My name is Matt. I write, I draw, and I dream of heroes. ...and who disguised as a mild-mannered bookseller for a major retailer fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and other cool stuff!
Seriously though, as a child in the hazy days of the late 1970s my Grandpa would walk to the corner store every morning and while getting the morning paper he would pull a random comic book off the ol' spinner rack to bring to me. So before I could really even read I had begun to develop this insatiable admiration of superheroes and a love of animation, movies and of course comic book art. It was not only the idea of having that freedom to summon power that would break the bonds of our earthly limitations, but also having the courage to use such power to protect life.
When it comes to superheroes whether they are classic American heroes or from other shores like the dynamic henshin-heroes of Japan, my adventures within these wild and colorful fantasy worlds always remind me to do one thing in real life: look up in the sky.
...Welcome aboard Matt! - Jim
The Bronze Age: Part Deux?
In comics fandom, it can be very difficult to have a conversation about current comics or the direction the genre has taken over the course of the past few decades. If you disapprove of what's going on in comics now, people will tell you that you hate change and just want nostalgia. This argument has heated up more than ever thanks to the resurrection of popular Silver Age characters like Hal Jordan and Silver Age status quos like an unmarried Peter Parker. I think changes like this strain believability beyond any reasonable limit, even by the standards of superhero comics, but other people would say that DC and to a lesser extent Marvel are just doing whatever shameless thing it takes to appeal to the nostalgia of older fans like me.
Honestly, I'm not sure who is supposed to find this stuff appealing. Guys like me, who grew up at the end of the Bronze Age and saw the early days of "modern" comics or the current fans, who've been taught since their comic-reading birth that everything was like Superfriends until Miller and Moore descended from the heavens to bless our undeserving world with serious superhero books? It doesn't make sense either way.
I think the big superhero publishers do assume fans that came out of the Bronze Age of comics want these resurrections to work and are against any form of change whatsoever. I think the publishers believe the easiest way to get back in a Silver or Bronze Age fan's good graces is to reverse everything that happened after the 70s or 80s. At the end of the day I can only speak for myself, but I don't think this is true. I think the issue is not that things changed too much but rather that publishers weren't careful about how they transformed characters and status quos. As Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker in the first Spider-Man movie, "Be careful what you change into."
I think any Bronze Age fan is well aware that some degree of change is inevitable. The problem is when the changes we're asked to accept in our favorite characters are just stupid or require silly explanations mired in boring corners of continuity. These clumsy fixes could be avoided if writers asked themselves some simple questions:
- Does an idea for a character change make sense?
- Is it a good idea on its own merits?
- Does it add something to that character over the long-term instead of being a gimmick?
- Is this a change being made just because its "different or "edgy," something to gain cheap heat that might generate a temporary sales boost that'll go away quickly enough.
- Does killing a character truly have any storytelling benefit past the shock and angst of their demise? In fact, is there really anything wrong with a given characters status quo in the first place?
For all that various Silver or Bronze Age characters and concepts may be re-appearing in modern comics, it's still the same bands playing the same song. We're still under the same editorial regimes that green-lighted questionable projects like Identity Crisis and Civil War. Marvel can talk about a Heroic Age all it wants, but its output is still full of bloated event stories, pornographically detailed violence, and pretentions of "realism" and "relevance"
Isn't that just the same old grim n' gritty nonsense? It feels like business as usual. The big superhero publishers act like they want to do the time warp again, but are still ashamed of a simple three-letter word that at some point became verboten in the comic industry: fun.
In my view, one of the cooler things about Bronze Age comics had a lot to do with how the stories were approached. Superhero comics had come out of the (arguably) more comedic style of the Silver Age thanks to Marvel, but the industry and the fandom were not yet required to worship at the First Church of Watchmen. Bronze Age books took on a more dramatic tone and had a greater focus on action, but they were still bright, bold, and... well, comic booky as ever. Superhero comics of that era had what I like to refer to as equilibrium, something that won't come back just by resurrecting old characters or resetting your continuity.
Have a great weekend