Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

Over to the left, ladies and gentlemen, is a sample of my latest guilty pleasure: reprints of Superman Comics, circa 1958.

I can tell you I've never had as much fun reading a comic as I have with this compilation.

This little baby has been out for quite some time. At P500 (P400, with the discount) and 500 pages of nostalgic comic goodness, it's literally a steal. Cheapskate that I am, I had been putting off buying it. Up until two weeks ago when Fully Booked had a sale.

Why bother with all the old titles? Aren't today's comics much better?

Well, yes and no.

On one hand, I appreciate the way today's writers and artists are pushing the boundaries of the medium. Comics have never been grittier or more realistic or more human.

On the other hand, I think today's comics have lost a lot of the fun that yesterday's comics used to have. Today's comics take themselves far too seriously. Reading what I do of them, I always end up a little depressed.

Sometimes I read comics for the intellectual stimulation. But most times, I read comics to relax. Depressed is not relaxed.

Maybe I'm supposed to feel that my life is much better off than the characters portrayed in today's comics? Then again, I'm not big on schaudenfreud, unless we're talking politicians.

In contrast, the Superman of yore (and his sometime-partner, Batman) was pure goofy fun.

Case in point: the very first story in the Superman collection. A mysterious intruder has invaded the Fortress of Solitude. The intruder taunts Superman with graffiti on the walls, threatening to reveal Superman's secret: that his alter ego is Clark Kent!

Who could it be?

Why, none other than Batman! Ol' Bats is playing a prank on Superman to celebrate the anniversary of their meeting.

There are a few other priceless scenes. Batman shopping for an anniversary gift in a mall in full costume. Superman giving Batman his comeuppance. And Superman cutting a giant cake with a giant knife.

Like I said, pure goofy fun. It's the stuff that superdickery is made of. Superman and Batman then had more in common with Archie than with their namesakes of today. But so what?

These days, Batman is too busy being, well, Batman, psychoses and all. He wouldn't have time to play a practical joke on Superman.

Superman, too, has become way too gritty. No jokes, nosirree, he's all serious business.

Unfun. That's what today's comics are.

Luckily for us who want our comics to be FUN, we have a whole treasure trove of golden age comics to fall back on.

If you're thinking of buying DC Showcase compilations, compare prices first! They tend to be much cheaper at Powerbooks than at Fully Booked. Fully Booked, though, tends to have more titles in stock.