Friday, May 11, 2007

Today's comic books suck.

There. I said it.

Don't get me wrong there are some great writers out there, but by and large, comics suck. Everyone's trying to be Brian Michael Bendis. The problem is, there already is a Brian Micheal Bendis. We don't need any more. Bendis created the Marvel Ultimate line, and brought a modern feel and real world aspect to super heroes. It's a trend furthered by Kurt Busiek in Astro City, and actually started by Busiek and Alex Ross in Marvel Comics' The Marvels. It showed how superheroes intersected with the people of New York City. I loved Marvels, and I love Astro City. Ultimate Marvel? Not so much.

The basic concept of the Ultimate line was to publish comics featuring Marvel's stars in lines independent of continuity. In other words, start publishing a title from the 60s like it started today. It's a great idea, but the first Spider-Man origins story took a 11 pages to tell. Bendis stretched out the story to 180. And that, dear readers, is why modern comics suck.

There are no more stand alone stories. Instead creators write arcs, expanding a panel or two into entire issues. A perfect example is a Superman arc from the 90s. Superman is on his way to the Fortress of Solitude, or is looking for Lois who has disappeared. In the middle of this arc, there's an issue about Superman fighting a sea montster. Maybe it wasn't an entire issue, but it was several pages. It was, for lack of a better term, padding. On the text page, the editor proudly noted how far comics had come. In the 50s and 60s, he asserted, the fight with the sea monster would have lasted only two or three panels. Today we give the sea monster motivation and explain where he came from, he added. The thing is, the fight with the sea monster was not involved with the main plot, looking for Lois or going to the Fortress! Leaving it out wouldn't have changed the ending, except for the three pages of Superman explaining what took him so long.

Here's another example: I'm enjoying Dynamite Entertainment's new Lone Ranger series. But here we are in issue #5 and we just got the Long Ranger on his fucking horse to ride into town to avenge the deaths of his fellow rangers. After a hundred or so pages! Granted, the TV series took an hour and a half to tell that story. At this rate, we've got three more issues before the Lone Ranger brings Butch Cavendish to justice. Does a comic book editor doany editing?

Captain America's dead? GOOD! His latest series borders on being dull because it takes too long to tell a single story. Maybe the new Cap will have writers that can wrap things up a little quicker.

And could we get Wolverine in a couple more titles. He's not getting enough exposure.

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