Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I'd slap you with a glove only just this morning I put away my winter things

I sometimes wonder why so many perfectly sensible comics fans are so hostile towards the superhero genre, home as it is to stories of pure id and social and political commentary dressed up in stretchy leggings, the superhero genre being an especially accommodating one as within it can be told detective stories, stories about alien invaders, stories about witches, stories about talking frogs, and those stories can happen anywhere from the wild west to the planet Mars, while other genres centering on war, mafia criminality, hardboiled detectives, pirates or cowboys don't so easily allow other elements of the fantastic to invade the often narrow and stereotypical confines of their genre without being seen as outings into the territory of the camp and deliberately outrageous mash-up.
I love me some superhero nonsense, is what I'm saying, so it saddens me when when those who make superhero comics for a living insist with increasingly defensive and dismissive volume that I should go and do something else instead of reading superhero comics.
Well, mission accomplished, despite my enjoyment of the odd trade, Ultimate floppy, videogame, cartoon series and movie, I think it best that myself and Spider-Man go our separate ways, which is probably just as well because Ultimate Spider-Man - the latest cartoon Marvel is trumpeting as the second coming - is the kind of cloyingly terrible shit that I thought western animation had got past years ago, and I'm surprised that such experienced hands as Paul Dini's are involved in it, though they likely had to get him on board to defuse criticisms of ripping off Batman: Brave and the Bold's more successful trappings.  As it is, the scattershot cutaways and fourth wall breaking comes off as Family Guy without the racism, and if you've seen Family Guy in the last five years you'll know that basically means Family Guy without the "punchlines", or Seth McFarlane's uncanny ability to tap into the knowledge and experiences of his working-class audience with sketches about dining in Japan and troubles with the housemaid.  After the all-ages Spectacular Spider-Man's rather good take on the material, this step back to exclusively child-oriented storytelling is a disappointment, especially when it comes with lengthy scenes where the main character has a whacky adventure with whatever toy they're now selling in stores (be it a motorcycle - because Spider-Man certainly needs one of those - or a flashing web-shooter ).  It's also committed to immediately building Spider-Man into a larger world of Marvel IPs, and this distracts things further from having any kind of empathy with the character because our investment is supposed to be in Spidey as part of a team, yet the team is a bunch of stereotypical 1-dimensional cyphers, though I do like that Luke Cage's costume is essentially a skintight farmhand's outfit - because it is 2012, that's why.
Maybe Steve Wacker - and through him Marvel - is correct in saying that superhero audiences shouldn't expect anything more than trash aimed at pushing whatever sweatshop-produced tat Disney wants flying off the shelves this month and it's time I moved on or lowered my standards and expectations, but it sort of sucks that this is the stance of creators more than twenty years after Watchmen, Animal Man and Marvelman came out.  Maybe it really is time I moved on to something else... or maybe it's time I just took my money and started rewarding those creators of superhero tales who are willing to try harder.

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