I am torn between my love of comics as a vehicle for superheroics and my love of comics as an art form. Comics as a medium can support both, but for me, I will always associate comic books primarily with superheroes (and vice versa). Over the course of the past week or so, I’ve been reading all appearances of the Abomination in chronological order, and last night it struck me that the superhero comics of today are just as different from the comics of my youth as the comics of my youth were from those of the Golden Age. Using the introduction of Superman as a starting point, midway between 1938 and today is 1975, juuust about the time I was really getting into comic books.

Last night, I pulled the next stack of comics I plan to read out of one of my “recent” boxes. I am up to the five-part “Dark Mind, Dark Hearts” story written by Bruce Jones (Hulk #50-54). I had kind of forgotten that this story existed, but flipping through it (I don’t plan to re-read it in its entirety until this coming weekend) I was reminded of the plot elements. Excuse me if I get some of the details wrong (I’ll correct myself next week if I do), but essentially Bruce Banner has an affair with the Abomination’s ex-wife. There are several fairly graphic (yet tasteful) sex scenes, some of which end up on looped video tape played back to the Abomination to torment him in captivity.

I compare this to the Abomination’s first appearance in Tales to Astonish #90-91, which I read for the first time (reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes)… right around 1975 (comics “midway point”) come to think of it. That was definitely my first exposure to the work of Gil Kane, and there’s a particular one-page sequence (you’ll remember it if you’ve ever read it) of a prostrate Rick Jones hugging the Hulk’s ankle and begging him for help as the Hulk drags him across the missile base, that remains as powerful today as when it was first drawn in 1966.

Anyway, the topic is “Are Today’s Superhero Comics Too ‘Realistic’?” and the floor is open for discussion.

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But Daredevil is great NOW, Mark. Why deprive yourself of a good comic today because it was bad two years ago. Every creative change could indeed ruin a book but it could also revive it. Sometimes you have to follow the buzz!

...Thank you .

Jeff of Earth-J said:

SCARLET WITCH SCENE FROM AVX #0 (SPOILERS): Basically, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch show up at the same place and the same time and the Vision basically tells her, "You used my body against my will as a weapon against our friends and allies. I never want to see you again," leaving Wanda standing there with a big ol' tear in her eye.

George Poague said:

I guess a "realistic" comic would be American Splendor, which is concerned wtih the mundane, unglamorous details of everyday life. Or some Love and Rockets stories (although some of them are rather fantastic).

 

I read one American Splendor comic once, and thought it was just horrible. I came away utterly baffled that somebody made a long-running series out of something so fundamentally lacking in any interesting content.

 

On the other hand, I read the collected Love and Rockets "Palomar" stories, and found it spellbinding.

Jeff of Earth-J is fond of saying (and I'm paraphrasing a bit) "Buy - and read - only what you like", and I'm a proponent of that way of thinking.  Mark, I think it's good for you to decide you're not going to buy something you won't like, but I have to say I don't get your logic of how you arrive at that decision, at least in this case.  Daredevil has been "dark", most of the time, for the last three decades.  If you've given up on the character - and you're free to do so - that's one thing.  But are you saying if Mark Waid addressed all of the mistakes and misdeeds, you would give this series a chance?

Just my opinion, but I think requiring a new creative team to address all mistakes and misdeeds is putting a big set of handcuffs on them; a lot of these characters have a half century of back story.  That's a lot of mistakes and misdeeds.  Sure, I don't think they should ignore everything that came before and pretend it didn't happen.  But they should have the freedom to tell the stories they want.

Question - did you read Shadowland and is that what you are referring to?
 
Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  I don't hate DareDevil, he just got too dark for me.  Thing of it is I do not hate the characters  but I do refuse to give each writer a free pass just because they get the book.  This is the same character and the way I read comics that character's history has not changed.  Any mistakes a character makes, any missdeeds should be dealt with.  That's how I feel and if the writers don't deal with it then I don't read the titles for a long, long time.  It's possible I'll miss some good stories that way but I'll save a lot of money.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Rightly or wrongly it's how I read

If what you buy and how you buy it works for you, it can't be wrong.

I only asked about Shadowland because it was the last major DD storyline before Mark Waid took over.  It featured Matt Murdock definitely crossing some lines, but it was also revealed he was possessed by a demon while doing so.  To me, Waid shouldn't have to be constrained by Shadowland as it was resolved (as in, Matt was freed from the demonic influence, and I don't think he needs to atone for what the demon made him do).  A fresh start from what was considered in many quarters of the internet a somewhat unpleasant story was the correct way to go, imo.

I am anxiously awaiting the first Daredevil tpb collection just from what some folks have said on this board.  It's getting rave reviews all over, but the enthusiasm from fellow Legionnaires has my anticipation at a high level.

John Dunbar said:

Just my opinion, but I think requiring a new creative team to address allmistakes and misdeeds is putting a big set of handcuffs on them; a lot of these characters have a half century of back story.  That's a lot of mistakes and misdeeds.  Sure, I don't think they should ignore everything that came before and pretend it didn't happen.  But they should have the freedom to tell the stories they want.

 

Actually, that was a big part of why I liked Mark Waid's run on Fantastic Four, Captain America (both times) and now Daredevil -- because they pretty much ignored what went on before. They didn't necessarily pretend what came before didn't happen, but they didn't wallow in it, either; he told the stories he wanted to tell.

What's that maxim ...? That a new creative team gets to play with the toys but at the end of the run should put things back to how they were before they started? I actually don't think that's a bad thing, although many people seem to think it is.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

And it's not just addressing miss-deeds, it's the general tone or a character shift too far can leave a bad taste in my mouth.  Rightly or wrongly it's how I read.  I can get back to them, it just takes a while or it takes a great story.  Zatanna's reconciliation with Batman-which was later spoiled somewhat by her second attack on Catwoman's mind-was a great story since I haven't been able to find her other Seven Soldiers story yet-But Amazon's Attack... all of the super changes that writers feel 'need' to be done to make the character current or relevant or just have to be done to make the character fit into the mega hyper super never again will this happen event.  It's one of the reasons I think I've grown to like the indy's so much.  I can take something bad from say Courtney Crumrin or one of the characters in Supurbia more easily than I can take it from main stream characters with established histories.  I know that the Sara I read in Knights of the Dinner Table is not going to suddenly start wearing leather and beating up the other players (though she did get pretty heavy into a Vampire LARP once, but the plot worked well and after some time chained up in a basement she was back to normal).  The characters in marvel and dc are completely at the whim of the writers and what ever crazy concept they can sneak by the editors.  Probably always has been that way but the shifts have been deeper and deeper in the last ten years.  I mean really, Amazon's chopping the heads off of a father and son, Reed and Tony helping to blow up Hulkworld, Cyclops acting like a crazed religious leader, Prof X revealed as pretty low, the Chief acquiring Superman powers and trying to kill the Doom Patrol...  It's too much for me and what makes it harder is that after it happens reconciliation and redemption seems to be very easy.  Sue gave Reed a mean look for Hulkworld and Johny and Ben never even brought it up.  I won't even mention Clor.

When the characters care so little about what the other characters have done I find my suspension of disbelieve waning.  That's just the way I read.

 

Sometimes, I reach the "I Can't Stand It Any More!" point and take a break from a title or a character ... sometimes that break can last for several years ... and sometimes, I get back in, thanks to positive word-of-mouth, or a new direction from a new team, or, any number of reasons.

The key to getting back in -- and it might be worth trying, Mark -- is to not worry about how what you're reading now fits with what came before, especially the stories you didn't like or the stories you didn't read because you didn't like the last ones you read. 

I got fed up with Daredevil when he took over the Hand and was still stupid enough to think he could keep them in line. A cult of killers, assassins and ninjas? Yeah, right. Now I'm hearing something about him having been possessed by a demon, and, you know what? I don't care! I don't need to connect the dots between what happened then and what's in today's stories. I'm enjoying the book as it is now, and that's good enough! 

In the panels I posted, Daredevil was talking to Cole, Frank Castle's new partner.

I actually don't think that's a bad thing, although many people seem to think it is.

The argument is that it's not "realistic" not to have characters grow and change over time, and they become stale. A lot of creators think that means they have to become darker as they deal with big problems in the only possible way, which is becoming as vicious as their opponent but for a nice reason. Plus, it allows for cathartic violence by someone who shouldn't be reacting that way.

The problem with "growth" by episodic characters that continue over decades is that they're popular due to how they are and the problems they face. If you don't like Peter Parker being poor and having little luck with women because of his dual identity, you go read (or write) something else, you don't marry him off to a rich super-model to show his "growth."

That may be realistic (to someone somewhere) but it's not dramatic and it eliminates too much of his inherent appeal. Same with Superman. Long-time readers may think it's realistic growth to marry Superman to Lois, but what new reader wants to start reading after that inherent impossible triangle is resolved? I don't think anybody ever is going to license the married Superman.

I got fed up with Daredevil when he took over the Hand and was still stupid enough to think he could keep them in line. 

I got fed up before then, when Mr. Fear drove DD's wife insane and he committed her to an asylum and in the next issue began flirting (and had an affair, I think) with Dakota North. Nah, not my Matt Murdock. From what I've heard, I didn't miss much since.

I think this is one of those cases where people talk about "continuity" hamstringing writers, and a good example of when it's best not to keep it too rigid. I enjoy Waid's DD, acknowledging that he has to deal with people thinking he's DD, but otherwise ignoring all the nonsense rather than even explaining it away.Usually, it's better to ignore bad continuity than try to explain it away.

-- MSA

I loved his sweater at the Christmas party...or was that the Halloween party?

Mr. Silver Age said:

I enjoy Waid's DD, acknowledging that he has to deal with people thinking he's DD, but otherwise ignoring all the nonsense rather than even explaining it away.

Christmas...just before the bus crash in the snow.

From the Eisner-nominated Daredevil #7

 

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