Many of my close friends, too, are or have been military. While the election talk in most circles (rightly so) is about the economy, for many of my friends the topic gravitates toward what the election may mean for redefining what is considered appropriate use of the military.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD
Given that, it pains me to see the military -- which performs so impressively in battle -- do so poorly on the spinner racks. At Big Monkey, we easily sold out of the Obama/McCain comics; this is not just a political town, but THE political town. But, comic books starring or featuring the military? Even when we get small numbers, they still languish on the racks like the Austrian Navy.
Guerillas. The War That Time Forgot. The Unknown Soldier. The Haunted Tank. War Heroes (even with male genitalia!). Even Iron Man, Director of Shield. They don't even sell as well as Moon Knight, for pity's sake. Why is that?
Part of the reason could be the post-Vietnam unpopularity of the military. Once upon a time, the military were almost always the heroes in popular literature. But in our lifetime, it has been fashionable to "blame the gun"; since wars can't be waged without the military, we blame the military for wars (and even the personnel themselves). Even worse, the military are often the Black Hats. Now, in comics, anyone should be fair game; politicians, teachers, military, police, beauticians-- any authority figure can be the Corrupt Person in Power (tm). But the Evil/Callous/Lunatic U.S. military officer has gone from trope to cliche, and when an officer shows up in popular literature, most viewers/readers immediately look for the other shoe to drop, where they find out not whether he's an asshole/threat, but simply in what way he's an asshole/threat.
Perhaps it's because military comics suffer from unfabulousness (as, certainly, some of my military friends do). When you've alien beings hurling autos at one another and spandex-garbed anatomy models doing triple-backflips, watching grunts try to take a hill can feel like watching a plumber fix a toilet: necessary, but without any engaging glamour.
On the other hand, the problem could be the opposite. Just look at the list of military comics listed above. Trained, armed apes; soldiers versus dinosaurs; masters of disguise; haunted tanks; superpowered non-civilians; flying aircraft carriers. Perhaps the problem isn't that military comics aren't fantastic enough; perhaps it's that they're too fantastic. I love chocolate ice cream; I love lima beans; but even I would not expect lima beans & chocolate ice to be a good combo.
Or is the problem more subtle and fannish? Is it that any story outside of Mainstream Continuity will languish, and that putting a military story into the DCU/616 worlds automatically makes is a superhero story?
What's YOUR theory about the current state of military comics?