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Friday, December 01, 2006

A better place than this

So, I was reading Checkmate #8 the other day. Now, I really dig Checkmate; I think it's a fabulously written title with excellent art, and beyond that, I think it's a book the DC Universe badly needs, if only to show a darker, more mundane and down to earth side of the DC metareality. (I'm under no illusions as to how long it will last, mind you; Checkmate is not a book that's ever going to appeal to a large audience. Yet, still, it's a book the DC Universe really needs, even if it isn't going to have it for very much longer.)

Anyway, as I was reading it, a thought suddenly came to me -- well, more like a full blown realization, an abrupt epiphany, a sudden flash of insight.

Now, over here, I've described at great and tedious length exactly what I feel the essential difference between the Silver Age and the Modern Age of comics is -- specifically, that the Silver Age ended, and the Modern Age began, when the suits took over, and the creators assigned to each particular book were no longer really in charge of what happened to the universes and the characters living in them. When the characters and the worlds they lived in stopped being treated as real people and places, and started to be utilized more in terms of merchandise and market share -- that, to me, is the real end of the Silver Age.

But as I read this particular issue of Checkmate, another primal difference between Ages occurred to me:

In the Silver Age, it was possible for a diehard funny book fan to actually want to live in either the Marvel or the DC Universe. It was an enjoyable daydream. You might not want to be a normal person there (we can do that here, after all) but the notion of being a superhero in either reality, and getting to hang out with your favorite other superheroes, was an attractive one.

In the Modern Age, though... well... not so much.

It's not that there aren't, and haven't been, any good Modern Age comics. It's just that, since the Silver Age went away, neither the Marvel Universe nor the DC Universe has seemed like a particularly desirable residence any more. I read the comics, when they're well written, and I enjoy them... but I wouldn't want to live in those worlds any more. Hell, I wouldn't even want to visit. Worse, I wouldn't want to hang around with the people who do live there. Who wants to be a member of the JLA these days, after Dr. Light has raped Sue Dibney, Jean Loring has gone nuts, Batman is building killer satellites, and half the League are messing with the memories of most of their villains as well as the other half of the League?

And it's hardly just the DC Universe. Who wants to be an Avenger now, with the mansion blown up and everybody fighting everybody else and the government demanding that everyone unmask and get a license to be a superhero?

These universes are just no fun any more. Certain aspects of them may be well executed, and that's fine... but I no longer fantasize about actually living in them. In point of fact, the idea pretty much repels me.

I think that's sad. I suppose, in a way, it's healthy... but that's only if we all accept that escapism is, in and of itself, essentially unhealthy, a particularly egregious social myth I myself have never bought into.

Anyway. That's yet another reason why, for the most part, I miss the Silver Age, and prefer it to the Modern Age. In the Silver Age, if any red blooded face frontin' True Believer, of either universe, had a chance to jump through a portal into either the DC or the Marvel Universe, they'd leap without a second thought, especially if they thought they'd be super powered on the other side.

Nowadays, though... nah. The whole idea is just depressing. Even if you could have super powers, what's the point? There are no heroes any more; the villains are all insanely powerful, and the government is messing in everyone's business anyway.

Might as well stay here.

Like I said... I just think that's sad.


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