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?
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.