Hal Pictures Green Lantern Butt's FOREVER!: Quirky!

Green Lantern Butt's FOREVER!

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Saturday, March 22, 2014


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?


Oh yeah.

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.

ralph photo jla317.jpg

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.


At 7:17 PM, Blogger Jeff McGinley said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. There were other fun comics before and after, but JLI thrived in the post Watchmen/Dark Knight Returns height of grittiness.

Marvel's current trends in the fun direction raise my hopes for the new Nightcrawler series.

At 3:00 AM, Blogger James Ashelford said...

I couldn't agree more and I think you're right about it being exactly the same process. It's usually Batman's fault, he's the highest grossing superhero out there, he's grim, he's gritty, he has an aversion to smiling and so the people making these things flood the market with "what people obviously want".

Problem is people never know what they want in advance. I started reading Daredevil with the Bendis run (the outing of Matt's identity) and the two runs following that were very dark and if you'd pitched Mark Waid's light and frothy run to me then I'd never have believed it would work.

Yet here I am massively looking forward to seeing what life in San Francisco, a city whose symbolism is all about light and hope, holds for the character.

Then that works with readers and the variety comes back. It is taking far too long with DC but with any luck the variety their digital first comics have will eventually impact their print lines.

At 6:53 AM, Blogger SallyP said...

I do hope that this is a trend, because I have had it up to HERE, with Grim and Gritty! It's a trend that has been going on for far too long.

And I do hope that DC decides that Marvel's success with rather more...unusual books is something that they should be emulating. So many of their more light-hearted characters have been killed off, or are in limbo, and it's such a shame.

But I am enjoying the hell out of Daredevil!

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Erich said...

Unrelated to the topic at hand, but I just had to share something that really irritated me.

I don't know if you've ever seen the comic strip "Funky Winkerbean," but the cartoonist (Tom Batiuk) has been going back and forth periodically to a storyline where the title character's wife (Holly Winkerbean) has been tracking down back issues of a fictitious comic book ("Starbuck Jones") to fill the gaps in her son's collection while he's serving in the military. (During the course of this storyline, the Sunday strips have featured guest artists drawing the imaginary "Starbuck Jones" comics, including one by former GL artist Joe Staton.)

All well and good...but in today's strip, Holly refers to her back-issue quest as "getting in touch with my Y chromosome." WHAT...THE...HELL? Does Batiuk think that an interest in comics is an inherently masculine trait?


When I saw that strip and its "Ha ha, women couldn't possibly be interested in comics" punchline, I couldn't help but think, "I wonder what Sally would have to say about that!"

There's a blog dedicated to snarking on the Funky Winkerbean strip, called "Son of Stuck Funky." I've already vented there about this strip's sexist assumption, and I'm sure there'll be many more comments calling him out on it:


Sorry for the tangent, but I just had to express my frustration.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger SallyP said...


Yes, I do read all of the comic strips in the newspaper every day, even if I don't like them, because I just can't help myself. And yes, I agree completely.

But then Funky Winkerbean is such an existential miasma of despair according to Chris Sims, that this sort of whatthefuckery is pretty standard.

I am living proof that a middle-aged woman reads comics. But to most of the Comic Book creators, I am a mythical being.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger CalvinPitt said...

One thing I think is key with JLI is the honchos at DC let Giffen/DaMatteis/Maguire/Hughes do the book they wanted to do. They didn't tell them to make it more like Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans, or Clarement's X-Men, or any previous run of Justice League. The voices (so to speak) of the writers and artists really shone through, and they produced something rightly regarded as a classic.

I think a lot of DC's issue right now is they want everything to look and feel the same, in this case like Batman, which mostly means grim n' gritty as James mentioned. I feel like Marvel's letting their creators just do their thing, which lets their individual strengths and styles show. Mark Waid isn't being told to write more like Bendis, Chris Samnee isn't being told to draw more like Steve McNiven, and vice versa. It helps make the books more distinct from one another, and I think that makes it easier for readers to find something they'll enjoy.

DC has a few books like that, but they seem to currently be the exception to the rule. Hopefully they'll change things up here soon.

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Bryan L said...

I call it "crisis inflation," Sally. It's the constant drive to raise the stakes by making each "event" a more and more serious, more cosmic, more devastating apocalypse.

Oddly, though, it sparks the exact opposite reaction in readers, largely because, as you point out, it's so far out of the realm of the reader's experience that it's completely meaningless.

One of the most devastating comics I ever read was the death of Gwen Stacy. Forty-some-odd years later, I can still remember exactly where I was sitting, and the view from the window I was next to. Tragedy at that level is simply more visceral than the ridiculous overkill you saw in, say, the last Superman movie.

The "events" blur together in a dull welter of poorly connected, oddly stilted individual issues that don't add up to anything cohesive, much less something that moves a reader.

To your specific point, I think Marvel has always been better at handling the small-scale stories (notable exceptions abound), and that's part of their renaissance. I just wish sales would shift in a way that makes the management at both companies realize that stories are still better than overblown spectacles.

At 12:07 PM, Blogger SallyP said...

Calvin, I wish to God, that DC would get the editors out of the way and let the writers and the artists do their own thing. Wouldn't it be nice to have a story about the Flash for example, that was ABOUT the Flash, and not tying into some "epic" crossover? What a concept!

Bryan, I agree completely. The deaths of millions of New Yorkers, in an alien disaster, leaves me completely unmoved. Possibly because it happens every other week, and also because the average Marvel Universe citizen is a complete douche. But Gwen's death MEANT something. Because actualy death of a major character was such a rare occurance.


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