Friday, 27 July 2012

Are DC and Marvel making me go "meh" to comics?

Of late, I've been picking up my comics and going through them as usual. Unlike previously though, I've started to feel very "meh" about the books that DC and Marvel are putting out.
In the course of a month I pick up 3 DC titles (Action Comics, Demon Knights and Earth 2) and 5 Marvel titles (Fantastic Four, FF, Daredevil, Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Force), which are rather conservative amounts for a comic book fan (I know a guy who picks up nearly 150 in a month). These 8 titles are scattered out amongst the 4 weeks of a month and so I'm not forced to read them all in one go, but what I don't understand is why I'm so underwhelmed by them.
In truth, one of the most important reasons is the recent new initiatives that both Marvel and DC have implemented. Back in September last year, DC began the "New 52", a major reboot (it was a reboot not a relaunch) of every book in their stable, with many being cancelled and others being formed to create a monthly release of 52 books. This became a big moment for the publisher, with absolutely loads of advertising and build-up to the big event. Then this year, Marvel announced "Marvel Now!" a huge relaunch (this I'm inclined to believe may actually be a relaunch) which will see new number 1's, cancelled series and a new direction for the MU as a whole.
Now, the problem I have with these is the hype. While the "New 52" has been a success (and I pick up three books from their stable), the severe restructuring of the universe to fit towards certain "popular" characters (Yes, I'm talking Batman and Green Lantern) just makes the notion of picking up any other titles hard work. Also, these major changes are certainly difficult for me (who was raised on "old 52") to accept as they contradict a lot of things that I believe make sense in canon and dispose of interesting characters in favour of convenience. Examples to this include; Tim Drake never being Robin (Wrong), Wally West and Donna Troy being exiled to the ether (Fail) and Stephanie Brown being erased from existence in favour of returning Babs Gordon to action (What are you doing DC, bring Steph back). This is not to say that some changes weren't welcome, but the majority seem to have an influence in putting me off.
The same could be said with Marvel. With this whole "Marvel Now!" thing, books I enjoy are being cancelled (Fantastic Four and FF, you evil souls Marvel) and, while I'm sure they'll be back, I don't really want to have to start at issue 1 (In fact I once questions Steve Wacker at a convention about constantly resetting the numbers I hate it so much).
This hype that certain publishers are releasing the "next big thing" makes the read annoying simply because, more often than not, the "next big thing" isn't really that great. It's this kind of raised expectation which cannot be met that provides the biggest let down and, as a result, puts me in a cynical attitude. I want to read a great story in the next issue, but I know that won't happen. If they were more like the indie titles on offer (less hype but more quality) then maybe I'd be more optimistic.
Now, these aren't the only problems. Another is the fact that both Marvel and DC (Though more DC) seem to be just recycling old storylines or forming new ones that have tremdnous plot holes. This makes the stories (which I buy the comics for) very difficult and tiring to follow. Also, to add to my dislike, Marvel now feel, in their infinite wisdom, to release 15 issues of each titles every year instead of 12. This makes collecting very difficult for those on limited incomes (including me) as, for me, budgets need to alter to take 15 new issues into account every year.
When all is said and done, I'm a little tired of reading these books. I highly doubt either DC or Marvel will change some of the things they currently do so all I can hope is that this Marvel Now! thing cuts enough of my books that I can try and get back into them if there is a few less that I collect. Failing that, maybe I'll just have to make the hard choice and cut them from my buy pile myself.

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