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A Comic Renaissance- Welcome to the Diamond Age

by Mike Slade, Founder of Uncanny Nerd

 

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years” -LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

My friends and fellow nerds, we are living through a comic renaissance. This is without a doubt, the best state comics have been in (quality wise) for a long time.

There has been a growing lamentation with a large set of comic book fans for some years now about the overall quality of comics being put out by both Marvel Comics and DC Comics, by far the largest and most well known comic publishers in history.

It’s nothing new for these publishers to have reboots, or full on universe resets, it actually happens far more often than you’d think. A lot of the last few years have been spent shaking things up and trying new and different angles for the most popular characters. Everyone from Superman to Spider-Man, Cyclops to Cyborg saw a shift of who they were compared to their selves of decades past.  Overwhelmingly though, fans did not approve of the changes and there was a lot of backlash. There have been some great books in recent years, everything Tom King or Jason Aaron has touched was golden and the best things comics had going for them, but on the whole there were a lot of just…  underwhelming arcs and storylines all around.

A reset is pointedly not what is going on now, and that’s kind of what makes the newest era of comics so appealing.

Something somewhere aligned for both Marvel and DC within the last year and we are seeing the best overall quality of books from these publishers that we’ve seen in perhaps decades.

Across both Marvel and DC there is a sort of realignment of cause. This is a remembering of who these heroes are and what they truly mean, and a return to the roots of what makes comics great.

Action Comics #1000 dropped in April this year, and though there were new X-Men books in Marvel launched that fall into this whole theme (X-Men Gold, Blue, and Red #1s), I’m going to hold Action 1000 as the beginning of the this new age.

Yes.  I’m calling it.

If they can keep this up. If Marvel and DC continue putting out the quality of books we are seeing this summer, then Action Comics #1000 is the beginning of a new AGE of comics akin to the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and all of them. Some have stated that they view the DC Rebirth event as the beginning of a new age.
Let’s be real folks. That entire thing was forgettable.

The true Diamond Age of comics, is beginning right now.

So wait, what’s so special about NOW?

Now, we are witnessing the publishers garnering the best stable of writers they have had in years, finally working on and focusing on the books they were meant to work on.  Let me give you a quick run down of a few comics that have come out just within the last three months.

Action Comics #1000 – 80-Page celebration of the Man of Steel.  A reminder to everyone how incredible of a hero and symbol Superman truly is.

Avengers #1 – Rejoining the core team (Cap, Thor, Iron Man) for the first time in years.

Thor #1 – The God of Thunder is back with Mjolnir after years of being “unworthy”.

Justice League #1 – The most recognizable powerhouse team in comic history starting new adventures.

Black Panther #1 – An A-List creative team is brought on to Black Panther to take him from being King of a nation, to a character of intergalactic prominence.

Captain America #1 – Now that a Hydra takeover of the USA has been stopped, Cap returns to his true legacy as a patriot and a hero.

X-Men Gold #30 – The X-men returning to a sense of normalcy after the cascade of events (read: horrible plot) from 2005’s House Of M, and 2012’s AvX. Although a bait and switch, this issue is the wedding of fan favorite’s Rogue and Gambit.

Batman #50 – Although a marketing disaster that saw tons of backlash for false-advertisement, Tom King’s ode to the Batman and Catwoman relationship is a very… very strong book, and will most likely end the year as the #1 best selling issue of 2018.

Superman #1 – Puffed out chest, strong chin, little hair curl on his forehead. Where Action Comics #1000 reminded us who Supes is, Superman #1 brings him back into the now.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 – An incredible issue that fans have been waiting for. Best written book of the year so far (we’ll get to that).

Mr. and Mrs. X #1 – Everyone loved the X-Men in the early and mid 90’s. This is the first time I’ve seen any X-Men presented with that same attitude and atmosphere since before Onslaught.

And that’s just the ones I remember as being key issues WITHIN THE LAST 3 MONTHS!
Any of these books would have been strong and remarkable on their own, but having both Marvel and DC dropping milestone issues and new series #1s which have universally been praised is such a beyond refreshing experience that I have to stop and examine it further.

The last “eras” of Marvel and DC was with 2012’s Marvel Now relaunch, and 2016’s DC Rebirth. Both were big events, both saw good sales, but both fell kinda flat where it mattered, in the substance of the books themselves.

You may be aggravated with the events surrounding Batman #50 and the DC Sales Team, but the book itself is a masterpiece and will outlive its press. The funny thing there though, is the entire point of the book is this Batman and Catwoman relationship…  but it’s not even the only relationship type book that mattered here. With X-Men Gold #30 and Mr. and Mrs. X #1, X-fans are finally seeing the payoff of the Rogue and Gambit relationship that’s been on and off since the early 90s. The Kitty and Colossus relationship has been wonderful to read. But for a lot of us, Rogue and Gambit (never Gambit and Rogue, she gets top billing, I don’t care, fight me) has always been a more real couple than the Bat and Cat, and it’s about time us readers of the X-Men are allowed a sigh of relief and a little happiness.

But THAT isn’t even the best love story this year! Amazing Spider-Man #1 blows them both away and if I had to pick a single issue out of this entire amazing set to give to true comic fans, this would be it. Writer Nick Spencer has truly encapsulated the feeling that all of the other books on this list did, and it wasn’t until I was done with ASM1 that I realized the connection.

It took Spider-Man for me to realize why all of these books are so special. Why they are amazing and why they are all hitting home-runs with fans.

IT’S THE CHARACTERS DUMMY!

These characters have been a part of our lives for years. Some of us have multiple decades relationships with the heroes of Marvel and DC, and this new focus isn’t on their powers, it isn’t on new villains or amazing discoveries. Every one of these books, even Thor, Black Panther, and Justice League, are love letters to the CHARACTERS. It’s seeing into their minds, and their feelings and it’s showing the fans a wide open window into their humanity. Superman isn’t just a hero, he’s a person, just like Captain America, and Peter Parker, and this new wave of comics focuses on that. Some of the best stories of the last 80 years of comics have been emotion driven, character context heavy books, and these new ones remind us all that under the mask, or the cape, or the spandex, these are people.

It’s always been about the characters, and it’s about time Marvel and DC remembered that.

So enjoy it. Really guys. This is a special time for comics and I seriously believe if Marvel and DC keep it up, this will truly be an entire new era.

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