Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DC Comics and Me#2

Below is the cover to the first Superman comic I ever bought.

The image of Clark Kent hurling away his Superman suit from my first DC comic seems appropriate as I reflect on the end of my time as a DC reader. 

What has brought this journey to an end? 

Well, as is said in too many relationship break ups, it's not you, it's me. And to a certain extent its true. I turned 50 this past year. That's not to say I or anyone can be too old to read comics, even super hero comics. But its important to realize in anything that entertains us and brings us joy, it's always good to reassess one's tastes and preferences. 

When I first began down the road of being a comic book fan, I was drawn not just to super heroes but a certain type of super hero story that DC did better than Marvel. I preferred self-contained stories of larger than life characters.  As I grew older and discovered Marvel with its sprawling narratives and flawed characters, I realized this was perhaps more appealing to my maturing sensibilities. 

Except I stuck with DC because just as I was reaching this sea change in my attitudes towards comics, DC began adopting more Marvel-like approaches to story telling, helped by Marvel creators like Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler and more making their way from the House of Ideas to the Distinguished Competition

It was the advent of the New Teen Titans by Wolfman and Perez that opened my eyes to what could be done with DC's line of super stars. Read today, Titans seems at times to have been written with a sledgehammer but really,most Bronze Age comics aiming for more complex characterization kind of feel that way today. But the importance of Wolfman and Perez and the Teen Titans to DC Comics and to me as a reader cannot be overestimated. At a time when I should have been focusing on Marvel or independent publishers or even dropping the comics habit completely, I was excited by DC Comics again. 

But all good things must end. While Marv Wolfman would continue with the Titans for many years to come, it was to diminishing returns and without George Perez. Marv & George were still working together but on a different book, a little project called Crisis on Infinite Earths

At the time, Crisis was MAJOR. A line wide crossover of epic proportions that portended real and significant changes to the DC Universe. By this point I had been reading DC Comics for about 10 years and like a lot of fans out there, I had no idea what was going to happen next. So as I moved into my young adult years, DC still held sway over my imagination and my pocketbook. 

And after the events of Crisis, I fell down the DC rabbit hole even further. John Byrne, Marvel's golden boy from X-Men and the Fantastic Four, came to DC with the task of revamping Superman. The star of the first comic book I ever bought was getting a makeover. More accurately, it was getting a do-over.

Following John Bryne's Superman set the stage for my DC buying habits for the next 20 years.

To be continued next week.   

Carl Kasell

I was saddened to hear of the death of Carl Kasell, a distinctive voice on NPR’s "Morning Edition" and "Wait, Wait ... Don...