Five Things in Comics I Miss (Right Now)


It’s that time of year when it starts to get cold outside and darkness sets in earlier and earlier until you start to wonder where the day went at four in the afternoon. It’s just about the time when New York City gets covered in holiday decorations and you can see your breath that I start to get wistful and look back, not only on the year itself but just life in general.

It was in such a mood that I found myself thinking about and missing certain things in my comic book life.

I miss…

… Gotham Central.

There was a time, back in the dark times back before the podcasts, when Gotham Central used to absolutely dominate the Pick of the Week. If people think we choose certain books too many times now, I’m glad they weren’t around back then when, chances were, if Gotham Central hit the shelves when Josh or I had the Pick it was going to be up there on Wednesday night/Thursday morning/Saturday afternoon (again, it was the dark times). There were a lot of things that Gotham Central was and represented and I miss all of them. It was really the last time that all of the Batbooks were really excellent. It was the end of the Rucka/Brubaker new golden age of Batman. It was a time in which smart crime fiction that didn’t talk down to the reader could be found in the DC Universe. But the most important thing about Gotham Central was that it was just a great fucking comic book. I hadn’t read any of the issues since they originally came out, but when the new hardcover collection was released I snatched it up immediately and devoured it. Since it had been so long in reading Gotham Central, it was almost like getting to read a great new comic book. Sure, I remembered the plots (with varying degrees of certainty), but as with many of the comic books that I’ve read only once or twice and not in many years, the dialogue, and the specifics of the scenes, and the details were lost in the sands of time. Rereading it all again was fantastic. Gotham Central was such a unique book from one of the big two and it was executed at such an insanely high level of craft, of course it didn’t last very long.

… when everyone didn’t know what was coming.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, comic book readers, on the whole, didn’t know the plot of every comic book that was coming out for the next three months. I know! How could that be, you say? Well, to be fair, not every reader was completely in the dark. Some comic book stores sold Previews and those industrious readers who got it knew everything that was coming (some stores gave Previews away for free – there seemed to be no rules, it was like the Wild West!). But the point is that, on the whole, the comic book community used to be blissfully in the dark about things like characters dying, plots being twisted, reveals being major, and status quos being shaken up… until they actually happened. God, what did they do with themselves? How did they judge new comic books against what they knew to be coming 84 days from then, you ask? Well, they read their books. They read their books and they were happy with that book or they were unhappy with that book. They were surprised when The Flash killed the Reverse Flash and when Captain America quit. Did leaks happen? Sure! The ending to Armageddon 2001 was spoiled way back in the stone ages of 1991. Were upcoming storylines heavily publicized? Of course! We all knew Jason Todd was going to die because it was all over the news. But high profile exceptions aside, on the whole there was a time when comic book readers had nothing to worry about other than the book they held right there in their hand. And as much fun as it is to talk about and speculate about upcoming events, I miss the time when everyone isn’t always looking three months down the road and instead focused on what was happening now.

… Steve Rogers.

I’m sorry, I miss him. Yes, I’m over his death. Yes, the entire “Death of Captain America” storyline was fantastic. And yes, I think that Bucky has been a great and worthy replacement, and I’ve really been enjoying his story so far. That’s all very nice and good and Captain America is one of my favorite comic books out right now, but dammit, I miss Steve Rogers! Captain America was always my favorite Marvel character and he’s the reason why I love The Avengers so much. Whenever he left the team I would always start to lose interest in the book, and if he guested in other comics I usually found myself buying them. When I think about it, in a lot of ways Captain America is responsible for getting me to read a lot of the Marvel books I did as a young kid. And that’s all because of Steve Rogers. I think that part of the reason why I miss Steve Rogers so much is that he felt much more integrated in the Marvel Universe as a whole.  Captain America’s (or Steve Rogers’) influence was felt just about everywhere. Besides a few issues of Secret Invasion, the new Captain America seems like he exists in his own little bubble (much like Ed Brubaker’s other book, Daredevil), and that sucks. Will that change in the upcoming months? Maybe. But really, at the end of the day, I just miss the man himself. I miss the stand-up, never-say-die, World War II hero who could always be counted on to save the day. I miss Steve Rogers.

… Who’s Who in the DC Universe.

I know that I kinda already did a Mini on this topic, but I still miss them. I miss the Who’s Who in the DC Universe in general, but I miss the big three ring binder version, specifically. This came back up again because the other day I was scanning a couple of pages to use as graphics for this week’s video show and I found myself (as I always seem to do whenever I open that big gray binder) leafing through the pages and reading character biographies. I’ve been reading comics for, oh, around 25 years now, and there are still so many characters that I don’t know all that much about, or have only a passing knowledge of. Paging through Who’s Who (or the Marvel Handbook, if you prefer) is like falling down a comic book knowledge rabbit hole — “You know, I really don’t know all that much about the Khunds, now that I think about it for the first time ever.” There’s only so much one man can know and I’m not Mark Waid! One of the most frequent things that we receive in our e-mail box here at iFanboy HQ are requests for character information and histories. Sure, these things can be looked up just as easily on Wikipedia, but sometimes it’s just better getting that information from a trusted source, and what better trusted source is there than the companies themselves (you’re not supposed to be laughing now). Well, DC Comics, I’m here now saying that it’s time for an update! That Who’s Who I have in the binder is from 1990! That was almost 19 years ago! Quite a lot has happened in comics since then and we could really use an update. In three ring binder form. It’s time. Let’s make it happen.

… my Saturday morning cartoons.

I was flipping through the TV channels the other night around 2am and I was suddenly hit with a blast from the past. I heard the familiar refrain that was the theme music for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. This show dominated my early childhood, with original episodes airing during my very formative fourth through seventh years, and then repeats throughout the balance of the 1980s. I got lucky the other night, I managed to catch the classic episode “7 Little Superheroes” which featured our heroes – Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar – and special guests Captain America, Dr. Strange, Shanna, and Namor in pitched battle against Chameleon (You’ll never guess who saved the day. Okay, it was Miss Lion, the dog). It featured old school 80s voice casting, simple writing, and ridiculous storytelling, and it was so much big, dumb fun. I loved it. Sure there are tons of cartoons on Saturday morning now (although not nearly as many as there used to be), and a lot of those shows feature super high levels of animation and storytelling (The Spectacular Spider-Man is excellent) but I miss my simple cartoons. I miss Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. I guess this is all about missing being a kid and missing feeling a sense of wonder when Spider-Man walks into a room and there’s Captain America (!) waving at him, rather than laughing about how wooden and socially awkward it comes off to me now. There are some things you lose as a child that you can never fully get back, although sometimes, if you’re really lucky, they come back. If only for a moment.

 

Comments

  1. I agree to a point about Previews.  I definitely enjoy checking out the new toys and apparel, but I think they go a little over the top with the upcoming issues.  Sometimes they are very good at altering an image or solicit as not to give away plot points but sometimes they downright ruin things.

  2. Captain America is the anchor to my Marvel reading…man, I miss Steve.  I don’t want him to come back and ruin the continuity (and make his death mean nothing in the process), but it’s so hard to reconcile that feeling with the joy of having him in the Marvel universe.

  3. I stopped reading the previews.  I check to see what is coming out, but generally I just make sure that something I read isn’t going to be late.  Or if it is going to be late, by how long.  That being said, its almost impossible to not hear/read certain news if you are online.  I just gravitate towards those sites whenever I am online.  Its hard, and I try to stay away…but it doesn’t always happen.

    Also…I miss my cartoons.  I hear that the birth of Cartoon Network doomed Saturday morning cartoons.  That might be the case, but that doesn’t make me miss Fox Kids any less.

    Great article Conor sir!!

  4. Who’s who in the DC Universe – after watching your Mini I was hoping they would bring this back. I love the binder form too, personal touch. 

    As for Saturday morning cartoons they certainly don’t make them like they used too. I don’t recall the Spider-Man cartoon as well as you. I was hooked on the X-men Saturday morning cartoon, I can still hum that theme song. 🙂 As for new or some what new cartoons, bring back the Justice League on Cartoon Network or Batman The Animated Series. Those were amazing. Justice League is probably my favorite. 

  5. I’m in the exact same boat about Steve Rogers. That guy influenced every Halloween costume decision and action figure or comic book purchase for at least a decade of my life. I hate to see him go, but I’m glad it was handled so well. I hope D.C. can have the guts to do the same thing with Bruce Wayne.

  6. I miss Steve Rogers also 🙁

  7. I miss Saturday morning cartoons.  A couple of months ago, my finance was gone for the night.  I was grabbing a late dinner and watching TV.  Flipping through the channels, I landed on some old super hero cartoons.  So I fixed Eggo Waffles and scrambled eggs for dinner and watched cartoons.  It was great, because I felt like I was a kid and it was Saturday morning.  

  8. I miss Steve, I miss Jean, I miss ‘Cable & Deadpool.’

    And yeah, ‘Gotham Central.’  I rewatched ‘The Dark Knight’ the other day, I was thinking about what kind of Bat-book that movie made me want to read, and I realized it was GC.

  9. Gotham Central is one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Man, I miss that book too.

  10. Did anyone hear the news that FOX is getting rid of it’s saturday morning block? Why the hell would they do that?

    People my age, or older as well, lived for Saturday Morning Cartoons. If it wasnt for those days; I would’ve never been introduced to the X-Men, Power Rangers, Spider-Man, Batman, and a hell of a lot more. I’m worried what my kid will have to watch in the future if there will be no more Saturday Morning Block.

    I wish I could’ve read Gotham Central when it came out. I had my sabbactial from comics practially the entire run of the series. If you would’ve told me a Batman book without Batman was good, I wouldnt have believed you. (Granted, this is before I knew Nightwing and Robin had their own title) But I’ve heard so much good things about it, it’s a shame I couldnt get it in issues. That’s why that new HC is a X-Mas present this year.

  11. I too miss the Saturday cartoons. Enough of this live action crap.  Bring back some good, old-fashioned, cheesy animation.  Those were the days.

  12. Amen, brother! I have a whole love-hate relationship with Previews. To me it’s like the monthly Sears’-Penney’s Wish Book, y’know with all the G. I. Joes. Megos and Star Wars stuff. It’s cool to look through that way to anticipate what’s coming; but, I hate knowing too much about what’s under the cover. I finally stopped buying it. Shame that that’s kinda the only way to see what’s coming from the smaller, indie publishers.

    I kinda like the Secret Files & Origins that have replaced the Who’s Who. But, yeah, you’re right.

    It’s always peeved me that Saturday Morning Cartoons were dumped in favor of news/talk shows, because, apparently kids weren’t watching the Saturday Morning Cartoons? Hu-bu-wha-? What? What? That’s nuts!! My opinion: the networks stopped spending money on them to either save it or spend it on something else. The audience was there, but just like everything else, the networks turned their backs on that audience. Just my two cents…

      

     

  13. That 2 a.m. Spider-Man airing was part of a marathon showing Marvel cartoon crossovers. Hulk on the Iron Man cartoon, Hulk on the FF cartoon… mostly the Hulk, I guess. I stopped and watched some of it that night too. I remember hearing about those shows and thinking, "Man, kids today are so lucky. I would have killed for X-Men cartoons in grade school." Now, though, I watch them and mostly think, "Man, why couldn’t Marvel get themselves a Timm/Dini?"

    Still, maybe the key to watching them is the key to reading some old comics. You must view them through the prism of the times.

  14. Nice article, Conor.

    I, too, miss Saturday morning cartoons (X-Men, Spider-Man, anyone?). I also miss the days when I thought comic books were these things you found in the local Cool Old Junk Store for 50 cents each. I miss the time when, to me, Marvel and DC looked to be just about as great as one another. I miss limited series priced at 2.99 (Howard the Duck, Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin, New Avengers/Transformers). Most of all, I miss excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen next issue. Conor really nailed that one.

  15. Get over it!! Steve Roger’s is dead, and thats a good thing. The story Brubaker carefully constructed to rid us of blonde boy scout Stevie was amazing and definitly Captain America, the comic, at its best. James Barnes is a more complelling, flawed and fun to read character then Steve ever was. Steve’s motivation always seemed to me to be blind patriotism and a desire to have big muscles. How boring is a company line towing zombie who swallowed every drop of Unlce Sam’ wacky war mongering kool’aid and asked for seconds. Time for a change. Bucky is Obama’s Cap, a man who made a tough choice to come back to defend life liberty and the persuit of happiness for a country that he hasn’t always seen eye to eye with (because he was brainwashed by pinko’s) out of love for his bestest bud, and hell it’s the best counrty in the world (after Canada) and the only one we got. Hearing lamentations for Steve’s death scares me that some exec may take your gripe to seriously and ret-con Brubaker’s run and that would be a real tragedy. 

  16. Viva la Steve Rogers!

  17. hahahah, Bucky is Obama’s Cap.  My office has never heard me laugh so hard

  18. @Jimski  I don’t know if it’s "the lens of the times" so much as "the lens of the serious budget constraints."  I keep trying to watch the reruns of the "iron man" cartoons, which have some genuinely interesting stories, but the horrendousness of the voice acting always drives me away. 

  19. kids today will never understand how important Saturday morning cartoons were. then again, kids w/o cable just might. Toon D*sney’s J*tix has been both a blessing and a tragedy, providing us access to great cartoons from the past: i.e. Batman the Animated Series, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (oh, and you know what made that show the best?? Stan Lee’s narraration!), but also giving us the misses from the 90’s: i.e. Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man – "P.U." they just recently began airing the 90’s X-Men series as well, to which i offer a hearty "meh" <—just added to the dictionary

    i miss Carol Danvers. anybody seen her lately?

  20. @Conor – Great piece and well thought out, I am picking up the Gotham Nights HC tomorrow.

     

    I have missed the Saturday Morning Cartoons for quite some time now.  Cartoon Network/Boomerang really dropped the ball by not showing theings like the old Marvel cartoons that had the bad animation, but they did show some of the DC Filmation stuff which is really cool, and the airing of the Justice League is great but the networks are missing the boat by inserting that live action drivel instead of building on the success of Spider-Man.  I would love to see the GI Joe from the 80’s on tv somewhere. That Fantastic Four in the Anime style is terrible, some things should not be changed for the sake of change, the 90’s FF was done fantastic and they were using stroies from the book and there was no shortage of stories to be told there.  In fact Marvel should expand their DVD titles by doing some classic stories, like The Korvac Saga in Avengers or any of the X-Men crossovers, or when Captain America was replaced by John Walker for a time, there are so many stories that can translate to a cartoon format.

    And I agree about Previews, but if it was no longer offered I can see a large number of buyers who would swear that getting Previews is their Constitutional right and would beef long and loud about it.

  21. @ohcaroline the voice acting!! So it’s NOT just me. It may be just us, but it’s not just me.

    When we got Toon Disney, the first thing I did was Tivo all these shows, but I got about three minutes into the first X-Men before saying, "Oh, no can do."

    At the same time, when I watch Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, I hear the Bumblebee guy who is clearly 39 years old doing Spidey and completely shrug it off.

    Also– just to run the risk of staying on topic– I cannot say enough about how Previews have wrecked things for the regular people. I think a good 40% of the negative reaction to Secret Invasion is due to the fact that people had heard all about it six months before UPS dropped off #1 at your shop.

  22. I also wanted to add…that Darkwing Duck on Jetix makes me cry for joy.  I love that show so much and really wish I could watch it on a regular basis.  I think I’m going to ask for it for Christmas.  Favorite episode is when his daughter travels forward in time and finds out he has become Darkwarrior Duck!!  Great Dark Knight Returns parody.  Not quite Saturday morning cartoons, but close enough.

  23. A certain member of the iFanbase will find that comforting no doubt.

  24. @Jimski — Voice-acting fail: Within five minutes of Hawkeye’s appearance in the "Iron Man" cartoon, he speaks with at least 4 different accents. 

    Voice-acting win: in the 90s Xmen cartoon, everything Wolverine says sounds like a sexual innuendo.  (Granted, this is more win if you’re 30 years old and watching it with your friends who are all kind of drunk, rather than a parent looking to entertain your child).

    There’s a pretty significant quality jump to the Diniverse. 

  25. It’s a shame that cartoons arent as good as they used to be.

    Sure you get a gem like Spongebob or Ben 10, but for one of those shows you get crap like: Jimmy Neutron, Back at the Barnyard, 6Teen, Flapjack, The Mighty B, and much much more. Again I hope my child, or children in my generation gets much better cartoons then what Nickelodean and Cartoon Network has been giving us today. I wont lie, I still watch cartoons from time to time, only because many live action shows are a pain to watch (that’s for a whole other topic though). 

    Basically, and I know it’s ment for adults/teenagers, it’s a sad day when animated programs on Adult Swim is better then any cartoon on right now. If I was a kid I would watch Home Movies or any of the anime’s they show then the more kid friendly cartoons.

  26. I think I’m gonna stop reading previews and solits.  I’ll peep the new covers but that’s about it. 

  27. No shading, same colors used to color an entire something without changing the shades, backgrounds that repeat and background character’s movements that repeat, mouth movement that does not fit the voice – mouth moving without sound (Dr. Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop), using the wrong color for a few seconds (usually Scooby-Doo), using a small array of characters because you don’t have much money for the voice actors or the animators (Gadget Boy)

    For The Win. 

    Cartoons are great and some have really deep meaning like:

     Alfred Jodocus Kwak, Kimba W. Lio (http://www.kimbawlion.com/), Moomin (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0247117/)

     

    Some old cartoons are great. I don’t like Disney but I have to admit they had great cartoon movies but there were great cartoon adaptations of classics that were in the same level in my opinion – Beauty and the Beast, Frankenstein – those two mainly but there were many others – I can’t remember the company name but they started with a girl and a guy in a hot air balloon and someone was chasing it I think or chasing a regulat balloon.

    The benefits of living in a county without many people with financial security was a straight to VHS and now to DVD company that made or bought cheap cartoons and kids sing along videos (several adults, a bunch of kids and several songs) – Classikaletet.

    The high tech cartoons are usually crap. Give me two angry beavers, 2 stupid dogs, secet squirrel, fat dog mandoza any day of the week. Nowadays cartoons are spread around in several channels and the kids channel turned to the x-factor for kids.

    screw comics – I’m a cartoon geek. I’d love to Yankovic it and buy old and cheap cartoons and cheap series that were great like The Tribe or The Worst Witch. Hunt down old series I watched and loved that never got much air time like one about a teenage girl in an apartment building that talks to a blind old guy and it is revealed that he lost his wife to a portal to the past they discovered through an elevator if I remember correctly. She goes through that portal despite his warning and goes back in time and the set is now an old one or two story house in the countyside.

    You can shove you Class of 3000….

  28. And this (just saw this):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFPeLiCjQ2c

    Best Peter Pan adaptation ever – I think it’s asian since I saw a similair drawn character in a manga series. 

    This added so much to the original text. It’s a crime not to check this out. There is also a great Wizard of Oz adaptation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9VVN-FKQXc&nbsp;

  29. Yes I’m a spamme…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvHuN4PpNQs

     

    A bratty kid that lives in some farm and abuses animals gets shrunken by a dwarf and has to go with his goose to adventures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wonderful_Adventures_of_Nils

     

    Couldn’t find the wikipedia page of the Wizard of Oz tv cartoon – not sure 100% percent but here’s the Peter Pan one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Pan_no_Boken&rlm;

  30. Challenge of the Superfriends, Superfriends, and yes, Spiderman and his Amazing Friends.

    Even the early weekday and after-school cartoons, Battle of the Planets, The new adventures of Batman…

    60’s Spiderman…

    Even those old Marvel cartoons, which were basically comic book panels with moving lips.

  31. Batman Brave and Bold is kind of big, dumb fun, cartoon-wise. If you can get over the voice. It’s certainly not Justice League or … the Animated Series level. CLoser to Super friends.

  32. Excellent article Connor… I’m right witcha on Steve Rogers, miss the man even though the Icon lives on in a very capable Bucky

    I miss… the OLD Wolverine (brown costume, full of mystery)….

    …..a good old fashioned Marvel Team Up comic book with Spidey and (name of B level character)

    Finally cheap comics .60-.75 cents with the cheap paper and smelly ink …ahhhh 

     

  33. I avoid spoilers like the plague & still get to watch cartoons with my nieces (that’s my excuse for still watchin’ them) but I do miss Gotham Central, like a lot of people … I still can’t figure out why they cncelled it … (yeah yeah, I know — $$$)

  34. No more Fox cartoons–what will I…I mean my kids watch on Saturday mornings.  What is the email for Fox so I can tell them they suck nuts?

  35. The dog’s name was Ms. Lion, DAMNIT!! I had that episode alone on tape as a kid and would watch it like every other day.

  36. It’s a sad state of affairs when it took 16 hours to catch that typo.

  37. Yes, without going into too many details, new cartoons do suck!  They should make a TV channel that plays nothing but cartoons from a decade or two (or maybe three) like Ducktales, Muppet Babies, Batman: The Animated Series, Spiderman (FOX), X-Men (FOX), Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Bobby’s World, Ghostbusters, etcetera.  I would watch it all day long!  Cartoon Network doesn’t play any stuff like that.  What gives?

  38. They have that, its called Boomerang

  39. To me, Boomerrang’s going a bit the way of Cartoon Network in that a lot of the golden age toons are getting phased out now.  A lot of the shows I would strangle a head of state to watch on a regular basis like the Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera shorts, and the MGM stuff is either getting downplayed or outright taken off the network to make room for the newer stuff Cartoon Network pushed off their network.  A lot of the stuff I loved both stations for is late at night now or not on at all which is sad.

    And I miss my 90’s toons: Gargoyles, BTAS, X-Men, Marvel Action Hour, Rocko’s Modern Life, Animaniacs, Doug, Freakazoid, ARGH Real Monsters etc.  And they were good, too!  Even now I’m 22, I love Gargoyles and Batman without any sense of irony about it.  Those were just REALLY well-done stories all around, kids’ toons or otherwise.  That was a friggin cartoon renaissance, the 90’s.

  40. Batman the Animated Series was my favorite cartoon as a child.  But I used to enjoy X-Men just as much.  In fact after Batman, my favorite superheroes were the X-Men.  But watching re-runs of the show now is painful.  It just doesn’t hold up.  I used to like Gambit as a kid, but all his referring to himself in the third person drives me nuts as an adult.