Sunday, December 3, 2006

A Love That Dare Not Speak...?

I used to be fairly certain the love that dare not speak its name was same sex loving; homosexuality. However the more I follow comic blogs and comic news articles, the more I see guys, because it's almost always guys, talking about how they've seen it all before and how they wish the writer and or artist would turn their considerable attentions to something not super hero related. While they say this, there's a list of other superhero comics that get mentioned and matched, detail for detail against the current offering, proving that once upon a time this was something worth memorizing or at least being able to quick research and lay hands on. But the talk down continues.

Movies, tv, and books are doing cross genre, genre evolution and even genre revolution; they're expanding to new audiences while appealing to the old (even when their publicity machines suck at honoring where they come from: BattleStar Galatica). But in comics so many people I stumble across seem to be convinced that Superhero Comics Are Dead. They'll buy Action Comics and Civil War, Aqua Man and All Star Superman etc... But they sound so grey about it all. It's routine. They're going through four color motions and reading for the sense of community, but they're not really expecting anything.

An acquaintance suggested that maybe they're ashamed they still love it. Which made me think that they think they've outgrown it somehow. To which I say 'Bzuh?!' because how can you outgrow something you love? If you liked Mysteries growing up, then you graduated from Encyclopedia Brown to Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew and from there to Agatha Christie's Miss Marple or Poriot, or maybe to current contemporaries like Sue Grafton or whomever else. I can understand outgrowing the type of mystery novel, or the language in the mystery novel, but not the love of mysteries themselves.

I think the same goes for those who love Romance or Spy Novels. Isn't it easy to imagine some small one moving on from Spy Kids to Le Carre? Wouldn't it fit to see someone with a love of horses move from My Little Pony stories to 'The Horse Whisperer' or maybe to watch them grow and combine Hardy Boys and little boy horse stories into a love of Dick Francis?

Why then is it hard to imagine that someone who loves Superhero Comics might outgrow the smash ups and mash ups, (or maybe not - see Invincible Super-Blog) and want more out of the genre they love so much? Is all the talking down coming about because these lovers of the craft don't know how to ask for more? Do they not believe in more? Are Astro City and Invincible flukes? Should those writers not be encouraged? Should the industry not be told how much they're enjoyed? And how much they mean to someone wanting to soak in Superhero comics at the level of entertainment and satisfaction that they demand from everything else now as adults?

Because I'm confused.

Though I admit it's not a total confusion. Because I also read in these varied articles about how depressed the fans(fanboys) have gotten at consistently flawed heroes. At heroic mistakes and heroic misapprehension and their distaste at how dysfunction has become a norm for humanizing heroes instead of those heroes being exemplars of what humanity should strive for. I know personally that I always bristled alongside Batman whenever someone in panel told him he was only human, in order to excuse some loss he was feeling or some mistake or misread clue. I agreed with the gravel voice growl that that wasn't good enough. I could both see that Batman felt the loss and that he wouldn't let it wear him down or make him give up and that he didn't accept it as final. That's superheroic to me. That's stuff that kept me alive during a pretty shitty childhood. So I can understand if the concept of these beloved icons as perpetually flawed makes them small in a way they weren't meant to be - being our modern mythology; our gods of urban olympus.

But to give up? To look at new arrivals to that pantheon and not try as readers to find something to say to the authors so that they'll know that we love their ideas we just want our heroes back? Doesn't it seem to weaken the very memories that are the source of the complaints? Or is that just me?

I mean, I know I'm a weird little freak who calls herself a happy priestess at the temple of the Bat. So, y'know, it's entirely possible I'm not empathizing on the right level as regular human beings without that brand of crazy. And yet, does it take that kind of crazy to not give up hope and to strive to get what I want written for me?

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