Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fun With New Comic Books! Or Maybe Not...

Sure, this blog is about my love and interest in comics and pop culture from the 60s and 70s, but I do read some current comic books! I follow mostly the small handful of working artists I'm interested in, like Bruce Timm, Kevin Maguire, and Jerry Ordway, but I also get books that simply have strong storylines, like CAPTAIN AMERICA (consistently good for the last decade). The problem is that my time is limited, and books, magazines, and older comics always get my attention before the few newer comics I have on the rack! However, on a recent week-long vacation, I eagerly grabbed big chunks of my long-waiting, pre-ordered new comics, some going back a year (I told you I was behind on my reading), and gave them all a thorough read. 


Here's what I experienced:

I started with the new run of CAPTAIN AMERICA, by Rick Remender and John Romita, Jr.

Not a bad storyline, one that finds Cap out of his usual urban comfort zone, fighting for his life (and for the lives of others) in a strange and hazardous land. However, over the next twelve issues, I was treated to page after page (click images to enlarge) of this:

Now, I don't shy away from violence in entertainment. Loved (for example) the KICK-ASS comic (also by Romita Jr.) and the films. But over a year's worth of issues of this?! I also know that today's comics tales are told in a longer, "decompressed" form, as comic firms try to mimic modern action films and video games (and also financially soak their loyal readers), but this entire storyline woulda been told in one large annual back in the 70s. JUST TELL THE FREAKING STORY ALREADY! Altho I've always liked the junior Romita's art (but certainly prefer his dad), I gave up on this series, sorry to have wasted my money.

So, what was next in the batch of minty new funny books? This gem:

I've been a fan of Jae Lee's style for a few years, and gave this a shot. Confusing and murky art and storytelling awaited me inside, as well as endless pages of fight and confrontation (above, right). I didn't even make it to the middle of that first issue.

Surely, the next group of colorful silly books would be better, right?

Think again. I picked up this new masterpiece, since two old faves, Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz were involved:

Not bad, then I got to pages two and three:

That's right, frantic one. Daredevil gets his own billy club weapon rammed savagely and graphically thru his head, ear-to-ear, all depicted in tenderly-rendered close-up detail! Who is this for?! I gave up (sensing a trend here?) on this and went no further with this series.

But wait! I still had another DAREDEVIL min-series in the batch! One drawn by the impeccable Lee Weeks! Here it is:

A great storyline, involving an injured (when is he not these days?) DD rushing thru a snow-blanketed NYC, in an attempt to speed a transplant donor heart to a hospital and a needy recipient! Great, right? It was, until these two pages in issue one:

You read right. DD refuses to help the desperate man, feeling that "it'll probably work out OK for him..." This is a hero?! How many times have we seen DD take down big groups of thugs in seconds? 

I gave up, went to the nearest Books-a-Million, grabbed the newest issues of FILMFAX, MOTHER JONES, and SKEPTIC magazines, along with David Cross' new book, and was set for the rest of the (very enjoyable) vacation.

See ya at the back issue bins, folks! That's where all of my comics money will now be go going, as I think I've finally learned my lesson!


Anonymous said...

You have reached the same point I did about ten years ago. Any comics related purchase I make these days is either back issue or reprint collection of material pre-1980. I'd recommend checking out some of the great newspaper strip anthology collections out there.

Anonymous said...

I stopped buying new material over 12 years ago because of stuff like this as well. I started reading comic books around 1966 with the introduction of the Batman TV show. At that time, I was a snot nosed, 6 year old kid who was enthralled by the four color heroes and their escapades in both, the DC and Marvel Universes . Now I just buy back issues of Gold and Silver age on E-Bay.

James Robert Smith said...

Man. That stuff reeks! No wonder I don't read new comics anymore!

Anonymous said...

Like a ton of old fans, I can but agree. I love JRjr's art ( and Janson obviously ) but have no intention of reading that Cap run.
After a decade ( and the rest ) of dark, twisted ' heroes' doing dark, twisted stuff, is it not time finally to move on? When EVERY character is as vicious and screwed up as The Punisher & Wolverine, what's the difference between any of them?
I recently struggled through reprints of DD's recent darker than dark years, and enjoyed some of it, but all the time couldn't escape thinking: Is this Matt Murdock? Really? It sure doesn't feel like it...
BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Mark Waid is writing DD now, along with some very Silver / Bronze Age influenced artists and it's the kind of comic longtime fans have been crying out for for for ages. Waid has managed the neat trick of addressing the dark years, then going off and saying: Ok, now we're gonna have some FUN!! And it's selling gangbusters.
Of course, the rest of Marvel's output is sticking to gloom & doom, but it's a start...

david_b said...

Uhhhg. Thanks for the 'unpleasant' update, sir.

My childhood collecting was primarily from '73 to '76, Space:1999 and lousy art/stories can be blamed for my departure (Frank Robbins, anyone..?). I started collecting a few Marvel mags and the Titans around 1985 while I was bored at college, but generally saved most of my meager $$ to collect vintage Silver/Bronze back issues.

Today, unless there's a cool Vision or Batgirl cover, I won't go anywhere near comics.

I did hear like Anonymous that the latest DD writing is good, returning to basics. I'm actually collecting LOADS of Silver/Bronze DD now, all VF condition. Previously I've been collecting up vintage Steranko and Colan's Doctor Strange, now it's DD.. It's expensive tracking down VF condition (just a half dozen each month..), but when I'm collecting vintage, I'll spend another $10 and get even better-condition covers. Primarily pre-Frank Miller and his ninja-happy story arcs.. I know I know, most folks think Miller's grittier/more urban DD was the best, but I tend to prefer the simpler Silver DD with Colan art.

BEST EXAMPLE..? DD Annual 1.

Lamest villains ever, but some of the finest Colan DD art ever done, includes all the nice full-page gallery drawings, DD's gadgets depicted, plus a fun frothy behind-the-scenes story of Stan Lee and Gene Colan coming up with story ideas.

THAT'S when comics were fun.

Chuck said...

We had the same reaction to all those storylines, Al. I've been collecting Captain America since he arrived in the Silver Age (Avengers #4) - but after reading that storyline by Remender and Romita, I dropped it and haven't gone back.