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Sensationalism and Fan-Baiting: The “Jade Age” of Comic Books
March 22, 2013Posted by on
Comic book eras are divided into “ages”. Comics of the 1930s and ‘40s are from the “Golden Age”. Comics from the ‘50s to mid-‘70s are part of the “Silver Age”. The “Bronze Age” is generally considered to be from the mid-‘70s to the mid-’80s. There really has not been a designation for comics from the late ’80s to now; it is given a general “Modern Age” moniker. However, given the way comic fans on the internet react in terms of seemingly hating everything based solely on small plot blurbs and rumors, I have seen some refer to now as the “Jade Age” since people are completely jaded about the industry.
Thing is, the whole overreaction to stuff on the internet is completely ridiculous. There is absolutely no need for it. You can dislike directions or story lines, but the hyperbolic negativity is completely out of hand. It seems like any decision DC or Marvel Comics make is met with overwhelming hostility. “Superman no longer wears red trunks! Screw you DC!” Seriously, who cares that much?
I suppose I can understand not taking change well. The hyperbolic reaction is stupid, but I understand it on a fundamental level. The bigger problem I have is when people bitch and moan about sketchy, unconfirmed rumors, and then, when the rumors turn out to be false, one of two things happen: 1) The internet feels they won by the company caving into their demands. I am just going to say this is horribly misguided. People on the internet overstate their ability to change things in popular entertainment; or 2) complain that editorial are wussed out by caving into fan demands. In short, there is no winning.
And, I think that is the key thing to remember: there is no winning for these companies. I am not going to stand here and say DC and Marvel are perfect. They aren’t and both have their fair-share of issues they are dealing with. However, people are so willing to bash them for as little a reason as possible that all rational thinking goes out the window.
For example, a few months ago, comic writer Gail Simone was reported to have been fired off Batgirl. Her online legion of fans went ballistic and shortly thereafter she was allegedly rehired. Simone’s fanbase ridiculed DC for back-peddling (seriously – what do fans want?). But, here is the thing about all of that: it was never once officially announced anywhere that she was fired/rehired. There was indeed a guest writer for two issues of Batgirl (which was later revealed by DC that it was a case of Simone being behind on her work).
All of that was merely a rumor (with some non-confirming tweets by Simone – she never actually said she was fired) and caught on like fire with the internet. Fans refused to believe the official story (I sort of believe that Simone had a “talking to” and, considering her online fanbase, went to the ‘net to stir things up – a theory that fits the actual revealed facts) because the rumor is so much juicier to believe and it gives them something to villainize.
However, the real sinners to all of it are sensationalist bloggers who like to play on fan’s hopes and fears. Specifically, people like Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool fame. I have a love/hate relationship with this site. On one hand, Johnston does get some good scoops now and then. On the other, he clearly fans the flames of half-truths and outright rumors to drive up ad revenue through clicks. Also, his blatant bias against DC is grating in its obviousness.
A perfect example of this just happened within the last few days. Comic writer Joshua Hale Fialkov walked off his recently announced assignments of Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns. Bleeding Cool reported that this was due to an editorial edict to kill off the character of John Stewart. Nowhere in Fialkov’s announcement tweet or in any of DC’s announcements was this cited as the reason. Bleeding Cool had a “high profile” source. The internet exploded in rage because of this (never mind the fact that the character has allegedly added nothing to the comic for a number of years and death in comics is never permanent).
Today, other writers from the other Green Lantern books reported that the death of Stewart was never in the works and that the story was completely false. Of course, Bleeding Cool refused to be proven wrong, so Johnston inferred an editorial change back and affirmed that the change was due to BC’s readers response to the news. This is completely irresponsible reporting.
Of course, the idea that this was never the actual plan did not cross anyone’s mind. What is truly sickening is that in the discussion thread connected to Bleeding Cool’s article has people just eating it up feeling like they are the victorious keyboard warriors. Additionally, they are already mocking DC for changing their decision (again, cannot win), and are looking forward to how DC is going to eventually spin it.
The “Jade Age” indeed.