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Thursday, March 22, 2007

A new age of darkness?

An article this week in the Los Angeles Daily News asks, “When, precisely, did comics books get so, well, serious?” It cites the assassination of Marvel’s Captain American and the rape of a superhero’s wife (DC’s “Identity Crisis” from a couple of years ago) as signals of this new seriousness.

My answer to the question is: about 20 years ago. That’s when “Watchmen” and Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” rocked the comics world. So this new, darker atmosphere isn’t exactly new. I do agree, though, that things have gotten even grimmer recently, particularly over at Marvel, with its superheroes torn by “Civil War” and Cap dying and all that. Spider-Man’s even back in black to display his mood these days. And things have gotten bloodier: “Justice League of America” No. 6, in which Solomon Grundy tears off Red Tornado’s hand, then is ripped apart himself by Reddie, is just the latest example.

Good thing, bad thing or just is? I’m OK with it as long as there’s variety: I still want my wise-cracking Spidey in "Ultimate Spider-Man." Comics are supposed to provide an escape, not leave you longing to return to the real world.


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