A friend recently complained to me that he’s not at all happy with the direction of either Marvel or DC. The stories leave him cold, the characters seem all be in the process of going places he’s not happy seeing them taken and neither universe really seems like home to him.
“It upsets me to see these characters I’ve loved for so long being taken to places I hate so much.”
Anyone who’s been a fan of comics for longer than five minutes knows the feeling. We’ve all seen both Marvel and DC do things with characters we love that are, to us at least, revolting. It happens.
So I asked my friend what else he was reading and I’m pretty sure I caught him by complete surprise.
“What do you mean, ‘what else am I reading?’”
“Well,” I said. “Marvel and DC are clearly not your bag right now. So what is?”
And that’s when he admitted that he only reads comics from Marvel and DC.
Let me be clear; I’m not going to begrudge anyone for reading the things they read (for the most part). Like what ya like and read what ya like. If all you want to read are the adventure of, sigh, Deadpool, then by God let that Deadpool freak flag fly (just don’t expect me to fly it with you).
But the moment you stop liking that thing you like, then maybe it’s time for an exit strategy.
I say all this because we kind of live in a golden age of Big Two alternatives, and even if you are a DC devotee or a Marvel zombie, the thought of someone not venturing into some of the absolutely amazing things being done at publishers like Image, Dark Horse, IDW and, hell, even Archie Comics is mindblowing to me.
In fact, there’s so much non-Big Two variety out there that’s actually worth reading that I sometimes have trouble supporting it all.
I told this to my friend. I told him about Saga and Supreme: Blue Rose. I told him about Transformers vs. G.I. Joe and Afterlife with Archie. I told him about Southern Bastards, Drifter, Copra, Hip Hop Family Tree and La Mano del Destino. I told him about all these things and he just kind of looked at me in confusion.
“But I want to read the comics I like,” he said.
I recently heard Evan Dorkin compare super hero comic fans to drug addicts who, good or bad, just want to get their weekly fix. It was a funny analogy but one that I think is scary accurate. Super hero fans, or, more specifically, Marvel and DC fans, are like drug addicts who will stop at nothing, including stories and editorial directions they hate to get their fixes.
And that’s sad and terrible, especially when there’s legitimately good stuff being produced week in and week out without the words “Marvel” or “DC” stamped on the cover.
Marvel and DC may have the largest presence in the industry, but that doesn’t make them the actual industry. If you don’t like what they’re doing, try something different.
Trust me, you’ll get your fix somewhere else, and you’ll probably like it a whole lot more.