Dropping Comics (A Dilemma)
I wrote about HERE of how I had gotten back into comics and was seeking them out like crazy. I was an avid collector for a little less than two years and collected nearly 500 ongoing issues during that time. That's not even counting the trades I would get off of amazon. I was obsessed to the point that it probably hurt my bank account more than I should have allowed. But now most of the reasons for that obsession are gone.
See, when I got into comics, Marvel was doing Marvel Now! and DC was well into the New 52. These were both changed and ongoing continuities that were a little tough to get a grasp of at first. But I did and I eventually fell in love with them. While the only DC Comics I followed were Scott Snyder's Batman and Jeff Lemire's Green Arrow (mainly due to a lack of interest in Superman, Wonder Woman, Aqua Man, etc.), I have trouble figuring out all the Marvel stuff. Between four different Spider-man titles, Avengers (there's a lot of them), Daredevil, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, The Punisher and various others, I was obsessed with the world and its unique continuity. Then Secret Wars happened.
Something had been hinted at throughout Hickman's run of Avengers: the end of the world. I know, I know, what's a big comic book event without the end of the world taking place. Only this time was different: they had a countdown letting us know that "Hey guys, the Marvel Universe is fucking OVER." As it just got closer and closer to the end, I found myself questioning why I was even reading these books if their continuity was just going to be dropped. All of the stories I had been investing my time in were suddenly being dropped.
One of the prime examples of this is Ultimate Spider-man. To this day, Ultimate Spider-man is the only comic series with over 100 issues published, that I've read every single one. I binged them over a few month period, reading upwards of ten to fifteen a day. Spider-man had always been my favorite character and the series is considered one of the best around, so it was a no-brainer. When Miles Morales took over after Peter's death (go read this series if you haven't, it's such a journey, I need a separate post on it to do it justice) I was trepidatious but it did the impossible: it kept me interested in Spider-man even without Peter Parker. Recently we were treated to Peter returning from the grave, and Miles finding out the truth about his father. Now all that's gone. As are all of Miles' friends and family. Why is that? Because the Ultimate Universe is no more. Sure, Miles will now be in the 616 (whatever that means now) but what of the world that he lived in and greatly affected? Why would Bendis bring back Ultimate Peter just to have everything killed off shortly after. Hell, anyone else that's read Miles Morales Spider-man knows how much the story seemed to be leading to greater things. But now what are we left with? Miles stuck in a world where the villains aren't his and the people aren't his either. I get that Miles is a great character but will he survive the move? I probably wouldn't have been as upset about this if they didn't seem like they were setting up for something more. Oh well.
Hell, Marvel is even being petty when it comes to the film properties that they don't own. If you don't keep up with comics or movies then you may not have heard of this so let me indulge you: the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises are owned by Fox and therefore Marvel is not making money off of these films. Their solution to this has been to excise these characters. The ongoing Fantastic Four series has been halted, and the X-Men are being replaced by the Inhumans. What are the Inhumans you ask? They're the X-Men, only without the trademark issue. Yet another problem of business negatively affecting creative.
Then there's the switch to a "season" model. This means that books will be going in annual cycles, resetting the numbering every year. As someone who just had a helluva time making it through different series due to the insane re-numbering that has been going on, the thought of even more number changes is frustrating. Seriously, go try and read a series and you'll understand the frustration of there being a huge gap in issues because "Oh yeah, that's when they switched to THIS title for twenty issues then it goes back to the original numbering." I hate hearing the excuse that the high numbers are intimidating to new readers. As a new reader, I want to say: they're not. All they have to do is signify when a new story arc is beginning. That's it. But no, they've decided to just re-number every year. Ugh.
As far as DC is concerned, the quality of their books have dropped to the point that I have no interest in continuing with any of them. Batman is no longer Batman. He's Jim Gordon in a robo-bat suit. And Bruce Wayne is allegedly dead. Again. Pass. Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino left Green Arrow and so did the sensible writing and fantastic art style. Pass. Unfortunately the rest of DC is full of characters I'm not into so as for the rest of the lineup? Pass.
That really just leaves me with Image as far as books that I pick up. While I absolutely love Saga, Outcast, Black Science, COWL, and Trees, it's hard to justify going to my LCB for them. And even with most of their titles being a sensible $2.99, I still can't justify it when they release cheap trades quickly and I can just get them off of Amazon. Plus, with how dense most Image titles are, it's much easier to read as collected trades anyhow. Hell, I've only read Saga and Black Science through trades, forgoing any single issues because of this.
While I'll really miss the conversations I had with my Local Comic Book Guy (I still don't know his name even after so long… I'm a terrible person) I have no interest in continuing for the time being. It's expensive and the model to which the business is now being based, is not something that appeals to me. I'm by no means stopping my love for comic books, it simply means I'll be taking a dive into the back catalog and finally reading some gems that I may have missed. Will comics ever go back to what they once were and bring back continuity? I doubt it but if they ever do, I'll be back, wallet in hand.