OP/ED: Some 2012 Comic Book Trends to Avoid in 2013

Between Marvel NOW!, Before Watchmen and the rise (once again) of Image Comics, 2012 wasn't exactly a quiet year when it came to the comics industry and comic book culture. But that's not to say that it's all been good news - In fact, there are certain things that it'd be nice to see left in 2012 during this new year. Here are a few of them: 

 

Dead Superheroes

The year ended with the death of one of Marvel's biggest superheroes, and already half of the Internet is apparently looking for the reversal hidden within the story. To be fair, they're only looking for what we've been taught to expect at this point: Deaths, especially those of high-profile characters, are inevitably followed by rebirths, with the distance between the two getting shorter and shorter each time. Johnny Storm was dead for a year, and Thor a matter of months - the same with Bucky, for that matter. The idea of death as a "real" danger in superhero comics is beyond played out by this point, so let's hope that 2013 sees writers go a little farther when looking for ways to create dramatic tension. 

 

Gay Characters As Novelty

Between Alan Scott being revealed as Earth 2's gay Lantern and Northstar getting married to Kyle over in Astonishing X-Men, it seemed as if all Marvel and DC had to do this year in order to get mainstream headlines was reveal that, yes, gay people exist in their superhero universes too, just like the real world. While this feels like a step towards a more inclusive, diverse superhero world in one sense, the fact that both publishers gratefully accepted the plaudits thrown their way for having gay characters also feels like an underscoring of the "gay = different" way of thinking. We may be some way off from a time when gay characters are as common and everyday in the DCU or Marvel Universe as straight characters, but can we at least see a move away from "Hey, look, everyone! They're GAY!" as a selling point…? 

She only writes

ONE DC ongoing.

So fake.

"Fake Geek Girls"

Here's something I would love to avoid entirely in 2013: Any kind of discussion over "Fake Geek Girls" or "Fake Geeks" in general. You'd hope that, as a culture that has historically been as ostracized as it has, comic book fandom would be a welcoming place for newcomers, a safe haven where all you need to be accepted is a desire to be involved, but as this year has shown, that's apparently not the case. Instead, we've seen numerous embarrassing displays of sexism, snobbery and self-isolation that leave me tearing what's left of my hair out. For 2013, wouldn't it be nice if we let everyone who wants to be allowed into the clubhouse, and leave the "No Girls Allowed" stuff back in kindergarten?

 

"Vs."

Oh, how I wish that 2013 would bring an end to the spectacle that is one superhero fighting against another superhero for whatever reason. Sure, I know that it's a comic book staple and has been for decades now, but Avengers Vs. X-Men didn't just take the concept as far as it could go, it kept going even further (I'm looking at you, AVX: Vs). While I know that bickering = drama for many (Not to mention, making the books more "realistic"), but it would be great if we could go just one year without superheroes forgetting that they're supposed to fight the bad guys, not each other. (Note: I know that Trinity War is coming. I am already sad about this.) 

 

Complaints That Digital Is Killing Comics

I was stunned to see complaints last week that digital comics are hurting the Direct Market and killing comics as we know it, if only because we have had digital-day-and-date releases for the majority of the Big Two's releases for more than a year now, and their sales in comic book stores don't seem to have been negatively affected at all. In fact, digital comics seem to be bringing in new (or lapsed) readers and have an additive effect on the print market - as well as giving non-print material like Insufferable, Bandette and Amelia Cole a chance to exist. Can we make 2013 the year that digital stops being the comic book bogeyman for nervous fans the world over? 

 

Returning to The Scene of The Crime

No matter what you feel about the quality of the Before Watchmen books themselves, it's hard to argue with the fact that there wasn't a vocal demand for a prequel (or even sequel) to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' 1980s series before it was announced. The same can't really be said about Neil Gaiman's return to Sandman, because fans have genuinely been asking for that for some years now. Nonetheless, both projects are examples of a worrying new emphasis on not nostalgia exactly, but an attempt to capitalize on and commodity that nostalgia that misunderstands what fans liked about the projects in the first place. It's a backwards-looking trend at a time when successes like Saga, Fatale and The Walking Dead point to a future filled with new ideas controlled by the people who thought them up. 

 

Creators As Replaceable Parts of a Bigger Machine

Following on from that plundering of nostalgia, it would be nice to see a 2013 where the big publishers accept that creators are a far more important part of the appeal of comics than they have seemingly been believed to be over the last twelve months. The most obvious example of this is Gail Simone being fired off Batgirl - who, really, could imagine a creator who was more engaged with not only the character they were responsible for, but also the fan base for that character? - but other examples this year have been Before Watchmen's lack of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Rob Liefeld's departure from his three DC books, and even Avengers Vs. X-Men's round-robin creative team, which at times demonstrated the choppiness of having five people write a twelve issue series. May 2013 see creators get the respect they deserve from their employers. 

 

Comic Book Lawsuits

While we're at it, wouldn't it be good if 2013 saw lawsuits on behalf of comic book creators or their families who have felt wronged by partners or publishers all end with a settlement that pleases both sides equally? This year, we've seen developments in both the Siegel and Shuster lawsuits against DC over ownership of Superman, as well as Tony Moore taking Robert Kirkman to court over The Walking Dead. It's a forlorn hope, I know, but wouldn't it be nice if the next year saw less need for lawyers to be involved in this kind of thing at all, because creators get better treatment overall? 

 

Variant Cover Mania

Another 2012 craze that, sadly, shows signs of continuing into 2013 in full strength (After all, we're still two months out from DC's 52 covers for Justice League of America #1), but if there was any way that the collective comic book industry could somehow find a way to climb down from the increasing heights of double-digit variant covers on big comic books, that would be amazing. I know, I know; no-one has to buy them all, but retailers still have to work out how to order them all, and that's a headache that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Aren't there other 1990s gimmicks that we could get back to, instead? Whither the polybag with trading card, after all? 

 

Everything In Lockstep

Okay, we've had both The New 52 and Marvel NOW! by now, as well as Avengers Vs. X-Men. I'm all for new jumping-on points for readers, but the last couple of years have left me kind of exhausted when it comes to this kind of thing. Wouldn't it be more fun to see everything just given the space to breathe and grow at its own rate, and not have to worry about either wrapping everything up in favor of another crossover or relaunch, for the next year or so (For better or worse, I've enjoyed that DC's line has more or less had that over the last year, smaller crossovers excepted)? Oh, wait, never mind; Trinity War and The Age of Ultron are both headed our way, aren't they?

[The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect the views of Newsarama or TechMediaNetwork].

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