Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ACrossover the Universe

Comic books used to be the very indicator of the kind of person I was, at my core. Back in the day, if you were to define me in the way that people in high school like to stereotype and generalize a person's majority trait and make that their singular trait, I would have happily accepted "comic book guy". I would have also accepted "punk music guy", but in my heart of hearts, comic books always dominated the music.

I've fallen off the band wagon. It was not one defining moment. It began right after high school. I had steadily fallen off the band wagon as I steadily grew during college. Money for my precious comic books soon became money for my precious beer (nine times out of ten, probably worth it). And then I graduated and moved to Pensacola. With little else better to do and all this new money that they apparently give to you after you graduate college at this place called a "job", I resumed my love of comic books. I attempted to get back into the "scene", and started reading 10 or so different titles, and tried to stay up to date on all the news and "haps". It was a blissful existence, but it only last a short year and half. Then real work started and basically destroyed everything, as it often does. But this so-called "growing up" cannot be held fully responsible. No, I must cast some of the blame on the comic book industry.

My first reason is simple and not a thing can be done about it. There are a handful of writers that I truly, truly enjoy; Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis, J. Michael Straczynski, and Mark Millar are a some of these few. Whenever they jump to a new project, I always follow one or two issues, and if I like the mix, then I'll continue following their run. The mix is a very delicate thing, though. I've already established that I like those writers, but I also have to like the character(s) their writing as an established entity (like I like Batman, but I dont like Aquaman so much; I'm more willing to follow one of these writers on "Batman" than on "Aquaman"), I have to like THEIR interpretation of the character(s) (I almost always do), and I have to be accepting of the art (out of their control). I'm picky, so the mix weighs heavily on me.
So I may follow forty-ish issues of a writer (i.e. Grant Morrison's run on JLA), but the inevitable happens. The writer leaves the series. Of course this is going to happen; it ALWAYS happens. The same guy cant write the same comic his entire career. For one thing, in all likelihood, he'll run out of ways to be interesting with the characters and the stories. Fck, he's been doing it for the last five years (or whatever length). For another thing, he himself has probably grown tired of the characters and telling these stories. I mean, these are highly creative people, but what do you when you've worn out your muse over fifty issues? You have to move on. And so they move on. I mean, you wouldnt want to see an actor play the same role his entire career, would you?

Another thing has been the PLAGUE of the comic book story for years and years, but it feels like it's gotten a lot worse the last five years or so. I HATE all of these new crossovers. Period. I hate crossovers. Crossovers used to be cool because you got to see characters interact with each other when they normally wouldnt, but like I said, lately, it's been absolutely DREADFUL. Lately, it seems like the characters dont only crossover, but the books do as well, and when you have a set of characters (say the X-Men) who have no less than seven titles related to their history (seven sounds right for the X-Men, but I bet I forgot a few) and you're forced to have to follow all SEVEN books to get the entire crossover story in its entirety for three to five months (if not longer), it becomes a complete pain in the ass. I dont even like all the books! I like, maybe, two of the books, but to get the whole story, I have to read the other five as well. It's a pain in the ass! One solution might have been to suck it up and continue on with gaps in the story. Mostly these gaps are filled in the issues by characters back-tracking and relaying what happened in some issue last month anyway, but that just seems phony and filler to me. I blame my pickiness, but I have to read the entire story as it happened. I hate when stories have these back logging fillers. It's all a con; an easy way out. It seems so cheap.

Truth be told, these are all things that comic book enthusiasts always realize and always complain and always live with despite our incessant nagging and cynicism. The love for the material and the characters is too great. I'm sure it's the same for any person with a hobby their passionate about, whether it be NFL, NBA, or any other sports enthusiast or a cinephile or really anything and anybody. The people who live for the material will always find all these little things to complain about, but it's just proof that they really know what they're talking about. It's proof that they really love this stuff. You always fall off the wagon, but it's never too late for you to jump back on. You're never too far behind.

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