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Too old for mainstream comics?

You know, if I keep basing Pop! Goes the Icon posts on ideas culled from Sean Kleefeld’s blog, I might have to start paying him royalties (but given 25% of zero is still zero, I’m not too worried). However, in his post today about the diverging perceptions of comic books and comic strips, Kleefeld theorized this nugget:

Indeed, that may well be a lot of what’s happening as many of the comic fans I’ve seen complain about the current state of superhero books are ones who are passing into their 30s now, and starting to age beyond what marvel and DC want as their readership.

Interesting, huh? Immediately, that begged the question for me: Are modern comics truly sucktastic compared to the ones I grew up with, or am I just too old to “get it?” Are my yearnings for continuity and single versions of characters and long, continuing series all just the early stages of me shouting at my (non-existent) grandkids, “Back in my day, I walked to school 12 miles … uphill … in the snow … barefoot … carrying an ox …”?

I try to keep up on today’s comic marketplace with the help of excellent websites such as Comic Book Resources and Pulp Secret, but I can’t seem to find any titles really worth venturing down to my local comic shop each Wednesday. The “Messiah Complex” arc in the X-books looks interesting enough, and I’m still waiting on the conclusion of “One More Day” in Amazing Spider-Man (as discussed here), but otherwise, finding a good “jumping back in” point has been … tough.

I guess I’ll put it out there for you other thirtysomething comic book collectors/fans/whatever: Do the newer comics do the same for you as the ones from your childhood? And do you think your differing opinion is because the industry has declined or you’ve just gotten too old?

5 thoughts on “Too old for mainstream comics?

  1. As a guy in his late 20’s, I’d say that newer comics give me basically the same amount of satisfaction that comics gave me in my younger years, when I would make twice-weekly pilgrimages to the comic store. I don’t buy comics nowadays (given the price they’ve risen over the years), but I’ve kept up to date primarily from library trades and websites.

    There’s no doubt that there’s been a lot of changes to the comic book universes and characters since my reading heyday of the mid-90’s, but it’s all pretty superficial stuff once you get past it. What’s been done to Spider-man over the years, with him eating people’s heads and whatnot, is all weak attempts at shocking sales that never stay permanent, as long as a continuity reboot comes along, which always does. The essense of Spider-man , what makes Peter Parker Spider-man, will always remain the same.

    I happen to think that newer comics, for the most part, are actually quite more well-written than ever before. The attention to characters and story are excellent, as in the recent Green Lantern:Rebirth. Geoff Johns brought Hal Jordan back from the dead, redeemed his (percieved) sins, and most importantly, had it all make perfect sense. Green Lantern: Rebirth and other comics of today achieve stories that truly bring super heroes to life in a way that stories from past decades never made an effort at.

    I know that when I pick up a comic, things aren’t always going to stay the same. Comics are an industry that changes, it always has, it always will. A comic book fan needs to change with the times, and have faith that when changes happen that they don’t like, the status quo will retract those changes. DC comics has proven that with the return of the Multiverse. They will prove it again. I think that for me, the best contribution that comics has brought to my life is an escape from the stresses of everyday life. It helped me in my younger days, and it continues to help me now. And for that, comics are good in my book.

  2. Great comment, Jim! I especially connected with your closing remark that “the best contribution that comics has brought to my life is an escape from the stresses of everyday life.” You can walk into my bedroom and find a few comics sitting on my nightstand at any given time, because after a long day of this adult reality, nothing settles me down better than some four-color escapism.

    If you ever feel like guest blogging, let me know, I’d welcome your commentary!

  3. Nah, I don’t think you’re too old for comics. Comics are a medium that definitely go through ebbs and flows, and rather than saying you are too old, you were just blessed with pleasant memories as a kid. I’m in my early to mid twenties, so I mainly remember books from the 90’s. “Big Event” comics were all the rage, and it affected almost ever single top-tier character with mostly ho-hum, superficial, or temporary, changes. One of the biggest events in comics history took place in 1993, and all it really did was give Superman a mullet. And then you have Wolverine losing his adamantium that same year, or Spider-Man and Maximum Carnage/Maximum Clonage, Knightfall and a broken back for Batman, Captain America got an energy shield(and a suit of armor to match), Green Lantern was probably the only character who had any real degree of change, and they made him a mass-murderer!

    I say comics have been greatly improved. But it’s all a matter of perspective.

    One thing though. I understand your yearnings for continuity and single characters, but lately, you can’t have both. The idea of the Ultimate Universe, for instance, is great for new readers who desperately want to read the books, but would otherwise be lost on everything thats happening. 45 years of Spider-Man is a daunting undertaking. So if you read the Ultimate version of him, there’s about 6. Which is also daunting, but I’ll save my thoughts on The Ultimate Line being a victim of it’s own success for another time.

  4. All very true … though I guess my perspective is a little different regarding continuity. For me, having decades of history for a character is what drove me to want to buy back issues, biographies and dig deeper into those characters’ worlds. I think the kids these days expect the work to be done for them — they expect to know everything that’s going on all at once, they’re used to TPB collections being readily available, etc.

    That’s probably why the back issue marketplace has suffered so much — there is little value placed on original comics, especially when the kids (and by kids, that might mean anyone under 25) live in this disposable culture. And where they can get an entire run of a series collected in a few volumes for about $12 a pop.

    By the way, Gil, if you want to share your thoughts on the Ultimate line — or anything else — with Pop! Goes the Icon readers, let me know, and I’ll set you up with a contributor account.


  5. I actually agree about the continuity. I could never really afford to spend $20+ on a single book, but I love reading biographies, and have been known to spend hours on end reading wikipedia entries about Batman’s rogues, The Infinity Gauntlet, or even SuperPro.

    And the contributor account, that sounds really cool. I’d love to.

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