What is it about super-hero comics right now? As I have previous mentioned, I am enjoying a lot of comics at the moment. They’re really solid. And yet, why do I feel so uninspired? Why is it that even the comics that entertain me aren’t tickling my brain like they have in the past?
Maybe I just have crossover fatigue. We’ve gone over how draining it can be to be constantly building towards something ‘huge’ and ‘extreme’ rather than just getting a decent story. Now that Secret Invasion and Final Crisis are here, I guess I’m just stuck waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Maybe it’s the relative dearth of fresh creative energy. Let’s be honest: Our super-hero comics are written by the same group of 20 or so guys (and a few gals). Each creator has a voice, and, after a while, it gets pretty easy to guess what you’re going to get.
‘By Kurt Busiek’ usually means ‘Slow moving and cerebral story in which the conflict between hero and villain is incidental to the hero’s internal struggle to discover or overcome something within him or herself.’
‘By Geoff Johns’ usually means ‘Continuity heavy story that gives the fanboys a refreshing look at past stories, while also moving the story and characters forward. This story will show you your hero in his or her most quintessential portrayal. If you haven’t read Kingdom Come, you should probably put this comic down.’
‘By Gail Simone’ usually means ‘Like Geoff Johns, only better. Less continuity, more silver-age style craziness and witty dialogue. Plus, this comic will feature women who actually act like women.’
‘By Greg Rucka’ usually means ‘Procedural comic. People will talk in abbreviations, because that’s how official business is done when you’re a cop or a spy or Alan Scott with an eye patch.’
‘By Grant Morrison’ usually means ‘Do not read this comic sober.’
‘By Mark Millar’ usually means ‘This comic takes an otherwise sound basis for a story and devolves it into ULTIMATE EXTREME ACTION!”
So you get the picture. Even Morrison and Ellis, writers who tend towards innovation, are feeling a little predictable these days. I guess the big two, DC in particular, got so burned by trying to bring in creative talent from other media that they’re sticking with what they know. It’s the creative equivalent of exhausting your starting rotation because you don’t trust your bullpen.
But maybe, just maybe, after we get all of our crises, invasions, and numbers of the beast out of our collective system, the big two will get smart about how to inject fresh talent into the game. Devon has already talked about the relative under-use of up-and-comers like Jason Aaron. I think we need more of these guys on the big stage. It’s a shame that Brian K. Vaughan, one of the best innovators in mainstream comics over the past decade, wants out of the biz. Whatever happened to the days when being on the Real World could get you a lucrative gig writing super-hero comics?
I realize that we’re just as likely to find the next Rob Leifeld as we are the next Brian K. Vaughan. I realize that the devil you know is sometimes better than the one you don’t. But since when is super-hero comics the medium for playing it safe? And besides, even a grandiose creative flop has the benefit of giving us all something else to blog about, right?