I Will No Longer Read Marvel or DC Comics
It’s another entry into the ZOG Blog, so I get to talk about anything, doesn’t have to be tech or science related, nor does it have to be related to my game company, Zomia Offline Games, or my podcast Sovryn Tech. Today, I want to talk about something that is probably in my Top 10 of favorite subjects: comic books.
And I’m frustrated. It was 2011 when DC Comics put an end to a decades long history with the relaunch event known as “The New 52”, which meant that 52 titles would become the main thrust of the DC Universe, with a totally new continuity. This was incredibly controversial, but frankly, I welcomed it as the continuity in-universe at the time was a mess (also, dumping Superman’s red trunks was a great move). Now this year, 2015, DC has decided to relaunch the continuity again…just four years later. Called “DC You”, I’m not sure what exactly they have in mind here, but at least they’re not renumbering the titles that will remain from “The New 52”. Regardless, though, there’s a whole new continuity for fans to keep up with (and trust me, we love keeping track of continuity), and after only four years as compared to the decades that went before…it’s hard not to see DC going for marketing grab here. And if sales are down, the best thing to do is not a relaunch of the universe, but to drop deadweight titles (neither Superman, nor Batman, really needs more than one). So despite the interesting moves being made with the character of Superman in this new “DC You”, I feel like my money was shat upon (yes, shat) by DC since the previous “New 52” is no longer part of the canon. You can do this once, but twice…especially in such a short period of time…feels like a scam.
Perhaps Marvel is doing better? Oh no, no, no…it’s much worse. In 2012-2013, Marvel began their own little relaunch similar to “The New 52”. For Marvel, rebooting their universe isn’t anything new. In 1997 there was the (actually very well done) “Heroes Reborn” series that they ended up just folding back into the main Marvel universe after only a year, sadly, but it too was (temporarily) a completely new continuity from the decades-long one that Marvel previously carried. And of course there is the wildly popular “Ultimate Universe” that Marvel created and ran in parallel to the main Marvel universe. This “Ultimate Universe” would eventually get its own relaunch about a decade after it originally launched.
But back to Marvel’s 2012-2013 reboot. It was announced, but it was kinda quietly done. Eventually some titles started getting a little tag on the cover that said “Marvel NOW!”, which signified it was operating under a brand new continuity from the decades-old one of yore. It was weird, many things weren’t explained, and it just kinda happened. But the “fun” didn’t stop there. In 2014–barely over a year later–Marvel did another continuity reboot called: “Avengers NOW!”, which, you would imagine, just covered the Avengers-style comics. It didn’t. Some X-Men titles were included, along with others that just didn’t seem to fit anywhere (the ridiculous Squirrel Girl, anyone?). And now (there are a lot of “nows” here), NOT EVEN A YEAR LATER, the Marvel continuity is getting redone ALL OVER AGAIN. No really, this deserves capitalization. You know things have gone to far that when even within a set body of fiction, people are screaming, “I don’t know what’s real?!”
And that’s what we’re left with. Constant reboots. Multiple universes. Nothing to really follow from these two comic book giants, only us readers trying to keep up and understand what the hell is going on, and whether any of it will matter next year…or even next week. We’re not being given the chance to really invest in the characters and the world they exist in, and so the question comes up for me: “Why bother?”
Why waste my time giving a rats ass about what Superman or Batman is doing? Why give a shit about Planet Hulk if it’s all going to be washed away next year? In my opinion, Marvel and DC are literally fucking with our childhoods. I’m 34, and I had a good couple decades to appreciate a massive continuity and had come to love a rich history of what these characters had been through long before I was even born. And Marvel and DC knows that others like me have that priceless attachment to these characters, and they think we’ll just keep on sticking with these characters, regardless of how many times they’re rebooted and rehashed.
Well, newsflash, DC and Marvel. That’s enough. You’ve published some amazing stuff over the years, but I’m not going to read the shit you’re peddling anymore. And 20 years from now, the “new readers” you’re trying to reach will have grown up, and they won’t have the largely continuous history that I had the pleasure of growing up with when I was a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, and so they’re not going to stick with you every time your reboot your universes. I’ve had enough of this, and I’m sending the market signal by no longer supporting your present stuff, and I hope more do the same.
I’m not saying companies can’t do reboots of their universes. I’m loving what’s going on at Image and (even) Valiant with their relaunch titles over the past few years. I love what newer companies like IDW and Zenescope are doing, and would be open to reboots on their part way in the future. But that’s the rub: “…way in the future”. Do it twenty years from now. Thirty years from now. Really, just don’t do it three times in a row in as many years. And before anyone asks: Yes, I’d rather the companies go under than have them keep putting out shallow work. And I already said that the real answer here is to release less titles, so I’m not just complaining, I’m also giving you a viable business solution.
But for now, I’m sticking with Image, IDW, Zenescope, Valiant, and here and there I’ll go back and even read some classic Crossgen to get my comics fix. No more DC and Marvel for me. Perhaps you’ve had enough of them, too.
Disclaimer: This is a brief overview of matters over the past few decades. There are actually many other cases with Marvel and DC where this sort of thing has happened, but for brevity, I did not discuss them. I only say this to let you know that I am fully aware.