Fatigue

Interesting fact about Ed:  he hates the blues.  More specifically, I think, he hates “the blues”, that stereotypical call-and-response “woman done me wrong”-type stuff.  Just can’t stand it.  Of course, that isn’t the only kind of blues there is, is it?  So you might think:  hey Ed, why don’t you just try some different blues, that isn’t the stuff you hate?  Give it a chance, maybe you’ll like it after all!

But Ed’s response to this, as I read it, is “screw you and your ‘different’ blues, I don’t have to ‘give it a chance’, don’t you understand, I’m out.  No frickin’ blues, dammit.  Get it away from me.  Stop talking about it.  Go peddle it somewhere else.”

Now, although I do like blues, mostly, I have to say:   I think this is a very sensible attitude of Ed’s.  He doesn’t like it, and chooses not to waste his time on trying to;  he has his own tastes, and prefers them to other people’s tastes.  And he’d rather fight — or rather, walk away — than switch.  No, it’s no use telling him that there’s blues in his coffee and blues in his tea already, that Led Zeppelin is blues, or whatever…he knows that already, and he doesn’t care about blues influences, that isn’t what he’s talking about, and for God’s sake just stop trying to convince him already!  He knows all about it;  he’s not ignorant;  that’s not the problem.  There is no problem.

Because, I mean, who ever said that just because you like genre stuff, you have to like all its many variations equally?

If you read the title of this post, you probably already know I’m going to comment on Captain America #25.  So let me relieve the suspense, such as it is.  Here’s the comment:

I’m kind of past caring.

I’m sure Brubaker does a great job on it, and I’ve really appreciated his Cap stuff so far.  I also know, as everybody with the sense God gave a goose knows, that Cap’s death isn’t permanent (although I’m a little worried about poor Bill Foster, a character I always liked), and in the meantime I understand it is selling some books, and I suppose that’s good for somebody.  I am not deeply sunk in my nerd rage, and I’m not complaining that anybody’s killed comics.  In fact, I’m not really moved by Cap #25 at all.  I’m not surprised;  I’m not upset.  I’m just kind of “oh, Christ, this again…well, that’s just fucking great.”

You see, as lame as it is, I don’t really care if Marvel and DC are apparently committed to moving in event-lockstep.  I don’t even mind that Marvel seems to have completely run out of stories to tell, or even sufficiently new wrinkles on its old stories.  But, y’know, I’m a genre guy.  I have the genres I like, and I enjoy them, and I have a pretty good mental map of where I can find them when I feel like soaking ‘em up.  I have places I go for science fiction, for mystery, for fantasy, for humour, for crime…for books, for television, for comics, for movies, for theatre, for radio, for criticism, for music.  And I guess I just appreciate the prestidigitation that goes along with genre work:  here are the conventions, here are the expectations we’re setting up, now can you guess how we’ll fulfill/subvert/reinvent them on our way to the foreordained conclusion?  The murderer is caught, the villain is defeated, the prophecy comes to pass, the secret is uncovered, the punchline makes you laugh.  Great stuff.  Bravo.  Encore!

But beware.  Beware, O Marvel, the lesson of the blues…

There are lots of places, lots and lots and lots of places, for me to get my fix of the “new” brand of realistic superheroes, just like there’s lots and lots of places Ed can go to hear three-chord electric guitar and lovelorn lyrics.  I can, for example, read Miracleman.  Miracleman really hits that stuff out of the park.  And, oh, any of Alan’s superhero work, you know?  It’s all really excellent, and it really takes advantage of its difference from the stuff it’s riffing on.  Me, I’m happy they didn’t let him use the Charlton characters for Watchmen, and I’m happy Twilight Of The Superheroes didn’t happen (although it would’ve spared me Kingdom Come, and probably Infinite Crisis too)…because I think the Moorean kind of superhero works better when it’s at a remove from its primary sources:  that’s the blues I like.  Not that Alan is even the only game in town, as fantastic as he is:  if I want to read a specifically Marvel-flavoured realistic superhero remix, even if I want to read a specifically Captain America-flavoured remix, then I can read Astro City, can’t I?

Yep.

Captain America #25 is a stunt, obviously, but it’s not much of one:  personally I was enjoying Brubaker’s particular sort of flirtation with the new “realism”, his somewhat-jazzy exploration of the boundary between it and the more traditional Cap story, and think it’s a shame it was cut off so soon just for this:  just for “my woman done me wrong”.  As for the New New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Initiative, blah blah blah event event event…I think I’ve got the character of all these new directions and mega-events pretty well sussed out (naturally, since every bit of it is going over incredibly well-trodden ground), and they don’t interest me, because they’re not the genre touches I come to Marvel for.  If I want to read that kind of remix, I know where to find the good versions of it already, and I already know they’re not at Marvel, so why would I go to Marvel looking for them?  Ed has noted that the Q Continuum is fond of scolding its fans by saying things like “oh you fanboys, you just can’t handle the idea of change, can you?”  But it isn’t that at all.  I’m quite a dab hand with change, actually.  But, who says this is change?  Cap won’t stay dead, and you’re just rubbing your hands with glee at all the knee-jerk outrage while you stunt for the cameras…there’s no change, here.  Just repetition.  But I don’t object to that.  What I object to, I suppose, is the way all the style-stuff I used to be able to go to Marvel for (some change included, too) being so suddenly changed-out, thus taking away one of the main landmarks on my mental genre-map.  It’s like they closed the store I used to go to.  Except, they didn’t close the store, they just changed what was in it.

But as it happens, I can get better merchandise of that type elsewhere.

Hmm, and now that I think of it, I can still lay my hands on the old stuff, too…and there’s still a lot of ABC that I haven’t read, for that matter…

So, change, Quimby?

Don’t mind if I do:  in fact I hear it’s as good as a rest.

Give me a call when you start making what I like again.  We’ll do business.

6 responses to “Fatigue

  1. I should probably clarify this, in case it isn’t clear already.

    1. There was actually one “realistic superhero” thing I went to Marvel for, and that was the first arc of The Ultimates, which I loved (although, pretty hard to argue it, too, wasn’t at a certain remove from the source). Audacious stuff, but I got a bit bored with it around about the time it (surprise!) stopped being audacious…which was just about at the time Cap’s Ultimate Kooky Quartet came around, and they weren’t nearly as weird and creepy and twisted as the “A” team. Although they were clearly intended to be…come on, Marvel, no Ultimate mutant incest love-triangle with a robot? Whaddaya, chicken? Also, what was with Ultimate Hawkeye and Black Widow, they just kinda lay there, which is kinda inexplicable considering their mainstream counterparts’ history. Yes, so much material to mine, there, and yet…oh well. Anyway, that was then: my interest in all things Ultimate is still feeling pretty beaten-up from its encounter with the tediousness of Ultimate Extinction, so I’m not exactly gonna be worrying about any of it any time soon…

    2. If it’s a big-ass Event, if it’s a hundred-issue crossover…hey, don’t wait up. If it deals with the sociopolitical complications of the post-CW Marvel Universe…hey, don’t wait up, and also pack a sweater. If it’s by Millar or Bendis or Jenkins it’s a no-go…and if it’s by Warren Ellis or JMS it’s a coin toss. If it’s accompanied by any kind of hype that promises my mind will be blown, why you must think I’m about the most gullible sucker who ever sucked, and I’ll catch you over on “Spoilt!”, and if it’s about or involves any species of new, or new new, or new new new Avengers, tell you what, I’ll check back on you in a year or two and see if someone I like is writing it, and if it has thought-balloons. If it’s “dark”, I’m already bored. If it’s constantly late, ditto. If it’s decompressed, seriously, forget it. Also if it’s got Iron Man in it then it better be written by a writer I basically idolize, which means said writer is pretty much gonna have to be on the high side of fifty.

    3. I really am not mad. But Ed’s stopped buying comics, which means I have to find a way to buy some, and what’s going on in the ever-more-tightly-integrated portion of the MU doesn’t interest me, and it all costs quite a bit of money. Not to mention, time. I wouldn’t even skim The Initiative, you know? However the good news is, I still like the characters. Well, maybe not Daredevil. He’s starting to get a little same-old, same-old, if you know what I mean. The world already has quite enough Frank Miller Daredevil, in my opinion…

    4. And of course, I do not count The Sentry as a “character”.

    That’s about it. Hardly a Declaration of Independence, you see; hardly fanboy entitlement or nerd rage, or impotent oaths about leaving forever. Just: if you want me to read it, write it so I like it, and leave out the damn MSG. Otherwise, you know, all the best in your future endeavours. Ed Brubaker, I’m sure your Cap will continue to be well-written while Steve Rogers is away — but I’m sure you’ll understand, I won’t be checking back with you until I can wash the taste of Big Event Shocker Overload! out of my mouth.

    Catch you in the trade, one of these days.

  2. Perfectly reasonable attitude; it’s a variation on why I don’t buy any Marvel (anymore). Not because I don’t like it; I’ve heard of numerous Marvel comics I think I’d probably like if I gave them a chance. But: there are only so many things I can pay attention to.

    I read really fast, so reading time isn’t really a consideration, but I only have so much money to spend on comics. Some of it has to go to LSH or related material, of course, but there’s a bit left over, and while I can’t chase DC continuity wherever it goes I can keep my hand in a little bit. But only a little bit: there are *dozens* of DC titles I’d be happy to add to my list, had I world enough. All-Star Superman. Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. Countdown. But no. Oh well; that’s the point of having favourites.

    One thing I can’t go along with, completely, is this notion that, if the current comics don’t please one, that one can simply go back and read the old favourites. Well, we can, of course, but what I want when I enter the comic book shop is not the old favourite all over again, but a new comic that shares the virtues of the old favourite. Or else why own more than one comic book?

    (The above paragraph was really more of a response to something you didn’t say but that I’ve run into elsewhere and it still ticks me off. “This is the way it is, so don’t complain. If you don’t like it, go back and read your back issues; nobody’s taking those away from you.” Well, who cares about the way it is? I’m talking about what I want. This is, after all, the internet.)

  3. That’s pretty much my take on Cap #25 as well.

    I’m always curious and a fast reader to boot, so I usually skim through the hype titles at my LCS before picking up what I really want to by. Brubaker and Epting put together a strong, entertaining issue, but to be honest the whole thing smacks of “been there, done that.”

    And, am I now supposed to buy five tie-ins that represent the Marvel U’s “five stages of grief” as well as a “Confessions” one-off that I just know will p!$$ me off???

    No thanks. As you said, if I want a faux-reality Cap there’s plenty of options that tell compelling stories minus the hype and “cash-cow” mentality – I recommend Dark Horse’s “The American” myself.

    I know what I want from Marvel or DC (and it’s definitely not HUGE EVENTS, continuity-thick darkness or deconstruction of heroic icons) and when either company deems fit to put out an example of such I will support it. (i.e. Beyond! or The Spirit … )

    And if I want to read something by Brubaker, this week’s issue of Criminal was excellent. (Nat Turner also takes the cake for Civil War related material, even if it’s a different Civil War … )

  4. Thank you for, once again, articulating something I’ve felt but never said. Brubaker’s CA, the first volume of Ultimates, and a bit of Ultimate Spiderman are the only Marvel works in years that have really held my interest–and, wary after having been burnt too often before, I waitied to read the trades, which I checked out from the local library. I hear that She-hulk and Ms. Marvel are interesting, but haven’t risked my meager comic money on them yet. Marvel, generally-speaking, lost my interest long ago. Much of mainstream DC has bored me as well, although I’ve laid out more money on DC titles. I tire of feeling like an entire company’s books are plotted out monolithicly, a year’s worth at a time, by a few people in a room who are trying to grow the franchise. Ugh. (And yet, I’ve enjoyed much of “52.” Go figure.)

    What I hope will happen is what I’ve enjoyed seeing happen at both companies over the years: that even while the a-list books are bloated and derivative, some unknown writer and artist will get their hands on a minor character that few care about, and do new and suprising things with it. That’s how we got Moore’s Swamp Thing, Miller’s Daredevil, the good-while-it-lasted Chronos series, and the current Manhunter, just to name a few.

    So my question is, is there anything like that out there in Marveldom now? (I’ve got a great idea for a Speedball series! What–? Never mind…)

  5. Yeah, Keeper, I wrote that first comment partly because I found myself thinking “now, am I being a little hard on everybody? It’s just a comic”…but then I remembered, as you say, that it isn’t just a comic, it’s a lead-in to another endless round of publishing stunts, and it makes one feel a bit capitalized on. So screw that.

    And Matthew…that attitude pisses me off, too, for sure. But when I said “the old stuff” I didn’t just mean old back-issues I missed when they came around the first time…although I missed some incredibly good stuff!…but new places where more traditional content can be laid hold of. I mean, like I said, ABC is right there on the shelves, practically calling out to me, and I know won’t have any trouble at all being content with it…and they’re trades that I don’t even have to wait for, so what could be better than that? Also I hear that DC is pretty good about continuing to publish traditional superhero/adventure content, so I’ll be happy to look into them a bit more deeply…but even if I didn’t, could I really be unhappy finally getting to read that original Grendel stuff, or more Epicurus The Sage, or Big Town (can you even get that?), or Saga Of The Swamp Thing?

    Finally, Mikesensei, thank you, for the compliment! I actually think there are probably lots of fringey areas in Marvel that are either left, or can be made, but unfortunately their current drive to consolidation seems to suggest that no sooner would a book find an audience, but Quimby would try to recapitalize it. I mean, like you say…Speedball? Boy, they’re really strip-mining things, over there.

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