Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by retailer Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett looks at the question of whether or not there will be an "Obama effect" on comics:
As someone who cares entirely too much about Golden Age Comics I admit I enjoyed seeing this page from Savage Dragon #141. These Golden Age characters don’t get the chance to actually say or do much of anything but at least they’re there, everyone from the really obscure (The Original Thor, Blue Bolt, Skyman, etc.) to a couple that aren’t in the public domain.
But clearly Eric Larsen is unafraid of litigation, seeing as how he’s announced the original Daredevil, operating under his original name will be regularly co-starring in upcoming issues of Savage Dragon. Larsen knows his Golden Age comics so hopefully this means he understands what made the character so original wasn’t so much his costume as his interest in social justice, and since he already has a bunch of kids running around the title would it hurt anyone if he rounded them up and dubbed them the “New Little Wiseguys?”
Something unexpected happened to me while looking through the December Previews: I found half a dozen new titles from Image that I not only wanted Super-Fly to order, I wanted to read them myself. Soul Kiss, Bad Dog, The Great Unknown, Amber Atoms, Jersey Gods and Johnny Monster all feature solid looking art and fairly unique ‘takes’ on genre material. I can’t tell you any more about them (but if the publisher wanted to send me copies…), but I can tell you those solicitations did their job; they made me want to see more.
In the past when I’ve disapproved of mainstream superhero comic books respondents have told me to “get over it, comics have to reflect reality.” Which is true enough although it ignores the fact that reality changes. I should know, one of the backhanded benefits of getting older is you get to see it change on a fairly regular basis. Of course most of these changes fall into the category of the superficial; language, clothes, gadgets (every time someone tries to explain what a “Twitter” is to me I start looking for the bus back to 1965) and attitudes. The only real question I have is, are these changes acted upon us (when we get bored buying one thing corporate America is more than happy to sell us something else) or do we somehow, unbeknownst to us, collectively participate in them being called into being?
I realize after my John McCain/Norman Osborn joke it’ll be nearly impossible to convince most of you I’m not particularly political (though those of you desperate to label me I self-identify as a Progressive Fusionist). But I am going to ask you to assume only good intent on my part because this week I’m going to write about the outcome of the recent election and what it could mean for all of us.
I enter Entertainment Weekly into evidence quite a bit, no doubt demonstrating the depth of both my thinking and research, but I find the magazine a handy barometer for gauging popular culture trends. Take the Nov. 28th issue which featured a piece by Benjamin Svetkey called “Celebrity in Chief” about the President-Elect and upcoming battle between the latest entries in movie franchises to determine the tone of our times: Star Trek (representing hope) and Terminator: Salvation (fear). I quote: “The idea of change and hope has permeated the country, regardless of politics, and that includes Hollywood,'' says Kevin Feige, president of production at Marvel Studios, home to Iron Man and the soon-to-be-launched Captain America. ''Discussions in all our development meetings include the zeitgeist and how it's changed in the last two weeks. Things are being adjusted.'' From his lips to Marvel Comics' bank account, ''If a film called Captain America, with a red, white, and blue color scheme, can be met with anticipation and even with promise around the world, as opposed to skepticism, I'm going to be very happy,'' says Marvel's Feige. In fact, the Obama Effect could end up accomplishing a whole lot more than making Captain America cool in France. It could alter the very face of superherodom as we know it. And in ways we once never dreamed possible.
All the polls seem to say the same thing: we, the people are primed for a change, more than ready for something else, maybe even hope. The thing is, I’m not sure just how receptive to this message Marvel or DC is going to be. Secret Invasion: Dark Reign appears to offer us the pleasant prospect of at least a year where the Marvel Universe is ruled by super-villains (quite possibly a metaphor for post-war Iraq). And I’ve got to admit when I read Dan Didio wanted rewrites on the final issue of Final Crisis, my first reaction was that it was because the status quo resulting from Grant Morrison’s version wasn’t quite dismal enough.
My only problem is that if I am right the people in charge of Marvel and DC are too emotionally invested in a broken system (pick up the latest issue of Fantastic Four, read the circulation numbers, weep) and so certain they know what they’re doing that they have no Plan B. And they might just need one…
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.