This thread is here for us to discuss the following topics:
- Have comics declined?
- Why have comics declined?
- How can this decline (if it exists) be corrected?
This is going to be highly opinionated though so lets keep it civil and respect that our personal views may, or may not, reflect the views of the comic book reading community at large.
So I'm going to start by reposting, from the other thread, the last couple responses and then make my own continuing statement.
saint_matthew wrote:Darrin Kelley wrote:And the reason for this is their overall lack of story quality. And it has steadily gotten worse over time.
To be fair its not just DC, its also Marvel. I'm not sure where the fault lies anymore, be it writers, editors, bean counters, execs, or both companies trying to be movie studios, but the writing recently (over the last 3-5 years) has suffered because of it (both from a technical stand point & also an interesting writing standpoint). Maybe its time for some fresh blood on the writing & editorial side of the equation.
but that has nothing to do with JLA: War, so back on topic. No I'm not getting it, but I do suggest picking up Necessary Evil, its a good documentary about Super Villains.
Darrin Kelley wrote:The big two are the ones who have really suffered. Editorial and writing have suffered in the face of hiring "star talent". They are so busy promoting "star talent" that they are ignoring actual product quality. And it's been going on since the 80's It's just gotten progressively worse over time.
They are doing it to themselves.
saint_matthew wrote:That is certainly one element, another would be the constant focus on events, cross-overs, news release spoilers & gimmicks. Things like Angela being in Guardians of the Universe.... First they spoil the story by announcing it in a press release & then they try to pretend its a big old secret by putting the issue that it occurs into polybags to "protect the secret" from being spoiled... The very secret they themselves spoiled months before.
There appears to be a lot of blame to go around, but I think at the end of the day the problem is that the creators are just out of touch with the readerships legitimate desires. An as much as I hate to make blanket statements, maybe its time to cull the older writers, editors & creators, to let in some fresh blood & some new ideas across the board. An if that means changing the paradigm under which these people are employed, than that's what's going to happen. If that means ditching the exclusive contracts & making "skill hire" the go to system, than that's what should occur (not saying it is necessary, but if it turns out that it is, that's what's going to have to happen).
Having no special insight into the business side of the business, I can't even guess at where its going wrong, but its going wrong somewhere & that's where it needs to change.
I think some of the problem with comics is the internet. Literally as others have stated, things get leaked, previews go out, and suddenly shocking twists aren't shocking at all because we knew they were happening five months before hand and the comic book reading population has already weighed in on the topic. It makes it hard to tell stories with surprising twists.
I think another problem is that every writer wants to add a shocking twist. Comic book stories don't have to be shocking twist filled Shyamalan-style tales. There doesn't always need to be some call back to a previous villain.
Case in point I bring you the stupidest X-Men story (and yes, I know, it was made even dumber by the subsequent writer trying to undo what the previous writer had done) I have ever personally seen... That, by the way, is saying a lot.
The X-Men find a mutant who wears a special metal helmet because he has a star for a brain in a camp in China and they free him. This mutant is Xorn. Xorn heals Professor X's legs, then goes on to become a teacher at the school.
In a shocking twist Xorn is revealed to actually be magneto who is actually hopped up on the sentient mold Sublime. In a not-so-shocking twist he killed Jean Grey. Again. Oh, and he also damaged a large portion of New York city and none of the other heroes in New York City bothered to show up to stop him, like, you know, the Avengers... Anyway... Magneto was then beheaded by Wolverine (because he must have forgotten Wolverine was there or something because he could have used his magnetism to shoot him to Canada or something) because Wolverine must be the hero in every X-Men book ever.
Due to some monumentally bad planning the writer of the Xorn story (Grant Morrison) didn't tell anyone that Xorn was really Magneto. He also didn't tell anyone (not even the editors) that he was going to kill Magneto or Jean. He did this in an attempt to make it certain that the story wouldn't get leaked to the public. (It still got leaked anyway.)
Thus the next writer, (Claremont I believe) had to try to backpeddle the death of Magneto. This his explanation was that, in fact, it wasn't Magneto who killed Jean Grey (and destroyed New York) it was actually Xorn's secret twin brother... Who was pretending to be Magneto... Who was pretending to be Xorn...
Darn it... Just writing it makes my nose bleed.
The problem is, in my opinion, this story started the comic book decline. This story was so monumentally bad that it damaged the fabric of reality as far as comic books go. After this every book had a shocking twist.
My opinion on it is... Why?
I mean, I could fix the Xorn story easily. Granted, I was a comic book writer at one time, but only for indie comics, and even then I was mediocre at best, but I could fix this in my sleep and I'm 100% confident every reader on this forum could write a better story than this using the same basic plot.
Here is my version:
The X-Men find Xorn, a mutant in China, with a star for a head in some kind of detainment camp. They rescue him. Xorn heals Professor X in gratitude and seems to be incredibly zen-like and gains the trust of the staff at the school. Xorn is eventually asked to come on as a teacher, to which he agrees.
Xorn is not, however, used to his freedom and begins to indulge in it a bit. He goes to the city, using an image inducer or some such to hide his giant evil-looking metal helmet, and eventually comes into contact with what appears to be an anti-mutant group. He witnesses them trying to beat a mutant to death and interferes.
What Xorn, however, doesn't know is that this is one of the few times the mutant beating was justified. The mutant actively attacked the anti-mutant group who was actively holding a peaceful protest. In this case the men were literally just defending themselves.
Due to that Xorn is arrested and thrown in jail where the X-Men have to bail him out. He is confused and this injustice, to him, is just too much. So he goes all militant hard-core and starts teaching his students to resent humanity (just like Xorneto did) and eventually says, "Forget this noise!" and goes on a rampage in New York.
The X-Men try to stop him and they fail. Jean is killed, Wolverine is flung into low orbit, and the X-Men are helpless. Xorn is simply too powerful for them and his powers are largely unknown, thus they don't have a strategy to use against him, while Xorn spent his time studying the X-Men because once he went militant he knew he'd have to face them sooner or later. Finally however Xorn is stopped, not by the X-Men but by the Avengers.
Rather than being taken alive, however, Xorn commits suicide.
This, in my opinion, would have been a better story. It doesn't involve using Magneto. Wolverine isn't painted as a hero. It leaves better emotional stories to tell later. Wolverine, for example beats himself up because he wasn't able to avenge Jean. Scott continues to have an affair with Emma Frost because the Marvel writing staff hates Cyclops. The X-Men, as a whole, deal with the fact that they can't police mutant-kind. The anti-mutant hysteria is triggered again because, in part, of the fact that the X-Men simply couldn't stop a mutant from going ground zero on a major city.
But no... Instead we go Xorn's twin brother, pretending to be Magneto, pretending to be Xorn.
Why go with twists when comics don't always need them? Comics are basically an illustrated character drama with super powers. They don't need "What a twist" moments that often because the readers care more about the characters than the "epicness" of the plots.