I have an admission to make, I don’t read many new comics. This may seem a strange thing to admit as someone who also wants you to read about his thoughts on comics… But I’m going to try and explain my reasoning behind this and also investigate a common issue between Marvel and DC.
I used to collect most comics on a monthly basis, had the box in Forbidden Planet and spent more than I can afford on single issues. This was the time of Civil War and Secret Invasion which to me was a high point in recent memory for comics and continued narrative. I enjoyed re-reading old comics, seeing the breadcrumbs that had been laid out up to that point as well as hints of what is to come. The first mention of the Dark Reign storyline made me add more to my monthly order and I couldn’t wait to see what Osborn would do with ultimate power.
After moving about a few times and without the time or money to collect the comics each month, I moved on to graphic novels of big events to see if anything grabbed me to restart collecting as I did with Secret Invasion and Siege. However, I am still waiting to be grabbed in the same way. Both brands at the moment seem to use summer to either relaunch or renew characters. We’ve recently had Marvel NOW, Legacy, Fresh Start, New 52 and Rebirth in a short time.
Both publishers also seem to hide from controversy, DC were given great praise and criticism for planning to show the first Lesbian wedding in Batwoman with Kathy Kane marrying her girlfriend. As the day got closer to what was seen as a landmark issue, the wedding ended up being off page. I don’t know if this was always the plan but it seemed to be the publisher backing down to public backlash. That being said, they do also listen to reader feedback to the better which is why we had the New 52 to simplify the history and then Rebirth to try and find a happy balance between brooding and light heartedness that was present in earlier comics.
DC have shown this as well in the last few years with Flashpoint, Rebirth and even most recently Dark Knights Metal. All of these have been able to tell the big bombastic standalone stories that are expected from the cross overs but enough breadcrumbs and lingering plot points that makes you look forward to the ongoing series following it. This is a long way off the Crises era DC where if you hadn’t been following the stories for several years, you could easily get confused as to which character was from where and what their motivation is.
Marvel have had their own string of criticism which most recently has been over the portrayal of Captain America leading up to Secret Empire. This was probably the first time since Dark Reign that I started to get interested in picking up single issues again as it was something new, a massive swing which would have long lasting consequences, or so it seemed. I looked forward to each new issue of Secret Empire once it launched. But as the series continued, it seemed like there would be any overarching consequences and that the status quo at the end of the series was just summed up with, “evil doppelgangers are shit aren’t they?”
They also received from flack from people for gender swapping some heroes which were normally male with both Thor (Jane Foster) and Riri Williams (Ironheart). I was hesitant about the Thor series as wasn’t sure if it was going to be a gender change to Odinson or something more. However, I should have had more faith as Jason Aaron created a character that was different to what came before in Jane Foster, and also got to delve deep into what everyone’s favourite Asgardian tick. This has been one of the most consistent series over the last couple of years which shows that a writer with a plan given the freedom is what works best.
Marvel seem to be the worst offender of this and seem to be hesitant to upset the applecart. only last year we had Legacy which was a return to historic numbering and bringing it all back to Classic Marvel story telling. However, this year, we have Fresh Start which is returning some of those same series to Issue 1 for new readers to jump on and we are back to a male Thor, Iron Man and Steve Rogers is back in the shield. Ironheart is currently MIA and Jane Foster is looking after herself for the first time in a long time. This seems a strange editorial change in the space of 12 months and now they seem to be constantly chasing DC in regards to readers and finding that quality that they had in spades in the early 00s.
I for one hope they can find it as I loved going to the comic store to collect my monthly orders but on recent evidence, graphic novels may be the way forward once I know the entire series will be worth a read.
What do you think, do you agree or disagree with Donal? Let us know on Twitter @HeroesDirect!