Hey, everybody! Long time, no write, sorry about that! So, let me put this title into context.
To sum it up as briefly as possible, the series protagonist, Saitama, is an everyman that trains hard to the point of losing his hair, to become a super hero. He is later on joined by the cyborg Genos and join a super hero association (think Avengers in a way), as Saitama continues to find an opponent that he could actually be challenging to defeat.
It's become so popular, it actually has spawned a sequel/prequel named My Hero: Vigilante. The series also became hugely popular after the debut of the anime.
Both series manga and anime has become big, especially here in the US. Throughout the year and at NYCC, I kept hearing how Japan is making better super hero comics than the US and getting beat at their own game, and that got me to thinking.
As a fan of both American and Japanese comics, I couldn't help but wonder, are they making comics better than in the US? Or is it not as cut and dry as some people may believe?
One of the things I find intriguing is that many of the people that say that Japan is making better super hero comics than in the US, actually do not like American comics to begin with. And that's fine, I can understand why. But simply saying that without even having read or watched any American related super hero stories, is it a fair statement to make that something else is better than the thing you didn't like to begin with? But that may be stretching a bit into things being about opinions and feelings. So, let's take some things into account.
So in a sense, the manga industry is a mixture of Image Comics with DC/Marvel. Yes, the creators own their creation, but the editorial staff also has a lot to say and a lot of input on the art/story of the mangaka, so they still have to answer to an editorial team more or less the way a creative team has to answer to an editorial team at DC/Marvel.
But again, even with a relatively strict editorial staff, the creators still enjoy the freedom of doing their own creation without the baggage of years of continuity from different creators on characters they don't own, which leads me into my next point.
Manga super hero stories do not carry the baggage that DC/Marvel has in terms of the history of the character and all the creative teams that came before them. Especially over the decade or so, the major publishers have had their share of trouble because of big events after big events that continue to bog down and create even more baggage on the genre. Both companies are at fault for doing this, but Marvel especially over the past few years it has been big misfire after big misfire with their company wide events.
It's latest event, Dark Knights: Metal, has also been more of a fun ride as well.
What's very appealing about manga super hero comics, is that you can just pick it up, and read, and done. No need to buy a volume of a different manga because of a world shattering event, no years of baggage and continuity checks. Just pick up, read, and have fun. And that's something that in many ways American comics have forgotten about, even at creator owned indie companies.
There are many indie companies that practically say right upfront: "no super hero need to inquire." "Supero hero stories are not for this company, go to Marvel or DC." And while there is absolutely no problem with companies having their own style and genre subject, the snobbish way the act towards fans/creators of super hero comics doesn't help, either. And again, I understand why some people may not like the genre, or maybe once liked it, but are feeling the "super hero fatigue", or are simply turned off by the constant events. But, does that mean that super hero comics are dying in the US?
So, is Japan making better super hero comics than the US? Personally, I wouldn't say "better", just that they have captured so well how much fun it was to read a super hero comic. And I hope American comic book publishers across the board would remember and capture that fun, too.
-Lance "The Fun Emo" Danger