Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Worst Fanboy in the World

Today, I’d like to admit something. As a fanboy, I’m pretty lousy. There--I said it. I mean, sure, I have a bunch of comics all over the place and I own some original comics art and I (usually) enjoy going to the comics store, and whatever, but I have to say, I am really, really bad at being a fanboy.

I couldn’t tell you too much about any of the comics companies pre-2003, I have no idea who most of the characters running around DC’s Final Crisis are, and I couldn’t care any less about why it’s so blasphemous for Spider-Man to have organic web shooters.

Or to not have organic web shooters.

I always forget which one it is that people hate. And, quite frankly, I have no idea which one is currently being used in Amazing Spider-Man, because I really don’t pay attention to such things.

I like stories, you see. Novels, plays, songs, poems, and of course, comics. Static little dramas with a beginning, a middle, and an end, with some plot turns and twists and fun and kicking and punching along the way.

I was an English major in college, you see, and I simply love to read. And the fact that Batman is now being drawn with a different Bat symbol than he was ten years ago, well...I really don’t care.

If the story is well told, and entertaining, and it leaves me going “hmmm” at the end--then mission accomplished. If the artwork is nice to look at, or different, or frightening, or just plain fun--then I’m in.

On the subject of stories, “continuity” is a word that all fanpeople know, and it doesn’t matter to which faction of fandom you belong. And, from what I can tell, continuity drives everyone involved quite mad. Creators hate it because it restricts the stories that they can tell, and fans hate it when creators stray from what’s come before because what came before was so well done.

Or, fans hate it when creators don’t stray from what’s come before, because what came before wasn’t very good and wasn’t “in the spirit of the character.” Continuity, especially in comics, is a really tricky thing.

Take Batman, for example. He was created in 1939; just about 70 years ago. And, what’s more, when he first appeared, Gotham City’s Dark Knight was a gun-toting avenger with no qualms when it came to wasting a punk in a vat of acid, or even turning a gun on a gangster, or a mad scientist, or what have you.

And, yes, I did in fact just write the words "wasting a punk."

Clearly, Batman has evolved from that earliest incarnation, and I for one agree that Bats should never pick up a gun, and he certainly should never kill. And I think every Bat fan out there would agree with me. (I'm pretty sure, anyway.) But, if all the comics creators that have worked on the character over the years followed continuity to a tee, well, good old Bruce Wayne would be a veritable killing machine.

Detective Comics #27 cover
So, back to my point about well told stories.

I say, the heck with continuity. If it impedes upon a writer’s ability to tell a great story, then let's please do trample all over continuity, and tell a great story. Remember, this is comics, and if Spider-Man all of a sudden literally turns into an actual spider in issue Five Eighty Whatever, then in issue Five Ninety Something we can completely forget about it. And make him not a spider.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering, I hate spiders, so this is something I wouldn’t really enjoy. But, to keep with the spirit of this blog, I wouldn’t yell and scream about it. Instead, I’d probably give it a shot, read it, and come to a fair conclusion about it. And, if it’s just not something that I can get into--like, say, giant spiders running around--then I honestly just wouldn’t pick up the next issue.)

Now, continuity will likely be a hot button issue for comics fans for as long as there are comics. In fact, if Fanboy Nation ever had to choose a President, I’m sure the opposing candidates would fall on different sides of the issue. And every four years we would be told how each side will “fix” continuity once and for all. Of course, it would never really be fixed. Because, let’s face it, comics fans will always complain about something.

I can hear the whining now:

“Eh, since the new X-Men book fixed all of its continuity glitches to the point that you don’t have to have a PhD in quantum physics and even a child can now pick it up and understand what the heck’s going on and enjoy it...I think it’s lost its classic appeal.”

Brilliant. But, sadly, all too true.

And I know this post is going to infuriate some long-time readers of comics, but like I said, I am a lousy fanboy. Seriously. Check out my closet. Not even one, single t-shirt with a character on it.

Really, I swear.

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