Saturday, August 25, 2012

Superman, Batman, and Modern Comics

I realize this hardly qualifies as a post, but I'm kind of a big fan of what I'd call "authentic" experiences: things that really happened, happened naturally, and that illuminate some truth (large or small).  This truth is small, but here it is:

Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett's run with Superboy in Adventures of Superman back in the mid-90's sure started off with a bang.  In a nearly perfect first issue, they introduce a few new characters and set up an entire story-engine. 

I went to my local comic store today and my kids and I raided the quarter bins for something for my three-year-old son to look at and tear apart.  We left the store with several DC books from the mid-90's:  Robin II #1, Superman something or other ("Massacre in Metropolis" is the cover blurb), Adventures of Superman #501, and Batman Adventures #9.  During a lull in the chaos of two children, I read the Adventures of Superman issue, and I genuinely enjoyed it.  It didn't blow me away the way, say, Miracleman did/does, but it was almost impossible not to read the whole issue.  The story and art were both clean, serviceable, and entertaining.  By "clean" here, I mean that they were both accessible to someone who hadn't read the preceding stories in ten+ years, they both left me wanting to pull out the next issue, and both still satisfied me that I'd gotten a "whole story" even though it continued into the next issue.  In other words, the story had a wrapped-up A-plot and several continuing B-plots, while the art let me see Superboy, gave me dynamic shots of him, but also told the story clearly.

Now, to be fair, the "Massacre" issue of Superman seemed dull and pointless in comparison.  At the same time, at least my children can read the issue without having nightmares about decapitated heads or asking me uncomfortable questions.

I didn't bother with Robin II, as that mini-series' hideous multi-cover over-printing is still a sore-spot with me, and I paged through Batman Adventures simply to admire the art of Mike Parobeck, but by that time my children required attention, so I left them.

As I think about all of the New 52 issues and series that seemed interesting enough to try (few) and those with which I've stuck (far between) and those I'd let my children read (none), I miss those sweet-spot comics like Adventures of Superman #501:  truly entertaining for all ages.  Where have they gone?