Friday, October 3, 2008

'Real' comics really piss me off

Now, don't get me wrong, I like the art style of guys like Alex Ross. I enjoy the darker more mature writing style of a Vertigo comic or something by Alan Moore. What pisses me off is when a customer's only reason for liking something is that it's more 'realistic'. My key example would be the series The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch. For those who are unfamiliar, the Ultimates is a title that relaunches the concept of the Avengers, a team of heroes including Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, and many others. The Ultimate line of comics places the origins of those characters in contemporary times and is essentially a reboot of the character, putting them in a new world with less back history so as to reduce the amount of confusion for new readers. Cause you are all stupid, new readers. All of you.

Now, the Mark Millar style of writing a comic is to basically have every character speak the same and say quick glib phrases while being surrounded by huge special effect explosions and ultra-photo realistic art. The overall desire is to act like this shit could actually happen and make it 'real'. Marvel has bombarded us repeatedly with the concept that their stories take place in the 'real' world, that all the characters live in New York, and that these are the characters that we can relate to as opposed to Superman. Now all of that is just fine and dandy, except for the fact that apparently in the real world the Incredible Hulk would rape people left and right and eat children. Captain America would be an asshole who beats up unarmed men. And Iron Man would be a douchebag alcoholic arms dealer.......well, that last one is actually still right on.

But even then, all of that is overlooking one large fact. IT'S A FUCKING COMIC BOOK ABOUT SUPER-HEROES. You can't make a big deal about how real a comic is and still have a gamma irradiated monster smashing New York*. As an intelligent reader, you can't snub one super-hero comic for being unrealistic but praise another when it features a hippy that is the son of Odin who can call down lightning. You can snub a super-hero comic for being worse than another as far as storytelling goes, but you can't decide it's crap cause it's not as 'realistic'. As real and socially important(I WANT TO STAB MY OWN EYES OUT JUST FOR WRITING THAT) a piece of work as Marvel's Civil War was meant to be, that doesn't forgive the fact that's it's a rotting piece of crap that mocks its readers and the history of the publishing company.

I believe you can say you like Ghost World, Love & Rockets, and American Splendor more than a super-hero comic because they are more real. They have plots and events rooted in the real world (in general). You can not say that a book about super-heroes fighting a civil war due to government policy is better because it is more 'real' than the book about a cosmic space war. If you do, you forfeit your right to reproduce. And I will enforce that.

If you haven't guessed it, not a Millar fan.

*Yeah, I know, Ultimate Hulk has more to do with the super soldier serum. SHUT IT.

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