A couple of weeks ago Pepsibones and I walked into our local comic shop. I hadn’t been in a long damn time, and it was great to step foot into it. I’ve always joked that Wednesday and the bushel of new comic book releases was the only therapy I needed; mind you it isn’t, but it makes me feel good. There is something invigorating about being swathed in a bunch of comics, cheesy stand-ups, and nerd t-shirts. Just shooting the shit with an awesomely jovial owner about a variety of things, and then marching home with a pack of new releases under my arm.
I hadn’t been in awhile though, and I had felt myself falling out of love with the same superheroes that I’d been following for fifteen years. I had Event Fatigue. I was burnt out on the endless Blackest Night and Dark Reign titles. I just wanted to pick up a comic book, have a well-crafted tale told by a favorite author of mine, and not be assaulted with an endless litany of crossovers and “continued in”-type shit.
In other words, I was fucked.
Pepsibones had been handling the comic book reconnaissance, but I felt a deep yearning in my nerdticles that day. I needed to return to my Mecca. Recharge my batteries. We walked in and I hit the owners with a guilty-ridden wave. I felt like I had neglected them. Did they fear I was cheating on them with another comic book store? Sticking my greendongs in someone else’s register? Christ, I hope they didn’t think that.
We walked over to the comic book rack, and I was hopeful, excited.
And then I saw the releases. I scanned the rack, scanned the rack, scanned the rack. There was nothing there. I was depressed, concerned. What the fuck was going on? I walked over to one of the owners, Dean.
Dean, dude, recommend something. Please, give me something to read.
Dean looked at me.
What do you mean? It’s a pretty big week. There’s tons of stuff over there!
I looked at him, incredulous. Was it really? All I saw was a cloister of bullshit. I sort of shrugged. Then he hit me.
Maybe you don’t like comic books anymore?
He was joking. Sort of. And then I began to panic. Did I hate comic books? Do I hate comic books? Have I finally fatigued of the endless carousel? Is this what happens when you become exhausted with countless deaths, rebirths, resurrections, status quo disruptions and subsequent old status quo installations? What the fuck was going on with me?
I ended up leaving with a bunch of comic books. And the damndest thing happened. I ended up enjoying all the comic books. Ian, we know you’re bipolar, but make up your fucking mind. Take your Lamitcal, calm down, and pick a side. Are you fatigued, or are you having fun?
I mean, why did I like the comic books? They hadn’t really changed, had they? I started thinking about it, and maybe Comic Books are like a girlfriend. There are ebbs and flows, there are ups and downs. And sometimes, you get fucking sick of their faults. I had dismissed her, Mistress Comic Books. But then I found myself thinking about her. Missing her scent, missing the fun we had together.
I have a bunch of questions running through my head, and I don’t really have any answers to them. But they keep me up thinking. At the very least, I know I love comic books. For all my grousing, I love flipping through a tale filled with theatrics, with epic stands, with personal existential grief whilst wearing horns on one’s head.
But I asked myself, do I fault comic books for things that are simple metrics for the genre? I mean, really. Should I shit or get off the pot, when it comes to the particulars of the comic book happenings? As they say, acceptance is a big key towards love. How long can I be aggrieved by the fact that nothing ever changes in comic books, before I just need to shut the fuck up?
Or perhaps, is it possible to love comic books, while still wishing for an evolution, and improvement? I can come to grips with the financial facets of the market, while still hoping that there can be a stronger emphasis on storyline, and consolidation of storylines, can’t I? Is it possible?
I hate to accept the idea that characters cannot evolved. Comic books these days seem – perhaps always – hyper-fixated on exploring the core essence of characters. What is the core essence of Superman, what is the core essence of Spider-man, what is the core essence of blah blah blah.
But I ask, why isn’t anyone interested in creating the essences anymore? Instead of asking, “What is the core of Superman?” why not ask “How can I add to the essence?” There can either be an eternal churning of storylines, chewing over and over the same bullshit, or there can be a radical departure from the standard pathos.
I ask readers, did the Electric Superman suck because he was an Electric Superman, or did that storyline suck because it was poorly told? Because it was gimmicky and shitty?
There are some people who always drop the “I hate Superman” or “I don’t really like the Fantastic Four”, which has always confused me. I genuinely, perhaps naively, believe that if the storyline is told well enough, any character or set of characters can be interesting. Alan Moore made Swamp Thing interesting, Grant Morrison made Animal Man fucking awesome. Anyone can be intriguing. I promise.
I’m not hollering to bring back Electric Superman, but I would love storylines that take the character in a different direction. Perhaps irrevocably.
Until then, I’ll make do with surfing the wave. Accepting my lady for who she is, and loving her for her beautiful swells, as well as her warty extraneous. I’ll focus on enjoying the storylines that are told, while coming to accept that they will not last, their ramifications will erode once again into the placid surface of what is expected. Bruce Wayne in the cowl, Superman flying through the sky, and Steve Rogers slinging the shield. But I won’t stop hoping, of dreaming of a day when these characters can evolve, grow, and create new pathos to be venerated sixty years down the line.