The Boycott of DC Comics: Pt. 2 (EDITORIAL)
Boycott Of DC Comics Pt.2
It happened one day in the late eighties. (Yep, I kept my nose held high for over 15 years of FanBro-ing).
Well, Tim Burton happened, of course. He took that campy, dying-ass Batman franchise, slapped some Prince and the Revolution on him, put him head to head with Jack Nicholson’s Joker and, by god, at least to me, he made that Dark Knight actually dark, and edgy and, well, intriguing. After watching it a half dozen times or so, I finally broke down and set out to buy my very first DC comic book.
(That’s a lie. Actually I did
buy steal Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, but seriously what little black kid didn’t?)
It was to my favorite little comic shop in Brooklyn Heights, St. Mark’s Comics on Montague Street (now defunct, I hear) that I went. I still felt like I was betraying some kind of sacred covenant among Marvel Heads by doing so, kept looking over my shoulder expecting Stan Lee to be there, shaking his head at me, saying, “You got the nerve to call yourself a True Believer?! And you let Batman get you open??! Nuff said…”
And the shop’s staff – they knew me well – were nodding their heads at me, knowingly, eyes twinkling, knowing I’d gotten sucked in by that other nerd that made even Pee-Wee Herman look cool. They’d probably had a rash of us Marvelites creeping into their store around that time, heads lowered, eyes peeled, tails tucked between our legs. I slinked over to one of the staff, a guy I trusted, and asked him to recommend a, ahem, Batman comic, and without any hesitation, knowing my taste in comics well, lead me over to the DC section (I didn’t even know where it was) and handed me this one:
“Really?” I asked.
“Really!” He replied.
“You wouldn’t be trying to–“
Despite my deep-seated trust issues, I took his word for it and, well, if you’ve read this issue then you know what happened next. If you haven’t, suffice it to say that my DC boycott, at least as far as Batman was concerned, was temporarily lifted. I even came back a few days later, picked up a few more issues, and a T-shirt to boot. (I should say one of the coolest effin’ T-shirts ever).
But, it would be overstating matters to suggest that one classic flick, and a couple of kick-ass graphic novels, were enough to make DC Comics, as a whole, readable and collectable. This boycott lifting was limited to Batman, and that didn’t last long, either. For that was about the time I discovered that honeys, and fresh gear, and honeys, and college text books, not to mention
honeys food, required money, too. (I’d stopped boosting comics years earlier, and had started dropping hard-earned dunkets on them when I became a teen and learned that New York’s finest didn’t need a good reason to mar my record, or crack my head open…any ‘ole reason would do). So, my FanBro-dom, as far as comic book collecting went, was de-prioritized indefinitely.
Years pass…many of them.
Over that time, most of my comic collection had been sold off to finance anything from rent, to an expensive date with a hot babe, to travel costs to the Caribbean with a hot babe, to what have you. I’ve held on to a relative handful of precious jewels from my treasure trove– among them, Peter Parker Spectacular Spider Man #1, the Gwen Stacy / Green Goblin and Todd McFarlane Amazing Spider Mans, some X-Men, Fantastic Fours, Avengers and a couple hundred other things I wouldn’t part with…even for that chick at LIU Brooklyn Campus that looked like Vanessa Williams, hair cut like Anita Baker. But, those days are long behind me now. Only my mostly honorary title of Fan Bro remains. The thrill of buying and reading (and preserving) comic books was gone for good…
Or so I thought.
Then, I watched Justice League: War.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t walk away from the Justice League: War experience caring intensely about any of the characters. Not the way Spidey had me rapt with his drama-filled life, in and out of costume. Nor did I care as much as I did when I undertook the mental and financial measures needed to untangle the mangled commingling story lines of the X-Men franchises during the X-Tinction Agenda and the other crossover craziness they did back in the days. Nah, nothing like that. But, I admit– and I suspect this was by design– the filmmakers anticipated that while there were sure to be a lot of DC diehards tuned in, there were also going to be lurkers like me, who would need to be tantalized a bit.
And tantalize they did.
Don’t get me wrong. There wasn’t much plot to it. Super bad-assed bad guy wants to fuck up the DC Universe for (insert reason du jour here) and Super good guys with zingers and punchlines intervene, clever maneuvers and moral certitude, cuz that’s what they do. And in the end they succeed.
No, the key to a quality story, whether it be comic or otherwise, is to leave the reader, or viewer in this case, through the quality of the work, simultaneously feeling like they’ve gotten their money’s worth and open to future appeals to their wallets. And to this end, I felt these DC writers and animators targeted me directly, like they just knew that while their brand may have enough gusto to keep those latter generation readers/viewers locked in, and the DC loyalists at least engaged, in the eyes of certain old school Marvel aficionados, it still suffered under the stigma of being disrespectful to reader intellect and imaginations and out of touch with our need for heroes to be nuanced and layered.
Well, when I caught myself having thoughts like, “hot damn, Wonder Woman is kicking some serious ass! Lynda Carter has come a loooong way, Baby!” and “I wonder what’s the back story on this Green Lantern guy? And that ring?” and “The Flash has a life? And, wow, he’s figured out some really awesome ways to use this super power of his,” and “damn, this Superman is one moody mofo! What’s up with him?? Lois Lane kick him to the curb or something?” and “Oh shit, wait a minute! Is this Cyborg guy BLACK?? The DC I remember was whiter than the driven effin’ snow, and ambiguously gay to boot!” while watching this thing, I realized that they had me.
So, what can I tell you? I wound up watching several other DC animations just to see if this one was a fluke, including: Batman: Under the Red Hood, Justice League: Doom, and The Dark Knight Returns, and, well, it’s no fluke. All three of them were actually BETTER than Justice League: War!
So, yeah, about that bogus Boycott of mine? It’s lifted. DC has indicated to me with these features that it’s gotten some of its shit together, at least as far as animation is concerned. But, since several of these movies, I noticed, are based on comic book and graphic novel series, it’s certainly looking promising…and it looks like I’ve got a few years to catch up on.
Can’t wait! Gonna have to find me a good comic book shop here in Yokohama that carries American comics…including DC.