Thursday, October 7, 2010

Comic book confidential

I outed myself as a hater of all things Superman on Facebook the other day. And one of my friends tried to convince me that I was wrong. He gave me the origins of how Superman came to be, which I already knew, and he even tried to bring it into the political realm by saying that he felt the Superman was the ultimate illegal alien and that he was a liberal.

Nope. I didn't buy it. Like I said I knew Superman's back story, all about how his Jewish creators got screwed over in their copyright fight with DC, and the rest. It all comes down to whether I find Superman a compelling and interesting character. And I don't. I never did. In fact, I'll go so far as to say I hated Superman comics, the TV show, and all the movies they've made with his character so far, the one exception is Hollywoodland, which is kind of about Superman in an oblique way.

My problem with Superman is that the character is boring. He's too goody goody, he's invincible, and they surrounded him with dopey blatantly stupid supporting characters that always insulted my intelligence. I mean come the hell on, how fucking stupid do Jimmy Olsen, he of the biggest unrequited gay crush in the history of comics, Lois Lane, and Perry White have to be? They work side by side with Clark Kent and Superman and they can't fucking tell Superman is really just Kent without his glasses? Bah, and triple humbug. Boooooooorrrrrrring and stupid.

I'll grant you that in the depths of the Great Depression and the years leading up to and through World War 2, the country needed a character like Superman. It was great to imagine that there was a perfectly invincible superhero who was out there protecting us and fighting crime. But those days are long gone and Superman should have been gone with them.

Growing up when I did there were really only two choices in comic book companies, Marvel and DC. And since Superman was the flagship product of DC, I hated most of the rest of DC's titles. I was a Marvel fan and remained so right up through the time in my early to mid 20's when I was a serious collector and reader of comics. I liked the X-Men, Alpha Flight, Thor, New Mutants, and some indie titles like American Flagg. I had nothing but disdain for most DC titles, including Batman, until Frank Miller's Dark Night.

But I can't say I hated everything DC put out. I loved, loved, loved Kamandi:
George Perez's Wonder Woman:
Most anything by Joe Kuebert, especially Tarzan and Sgt. Rock:
I loved this title in the early 1970's:
And I remember Walt Simonson's Manhunter from the early 1970's blowing my then young mind. The story was kick ass and the art was unlike any I had seen before. Frankly I was surprised that DC put something like that out.

As the years went on the death grip of DC and Marvel was finally broken and many different comic book publishers have come and gone and with them many different kinds of stories have been told and are continuing to be told. And the competition forced Marvel and DC to be more innovative and daring. Surprisingly, DC won that battle years ago with it's launch of Vertigo. The Vertigo line from DC tells grown up stories that use groundbreaking and eye popping art. Vertigo is responsible for giving us Sandman, Y the Last Man, Fables, Hellblazer, Greek Street, and many more gritty interesting books. Marvel meanwhile languishes in it's bathtub of tired old worn out titles that include about fifty slightly different permutations of X-Men and Spiderman.

So now the worm has turned and these days I hardly read any Marvel, the last good thing I read from Marvel was 1602, and I read mostly stuff from DC's adult imprint Vertigo. However despite that change in my reading habits, I still despise Superman. And if you love Superman, that's cool. Really it is, we can still be friends if you love Superman while I hate him, it's not essential that we agree on everything to remain friends.


Kal said...

I can't get enough of Mr. Miracle either. That is Kirby at his best.

I am suffering from 'event fatique' with DC and Marvel. They are just beating a dead horse with so much of their stuff but X-Men is better than it's been in years but BATMAN is so in the shitter with the crap Grant Morrison is doing that I want to choke the life out of him.

I know you hate Superman but I will just drop two titles on you to concider because they are actually about more than Superman -

RED SON - an Elseworlds tale where he lands in Russia and not Kansas as a child and that changes the story you know.

KINGDOM COME - Superman comes out of retirement to reign in a world where the next generation of superheroes are out of control. Alex Ross's art is beyond great.

Y THE LAST MAN was a great series. I loved how it had an ending to it and you could do an epic story like that and then let it go.

My other favorites from the past couple of years - WALKING DEAD, PLANETARY, THE GOON, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and the latest volume of GHOST RIDER

Wings said...

I like Supes, but hey, to each their own. My all-time favorite hero is Aquaman. Now there is a dude who gets ragged on for no good reason!

SkylersDad said...

I really enjoyed the old comics about war like Sgt Rock and Captain Storm, the PT boat skipper.

Ricky Shambles said...

After reading the first paragraph, the thoughts that immediately popped up were:

...becuase Superman is boring.

The best thing DC ever did was go Vertigo.

But then you said that too.

Well-said, Doctor! Hruumph!

Ricky Shambles said...

...oh, and them Superman Jews were from Cleveland, which makes that whole thing even saltier for me.

Estancia De La Ding Dong said...

I'm right there with you on the sentiments concerning DC and Marvel. Vertigo breathed new life into the art, and got me reading comics again.