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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How the Big Three ruined comics

My observation is that the combination of a) a distribution monopoly and b) SJW editors and content are the primary culprits for the ongoing collapse of the comics industry, which is on track to decline as much as 20 PERCENT in units this year. In corporate terms, that's practically free fall.

However, Arkhaven writer Jon Del Arroz declares at Castalia House there are other content-related problems that merit mention, and lays the blame at the feet of three of the more influential comics writers of the last 30 years.
The industry has three major problems in its storytelling, which each one of these works exemplifies in three ways:

A focus on realism in a medium that by definition is absurd. Alan Moore’s Watchmen is what brought this on. The whole point of the book was to show real heroes growing old, having problems, being corrupt and dealing with real world issues and relationships – and by “real world” of course we mean a debaucherous romp of sex, drugs and violence, which no one relates to. Modern writers want to switch all their characters to this realism feel, which makes no sense when you have Asgardian gods who magically transform at the picking up of a hammer, or a nerd clinging to walls and swinging from rooftops. Realism has no place in such stories, and it’s painful to read boring stories about The Visions sitting at home pretending to eat meals even though they’re robots.

An obsession with rebooting mythology. This is Neil Gaiman’s hallmark. He’s made an entire career out of rebooting. If you look at Sandman, he takes classic mythological figures, imports them into a punk rock/goth 80s world and turns it into a weird horror story. When he worked for Marvel briefly, he rebooted Marvel as if the heroes had been born in the 1600s. American Gods, his novel, is about rebooting mythology again. His formula is obvious. It’s all he does, and it’s all DC and Marvel do now. It’s not selling? Let’s reboot Superman again with an all new #1. That’ll sell for the gimmick collector for a minute, but then when you degrade into the same, tired, unoriginal realism in storytelling, the sales plummet again. No one wants to read the revamped origin story for the umpteenth time, this time it’s the definitive, real version! The original worked just fine and remain in our memories, not the reboots.

Striving to be darker for shock value. This is where Frank Miller changed the game, and for the worse. Everything is gore. Everything is awful, dark, terrible. Characters are dying, whether it be from street thugs or from AIDS, everyone’s life is in the pits and sucks. The streets of New York or Gotham are pure cesspools of no hope, and pure grit. He paved the way for writers like Garth Ennis or Mark Millar to try to one up that grittiness, or Ed Brubaker to turn an optimistic character Captain America into some depressing, dark story with his Winter Soldier storyline. Guess what? You’ve just made sure every parent in America doesn’t buy these books because they know they’re not appropriate images for their kids to see, thereby turning off an entire generation of customers from getting attached to these works.

The three points above all are dangerous paths for lesser writers to tread, and do lead to even greater problems when EVERY story becomes a combination of these tropes, which is what we have in modern comics.
Jon isn't just a critic, though. He's putting his pen where his mouth is by translating Richard Fox's popular Ember War series into comics that will be published later this year by Arkhaven. Check out the first two preview pages at the Arkhaven forums.

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72 Comments:

Blogger exfarmkid March 14, 2018 12:29 PM  

What Frank Miller did to DareDevil back in the day was obscene.

Blogger Amos Bellomy March 14, 2018 12:33 PM  

I can admit that what Miller wrought ended up going wrong, but "Born Again" is one of the all-time masterpiece single hero stories.

Blogger exfarmkid March 14, 2018 12:36 PM  

Fair enough. Found it interesting at first, but it quickly turned into "WTF?"

Blogger Nathan Housley March 14, 2018 12:43 PM  

History might not repeat, but it sure does rhyme. The factors that are killing comics killed the pulps and almost killed science fiction on a couple occasions. And the social scolds sure love their "realism".

Blogger Amos Bellomy March 14, 2018 12:44 PM  

The ending with Nuke is considered by most to be the weakest part, but the action is still fantastic and we do get one of the all-time great Captsin America lines:

"I'm loyal to nothing, General...except the dream"

Blogger Akulkis March 14, 2018 12:49 PM  

If "realism" means a world absolutely, completely devoid of normal people.

Blogger Akulkis March 14, 2018 12:52 PM  

OT: Vox, you've been banned iniVA hospitals. But voxday.blogspot.ca works :-)

Blogger Jack Amok March 14, 2018 12:56 PM  

Regarding the rebooting part, there's a general problem with long-running series in any medium - comics, tv, novels, Star Wars movies... At some point, you've exhausted all the logical character and plot developments. The hero is who he is, the villains the same, the side-kicks and love interests. The story has run it's course, the world is saved or ruined and rebuilding, basically there's no more story to tell.

Well, at least not the sort of story "serious" writers like, a story with plot or character development. If they were content just to write escapist action pieces, you could go on forever. But that's just hack work, good only for the pulps and nothing that'll get you talked about among the "greats" like Moore Gaiman and Miller.

So sooner or later, you have to have the audience's favorite characters completely betray everyone and become something else.

Either tell a story with an arc, which comes to an end and then you move on to other characters, or tell pulp stories that reset to the same initial state after each episode so the audience can enjoy their favorite characters.

Blogger pyrrhus March 14, 2018 12:56 PM  

My summary of the whole comics mess is that this is the kind of art you get in a rapidly degrading culture....You don't get Robert E. Howard, you get Neil Gaiman.

Blogger James Dixon March 14, 2018 12:57 PM  

> Richard Fox's popular Ember War

Interestingly, two of those were free in he Kindle store recently and I picked them up. I haven't had time to read them though.

Blogger Zaklog the Great March 14, 2018 1:00 PM  

Yes, we can’t have art or storytelling that’s “escapism”. Like C.S. Lewis said, you know who really likes to discourage escapism? Jailers.

Blogger Longtime Lurker March 14, 2018 1:02 PM  

Ember War Saga. This looks promising.

Blogger CarpeOro March 14, 2018 1:09 PM  

Haven't read/collected comics in some time, but I recall watching the movie based on Sin City and being appalled. I wouldn't be able to fathom a parent letting a minor anywhere near the comic or movie. The real world is horrific enough that I don't need to call that entertainment.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 14, 2018 1:11 PM  

A focus on realism in a medium that by definition is absurd.

Machiavellianism. Spiders don't dream.

An obsession with rebooting mythology.

Narcissism. This is an expression of the impulse to "shed one's skin", i.e. move away from the problems one has caused to a new location and reinvent one's identity, persona, etc.

Striving to be darker for shock value.

Psychopathy.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 14, 2018 1:13 PM  

I expect, upon inspection, you would also find the fictional hallmark of sadism: the need to influence and/or control behavior through natural processes (i.e. social engineering). A lot of Orson Scott Card's stuff is exemplary, even though I like some of his work. But I'm not big into comics, so this is just a prediction.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 14, 2018 1:14 PM  

So basically, any fantasy story where the characters spend a lot of time discussing political maneuvering is an emanation of sadomasochism.

Blogger Gordon Scott March 14, 2018 1:21 PM  

Okay, I ain't deep like y'all, and I haven't bought a comic for three decades (until I bought both Arkhaven this week). But yeah, the whole "Oooh, we're so dark" thing is most of what drove me away.

It isn't like comics didn't get political back then. I can remember my mom picking up a Richie Rich and being highly pissed off that the hero of the story was drawn to be Bobby Kennedy, and the 3 bad guys were Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney (Mitt's dad)) It must have been late 1967 or early 1968. She wrote and complained, and the editor actually wrote back and apologized.

Blogger Ingot9455 March 14, 2018 1:29 PM  

I get this from Robin Laws' blog though I am sure others have stated it.

There are two kinds of heroes, the 'dramatic hero' and the 'iconic hero.'

The dramatic hero is placed in a situation where he himself as he is cannot overcome. We cheer for him to achieve the change in himself which allows him to get to a victory condition. We call that a 'character arc' and we expect him to maintain that change afterwards and call it 'character growth.'

The iconic hero is placed in a situation where he himself cannot overcome. We cheer for him to maintain his values so strongly that he changes the world around him to achieve his victory conditions.

Captain America and Aldo Raines from Inglorious Basterds are prime examples of iconic heroes. They are exemplars, they are supposed to change the world around them, not be changed. When they fail to change the world around them, they fail the mission.

Blogger bob kek mando - ( I love the smell of Autism on the internet. It smells like ... victoREEEEEEEEE ) March 14, 2018 1:29 PM  

16. Aeoli Pera March 14, 2018 1:14 PM
So basically, any fantasy story where the characters spend a lot of time discussing political maneuvering is an emanation of sadomasochism.



so, is what you're saying is, you hate CJ Cherryh?

Blogger Jon D. March 14, 2018 1:33 PM  

I forgot I wrote this and started reading the points and was nodding "wow this is all astute observations and so true..." then I got to the bottom haha.

Blogger Desdichado March 14, 2018 1:35 PM  

Amos Bellomy wrote:The ending with Nuke is considered by most to be the weakest part, but the action is still fantastic and we do get one of the all-time great Captsin America lines:

"I'm loyal to nothing, General...except the dream"

That doesn't even sound like the kind of thing Captain America would say. On the other hand, when Marc Millar had him say, "Surrender??!! You think this letter on my head stands for France?"—now that was a great line.

Blogger Chris Mallory March 14, 2018 1:46 PM  

Desdichado wrote:"Surrender??!! You think this letter on my head stands for France?"—now that was a great line.

Nothing like a little NeoCon propaganda against America's oldest ally to make a comic hero great!

Blogger Amos Bellomy March 14, 2018 2:08 PM  

*Shrug*

No accounting for taste.

Blogger Desdichado March 14, 2018 2:10 PM  

France isn't America's oldest ally, because that French government was overthrown and destroyed in the French Revolution.

Neocon. Seriously?

Blogger S1AL March 14, 2018 2:15 PM  

Chris French-last-name thinks everyone is a neocon.

Blogger Killua March 14, 2018 2:22 PM  

At some point, you've exhausted all the logical character and plot developments

Yeah, there is also that. Its like Dragon Ball Z. It used to be great, but at this point all those different transformations of Goku are just the same super saiyan transformation with different hair colors.

Make Comics Great Again! Thats why the comics industry needs fresh blood.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 14, 2018 2:33 PM  

Comics are illustrated pulps. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. some of the best, most engaging writing is in the pulps. Trying to be something else is where they go wrong. If you can do more with it, go ahead and be Robert Howard. If you can't, aim for being Lester Dent. Turning your back on the nature of the medium is a recipe to fail.

OpenID baelzar March 14, 2018 2:36 PM  

Hmm, I directly contributed to the downfall of comics! I loved The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta...

The old BIFF BOOM POW comics never appealed to me. Glad I could help.

Blogger James Dixon March 14, 2018 2:36 PM  

> Interestingly, two of those were free in he Kindle store recently and I picked them up. I haven't had time to read them though.

Whoops, I had the wrong series. Those weren't the ones. Still, it looks good.

> so, is what you're saying is, you hate CJ Cherryh?

Well, I'd say reading her political oriented books (say Cyteen and Regenesis) qualifies as sadomasochism. My wife likes them FWIW. Even Morgaine and Chanur can get a bit tedious, though they're good enough to make up for it.

Blogger JD Cowan March 14, 2018 2:37 PM  

Actually, I think Diversity & Comics did a great video on this exact subject. Of course he got a lot of disagreements with it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc6FahEKzwI

Blogger Lovekraft March 14, 2018 2:38 PM  

It's debatable whether Moore and company are icons who either

1. brought in new eras of comic storytelling, or
2. happen to be the ones pushing out the material that the time called for.

Either way, the current state of the Big Three likely won't be the ones who do it again. Their size and ties to corporate bean-counters precludes this. I picture them as hostage to globalist, leftist forces.

#gamergate and, to a lesser extent, #comicsgate (where SJWs openly called for violence against a dissenting voice) created an opportunity for alt comics. But there's a risk.

The risk is the ever-present marxist violence that we are all aware of, so that any company stepping out of line could very well (post-Trum), be the focus of the marxist hateagenda.

So how to produce content that is markedly different from the modern SJW bile while also being resilient to withstand the SJW hatemob (it's will most likely return. Same as jihad. They're both laying low right now)?

My preference: write about the struggles the media chooses to ignore. Watch what the media fawns over and protects, and do the opposite. The public will catch on.

Blogger NautOfEarth March 14, 2018 2:41 PM  

I agree 100% with this. I'd only add another 2 trends:

1. Huge crossover events every. single. year.

House of M, Annihilation and Civil War were cool but I found it difficult to care by the time Secret Invasion came around. The whole point of huge crossover events is that they didn't happen often and we saw characters that rarely interacted meet each other.

2. Lack of stakes/Nothing means anything

Youtuber Razorfist cites Mark Waid's Daredevil run as the cause of this and I see no reason to disagree as far as this trend going mainstream but I think it's origins might go back a bit further than that to Deadpool. Deadpool's jokey, 4th wall breaking gimmick was cute at first but ran dry quickly for me. Now everything is a joke, there's no stakes, or even continuity.

Blogger D. Bay March 14, 2018 2:53 PM  

I thought Frank Miller's comics were brilliant. They added a new grittiness and noir feeling to an art form that needed to be changed. Except very few writers and artists could do what Frank Miller did. His imitators were largely hacks.

What Superman, Spider-Man and other comics need is just to be reverted back to their original selves and not bastardized with political correctness.

Blogger Tuatha March 14, 2018 2:54 PM  

If Jebuz was alive today he would tell the world that palefaces have no business consorting with his teaching.

Blogger Dave March 14, 2018 2:59 PM  

Jon D. wrote:I forgot I wrote this and started reading the points and was nodding "wow this is all astute observations and so true..." then I got to the bottom haha.

You're a riot...you got the CH blog all stirred up.


Gordon Scott wrote:It isn't like comics didn't get political back then. I can remember my mom picking up a Richie Rich and being highly pissed off that the hero of the story was drawn to be Bobby Kennedy, and the 3 bad guys were Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney (Mitt's dad)) It must have been late 1967 or early 1968. She wrote and complained, and the editor actually wrote back and apologized.

Great story, if only we could get our hands on that letters today.

Blogger Aeoli March 14, 2018 3:06 PM  

so, is what you're saying is, you hate CJ Cherryh?

Only read the Faded Sun trilogy (it had ninjas on the cover). The knife-throwing game was cool but I don't remember anything else, except that it was slow but okay.

Blogger James Dixon March 14, 2018 3:14 PM  

> I loved The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta...

As Jon himself says: "The three points above all are dangerous paths for lesser writers to tread"

Blogger Steampunk Koala March 14, 2018 3:25 PM  

"Realism has no place in such stories, and it’s painful to read boring stories about The Visions sitting at home pretending to eat meals even though they’re robots."

I had a guy in my old D&D group who decided he was a girl not terribly long before we stopped gaming with him, and all three points were injected into the game by this individual as much as we would tolerate. In particular was an insistence on dragging out irrelevant scenes like eating into excruciating detail. It is apparently an artifact of their damaged psyche.

Blogger Allen Skeens March 14, 2018 3:49 PM  

The thing is, i think Howard saw the writing on the wall. Saw what the culture would become.

Blogger John Smith March 14, 2018 3:53 PM  

Perhaps it comes from a relationship vs. achievement plot. A relationship plot focuses on development of character and personality through the relationships between the people in the story. To do this you need a defined story arc. When the story becomes open ended it degenerates into soap operas where characters constantly form and betray alliances, switch sides, and talk with a low and husky tone as if they are all about to say, "I'm Batman." Think second season of The Expanse or season two through now of Once Upon A Time.

An achievement based plot allows the characters to reveal who they are through action. Superman reveals himself to be a hero because he acts heroically in each challenge. This type of storytelling can last forever and tends to appeal to men. Thin the first season of The Expanse or most of X Files.

I can't help but wonder if the personal growth through ever changing relationship plot has become more dominant since more men have been raised by single mothers and have no experience with a masculine sense of achievement which their fathers would have modelled for them. In other words: the feminization of American culture.

Blogger James Dixon March 14, 2018 4:04 PM  

> A focus on realism in a medium that by definition is absurd. Alan Moore’s Watchmen is what brought this on. The whole point of the book was to show real heroes growing old, having problems, being corrupt and dealing with real world issues and relationships

I think this is an overlooked issue. For starters, it simply can't reasonably be done. If you actually get realistic in a Marvel comic, the death toll from the powers the heroes and villains possess will be so great that the Sentinel solution would look like a tame and measured response.

Blogger John Smith March 14, 2018 4:15 PM  

Sadomasochism? Perhaps, but definitely feminine which tends that way. Having worked in a high pressure job requiring intense problem solving in chaotic and unpredictable situations I can tell you men DO NOT stand around talking. They rapidly throw out ideas, quickly assess them, then act. Women in the same job tended slow down the process and begin to talk. Too often solving the crisess faded in impotance as the women used the situation to achieve their true goal: competing for dominance over each other. They would quickly form alliances, betray the alliance, form another alliance, betray it, over and over again, in an attempt to gain a higher position in the group's hierarchal structure. That is remarkably similar to the sadomasochistic impulse of dominance and hierarchy. Return of Kings had a great article on this topic titled "This Accidental Expirament Shows the Superiority of Patriarchy." It is well worth the read.

Blogger Carl Philipp March 14, 2018 4:26 PM  

@38
"In particular was an insistence on dragging out irrelevant scenes like eating into excruciating detail. It is apparently an artifact of their damaged psyche."

They want to live in a fantasy universe. And I mean that literally. They really want to get as close as they actually can to actually living in a different universe, where the trauma of their life isn't a thing that happened.

It's not just that they want to roleplay a world in which they're wizards and can fight back against evil. They want to roleplay sitting down and having a meal through the eyes of somebody whose very body isn't their own enemy.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 14, 2018 4:39 PM  

Carl Philipp wrote:@38

"In particular was an insistence on dragging out irrelevant scenes like eating into excruciating detail. It is apparently an artifact of their damaged psyche."

They want to live in a fantasy universe. And I mean that literally. They really want to get as close as they actually can to actually living in a different universe, where the trauma of their life isn't a thing that happened.

It's not just that they want to roleplay a world in which they're wizards and can fight back against evil. They want to roleplay sitting down and having a meal through the eyes of somebody whose very body isn't their own enemy.


It's more because they purity spiral into the most stereotypically feminine interests they can think of. He would have done the same with knitting scenes.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 14, 2018 4:40 PM  

Ask me how I know.

Because I knew the pastor's kid.

Blogger Lovekraft March 14, 2018 4:42 PM  

@ 40 John Smith: I remember joking way back about how the X-Men would be standing around the kitchen, but still calling each other Cyclops or Colossus. "Hey Wolverine, can you hand me the can opener?"

Somewhat related. A study reviewed the types of home environment males who 'went off the deep end' lived in. The pattern of alcoholism, economic hopelessness etc is blatant.

https://schoolshooters.info/sites/default/files/shooters_myth_stable_home_1.15.pdf


Related to comics, the ONLY real story that looked at this was Mark Millar's "Wanted" (do NOT even give the abomination of a movie adaptation your time). Yes, it had diversity, and evilNazitype villain, but it addresses fatherless and general male despondency. Not sure of other similar stories.

Blogger Chris Mallory March 14, 2018 4:52 PM  

S1AL wrote:Chris French-last-name thinks everyone is a neocon.

We left France in 1066. And if it walks like a NeoCon, talks like a NeoCon, and smells like a NeoCon it is probably a NeoCon.

Blogger Chris Mallory March 14, 2018 4:53 PM  

Desdichado wrote:France isn't America's oldest ally, because that French government was overthrown and destroyed in the French Revolution.

Neocon. Seriously?


The French people didn't change. And enjoy your Freedom Fries.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 14, 2018 4:55 PM  

I have to take minor issue with a couple of Arroz's points, namely the first and third.

There is room for both realism and dark topics in comics. However, when either is added, they appeal to a different demographic, which is not children or typical women.

The Japanese would call that style of comics "Seinen". It's aimed at adult males, purchased by adult males, and enjoyed by adult males.

Now, I'm not saying that there can never be too much realism and darkness, even for that demographic, because there certainly can. I'm just saying that those inclinations/aspects of fiction have their correct applications (in moderation) as well.

Now to delineate the difference between "enough" and "too much", if I may. I would say that as soon as people start questioning why something is in media from a thematic standpoint, it probably shouldn't be there, unless the questioner is mistaking the theme.

Some themes aren't fit for human consumption by any demographic, such as glorifications of sadism and perversion.

Blogger Daniel Paul Grech Pereira March 14, 2018 5:05 PM  

As a former MARVEL customer I can say that Sr Del Arroz is 100% correctomundo.

Blogger Tatooine Sharpshooters' Club March 14, 2018 5:22 PM  

I don't read comics so I don't know if it's exactly the same. but most American-produced mass entertainment has the same obsessions with gritty "realism", and dark, morose characters EXCEPT (and my experience is this a very American trait) everybody knows that no one whose name appears in the opening credits is ever in any real danger.It's "drama" with nothing at stake, and that's nothing but a waste of time.

Blogger Bogey March 14, 2018 5:57 PM  

@51 If you start killing lead characters off you end up with Nihilism. See Walking Dead.

Blogger Bogey March 14, 2018 6:00 PM  

By the way Vox, the art is looking pretty damn good in that Ember comic preview.

Blogger Timmy3 March 14, 2018 6:06 PM  

Having Superman fight Batman with Batman killing him was a stretch. The comics gotten too dark. Even worse is Marvel on Netflix. Star Wars TLJ is very dark. Terrible hateful stories. I did have fun with Guardians of the Galaxy and the last Thor.

Blogger NautOfEarth March 14, 2018 6:10 PM  

@54 GotG 2 and Thor Ragnarok are examples of taking it too far in the other direction, I think. Particularly, Thor where we see the characters not only act uncharacteristically based on the comics, but even compared to the other MCU movies.

Blogger slarrow March 14, 2018 6:15 PM  

I forgot I wrote this and started reading the points and was nodding "wow this is all astute observations and so true..." then I got to the bottom haha.

Nice. I was wondering how that worked until I saw that you wrote this almost a year ago. That might have been before Dynamique was even a gleam in Vox's eye....

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales March 14, 2018 6:36 PM  

Big Three? What Big 3? Marvel, DC, and Image? Since when did Image suddenly become big enough that we now have a Big Three rather than a Big Two? It's even more confusing considering that slice of the article only mentioned (correctly, I might add) how Marvel and DC fucked everything up.

Blogger Man of the Atom March 14, 2018 6:43 PM  

Emmanuel Mateo-Morales wrote:Big Three? What Big 3?

Moore, Gaiman, and Miller

Blogger Oliver Cromwell March 14, 2018 8:07 PM  

I am not a fan of comics, but have some interest in their cultural significance. It's of historical interest that all of the two sets of big three characters were created by Jews, as were in effect both of their vehicle companies. Comic books as they are understood today are a Jewish-American medium (Wolverine was created by an Englishman who was only half Jewish). Given the intellectual milieu of Jewish New York from the 30s to the 60s it would be surprising if the current leftist posturing were new.

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales March 14, 2018 8:16 PM  

@41

Shit, with the kind of things even the heroes pull, the Sentinel programs looks sane and measured. Fuck, Marvel Canada, which is somehow even more evil than real world Canada's, response of executing entire villages because they MIGHT have had mutants among them seems sane and measured.

https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/why-do-heroes-tolerate-marvel-canada.340832/

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales March 14, 2018 8:20 PM  

@58

Oh... writers... I thought he meant companies.

Blogger Glaivester March 14, 2018 9:51 PM  

Lack of stakes/Nothing means anything

Or alternately, absurdly high stakes (every single universe could blink out of existence!) with no real idea of how to deal with the major plot issue.

I really hate "universe-level extinction" as the threat in the story, unless (a) the story is important enough or major enough that it does not seem out of place for it to overwhelm the entire series, and (b) the author manages to plot it out so that the resolution makes sense.

In other words, a series-long arc can have this as the threat, a filler story ought not to (it spoiled the episode "The Alternative Factor" on Star Trek). If a minor, out-of-the-way event can basically overwhelm everything else in the story, it makes the stakes in lesser episodes seem smaller by comparison.

I think that is one of the problems with Chris Claremont. He was made famous by the Dark Phoenix Saga, and he keeps wanting to go with that level of stakes.
Anyone who has read Uncanny X-Men during House of M ("Season of the Witch") knows what I mean. At the beginning, we find out that the entire Omniverse is at risk of being destroyed, and that what's-her-name is maybe going to have to destroy the main Marvel Universe to prevent this. So they send Psylocke and Rachel Summers to solve the problem that is threatening everything. This is the first half of the first issue of the four-issue set. Basically, for three issues they run around and the plot basically forgets the problem, and then in the last half of the last issue, everyone runs into this big, X-shaped extradimensional "hole" in order to close it, solving the problem.

He did the same thing in a later issue of Exiles. Shortly after, I stopped subscribing to comics.

Deadpool's jokey, 4th wall breaking gimmick was cute at first but ran dry quickly for me. Now everything is a joke, there's no stakes, or even continuity.

Fourth-wall breaking quickly destroys any series that requires you to care about the characters. It really made the last two or three years of Bloom County painful to read.

OpenID baelzar March 14, 2018 9:59 PM  

Timmah: "Having Superman fight Batman with Batman killing him was a stretch."

Au contraire! With Kryptonite involved Superman is just a man. Since Batman is THE man, Unsuperman can only get his ass beat.

Blogger Bobiojimbo March 14, 2018 10:06 PM  

Once again, Vox, you earn your title of Supreme Dark Lord ;-) Always producing such tempting material!

I've been hoping for a good sci-fi comic, and those two pages of Ember War look good. :D

"Striving to be darker for shock value." It doesn't help that the "fans" want this too, but I've come realize that the fans don't understand what dark and gritty is or when and where it's properly utilized. On the movie side, this happened with Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, and we can see how it influenced Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Justice League. Traces of it can even been seen in The Last Jedi and the new Star Trek films.

"A focus on realism in a medium that by definition is absurd." Perfect example of this is the Total Recall reboot (2012). It also strove for darker and grittier. Also, the CW DC super hero shows do this as well, plus rebooting the mythologies.

Sorry for the cross comparisons, but these issues have spread into other mediums. Thank you Jon Del Arroz for giving us names to use.

Blogger Nakota Publishing March 14, 2018 11:27 PM  

I enjoyed Watchmen and I think it had its place but trying to replicate its one-shot success and make EVERYTHING into Watchmen was completely retarded. Same goes for Gaiman. The suits and SJW's running the companies wouldn't know an original idea if it bit them in the tush.

Blogger Jack Amok March 15, 2018 12:10 AM  

Perhaps it comes from a relationship vs. achievement plot...When the story becomes open ended it degenerates into soap operas where characters constantly form and betray alliances, switch sides...

Yep, Soap Operas are the definitive example of this. And they are very much targeted at females. I've never gotten the feeling that the average female is outraged when a character completely changes personality or loyalty.

They live in a different world, as far as loyalty and consistency goes. Well, y'know, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind. Of course, when that phase was coined, men had several prerogatives that are considered barbarous today...

Blogger Technomad March 15, 2018 2:35 AM  

A lot depends, I think, on which heroes and which books you're talking about. Batman is supposed to be grim and dark! Look, the man's a (well-compensated, functioning) madman, and a lot of his schtick is based on fear.

And there's nothing wrong with having comics that are aimed at more "adult" audiences. There is nothing written in stone that says that comics have to be for kids. I have long bitterly regretted that the Victorian cult of "childhood purity and innocence" didn't go the way of the hobble skirt.

Blogger AdognamedOp March 15, 2018 5:02 AM  

Well since only adults seem to be buying comics these days, I guess its ok to market to them. It's another reason the market is dead. You cant even get enough sellers to buy tables these days at conventions and small market shows. Adult collectors might attend these shows if they're interested in a specific niche. But without a younger market these shows have pretty much become dead, empty spaces.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 15, 2018 6:46 AM  

Now, I like Jon and I'm honestly almost sorry I sent him those disgusting pictures from my lamb butchering class but I can't agree with him on a lot this. Except about Neil Gaimen, he's dead right there. I can't believe a generation as cynical as Gen X got conned by his bullshit. Gaiman is a pretend literary auteur of comics but really he's a one trick pony who hasn't done anything of note since 2000.

No, the real problem wasn't the Big Three. It started with Dennis O'Neil's Green Arrow/Green Lantern series. Ask any Walter Breen looking asshole who reads comics and he will happily tell you how progressive, ground breaking and important the hippy babble that O'Neil injected into comics was.

Blogger Anthony March 15, 2018 11:41 AM  

Someone whose ancestors were invading the world a thousand years ago is calling someone else a neocon?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 15, 2018 1:08 PM  

Technomad wrote:I have long bitterly regretted that the Victorian cult of "childhood purity and innocence" didn't go the way of the hobble skirt.
Most people who talk this way are child molesters. Just sayin'.

Blogger Jeff Beck March 15, 2018 7:19 PM  

When does the second issue of Quantum Mortis comes out?

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