Now is a great time to be a comic book fan. Superhero movies rule the box office, with nary a Bat-nipple in sight. Writers like Ed Brubaker and Grant Morrison are churning out quality work for Marvel and DC, while the independent market has given us everything from The Walking Dead to Scott Pilgrim. And thanks to the term "graphic novel," hipsters can feel superior while reading about jacked-up men in tights and absurdly proportioned women beating the living bejeezus out of each other. However, there are still a few fanboy trolls who are ruining it for the rest of us nerds. Here are ten dumb things comic book fans do to set our favorite hobby back to the Golden Age.
10.) Think superhero comics are a financial investment Back in the '90s, geeks bought up multiple copies of "hot" comics like the "Death of Superman" and the "Drying Out of Aquaman" (okay, that one hasn't happened yet) in the hopes that they could someday pay off their mortage with a mediocre superhero comic. Eventually the speculator bubble burst when people realized that nobody wanted to buy their copy of Darkhawk #1, putting comic book shops out of business and sending Marvel and other publishers into bankrupty. (Ever heard of Defiant Comics? No? That's because they went out of business during the first Clinton Adminstration.) But many fans continue to follow the collector mentality today, purchasing and hoarding multiple copies of crossover storylines, "death of" issues, debuts of new series (of the ten best-selling comics of 2010, six were first issues) and other hyped-up "event" comics all in the name of getting rich quick. Unless you come across a mint condition copy of the first appearance of Superman amidst your grandma's weathered Collier's magazines, it's safe to say you won't be retiring on your funnybook collection any time soon.
9.) Store their comics in protective mylar bags This one also goes towards the outdated notion of comics as collector items like stamps or baseball cards. There's nothing wrong with wanting to keep your comics in good condition. But if you're buying them and storing them away in a climate-controlled nerd dungeon in the hopes that they'll accrue value without ever cracking open the cover, you're doing it wrong. Comics are meant to be read. Fold them half and share 'em with your friends. Keep them in your back pocket like a Little Rascal. If the previous sentence causes you to break out into hives, you are part of the problem.
8.) Freak out over the smallest change While currently the darlings of the media, comic book fans are generally a marginalized lot. Scorned by the general public and constantly jerked around by the companies that publish their beloved comics, comic book geeks know that they'll soon be back on the low-end of the nerd totem pole sandwiched between live-action roleplayers and So they cling to characters and storylines that have remained pretty much unchanged since the days of Prohibition. When Marvel and DC attempt to update these characters who are old enough to be your great-grandfather, hardcore continuity fans freak the f–k out. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman! Spider-Man has a black costume! Wonder Woman is wearing a denim jacket for some reason! I must immediately take to the Internet and voice my displeasure!
7.) Buy overpriced single issues In 1985, the average comic book was 65 cents. Today, fans are shelling out between $3 and $4 for a 22-page superhero story. Meanwhile, experts agree that trade paperback collections and digital comics are the future of the comic book industry. Japan caught on to this decades ago, opting for thick, affordable manga books over flimsy single issues. Trade paperback collections and digital subscription models make sense both economically (more bang for your buck) and creatively (less emphasis on event storylines that require readers to buy multiple titles ), yet fans still flock to stores every Wednesday to buy $4 stapled pamphlets when other formats are readily available. You don't see consumers lining up to buy the latest Lady Gaga track on cassette single. When the music industry is running circles around you in the progress department, you know you've got problems.
6.) Complain when their favorite character is killed off…and then buy the comic where he comes back Outside of soap operas and wrestling, comics are the only medium that thrives on killing off beloved characters and then bringing back them back as a clone or killer robot six months later. At this point, Archie is the only major comic book character who hasn't died in some horrific manner. (Though he has been sixteen since 1941, a fate perhaps worse than death.) After the deaths of Superman, Captain America, and many others, fans have become increasingly tired of over-hyped "Death of…" comics. And yet, they buy them like they're Pogs circa 1993. Then when Superman or Spider-Man or Captain Carrot comes back a year later, they also pick up the "Return of…" issue all the while swearing that this is the last time they'll fall for the oldest trick in the comic book publisher book.
5.) Insist that every superhero be a boring white dude Recently, there was a big to-do in the nerd-o-sphere over The Wire's Idris Elba being cast as Heimdall in Thor. Never mind that Elba is a fantastic actor and that Heimdall is a fictional character who controls a freaking rainbow bridge. Fanboys (and racists) flipped out about Heimdall being played by a black actor BECAUSE IT'S NOT LIKE THE COMICS. Meanwhile, recent attempts by DC Comics to change up their roster of predominantly white male characters were mostly met with indifference. (See recent multicultural versions of The Atom, Blue Beetle, and Firestorm if you can find the short-lived series they starred in.)These new characters aren't popular with fans, so what does DC (and occasionally Marvel) do? Revert them back to their original (read: white male) versions or kill off the new characters in horrific ways. While comic book writers regularly inject real-world subject matter (war, economic turmoil, awkward Facebook references) into stories to stay relevant, the universe these characters occupy is pretty vanilla. Comic book fans have no problem with their favorite titles reflecting our world — as long as that world is 1945.
4.) Dress up as Comedian and Silk Spectre from Watchmen Costuming as your favorite character, or "cosplay," is a popular pastime among comic book geeks. While there's nothing wrong with going solo as Watchmen favorites Comedian and Silk Spectre (or her daughter, Silk Spectre II), we've noticed an upswing in couples cosplay-ing these characters as a duo. Attending conventions as a fictional rapist and his victim (or a rapist and his illegimate daughter who he inadvertently flirted with) is more than a little creepy. What's wrong with dressing up as good, old-fashioned wholesome characters? Where's the Nancy and Sluggo cosplay?
3.) Scare off female readers With a wide variety of titles in various genres to choose from, now is a great time to be a female comic book reader. Not to mention that some of the best comics are being written and drawn by women. (Check out the work of Colleen Coover, Kate Beaton, and Gail Simone, among others.) However, the cliche of the trollish male fanboy, afraid of any woman who isn't clad in chainmail, is still a sad reality. You see them on message boards, posting lewd comments about fictional characters. Occasionally they'll emerge from their nerd lairs to leer at "booth babes" at Comic-Con. As female-friendly as the medium is now, the drooling fanboy is still constantly being catered to by publishers. If you need proof of the medium's continued male-centricity, take a look the new costume recently given to DC comics villain Harley Quinn. A fan favorite beloved by both sexes, her new outfit seems to be missing some fabric in the cleavage area.
2.) Allow quality comics to die Look at the top-selling comics, and you'll see a lot of books featuring a small handful of characters. Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men and a few other marquee names star in several comics that consistently crowd out other titles. Comics featuring new characters like Agents of Atlas routinely get ignored in favor of yet another Wolverine title. Fanboys also overlook quality comics because they feature stories that are outside of the ongoing Marvel or DC continuity. Take, for example, the sad tale of Marvel's excellent and short-lived Thor: The Mighty Avenger series. Despite being criticially acclaimed, comic book readers rejected it because it wasn't in continuity and therefore didn't fit into Thor's overly convoluted backstory. The fact that it featured sharply written stories with gorgeous artwork that were accessible to new readers didn't matter. So-called fans let one of the best comic books in years die a quick death.
1.) Argue over who is fastest, Superman or The Flash The answer is clearly Flash. Please consult Adventures of Superman #463 for proof. Come back to us when you can run so fast you cause a rift in the space-time continuum, Superman.