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Opus

(From Opus.)

Remember when Opus was going to save the Newspaper Comics Page. And through it newspapers themselves?

Oh yeah. There were announcements. Berkeley Breathed was coming back, and circulation was coming five steps behind him. And it was going to be a whole new era, both artistically for Breathed and commercially for the papers. Breathed was going Sundays only, a la Outland, and was going to get a half-newspaper page. And Breathed, having moved into the twenty first century (well, artistically, anyhow) was featuring a lush, painted palette on these new pieces.

And most of all, Opus was going to be a newspaper comic. No web presence, no sirree bob. If you wanted to see what had happened to Opus and Steve (and occasionally Bill) after all these years, you were going to have to buy yourself a paper! Because that's how it was supposed to be. The web was sucking the life out of comic strips, and it was time to take a stand. Here -- here's a bit from a 2003 Salon article about it:

But business is no place for nostalgia. When Breathed retired "Outland" in 1995, David Shearer of the Washington Post Writers Group -- Breathed's syndicate -- expressed some remorse over the fate of the strips' sizes. "I'd like to see comics displayed bigger. We all would. But that's not the reality of it," he said, pointing toward electronic media as a place for artists to experiment. Ironically, with Breathed's return, the WPWG is using that missed experimentation as a selling point. "The one and the only place to see 'Opus' will be in newspapers," Shearer says. "This is a tremendous opportunity to increase circulation."

And this was going to be a true sequel. This wasn't just "the return of Bloom County." This was "over a decade has passed, and these people are older and flabbier." In fact, several beloved characters -- like Binkley or Milo Bloom or Oliver Wendell Holmes -- were no-shows, because Breathed didn't want to depict them as teenagers (or older). He went on the record about this.

And it premiered to much ballyhoo. And it went into papers.

And then... nothing. No one cared.

Oh, I don't mean to say Opus didn't and doesn't have fans. It does. Heck, it makes me smile more weeks than it doesn't, and that's not always true of comics I read. But Opus's impact was essentially negligible, both on the comics world and on the world of newspaper circulation.

Do you need proof? Opus launched in 2003. It's a four year old comic now. Did you realize that? Had you realized that he had been around for four years? He's a full year older than Websnark is, and Websnark definitely lost its new blog smell a long time ago. (Note to self -- make mention of the anniversary sometime within a month of said anniversary. Jesus, Eric. Try a little, would you?)

In part, the problem was that glorious painted style. Ironically, it would have looked pretty sweet on the web, where the much deeper palette would show the gradations to good effect. Put onto the comics page it came across as dark and muddied, and subtleties were lost by bad LPI counts. It went away soon enough, replaced with essentially the same colors we saw in the Sunday Bloom County.

This was made worse as newspapers began to shrink the comic. The half-page thing didn't last long at all, really. When it was clear that Opus wasn't spiking numbers, there was no real impetus for editors to bow to the Washington Post Writer's Group's demands and strictures. Given the choice between letting them shrink Opus so they could fit more comic strips in or having them drop Opus entirely, they let them shrink it. Ultimately, that meant the painted style had to go, and a coloring style very very reminiscent of the 80's run went in.

Naturally, the "newspapers only" stance died next. The Washington Post -- the flagship paper for Opus -- began to run it on their virtual comics page, and gradually it moved into other online venues as well. It really didn't have much of a choice -- if it was going to start appealing to the comic strip fans out there, it had to go to where they were and do their best to draw them in,.

(Not that that strategy has been successful either. I mean, in several years of posting, Opus hasn't been covered by The Comics Curmudgeon even once. Now, while there's a case to be made that that means Opus is actually pretty good, so Josh Fruhlinger has little to say about it... not appearing at all suggests he just doesn't read it.)

How far have we come from launch? Well, recently Opus went to Salon, which will arguably be the best place to read it moving forward since they're going to maintain an archive. Sadly, the older strips aren't going up there, so we'll have to wait for the inevitable collection.

And also recently... Lola Granola showed up, and so did Binkley and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Binkley and Oliver... were the same age as when we last saw them, so everyone knows. This despite the presence of Steve's own son, who is now Binkley's age.

So what, one is tempted to think. These are the comic strips. Not every strip is Gasoline Alley (thank God), and real time aging is overdone. Which is true enough... if they hadn't made such a big deal about it, and about how if the kid characters came back, then they'd have to be teenagers and Breathed didn't want to draw them like that.

Hackwork? Not really. I mean, it's still funny and Christ, they're Breathed's characters. He can do whatever he likes. But it's been really, really interesting for me to track this experiment in revivals -- revivals of Berke Breathed, revivals of the newspaper comics, revivals of fortune. And to see the early stands taken -- admittedly, stands that were largely based in hubris, but also stands that meant something to Breathed and (it seemed) his editors -- give way to the painful economic necessities of publishing in the modern world.

And we have come full circle now, and it seems the last great threshold has been reached. From that same 2003 article/interview in Salon we see Breathed write:

As an end, controversy is a dead end. It's why TV shows tried to throw in nudity some years ago. I notice now that the ripples de jour are lesbian kisses. It's a sign of desperation, not good writing. Not to say that if I could figure out a way to throw in some hot lesbian action into "Opus," I wouldn't.

True enough. And in its own way, sad enough. Because hey -- guess what? We have controversy in Opus. And sadly, it's not lesbians making out.

You may have heard the story. Opus is running a series of strips where spiritually mercurial and flaky Lola Granola has been trying out different philosophies, theologies and spiritualisms in an effort to find herself. In the most recent strip, she has latched onto a new one -- terming herself a Radical Islamist. In her words, it's the hot new fad on the planet.

It's a pretty funny strip, truth be told. And it says something rather tame about radical Islam and something a bit more brutal about people who leap into new religious fads without thought or real, honest spiritual consideration.

That's not why I'm discussing it. I'm discussing it because newspapers have pulled the strip, because they're worried people will be offended.

That happens a lot in the newspaper world. It's kind of a boring story these days. Though in this case, it's clearly patently ridiculous. Lola is fully garbed (albeit more brightly than one might expect) and is certainly not tearing Islam down with her statements about it. Really, aside from one note about "a man's rightful place," it would probably be completely acceptable to any Muslim reading it, and almost certainly any American Muslim -- the ones most likely to read it -- would be sophisticated enough to take it in good faith. It sure as Hell doesn't come close to the Johnny Hart Islam Outhouse controversy of a few years back (or any number of controversies from B.C. before his death). But still -- comic strips get pulled. It's what happens.

Except... one of the papers pulling the strip is the Washington Post. In fact, that's almost certainly why it's getting airplay.

And it is getting airplay. Hell, Boing Boing took a stand on it, using the cheerful phrase "chickenshit" in it. Which is perfectly apropos. The move really is chickenshit, and dumb to boot. And lots of pundits are noting that in this time of declining readerships, pulling strips that might actually inspire some controversy is a stupid move at best.

I understand these feelings. And I agree with them, but not completely. Not because I think the strip should have been pulled -- it's patently absurd to have pulled this strip. No, I have reservations because I smell a Washington Post sized rat.

Remember, Opus is syndicated by the Washington Post Writer's Group. The same organization that owns and publishes the Post syndicates and distributes Opus. They're different divisions, and it's certainly possible that the Post editors decided they would pull potentially offensive (only not really) strips from the paper without consultation or connection to the editors of the syndicate... but it seems just as likely that if the Post's editors had a problem with the strips, so would the syndicate's editors -- and so would their mutual owners.

On the other hand... the Washington Post pulling a potentially offensive comic strip from their paper (but posting that strip to the web page) -- and that strip being Opus, by Berke Breathed, still considered by some outlets one of the great rock stars of the cartooning world?

Now that's a story.

And a story means people talking about it.

Publicity. Energy. Zazz.

Do I think this was all a master plan on the part of Breathed and his editors? Probably not. It seems more likely that these strips were sent out to papers, one or two pulled them, and someone at the syndicate thought "waaaaaait a minute..." But I do think that Breathed shifts with the wind. We saw it with Outland, which started off as the whimsical flights of fancy of a poor little girl named Roland Ann whose real life was miserable, so she needed a fantasy life she could escape to. By the end of it... it was Bloom County. Bill Watterson hit the nail on the head with a satirical cartoon he sent to Breathed, which Breathed published in one of the Outland collections or a treasury or something. It featured Breathed pouring money into the gas tank of a boat, kicking Roland Ann to the curb due to her innate unmerchandisabilty. Which may not actually be a word, but I digress.

I'm forced back to that Salon article/interview from 2003, where they were talking to Breathed about his intentions for Opus. Sadly, it's a burka instead of girl on girl action. (Man, consider the... er... artistic merits of a Bobbi Harlow/Lola Granola marriage.) But either way, we've got desperation sign in spades these days. And I wouldn't put it past the syndicate to even hang the newspapers out to dry if it meant getting Opus into the young demographic elite. They don't do those great Dakin Opus plush penguins any more, but they'll start churning them out in a heartbeat if there's a demand. And if the tee shirts are subversive this time and sold through Hot Topic instead of through Wal-Mart, I'm sure the money would still spend real nice like.

Really, if this wasn't some kind of publicity stunt, it should have been. It's the only thing that makes this ridiculous strip-pull seem even remotely sane. And if it was, it's been effective. The web's buzzing. People are talking. I wrote 2,200 words that should have gone into "Interviewing Leather" on it.

And lots more people saw this strip this week than saw last week's slice of theological cheesecake. And even more will see next week's banned strip. And a good number of those people will stick around for the week after that.

Maybe they'll be in time to see Cutter John and Portnoy's inevitable return. And maybe Dakin should start sourcing fabric and polyfill, just in case.

For Better or For Worse
So. We all know (well, everyone who cares even slightly knows) that For Better Or For Worse is going to be "ending" sometimes soon. We put "ending" in quotes because we also know it's not actually going to end. Instead, it's going to freeze time. The New Pattersons will become the focus, time will freeze, character development will stop, April will be forever trapped in the first trimester of pregnancy, the horror of marrying Anthony will forever be kept an inch away from Liz's brain....

...and so forth.

Fine. I can accept that. And I can accept and even honor the fact that Lynn Johnston -- until two years ago or so considered one of the most consistently awesome newspaper cartoonists and now reviled beyond rationality, all thanks to newly unmustachioed Anthony -- won't be handing off the comic to other creators, as syndicated artists have been doing since the beginning of time immemorial.

But. That doesn't mean we have to listen to her.

I swear to God. The day "For Better Or For Worse" goes into freeze-limbo? A new webcomic should start, continuing the story.

Oh, there would need to be mild changes. The Petersons instead of the Pattersons. Avril instead of April. Shit like that. And the character designs would have to change at least slightly.

But why couldn't a webcartoonist -- or a cabal of webcartoonists -- not continue the strip on... freed from Johnston's railroading and editorial concerns... bringing it back to its true roots, grounded in fallibility and a sense of reality.

Consider the chance to write about Liz's growing sense of ennui and even a trapped feeling stemming from this spineless passive-aggressive creature she's rebounded into bed with. Consider a chance to take teen star Rebecca and take her down a frightened Lindsey Lohan path. Consider just how elaborate a train layout you could give John. And consider the opportunity to actually have people slowly call Elly on her tureens of bullshit.

It wouldn't be hard. Assign an editor. Gather a number of talents. (Hell, David Willis and Aerie might get into bare fisted combat at the opportunity.) Go plotline by plotline, shaking up the creative team as you go so everyone gets a chance to play.

The rules would be simple: no radical changing of the fundamental underpinnings of the strip. FOOB is realistic. The only magic or fantasy is when one is considering the heartwarming sacrifice of a beloved and noble pet for a meanass ungrateful child. No satire -- this isn't "magnify the faults of FOOB for all to see," this is "pick up the story and actually get it back on track." And absolutely no animated gifs of the characters blinking, because that shit's creepy.

It would, of course, be necessary to continue to come up with patently ridiculous catchphrases and euphemisms for April and her peers.

Ideally, the people involved would be people who love -- really love -- For Better Or For Worse, but who can't stand seeing what's become of it in the name of wrapping it up in a nice big bow (and insuring that Liz Patterson is no career minded whore who marries someone she didn't go to elementary school with).

Who's in?

We all have our heroes. Sometimes they're real people. Sometimes they're fictional. And sometimes the line between the two blurs, at least somewhat.

When I was quite young, I knew who my heroes were. The Legion of Superheroes. Green Lantern. The Justice League. The Avengers. The X-Men. Good guys against bad guys, and all very, very exciting.

But above all of them, there were the Micronauts. The first major comic book company book to feature a toy license, the Micronauts were much more than the story of my favorite plastic and die cast metal toys (seriously, I had hundreds of those things) -- it was a grand saga. A full on space opera. A legend. A fantasy. An epic. And I was into it. Commander Arcturus Rann -- the legendary Space Glider and leader of the Micronauts. The beautiful, powerful Marionette -- the Princess Mari, dedicating her life to saving Homeworld from Baron Karza. The wily, canny, laughing Bug -- barely a pastiche of Galactic Warrior, but mostly unique to the series, bringing roguishness and humor to the darkest of situations. The taciturn Acroyear, named for his race, prince and exile, mighty warrior. Biotron, faithful servant for a thousand years and his counterpart Microtron, yang to his yin. Force Commander, Prince Pharoid, the beautiful Slug (don't ask), the mysterious Time Travellers and their Shadow Priests, the evil of Baron Karza, the might of the Worldmind, Captain Universe -- the hero who could be you! And so, so many more....

They were my heroes, and my friends. And through the grace of the Enigma Force, I will never forget them. I owned all their comics -- a complete run. Plus the unfortunate crossover with the X-Men. Plus the trades.

Now, a lesser hero but still one I greatly enjoyed was ROM, Spaceknight! Another toy based line, but this one far more integrated into the Marvel Universe (including a universe-wide crossover where the Dire wraiths attacked), ROM was the story of Rom, a Galadoran who was the first to volunteer to be remade into a cyborg in plandanium armor, who spans the galaxy fighting to protect those who would fall.

Heroes.

They weren't real, of course. I might have had a nine year old's crush on Princess Mari, but she didn't exist any more than Brandy Clark did. Yes, there is a Steve Jackson in the world, but he's not the man who was at once a friend and a rival to Rom (I always wondered if the real Steve Jackson was amused at his Marvel counterpart). But they felt real to me. They helped me to dream of broader things, to believe in the most noble of ideals, to let my imagination run wild.

Behind them, however, there was a real hero. A man who was incredibly formative to my childhood and to the man I would grow into. His name was Bill Mantlo, and he wrote comic books.

A lot of comic books.

Really, there was a time when he worked on almost every comic in Marvel's stable. He had a memorable run on the Hulk (a run where the heroes of Earth had banished the Hulk to other dimensions because he was so dangerous -- a plotline that should sound familiar since they ripped it off for World War Hulk's setup). He worked on Thor, and Iron Man, and even Howard the Duck. He worked on the Avengers, Captain America, Ghost Rider, and he even wrote a few X-Men comics here and there. When John Byrne's star was on the ascendence and his Alpha Flight was still a major comic, it was Bill Mantlo who took it over when Byrne left. He created Cloak and Dagger, for God's sake.

You know what? I'm going to steal a list of his work from the Howling Curmudgeons -- it's easier than trying to explain just how heavily he was involved in the work of this era of Marvel:

Alpha Flight, Amazing Adventures, Amazing Spider-Man, Astonishing Tales, The Avengers, Battlestar Galactica, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Cloak & Dagger, Daredevil, Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, The Defenders, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Hero for Hire, Heroes For Hope Starring the X-Men, Howard the Duck, The Human Fly, The Incredible Hulk, Invasion, Iron Man, Jack of Hearts, Journey Into Mystery/Thor, The Mighty Thor, Ka-Zar, Marvel Age, Marvel Chillers, Marvel Fanfare, Marvel Premiere, Marvel Spotlight, Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions, Marvel Tales (Marvel Tales Starring Spider-man), Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Treasury Edition, Marvel Two-In-One, Micronauts, Rawhide Kid, Rocket Raccoon, ROM, Sectaurs, Spectacular Spider-Man (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man), Spider-Man and Daredevil, Strange Tales (2nd series), Super-Villain Team-Up, Swords of the Swashbucklers, Tales of Suspense (Captain America/Captain America and the Falcon/Steve Rogers: Captain America), Team America, Transformers, The Vision and The Scarlet Witch (the entire miniseries), Web of Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night, What If..., X-Men, and X-men and the Micronauts.

Seriously, dude.

Mantlo had an incredible sense of character voice and motivation. His series featured grand themes, but explored them in sophisticated ways. Relationships were passionate but never simple -- there was pain and joy in equal measure, and his heroes had to walk heroic journeys -- trawling the depths of despair before they could once again find hope. They were incredible.

And Mantlo wasn't afraid to take risks. He subverted the heroic and sympathetic Force Commander, turning him into a villain before killing him off to return Baron Karza to the universe. He killed every living thing on Homeworld -- a horrible, terrible loss -- without losing the idealism that held the Micronauts together. After setting the town of Clairton, West Virginia as the home of pretty much all of Rom the Spaceknight's human friends and secondary characters, he had the entire town killed off and replaced with Dire Wraiths in an effort to kill Rom and Brandy Clark. You couldn't take anything for granted in a Mantlo story -- except that in the end, after terrific pain and sacrifice, good would triumph. But would forever wonder at the cost....

Oh, over at DC he also wrote the Invasion miniseries. Yeah. He actually did one of the monumental crosssovers they did in the eighties, and it was one of the ones that actually did have impact and didn't suck. Who knew?

I can't overestimate the impact Bill Mantlo's writing had on me. I really can't. And it was a very sad day for me when he decided to move on from comics, and enter the legal profession. And even there, he was a hero. He became a public defender, apparently a very good and dedicated one.

And then came tragedy. In 1992, Mantlo was rollerblading when he was hit by a car. He had massive head trauma that led to a coma for more than a year. When he emerged, he had brain damage that he has never (and will never) recover from, needing constant care. Expensive care, I would add. His capacities are diminished at best and will never recover.

When I learned this... all the breath just left me for a while. It was so unfair. It was so wrong. Bill Mantlo deserved so, so much better.

But if there was one thing Mantlo wrote about, it's that being a good guy -- and deserving good things --was no guarantee that you would get them. Bad things happened to good people in Mantlo's stories.

The point, in the end, was what you did with the things you've received. Bill Mantlo needs us.

He needs me.

And he needs you.

Fortunately, there's an easy thing you can do.

Writer/Illustrator David Yurkovich has produced Mantlo: A Life in Comics, a tribute and benefit book that includes fiction, history, and interviews with everyone from Marve Wolfman to Jackson Guice. It costs seven dollars and fifty cents, and all the profits -- all the profits -- are going to help insure Mantlo's care now and into the future.

You can order it here.

My own circumstances aren't good right now (though thanks to you incredible people, they're vastly, vastly better), but on my next paycheck my order for this book is going in. And I pass it forward to all of you. If you were of the era I was, and you liked Marvel Comics at all, you know Bill Mantlo's work. If not, but you like comic books of any stripe, you're a recipient of his legacy.

When tragedy comes, it falls upon all of us to bring hope back into the light, to take off the cloak of the Shadow Priest and reveal the shining embodiment of idealism given form.

Put simply, he needs us.

That's reason enough, and probably all I would ever need to say.

Dallan and Sepsis preserve you all.

Right. That's it.

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This is a spoiler. For Civil War, which just won't die. So if you don't want to be spoiled, don't read this.

Or CNN. Or any major news outlet, because congratulations, Marvel. You did it. You popped the rating. You have your fifteen minutes of fame, which is all you give a damn about any more.

Anyway. Here it is.

In an upcoming issue, Captain America, walking up the courthouse steps (because, see, he turned himself in for defying the Superhero Registration Act) is shot in the head by a sniper and killed.

When contacted, Joe Quesada -- Marvel's head -- said that Captain America "didn't live in the modern world," which is of course why he had to die. He went on to say:

"What happens with the costume? And what happens to the characters that are friends and enemies of Cap?" Quesada said with a smile. "You're going to have to read the books to find out."

Yeah.

Fuck you, Quesada.

I don't care what you do with Captain America's uniform. You've already pissed away his legacy. I don't know who you write comic books for, but it's not me.

I'm sure you don't care about that at all. After all, sales are high right now. They're peaking. And you have huge media buzz going on.

However, I remember when that was true of Superman, after they had him beaten to death. And then after they changed his costume. And when they made Hal Jordan a mass murderer and psychotic. I remember when they actually did do something significant and enduring to the Superman legend by marrying him to Lois Lane, and almost no one cared because they had cheap popped ratings stunts burn them out. I remember when the Green Lantern editors were pissed off at Comic Con because people were outraged at what they did to Jordan, and his response was "sorry for making the book popular."

It took over ten years before they brought Jordan back. It took less than one for them to bring Superman back. And it's not because their "stories lacked impact," like you said. It's because those were fucking stupid moves. And even Jordan's return hasn't really improved things for Green Lantern at DC -- it's just pissed off the Kyle Rayner fans. All they managed to do was damage the long term viability of Green Lantern as a brand and icon for a short term spike in interest which didn't pan out in story terms.

But hey. You don't care. You're smiling. This is just another comic book story, and we'll have to tune in next time to see what you do with a uniform that clearly doesn't mean anything to your company.

Well, my friend Mason Kramer said it best:

I mean, sure. Bucky was brought back, so he'll take up the shield. The Punisher has the mask, so he'll put it on. And then there'll be the guy in armor and the cyborg.

Fuck you, Marvel. I'm done. I no longer give a damn what you do in your comic books. Which is just fine, because you no longer give a damn about people like me anyway.

I was watching a show on the History Channel, called How William Shatner Changed the World. It was one of those shows that tracked the people who actually made things like ion propulsion drives for NASA unmanned spacecraft and the cellular telephone and had them saying "well, yeah. I was watching Star Trek and hey -- Data was listening to music on his computer so I went down to my job at Apple and then I wrote Quicktime and then we invented the iPod."

You know, a fluffy show, but fun. This one featured some of Shatner's trademark (for this decade) self-deprecating humor.

But... they made an interesting contention in this show.

See, Star Trek was low rated, but then snowballed. And was huge. And Star Trek: The Next Generation was even bigger. (And if you haven't been playing along at home... we're reaching the point where Star Trek: The Next Generation was as long ago as the original Star Trek was when TNG first came out. Feel old yet? But I digress.)

And then Deep Space Nine came out. Which was my favorite of the series. And it did okay... but it was significantly lower rated than Next Generation which was on at the same time.

And then Voyager was lower rated still.

And then Enterprise was lower rated enough that it tanked.

We all know these things. And we all know the justifications. "People were burned out on Star Trek. Competition from cable and the internet killed them." Et cetera. But that's not what they were saying on here.

No, their contention -- and it was a throwaway -- was simple. Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation were Roddenberry's vision of a future where humanity's problems were solved and technology was a good thing that made life a paradise and allowed humanity, who had matured, grown together and embraced that paradise, to develop themselves and explore the galaxy. Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise were darker shows where there were interpersonal conflicts between the crew, a more "realistic" approach to technology (which often failed) was adopted, and there were universal wars, terrorism, and lots of bad things and tense moments. And the millions of people who loved Next Generation didn't love these darker shows in such great numbers, despite their critical acclaim (the critics loved Deep Space Nine -- and so, for that matter did I). They loved the overall sense of optimism that Roddenberry had brought and people like Braga, Berman, and Behr eschewed as hokey.

Now, I don't know if this is right or not. I don't have demographics or interviews or statistical data. But it was an interesting contention for me, because it goes hand in hand with where I think comic books are dying.

See, comics used to be bright. They were optimistic. The good guys were good guys. The bad guys were bad guys. And the good guys eventually won. This was true at DC, where generally the heroes were stalwart and upright, and this was true at Marvel where the heroes were flawed and had problems. But it was still true.

Over the last several decades, comics have "grown up." They've become more realistic. And we ultimately had things like Zero Hour and Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and Civil War. And some of those series have been popular and everything, but comic books have been in major decline. The most popular books today get the kinds of numbers that middle of the road-to-unpopular books got in the seventies (and let's not even think about the forties or fifties. Superman used to sell many millions of issues a month.) Hell, over on Mister Kitty's Stupid Comics site (which is always good fun), an entire essay was devoted to pointing out that back when comics were stupid they vastly outsold the most popular comics of today. Even Little Dot.

And I've wondered for some time when the comic book companies became ashamed of superheroes. When did Realism, and "secret identities are bad" and "goofy heroes like Ralph and Sue Dibney need to die" and "the government needs to regulate all super heroes in a clear nod to Guantanamo Bay" and "hey, let's show Hank Pym immediately after employing the potential kinky sex acts that shrinking your body to the size of a dildo imply on his ex wife and former abuse victim Janet in our flagship team comic!" take the place of "Captain America beats up Hydra so they can't conquer the world" and "Iron Man is a good guy who fights bad people who want to take over the world."

I mean... what if the William Shatner documentary was right? What if the reason Enterprise tanked was because they'd lost the clear, clean message of the original series and Next Generation. What if the reason comic books are a niche item (and Manga outsells them in bookstores) is people liked the clear cut good versus evil stuff more than the 'popular' depressing 'realistic' stuff?

It would explain a lot, wouldn't it?

Logo: Sleeping Snarky

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