Posted on: July 4th, 2012 Dear Comics: I’m So Bored of Grit
So here I am. Reading comics. Like I do. And expressing my scattered opinions on stories to my brother. Like I do. And I start noticing a trend. Primarily in the books from Marvel and DC, but that’s just because I read a lot of those.
Why do characters have to be jerks to pretend they’re compelling?
Do they actually need to be that way? Or is it just easy for the writer to create the facade of depth when they’re mean and angry? Let me explain:
The New +52:
-Justice League/Captain Marvel: Well, now he’s Shazam, I guess. Golly Gee! Billy Batson has kicked up the brooding and annoying ante. Nobody understands him. He doesn’t need anyone. He makes little orphan girls cry. What an ass.
-Earth 2: Joan Williams (Garrick). Really? The *nicest* woman in the DCU is now a total bitch? Did that need to happen? Would she and Jay really have been unable to split without her being a terrible person? I’m sure we just wanted to make Jay seem super nice in comparison but it seems incredibly unnecessary.
-Superman/Clark Kent: I’ve never really taken the anti-Superman approach. I liked him. Big Blue Boy Scout or not. He was everything you aspire to be, right? So now people are supposed to like him because he’s all-powerful AND moody? No thanks.
-AvX: Let’s just focus on this right out of the gate. Every single person in this book is acting like a bitch. I hate everybody. Does it make me think Cyclops is much more complicated than I thought? No. I just want to punch everybody. Oddly enough, that’s primarily what happens in that book. So much complaining and punching.
Well, truth be told, Marvel sort of is built on jerks. They’ve either got a holier-than-thou, more-magical-than-thou, stronger-than-thou, or lonelier-than-thou attitude. I don’t think I could imagine Frank Castle petting a kitty. Namor probably couldn’t send someone a Hallmark greeting card.
And I get that. I just want there to be balance. I get bored of that loose cannon, wild-card that doesn’t play by the rules. I get bored of the happygolucky aw shucks character too. I want to read real people. Real people with powers, sure. But good grief, nobody’s a jerk all of the time.
But the numbers aren’t really helping my case. You look at the sales of the Big 2 and all those gritty, badassery books are top of the list. So, is it just me? I look at a book like CHEW, and the characters are self-absorbed narcissists. They also fall in love, become friends and hang out with family. I look at a book like Walking Dead and everyone is terrified and screwing each other over in the name of survival. They can also tell jokes and break down crying when things are too overwhelming. You know, like people? I suppose my request is this: if you’re writing, write a real person. With real issues and real humor. You can’t hide inferior writing under grit. I’ll see it. Others will see it. Then again, others will buy it. But do you really want to be writing for those idiots?