Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Popular comics Myth busted

"Mark Millar's Superman Adventures run proves he can write good, positive super-comics."
I've heard this one a lot over the years - usually as some kind of back-handed defense of Millar's current output. I've even seen this one from my good friend and comics-blogging mentor, Alan David Doane. Pity it's not in any way, shape or form true.
Oh, on the surface, there's a degree of positivity. Superman does heroic stuff, fighting bad guys and so forth. One imagines that it's the bare minimum expectation for what a corporate super-comic should be, and I think the fact that this is considered extraordinary says alot about how degraded and depraved the corporate spandex hero genre has become. However, a look at the subtext displays a lot of what makes Mark Millar's writing absolutely insufferable.
There's the absolutely-out-of-nowhere fake-outs and deux-ex-machinas, showing his failure to play fair with the reader. There's the focus on villains doing really out-of-character actions (such as the Parasite) and the high level of nonsense covered by layers of "high stakes". But worst of all is the way Millar's budding cynicism just bleeds through even this heavily edited material. In the (much lauded, for some reason) "One Year Later" storyline, Superman finds that through a mad science accident, he's been transported one year into the future, where he finds that Lex Luthor has risen to the challenge and helped to solve all super-crime and make the world a better place. Of course, by the end of the storyline, we find out this is an alternate Earth, and Superman returns to his own world, but the damage is done and Millar's true face revealed. Not only does he heavily imply that Luthor is right, but in doing so, shows Superman as a vainglorious fool for not immediately leaving his own world to allow Lex to rise to power to make the world better.
And that's pure 100% Mark Millar folks. I'll stick with Scott McCloud's run on the book, thanks.

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