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.