I rant and rail at comic books and I’m sure there are people who think, “S.J., calm down. You’re talking about comic books. It’s no big deal.” And yes, that’s technically true. In the big picture, nothing really matters. But comic books do matter on the small scale, and I rant and rail because I see so much potential in the medium, and to see it squandered through cheap thrills and lazy writing saddens me. But why? Well, here’s why:
1) On Tuesday morning, my roommate and I had a spirited discussion on what would happen if Ghost Rider tried to use the Penance Stare on Apocalypse. My roommate posited that this was predicated on Apocalypse having eyeballs to even look into. This led me to question if the Penance Stare had to be directed into eyeballs and if those eyeballs had to be capable of sight; i.e., would this work on Daredevil? Eventually we decided if a being had optic nerves that were anatomically capable of sight even if damaged, the Penance Stare should work, but if a being didn’t have optic nerves as such or Ghost Rider could not see the eyes, then it wouldn’t work, because magic is very, very specific. So the Penance Stare wouldn’t work on Daredevil because Daredevil’s mask does not actually have eye-holes, but it would work on Matt Murdoch sans sunglasses. So having established the premise of Ghost Rider meeting Apocalypse’s eyes, would the Penance Stare work? We figure Apocalypse can’t have much of a soul. Being gamers, we decided to fall back on the Marvel RPG stats and decided Apocalypse would have to make a Psyche roll to resist the Stare. However, Apocalypse has a pretty good Psyche because he’s a) very old and b) very deranged (so he’s really hard to shock or surprise in any way).
2) I have a co-worker I frequently talk to about comic books. He’s old enough to retire, if that were possible in this current economic situation. As we work in a STEM field, I correctly ascertained his favorite superhero was of course Spider-man. His first Halloween costume was, in fact, Spider-man. My youngest nephew, who is young enough to be my co-worker’s grandson (so we’re talking a significant age gap here), is dressing up for the first time this Halloween and his first costume is going to be, yes, Spider-man (although I think the kid’s big enough to be the Hulk). He is also the person who lent me the books on Marvel superhero and supervillain origins I waxed poetically about. He and my youngest nephew are two whole generations apart, and have never met, and yet they are already joined by Spider-man fandom.
3) I was attempting to explain to my supervisor why I have Rocket Raccoon wallpaper on my office computer. The answer is that Rocket Raccoon is surprisingly bad-ass for an anthropomorphic raccoon (and not actually a raccoon as such). My supervisor simply did not understand the awesomeness of this, and so I tried to explain more about the Guardians of the Galaxy. He remained unconvinced, I’m afraid, but a co-worker I had not really spoken to before suddenly offers from his cubicle, “I am GROOT!” Lo and behold he has been a Marvel fan from way back when although he now is getting into DC (possibly because the stories are actually new to him). He remembers purchasing Giant-size X-men #1! Which of course he either gave away, sold, or lost. But anyway, the following conversation (paraphrased) then transpired:
Co-worker – So who’s your favorite?
Me – Well, there are so many, and it depends on the time period, you know?
Co-worker – *Knowing nod*
Me – My favorite X-man is Storm. She kicks ass!
Co-worker – Yeah, Storm is pretty cool. I thought you’d say Wolverine.
Me – Well, I like Wolverine, but Wolverine’s everywhere, you know?
Co-worker – I know! Isn’t it time we get over Wolverine?
4) A different co-worker was talking about sports with another cube-dweller catty-corner for me and saw my Rocket Raccoon desktop wallpaper. He pauses in his conversation and says, “Cool.”
This is why I rant and rail. Any medium with fans has the ability to give people from widely differing backgrounds common ground. We can all geek out together. Comic books have a long history and potentially a large and varied fanbase. What I rant and rail against is the heads of the big companies putting comics into this little box and assuming only certain people buy their comics and therefore they only cater to those people. They don’t try to expand their market; they only try to grasp tighter onto what they think their market is while ignoring the reality. I rant and rail against lazy writing and bad art and harmful stereotypes because the more that kind of stuff is published the less likely it will be when I am old enough to retire that the newbie just hired will perhaps be a fan as well.
One day perhaps my youngest nephew’s child (so my great-nephew/niece) will also dress as Spider-man for his/her first Halloween. We could geek out together. That would be so awesome.