Deltarno, in a comment on my ‘Defense of Onslaught’ post, asked what I thought of the Marvel titles these days. My honest answer is that I’m not really prepared to comment, because I don’t read Marvel anymore. It would be unfair of me to say, “The books all suck these days,” because I don’t really know what’s being published and who’s writing it beyond the stuff I hear on the Internet. And I’m not going to be That Guy. You know, the one who trashes loudly comics that he’s never read based on things he’s heard on the Internet.
That said, I’ve heard nothing that suggests to me that the problems that caused me to give up on Marvel (or DC, for that matter) have been resolved. They sound like they’re still obsessed with the metaplot at the expense of the quality of individual issues, they’re still crossover-happy to the point that you can’t follow a title like ‘Avengers’ or ‘X-Men’ without splashing out for a half-dozen books every month, they’re still so bound and determined to do psychological exploration of the damaged psyches of their characters that they’ve forgotten to make them sympathetic and likable, they’re still making story after story that’s about heroes fighting each other instead of villains, and they still seem to think that making a title “edgy” and “adult” always makes it better. (This still seems odd to me, because the audience for edgy, adult superhero comics seems to top out at about a hundred thousand or so, and the audience for superheroes in general seems to be in the tens of millions. But I’m not the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. Maybe he has information I don’t.) So I probably won’t go back, either, despite hearing good things from the host of this very blog about books like ‘Superior Spider-Man’.
But if you’re reading Marvel right now and enjoying it, then I’m happy for you. I want to be clear, this is not said in the passive-aggressive sense. The books aren’t for me, but if you’re the target audience and you’re having fun, then nobody should be telling you that you’re wrong to do so. I’m glad you’re deriving enjoyment from your hobby, because the only thing that would be really sad is if you weren’t and were still doing it anyway. I wasn’t, so I quit. I’m not mad about it–Marvel does not owe me a publishing output catered to my personal tastes. I don’t owe them my customer loyalty, either. It’s not something worth getting upset over, even if I do sometimes look over at what they’re doing and wonder, “What exactly is their business plan right now?” I can’t imagine going into a comics store, dropping twenty or thirty bucks a week on comics that do nothing but make me angry, and then getting onto the Internet to blog about how mad I am at Marvel for “making me buy” things I don’t enjoy. I don’t know whether people do that out of obligation, a sense of completism, or sheer bloody-minded stubbornness; but I can’t think of any reason that it would be Marvel’s fault if I kept spending money on a product I didn’t like. I’m just glad that someone’s enjoying all these comics, because they’re clearly not aimed at me.