Monthly Musings

I just read the latest issues of FF, Avengers (Volume 5), and Young Avengers (Volume 2) and they are some of the best single issues I’ve read in a while. Why are these books so great? Well, for one thing, the writing is stellar and the art matches. But I’ve noticed something in these three titles (and a little bit in the wonderful Hawkguy series as well) that stands out. In subtle ways, they each really channel the style, humor, and undeniably sophisticated charm of Keith GIffen, JM DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire’s work in the late 80s, specifically their Justice League run. You’ve got snappy poignant dialogue, artistic nods that function not only as easter eggs but also add to the narrative development, and a view of superheroism that brings out the humanness (dare I say it “mundaneness”—in a good way of course!) of the mythic and outlandish characters depicted.

Shoving “Grim & Gritty” down our throats was a part of Marvel’s undoing (in my humble opinion) in the late 80s and early 90s—not that there wasn’t a ton of stuff I loved back then from Marvel, especially since I was a young boy. But discovering JLI as a teen was a real game-changer for me in regard to how I viewed mainstream comics. It’s interesting to see how things today seem to have a reverse feel. DC is trying harder than their competition to keep their product “Grim & Gritty.” I’m not so sure it’s a hot idea. Hopefully there will be a little more balance moving forward.

This isn’t meant to be a comparison of the current product of the Big Two—my pull list contains a bunch of stuff from both companies and at the moment has more DC than Marvel. (I’m a DC guy—it’s home to my favorite comic book multiverse, so what can I say?) However, I guess what I’m trying to articulate in this stream-of-consciousness mini rant is that I don’t want to keep reading DC books only because they happen to contain my favorite characters and showcase my favorite multiverse. But that’s how I feel sometimes, especially as of late with the New 52—like my favorite characters aren’t getting the quality treatment they deserve. But they are my favorite characters and I am invested in them, so I keep reading them (and keep enjoying them, even if somewhat frustrated by them). And then I gander at the Marvel side and I don’t care for many of the characters, but the story arcs and illustrations are so good that I keep reading (and again, keep enjoying them as well, but again, even if somewhat frustrated by them).

Just some thoughts. Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE/DETEST/DESPISE negative criticism of the superhero comic book industry (not its business practices per say, but the stories themselves), so this post isn’t meant to be that. As writers, we need to support this industry in anyway we can, especially in a time period where sales are unstable and go up and down like a roller-coaster. Obviously, there’s a lot of good stuff mixed in with the bad. But why harp on the bad stuff? Instead, we can and should promote the best aspects of something we truly love and support. I’m planning on writing my own “State of the Industry” post soon. Originally it was going to be a pretty run-of-the-mill “State of the Industry” commentary, but I think instead it will be more of a “What I Love About Comics Right Now” type of thing. There aren’t enough of those these days.

About Collin Colsher

Collin Colsher, the creator of The Real Batman Chronology Project and disCONTINUITY, is a writer, filmmaker, teacher, and comic book historian that currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has lectured at various universities, libraries, and book fairs. Collin has also served on the jury for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is sponsored by the US Library of Congress.
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2 Responses to Monthly Musings

  1. Jamison says:

    Collin,
    Can you clarify this statement for me?
    “Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE/DETEST/DESPISE negative criticism of the superhero comic book industry (not its business practices per say, but the stories themselves)”
    Can you give an example of what you mean by negative criticism of the industry? Does that mean that even if a comic has bad writing, you don’t want someone pointing that out? I’m a bit confused.
    Thanks

    • Yeah, that statement is a little hard to follow. Let me attempt to elucidate. But first, criticism is obviously subjective and necessary and there are many instances of what can only be classified as “bad” or “subpar” comic book writing. Via a constructive (or deconstructive) analysis, a reviewer or critic can (and should, if he is doing his job well) point out the inconsistencies of art, perceived flaws in narrative development, etc. However, what I was trying to say is that most “criticism” I see on the web these days is merely fanboy whining and harping, stuff tantamount to a right wing op-ed in a local newspaper or the comments section of a youtube video. I’d like to see a little more depth and balance. I won’t call out anyone specifically here, but I’m tired of certain reviewers and forum dwellers only chiming in when they have an angry diatribe to spew forth, groaning about how the New 52 can’t hold a candle to the Modern/Silver Age or how all of their favorite characters are unrecognizable because they’ve been butchered by current scriptors or that they are going to stop reading comics altogether. It feels like each time I troll the nerdiest parts of the internet, I’m wading through more and more hate-speech and, frankly, it bums me out! I could probably continue on, but hopefully you get the idea. I apologize for the lack of clarity.

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