Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jugs & Demons, or How to lose readers without even trying.

Back in the 90's I was reading comics and I noticed a trend that I didn't like. I referred to it as "Jugs & Demons" because, it seemed, that in order to sell a comic, every publisher thought they had to adorn their books with women burdened with massive chests OR there had to be some sort of demon or demonic activity throughout the book.

At best, it became wearying and I started searching for an alternative. That is when I stumbled upon the work of Don Rosa and the wonderful re-presentation of Uncle Scrooge. For the first time in years I was excited, laughing and enjoying comics. Better yet, I was able to share them with my sons.

I tell you that to tell you this... DC, you're on the brink again. I'm about ready to chuck the whole superhero thing and go off to buy the complete works of Little Lulu and Nancy. Why? Several reasons drove home this month and let's go through them book by book:

Batman and Robin #13 - What in the ever loving hell is going on in this book? I have a friend who sometimes will just say the most random thing because he has been thinking about the topic for some time, had a whole conversation in his head, and then his mouth splurts out part of that conversation but nobody else has heard what he has been thinking. That, my friends, is Grant Morrison. I have been able to ignore some huge hunks of story that have gotten no explanation whatsoever in this book (thinking I would be able to catch-up as we went along), the level of violence has been very unsettling, and I am to the point where I don't want to invest $3 in something that I am no longer enjoying. I also don't want to invest $30 to find out a year later I've been sold a huge stinking pile of crap because the writer can't pen a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. Batman & Robin? DROPPED!

Doom Patrol #12 - I like the Doom Patrol. I liked them in the far past, I enjoyed the relaunch, I even kinda enjoyed the John Byrne stuff. The current series, while having some great ideas and some issues that helped bring the reader up to speed, has just fallen into a huge mess with characters completely unknown to me spouting out stuff I can't understand. I'm assuming that some of the folks that have popped up recently are from the Vertigo books, but without ANY hints as to what/who/why/how they are, why should I give a damn? I know Animal/Vegetable/Mineral Man, but who is the porcelain chick, what is this bug lady, who was the poor dead lady in the yellow jumpsuit, what is that white thing and why, when I start every issue, I feel like I have missed the previous issue and when I look back at the prior issue I realize that I haven't missed an issue, I just haven't been privy to Mt. Giffen's running monologue in his head for the past month. Doom Patrol? DROPPED!

Superman/Batman - This book has been on again/off again for some time. The recent Worlds at War storyline was definitely not needed. Worlds at War, a series that I didn't read any of, was, what? 10 years ago? Why now introduce a three issue arc in the middle of a book and throw folks completely off kilter? But then Paul Levitz came on the book and we have some storytelling going on. But I'm still bitter about the WaW and I may drop the book because I'm not getting $3 of fun from it. Superman/Batman? 2 more months! No, 1 more month!

Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps - I never cared for Green Lantern. Never cared for Hal Jordan. Guy Gardner was just a pain in the Justice League. Had no need for the ring-slingers. However, at the behest of Eldest Son, I started picking up the books and I do enjoy the story-telling. I have had to do a lot of catching-up but without the aid of the internet, I can pick up some history of the past and realize what is important and what I should be paying attention to. Now realize, this is without me having to purchase every Blackest Night crossover and without me buying Brightest Day. I can enjoy the books as they are. Taking a character I never read and keeping me coming back each month? That's good work.  GL? Keeping!

Jonah Hex #57 - Jonah Hex, for me at least, never existed in the DC Universe. For decades he was on his own, floating along in WWT or his own book. But then DC decided they needed to be cute had a Justice League crossover, then another one, then Jonah would pop up randomly whenever they needing something to do with the Old West. Why? Because Jonah Hex was the most famous person in the 1800's and no matter where, no matter when a DC hero was in the 1800's, they ran into Jonah Hex.

When the new series started, I was happy but then there was the El Diablo issue. Then another one. And even once again he works with El Diablo.  Now we have a Jonah Hex that can routinely walk among the supernatural to the point that film-makers think they have to give him a super-power. We have Jonah Hex picked up in Darkest Night (burf!) and in the most recent issue Jonah Hex goes head to head against Scalphunter (yay Scalphunter!), Bat Lash (yay Bat Lash), Cinnamon (? Aw crap, she's an adult in the late 1800's! WTF?), Nighthawk (boo Nighthawk!) and the Trigger Twins (boo TT). Again, Jonah is pushed into a universe where the masks (Nighthawk) and the oddities (Trigger Twins) seem to be normal.

Am I gonna drop Jonah Hex? I lived through the Wheelchair Bounty Hunter, I think I can live through this hiccup. However, I think that this trend to roll Jonah into the DCU will be with us for quite some time, much to my chagrin. Jonah Hex? Keeping!


SallyP said...

I'm so glad to hear that you've come to realize that Green Lanterns are simply the bee's knees.

Sooner or later EVERYONE will come to realize it! It's all a part of the master plan!

Utilityinfielder said...

I'm very much with you on the Jonah Hex - DCU issue. I don't really care much for capes, zombies or flying people, even less so when they time travel or need a "cowboy" themed cover. El Diablo and Bash Lash were amusing- ONCE. They are tiresome now.-
Jim In Seattle

Susan said...

Funny, the two DC books you're keeping are the only two on your list that I read and enjoy greatly. I've bought a few issues of Supes/Bats here and there, and Grant Morrison's "work" on Batman (among other things) caused me to move out of the Bat-verse after 25 years...the rest I've never touched.

GL and Hex: if DC ever cancels their books, I might become completely unfettered from comics and float away.