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I love comic book movies but never liked comic books themselves. I had plenty of opportunities as a kid to read them. My cousin collected them, and on days when I was at his house, and it was too hot or cold to play outside, one of the few things to do was read comics. Because of how few I’ve read, I remember almost all of them in good detail. This post is not a product of nerd rage. I have no problem with people liking comic books. I’m simply trying, as best I can, to reconcile my love of the movies with why I don’t like the underlying comics. In short, I’m fine with the underlying source material; I just don’t like the format.
The Seemingly Endless Serial
My biggest issue with the comics is that it takes far too long for the story even to get going, let alone finish. I bought my ticket to see Avengers: Age of Ultron online. That came with a bunch of free web-based comics (one for each Avenger), so I said, “Hey, I love the Thor character, so I guess I’ll give these comics a shot for the first time since middle school. I’ll read the Thor comic, and if I like it, I’ll read the others.” The comic was the first comic in the Gorr the God Butcher storyline. I read it and was left completely unfulfilled. It wasn’t even clear what the overarching plot was. If I had bought that comic, I’d have been disappointed, and there’s no way I’d be willing to wait years for that storyline to play out. Seriously, it must have been at least 24 comics, released once per month. That’s years to read a story that takes less than a week to read. It’s like water torture. Drip, drip, drip, drip….
Graphic Novels Still Suck
So, would I like comics more if I stuck with the graphic novels so that I had the entire story to read quickly? Apparently not. My friend, Erik, lent me the entire Gorr the God Butcher series (two books), and I didn’t enjoy them at all. However, I had very specific criticisms of the story. For example, I can sometimes get angry with people, but that doesn’t grant me, a mere mortal, the ability to fly and exist in the vacuum of space so that I can exact my revenge. It certainly wouldn’t grant me the mind of a god that could process far more information, tactical and otherwise, then a mortal. The entire premise was weak sauce, and it didn’t get much better from there. The only thing that I enjoyed about it was the crazy god that continuously changed his backstory, but that can be explained by what’s in the next section of this post.
So, was it just that story that turned me off? Again, apparently not. Around the same time, I bought a couple of Moon Knight graphic novels. That’s a character I vaguely remember from childhood and would really like to see on the big screen. Still, I didn’t enjoy reading the comics. I can’t point to anything that bothered me within the story. My honest, emotional reaction was simply one of “meh.” I just didn’t like them. (I still want to see Moon Knight on the silver screen.)
Then there’s Walt Simonson’s Ragnarök graphic novel. That is the first time a comic book appealed to me. As readers of this blog (both of you) may remember, I’m an apologist for stories that reference mythology, and Norse mythology is my favorite set of stories. This comic wasn’t as much about the comic book version of Thor, but more about the character from Norse mythology. It was telling a story that could easily have been something the Viking culture believed but never developed because it was post-Ragnarök, and thus post-conversion-to-Christianity. So yeah, I loved it, but that’s explainable, at least in part, based on a different personality quirk of mine. Moreover, I was still mildly upset when I finished the second book and realized I wasn’t reading the entire story. Simonson still has at least one book to go. I’m going to buy it, but I will continue to yell at clouds until I’ve read it. In any event, while this easily could be a matter of Simonson having a style I love, I’ll just chalk this one up to, “There’s an exception to every rule.”
For me, cartoons are supposed to be funny, even if they’re geared towards adults (e.g., Rick and Morty).
Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse receives just as many accolades from my fellow comic book movie nerds as any MCU film does, but I didn’t like it at all. I watched it a second time via the one of ComicBook.com’s Twitter-based, quarantine watch parties hoping that everyone’s enthusiasm would show me a value to the movie that I didn’t appreciate on my first viewing. It didn’t. I didn’t participate at all in the watch party because I didn’t want to badmouth something that everyone else liked, and by the time we got to the climactic ending, I was barely watching.
Why didn’t this movie appeal to me? I’m not entirely sure, especially considering that it carried with it a theme that tends to draw me in. Maybe there was something subtle that drove me away. The only thing that makes this movie stand out from all the other superhero-genre movies I love is that it’s animated (as in drawings of characters). I just don’t think I can get behind an animated movie that, at least on the surface, takes itself too seriously. CGI on a human actor is fine, but it’s clear from my viewing history that animated movies and shows must be funny first and serious second for me to like them. Until I can think of at least two exceptions, I’m sticking to that. By the way, the same appears to be true for puppets. I’m looking at you, Dark Crystal. Meh.
Yeah, this is weird, but I am who I am, and who are you to judge?