Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Sayin'--The "YOU'RE NOT HELPING" Edition

So I wake up to greet the Internet with everyone in the comics blog intelligentsia all agog because Lex Luthor stealing forty cakes is now "canon," whatever that can be said to mean. And everyone can't stop wasting valuable ones and zeroes talking about how brilliant and clever it is.

Now, look:

I know it's just a throwaway gag, I know it's just a little extra Easter egg thrown in to please the fifteen--sorry, twelve--fans still left, but honestly, endlessly self-referential stuff like this pushes the audience numbers in one direction and that direction ain't "up."

Jesus, were it not for the Internet, people wouldn't even know what the hell "Lex Luthor stealing forty cakes" thing was all about, so it's a reference to a semi-forgotten DC tie-in book (written, funnily enough for people who didn't read comics, back when we made an effort to achieve such things) that turned into a minor Internet meme that is now a throwaway gag in a comic that exists, if at all, as a head-scratching reference for everyone who doesn't know what the gag's all about.

Comics about other comics, in other words. And while this may seem an innocuous thing, this kind of obsessive "everything is important" stuff ultimately leads to acute and virulent cases wherein you make Element Lad's girlfriend a magic tranny pill addict so he can be canonically gay because look at his goddamn haircut. [NOTE: This actually happened]

Sometimes I wonder if comics haven't already imploded and all that's left is a small handful of people cracking wise and trying hard not to notice. Comics, ladies and gentlemen! We can't seem to create much of anything the masses might want to consume but we're fucking fantastic at contemplating out navels.


B Phat said...

If this blog post were a cake, I'd steaL 40 OF THEM.

C. Elam said...

I don't read the comics news sites for the most part, so I had no real idea what you meant at first until I thought about it. To compound just how amazing this is, I OWN THE SUPER DICTIONARY. In fact, I've owned it for years--well before it became an Internet sensation.

The Super Dictionary is cute and fun and valuable for what it is. But there is something sadly ironic that everyone is all ga-ga over making this 40 cakes thing "canon", when I don't think most of the actual Lex Luthor comics appearances from that era are canon anymore. But then, what is? I genuinely have no idea.

The good/bad part? I don't care, either. And as I said, I ACTUALLY OWN THE SUPER DICTIONARY.

C. Elam said...

Oh, following up to add:

I love Collen Doran, I really do. But the comic that featured the Element Lad story you mentioned is one of the very few comics I've ever read that made me genuinely angry. Why? It's not because I hate transsexuals or homosexuals, because I don't.

I do, however, hate stupid, convoluted fan wank disguised as clever storytelling, and that book was one of the worst offenders I've ever had the displeasure of reading. It was as if anyone who was not part of the Legion fandom was considered suckers. That particular series had its moments, but it effectively destroyed the Legion of Super-Heroes for years.

Kazekage said...

B Phat--that's as many as four tens, and that's terrible ;)

Kazekage said...

If any of the now thirteen (!) people who followed my blog I would have guessed had a copy of The Super Dictionary it would be you. :)

I typically don't read comic news sites that much either, but every now and again I read something that angries up the blood sufficiently that I can contain myself no longer, and thus, I rant.

Hey guys? You know what might be a more valuable source of one's time than referencing a book for kids from 1978? Making Superman a book that was both appealing and available to people outside of the comic shop. I don't know--crazy idea.

I don't blame Colleen. She draws curls well, really, so if not her for an Element Lad story, then who? But you're dead on with what pissed me off about this and the Legion story: It was so inside baseball it penetrated to s sub-nucleonic layer wherein the only particles that existed were theoretical.

I know some people liked the Five Years Later stuff, and even I got on board with "Legionnaires" later on, but my God it seemed like so much of that book involved slipping in ideas from fanzines and shit and pretty much depressing the LSH audience down to only the hardcore obsessives, which frankly is where it's been ever since.

C. Elam said...

Haha! If you knew ANYONE at any point in your life who owned it, it would be me! I found it on close-out back in the 1980s/early 90s and never looked back!

I forget the process of how that story came to be, but its inherent lousiness can be summed up in the fact that Shvaughn Erin eventually went back to being a girl. Frankly, there are less insulting ways to deal with transgender issues than that nonsense.

No, you have pretty much nailed it. I had a big run of that book, and ended up getting rid of it. It sapped my love of the Legion away to nothing.

Kazekage said...

Your ability to find cool closeout books is frankly phenomenal, sir. :)

The bit that really kinda gets to me is that the whole impetus for the story is "Element Lad has a gay haircut, so he must be gay." And to be frank, I have real problems with the whole "Haircut is destiny" philosophy, as it's frankly shot full of holes.

Well, that's what happens when you write exclusively for the fanzine crowd, innit?