Marvel’s The Heroic Age: Comics Salvation?
The creators at Marvel Comics said it themselves in their own press release:
“…dark age of despair…”
“…demoralizing downward spiral…”
Marvel Comics as a company seems to be realizing what most of us fans had realized about two years ago: Comic books have become depressing.
Over the last couple of years we, the huge comic book supporters, have found ourselves slowly detaching from comics. Sure, we kept buying the titles we collect, but we were finding piles collecting and to be honest, it felt like a chore to read through the stacks of comics.
This blog was also a victim of the depressing times of comics. We kept coming back to MGYG and thinking about what to write about. For a while it seemed we took pleasure in being critical of some of the dysfunction which was occurring in comics, but we could only be bitter for so long. It’s just not in us to always being harping on comic books. We wanted to give praise to comics, and reveled when we had a chance to do it (here, here, and here for example).
But we couldn’t get up to write about something that kept sucking.
But did comics suck? A point can be made that comics are doing better over the most recent years, both critically and financially. Truly we’ve had some of the best artists and writers together on books for long runs, something we haven’t seen consistently in decades. And truly, there’s been more mass media spotlight on comics then ever before.
So if it’s not comics sucking, it must be P.E.S.T. (Post Event Stress Disorder). Event, after event, after event, after event. They just kept coming. It was exhausting.
And if you don’t believe Marvel comics have been depressing and exhausting, then check out this video that nicely recaps everything that happened over the past several years.
Yeah. Event fatigue was definitely in play.
But then we read this article about Marvel’s new publishing scheme, simply titled: Heroic Age.
And it all came full circle for us.
The reason we, and many others, may have been retreating from comics for the last several years. And yes, we never truly left, but we definitely stood on the perimeter, looking in with our heads hanging low.
The reason: our heroes where no longer heroes.
Comics no longer dealt with heroics.
To think about why we all got in to comic books is to think about the true nature of who we are. We love morally heroic beings who are mostly always on the morally correct side of a problem. Who always put others first. Who are always victorious against the legion of evil that surrounds our four colored worlds.
Especially with Marvel heroes. Marvel heroes do all of the above but they still have personal flaws. Flaws that we all can relate to. Flaws our heroes always overcame. Flaws that made them more heroic for overcoming.
Over the past many years, since the onset of Bendisitis, our heroes have become more and more cynical. At first we all thought it was cool, something new, something refreshing. But as time went on we noticed the cynical hero stuck around.
Lost in the shuffle were the great heroic and optimistic writers of our times. The Kurt Busieks, the Mark Waids. The guys that made us love our heroes for what they were, heroes.
We set them aside for the edgier, sassier, writers. Bendis. Millar. Truly, they have their place, they’re great talents. But we thought we wanted more cynicism. We thought we wanted edgier stories. More death. More moral decay. And so it worsened…
We saw it in the Bendis/Millar letter columns and interviews. We saw it in Wizard magazine (er, pamphlet) interviews and other interviews. The cussing. The cynicism. The lack of heroics.
Sure it was edgy at first, but then it became tired. And so did the creative works. There was no break. No relief. No optimism.
But now I rest my hopes on a quote from Bendis himself, as told to USA Today and hope for a better tomorrow in our comics:
"The 'brand new day' of the Heroic Age presents a tonal shift to optimism, a world filled with hope but quite hellish villains," Bendis says. "The heroes realize it's a blue-sky world worth protecting."
A “blue-sky world worth protecting”? Ahhhhh…