I admit here to start off, I'm a comic book nerd. I've made X-men and Sandman Kisses, as well as a Harley Quinn doll. I still get lots of comics, and follow them with differing amounts of enthusiasm. I've explained complex plots of Xmen to people. I know their life stories. I'm a little too into my fantasy life, but that doesn't just apply to books with pictures, that applies to real books as well (as well as other things that have never been and never will be published, movies, TV series, and things I've made up).
Now that that's out of the way, so you know that I'm maybe a little too into this, I'll continue. The topic is the new trend toward "Dark Comics." Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly isn't a very good thing either. People are figuring out that most poeple are unhappy and depressed, and that kids like dark things these days. Just look at the resurrgence of "goth" in pop culture, Marilyn Manson, and a Hot Topic in every mall across America (a little exaggeration at the moment, but give them time).
First culprit for the silly git award: Todd MacFarlane. Yes, I do have a choice few MacFarlane toys, because they're nifty. They're pretty and they look cooler than most toy companies made action figures, because they're selling to a teenage (and older) audience, even if they have forgotten the "action" part of action figures, Resaurus is starting to do it better. And yes, I even used to read Spawn, back in the days when Spawn was new (I was in from the very beginning), back when Image was getting revved up. Spawn at least had a plot, which is more than can be said for most Image Comics. As much as I love Jim Lee's art, Wild Cats just never cut it. Like most Image Comics it was just an excuse for a good artist to draw pretty fight scenes and whatever the hell else he wanted. Never let an artist run a comic unless they actually have some direction, that was what the majority of Image taught us. Leifield's series, I think it might have been Youngblood, even featured a Wolverine rip-off, I don't think he had claws and his costume was a different color, but other than that, it was Wolverine. Pretty sad.
But back to Spawn. I stayed with it for a while, but when I went away to college I stopped looking for it. Image wasn't the most reliable of companies, issues not on time or out of order (another reason to make sure the artists have something in the way of supervision), and I wasn't about to try to figure out how to get a subscription, aside from the fact I'd probably never see any of the issues anyway. So I gave up on Spawn. But the sort of sad thing was, by then I really didn't care. It started off strong, with a pretty decent plot, and a reason for being. But it slowly deteriorated into Spawn moving around fighting monsters, with the occasional interesting bit through in every so many issues. It just became not worth keeping track of anymore. It was dark and oppressive, and that only goes so far before it gets old and annoying and boring.
But for the reason Mr. MacFarlane gets the silly git award. I heard an interview somewhere about him talking about everyone ripping off his idea and everyone coming out with Dark Comics. Oh come off it. Ever heard of Batman dimwit? You just tell me Spawn isn't a rip off of Batman in so many ways. And the Vertigo line of "adult" comics were there before you were, that rare non indy non superhero line. And yes, Preacher is "stealing" the whole angels and demons thing, but since when did you, Mr. Farlane, have a copyright on the middle ages? Like you didn't get that from somewhere else yourself. So don't whine about people ripping you off, unless you want to get an earful of all that you've lifted off others, the list goes on and on.
But be that as it may, whether the trend toward Dark Comics was "started" by MacFarlane or just as a reaction to a world we see as ever scarier, more of the comics out there are turning "dark." I've been a long follower of the Xbooks in one form or another, and while they've had their darker moments in the past (Dark Phoenix, Inferno, the Morlock Masacre, to just name a few), things now seem to be spiraling out of control. Age of Apocalypse seems to have been a glance at things to come, with Apocalypse out of the woodwork again (but then it is nearing the Millenium, or so people think. Newsflash-the calendar is actually off by a bit, the Millenium's already passed. Let's hope God can count better than we can), Magneto back and bad again, the whole Onslaught affair... Even smaller events have turned more sinister, Gambit's participation in the Morlock Masacre caused yet more fragmentation in a severly unstable team. The Xmen have ceased to be a family, which has always been one of their best features.
Goth as I may be to some, my favorite comics have generally not been the dark ones. Oh, I love Sandman with a passion, but there are reasons for that. It had humor, it had history, and it had a damn fine writer who stuck with the book and made it something that connected better than it ever could have with revolving writers. But some of my favorite Marvel books have been the ones with more humor. Excaliber, for instance, was for a long time my favorite. It didn't take itself too seriously, and while shitty things might have been happening in the world, they dealt with it together. There was a glimmer of hope, and hope and humor and what make comics work for me. Of course, after Davis left for good, it fell apart, I didn't care about it as much, it was just going through the motions (until Mr. Ellis briefly made an appearance, he has the talent to make everything miserable yet still a lot of fun). With the whole Brittanic thing and Rachel getting thrown out of time, Excaliber lost its place as the bright spot in comic reading. When it finally did end, I was a little sad, but it was really only a formality to me, it had stopped being great long before. Even one of my favorite Vertigo books was one that was more uplifting, Books of Magic. It had its dark moments, but it mostly dealt with a very inept young man who made a lot of mistakes, did a lot of stupid things, but usually he knew it, and Molly wouldn't spare him the teasing he deserved about it. Now even it has turned sour, Tim has lost Molly, and is being hunted by another version of himself who's been killing Tim's across realities. Tim's stepmother is dead, his stepbrother is a total looney (and a rather dangerous one at that), Tim has thrown away his magic, and its just getting really depressing and dull. Its looking up now, its finding it feet again after a period of everything falling apart. And its being cute and funny and amusing again, which is why I liked it in the first place.
Its just plain boring. Life sucks and then you die. And if you're relly unlucky, your afterlife can suck too. There's no spark. There's nothing to keep me interested. Its just blah. Too many writers are trying to cover up the fact that they can't write and all their ideas suck but just making it all dark and "popular." Stop following the trend boys, try to find a story somewhere in there that actually makes me want to keep reading.