Friday, February 8, 2013

Comics and Parenting

Much like Frank, I recently began getting back into comics.  I didn't start with DC's "New 52" but with the "Marvel NOW" campaign.  This was mainly prompted by my 10 year old son's new-found interest in all things Marvel due to, what else, The Avengers. What I didn't expect was for this child, who will staunchly defend Transformers 2 as a fine piece of cinema due to the amount of explosions and robots present, to critique these titles with something almost close to maturity.

We started, simply enough, with three titles of his choosing Iron Man, The Uncanny Avengers and Fantastic Four (not FF), as well as a few old issues of Power Man & the Iron Fist (the kid loves the Iron Fist for some reason).  He was was very excited to start the Iron Man series, as that is his favorite superhero, but after the second issue he put it down frowning and said "I don't think they tried their hardest on this."  This puzzled me because usually anything with explosions and robots is Oscar worthy in his mind.  When asked why he felt that way his response was "Tony only seems to have two's like they copied the same picture over and over again, and the story isn't very strong." ( this is the type of vocabulatory nugget my kid will pull out every now and again (after I finally got him to try some onions I had caramelized he exclaimed "they're so rich with flavor!!" he was 7 at the time).)  WHAT!?!?!  Who is this child?  I whole-heartedly felt the same way but from him this was a mammoth leap forward in critical thought.  His reasoning was that compared to other versions of Tony Stark that he's seen this one was "kinda whiny and boring."  I love this kid!

Later, on advice, I picked up the Thor: God of Thunder title.  This is, in my opinion, a very well done work so far.  Not wanting to let my opinion slant his, I told him I had not had a chance to read them yet and for him to tell me what he thought.  This title had him completely engrossed.  From the non-standard "comic book" art ("It's like reading a painting at a museum!") to the very compelling story line ("If they don't put out the next issue soon I'm gonna die from suspense!") the boy was hooked.

As a parent, I am VERY proud of this change in perspective and actually a bit regretful that I didn't introduce him to comic books much earlier.  In just the last few months I've seen a big improvement in his ability to retain information, due to having to remember from one issue to the next the details of the plot line, and the rekindling of his imagination which I was starting to think he had outgrown.  In his words "Reading comics is better than books because I can see what's going on but it's better than cartoons because I can make the action however I want it on the TV in my head."  I couldn't have said it better.


  1. I don't know if I should be amused or horrified that your son and I share the same opinion on Iron Man and Thor: God of Thunder.

    Though it shouldn't surprise me, he's done his share of pummeling me and that's likely to bring us closer together psychologically.

    I hated the art in Iron Man, but didn't dislike the story all that much. It wasn't a masterpiece, but I didn't hate it. The bad art was too much though. People who don't read comics may not understand this, or even people who are so blinded by the "awesomeness" of comics may not quite get it, but I finally came up with an analogy.

    A comic book with a great story and terrible art is like Casablanca if it had been done by Ed Wood. It doesn't matter how good the story is, take out Humphrey Bogart, take out Ingrid Bergman, eliminate the million dollars Warner Bros. put into the budget, and what have you got? A curiously better than terrible Ed Wood film.

    You might think there's a parallel for great art and bad story, but nobody seems to be pairing great artists with crap writers. It's just the opposite. Great writing and terrible art.

    I'm extremely disappointed with Marvel. Ed Brubaker is gone off Captain America and Winter Soldier. Upon his departure the quality immediately dipped. I don't know the details, maybe he just wanted to move on to other things. That's fair, but the loss did not go unnoticed.

    Across the board Marvel has this new approach to all of their stories and they just don't work. They need to simplify the way DC did.

    Releasing 26 books with Spider Man in them? Who cares? Who can produce that much good Spider Man material? And what about continuity? Some are Peter Parker, some are Miles Morales, some are Peter Parker with Doctor Octopus inside his body.

    That's not fair, the Ultimates line has always been a separate continuity, but there's no excuse for the rest of their crap. Rather than releasing good stories Marvel is going "How many titles will the average human buy in a month? Ok, let's create that many. SUCCESS!"

    At least on the other side of the aisle DC is going "How many books will someone buy in a month? Great! Make me that many new characters to go into them!" Some are good, many are terrible, but instead of just creating yet another Superman or Batman book they give a minor character his/her own title and see how it flies.

    1. Too many titles with the same characters? What are you talking about? There's only like six seperate "Avengers" titles and each of the main heroes have their own title (no sub-title for Captain Universe? I am dissapoint!). So at MOST we're talking 20 Avenger related titles. Oh, wait....I see what you mean.