Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Few Words on Comics

Yes, stop the presses, Diana has something to say about the funnybooks again.

I'm at a point where my monthly reading list is down to almost nothing: I've got Mike Carey's "X-Men: Legacy", "Fables" and "Jack of Fables", and Peter David's "X-Factor", and to be quite honest, I could probably drop the latter three without feeling too badly. It's been a year, almost down to the day, since I quit the Savage Critics out of sheer apathy for the mainstream. I don't even bother with the news websites anymore.

In short, I've lost faith in comics. There was a time, not too long ago, where it seemed like a more mature, sophisticated kind of storytelling was on the rise; talented and unorthodox writers were pulling various properties out of stagnation and telling new, interesting stories. Instead, the past six or seven years have been spent in rapid regression across the board, with Marvel and DC degenerating into a distressingly-warped fraternity mindset that panders not to its audience but to itself. I've seen instances of bad judgment that utterly confound me: Batman pissing himself, Spider-Man selling his wife to Satan, Superman reconnecting with America by walking around, rage kitties, radioactive sperm, costumes with spikes on the inside, and more contrived writer's fiat than the Bible.

The days of "X-Statix", "Runaways" and "Alias" are long gone.

But every once in a while, I get curious and pick up a new miniseries, just to see what's being done. Nine times out of ten I find nothing of interest, but sometimes I catch a real gem like "The Umbrella Academy" or "Iron Man: Noir". It's worth the effort.

This week I picked up the second issue of "Neonomicon", written by Alan Moore.

Now, I have a complicated relationship with the works of Alan Moore. On the one hand, his stories have changed the way I perceive comics - and I'm not just referring to the obvious ones. No, I'm talking about "Miracleman", "The Ballad of Halo Jones", "Top 10" - stories that have nowhere near the level of recognition you'd find for "Watchmen" or "V For Vendetta", but are powerful and brilliant works nevertheless. On the other hand, it's no secret that Moore's apparently gone mad, content to publish lesbian slashfic and utterly impenetrable odes to Victorian literature.

I should also note that "Neonomicon" is published by Avatar, which I'll admit should've set off some warning bells. But still, I thought, it's Alan Moore. Surely he's got something clever up his sleeve - or at the very least, something worth reading.

What I found was a nonsense plot that aims for Lovecraft and hits Uwe Boll, concluding with a horrific gang-rape scene that goes on and on for five pages. It's explicit, it's vile, it's gratuitous, it's something Garth Ennis would've claimed as his own with great beaming pride.

Brought to you by Alan Moore.

The fact that I find myself physically disgusted by the work of a creator I once idolized is rather depressing. The thought that I can no longer distinguish between an Alan Moore story and a Garth Ennis story seems even worse. Like a death knell for... not the glory days per se, but the hope that the glory days could come around again. Instead, the old titans have gone mad and their replacements are puerile twats, and right now, as I desperately struggle to forget this awful, awful book, I can't help but feel like it's just one more justification to be done with the mainstream once and for all.