One year later

August 18, 2006

Back when I basically stopped reading superhero comics from Marvel and DC, they were characterized by senselessly shocking death and depression for previously amiable c-list characters, significant revision of a-list characters to serve implausible plots, intermittent lateness of big event comics that threw the schedule (and narrative) off-kilter, editors furiously backfilling on-line, and the handful of interesting, sort-of stand-alone titles living under the constant shadow of cancellation.

The less things change, the more things stay the same.

Why do I take the time to observe this? I’m not really sure. I feel like I’m running the risk of sounding like those people who insist that they don’t watch TV or eat refined sugar. (The TV prohibition isn’t always annoying, provided it’s qualified with “because if I started watching TV, I know I’d never turn it off.”) I don’t really want to suggest that frustrated Marvel and DC fans can find a promised land of good comics in manga or from independent publishers, because the pleasures aren’t necessarily transferable.

But darn it, I make so few healthy life choices that I feel the need to celebrate them when they do occur. (“Healthy” should obviously be considered a relative term under these circumstances.)

When I compare Marvel and DC with manga publishers, one of the big distinctions that strikes me is the lack of an evident corporate personality. Obviously those personalities exist, but they don’t impose themselves on the product.

Clearly I find Tokyopop irritating from a corporate perspective, and the whole Manga Revolution/Lifestyle/Line of Casual Wear thing is completely beyond me (probably because I’m old), but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying Tokyopop’s books. Because nothing DJ Milky says in an interview has any influence on whether Fruits Basket breaks my heart or Sgt. Frog makes me laugh or Kindaichi Case Files feeds my intermittent need for grisly homicide.

In the other direction, I’m always delighted to read what the folks at Go! Comi have to say, like Audry Taylor’s dispatches from Comiket. And it’s always nice to hear from David Wise and Jake Forbes, lovely fellows both. But even if they were all scabrous misanthropes, it wouldn’t make any difference, because Go! Comi’s books are routinely excellent.

I mean, look at that interview with Dan DiDio on 52 # whichever where Booster Gold gets slabbed. (Spoiler text now obscured.) The issue sounds kind of icky just in terms of story, but it sounds so much worse when DiDio explains the rationale behind it. But hey, it came out on time! (And so much for those rumors about the DC spandexverse becoming a more cheerful place after Infinite Crisis, huh?)

So what’s my point? I don’t really think I have one aside from general smugness. There probably isn’t anything DC or Marvel could do to win me back at this point, and there’s no reason they should try. Their business and editorial decisions seem to work for them, and there are plenty of other comics publishers out there whose product and priorities work for me. Maybe I just felt a little nostalgic spleen and had to vent it.