Thursday, March 12, 2015
"On Learning To Love The Futility of Keeping Up With DC Comics," or "I Assure You, This Isn't About Comics Criticism"
I haven't been really keeping up with a lot of new serialized comics lately because I'm not really feeling any of them, but I've been checking in with them here and there, and I think I kind of like that better? It makes me feel kind of like when you tell yourself you're only going to be making an appearance at a party because there's a better party that you're saving for the night's destination, except instead of parties, it's comics or movies or whatever media I'm feeling like consuming, and that destination is completely non-existent in the long run, so the best you can hope for is to find an opportunity to bow out gracefully. Does that make sense? I don't go to as many parties as I used to, maybe that's changed.
That's all a pretty roundabout way to say that while I don't like a lot of the things that are out there so much, I can't stop myself from following my whims and dabbling. I'm a fickle man when it comes to things that truly don't matter, and I've never had great impulse control, so I figured I'd work these issues out on a public social media platform (I'm also a millennial, duh) while talking a little bit about popping my head into DC Comics.
I've been keeping up with three DC Comics titles: Multiversity, Justice League Dark, and Superman. It took some doing, but I've worked my way past my first issue hangups with Multiversity and now I'm having fun with it. I've been reading Justice League Dark because I picked up the annual that Klaus Janson drew and I liked it and figured I'd keep going because J.M. DeMatteis is doing a typical J.M. DeMatteis story, and that's comforting to me, knowing that even after so much about me and my life has changed, J.M. DeMatteis can still make a story with heavy handed ideas about time and life and death. It's a very "serious superhero comics from the 90s" vibe, different from how most of the other comics in the DC feel like stale throwbacks to early 2000s "realistic" conventions. Think less like an attempt to make comics "realistic" and more a feeling like trying to make comics right up there with "serious literature." Likewise with Superman I picked it up because John Romita Jr. was drawing it, and looking at his art and knowing that JRJr is still truckin' along drawing rectangle people and exploding wreckage makes me feel good. I don't know shit about what's going on with the DC Universe as a narrative, but things like Justice League Dark and Superman, while not great works of comic art, are uncomplicated and undemanding, and I think that's what I need from superhero comics right now. I think I'm tired of searching for the profound in superhero comics. That's not to say that it can't be there, but I'm just having a hard time thinking that I have to look at something like, I dunno, that Pizza Dog issue of Hawkeye or fuckin' Batgirl and consider it as great art that elevates the medium of comics storytelling. I mean no disrespect to those titles, but at the end of it I think they're fun stories that do a great job of making you feel a certain way; none of them are changing comics forever and I feel like nothing out there right now really moves me on a personal level. I enjoy superhero comics because they're fun, but it's been a while since I've felt positively affected by them.
Whatever enjoyment I am getting from them, I know I'm not going to be following them forever and actually I enjoy that about them. I'll eventually get sick of Justice League Dark and find it being overwrought and cliched will be less comforting and more grating. John Romita Jr. will eventually leave Superman and I'll have to figure out if I still have room for new JRJr comics in my life or if I'd rather just go back and flip through old Ann Nocenti Daredevil comics that he drew. Multiversity will end and dovetail into story seeds that someone like Scott Lobdell will pick up and misuse. There was a time not very long ago where I would have just kept going despite how overwrought and cliched and JRJr-less these titles were becoming, a time when I was so set on finding an ending. There won't ever be a real ending to those things, and I think you just have to accept that. Then you can keep going because that's what you're into (which is fine, I'm not going to give you shit for that if it makes you happy; I just admitted I read Justice League Dark comics because they make me feel good, so who am I to judge?) or you can just drop it and move on. That comic universe is gonna keep spinning with or without you, so I figure you should have your fun and get out while the gettin's good. Eventually, if you're like me, you'll get drawn back into it and you'll have no idea what's really happening, but I think that helps makes it fun and exciting again, like when you were discovering comics for the first time and you had no idea what the deal was with any of these characters, but you definitely felt like you needed to know more. Because of their ongoing serial nature, I think superhero comics will rarely have that sense of closure necessary to be something truly affecting to me, so I figure taking a break from it and making it feel new again is the best way to keep it exciting for me.