I don't always get too introspective when reading my comics. I usually either enjoy the heck out of them, or...not. But still...comics! But something has been happening lately, that is beginning to spark a tiny glow of hope in my breast. A new philosophy perhaps. A realization that blood and gore and gratuitous sex and violence may not be the End All for my beloved books. There may just BE a light at the end of the tunnel!
Mostly at Marvel, which frankly surprises the hell out of me, but there has been a return lately to unusual books. Slightly quirky books. And while I still lament the demise of Nextwave, and the Incredible Hercules, I am wondering if their brief but hilarious existence may have been the harbingers for this new batch of books.
I am speaking of course, of books like Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Young Avengers, and now Loki: Agent of Asgard, Daredevil and the new Ms. Marvel book. These...are not your usual "grim and gritty" slug fests. Nor do they have either "Avengers" or "X-Men" or both in their titles. Well, Young Avengers did, but that really was incidental. And while I think that Marvel has gone completely overboard in having l,000 books with "Avengers" or "X-Men" in their titles, in this respect,they aren't really any different from DC which has 500 "Bat" books, "Justice League" books and even a plethora of "Green Lantern" books coming out.
But Hawkeye, Daredevil and the rest are different. There is a lighter tone to their adventures. There is still plenty of action and violence and mayhem of course...nothing wrong with that at all. But there is also an underlying cheekiness...the ability to poke fun at oneself, and one's audience. There is sly wit among the mayhem. The art has been quirky as well...but incredibly welcome. For a change, these books are getting back to the basics of good comics. A clever and fun story, and good art. That is all that I have ever asked for really.
There have been a few examples on DC's part. I've adored Li'l Gotham, which scored high in the wit, fun and beautiful art categories. Alas, they have cancelled the book. But I hear that they are bringing back the adorable Teen Titans book with Baltazar, which is fabulous. But most of the rest of DC has been pretty dreary, especially with this gawdawful "Forever Evil" crossover that Just Won't End still dragging on. And on. They have managed to pretty well suck all of the fun out of the DC Universe.
But I can't help but think that without one DC comic, would there ever have been some of the new books coming out from Marvel?
Justice League International was the book that started it all. Fun, and adventure, and wit, and fabulous art, and more fun. And rollicking good stories along the way.
One of the things that I have noticed with Hawkeye, She-Hulk and Daredevil, is that they are focusing less on the Crisis of the Day, and more on the Day-to-Day lives of particular superheroes. The Blue Beetle series with Giffen and Rogers and young Jaime was similar. While I love seeing my favorite superheroes go out and save the day, I have just as much fun...if not more so...watching what they do in their downtime. Whether it is fighting against the Russian Mob, and eating pizza with his dog, while sporting more and more bandaids, or trying to set up her own law practice, or moving to a whole new city and a whole new life, it is all just interesting. It is different.
One of the reasons that Spider-Man did so well, in my opinion, was that in addition to fighting the Kingpin, or Green Goblin, he also had to figure out how to pay the rent, and deal with his girl friend problems. When all you have anymore, are Giant Cross-overs and the HUGE WORLD-ENCOMPASSING CRISIS of the week, there isn't time to focus on the smaller, and quieter moments. And yet, those are the moments that make the characters more human. More relatable.
I miss having J'onn munch on oreos. Or chocos. I miss Ralph Dibny wriggling his nose.
I miss Wally and Ted being grossed out by it. I miss the schemes of Booster and Ted to get rich quick. I miss Batman being a jerk, but not a complete asshole about it.
I miss it all.
I also miss having the heroes fight slightly smaller and less World-Wide problems. There are certainly huge problems, there are galactic problems, but just once in a while, could we focus on the things that actually happen to real people? The Marvel or DC Earth gets invaded every other Tuesday, and New York gets blown up on weekly basis, and yet somehow, it never has any sort of effect on the lives of any of the people who live there. Maybe the not-so-cosmically powerful heroes and heroines could go back to rescuing cats out of trees or running down muggers. Maybe the Green Lanterns could actually go back to patrolling their sectors and not dying after a few days after being picked by the ring. Maybe people could actually live and earn a decent living in Gotham City without being poisoned, or exploded, or drowned or whatever.
Because Marvel is doing it with these new books. And people like them. People like them a LOT. And there is a reason for that.
So I have a tiny scintilla of hope.