Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Big 2, Sex, Violence, Death and Readership

A small fire broke out when Justice League of America #4 hit the racks last week and it rekindled a lesson in Comic Book Debating 101. Spoilers ahead if you haven't read JLA #4 yet.

You have been warned.

In the pages of said JLA #4, Catwoman takes a brutal gunshot to the head, all shown on panel. The debate has begun if it was Catwoman in the first place. Also being talked about is that if it was in fact Catwoman, then she has either just spent one of her nine lives or with all of happenings about to take place in the DCU, she will quickly be resurrected. Plus, there has been no mention of Catwoman's solo title being cancelled. That's not the point though. A greater debate followed which brought about a ton of things that may be all interconnected in the comic book industry and how they affect each other.

For reference when “core characters” are mentioned, the characters being referenced are: Batman, Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor. The JLA, Fantastic Four and Avengers in general may be under that umbrella as well. Characters and teams such as Wolverine, Catwoman, Teen Titans, the X-Men and even some villains may be up for debate based on how they have been marketed towards younger audiences.

I don't think any of these ever really leave when talking comics, but here is the list that JLA #4 has brought up:

1. Marketing of core characters of the Big 2 to children through toys, games, television, clothing and other items.

2. Lack or low number of kids or all ages comics of core characters from the Big 2

3. Do DC and Marvel have a responsibility in the storytelling of their core characters in comics because of the marketing towards younger audiences? If not, how does this affect the next wave/generation of new readers?

4. Is the "kids aren't buying/reading comics" argument still valid as libraries and schools continue to add comics to their reading material for kids? Are their more kids at comic shops (with or without their parents) these days buying/reading comics?

5. Do the Big 2’s comics of core character need to be for kids or just accessible to kids as part of the reading audience?

6. Should the Big 2’s comics of core characters contain any material that makes the comics unfriendly to younger audiences? The female audience?

7. Is the use of sex, death and hyper/over the top violence used too much as crutch in modern comic storytelling?

8. The comparison of today’s writers versus the writers working under the Comics Code Authority.

9. Comparing the Big 2’s comics of core characters and the reading audiences of today against those from ten, twenty, thirty and forty years ago.

10. Does the direct market share any responsibility in how comic storytelling has changed over the years?

11. Why are the stories in the Big 2 comics of core characters not more accessible to younger audiences?

12. Can today’s comics of core characters be written in an all ages style and still be successful? Are today’s writers talented/creative enough to do that?

13. Is it in the best interest of the Big 2 to have the comics of their core characters more accessible to younger readers?

14. Violence/death or the illusion thereof against women, and how it is used either just for shock value or to push the male hero into vengeance mode and what affect this has on female readership.

That's one whopper of a comic book conversation there and I know that I've forgotten something from some of the other conversations I've seen or been a part of.

So have it comic fandom, debate to your heart's desire.

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