Kids of ALL ages! Why, Simba Information claims that one in four comic book readers are over 65!
but many of today's comics are anything but that. Turn the pages of DC Comics now and you will find plenty of blood, sex and violence.
It's a sign of the times, I'm afraid. Like you, Sherri, I miss the good old days when DC Comics would never have been sullied with
It is part of an edgy makeover that has caused controversy among some comic fans.
And it takes so much to provoke controversy this famously placid fanbase, Sherri! Clearly, this is world's worse than when Speedball became Penance, when a Latin America wrestler broke Batman in half over his knee, and when Superman/Flash/Wonder Woman/Green Lantern killed Zod/Zoom/Max Lord/the entire Green Lantern Corps and then the entire universe. .
DC Comics' characters include the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.
Ah, sorry, Sherri; otherwise I agree with you completely, but I must correct you on this one small point. There are no characters that are "the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman." Only Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are "the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman." I am surprised a comic book expert like you doesn't know that.
Today, some of these superheroes would make Archie and Veronica blush. "They more or less darkened the characters up. Today, they introduce a lot more reality into it like homosexuality, adultery, all that stuff. It's in the books now," said comic collector Joe Blackwell.
Oh, SO true! I weep that the home medium of Archie and Veronica is being sullied by
He started reading comics when he was eight years old, but they didn't look like the ones in stores now.
Joe Blackwell? The one in the "Rap with Cap" letters column in Captain America Vol 1 #160 (April 1973)? He's about my age then!
There is Batman and Catwoman having sex on the rooftop,
Remember this one from our childhood, Joe?
a drunken Bruce Wayne,
or the Batman Year One adaptation?
and graphic images of blood-splattered battles with heads chopped off.
Can't they keep it tidy, as they did in the Golden Age?
Sigh; we all miss the Spectre.
"It's sort of like a fictionalized Playboy for kids at its worst,"
said Neil Bernstein, Ph.D., a child psychologist and author of "How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble."
Hm. That sounds way too much like a "Delinquency for Dummies" book; needs a punchier title!
Critics worry the once family friendly genre has gone too far. Psychologists point out the overexposure to sex and violence for young children can encourage aggression.
"I think too many kids would be put in harm's way or at risk," Bernstein said.
The female characters are more sexualized.
One of the most noticeable transformations is Starfire. The character goes from a kids Cartoon Network superhero in a full-length jumpsuit to a scantily clad, voluptuous version in the comic Red Hood and the Outlaws. This Starfire is shown in a barely there bikini or the equivalent of pasties over her breasts and a thong. "Do you want to have sex?" she says propositioning her boyfriend's pal, and later says, "Love has nothing to do with it."
Oh, agreed! I don't know why they couldn't have just stuck her original portrayal:
I much preferred her as an unwilling sex-slave of sadistic slavering masters. This whole independent woman with an uppity "Down With Love" attitude approach? It sends the wrong message.
It is these kind of images and suggestive language that concern Bernstein.
"It's a misrepresentation of reality. It sends the wrong message," he said.
It's true, it is a misrepresentation of reality; few comic book readers are going to have voluptuous, scantily clad women asking them for one-night stands. Particularly alien princesses. I can honestly say it has never happened to me!
Relationships are portrayed as one night stands with rampant promiscuity. The treatment of women is more misogynistic.
"We want our kids to think sex is an act between two consenting mature individuals who care deeply for one another. That doesn't really come across and it's too easily to misconstrue things particularly for a kid," Bernstein said.
Sigh. We all miss Jim Corrigan.
The changes to DC comics appear to mirror the changes on the big screen. Remember the original Batman TV series? The superhero defeated the villains without a drop of blood shed. Fake punches came with a "Kapow" across the screen. Compare that to 2008’s Batman: The Dark Knight. In the comic world, that sells.
Indeed; any pre-New52 hero worth his salt knew how to do it tastefully:
snap their necks. Just as fatal as decapitation, but less blood. Saves on red ink, too. Kids need to know that being a criminal--and fighting them-- can be a clean and pleasant experience for everyone, including any bystanders watching.
"I think they're definitely trying to push the envelope, get people's attention with it," said Jared Smith, President of Big Planet Comics.
He sells hundred of titles at his Vienna, Va. comic book store, some for adults, some for kids. The re-launch of DC Comics he says drew a lot of attention. Sales surged for the new editions. A lot was driven by the hype, but sales he says have since leveled off. Many liked what they saw, but some turned off fans stopped buying.
"It made a lot of people unhappy with it or it was something they just didn't want to read," Smith said.
Important point, Sherri! I'm sure the reason that most of fans were unhappy was because Starfire was underclad, rather than, say, that DC invalidated most of the continuity they'd had spend the last thirty years patiently reading and paying for. Because, heaven knows, if it weren't for Starfire's overt sexuality ruining it, I'm sure I'd be an avid follower of Red Hood and the Outlaws.
These types of changes seem to be cyclical with comics to drive up sales. Smith says DC Comics had fallen behind its main rival Marvel and wanted to make a big change. In the last five years, he said DC Comics has gone from a more "lighthearted" comic that is "fun adventure for everyone" to one that is "much more violent, and in some cases, much more graphic in the violence."
I agree, Sherri, completely with your decision to point out that DC is only turning "darker" to keep up with Marvel, which is relentlessly grim with wife-beater Henry Pim, alcoholic man-whore Tony Stark, and obvious repressed-homosexual Dr Doom. But I also agree with your decision to focus only on DC's shortcomings and ignore Marvel's, whose big-budget movie success for 20th Century Fox are probably part of what is making Fox News criticism of DC Comics possible.
DC Comics was contacted for the story, but would not discuss its reasons for the re-launch or the content of its books. In a presentation, Smith says DC Comics "described what they were trying to do was to boost their sales, but they also wanted to bring back some old readers who may not read comics anymore, but also attract new people who have never read comics."
Based on his sales, Smith says the company was successful at getting lapsed readers to come back, but not necessarily bring in new comic fans.
DC Comics uses a voluntary rating system, like others in the industry. It serves as a guideline for buyers and there is no requirement that stores enforce it. The racier more graphic comics are rated teen (T) or teen plus (T+). That means they are not meant for young kids to read.
Middle schoolers who saw the comics had mixed reaction on the age appropriateness of the images. "There's a lot of sexual activity," Diego Meneses said immediately after looking at an edition of Catwoman. Under the guidelines, Catwoman's rating is T+. Meneses said you should be at least 16 years old to read it.
Look, I'm 100% on your side, Sherri; so, just one word to the wise: probably not a good idea to make a 12 year-old read something labelled by its publisher as "for ages 16 and up". Oh, and don't take little Diego to see "The Exorcist" or "Deep Throat".
Marguerita Garcia's jaw dropped when she took one look at the comics. "Scary," she said.
Garcia has an 11-year-old daughter who likes to read comics.
As in Archie & Veronica? Or as in Punisher War Journal? I think specifics will really help us make our case, Sherri!
She says parents need to be aware of what their kids are watching and reading. As for these comics, she said "I think it's too much even for 15."
I know! It's very disturbing and frustrating! If only publishers had a simple convenient labeling system for indicating that a book isn't for any 15 or younger!
Another 12-year-old didn't flinch at the images in Batman Detective Comics with the Joker's bloody head pinned to the wall.