Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Uncomfortable Comics Truths 3

Walt Simonson is not immune to the lure of a paycheck gig. Evidence: his run on the World of Warcraft comic book. How bad is this comic? Well, ignore for a moment that it's a tie in to a video game. Ignore for a moment that the first issue opens with an amnesiac awakening on the shores of a strange and hostile land. Ignore for the moment that the art team has rotated around so much that the book has no coherent look and characters have gone from emaciated to hyperinflated in the space of an issue. No, no, all you need to know about this comic is that Walter Simonson placed the following dialog in it: "We will feed them a diet of steel!"

Seriously, no one loves Walt more than I do. But this is hire and salary, man. This is Jeremy Irons doing the Dungeons and Dragons movie with that especial flair that says "I want some additions to that Irish Castle I bought." This is "Weezie and I aren't getting any younger and I want to buy a jaccuzi" in four colors. Go ahead and find a couple issues of this book. It's as if Walt took a nap while he was scripting it.

Comic book adaption movies are pretty hit and miss, but that's not the real problem. The real problem is when we start to see comic book adaptions which are clearly transparent money grabs made by studios who think any property is ripe for adaptation. Worse than that, though, are the reverse: movie, tv or novel properties made into comic books with no real purpose or goal other than "We gotta rip a hunk of that pig off as fast as possible." Pretty much every Buffy, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc etc comic is like this, even the ones written by the people involved in the original property: go ahead and read Joss Whedon's Buffy comics for some of the most self indulgent tripe ever published.

There is no good way to transition from the first three paragraphs to this next one, so here goes.

The return of Barry Allen? No one cared. Well, no, no one cared outside of the weird cabal of endless nostalgia addicts running DC Comics. To be fair, Marvel proved they're not immune with Brand New Day, the comic which supplies us all with the hot Spider-Man trying to get laid by random women action that has nothing to do with, say, spinning a web any size or catching thieves just like flies. (Doesn't anyone read comic books for violence anymore, I ask you?)

Comic books where the art looks as if the artist picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly and decided the cast of, let's say Fringe (just to pick out one show with actors who look constantly surprised) will be playing the Avengers this month are just impossible to read without snickering. "Yeah, I think Pacey was a good choice to play Thor this month!"

Let's not even discuss Greg Land. We all know he photoshops porn stars and wrestlers into costumes, let's just pretend it's not happening.

It's totally happening though. But again, let's pretend it isn't.

The common uncomfortable truth linking everything I said above? All of these comics sell. People buy bad video game tie ins, bad movie tie ins, comics with traced/photoshopped art, self indulgent nostalgia trips and we're only going to see more of all of them to come.

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