Thursday, December 27, 2007

Let's get this straight...

Before we get really started here, I think I should make something plain and clear: I'm no one important

By which I mean that I do not have any special contacts at Marvel or DC. I don't have the secret phone numbers of Dan Didio or Joe Quesada or Gareb Shamus. If I call any of these companies, I won't get any further than any of the rest of you and that's my point. I'm not an insider, I'm not a crusading reporter, I'm just a fan... like all of you.

I've paid my dues as a fan. Forty years of buying comics with my own hard-earned money. I've spent most of my life reading comics and reading about them. But I'm no more special than anyone else in your local comic shop.

I don't get to the front of autograph lines at conventions. Big shot creators don't buy me drinks at hotel convention bars. They don't call me late at night to tell me all the hot gossip and the 'real' story about why someone was replaced on a book or outright fired. I don't know the plot lines for upcoming comics. I don't get 'comp' copies or perks for reviews. I'm just a regular guy who likes to read comic books.

And that is what will make this blog special. Every post here comes from the viewpoint of a fan. I'm speaking for me, an average fan, who can stay silent no longer. I'm speaking for older fans in particular who remember farther back than the last couple years of issues. We're the forgotten majority who aren't even represented all that well at the very companies that claim to want our consumer loyalty. Sure, they'll take our money but will they really listen to what we have to say?

I don't expect this blog to make big changes at comic companies or even ripples in the blogosphere. I just hope that you, the reader, will enjoy what you find here and maybe even agree with a post or two. There's a lot of good comic blogs out there and I hope that you'll add this one to your regular surfing.

My name's Sam Gafford and I'm a fan. Let's talk comics.

Why I Felt Betrayed by DC Comics...

This is an old post from my old Yahoo 360 blog (May 5, 2006) but it still rings true today...

With the publication of INFINITE CRISIS #7 this week, DC wraps up it's intricate, mega-crossover event. For over a year, DC has been working towards this issue. Starting with the vicious mini-series IDENTITY CRISIS, DC has continuously pushed this event as one that would clean up continuity and bring their characters back from the violent and 'dark' universe they were inhabiting.

More than once, DC and Dan DiDio (DC VP and Executive Editor) have given the impression that they were going to turn their backs on the current version of the characters and return to a more noble time. For many older fans like myself, we were led to believe that this would culminate in the return of the Multiverse and a reaffirmation of these character's heroic ideals. True, no one at DC ever said that the Multiverse was definitely coming back or that Barry Allen would come back from the dead. Their answer was always a political "wait and see". In such ways, DC kept the hopes of older fans alive.

Those hopes were not only crushed with INFINITE CRISIS #7, but also ripped apart, stabbed, bludgeoned, shot, shoved into a blender, baked in an oven, and generally smashed into bits with all the glee an evil toddler takes with a helpless fly. That the Multiverse was STILL not coming back was more or less established by issue #5 of IC. The mutliple Earths were recreated, only to be smashed together once again into one single Earth. The ultimate villain of the series ended up being Superboy-Prime. Now, maybe it's just me but I do NOT find enjoyable the sight of ANY Superboy killing and otherwise mangling other superheroes. In IC #7, Superboy-Prime goes on a rampage murdering more heroes, a whopping big bunch of Green Lanterns, AND the original E2 Superman.

THIS is a kinder, gentler DCU? The E2 Superman, the first and BEST superhero, is beaten to death by Superboy-Prime?? Rather than embracing the desires of many fans (older AND younger), DC and DiDio spit on the characters and concepts of the Golden and Silver Age. There is no clearer evidence of this than the wholesale slaughter that has occured throughout this series. Is it not significant that many of the characters that are killed or disappear are from DC's Golden and Silver Ages? The Freedom Fighters (characters from the Golden Age that DC purchased). The Wizard Shazam. E2's Superman and Lois Lane. Wally West (a character created during the Silver Age). Psycho Pirate (Golden Age bad guy). The only significant death of a modern character was Conner Kent (today's Superboy) in IC #6. And how did he die? In battle with Superboy-Prime!

Even after all this death and destruction, all this pain and woe, the DCU is no better a place than it was before. When the world is in it's greatest need of heroes to remind people what it means to BE a hero, where are Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman? MIA, apparently. Superman is depowered after the fight with Superboy-Prime and has to recharge his batteries. Wonder Woman and Batman leave to 'find themselves'. Well, why not? Not like there's any superheroing to be done, is there?

To capitalize even more on this event, DC has jumped all their titles ahead one year to the point where the big 3 have returned to action. So, is the DCU that we see One Year Later (OYL or "One Yawn Later") any better than the DCU that existed before the Crisis? Not much, apparently. Batman is still on the other side of rational, Jason Todd is running around in a Nightwing suit, the Teen Titans are trying to keep each other from going into rages and the Outsiders seem to exist solely to 'kick butt and take names'. What has improved? How is this better than what we had before? I could almost forgive not bringing back the Multiverse (which, creatively, I think is a big mistake as the MV allowed for SO much more imagination in stories) if the DCU appeared to have been rebooted in that 'kinder, gentler' universe.

Shame on you, DC, for playing with my hopes and dreams like that. Shame on you for delighting in the wholesale slaughter of beloved characters for no good reason. Shame on you for making comic books that I wouldn't feel comfortable showing to any child younger than 18.

And shame on ME for buying into all this and giving you my money. Rest assured, you won't get any more of it in the future.

In MY day, comics were fun!

Yeh, it's another comic book blog. But I wouldn't be going through all this effort if I didn't feel that there was something to be said here.

What it comes down to, what the big picture is, the whole package, the magilla, the big cahuna, is simply this:

Comics aren't any fun anymore.

There. I've said it.

I'm an old fart. I freely admit that. I began reading comics about 1967 or so when the Silver Age was in full swing. Thanks to my older brothers, I was able to read all those great comics that came out even before that. And I kept reading for most of the next 40 years. I've seen the highs and I've seen the lows. I saw the speculators destroy the business and I saw them go.
I've seen more comic companies start and die than I can count. And I kept reading.

Then, about a year or so ago, I started to realize that something was horribly, terribly wrong. Without my realizing it, comics had changed. Characters were behaving irrationally, heroes were killing people indiscriminately, villains had gotten more violent and cruel. Not only were comics not just for kids anymore, in most cases they were not for kids at all! It hurt me that this fine medium that I had loved for so many years had gotten so twisted and wrong.

Other blogs opened my eyes about themes and issues that I hadn't even realized were there. Rampant misogyny, racial stereotyping and moral corruption (both in the comics and the companies that made them) had been there all the time but I hadn't realized it.

So, in this blog, I am going to talk about comics both old and new. I am going to review new comics (telling you what I think is wrong with them) as well as feature older comics. I'll also be talking a lot about what comics are and how they work and how they're going wrong.

Make no mistake. I am a cranky old comics fan and I don't like a lot of things. However, when I do recommend something (and I will be doing that from time to time as there are still good things to read), you can be sure that it's something worthy of your time.

You've been warned. The crankiness will begin shortly.