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Saturday, November 26, 2022 

A writer who finds the comics better than the movies

A writer at Lit Reactor tells why he thinks the original comics are better than the movies adapted from them:
“You can have one of these two things for the rest of your life, and the other will go away forever: comic books or comic book movies. Now CHOOSE!”

I guess the genie got the part of the training where you say “Now CHOOSE!” in a scary voice, probably a key element of genie-ing.

I’d pick comic books over comic book movies. Easy. I wouldn’t even have to think that hard about it.

Because, for me, comic books are just a lot better than comic book movies. In fact...while I would say comic books are my favorite thing to read, comic book movies are pretty far down on the list of my favorite things to watch, down there among the Scandinavian detective shows that I only watch half an episode of, and while the sweaters are admirable, I just don't care.

Comics are just plain better entertainment than comic book movies.
He goes on to explain why, but I think I'll put in my own viewpoint why comics are better than movies, and certainly what was published up to the turn of the century: because much like books, you can enjoy a lot more quiet, and not have so many special effects crammed in your face, while a barrage of Dolby Stereo blares into your ears. Also, there was a time when comicdom dealt convincingly enough with challenging issues that are rarely the focus of these blockbusters, if at all (race relations, drug trafficking, in example). When the movie adaptations are reduced to little more than the spectacle of heroes facing one or two villains, like the Joker in the 1989 Batman movie, what good is that? It's actually kind of obvious when they go that route and make it almost the entire point. If that's all the movie adaptations can amount to, they're not accomplishing much, IMO.

The article, however, decidedly dampens the impact when it cites the following modern writer:
Being part of a subculture is an opportunity that only comes around here and there, and it's an opportunity you have to grab. Comic books are one of those rare opportunities. Read Chip Zdarsky's Spectacular Spider-Man 310. Trust me, you don't need to know anything about Spider-Man other than what you already know, it's heartfelt, it's fun, and it's the perfect passageway from the monoculture and into the subculture.
Just why must one of comicdom's decidedly overrated modern writers matter, but not the Spidey writers up to the turn of the century? I say that as somebody who got burned on mainstream fare years ago, especially after Joe Quesada erased the Spider-marriage, and as revealed recently, C.B. Cebulski refuses to restore it. With that kind of editorial mandating, there's no genuine entertainment in store. This is why it's actually foolish to say you needn't know a thing about Spidey other than what you "already know". Because it risks obscuring some of the worst directions taken in the mid-2000s.

And then, the article writer just had to follow the mainstream narrative about Master of Kung Fu:
When the Shang-Chi movie came out, you could read all about the comic book's racist origins, especially with the character's father, Fu Manchu, and the ways those things would be scrubbed from the movie (which was the right choice).

The book has racist nonsense, and it has some interesting stuff, too. Shang-Chi is more like James Bond than he is like Bruce Lee. He has complicated romantic relationships. Shang-Chi has to choose a path that pits him against his own father, who he was raised to believe would save the world.

Looking at troubling things and deciding whether or not you can love them despite their flaws is...complicated. And I think, for media savvy adults, looking at complicated things is good.
Well yes, but I still think it's ill-advised to follow the mainstream social justice narrative wholesale, and say MOKF is literally racist. Surely it's fair to argue that if it was, it wasn't intentional? The writer also argues comics can teach you to get over it:
Spider-Man 3 is considered a famously bad comic book movie, and that's probably a little unfair, but people are still, to this day, bashing on Spidey 3. And Batman & Robin. And, to a lesser extent, Daredevil.

With comics, you sort of expect bad stories to crop up. Captain America was a werewolf. "Clone Saga" still sets my Spidey Sense a tinglin'. The Hulk was grey and smart and worked at a casino. Punisher came back from the dead as a Frankenstein? An angel? I don't know, as a thing, occasionally with a very manga art style.

And, sure, when you read these storylines, you start googling to see which comic book writers have since admitted to using a lot of psychedelics in their heyday.

The difference between the bad movies and the bad comics is that you get over the bad comics pretty quickly. Because there's another one just down the road. It's not a multi-hundred-million-dollar affair that'll involve a huge undertaking. It's another 20-some pages and 30 days away.

Sometimes, shitty things get made. That's life.
Absolutely. But there comes a time when it simply becomes way too much, and by the early 2000s, Marvel/DC could no longer withstand the increasing political correctness that've destroyed them to date. Since he brought up Capt. America, is turning him into a werewolf as bad as turning his whole adventures into apologia for anti-Americanism and Islamic terrorism? That Marvel Knights series from 2002-04 was one of the most unreadable trash piles ever produced, and it curiously goes unmentioned here. Say, and why is he suggesting the Hulk working at a casino during Peter David's run was bad? It was pretty good, as it so happens. There's a reason David successfully filled the writing helm for nearly a dozen years. If anything could be considered a shame, it's when Betty Banner was poisoned into death limbo towards the end of David's run, all because he was mad Bob Harras wanted to reverse much of what he'd built up. And while that may be a shame, it doesn't solve anything take out one's anger on characters not created by the assigned writer. Though there's a valid point that can be made how Harras clearly had some blame to shoulder for not opposing what David did with Betty. How come that doesn't factor in here?

And if he's going to cite stories that were hardly considered the worst of their kind from decades past, then come to think of it, what good does it do to make this argument? Certainly, the points made about the Clone Saga are worthy. But the way he cites the Hulk story is decidedly laughable, and so too decidedly is turning Cap into a werewolf, when you have a much worse story from the early 2000s that'd make a better complaint for what went wrong in scriptwriting history. (Besides, if memory serves, J. Jonah Jameson's piloting son, John Jameson, was once turned into a werewolf in the Bronze Age, and you don't hear many complaints about that.) The comics can be better than movies, yes. But if you're going to cite bad examples from the comics, you should at least bring up the worst examples from the time the mainstream really went down the drain, in the early 2000s. Otherwise, it's all much too easy.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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