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I don’t like the Avengers

by  in Comic News Comment
I don’t like the Avengers

There.  I said it.

I was going to call this post “WHY I don’t like the Avengers,” but to tell the truth, I don’t know why.  I have recently read the two big hardcover editions of Busiek and Perez’s Avengers, collecting issues #1-22 plus some annuals.  They’re fine.  The Ultron story – cool.  The art – gorgeous.  The “outsider perspective” that we get on the team from Vance and Angelica – nifty.  But they don’t thrill me.  It’s freakin’ Busiek and Perez!  Why don’t they thrill me?

I feel the same way about a lot of comic book characters, and I was thinking about it as I was writing the post about this month’s Previews.  It’s not that I have any particular animus toward said characters, but I’m just not interested in them.  On the other hand, there are some comic book characters I have an inordinate love for, with really no logic behind it.  I have a feeling this is true for most people.  Allow me to elaborate.

With creator-owned properties, there’s no problem.  If you don’t like Jesse Custer or Elijah Snow or Cerebus or King Mob, you simply never have to buy the comics in which they appear.  That’s fine.  I can deal with that – there are plenty of creator-owned comics I have had no interest in, usually because I don’t like the talent involved or even the stories involved.  With mainstream comic books, however, it’s a bit more difficult.

Talent changes.  This is hardly a revelation, but this presents a problem.  When Busiek took over Avengers, I actually bought the first five issues.  I like Busiek’s writing and dig Perez’s art (even though, interestingly enough, I hardly own anything drawn by Perez).  But again, they didn’t thrill me.  Then I thought I wasn’t giving them a fair shake, hence the purchase of the two big hardcover books.  I wouldn’t consider them money wasted, because they are good superhero books, but they don’t make me want to run out and buy the rest of the series or become an Avengers acolyte.  I felt the same thing with the big hardcover collecting the first part of Waid and Wieringo’s run on Fantastic Four.  Again, good superhero stories, and the Doom story was excellent.  But I don’t really have a desire to go out and get the other collections, nor do I plan on buying FF in the future.  This extends back to the “golden age” of Fantastic Four, mind you.  I bought the first two volumes of the Essentials, collecting issues #1-40, and I also own the first two volumes of John Byrne’s run on the book, collecting issues #232-250 (I haven’t read the second volume yet, however).  I enjoy them all, and again, wouldn’t consider them a waste of money or time, but they don’t thrill me.  On the other hand, I have eagerly bought up all seven volumes of the Essential Spider-Mans (Amazing edition) and I’m getting a little impatient for the next one.  Let’s go, Marvel!

This works for DC books, too.  I got the Waid’s storyline in Flash leading up to issue #100, as well as the Morrison/Millar issues.  Neither of them changed my mind about the Flash, which is he’s just a guy who runs fast.  I bought the first year of the second Green Lantern series (the one with Pat Broderick on art for a while – that was the second one, right?), but again, nothing.  It’s not that I don’t like the concept of Green Lantern, I just don’t have any interest in reading a series devoted strictly to that concept.

There are a bunch of other characters like that from both companies.  Don’t even get me started on Superman – yes, I’m reading All Star Superman, but that’s a rare instance where the talent overwhelms my apathy about the character.  As I’ve mentioned often enough, I didn’t read comics when I was a child, and this is why I will always be behind the curve when it comes to arcane knowledge about every superhero who has ever existed, and why I don’t really get the Pieface meme making the rounds.  I mean, I get it, but it doesn’t have any kind of resonance with me.  I didn’t accumulate hundreds of old beat-up comics for pennies and page through them hundreds of times on summer afternoons and integrate the knowledge of Steve Gerber’s Defenders (to use a recent example of Mr. Hatcher’s) or Englehart’s JLA or even the various idiotic Superman spin-offs.  Therefore, I don’t have an irrational love for certain iconic characters, and won’t follow them wherever they go and whoever writes and draws their adventures.

That’s not to say I don’t have an irrational love of certain characters.  I own every single comic book with the words “Moon Knight” on the cover, even the second series (six big issues) and the two mini-series from the late 1990s.  I have reached a point these days where if the current series starts to suck, I will drop it, but because of my irrational love for Marc Spector and all his fun personalities, I will give it more rope than usual.  I still love Batman, even though I can drop his titles as I see fit.  But I want to buy them.  I love Spider-Man, despite dropping the current book at issue #500 because I just thought JMS was going off the rails.  I bought the old Amazing Spider-Man well past the date when it was any good, and it’s partly because the books were cheaper and partly because I loved the character so much.  And, of course, I love the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe, particularly my three favorite X-people of all time: Rogue, Psylocke, and Dazzler.  Where is Essential Dazzler, Marvel, huh?  WHERE?????

I think a lot of our irrational love of mainstream superhero books does come from our formative years, especially if we started buying comics when they were cheaper and we could afford to be “completists,” even if the stories sometimes sucked.  I have mentioned before that I bought Uncanny X-Men through the late 1990s, with Seagle and Bachalo doing awful things to it and Alan Davis trying his best but failing to add something interesting.  I bought it through thirty or so issues of Chuck Austen completely missing the point of the X-Men and almost tearing the entire edifice down.  I bought it through the manga-ing of the books, even though I loathed the art.  Austen finally drove me from the title, but I held on longer than I should have.  I’m sure plenty of you have done the same with other books.

Which brings me back to my original point (I did have one, I swear).  Why don’t I like the Avengers?  Or the Fantastic Four?  Or Flash?  Or Green Lantern?  Or the JSA?  Or Dr. Strange?  Or Superman?  And why do I like Batman, Moon Knight, and Spider-Man?  While I was recommending things from Previews, it struck me that there are certain things you (and I) will not buy, no matter how many people tell you it’s great.  There are certain things you will continue to buy, no matter how many people tell you it sucks.  And that’s fine.  It’s fascinating, because some people get really bent out of shape if you dare criticize their choices.  I don’t care if you don’t like Moon Knight.  I think it’s excellent, but if you don’t, it’s not going to change my views.  We here at yonder blog try to let you know what we think is good and what is not, and I know I’ve influenced a few people to try something different, which is great, but really I’m just one person with unique tastes.  I think it’s very weird that there are certain books that I simply know I won’t buy.  I can’t explain it because it’s not rational.  Kind of like my love of comic books in general.

Any ideas why we don’t like certain characters?  And what are some characters you will not buy no matter what, as well as characters you will buy even though Chuck Austen is writing them?  Let’s hear the irrational hate and love, people!

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