Sunday, May 22, 2005

Oh, To Feel Young Again

Remember when you were a kid and you first read comics? Remember that feeling? Remember when you weren’t thinking in terms of dialogue and plot and theme? Remember when it was story and action and fun? Remember when you just wanted to BE the characters you were reading about?

Yeah.

One of the sucky bits about getting older is that we tend to stop having that same level of out-and-out fun with stuff. We find ways to justify our love. We talk about comics that are “good” and “bad”. For the most part “good” equals “something I like” and “bad” equates with “something I don’t like”. But we can’t just say that, we feel some need to justify it- so we come up with convoluted explanations and try and find others to back us up on our opinions. We pseudo-intellectualize.

And that’s cool. Being an adult isn’t horrific, and learning to re-appreciate things in a more “mature” manner is pretty neat.

But…..

Don’t you love those moments when you’re just knocked out of all that happy horseshit and you just groove on a book like you did when you were a kid?

I’m currently grooving on two books like that. Livewires and Young Avengers. These are the two comics I actually check the release dates on. They’re also the two comics I actively try and avoid spoilers for. I have big love for these two books because when I’m reading them (and re-reading them and re-r-e-reading them) I feel like I did when I was a kid.

Livewires is about some kick-ass mecha on a secret mission to destroy secret government projects. The mecha are funny, sexy, silly and stoic by turns. The stories are over the top and hyper-silly and totally wonderful. Adam Warren, the mad wicked guru of the American version of The Dirty Pair, is a writer who writes fun very well. Most everything he does brings a smile to my face and Livewires is no exception.

Young Avengers was an impulse purchase. I like Jim Cheung’s art a lot- kinda a cross between Travis Charest and Chris Bachalo- and every now and then I dip into the Avengers again. So it seemed like a nice little purchase. First issue hooked me big time. Subsequent issues have gotten even better. I’m a sucker for teen superheroes and Young Avengers is shaping up to be pretty darn cool teen superheroes. It gives me the same feel that The New Teen Titans and Legion of Superheroes did back in late 70s and early 80s- that kind of fun adventure crossed with nice character interaction thing.

There are so many things I love about these books. The possibly gay Hulkling and Asgardian, Young Kang trying not to be evil, Stem Cell’s crush on Hollowpoint Ninja, Social Butterfly’s silliness, Patriot and Kate’s obvious attraction, the upcoming big smackdown with older Kang, the failed Sentinel test….so many things that make me smile and keep me reading.

There’s nothing about these books that is deep or thematic or adult. They’re nothing but massive jolts of fun. I find myself wishing I was as cool as the characters- that I had the cool ass mecha abilities, that I could multitask like Cornfed, that I could go back in time and be a teenage superhero.

These books came along at the right time for me. I’ve been feeling a slow burnout on comics. Watching Marvel retcon everything that was cool about Morrison’s run on New X-men and ruin the tone of the X-Canon completely has been a bummer. Watching every comic become “decompressed” while most stories need compressing desperately works my nerves. Seeing writers I love churning out work just to have work out depresses me. Watching the endless retcons and recastings that result in books that look different but are fundamentally the same irks me. And the ham-handed seriousness of some of the indy fare just makes me sigh.

So it’s a good thing, no a GREAT thing, that books like Livewires and Young Avengers come along and remind me that you can love comics. And that it is okay to love comics without having to justify the love.

Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’m gonna go spend some time thinking about whether or not Gothic Lolita could whup all the Young Avengers on her own.

11 Comments:

Blogger Vaklam said...

Let's see:

Yes.

Yes.

Hell, yes!

Yes.

I am physically incapable of agreeing with you more about Young Avengers I haven't read Livewires yet but on the strength of your post I'm sure gonna now!

5/23/2005 01:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying both of those books too. Livewires I bought on the strength of Adam Warren, and have not been let down. it's just FUN. Young Avengers I bought on a total whim. just accidently stumbled on it and it's been really solid angsty stuff. Both are up there with Runaways as top Teen type books on the market.

- Jed

5/23/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I can't totally get into Young Avengers. The eary underage panty stuff bugged me quite a bit, and it hasn't done anything to really make up for it yet.

But Livewires is fun comics. Entertainment that doesn't require a brain shutdown.

5/23/2005 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

Early underage panty stuff?

5/23/2005 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Where Giant Girl first grows, you see a bit more of child's lacy underwear than I care to see.

5/23/2005 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

Hmmm...I never even noticed that. I jsut went and looked. She's probably worn less to the beach, but whatever gives you the creeps I guess.....

5/23/2005 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I teach kids, a lot of whom have been exploited, so I'm a little extra sensitive when it comes to underage T&A stuff.

5/23/2005 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

One of the sucky bits about getting older is that we tend to stop having that same level of out-and-out fun with stuff. We find ways to justify our love. We talk about comics that are “good” and “bad”. For the most part “good” equals “something I like” and “bad” equates with “something I don’t like”. But we can’t just say that, we feel some need to justify it- so we come up with convoluted explanations and try and find others to back us up on our opinions. We pseudo-intellectualize.

I can't say that I agree with this. I think it's a problem for some people, certainly, but I don't think (at least, for me) that something I like must be "good." I like plenty of crap. The converse is also true--there are some great comics out there that I just don't like.

For example, both LOVE & ROCKETS and WATCHMEN are Good Comics. However, I adore LOVE & ROCKETS, but I only appreciate WATCHMEN--I have no attachment to the material, no matter how well structured it is.

I have been enjoying YOUNG AVENGERS thusfar. Inside, I'm still hashing out whether or not I think it's capital-G Good, but I'm enjoying it, good or bad.

5/23/2005 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger chasdom said...

Both of these comics are titles I would have loved as a pre-teen. For some reason, Livewires still resonates with me, it's just really really fun.

On the other hand, Young Avengers I can appreciate. It reminds me of the Roger Stern/John Buscema Avengers Mansion siege - really good for what it is, but worked a lot more for me as a kid than it does now. Solid, and I really can't criticize it, but it's just not my taste.

As I type that, though, I wonder if it matters to me that Livewires feels like a new book, whereas YA feels like an Avengers legacy book? The "new characters" angle really is an asset of Runaways, at least, so maybe.

5/23/2005 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Yes, I find it hard to recapture the sense of wonder and fun that comics used to give me, but occasionally I find it... not in things like Livewires or Young Avengers, but in things like Seven Soldiers #0, which, admittedly, is not brainless fun but well-thought-out wonder.

Sure, I can read DeFalco issues of Thor and have fun even though they're technically bad, but as far as current stuff goes, I only settle for the best.

5/23/2005 08:55:00 PM  
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