In our current social climate, the one high impact event that it is acceptable to use as children’s entertainment, is violence. The most extreme outcome of violence is death, therefore when it came to creating some high-impact events in Ultimate Spider-Man; first his uncle was killed off, then his father was put in a coma, and now his mother has been killed off. In less than 22 issues poor Miles Morales is finding out that the price of being a young superhero published by a mainstream company is death all around him.
Like a lot of adult comic book readers do at some point, I’ve been taking stock of my reading choices and the type of mainstream, ongoing, monthly comic books which I read. It took me a while to figure out what was bothering me, but I found that I was making a couple of assumptions which, upon closer examination, were wrong.
1. I’ve been assuming that I read predominantly two types of comic books; fantasy and superhero (apart from the odd foray into horror, bios, and science fiction.)
2. Without thought and with quite some negative judgement about it, I’ve been thinking of the fantasy genre comic books as “girl” comics, and the superhero ones as “boy” comics (e.g. some weeks are “girl heavy”).
These are depressingly reductive ways to look at the comic books I enjoy, and the more I thought about it, the more I saw how wrong I was.
As I write this, I’m slumped on the couch having just returned from New York Comic Convention. This was my second time at NYCC and I can confirm that it is a very different sort of affair from its West Coast counterparts like San Diego International Comic Con. Like New York itself, the convention is a little darker and more crowded, with less physical space for a similar amount of people and moodier lighting, the convention has an engaging urgency to it. Underneath all of the brash fun of the comic books, costumes, toys and games there is a definite New York atmosphere which bleeds through. Meeting up with all of my East Coast and European friends and colleagues in person is quite an experience too, since if we do talk, it is usually only talk online.