The Long-and-Apologetic Preamble
Well, well. It's that time again... time for me to quit channeling my inner "Allan Heinberg-on-Wonder Woman Run" and, actually, you know... publish something. "Five Things," to be precise.
As always, I need to make with the excuses: My career is demanding, Mrs. ElijahSnowFan wants her time, blah blah blah... you've heard it all before. I really was busy for nearly seven months straight, no joke. But slowly, things are better now so I can write a bit more about this hobby that so many of us have enjoyed for so long.
But at the same time, what's different about me writing "5 Things" now? Why should anyone who read it before think it will be consistent now?
One word: Longboxes.
Yep, the things that whiny creators tell whiny readers to look toward longingly when they decide to give Captain Marvel yet another name change and a hoodie to boot. The things that are simultaneously the strength and weakness of this industry:
Longboxes. Also known as "memories." Also known as "nostalgia."
Also known as...hope. Maybe even...inspiration.
What the hell am I rambling about? Why, the New 52, of course.
I think I've done a fairly credible job in not moaning and whining about every little thing that DC has done with their newest initiative. For the simplest of readers: Moaning isn't going to change a direction, a decision, that radical. There was nothing to be done and said; you could only hope for the best. I hope that those who made the transition in a big way, or resumed reading with a large commitment, have gotten what they were looking for: Good stories. Exciting stories. Fresh directions.
But what about me? What about what I wanted? I didn't want a new Teen Titans. I didn't want a Justice League without the Martian Manhunter as a founding member. I sure as hell didn't want a younger Batman, Superman, etc., which flies in the face of things I was reading, had read, as recently as eight months ago.
So my frustration with things took me away from the industry, this hobby, for a bit. I picked up a few things digitally -- the one change I have embraced fully -- and finally, I sat down and asked myself the $64,000 question:
What the hell am I doing? I'm in my 40s, for God's sake. Why in the hell am I letting Dan DiDio and Jim Lee's decisions ruin my day, any day?
In short: Do I control this hobby, or does this hobby control me?
Then I cracked open a longbox and read the entire run of "Planetary" in one sitting.
I cracked open another longbox and read the "Annihilation" saga in one sitting.
Then I cracked open another longbox and read "The Immortal Iron Fist" in one sitting.
Over the course of months, I cracked open numerous long boxes and read numerous runs of things I liked.
Most importantly, I ignored the runs I didn't.
Now, that sounds simple enough, right? Any child could do that. Who sticks their hand on a hot stove more than once, right?
But it isn't always that simple. There are some things that are egregious enough that they bear repeating, that from time to time, need to be shouted just to remind others of just how awful this industry can be when no one cares: Amazons Attack. Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special. Rise and Fall of Arsenal. And so forth.
But here's the thing: Those things don't have to define this industry. They never have to be all that readers have to remember. There are so many runs of series that dwarf the low points this industry provides... for too long, for too many years, I let those bad things define my reading experience.
There's a place for criticism in this hobby/industry, and that's part of what "5 Things" will offer -- but it's going to be measured, fair, and most importantly, finite. It will be balanced with things that this industry does well...because there are things that this industry does well.
That, more than anything, bears repeating: There are tremendous writers in this industry, tremendous artists. They are producing tremendous work. So on a day when a creative team falters -- and it does happen, and will happen again -- it pays to remember that every Wednesday is a new day, and I, for one, am going to stay in the fight.
Because Captain America wouldn't quit. Neither would Batman. And because those characters are as real to me in my head as anything else I have read and seen over my lifetime, why shouldn't I use them for inspiration?
After all, that's why I keep them in all those long boxes in the first place.
Soooooo.... with the Long Preamble down, what the hell are the Five Things I Think I Know this week?
Let's count it down, baby!
5. It's OK to nitpick Scott Snyder's Batman, right?: Folks, I feel almost guilty for saying this because Snyder's Detective and Batman runs are the best interpretations I've read with the character in years. But...and this isn't me being bloodthirsty, just asking a question: We saw one Talon nearly kill the best in the business, Bruce Wayne, in open combat. Wayne got his arse kicked out of skyscraper window, if you'll recall. Now, I'm not one for random death in comics...but wouldn't "Night of the Owls" be a lesser story if every single character in Gotham who takes on a Talon...lives to tell about it? I don't know how it's going to play out, obviously, but I'm as concerned about "story integrity" as I am anything when I read something as comprehensive as this. I'm just wondering, with all of these Talons taking on characters in titles that appear to be selling well...that the implied threat might be worse than the actual. Are you OK with that, if that's how it happens? I'm... not sure.
4. I still miss Richard Rider and Peter Quill: OK, people. I'll bottom line it: If you didn't read "The Thanos Imperative," and all that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning did in the run-up to that with War of Kings and Realm of Kings, things like that, YOU NEED TO STOP SCREWING AROUND AND READ THAT FROM BEGINNING TO END. Why? Because it might be the single-most coherent set of stories that led to a logical conclusion that I've ever read. What Keith Giffen started way back in his run on "Thanos" and the Drax the Destroyer miniseries was finished by Abnett and Lanning on such a tremendous note that I honestly miss Nova and Star-Lord. What they did... look. It's worth the time. You can read much, if not all of it, with a subscription to Marvel Digital Comics. I don't volunteer other people's money, but that set of stories deserves to be read, all the way through the end of "Thanos Imperative." Trust me on this one, people.
3. The thought of Hal Jordan being alive is better than the reality: When I cracked open those long boxes, I realized something: Hal Jordan's characterization makes him an irritating douche to read about. It's unbelievable how unlikable that character is at times, under Geoff Johns' watch. Johns may know this. He may not know it. But in reading Jordan's return as a whole, I'll just come out and say it: I wouldn't blink if Jordan was taken off the table whenever DC returns to publishing The Crossover Events That Demand A Heroic Sacrifice. Jordan's history as Parallax needed to be fixed; mission accomplished. But fixing that character to not be an unlikable douche... I don't know if that isn't harder to do, at this point in time.
2. I'm as excited about Avengers vs. X-Men as anything I've read in years: Hey, I've never pretended I'm an elitist when I read mainstream comics. I'm all about solving problems by punching somebody in the face. That's what this medium is. If I want to see the United Nations in action, I'll watch C-SPAN. If I'm reading Avengers vs. X-Men, Captain America needs to punch Cyclops in the face. Really hard. Repeatedly. Then one more just to be sure.
1. He'll always be Captain Marvel to me: The wizard is Shazam. His champion is Captain Marvel. It's not rocket science. Period. End of discussion.
That's all for this week, folks! I'll try to be better in the next!