The Negative Zone: Comics Readers Need to Grow Up

Over at Comics Should Be Good!, the Curious Cat question for Sunday was:

When was the last time that a creator’s take on an established comic book character has made you like that established character when you did not like the character before said creator began working with that character?

There's a ton of comments and some interesting ones, a lot of love for Fraction's Iron Fist and plenty of examples of a popular or auteur-like creator working on a lame character (say, John Byrne on She Hulk) but as I went to comment, I realized I couldn't really answer this question because a) I don't read comics specifically connected to certain characters and b) I'm not an idiot so I don't have a silly knee-jerk dislike of certain characters.

Certainly, there've been times when I picked up a book because an artist or writer made it look more interesting, but say, the recent Marvel Comics Presents story about Machine Man just sort of nailed the character perfectly, it wasn't like before that I was thinking "Ugh...Machine Man?", if anything I was waiting for someone to do an awesome Machine Man story.

Or you know, Spiderman's sort of a fag but there's a ton of Tangled Web issues in my collection and Spiderman: Reign pretty much owns. I'm more apt to scan the week's new issues and trade re-releases and everything else and if a title seems really interesting or a writer or artist whose work I've enjoyed is writing the series, I'm apt to pick it up, not simply because it's a comic starring a hero I actively like.

For example, this week in addition to the monthlies I'm usually reading, I'll pick up the re-issue of Grant Morrison's Doctor Who, not because I'm this big fan of Doctor Who (again, because I have taste, even if I was this Doctor Who fan, it wouldn't mean I like every single incarnation of the character) but because Grant Morrison's a fascinating dude and his early work's pretty much all excellent. The other thing grabbing my eye is Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves not because I'm a huge fan of either hero but because the whole thing seems absurd and has the potential to be really weird and interesting or really terrible, and that's exciting. Apparently, this isn't how most comics readers read comics.

In many ways, the "character" is more like the genre because the character confines what and how something can happen in the comic. Disliking a character is the same willful ignorance found on Match.com profiles that say they listen to "everything but rap" or the same goons who refuse to read any Manga or "film buffs" that don't like Science-Fiction.

Marvel-only readers and DC-only readers boggle the mind--although a dislike of DC is more justified as pretty much any fan could feel burned by their shenanigans--as do readers over the age of say 12, that are not only partial to certain heroes, but actively dislike others. I mean, every hero's origin is interesting--this is why we end up with so many origin issues, they're almost always fascinating--and every single comic has potential. That so many comic readers flout their closed minds and silly biases is depressing.

There's also a self-defeating masochism to conventional comics readers as they slog through the latest story arc they hate just because they've been reading Batman for fucking ever. Comics fans love to complain way more than they love to celebrate comics. Seriously, when's the last time you heard a conversation less than surly going on in a comics shop? Think a little harder everybody. Pick up a book you might not read and actually try to dig it, don't pick it up to crap on just so you can say, "And I tried to read "Silver Surfer" dude, it sucks." Grow up comics readers.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's like sports teams where the fan wants to root for who he likes or agaist who he hates even if everyone he knew had been traded. rooting for the uniform but with superheroes.

But I do hate booster gold and I have a hard time thinking of a way he could be done well.

brandon said...

I think the sports team comparison is perfect and in a lot of ways rooting for teams seems silly too, if, way more pragmatic. If you're born in Baltimore, you should like the Orioles and the Ravens, it makes some sense. To be a snob, it's basically unsophisticated to be like "Yo, I'ma read ONLY Batman"...

samuel rules said...

It's like some dude walking up to me at work (a bookstore) and wanting some Iron Man, and me being just excited to talk about comics, I go on and on about this series or that but dude just wants anything Iron Man. I guess what I'm saying is on the other side of the spectrum you have people who don't even want Batman, they want the movie Batman in a comic book, which doesn't exist, and this backwards new comic book fan is terrible. Xbox has basically just made everyone think it's cool to be into "nerdy" stuff but it just lead to nerdy stuff being not as nerdy, also stupid.