Thursday, March 12, 2009


Ok, I don’t actually hate comics, but my old public speaking teacher said to start every speech off with a bang. So, I don’t hate comics. Yet.

They are just currently frustrating to me. Very frustrating.

First, a little background: I have been collecting comics for over 15 years. I have been to over 40 conventions nationwide, including the big ones in San Diego and New York, smaller ones like Pittsburgh, and medium ones like MegaCon.

I have over 7,000 comics, more than half of which have been signed by the creators involved: writers, inkers, colorists or cover type guys (or gals as my dad would say). I have interviewed or photographed tons and tons of top people – TOP PEOPLE – and I am pleased to say that many of them over the years have become good friends. By the way, people ask how many of the 7,000 comics have I read. I’d say I’ve read…ahhh…all of them. So, do I know about that which I speak? A little.

That aside, I currently find myself very frustrated by the state of comics today. Why? Well I could start with a Countdown, giving you 52 reasons, but then I would have to follow that with an Ultimatum. Would that cause a Final Crisis? Would my answers start a Civil War or just bring an end to this Dark Reign? I mean…Holy Crap!* I used to love comics, but that was back when I could understand them.

(*Holy Crap! has not yet been announced as a major crossover event, but I’m expecting it any day.)

Let me jump back again to my early days of collecting: I had the privilege to make among my first big purchases 10-year runs of Batman, Legends of the Dark Knight and Detective Comics. Reading week after week, month after month, some of the Bats’ greatest stories, all without having to wait till next week, was an amazing experience.

So, why am I confused? What did these older stories have that their modern counterparts don’t? Did they have huge arcing storylines? You betcha: Knightfall, KnightsEnd, Cataclysm, No Man’s Land, etc. Did numerous characters pop up from throughout the entire DC Universe? Yes. Did they have multi-issue crossovers with other (seemingly unrelated) titles? Yes. So, if the huge storylines aren’t the problem and the crossovers aren’t the problem, what’s the problem?

The current ones are unintelligible.

I gave up trying to follow them. I have canceled so many books from my pull list because they (to paraphrase a favorite song of mine) stopped making sense. Try summing up a current story line in a few words. And don’t say “Skrulls undercover attack.” That doesn’t sum up or come close to encompassing all the madness and incoherency going on in most of the marvel universe right now.

Here's another example. I just finished reading Batman #681. It's the one where: Spoiler alert: BATMAN’S DEAD. Batman just died after being blown up in a tragic helicopter explosion over Gotham River while fighting Black Glove, his latest baddie. But they can't find his body? (Sorry, to me, no body = not dead.)

In Batman #682 we find him alive, sitting in a chair and talking about a bad dream where his back story is relived for the 1197th time.

Then in Batman #683 we see him being tortured by an ape during which he hallucinates his back story again (for the 1198th time). On the last page of this issue we see this blurb: "Follow the Dark Knight to his Last adventure in Final Crisis #6."

So I do. And even though I just finished reading that he is either chunky style fish food in Gotham River or sitting in a chair dreaming in the Batcave or hallucinating in an underground chamber while being tortured by apes, he is actually being turned into Tuna Melt by Darkseid in outer space.

Excuse me, but WTF?

That is just a very, very, very small sampling of the mishmash occurring in the DC universe. Oh, and by the way, let’s cancel almost every Bat-title and give people a reason not to stick with the new ones, and let’s do it by killing Bruce Wayne around the time that The Dark Knight passes the $1 Billion mark at that box office… Great…great…

When I started reading 52 I thought it ended at 52. Silly me. I was late in realizing that I was wrong. When I finally did, I canceled my run at issue #50. The folks at my comic book store looked at me as if I was crazy. “Why Stop Now?”

But isn’t that a sad comment when you stop to think about it? It’s like being on the Titanic as it’s sinking and instead of going for a lifeboat, saying to yourself, “Hey, I paid a lot of money for this cruise and I’m pretty heavily invested in it. Why the heck should I stop now?”

Today I got the new issue of Battle for the Cowl #1. The blurb on the last page says "Highlights from the New York Comic-Con: DC Nation News: Dan DiDio, Senior VP and Executive Editor explained at the DC Nation panel how Batman made it from R.I.P. to Final Crisis."

Should the average comic buyer really have to spend hundreds of dollars to travel to New York, buy tickets to the convention, fight the crowds and be lucky enough to get into a small panel just to have his comic explained to him by the company Senior VP? How pathetic is that?

Are there ongoing things out there giving me hope? Of course. I highly recommend titles like Captain America, Daredevil, The Walking Dead, Invincible and newbies such as Echo, Kick-Ass and Incognito. I promise you don’t need a universe guide or Who’s Who to read any of these.

A popular slogan used to be “Make Mine Marvel.” Right about now I’d settle for “Make Mine Make Sense.”

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