See other weird comics stories here!
Story Two: Comics and Dreams
Story Three: Why Superhero Comics Bite
Story Four: Goony and Phil Motion Comic
This is Goony
Story Five: Who is The Crimebuster?
Story Nine: Mr. Pipps and the Wide-Awakes Comic
Why Do Superhero Comics Bite the Big Bag?
I tirelessly probe the universe of comics, searching for the strange, the remarkable, and the combination of story and art that move the artform towards perfection. No comic can be ignored (except for a couple from Marvel and DC) because of the potential they hold.
I ran across the following link today: http://imgur.com/gallery/51sQw
It made Imgur's front page and reminded me again why I should stay away from that site; the main reason being everyone on Imgur has an aggregate mental age of twelve years old.
Behind the link is a panel sequence from a new comic called "injustice" which (also apparently) ends up being an imaginary story. In the panel above we get to see Batman finally murder the Joker with his bare hands but it's not actually happening so continuity is not disturbed and the Joker continues staying at Arkham and the Batman continues driving around in his Batmobile.
Koala! That injustice comic looked so stupid as shit. So dipshitty. Kids are so stupid. You know what, I'll go farther and say kids are as stupid as I was when I was their age. I bought into that stupid bullshit when I was their age. I cared about characters that were invented 40 years before I was alive.
And I remember being six, walking past a magazine rack with my dad. The year was 1976. The occasion was a summer vacation in Mystic Island, Connecticut. I pointed out the comics on the rack. My father mentioned to me that the comics we were seeing had the same heroes as when he was a boy. At that time my dad was 33, and had had three sons.
I saw a cover with Aquaman fighting Black Manta. What about this? I asked, pointing. Did you have comics with Aquaman fighting Black Manta?
Yes, my dad replied, he remembered Black Manta. He said the same heroes even fought the same villians as they did when he was a kid.
They sure did.
So now there's this Injustice Bee Ess with superman and Batman and the Joker, which is a rehash and a ripoff of Frank Miller's Dark Knight which came out in 1986, exactly thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, the Joker's neck breaking was interesting because it actually hadn't been done before. Doing it again, the same way, thirty years later with slightly different costumes is nothing but dumb.
So yeah. Superheroes. That's why they suck and that's why they will always suck. My hunch is that it's illegal for corporations to destroy revenue-generating property. This is a theory, but if it's true, then it means people who "write" for comics have to wrack their brains to come up with different generic adventures for these characters that, according to law, cannot undergo major changes. Superman's been with Lois Lane for seventy years. Peter Parker's been with Mary Jane for fifty years.
Back in the 80s when Robin left Batman to become Nightwing, the bosses at Warner Brothers instructed the higher-ups at DC, who subsequently relayed the instructions to the writers at DC: That Batman cannot be a solo character, but must be partnered with Robin, and also that the "new" Robin must be a young man with short black hair.
As a result of this instruction from Warner Brothers, Dick Grayson was replaced by Jason Todd (who was then killed by the first 900 number character-fate call-in). Jason Todd, a young man with short black hair, was also from a family of itinerant acrobats. Then Tim Drake became the new Robin... Tim Drake being a young man with short black hair. Then the latest Robin (Batman's son), is a young man with short black hair. It goes on and on and on. They're legally constrained from changing the images. It's always going to be the same.
A superhero writer who's "lucky" might get handed the awesome gig of writing a "new" character such as "X-23", who is a female version of Wolverine. I'm not lying, this is actually a thing. It's a female version and she has the exact same powers all the way down to the healing and the adamantium skeleton. And this is hailed as innovation nowadays. Wow, a female character who kicks ass, can you believe it? Unlike all the other kick-ass female characters who have preceded "X-23" in basically every movie since Sigourney Weaver in Aliens in 1987, the "X-23" character is really going to kick some ass. "Assy-ass-kicker" they should call this new wolverine lady.
I remember in the 1990s when I worked in a bookstore that sold comics, I was talking to a young man about my age who bought tons and tons of Marvel comics every week. I had started to switch over to independent comics, and black and white comics. The only "Superhero" comic I was reading was Punisher by Mike Baron (which still holds up today as an awesomely well-written comic!) I was talking to this young man and I asked him, why do you bother reading Wolverine comics? Nothing happens in them, it's just a different guy in a costume gets beat on every month, so... why?
The young man replied "Well they're gonna make some awesome relevations about Wolverine's father, and we're finally gonna find out who he is!"
And I said "You mean Sabertooth? That guy who wolverine's been fighting since the 80s? You're gonna find out in a couple issues that maybe Sabertooth is Wolverine's father, possibly, maybe? Find out next month in next month's exciting issue, really for sure next time?"
The guy looked a little ashamed, but somehow I still picture him today buying Marvel comics and reading them to his children.
Please note: I'm complaining about the writers of superheroes, and specifically I'm complaining about the hacks who write superheroes. A hack is a guy who writes a plot and doesn't care about how it turns out. He may be embarrassed by the source material, but he needs a paycheck and so he plods through. Alternately, a writer may care about the source material, and think superheroes are furr-ociously fun-tastic, but he may have not paid enough attention to the craft and art of writing to actually understand that he's just written a hackneyed piece of forgettable garbage. The result is pretty much the same in either event.
I'm not going to complain about the artists who do superheroes, though. Some of them are pretty good. Essentially, the artists are drawing bodies in action, and by turns this art can be exciting and involving. Sure, some of them hate comics and probably would have been better off doing commercial illustration, but drawing a page of comics is hard work and I'm not going to beef about them here.
Think about, won't you? Superhero characters can't undergo major changes. Comics about them are always going to be them grunting and finding their way out of deathtraps.
Also, I'm not saying that "Alternative" comics are always better than superheroes. Some of them are worse, but for different reasons.