Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Unformed Throughts

I've been trying to sort out, with my on-going mental fogginess problem, why I'm not more upset about the possibility of Aquaman getting canceled. I think it has to do with a growing jaded feeling about American comics in general. I LOVE the current Aquaman, and I adore what Kurt, and now Tad, are trying to do with the book. But it feels to me like no one else does.

I've been reading more manga lately, and enjoying it, overall, more than most of the superhero books I read. The superhero tales seem to be constant rehashings of the same old tales, with no hope of any real character development, because as soon as you start to develop a character like Superman, or Aquaman, the fanboys go nuts and the sales drop and ... well. It's just a cycle of nonsense.

I think I've thrown up my hands in surrender. I simply don't care anymore about the fate of DC and Marvel. I want to care. I'll continue to buy Aquaman. But the stories are SO boring compared with the adventures and developments in non-DC and non-Marvel books that I just can't enjoy them anymore. You cannot put a character into stasis and expect to keep most of your audience. And neither of the big two dares to really change or develop their characters anymore. The fans will always demand Hal Jordan back. And so it goes, into boringness.

Contrast that with manga. I can pick up just about any manga series and expect a couple of things: 1) The characters are going to learn and grow and 2) The story will someday end. I get more pure enjoyment out of reading Hikaru No Go every month than all the non-Aquaman mainstream superhero comics I read combined. Same with other non-manga titles. Like Usagi Yojimbo, who has changed and whose supporting cast goes through changes. Or PS238, which had a major (and very difficult) change for one of its characters in recent issues. Or even DMZ, which promises to document a war unlike any other. Think of True Story, Swear to God... the tale may not end (I hope not!) but the characters certainly grow and develop. DC and Marvel cannot compete with these kind of powerful stories.

There is a place for the type of superheroes that DC and Marvel publish, but I'll be a sea otter's uncle if I know how this whole thing will eventually shake out. At the moment, it looks to me like manga is winning the hearts and minds of the future generations, and once the old guard like me are gone, DC and Marvel will also fade away. I doubt that will happen, but my pessimism knows no bounds at the moment.

I guess I'm more upset about Aquaman than I realized.