Defective Comics

Where Things Went Wrong?

Valerie D’Orazio says a lot of stuff I agree with here. I don’t think it’s possible to doubt that the comics that a lot of us used to know and love have been replaced with something creepy and mean and severely corporatized.

I don’t normally object to death in comics, or severe violence, or rudeness, or anything else like that. But I’m close to tapped out on it. There’s nothing wrong with death or violence or rudeness, because they can create great stories and characters. But you can’t overdo it, or it loses its power. All the stuff that’s supposed to shock us has been dumped on us in such quantities that no one notices any more.

So really, I’d like ’em to stop. Quit killing characters for shock value. Quit abusing characters for shock value. Stop taking easy shortcuts to big sales, and just start writing fun stories again.

I’m not saying to quit publishing “The Punisher” or “The Authority.” But quit trying to turn everyone into Punisher and Authority clones.

This problem really started, at least for DC, with “Identity Crisis.” Killing the Elongated Man’s wife, Sue Dibny, was a bad enough mistake, but for a lot of people, retconning her into a rape victim was just pointlessly trying to shock readers. It wasn’t edgy storytelling — it was just mean. And for some reason, DC mistook the angry complaints for proof that they were being edgy and avant garde, so they really got busy ladling on the blood. The company that used to write stories where the violent psychos from Image Comics were parodied into villains was now trying to turn their whole company into Image Comics East…

But the problem with doing stuff for shock value is that it loses its shock value when you do it too much. And when people stop being shocked by stunt storylines, it doesn’t mean you should try to get even more extreme. It means you should probably stop trying to shock your readers all the time.

And DC, please stop trying to recreate the glory days of “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” People would probably rather read good, entertaining, original stories, instead of rehashes of 20-year-old comics. Just because Hollywood can’t stop releasing remake after remake after remake doesn’t mean you should emulate them.

And this doesn’t just go for DC either. Marvel has been way too fond of random deaths and endless crossovers and ever more extreme “shocks” that no longer shock.

Compare “Countdown” to the “Marvel Adventures” line. The former is loud, violent, flashy, tied down to confusing continuity that new readers can’t understand, pretends to be shocking, and worse, is mired in bad, boring writing. The latter has great writing, doesn’t try to overload its readers with shocks and deaths and blood, doesn’t confuse new readers, and is just plain fun to read.

Both DC and Marvel should spend more time emulating “Marvel Adventures” and less time producing dreck like “Countdown.”

Off topic: Yes, I’m way behind on my comics reviews, and I’m likely to stay way behind for a while. I’ll try to catch up over this weekend and next week.

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