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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Is Superman Responsible for the State of Comics Today?

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Yes, I know that title will probably get me in trouble, but let me explain myself. When I was reading Superman comics, it was during the "Triangle Era". This was a decade where each of the Superman titles had the year and a number on their cover, which told you what order to read them in. Each book had it's own creative team and storylines, but the subplots tended to bleed over between them. Also, events in one book would impact the other books.

This led to what has been refereed to as "The Never-Ending Battle" form of storytelling, where issues went (usually) seamlessly into each other. You didn't have to buy each title, since you could follow along in one title and still get a satisfying story, but you have a much wider world open-up to you if you read them all.

Now, on to my theory. Many comics in the 90's tried this kind of thing, but it didn't work out as well. The Batman titles did something along these lines, but usually only for a single storyline that would crossover to everything. The same can be said of the Spider-Man books. No one really reached the pinnacle of those Superman books, though. However, if you look at comics of today, especially DC, it seems like you HAVE to read every title or you don't understand what's going on. I understand wanting to have everything happening impact each title. Heck, I loved that kind of thing in 80's Marvel titles, but those were just passing mentions, not key points of the story.

I think that the people writing comics today probably saw the greatness that was the Triangle Era and thought "What if we did that with EVERYTHING in our line?" Unfortunately, you need a really strong hand at the editing wheel and a lot of coordination between the teams to make it work, and I just don't see that in today's comics. The Superman teams had "Super Summits" about twice a year to work out where things were going and who wanted to do what. Not too hard to do over 3-4 titles, but over an entire line that gets unwieldy.

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