Love Hurts

Bobby DerieBobby Derie Registered User regular
"Life is love. Love hurts. Life is pain."
- Mantra of the Comics Fan

Herein be spoilers; be warned. This will, in fact, be the only warning.

There's been much fan-rage lately over events in the Big Two. DC is doing it's Rebirth, and following a "fuck you Alan Moore" plot as revealed in pirated first issues; Marvel just declared that Captain America is, always has been, and always will be an agent of Hydra. These developments in the big companies accompany major events, and upset the apple-cart, generating considerable attraction not just from comic readers, but from media outlets.

All of this, of course, is by design. It is nothing we haven't seen before. Because for Marvel and DC especially, and to a lesser extant other companies that follow a superhero universe modeled on what they created, "they changed it now it sucks" is a regular, recurrent event. It is not enough for Marvel and DC to just write stories featuring villains of the week; they want to draw new readers in, and keep them engaged. So while individual books are allowed a degree of creative freedom, you mostly see short story arcs that tie into or reflect larger meta-events, like Rebirth or Civil War II, and you see characters die, change costumes, have funky stuff happen to their power sets, etc.

Granted, it hasn't always been this way, exactly. And the companies weren't always as good at it as they used to be. Everybody remembers the media kerfuffle that surrounded the Death of Superman, or the last time they killed Spider-Man or Captain America. Long, ongoing storylines where characters are allowed to develop on their own, set and achieve goals, creators are allowed to experiment with shifting perspectives or new storytelling techniques are relatively rare - Neil Gaiman on Sandman, or Brandon Graham & co. on Prophet. But the basic idea of a sort of currently sea-tossed status quo, with a lot of turnover and action and drama that drives sales, that's been going on since Crisis on Multiple Earths and the original Secret Wars (okay, maybe Infinity Gauntlet would be a better example, but you know what I'm getting at, I hope).

And in part, this is a good thing. Turnover keeps things fresh - and we want freshness. If we wanted to just read the same old stories told over and again, we'd just buy a trade and never buy a new comic. We as fans want originality, we want new comics to read and enjoy - and we want at least the illusion of progress. This is, I think, why indie comics like Empowered and Hellboy/Mignolaverse have really kept my interest the last however many years, while I've faded away from DC and Marvel, aside from a few small projects that generally keep far and away from the craziness of the big events.

Basically, I'm burnt out. But I remember what it was to love. I remember when I was really deeply invested in characters like Spider-Man and Captain America, and I would stop at a certain panel on a certain page and say out loud "They can't do that."

Well, of course they can. It's their characters, their books. And Marvel and DC comics owe you, the fan, nothing. They aren't there to fulfill your expectations. They are there to make money, and if the writers and artists and inkers and letterers create art and classics of graphic storytelling at the same time, that's a bonus.

I didn't want to put this in either the DC or Marvel threads, because this is really above either of the events going on in those comics right now. I took my step back a long time ago; the changes that Marvel and DC make to their flagship universes are ink written on water, and will flow away again as soon as there's the slightest current. That's by design. I have no more fucks to give about that. But I do think it is important to realize and acknowledge what is being done and why - to see the rhetoric in how these changes are made, and what that tells you of the people making the changes.

Marvel and DC want to know that you still love them.

Yes, they still want your money. But if you didn't love the characters and universes they created, they wouldn't be able to hurt you. And they're trying to pull at your fanboy or fangirl heartstrings just like a soap opera. They do this because they want to know if you're still emotionally invested in these properties. Hopefully, they're also planning for a payoff - that doesn't always happen; ego and lack of talent sometimes get in the way. But if you're upset about this, if you're thinking of posting a rant or leaving a nasty comment or tweeting Geoff Johns something that'll make his brain curdle...actually, I won't stop you on that last point, I think it would be funny and ghost knows he deserves it for other things...keep that in mind. This isn't about Marvel or DC making stupid decisions. They do that all the time. This is about Marvel and DC trying to remind you why you love these things, even if they have to twist and destroy them to catch your interest.

It's not personal. Just business.

The Unpublishable - Original fiction blog, updates Fridays
Sex & the Cthulhu Mythos


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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    I no longer love any of them

    except maybe the MCU and the DC animated stuff (the later of which is pretty old at this point) JLU ended ten years ago! TEN! and Brave and Bold wrapped up five years ago.

    I basically used the new 52 as a stopping point. If DC was going to stop making the comics I loved about the characters I loved, than I was going to stop buying them.

    I guess on the plus side, I can dedicate my former comics money to back issues so my local shop can still make money


    for the record, I started collecting comics in 1994. I know all about Chromium and holographic covers and packaged in trading cards. I've suffered from excessive pouch disorder since 1996. I'm familiar with all of the cash grab ideas they ever put out. I think new 52 was the worst of them.

    Xaquin on
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    SorceSorce Not ThereRegistered User regular
    They can know that I still love them, or at least the fictional stories that they provide with the characters I grew up with, but that it doesn't necessarily translate into dollar signs on their end. I think that what Johns is attempting to do at DC is pretty interesting, and after I'd let it marinate a bit in my head I just laughed because it's the perfect middle finger to a lot of people both in the industry and out. And in my opinion, it's a middle finger worth showing.

    As far as the Captain America stuff, I have no idea what the set-up or what they're trying to do with it, so I can't comment. What I can comment on is something sort-of similar (in a status quo sense) of what Marvel did with Thor and Mjolinir. That, I thought was an interesting way to twist the story, trying something different in a female Thor, and what that might mean for the characters or even that corner of the universe going forward.

    Of course, all of these ideas have to translate into sales for them to really work, I think. And I hope they do work for them, because it pushes new stories forward and stops things from being stagnant. I, however, will just sit here and maybe wait for the TPB; I'm too burnt out.

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    Centipede DamascusCentipede Damascus Registered User regular
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    Linespider5Linespider5 ALL HAIL KING KILLMONGER Registered User regular
    I don't have much to add on this one, much beyond the fact that I always feel a little chagrin and mixed feelings whenever a comics publisher runs to a media outlet with their hot new story development. Like, when Rollingstone or PARADE or Newsweek gets this scoop about whatever, who is it for? Obviously there's a promotion angle and I'm not clueless to that, but, in a meta-sense there's always this sort of, "This story development that readers probably don't want? Let's not even let it play out naturally in the comic, we need to spoil it ahead of time so we can even screw with the readers who are actively supporting this narrative."

    It just seems like a tactic that doesn't, uh, work? Or maybe it does? Do people actually see these news items implanted in their periodical of choice and then find out how to go back to buying Batman again?

    I would really like a breakdown of how this process is intended to work, and how much it actually does.

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    Bobby DerieBobby Derie Registered User regular
    I don't have the numbers to back it up - you'd have to do some Google magic to pair sales with headlines - but I do think that news stories do drive sales, just like movies, television shows, etc. do. Tie-in is a real phenomena, and the hype around the Death of Superman is part of what drove the collector's market...

    ...which is the downside of it, natch. There are so many comics out there these days, no one has time or money to read them all, and so it doesn't come down to "quality" as much as noise - the comic-buying herd tends to follow the loudest voice. It's why Big Events sell, and it's why comic publishers try to drum up some interest in series. To sell comics.

    The Unpublishable - Original fiction blog, updates Fridays
    Sex & the Cthulhu Mythos
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