My questions about comics right now are similar my questions about the economy: Are we ready for a recovery or should I brace myself for things to get worse? This time last year, my favorite comics were Robin and Blue Beetle. They got bad... then they got canceled.
I was also collecting and liking Teen Titans and JSA. What happened? Dropped and Dropped. X-Factor and Astonishing X-Men? Flailing and god-freaking-awful. Secret Invasion really let me down and Final Crisis isn't as good as I expect from Grant Morrison. And don't get me started on Spider-Man.
Look, I've been really down in the dumps about my Marvel and DC comics. I've fled to more adult comics, finding refuge in Scalped, Walking Dead, Fables, and The Boys. They give me consistently good writing. They give me drawn-out and well-developed plots instead of cheap stunts. They give me character development that makes me laugh, cry, and everything in between.
But they're not what I grew up reading. My head loves these books, but my heart longs for tights and capes. As the 90's were winding down, and people were fatigued from character stunts, fancy covers, and book inflation, someone got it into their heads that this wasn't the crap we read comics for. Someone figured out that if you take the 7 most recognizable characters (regardless of whether they are Blue or, you know, Kyle Rayner), put them in the Justice League, you're half way to a damn good book...
That if you explore the underlying mythos of a big name Marvel hero by outing him to the public in a way that drives the story forward (instead of just, you know, because we need good guys to be pro-registration), you can have compelling narrative, even if it's written by Bendis...
That if you ask simple questions, such as 'I wonder what it's like to be a Gotham City Police detective?', you can crank out some damn good comics.
It wasn't so long ago that we were at a place where the creative forces behind comics were ready to figure this stuff out. They were ready to abandon the hysteria of the extreme and the hype of the crossover and look into the past to revisit those pillars that have brought strength to the super-hero genre. Are we there again? If not, how much farther do we have to drop before we hit bottom? I'll tell you this much, though... I'll be there when they bounce back.