Saturday, November 26, 2005

Eventually you must think for yourself

There's something that's been gnawing at me lately about the comic book industry. All the big storylines, the all-important super-hyped event stories? They're all based on stuff that happened in comics published fifteen or twenty years ago, and largely about either other comic books or particular views of the comic book industry. These are themes of limited interest, to say the lest.

Comics fans, obviously, take great interest in them, but... well, most people won't. Truly appealing stories are about themes that are easy for an "average" person of a given culture to relate to, or general universal human themes. So, House of M and Infinite Crisis are ultimately just a mosquito's fart in a hurricane. They won't have significance to an audience outside of the dwindling die-hard comics readership, and even they know full well that both stories will be on the road to retcon inside of five years. I mean, nobody who isn't already making a weekly trip to the comic store is gonna give a damn about mutants losing their powers or Golden Age Superman wagging his metaphorical finger at the DCU.

What was that quote from Shakespeare again? "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Why do we comics fans, the people who ideally care most about the medium, keep supporting these idiotic stories? It's especially hurtful when they're told by creators who are clearly not idiots, who have obvious technical ability, but seem to lack the ambition to tell stories about more significant themes. I suspect much of the positive reaction to All-Star Superman throughout the blogosphere has mostly just been that it's just a new Superman story about... well, something other than how comics fans feel about Superman. It's an actual story, with themes and situations that are easy to empathize with. It's a sign of the sad state the industry's in when this is not the default expectation for storytelling. We should expect every comic worth our money to be at least this good.

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