Friday, May 2, 2014

Dating the Marvel/DC Universe

My relationship with comic books has become a little like a weird dating scene. 

DC and I used to be incredibly close. 
Any new title, I was there, being supportive and loving. 
No matter what the villains did, I had faith that the heroes would be… Well… Heroes. 


Then DC started getting weird on me. 


Too dark.

I don't mean that I was ever that into DC's BIF! POW! phase, but at least it was charming. 
This was different.

Suddenly, everyone had to be alone. 

NO one was allowed to have friends. 
Not even Superman

Characters like Bruce Wayne suddenly had no cares about family or legacy, which were pretty much key points to said characters. 

Worst of all, I watched as DC started treating women very badly.

Women who had been there since the beginning were killed off.

Women who had been plot movers and game changers were erased entirely.

Women who were smart and caring and all manner of other things were reduced to objects for the men. 

I was hurt.

…DC had broken my heart and I felt embarrassed to say I had ever been a fan.

DC threw away YEARS of our time together like I had meant nothing. 

After all, I was just another woman. 

Disheartened, I went to the comic book store. 
It was time to move on and shop around for someone new, right?

…Was I ready to move on?

Dark Horse was there, of course. 
Dark Horse and I always had a good time when we were together, but we hardly got to see each other anymore.

I found myself not having much to talk about beyond old titles from our history together. 
It was difficult to find any new ground. 

Still, Dark Horse was comforting in my hour of graphic novel need.

Madman never let me down...


I wanted something more steady.

I wanted something that could give me movies so I could talk about characters with other fans who hadn't read the comics. 
Or someone with cartoons-
…like DC. 


I missed DC.

Batman: The Animated Series…

You know, DC is still good for an animated movie once in a while, but no one else seems to pay any attention to it, so it feels like some kind of dirty secret.

I wind up saying, "NO!  You don't understand!  DC isn't like that!  You just don't know DC like I do!"  …And then I realize what that sounds like.


In the back of the room, looking all cool…

There was Marvel.

Now, I knew Marvel in passing. 
I mean, my father hung out with Marvel just as much as he had DC, so I thought I had a good idea of what Marvel was all about.

Back in the day, I had pushed Marvel away when I saw what the Fantastic Four were like to each other. 
They were mean in the comics, replacing key characters at the drop of a hat.
Plus, there was that time where EVERYONE was a mutant. 

Of course… 

There was Iron Man.

Iron Man had been good to me.
Even as a playboy, Tony wasn't outright cruel to anyone. 
Iron Man was allowed to have friends.
He had been with me even when I left for art school, and honestly, I realize that I just kind of… 

Well, I ignored him. 

I hadn't really given Iron Man a chance. 

You know…

I hadn't given a lot of Marvel a chance. 
I guess I judged all of the characters by their friends. 

Still, Marvel had never peaked my interest before. 

I mean, Marvel just wasn't DC.

…But maybe that was the whole point. 
Maybe I needed Marvel for that very reason.

What was Marvel going to do with someone like me though?

Marvel spotted me as I stood there among all the options.
Marvel said, "I know it's been a while, but I'm different now.  You've grown up, and I've grown up too."

That set up a red flag for me. 
After all, DC was "different" now. 
More "grown up" too.

DC had started wearing the name tag of "New 52" and started all that awful violence with no purpose, heroes with no friends… 
Sexist, racist, AND it carried right over into the movies! 
And I just-

"No, no" Marvel said, putting a cool hand up, "It isn't like that.  What I've done?  I call it Ultimate.  You'll see.  Just give me a chance.  There's women.  We even brought some back from the dead!  There's people of color in real hero roles.  No more sidelines bullshit.  Trust me.  Just give me one try." 
Marvel handed me something Hawkeye related.

Clint Barton and…  Kate Bishop? 

And the movies! 

MY GOD the movies.

Marvel put hands in coat pockets, shrugging while giving me a disclaimer, "Sure, people still get sexualized, but you never had a problem with that, right?"  Marvel blushed. 
We started laughing together. 
I guess Marvel was paying attention. 

After all, in Marvel films, it was an even playing field. 
Marvel added, "I mean, Black Widow's zipper may go down a little at one point, but the camera stays on Captain America's butt for like 80% of the film."

Now, I knew DC had been trying. 
Batwoman showed promise, some of the other female characters were being brought back in...
But I just didn't trust DC anymore. 

...I wanted to. 

I was still hurt.  I needed time.

DC needed time.

It was the recent films that really turned me off to DC, though I did find the action packed whatever-the-Hell-they-were entertaining. 

They were nice to look at, but the characters I knew and loved were nowhere to be found, replaced by soulless, angry, violent, frightening-

They weren't heroes anymore. 

And where the Hell was Wonder Woman???

Comics be damned, it is a new world and I just can't be satisfied anymore without good, live-action films. 
What about MY needs, DC?

for now,
I have to move on.

Marvel stood, waiting patiently by the door with two tickets for yet another Marvel film. 

I looked longingly over at DC…
"Well," I said, taking the Marvel comic to the register, "We'll always have Batman: The Animated Series."