Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The End of an Era

One of my first memories of being a child was a hot summer afternoon. I was five. I held in my hand a copy of the Marvel UK 'Mighty Avengers' title - the one where Scarlet Witch, Vision and Quicksilver had been transported to a melting world - and I was hooked. I decided there and then to make a change in my life and with the permission of my mam, I walked the thirty yards from my backyard to the corner shop and proudly told Rosa (the owner) that I wanted to change my order from 'The Barnaby Comic' to the Avengers.

And ever since then I have had a slew of comics that I read every month .... until tomorrow. Tomorrow I will receive the last two issues of the 'War of the Lanterns' in Green Lantern and I will close down my order at Forbidden Planet. Thirty years of comics buying has come to an end. Some might say its about time. Others might think its ill-directed pragmatism. Personally, I just have nothing invested in it anymore.

It started, predictably, with Bendis. That the machinations of one man could have me ... ME ... abandon the Avengers is almost too much to imagine, but it happened. However, what I didn't realise at the time, was that my dropping of my beloved Earth's Mightiest Heroes would prove a watershed moment. The world didn't stop. I wasn't left bereft. It was ... inconsequential. As I have looked at the title (because I still flick through it each month, just to keep my eye in...) there has been nothing to draw me back, no reason to slap down my money.

Oh yes, money. Comics are just too damned expensive as well. £2.30 for a five minute (if that...) experience? No thank you. Of course, if there was some way that DC could reduce the cost of comics, that would work right? Maybe a ... digital revolution?

But no. Well, yes, if you want to wait a month, but not if you want them upfront. I have a lot of problems with DC's Flashpoint revolution. I don't see the DCU as it stands as an overly complex place - certainly its simpler than the pre-Crisis DCU by factors of ten - and I don't see the characters as 'tired'. I do see some titles treading water (JLA, JSA, Teen Titans etc) so I can see their point but a wholesale reboot of the franchise? Really? Nuking Detective and Action back to #1? Seriously?! Can you imagine if they did that in say, Eastenders? Oh we have decided that the backstory is too convoluted, so this week we are going to restart the show and move the characters to Wolverhampton. Same names, maybe same people, new relationships. Madness.

Its also a straight up lack of historical perspective. DC have done this before - an explosion of minor titles in the 1970s followed by the infamous 'DC Implosion' a couple of years later. Every event has been followed by the spinning off of a slew of new titles, the vast majority of which never make it through the first year of publication. Its a failed tactic. Is this supposed to a market penetration strategy, selling more of the same to the current comics buyers, or is this digital revolution supposed to represent market development - penetrating new readers with their online offer? I don't see it - this is the 'app' generation, the 'itunes' generation. Apps cost 59p and are useful forever, updated for free. A single costs 79p. A comic costs ... £2.30? Bear in mind that for the price of 2-3 comics, you can get a fully playable PC game from Steam. And these aren't your father's comics. You cannot trade them, share them, buy them second hand. You cannot trace them and learn to draw from them.... but you can read them on an iPad. Whoopee fucking do.

So what Bendis started, the Flashpoint devolution has finished. Thats me done. No more comics. Its a strange and sobering thought and quite a sad one. I may have to go and dig out that issue of the Avengers (which I have in about three different formats now!) and have some nostalgia to calm my nerves.

6 comments:

Metaresearchboi said...

have you had a look at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited?

http://marvel.com/digital_comics/unlimited

$4.99 a month for unlimited access to a huge comic back catalogue looks quite decent value for money in your time to value ratio arguement.

Metaresearchboi said...

Hell... looking a bit further *I'm* tempted by it!

They have Journey into Mystery #83 all the way to 120 and onwards...

http://marvel.com/digital_comics/browse/character/1009664/thor

Metaresearchboi said...

Good review here:

http://panelpatter.blogspot.com/2011/07/digging-into-digital-looking-at-marvel.html

Fandomlife said...

Well, to give a voice to the generation below ours - I believe my nephew read quite a few marvel comics through a subscription like Dave mentions.

Ben said...

I think I just saw my hobby horse. I'll not go over ground I've gone over a million times before.

Have you given reading all comic books 4 eva or have you given up reading monthly singles and having a standing order of titles?

Vodkashok said...

That's a very good question Ben. I have to admit that the price of comics has been a bugbear of mine for a while now and that is a major contributor so I cannot see myself buying monthly again. GNs will really depend on the stories, the frequency of release and whether I can be arsed. I'll still pick up things like the Mouse Guard collections, so not done totally I suppose.