Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the Current Age, and the Age Yet to Come

If The Mindless Ones are to be believed, we are currently living in the Prismatic Age of Superhero Comics.

Details to be found here and here.

That was roughly three years ago. I'm a little late to the party, but it can't be helped. I am on the west coast of the U.S. They are in the U.K., and will always be about a third of a day ahead of me.

If you detect stylistic similarities between these two blogs, good for you, they are intentional. It occurred to me that if this is the age of the prismatic superhero, who is so often running into variations on his or her self, that a Prismatic blog about superhero comics should be entirely appropriate. Thus, here we are, slightly aping the style of a somewhat older blog. Adding our own particular wavelength to the spectrum. This is not intended to be antagonistic, I enjoy the Ones' observations. It is more of a variation on a theme.

Assuming you have read the two blog entries linked to up above, you have read Botswana Beast's take on the current Age. I, more or less, agree with it. I like the idea especially of Comic Book Ages being defined by qualities of light, rather than metals. The Gold, Silver, Bronze, Iron progression seems to suggest that comics have been going through a decades long alchemical debasement. Will we be left with a Tin Age, A Lead Age? Perhaps, we'll reach the Dross Age somewhere in the 2030s. Just in time for a certain super someone's 100th birthday.

The obvious question: What's next?

The Beast suggests:

The Laser Age-

An Age of hyper focused superheroes. I'll be honest, I don't really get it. I've looked around at some of the Ones' writings on the topic, but I'm still not quite sure I'm grokking it. Is it, like, very direct non-meandering stories that try stay as focused as possible on the immediacy of the character in the present and their immediate surroundings without pandering to nostalgia? That has a certain sort of punk ethos charm to it. Would it be something, say, along the lines of the plotting style evident in Batman: The Animated Series and it's other DCAU offshoots?

-I have some ideas of my own about the future.

The Diffuse Age-

A time when superheroes become completely ubiquitous in popular media other than comic books. Movies, TV series, books, you name it. The big two sink even further into their roles as idea development tanks of their corporate masters, helping them part adolescent boys from their cash.

The upside might be that, in a pop culture atmosphere supersaturated with the superheroic, comics readers get sick of it all, and the comics market develops into one that can readily support lots of different genres as some guy once told me the markets in Europe and Japan do. Overly idealistic?

Yes, in spades.

-Or how does this grab you?

The Negative Age-

An Age marked by narratives as frequently centered on the villains as the heroes. Villain protagonists are already quite popular in some places. The Emmy winning AMC series Breaking Bad, for example, centers on a meth cooking school teacher and his youthful partner in crime. Pat Cornell's current Lex Luthor centered run on Action Comics seems like it might point t in this direction. There was also Joker's Asylum from a few years back, and the continuing publication of Secret Six, all of which seems to suggest that there is an audience for this sort of thing.

I for one wouldn't mind a return to something like the Joker solo series of the seventies, updated for the present. They needn't be altogether overwhelmingly dark either.

Dream with me for a moment. Imagine a storyline where the government wants to defund Arkham Asylum. The Joker can't stand to lose his favorite vacation home between bloody havoc trails, and so must convince his fellow inmates to put on a show to raise the money needed, using their various villainous talents. Of course he probably has enough cash to pay for it all himself, but it's the principal that counts.


Just three thought experiments on the future. Those who wish to dispute may 'spute away in the comments.

In addition to essays more or less like this one, I hope to have some semi-regular features.

Space Medicine-

A look back at neglected characters, aspects, and concepts to see what, if anything, the present can learn from them.


Exactly what it says. Reviews of comics, present and past. Future too, if we can manage that one.

I also hope to explore the manifestations of superheroes and other entities from the comics as they exist in other media. Movies, video games, coffee mugs, etc...

Time to live up the end of one age and, we hope, usher in the new.

Make comics better, Let's.
Let's better comics, make.
Let's make comics better.
Let's make better comics.

P.S. If you came here looking for information about GLBTQ creators,characters, and depictions in comics try Prism Comics. They are awesome and predate Botswana Beast's use of the term prism in relation to comics.

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