Robot 6

Quote of the day | No ‘web-sized hole’

Amazing Spider-Man #685

“… it’s hard for me to be all that upset about some character to whose new adventures I enjoy absolutely no relationship, nor is there a web-sized hole in my life were such a relationship could go.”

Tom Spurgeon, commenting on controversial events from a recent issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.

I’m not quoting him in order to comment on the controversy itself. Like Spurgeon, I don’t have or miss a relationship with the current adventures of Spider-Man that gives me a stake in that discussion. What strikes me about the quote is how it acknowledges a phenomenon that I’ve noticed several times over the course of my long relationship with corporate-owned superhero characters — that is, when I stop investing time in them, I sort of don’t miss them.

I’m not saying that everyone should completely give up reading Marvel and DC. I may not have a current relationship with Spider-Man, but I do with several other characters: Rogue, Wonder Woman and pretty much every member of John Byrne’s Alpha Flight, for instance. And there have been times when I’ve felt compelled to follow the adventures of all of those people, regardless of how I thought they were being handled by the creators in charge of them at the time. That’s a frustrating spot to be in: in love with a character while loathing how that character is currently represented. It leads to all kinds of fan outrage, the likes of which we’ve all seen over and over again on countless comments threads and message boards.

What I see in Spurgeon’s comment is the liberation that comes from not having to keep up with those relationships. I wish I’d known about that during several runs on Alpha Flight after Byrne left (not Steven Seagle’s, though, or the recent Van Lente/Pak/Eaglesham run; those were awesome). Again, I think there are some really fine DC and Marvel comics, but if more comics readers were to get pickier about the relationships they form with comics (and that includes companies, series, and creators as well as characters) and were willing to sever those relationships when the comics are no longer enjoyable, the comics Internet would be a much more pleasant place and I bet we’d find that we don’t even really miss keeping up with every little thing Superhero X is doing this month.

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Comments

26 Comments

I’d agree except that I’ve been a big Spidey fan since I was 4 or 5. Now when it comes to any other comic character – such as the Hulk or the Punisher – I agree completely.

Also, when talking about the kind of liberation you are describing – I think more fans should allow themselves to let go of trying to buy every issue of their favorite character – even through years of the comic where they think the comics are awful

I know it’s hard to drop a book from my pull list, but sometimes it is just for the better.

I love the character Nightcrawler from the X-Men, so I bought a trade for the “Second Coming” crossover and was sorely disappointed how everything happened, especially Kurt’s death. Now I see Rick Remender has done some work on Uncanny X-Force with the AoA Kurt (and many former Excalibur teammates) but…I still don’t care enough to pick it up.

I’ve got to agree-I’m in the middle of a move and once I settle into my new home I doubt I’ll have the spare funds to spend on monthly comics. And I just can’t imagine that I’ll suffer all that much for it. I’ll miss Flash and Daredevil, but that’ll be due to the level of craft involved in both those comics, not because of the characters or even so much the stories those comics are telling.

It should also be noted that that blog is called “Too Busy Thinking About Comics” for a reason.

RegularSyzedMike

June 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

TOTALLY! I think at some point we have to see these comics as fan fiction more than true “canon” or whatever. The people involved in the original runs that made these characters popular to begin with are long removed from the equation. Most of these stories don’t have the same feel to them anymore. Not one that makes you think this is the same character from days previous put into a new situation.

I’m not sure if this is the best way to be tackling something like this.

If someone is a particular fan of a Baseball team or a Hockey team, they aren’t told that they should just “divorce” themselves from any attachment to that team if they dislike the situation the team is in now. If someone is a fan of a TV show or a movie franchise, they aren’t expected to just “walk away” if things go bad. Quite the opposite, it’s often regarded as the team or the show responsibility to restore those feelings of hope and be the best they can be.

But in comics, if a run is bad, it’s the fans who have to change. It’s the fans who have to move on and go somewhere else. The responsibility is on the fan to improve things, not the work itself. But doesn’t that seem a little backwards to anyone else? Doesn’t this seem to take the creative works “off the hook” so to speak, that it allows them to basically settle for mediocracy, since if the fan dislikes it, it’s THEIR fault and not the work itself? And should the industry, in this day and age when they are bleeding customers at a rapid rate, to basically TELL people that they should go find their pleasure elsewhere?

It seems to me that comics should be striving for more, not less, and stop telling fans to settle for mediocracy and try to really strive to be excellent again.

RDMacQ – Plenty of fans stop spending money on a sports team when they are epically bad. Doesn’t mean they stop being fans, but they do stop buying tickets and going to games.

I used to be of the mindset where I kept buying titles even though I wasn’t enjoying them. Frankly, it was stupid. I kicked long, long ago. Now when I find myself not enjoying a run of a title, it gets kicked to the curb. I’m not concerned with keeping a consist run of any book. I follow creators I like to titles featuring characters I like (and sometimes to titles I never previously tried). So if a publisher does something stupid like throwing Rob Liefeld onto a title I really like, it gets dropped. Or if a publisher insults their readers by doing something cosmically stupid with a particular title or line, then I walk away from those too.
I haven’t been a Marvel reader since the beginning of 2008 even though they had long been home to my favorite characters. And while I do miss reading the adventures of some of those characters, the blow is easily cushioned by the fact there are so many other great titles from numerous other publishers that have easily filled their place.
Dump the “must keep buying” mentality and only support titles that you actually get enjoyment out of and are not insulting to you as a reader.

I think fans should be more discerning, if a series is currently not good then wait for it to get better before buying it. It seems silly to buy the issues that are bad as those are the ones that usually get retconned and forgotten anyway. Superman Blue for instance, you could have safely not bought Superman comics until it was over and not miss out on much at all. Or any other period where a character has bad writing or art or storyline. Of course, you do risk missing something cool and having it spoilled, but you are more likely to get that sort of stuff during a period with a good writer, artist or storyline anyway.

@MdMaq

That’s not really an apt analogy. If you tried to make sports comparison – a better comparison might be, “What if the Baltimore Orioles got a whole new ownership and management, and they started wearing neon sings on their uniforms and playing with 12-foot cane poles instead of baseball bats.” This is the kind of weird and out-of-character stuff certain comic writers make characters do when they inherit them

Or, a decent analogy might be what you see with cartoon characters. If I’m a fan of the old Tom and Jerry cartoons or the old Thundercats cartoons, I’m not going to make myself watch the new, crappy versions of those cartoons. I might give them a try long enough to realize that they are garbage

David Gallaher

June 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm

It’s hard to get upset about Spider-Man ‘torturing’ the Sandman, this is the same Peter Parker who beat his pregnant wife.

Actually, it’s not. She was never pregnant. And while I don’t condone his actions, there’s a difference between “beating his pregnant wife” and a one-time backhand

I left Spidey comics behind after One More Day, and yeah, I found I could live without them. Still wasn’t happy when I heard about this story, though.

This is why I am primarily a fan of the MAU/DCAU versions of these characters—none of that funny stuff occurs.

The torture issue is very interesting, and I’d love to see Slott respond somehow (if he hasn’t already… And if he has, please point me to it!).

Though the general point is good, I’m not sure the blog post in question is the best example. The representation of torture is a point that can reasonably concern any of us as citizens in a country that has made it a common practice. It’s not the same as not liking One More Day.

David Gallaher

June 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm

>>there’s a difference between “beating his pregnant wife” and a one-time backhand>>

Tell that to Hank Pym and Wasp.

The story of Pete & MJ was real then. It was continuity was I was reading comics — and you can tell me all you want that it’s different, but it’s not to me. Pete hit his wife. Peter Parker can be a bully. I believe it is in his nature to acid-board Sandman. That’s how I see the character.

Here’s a fact: girls love Justin Bieber. Why? a) because of hormones and b) because they don’t know any better.

Same can be applied to teenagers when it comes to comic books. They pick up the new issue of Amazing Spider-Man and no, they never read the old stuff, the MacFarlane stuff, the Micheline stuff, the Romita stuff, the Waid stuff…..

So they pick up said issue and think it`s amazing.

At this very moment, lots of teenagers are buying the latest issue of Avengers Vs X-Men and they think it`s “awesome sauce”.

So there you go. Superhero comics will never be “better” because the nature of teenager is not knowing any better.

At the same time….life would be unbearably boring if all we had was comics like Chew and Casanova.

I actually quit comics in 2001, then Joss Whedon being on Astonishing X-Men got me back into them in 2004. Quit again a couple of years ago. Getting rid of my collection on eBay. Now I just visit comic news sites to find out what’s going on and confirms I did the right thing. I’m in love with old stories and the idea of these characters, but have no interest with what they’re doing in current books.
As for the teens not knowing any better theory–I agree. I’m a high school teacher, and (while not the same), they all thought Spider-man 3 was a-mah-zing. I thought some 90s plot lines were sooo cool, but at least that interest in comics lead me to Fables and Y the Last Man.

I’d be a lot happier if the worst comic on the stands was Chew.

You think it would be boring? Personally I don’t need the sort of excitement you’re talking about.

Jake Earlewine

June 8, 2012 at 6:11 am

Some suggest that we should be “discerning” in our buying habits — simply stop buying the comics that suck. On the surface, that seems reasonable.

But the publisher is then clueless about WHY sales are down. They are likely to assume that this comic book is unable to support an audience — when the truth is that the character is great but the artist sucks. When sales are down, the publisher may decide the hero needs a reboot or a new costume — when maybe what he really needs is a good writer that understands the character. Or a new editor.

For me, the things that ruin a good comic book title are: (1) crappy art, including “flashy” pencilers that have no storytelling ability, (2) “stories” that aren’t stories but merely fragments, (3) writing that disrespects the established characterization of the characters — which includes reboots and retcons.

It’s not enough to simply stop buying comics when they turn rotten. We must communicate WHY we don’t like it.

The problem is also the amount of competition. You have 5 Batman books, 2 Superman books, 3 Green Lantern books, a gazillion X-Men and Avengers books and also 5 issues of Spider-Man per month (if you count Ultimate, Annuals, etc.).

Now how the hell will that 16 year old kid still have money to buy X-Factor or Swamp Thing in the middle of all this? (I mean….X-Treme X-Men? Really Marvel?)

I understand the need to release so many books featuring the same character but this, I think, is what eventually causes the downfall of certain minor books.

To me the biggest insult a writer can do is not portraying said character properly. I’m actually appalled by the way they are writing Captain America and Cyclops over on Avengers Vs X-Men. I keep thinking to myself “This is not the Cap I know”.

talmidge mcgulliger

June 8, 2012 at 9:31 am

I find it’s just the opposite. The more I stay away from the comic store the more I want to catch up with old friends like spidey, superman, batman and the x-men. I think this is just another attempt by a pretentious creators to try and score points by being cynical.

Comic book fans sure do spend a lot of time talking about how much they don’t like comics.

Yeah, why would they spend time talking about something they care about and have a strong connection with. It makes no sense at all does it Dennis

It took me all of about a month and a half to not care any more. When I switched to trades I was kinda itching for a fix for that first month or so. But by the time it came around to order the trades, I just really didn’t care any more.

I wish I did.

Those comics were such a part of my life growing up. Iron Man. The X-Men. Power Man & Iron Fist (before Bendis made Luke Cage cool). The Avengers (before Bendis made them cool).

How sad is it that I could get over a 20+ year relationship in under six weeks. Guess I cared more about keeping that relationship going than the books did.

I love comics but I hate many lousy comics published by the big two. If I drop an awful run of a character I love, I won’t miss it. Today I follow the creators and give a chance for interesting newcomers, but I don’t care for the big events or forged controversies anymore.

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