I recently visited Newsarama and found as the lead story a picture of a cat vomiting blood. After looking at the article more carefully, I learned that this was part of a "Green Lantern" storyline, which apparently involved lots of characters vomiting blood on each other.
There's nothing really wrong about having characters, feline or otherwise, vomit blood. It doesn't really do it for me in terms of getting me excited about this Green Lantern series, but I doubt I am the target audience and so it's sort of irrelevant.
But there are several things that have come to mind as the result of stumbling upon that Newsarama article -- not as a direct result, mind you, but as a starting point:
- I don't think the big debate in comics anymore is what Event is better, or if somebody thinks a certain character is handled in "the right way." The over-arching question that must be answered, as per any comic, is: "is this worth 3-4 dollars?" Everything else is minutia.
- In the struggle to convince the comic book consumer to pay the 3-4 dollars, publishers may "push" more high-concepts like cats who vomit blood. There is less time to build an audience or experiment with concepts that are either subtle and/or untested.
- If I write a column about current events in comic books, and I fail to "push" the vomiting cat, am I short-changing my reader by not being "in touch" with the times? And I ask that in all seriousness.
- In terms of mainstream in-continuity superhero comics being content that children can read, I will have to say that this battle is largely long over and done with. Children, rather than being the core reading group for comic books, are now a "niche" market. And they probably have been for at least a good 10-15 years. We all just had to admit the battle was over (stages of mourning, and all that).
- Regardless of the pros and cons of the blood-vomiting cat, the extremity of its nature has gotten its image replicated over and over again in a variety of contexts. Which means: it has done its job. We loop over to my first bullet-point: is it worth 3-4 dollars? And the second bullet-point: publishers push the "biggest bang" in the most extreme manner possible in order to convince the reader that this is worth their money. Not so much narrative, as outright stimulation of the senses.
- It is not enough to say: "comics are for adults, not kids." There are gray areas in a lot of current comic book material in that the comics are for adults, but are not really at an adult level.