The Comic Cancer
Hey did you know Twinkies can cause cancer? Never heard that? Well, maybe you’ve heard that Sweet & Low does, or well just about anything really. It is amazing to me that so many things can be said to cause cancer, but then maybe we are just wording it wrong. See what they do not tell you is that scientists pump five hundred tons of the stuff into a rat and then are amazed when the rat develops cancer. Maybe we should say, “Hey did you know that too much of anything can kill you?” Then the comic industry might realize that the constant overkill on everything it does is dragging down sales and readership. Oh sure, the economy does not help, but let’s face it, comics should be doing well thanks to movies, branding, and adult fans. Instead, constant events and crossovers, excessive numbers of books, and rehashing of similar plots are slowly killing our favorite geeky treat.
Let’s start with something that is all too prevalent these days, events. I can remember about a year and a half ago, Marvel said that they were going to lay off events following Siege. For the record we are currently in the middle of Fear Itself, Schism, and Spider-Island. On the horizon we have Shattered Heroes, Regenesis and Destroy. Oh, and if you’re a fan of of DC too, do not forget there are like thirty tie-ins to Flashpoint you need to pick up. See when I was a kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s things were simple. The big guys had their own books, the little guys were sidekicks and secondary characters, and crossovers or events were awesome because they were rare. Each character shined in their own stories and met up only in team books or on special occasions. But somewhere along in the mid-90’s the industry found that events and tie-ins were making big bucks. Now we are swimming in them and something wonderful has been turned into five hundred pounds of Twinkies being forced down our throats.
This leads me to my next point. When Regenesis comes to fruition in the coming months we will be looking at a minimum of seven X-books. This month alone more than fifteen books will be published featuring X-Men. Heaven forbid you are a Batman fan too; you might as well live in a box. How is a fan supposed to be as loyal as their heart wants to be, without breaking the bank? I for one have started following writers more than characters or books, but this is sad as I no longer feel as connected to the characters I am reading about. Stories never feel concise anymore either. There is always something that happened in a tie-in or character centric book that I missed out on. Comic book geeks like seeing the whole picture. We live off knowing every detail of a character or storyline. How can we spend countless hours arguing over things in comic book shops if we do not have all the information? Instead of giving me a ton of books trying to tell me the same story or different stories, or any stories at all, give me a few books that are focused, concise, and story driven. Look I like so many comic buyers out there can only afford so many Twinkies, do me a favor and don’t put the filling in another wrapper.
Lastly, the stories themselves. You know they say that if you put monkeys in a room with a typewriter they will eventually create Shakespeare. What they don’t tell you is that if they have read Shakespeare they will just keep using the same stories over and over just changing the names and locations. I am not saying that all comic book plots themselves are complete rehashings, but even the good ones rehash tired plot points. The most annoying of which is killing off characters, just for the sake of grandiose. What amazes me about character deaths is that they are so hyped, I often forget what the story the character died in was even about. Take for instance the death of Captain Stacy in Spider-man. This is a defining moment in the life of one of the greatest comic book heroes in the world. Captain Stacy himself is not even that important, but the story was, and all I remember is that Doc Ock was battling Spidey and a building fell on Gwen’s daddy. And just when the death is relevant and meaningful, they ruin it by bringing the character back. If you are going to kill someone off let them stay dead. Barry Allen was more important in death than he has ever been in life, and that is including Flashpoint. Stop with the registrations acts, body snatcher plots, and re-tellings of Rome and Juliet. We get it people dying is sad, shape shifters are bad, and Twinkies cause cancer, now can someone be a little more original?
At the end of the day it is not like any one of these things are bad. You are going to have events and crossovers, you are going to have multiple books for a character, and you are going to have to kill people off and have them taken by body snatchers. All I am asking is that we find some moderation. Quality over quantity is not just a saying; they are words to live by. Comic bookers can only buys so many books, we have homes and children, we have a struggling economy and we are spending at least twenty bucks each time a movie comes out. Give fewer, more quality books and you will see an increase in sales. People like Twinkies, they were invented in 1930, eight years before Action Comics hit the stands. However, too much of anything, be it Twinkies or comic events, and you will probably get cancer. Let me know what you think in the comments.