Comic books that don't follow the trend or handle the trend with care.

Discussion in 'Comic Book Culture' started by Antiyonder, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord

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    Note: I apologize in advance if the word trend seems too strong, but only so much space for titling.

    We've had this discussion before many times, and will likely see others discussing the same: http://www.toonzone.net/forums/showthread.php?t=268359

    Since the 90s and up to now there've been complaints about how comic books (most notably super hero titles from Marvel & DC) have become too dark and too cynic.

    Not to mention the overall usage of gratuitous sex and violence. But then even stories with adult content aren't bad. Just the stories that handle them in an irresponsible manner.

    I too share that complain as well as hoping that publishers will realize that dark and gratuitous content is overdone, but could be handled a lot better.

    But critique and hope aren't good enough. To really motivate the publishing companies to change their writing approach we need to ignore the titles that contain these problems and buy the titles that are:

    A. Devoid of said content.
    B. Not too dependant on them or handle them with care.


    Now to specify, this isn't a thread to share which comics you simply think are good as fun comics may not necessarily be good. That is up to the reader who takes our picks to heart.

    But merely this topic is to list the comics you've read that either go against the trend and how they do so. Don't just list, but specify.

    Trade Paperbacks and Manga will be accepted on this thread. The comics/manga I've read that fit the criteria:

    1. Booster Gold: Now I apologize if it seems I gush over this title, but it tends to be one of the rare mainstream titles that is well balanced in both light and dark hearted stories in the same comic. Adult content while existing isn't overdone.

    2. Love & Capes: Much like the early years of Adult Swim, the titles main priority is good writing rather than trying to prove that it's for adults. Being that it's a comedy, darkness isn't an issue.

    Plus the female characters whether civilian or superhuman are entertaining in their own right and aren't used as sex objects (Not that they aren't sexy of course). So incidently, we don't have to worry about Women in the Refrigerator here.

    And while the comic is a continuing love story, each issue manages to move the story along while working as a standalone (much like Dan Slott's Batman Adventures and to a degree his She-Hulk run).

    3. Case Closed (with it's real title being Detective Conan in Japan): The manga and anime is a murder mystery, so of course murders are common place. And while some of the violence level can be intense, it isn't overdone and isn't out of place.

    And oddly enough, the manga doesn't feel depressing overall.

    4. Gargoyles Clan Building and Gargoyles Bad Guys (Both trades): Unlike the cartoon, the comics now trades are aimed at the teen audience. And while Weisman did take advantage of the freedom, he didn't abuse it. The content didn't feel overused or again out of place. Heck, a good portion of chapters were almost at the level of the cartoon save for some scenes.

    5. Batman The Brave and The Bold (Which as of November will be relaunched as "The All New Batman: The Brave and The Bold), Super Hero Squad & Marvel Adventures (Spider-Man and Avengers): Since there's not much to say, I'm putting them all here. Basically these stories are a modern day Silver Age comic. No psychovillains or rape. Not to mention each tell their stories in a single issue.

    6. Darkwing Duck: Much like the cartoon that spawned it, the comic is mainly comedy with some emotional moments in it. But even the serious moments don't drag the comic down.

    7. Usagi Yojimbo: I've only skimmed a book or two, but poster Angilasman gave a good description on:

    8. The Flash: Haven't read it myself, but fellow mod Jin Kazama states it to be a fun title with maybe a bit of police or crime drama. If you're reading this Jin, feel free to back me up here.

    Because as I said before, critiquing comics for tactless rape and gore alone isn't going to improve the situation. Buying the comics that lack or handled them better in the long run will. And as I stated in other threads, if you already vote with your wallet, point these and other titles out to some who share our complaints.


    Remember, this isn't restricted to kid friendly/all ages material, but also adult comics which better execute adult matters.

    And again, don't just list the alternatives, but specify what they offer as opposed to the problematic comics.
     
  2. Shawn Hopkins

    Shawn Hopkins TZ Member of the Year 2013

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    I need a little time to think up suggestions, but while I remember it I have to say that I really disagree with you about Green Lantern. That's the comic that spawned the event where Dex-Starr pukes off someone's face. It's funny as hell, but it's in no way in good taste. The whole Red Lantern puke thing is pretty tasteless, actually, and we also got all of the grossness of Blackest Night and Brightest Day out of Johns' creation.

    And I don't think manga should be included if your intent really is to encourage people to do something that will help American comics. American publishers don't give a crap about the content of the manga people read, it's all just "not American comics" to them, so it doesn't influence them any differently if you read Dr. Slump or Battle Royale.
     
  3. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord

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    Perhaps I jumped the gun. Though does it occur frequently?

    Point taken.
     
  4. silvanoir

    silvanoir New Member

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    Cross out Green Lantern, as there's quite a bit of bleak and violent content (not to mention Carol's barely there Star Saphire costume). I like green Lantern, been following it since Blackest Night... but yeah.... there's been more than a few unsettling things.
    Replace it with Tiny Titans ... The Teen Titans as little kids, no adult content, cute and fun with nods to the events happening in the more geared for adults comics. (could go on your A list)

    I rather like Runaways and Young Avengers from Marvel as well. There's some violence here and there, but it never felt too gratitous to me. And no actual sex, of course, since they're teenage characters, just lots of flrting, a kiss here or there. (could go on your B list).

    Then there's the limited run independent comics. Mouseguard and Lacadaisy Cats have a bit of violence, but not too much. A Last Unicorn comic has been coming out recently, and I like that so far (no adult content).
     
  5. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord

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    ^^^ Noted.

    Anyway, from where I stand X-Men Forever and X-Men Forever 2 while there are some adult moments, they don't strike me as constant and over the top. Anyone agree in that regard?

    Also from what I've read of the Simpson comics, it doesn't seem to over indulge in adult material.
     
  6. John Pannozzi

    John Pannozzi 30 Years of Turtle Power

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    Does Scott Pilgrim count?
     
  7. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord

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    I suppose so, if you can specify how it applies to the A or B types I've mentioned.
     
  8. wonderfly

    wonderfly 30 Years since Vampire Hunter D!

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    Actually, there has been people having sex in Runaways and Young Avengers. They are books about teenagers, after all, and teenagers do experiment with sex. Hawkeye (the girl in Young Avengers) was raped, as I recall (it's part of her backstory on why she wants to be a hero) and Nico from Runaways had sex with Victor (and others, as I recall)...but whether I would really call it gratuitous? Probably not, since it's not all cheesecake poses and all, but...in retrospect, sex does seem to preoccupy some members of the cast of both books. But I digress....
     
  9. Bloody Marquis

    Bloody Marquis Quite smashing, eh?

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    I only read Vaughan's run so far, but I don't recall any of the characters having sex in Runaways, let alone anything explicit. There might have been one moment I forgot about though.

    So far, what I've read of Ex Machina is pretty slim on anything extreme. Yeah, there's sex and violence every issue or so, but it doesn't revel in it.
     
  10. Jin Kazama

    Jin Kazama Hawkguy

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    As Antiyonder pointed out in the initial post, I'll back the current Flash run. While the story is a murder mystery, it's been very tame. Just a very straight-forward, paint-by-numbers superhero book, but not in a bad way.

    Regardless of if it fits here or not, I point everyone I can to this series. It's just a great read.

    Everything up through "Secret Origin" is pretty tame. Once you get to "Rage of the Red Lanterns" is where it starts to get dark and bloody. The closest you get before that is in the Sinestro Corps War, and even then there aren't any real bloody, over-the-top deaths. The most you really get is images of multple rings flying by looking for replacements, indicating a mass Lantern death, but it's not out of context. It is a war.

    I love Tiny Titans so much. Easily my favorite book every month. It's just pure fun, and while it does play somewhat on past DC history, it doesn't rely in it. It'll just fly over your head without taking away from it.
     
  11. silvanoir

    silvanoir New Member

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    Yeah... it's there... but it's not really "on-screen". It's talked about and mentioned, but it seems on the right level for a teenage cast. It's not a book for little kids, for sure, but 13 and up should handle it.
    Maybe I just glossed over things while reading, I didn't know Nico actually slept with anyone. I know she flirts with... well just about every guy.
     
  12. Shawn Hopkins

    Shawn Hopkins TZ Member of the Year 2013

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    This is a weird thread for me to reply to because, for all the complaining I do, I for the most part have no problem with violence and drugs and sex in comic books. If you asked me for recommendations of some really great comics I've read in the last 10 years or so, I'd probably put Cherry, Small Favors, Preacher and Fabulous Furry Freak brothers on the list, which are porn, porn, grotesque pornographic violence and drug humor, respectively.

    My issue is just that I hate it when the major comic companies try to introduce these elements to traditional superheroes to make them dark and to make them seem less silly. Superheroes are inherently silly, but most writers and editors now that aren't named Grant Morrison seem too immature to embrace this. Instead they cater to the worst kind of comics fanboy impulse, our insecurity about loving superheroes as adults, and try to reassure us that it isn't silly and it isn't kid's stuff by spraying brain matter and semen on everything. A few experimental books once in a while that take this approach are all right, I thought Rick Veitch's Brat Pack was great and I liked the Warren Ellis issues of the Authority, but I don't think the major superhero universes should be corrupted with graphic violence and nihilism. Even characters like the Punisher and Lobo work a little better when they're kind of off in their own little worlds doing their own thing, and they should definitely be the exceptions rather than the rule.

    So, with that very serious limitation on my selections established, I have to say I really love the already mentioned Runaways and Young Avengers. They aren't too violent or oversexed and what is there is handled maturely and not to titilate an older readership. And they aren't afraid to recognize and even comment on the silliness of superheroes (the Runaways' battle cry was "Don't die!").

    Also, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers has been simply lovely. It's such a hilarious idea with some very likeable characters.

    And I would certainly recommend Dan Slott's GLA stories. The GLA miniseries tackled the darkness trend in superheroes head on, and it said it sucked. The GLA are certainly not afraid to be silly and despite their reputation they are the most abmirable team in the Marvel Universe. A lot of other teams are said to be like a family but the GLA is the one that most feels like it, loving each other and depending on each other and needing each other both despite and because of their own flaws and limitations.

    Oh, and if you can find the trades, check out the Justice League International run of Justice League. They're called the loser League and DC hates them now and wants to punish them, but those were good, fun comics with a sense of humor. Also, contrary to popular wisdom, it sold really well, it was one of DC's top books of the period. Sometimes I think the violence and darkness trend is more a product of creator insecurity than anything else.
     
  13. Wolf Boy2

    Wolf Boy2 New Member

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    No mention of "Strangers in Paradise"? Granted, it had a lot of sex and violence, but it handled it all in a VERY mature manner.

    My other favorite series is "GI Joe" (the '82-94 Larry Hama run). It had everything I could want in an action title (good characters, vehicles, continuity, minimum amount of cheesecake, no sex).
     
  14. Shawn Hopkins

    Shawn Hopkins TZ Member of the Year 2013

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    About Tiny Titans. Tiny Titans is a great comic. A great comic for adult nerds. But I don't feel it offers the same level of accessibility to kids that Superhero Squad does. Too much of the characterizations and too many of the jokes depend too heavily on knowing the adult, grim versions of these characters. It's not just that a little bit of it goes over their heads, sometimes it all does and they're left with nothing.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Jin Kazama

    Jin Kazama Hawkguy

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    Read some of the letter columns in the comic that kids submit. I've also seen convention reports where kids confess their love of it. I've even given some issues to my cousin, who's 8, to kind of see if he'd like comics, and he loves them. So it is something that kids do get into. I just think that part of if flies over their heads. They just see things like Robin dealing with a Batcave overun by penguins and think it's funny, without realizing that it's the penguins from "Batman Returns."

    To add a title to the list, I just finished the most recent Invincible hardcover. I've read everything up to that point over the past year, and I think it'd apply here. While it does have some mature overtones, and some of the fights do get a little graphic, anytime it does cross that line, you see the consequences of it. Nothing drastic in that series goes without notice. You see the cause-and-effect of it, so it balances it out, and falls into the "handle the trend with care" aspect of it, I feel.
     
  16. Anthonynotes

    Anthonynotes PBS: We rock harder than MTV

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    Heh.... I recall a 90s Pinky and the Brain comic where they used the "Batman Returns" penguins---Brain's plan was to become the "Anti-Santa Claus" and get the world's kids to love *him* (and thus conquer it), and sets up shop at the *South* Pole. When he needs his own "elves", Pinky hires said penguins (IIRC, he says something about how they "haven't worked since 1992!"). Unfortunately, IIRC, all their toys tended to be penguin-themed (fish-dolls, fish-trucks, etc)...

    Back on topic...

    I'll add "Dykes to Watch Out For". A use of openly gay and lesbian characters, stories about sex/sexuality, etc. that're light-years maturity- and writing-wise beyond whatever DC or Marvel have to offer.

    -B.
     
  17. Zorak Masaki

    Zorak Masaki Active Member

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    Another good humor comic would be the Not Brand Ecch and its (easier and cheaper to find) 80s followup What The?!. While they do sometimes wallow in in-jokes, for the most part theyre lighthearted stories that take good-natured jabs at the more absurd parts of comics. Its a shame Marvel hasnt tried that format again as it would be perfect with all the recent storylines that are ripe for parody.
     
  18. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord

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    To be clear, I don't want to limit this thread to comics that are out at the moment, so anytime you come across another title or if a new comic fitting the qualifications come out, list them here (with details on them of course).

    Anyway, some other titles which crossed my mind:

    1. Archie: While I don't read it regularly enough, I read the trades and comics my mom own, and they are pretty fun. And it's probably one of the few titles not to have given into the dark storytelling trend.

    2. Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic Universe: Overall exciting stories and a good blend of serious & lighthearted stories.


    Now some comics coming out later this year look to fit this thread. So I'll list them now and provide info when the first issues come out. I'm posting them here to give the heads up for those interested:

    1. Thunderstrike (Miniseries by Tom Defalco)
    2. Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes (Miniseries tying into the cartoon)
    3. Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers
    4. Young Justice (Monthly tie in of the upcoming cartoon)

    Also to note for those looking into Batman The Brave and The Bold, the title for those not rereading my first post, is being relaunched as The All New Batman: The Brave and The Bold.
     
  19. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu Grumpy Gorilla

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    Just to be clear, you're asking about comics that are either dark and violent or sexual with purpose, or that avoid the grim-and-gritty thing altogether, right? I still say that the problem with books like Identity Crisis, The Rise of Arsenal, or whatever other title you want to mention isn't that they're dark and gritty or involve sexual themes. The problem with those books is that they suck, but I'll complain just as vehemently about an all-ages comic that sucked as badly as those comics sucked.

    However, those two categories are radically different from each other, and I think it's worth segregating them to make it clear which is which:

    GOOD GRIM-AND-GRITTY/MATURE THEMES
    Darwyn Cooke's Parker: These are based on Richard Stark's pulp novels about a nasty guy doing nasty things to nasty people. It's dark, violent, sexualized, and really really adult, but it's a perfect instance of how to do these things well. It's definitely focusing on the seamier side of life, but without seeming to revel in it in the same way as some of the lesser comics that get mentioned do.

    Sleeper and Incognito: Ed Brubaker is another one who can do nasty people doing nasty things to other nasty people really, really well. I love Sleeper immensely as a pulp fiction novel with characters that happen to have super powers, and the first TPB of Incognito followed very much in its footsteps while amping up the super-powers angle.

    Blacksad: Still another pulp fiction comic book series, except by way of Europe and with anthropomorphic animals. Hate to sound like a broken record, but it's more nasty x 3, and with gorgeous artwork to boot.

    Queen & Country: Follows MI-6 agent Tara Chace as she explores the wholly ugly side of life as a spy. Take the recent Casino Royale movie, drop the gadgets, make the sexual encounters into wholly empty and unfulfilling activities, and make it even darker and you'll begin to get close. It's terrific thrilling stuff, though.

    Omaha the Cat Dancer: She's a stripper with who really, really likes having sex with her boyfriend. Oh, and she and everyone else in the book have animal heads, too. It's very much about sex, right from the full frontal nudity on the covers of the TPB reprints, and it's a little weird that they're anthropomorphic animals having sex, but I credit the titillation factor the comic has as less of a sign of turning into a "furry" and more as a credit to the fact that you care about these characters and want them to be happy, physically and mentally.

    Concrete: Amazing, amazing comic book that's incredibly thoughtful and creative, even at its worst. Really thinks through the implications of turning into someone like the Thing. Also a comic that redeems the idea of thought balloons, mostly because the thoughts inside them are so rich and credible. Adult themes, but something I'd feel OK about handing to a younger teen.

    AVOID GRIM-AND-GRITTY/MATURE THEMES
    Usagi Yojimbo: I'm hesitant to name this title as "avoiding" adult themes, since it's already been pointed out that the book involves murders, rapes (real or threatened), demonic possessions, and all kinds of stuff that would go over a kid's head. On the other hand, it's all handled in a way that would ensure that the younger kids have no idea what's really being talked about while the older readers will pick up on the subtler messages. Regardless, it's an overwhelmingly awesome series that I don't think enough people are reading, so if listing it here will get people to pay attention to it, then I'll list it again (and also flog this article on CBR that talks about it, including some sample pages. There is no such thing as a bad place to start reading Usagi Yojimbo, which is another thing I like about it.)

    Runaways and Young Avengers: Reading these books makes me remember why I love superhero comics. Smart, fun, and altogether excellent books, although Runaways hits major diminishing returns once Brian K. Vaughan leaves.

    Agents of Atlas/Atlas: Another of my favorite superhero comics, even if it's ending. A wonderful, good clean fun book that doesn't rely overmuch on violence or sex, despite having a cast that includes a killer robot and a goddess who tends to be naked noticeably often.
     
  20. Antiyonder

    Antiyonder Amalgam Universe Overlord

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    ^^^ Yes I'm count comics with adult content or are dark in tone, on the grounds that they do so for the sake of a good story.
     

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