from early 90’s Image. ‘Wild C.A.T.S,’ a typical ensemble superhero team that plays out pretty interestingly. ‘Gen 13’ is pretty much a mix between ‘Generation X’ & ‘Beverly Hills 90210’, but less stupid. ‘Deathblow’ is one of the most fun & awesome, over the top comics I’ve read. Imagine a Steven Seagull (Circa late 80’s, early 90’s) drawn in a Frank Miller Sin City style where he travels through a jungle to take out a trafficker who is also a black magic witch & summons a hell demon. That’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Of all the crappy, dull, poorly written Image comics that are out there, I can enjoy some of them the same way I can enjoy movies like ‘Cobra’ or the live action ‘Street Fighter’ movie from 1994. They’re not classics, but they are fun films to watch when you’re bored or depressed.
This is a comic company that made quite an improvement, especially in their current incarnation. It has that distinct indie art style, the subject matter they cover in these books are a mix of mature & immature. Saga, this fantasy/ science fiction book has a lot of imagination, but the writing is decent & it seems like the show runners are pulling a “We can do this messed up thing because we want to do this messed up thing.” A dinosaur giving himself a hummer, why? The fun! The messed up side of me says “Yeah!!! Bring it!” The serious, storytelling critik in me says “This has no context, or reason for being.” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Overall, new Image comics are a breath of fresh air from all the buff superheroes that it brought, all the dumb writing & the Rob Liefeld ‘arte’. Walking Dead isn’t my cup of tea, but it must be selling.
-Dark Horse Comics: Named after Mike Richardson’s comic book shop, I love the early 80’s till late 90’s incarnation of Dark Horse, that was before they became the Licensed Comic Book Adaptation company. Seriously, from the 2000’s till a few years ago, Dark Horse published a lot of Star Wars, a lot of Aliens & a lot of Indiana Jones comics that ranged from awesome to downright terrible extended stories to films we all love. Sure, we have classics such as the early arcs to ‘Aliens’, I heard nothing but good things about the early Indiana Jones comics & the Predator comics were brilliant! Then as the films got sequels, the continuity hell began. Once ‘Alien 3’ came out, all those Newt, Hicks & Ellen stories became retconned to coincide with the release of Alien 3 & from what I’m hearing Dark Horse released new editions of these comics & changed them drastically to make them sound in line with Prometheus. Oh don’t get me started on the Star Wars comics after ‘Episode I’ came out & the retconning of magnificent prequels & sequels such as ‘Splinter in the Mind’s Eye’. That’s another nerd hellzone there.
Aside from the licensed stuff, Dark Horse has a lot of original stuff like ‘The American’ & ‘TimeCop’ which was also made into a kickass film. They were edgy fun & that’s something I’m starting to see with newer titles Dark Horse is publishing now that they lost most of their licenses. They’ve been getting back into the groove of accepting original stories & characters. ’Lady Killer’ looks pretty awesome, (former editor of Blacktime E-Press) ‘Junette Pierre’ couldn’t recommend it to me any more. Of course they still have licenses to Predator & Aliens, but nowhere near as much as they had in the late 90’s to late 2000’s.
-Valiant Comics: A decent comic company that couldn’t of come out in a better time. They succumbed to releasing comics with gimmick covers & trading cards, but the characters were realistic in both writing & art, which was a breath of fresh air from the muscled sausage fest brought on by artists such as Rob Liefeld or John Romita JR. They were superheroes with personality, distinction & well done stories. I really need to collect more of those early 90’s comics. Then in the mid-90’s they were bought by ‘Acclaim Comics’, thus the reason why characters like ‘Turok’ or ‘Shadowman’ were made into video game characters. The line didn’t last for long, I can’t tell you the quality of the comics of those Accalim titles. Then recently, a former studio man/ fan of Valiant bought the rights to all the characters & the company, gave it the resurrection that it deserves & have been selling since. New Valiant looks awesome, while keeping in tone of the original 90’s counterparts. Bloodshot is back, X-O Manowar is back, Eternal Warrior is back & it looks badass! I’ve got some digital issues I’ve been waiting to read, can’t wait. One of the titles that really intrigues me is a character named ‘Faith’, a fat superhero lady who I just heard has got the hots for ‘Archer’ from ‘Archer & Armstrong’. I really need to check that out.
As a kid I thought Valiant was a Marvel copycat & never really felt obligated to hunt more issues. The art felt like I was reading a ‘Magic Schoolbus’ book, the coloring felt like it was done in crayon & the characters made me kinda cringe like ‘Solar: Man of Atom’. I was a stupid kid then, now I see great potential & creativity flowing around very 90’s characters like ‘Rai & The Power Force’ or ‘The Hard Corp’. Very 90’s names for very interesting comics featuring interesting stories. What did you expect, the original editor in chief was Barry Windsor Smith.
And now for the Manga Kings:
-Viz: These guys are the earliest I can recall that tapped into the translated manga market, or as it was known in the 90’s “The translated japanese animation comics” market. These were the guys that brought ‘Fist of the North Star’ & the quite grizzly version of ‘Pokemon’ to the printed page (Rated A for All. I‘m not kidding they were targeted to kids & it showed Arbok getting cut in half with a razor leaf).
Unlike today where every issue of a series is printed in a novel sized digest books that are read right to left, the early comics were printed in the left to right format like any other comic book on the shelf. Along with importing some of the most interesting titles, they also began expanding their brand with ‘Shonen Jump’ which took the same format of a Manga anthology magazine from Japan & imported them here in America sometime in 2002-03 around. They had a stranglehold since most of their printed work already had an established fan base. DragonBall Z & YuGiOh in the same issue, why not spend five dollars on an issue!
Tokyopop: This is a very decisive company, they published some awesome manga like the ‘Cowboy Bebop’ manga, but at the same time they license a bunch of weeb crap. Every time I come across someone selling anime & manga at a flea market, it’s always a bunch of Tokyopop books that I give two Sh**s less about. Then it turns out they filed for bankruptcy some years ago & are making a huge comeback due to popular demand. Hey, because I don’t like the brand, doesn’t mean others should too.
And now we move on to the independent horror trifecta I’ve heard of a few years ago.
Verotik: Glenn F**ing Danzig, that’s all the sales spiel you need to hear.
Yup, the same guy who brought us Samhain & The Misfits also wrote & published comics. I’ve read three of them, Satanik #1, G.O.T.H #2 & the English color translation of ’Devilman’; talk about some of thee most deliciously f***ed up books I’ve read. This isn’t some BS guy who hasn’t read anything hardcore or seen f***ed up movies telling you what you’re about to see is f***ed up (Like the Nostalgia Critic & his ‘The Mask comics are gruesome’ video he did recently. What a puss puss, it wasn’t that messed up you special snowflake!). No, these comics on par with being a kid & watching stuff like ‘The Evil Dead’ for the first time, uncut! It’s a slap to the face & a kick to the gut, the gore is highly detailed & of course, Verotika is the same company that brought us Frazetta’s ‘Death Dealer’ paintings into the comics medium.
This company pretty much cements the idea that you can be the darkest, most hardcore person out there, & still be able to geek out with comics. To sum up Verotik, it was what ‘Image Comics’ tried to be, but were too chicken to be what Verotik did.
(Want to read the most hilarious stunt, read this hilarious as all hell article by a former Boneyard Press artist: http://allofmyheroes.blogspot.com/2015/07/3-days-3-targets.html )
Boneyard Press was strictly adult horror comics, but out of the bibliography there were three titles that struck me as odd such as the ‘Traci Lords’ comic Hart wrote, which I can tell that was one of his “I need to stir more waves to pay off the lawyer’s bills” kind of comic. Nothing against Hart Fisher, but that Traci Lords comic was summed up with “She’s a minor & she’s in porn.” Which is true, she was underage when she took up porno. Then you have his religious comic ‘Soldier of God’ which I gotta respect that, a strictly horror publisher decides “Let’s do the opposite for giggles.” I’m sure it has a horror edge to it. Then we come to the final title I want to mention & I nearly died of laughter when I heard this. Get ready kids, ‘The Mighty Morphin Rump Rangers’. I nearly passed out from that title alone. Yeah, I heard how ‘Linkara’ fooled people into thinking he was going to review this title on his show (I wish he would).
Since most of Hart Fisher’s comics had a point & reason for being, I emailed Hart & asked what was the reason for writing the Mighty Morphin Rump Rangers. I was expecting him to go on some rant on how the show was dumb & stupid. Instead, this is what I got. This is probably the closes we’ll ever get to a guest interview, but not as long. Enjoy!
Chaos Comics: Ahh yes, the comic company that brought us the very sexy ‘Lady Death’ & the hilarious ‘Evil Ernie’ comics. Unlike Verotik & Boneyard Press which were more NC-17 to X rated comics, Chaos is more R-rated & had more of a budget than the two I mentioned. Nothing bad with comics with a low budget, but Chaos comics was printed in the same comic paper DC & Marvel were printing their titles. As for the comics, I didn’t read a lot of them, but from the few titles I’ve read, I do enjoy it. The comics are dark, bloody & violent, but they are fun reads.
Lady Death, may look like something women’s right’s activists will disapprove of, especially the black lingerie costume, but the first three issues describing her origin are pretty badass & make her a perfect candidate for being a well written female character. Get this, a woman with a warlord father is sucked into hell when villagers begin to riot after finding out he was purposefully starting wars to feed the souls of the dead soldiers to hell demons. Just as she was about to be burned alive, she is sent to hell & makes a deal to receive powers in order to stop her dad frp, trying to rule hell. I had fun reading those first three issues of ‘Lady Death’ & I’m surprised to see that she’s still popular today. Have not read any more Brian Poulido comics, but I’m still on the hunt & luckily they’re not that obscure or rare.
Heavy Metal: Originally owned by ‘National Lampoon’. Yes, those guys. This is one of the best & longest running sci-fi & fantasy comic anthologies out there. Well, the best up until the 90’s, haven’t read any of the new ones but I’m hearing (or maybe this already happened) that Grant Morrison will be editor in chief of the new Heavy Metal.
In my own summary, Heavy Metal is a comic anthology directed towards my kind of crowd. It has tinges of sci-fi & that distinct Frazetta fantasy directed towards teenagers & potheads who listen to metal & punk, sometimes new wave. The nerd that isn’t afraid to explore outside their mainstream comfort zone, that’s the crowd! This comic & its style were the inspiration for ‘Blacktime E-Press’, that & ‘DC Vertigo’ (which I’ll get to later). The comics were indie & foreign as each issue boasted international artists such as Mobieus, Alejandro Jodorowski & even H.R Giger. It’s got everything for everyone (well, almost everyone), it’s got well written interviews & articles on artists (Artists as in illustrators, writers, directors & musicians), comics & all the softcore nudity for everyone!!
I said earlier that Heavy Metal was great until the 90’s, I wasn’t joking there. At that point all the creativity was pushed to the wayside & the whole magazine became nothing but T&A. Nothing wrong with T&A, especially for perverts like me, but when you sacrifice the imagination & creativity that made the brand as popular as it was, then it’s not worth it. There are some good stories lurking in those mid to late 90’s issues, but you’ll have to trudge through the unnecessarily explicitly terrible stories to get to that gem.
DC Vertigo: Ahh yes, the company that started it all for me! If ‘Heavy Metal’ was for the nerds that listened to, well, heavy metal music, then Vertigo was for the kids in the 90’s that listened to electronic rave music & grunge.
Comics didn’t always have to be borderline homoerotic spectacles of muscled guys in spandex hitting each other, it could be intelligent works of art starring non-superhero characters. After the huge success of ‘The Sandman’, that warranted Karen Berger to set up the Vertigo imprint for the mature comics that carpooled with the DC label. After the many successes of titles such as the revival of ‘Swamp Thing’, Grant Morisson’s ‘Animal Man’ & even the awesome ‘Hellblazer’ series, it was a given that these titles wouldn’t mesh well or sit right in the same company that brought us ‘Superman’ and ‘The Flash’.
Before, when comics like Swamp Thing & Sandman were yet under the Vertigo label, they were somehow part of or were tied to the DC universe. If you read some of the early issues of Sandman or Swamp Thing, the artists & writers were given mandates that they had to at least include a DC superhero into their series. That’s why Dream goes into DCU to ask Martian Manhunter for help in an issue, sometimes it works, other times it just looks shoe horned in. Knowing this, I’m still surprised comics like ‘Watchmen’ and Batman: Arkham Asylum’ still brandish their DC logos. I don’t know why.
As I entered High School, comics came back into my life with titles such as Sandman, Fables, Y:The Last Man, & even Preacher. These were edgy, hard hitting, intelligent & violent comics that stimulated my mind when I read every single one of them. They aren’t kids comics, nor are they the same comics that your parents or grandparents read (If they read comics). ‘The Books of Magic’ was pretty much the edgier impetus for Harry Potter. My exposure to DC Vertigo couldn’t of come at a better time than when I began my teens.
Archie Comics: Now this is the stuff grandmothers & bland people want kids to be reading. I’ve read one digest issue of Archie comics that I was curious to buy at a pharmacy & NEVER AGAIN! That was the blandest, unfunny $5 I have ever spent. The reason why I bought an Archie comic was because at that time there was a cartoon on the air called ‘Archie’s Weird Mysteries’ that was basically a Scooby Doo knockoff with the Archie characters. The show was entertaining, as far as ‘DIC’ shows go, but the comic was just bland & pointless. I can see baby boomers enjoying them, not for me. Then you got those god awful ‘SANIC’, Sonic comics that are like a cancer of their own, but at least it’s not ‘SONICHU’!!!
Archie Comics, there’s no conflict in these comics & I gotta say this is one of those times where the reboot is pretty freaking awesome. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is played almost like a 1970’s Satanic witch movie, their horror titles are pretty awesome. I agree it’s explicit, especially the one where Jughead’s dog is killed & Sabrina resurrects the dog, but instead turns the dog evil like ‘Cujo’. Still, it’s eons better than the crap, milktose Archie comics from our childhoods.
Being into comics for as long as I can remember, I’ve grown to realize like any other industry, there are some faults. Industrial plagiarism is one of these faults & it’s very clear as day when you see a Marvel character & a DC character parallel off one another. You can’t tell me that Quasar is not a Marvel version of Green Lantern or Namor is Marvel’s solution to Aquaman. Because of this we got a lot of people researching to see who’s the ripoff & who’s the original & also gives the creative comic readers a ‘what if…?’ battle between two characters from separate companies. The last & only time (That I know of) when DC & Marvel decided to pool resources to make those battles into reality was when they both had their Marvel VS DC comic, then afterwards created the short lived ‘Amalgam Comics’ brand. The titles ranged from okay to freaking abysmal. I’ve read a few of them & the best ones I can think of were ‘Dr.Strange Fate & Lobo The Duck.’ Then you have (Always the punching bag) early 90’s Image comics where their titles were either a clone of X-Men or Wolverine. Why not The Punisher? I don’t know. They were also hawking as many crossover fights & team ups, which was the most creative Image Comics would get in the 90’s.
Earlier I talked about how my parents didn’t really get my fascination for comics, nowadays they accept my hobbie because at least it’s not drugs & I don’t treat my comics as badly as I did way back when I was seven. Despite that, I still see the stigma of comics, even in this day in age when audiences are going batshit crazy over the new Marvel & DC movies. I get it, some people don’t read, they don’t have time to spend 25 minutes reading a single issue, but why go far as to have this scoff-like attitude of “Guh, I don’t read comic books! I watch the movies!” or “Guh, why do a book report on a comic book? That’s not real reading.” What I also don’t like is when teachers fail to see the artistic quality over if Comic books are considered art. After Harvey Pekar, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore & Alejandro Jodorowski dipped their talents into the medium, it is art.
Sure, like any other medium there are the same number of classics & underrated gems as there are pieces of terrible writing & art that were overlooked by editors & published. The thing I don’t get is why restrict kids from reading comics with this striking pretentious snobbery. A comic like ‘Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns’ provides the same kind of satire & intellectual discussion as books like Orwell’s 1984 or Catcher in the Rye. Though these comics have action scenes & men in tights, that shouldn’t stop people from seeing these comics as strictly kid’s stuff. It’s that kind of attitude that causes people like Tara Schultz who start being offended because they’re so narrow minded to the fact that comics are no longer just for kids. Don’t know who Tara Schultz is? She’s a college student who got so angry & uppity because she joined an English class where comics were going to be studied & she was offended that the comics she was assigned had ‘BOOBIES’ & ‘BAD WORDZ’. In one quote I think she said she thought she was just going to be reading Batman & Robin comics.
Or what about recently when DC decided to address the issue of police brutality with a (New 52) Superman comic when (I forgot who drew or wrote it or if that particular issue was any good) Superman punched a cop in the face. Most cops didn’t like that & one of them in an interview said “Why can’t they go back to that Burton/Adam West Batman?” I kinda have to agree, but people (Especially adults today) have to learn that comics are mature, can be mature & in order to avoid reading those kinds of comics, they’ll have to do some research.
With that said, I believe some comics have that equal balance of keeping in tone of their early issues, but mixing in some drops of maturity (Dreadstar, anyone?). With that in mind, I think some comics (Mainly DC Comics) have made some of their well loved characters too violent, too explicit & too brood-ish. The donkey in the room being Superman; All American, All man & the last boy scout. I never understood, still don’t understand some people’s hate for Superman. I can understand the suspicion of what would happen if he decided to be evil & use his powers for anarchy, that’s been explored in ‘Superman: Red Son’ where his ship lands in Communist Russia & became the reason why communism became the superpower of the world. I dug what they did with Superman when he denounced his American citizenship to be the citizen of the world, I dug when he decided to leave earth for a rebuilt Krypton, only to receive hate from the humans & walks the city to explore social problems. I dug all the stories that tested Superman’s morality & his role in Metropolis. The turning point where I have given up on the character was not when he turned into Super Sayian Superman (Electric Superman) where DC tried to make him EXTREME and EDGY 4 DA KIDZ, it was when they decided to make him into a brooding, unliked superhero with dumb people flaws. It all came to me not when reading the New 52 reboot, but with Zack Snyder’s remake. I bared through the thing for 30 minutes, then gave up. We go from America’s colorful icon of optimism, to this urine stained, brooding, sad emo guy who does nothing but cringe (As if he has to poop), cry, yell & watch all the buildings blow up in disaster film quality. What a downfall.
That first time I watched the Richard Donner Superman film on KTLA 5 in the early 2000’s, I truly believed a man can fly & I wanted to hunt down all the comics with the Superman symbol. ‘Man of Steel’ killed that love, the comics are going by that style of darker & grittier Superheroes without any reason but just to chase that edgy teen dollar! I’m kinda sounding like the offended cops & Tara Schultz, aren’t I? I’m not against edgier & darker superheroes, only if there’s a context behind why it’s darker or edgier, like the recent Moon Knights. Marc Spector is a broken man who lost everything & barely remembers the good times, that‘s a reason there. It seems like the reason why Superheroes are the way they are now is because of the audience these comic companies are targeting. I may also relate it to this very cynical society, people get way too suspicious towards characters & real people who are perfect & upstanding citizens.
Is that what the kids are into today? Brooding superheroes, is this why ‘Spawn’ has lasted so long?
Oh this isn’t just a DC thing, Marvel is guilty of the same kind of treatment to their superheroes. Not as much in most of their titles, but the ‘Ultimate Universe’ wasn’t really known for being on par with Archie Comics. I read the first issue of ‘Ultimate X-Men’ & my god, that may of well have just been a ‘MAX Comics’ title, which was basically the Vertigo of the Marvel universe. Unnecessarily bloody & violent, yet at the same time I do like the ideas that were tossed around in that universe like the whole Superhero registration act & the Civil War (which I doubt would be as epic in the film as it was in the book).
My Overall opinion is there needs to be an equal balance. I’m not against violence in art, but we can’t have Superman breaking dude’s necks or Archie sodomizing people. It seemed like after the Comics Code Authority disappeared, it was an epic free for all with artists & writers. Don’t get me wrong, the CCA had it’s share of BS (Like censoring every single little stupid thing like Vampires or punching, they didn’t like the idea of a realistic depiction of an African American in an EC comic. That was all out scumbaggery), but you have to admit, they kinda kept the artists at bay. I’m not for censorship, but artists back then devised many maneuvers to tell their mature story under the watchful eye of the censors. Once they were gone, everything was less subtle & had more telegraphed messages that even a toddler would understand.
We live in such a brilliant age where most services are catered to our computer, phone & tablet screens, so having digital comics was bound to happen. With such an innovation you have two popular opinions. You got people who are against print & would rather strain their eyes reading a screen, then you have the purists who hate the new tablet thingy & stick to the printed page. Although I believe print is king & will never die (Despite what publishers think), I do love services such as ‘Comixology’. Living in a town where the next comic shop is two towns over, digital comics are the only place to get your comics on the spot. Also services like Comixology provide free comics & while most of the time they would be these cheap, four page previews, most of them are entire 1st issues. It cuts the cost of spending money on a title you’re not familiar with & not being a comics speculator, I’m just in it for the story. It also cuts on space & believe me, I’m having quite a dillema with my comics & the space in my room.
While I praise digital comics, especially when anyone can publish their work for all to view, I do have to express some flaws. Buffering & sometimes glitches that crash the app, this doesn’t happen when reading stuff in print. Then you have the simplicity of what might happen if Comixology gets hacked. Everything is pretty much destroyed & all the digital comics you paid for are gone, it happened to me with Playstation Store when they got hacked. So that’s the downside, but overall they’re still comics, if kids are reading the digital versions, then introduce them to the print version, but I’m not angry about it.
PS: Print is still king.
To sum up comic books: whatever age I will be in the future, I’ll always still be collecting because there are still so many stories to be read. Yeah, there isn’t much in the form of new characters, most of the few new characters are parallel versions of Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman. With a good story, the idea of it being a parallel to a popular hero can be ignored. Want a good example of that, read ‘Astro City’, the main superhero is basically Superman.
With all the superhero movies coming out by the pound, I’m not as much into the Marvel movies as I should, same goes with the DC movies, but I can’t see a better time than now. The world have been a scary place & so why not let people escape into the world of a superhero universe for 2 hours? Rather than have another American Sniper, ‘Murica rah rah rah’ exploitative propoganda, I’d rather people sit through the next Avengers movie. There are fears I have that the roll call for movies will be nothing but Marvel & DC & the movie industry will turn into what Marvel comics was in the 90’s. Not enough innovation, a glut of superhero titles & the worst of all, the interconnected continuity with one title despite not really needing to connect to that title (1990’s X-Men comic, anyone?). I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marvel films decide to use the asterix & annotation boxes during the movies to explain to the audience what obscure event they’re talking about some decades ago in another movie some people don’t feel like watching. That’s what reading 90’s Marvel was like, they’d mention something that happened in a comic published decades ago that I don’t have like ‘X-Factor’ or ‘Fantastic Four’. It alienates new readers.
Finally, I have to address the issue of posers. Doesn’t matter what culture or what subculture you’re from, there will always be posers. I’ve heard of these people who think they know all there is to specific characters, but only watched the movies. On that same token you got these very informed people that, rather than help those who don’t know as much, scoff at the newcomers who are just starting out on being a comics fan. Here’s my advice, life’s too short, let it go, unless they start following you to your home to annoy you about how “Deadpool is a superhero who eats pizza & is a writer for the Daily Planet.”, let it go. Life’s too short to yell at posers, spend your resources & energy on other stuff besides wasting it on uneducated people. The same goes to ignorant people.
This has been the comics edition of Blogababble. Next time I will get back to yelling about the world & it’s stupidity. Before I end this, I got some news. Blogababble will be taking a hiatus. I don’t know how long it will take, but I do have to focus more of my time on editing ‘The Woman Lost in the City of Gods & Devils’. So there won’t be any long blogababbles like the one you just read. I might do some Blogababble short entries here & there, maybe post some new ‘Adventures in Pancakes’, but I mostly have to focus on my feature.
Thank you all for reading & spending your time on the Blacktime. I’ll see you guys later.
This entry is dedicated to a collector, fan & overall online friend: