Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Things We’re Most Tired of in Comic Books

December 27, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Marvel Secret Empire

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! Despicable Deadpool #290, Mister Miracle #5, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we discussed The Best Comic Book Christmas Stories! Here’s what some of you had to say:

Gil: “I came to nominate the Hulk/Rhino story. But you already got it. Awesome!”

mcdropkick “That DC Christmas with the Super-Heroes is one of the first comics I ever got as a wee young boy. I know there were an assortment of stories, but the only one I really remember was John Stewart helping the JLA as Green Lantern. Hal was taking a shower when his alarm went off, but slipped on some soap and knocked himself out, so the ring went to Stewart, his designated replacement.

Classic Hal.”

Captain Mcgloo: “The Batman’s Last Christmas from the later half of the original Brave and the Bold run was pretty great,”

poffo316 “The DCU Xmas special with Etrigan the Demon is my #1. “I’m Batman, punks!””

To read ALL the comments from the column, CLICK HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss…

Things We’re Tired of in Comic Books!

This column is usually a celebration of all things comic books. It’s only natural that in our love for them, we see some things from time to time that make us less than happy. Hey, we’re a passionate crowd. It’s natural. Comic book debates are what fuel message boards around the world. What I’m looking at this week are some comic book standards that need to take a break. First up is everyone’s favorite…Events.

How many times have we mentioned event fatigue is grinding down fans? Crisis on Infinite Earths, Legends, Millennium, Cosmic Odyssey, Invasion!, Armageddon 2001, War of the Gods, Eclipso: The Darkness Within, The Death and Return of Superman, Knightfall, Bloodlines, Trinity, Worlds Collide, Zero Hour, The Final Night, Genesis, DC One Million, Our Worlds at War, Silver Age, Identity Crisis, DC Comics Presents, Infinite Crisis, 52, World War III, Countdown to Final Crisis, Final Crisis, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, Flashpoint, Trinity War, Forever Evil, Contest of Champions, Secret Wars, Secret Wars II, Mutant Massacre, Fall of the Mutants, Evolutionary War, Inferno, Atlantis Attacks, Acts of Vengeance, X-Tinction Agenda, Muir Island Saga, The Infinity Gauntlet, Operation: Galactic Storm, Infinity War, X-Cutioner’s Song, Rise of the Midnight Sons, Infinity Crusade, Maximum Carnage, Fatal Attractions, Bloodties, Child’s Play, Phalanx Covenant, Starblast, Fall of the Hammer, Clone Saga, Legion Quest, Age of Apocalypse, Onslaught Saga, Heroes Reborn, Flashback, Operation: Zero Tolerance, The Hunt for Xavier, The Magneto War, Maximum Security, Apocalypse: The Twelve, X-Men: Eve of Destruction, Infinity Abyss, Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Civil War, Annihilation, World War Hulk, Annihilation Conquest, Messiah CompleX, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, War of Kings, Siege, The Thanos Imperative, Fear Itself, Avengers vs. X-Men, Age of Ultron, Infinity

That’s a lot of events over the years. How much impact did these events have short-term and long-term? Each event seems to be a set-up for the next one and too often you have a couple issues that nothing seems to happen. Not only that, you often have to pick up individual issues of a particular book just to get an idea of what’s happening. Events are quickly losing their power and while they still give a quick boost to sales, diehard fans usually avoid the hype. That’s only going to grow more as both Marvel and DC will tie there cinematic universes and comic universes together and start mega-crossover events that retcon all we know and love. The day is coming.

Hey. speaking of retcons, just because we’re used to them doesn’t make them any more likable. Hal Jordan’s Emerald Twilight, Teenage Iron Man, Spider-Man’s One More Day/Brand New Day, Identity Crisis..I could go on listing but we all have that retcon that’s like a thorn in our side. Can anyone tell me how many times Hawkman has been retconned? How about the X-Men? I get it though. Sometimes you have to fix bad writing. Too often they fix it with poor planning and even poorer writing.

What happens when a retcon doesn’t work? RELAUNCH! Why? Because everyone knows that when you relaunch, you’re able to slap a #1 on the cover and those sell! Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Thor, name just about any big name title and chances are they have a number of relaunches under their belt. New creative team? RELAUNCH! New direction? RELAUNCH! New costume? RELAUNCH!

If it’s not a relaunch then it’s an unnecessary spin-off or multiple books. Wolverine was the poster child of this trend back in the day. But we don’t have to look far (Deadpool, X-Men, Green Lantern) to see this practice is alive and well today.

Let me cut in and say that I don’t denounce all of these items across the board. We do get some cool relaunches and spin-offs from time to time. Rare. But it happens.

The last thing I’m going to talk about it a touchy subject but it’s one that has to be listed. Sexism.

It’s no secret that comic books are adolescent fantasies magnified but in recent years it’s taken a turn to the dark side. Maybe it started when publishers realized that a female demographic existed and started marketing to them. Maybe as times changed and trolls grew more brazen on the internet, they needed someone to pick on. Who knows? The fact is, 2014 had some heavy sexism issues that marred the comic book community.

We can go back and forth about the costumes our superheroes wear and how impractical they are. Especially on the women. The problem is what lies beneath all these examples. As comic books enjoy a popularity in the mainstream world that they’ve never had before, some pretty large issues are bound to rise up. Look at how parents were up in arms that they couldn’t find Gamora (from Guardians of the Galaxy) merchandise at their local Disney Store. Or the Justice League: Axis of Villains board game that didn’t contain a single female character to play. Or the Superman and Wonder Woman t-shirt. While those examples take place outside the comic book page, the source material got the ball rolling. Sexism does and has existed in comic books since practically their inception. We need to acknowledge the past and work to fix it so our comic book universe can expand.

I was going to throw in “Forced Diversity” but know that will just start a fire in the comments section. I think everyone agrees diversity is good, especially when it’s natural and introduced with good stories and art. Forcing it by giving retconning an established character is lazy and weak storytelling. DC’s making Green Lantern Alan Scott gay is a prime example.

At the end of the day, I’m a comic book fan. From helping me learn to read (seriously!) to giving me a respite and allowing me to meet some really cool people, comic books are awesome.

Still, what are you tired of seeing in comic books?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!