Friday, September 24, 2010

Street-level or Cosmic stories?

Karen: What do you enjoy reading about more: street-level stories or cosmic-level epics?

Karen: The street-level stories are typically more grounded in reality, with both heroes and villains either without super-powers, or with limited powers. There's usually a more personal stake or aspect to such stories.

Karen: Cosmic epics on the other hand, often span vast distances and locations, and feature characters with god-like power. While they provide great spectacle, the personal side of things may sometimes be lacking.

Karen: So which do you prefer?


joe ackerman said...

not to sound too obvious, but it depends on who the character is. if I'm reading Batman, or Spider-Man, then I want street level. if I'm reading Superman or the Fantastic Four, I want all-out cosmic goodness!!! I'm happy with either type of tale, providing it's what the character is all about. then again, if it's Howard the Duck, I want all kind of crazy cosmic-ass stuff going on at street level!

J.A. Morris said...

I wish I could give a short,concise answer,but:
Spider-man dominates my collection(comics,graphic novels,tpbs,masterworks,etc). He shows up more in my collection than any other character(s). I've also got a bunch of Daredevil books too(Miller's great,but I generally prefer the Colan/Brown era). So I'll go with "street level".

But it's really about who wrote & drew the stories. Some writers can tell great street or cosmic stories. Thomas,Conway,Engelhart,Shooter(in their prime)are examples. But Jim Starlin's did cosmic better than anyone since Lee-Kirby. I'm currently reading his 'Infinity Gauntlet' tpb and I love his Warlock & Mar-Vell stories. It's But I'm not a fan of his Batman stories.
And this is a case where artists make a big difference too. Bronze age superstars like Byrne,Cockrum,Perez,John Buscema, could draw street & cosmic with equal results. Look at 'The Korvac Saga'. The first part of the story drawn by Perez feels like an epic,grand story. The end of the story is drawn by Dave Wenzel and doesn't look very epic or cosmic. I'll leave it at that for now.

Doug said...

I'll agree with both comments above. What I really don't like are the street-level heroes who are shoe-horned into an epic tale. Spidey + the Avengers + in space = yuck. Ditto for a Batman/Legion crossover. It just doesn't work.

That being said, there can certainly be some interesting tales spun with the cosmic heroes stuck in a back alley situation. I rather enjoyed watching Charlie-27 stalking around the streets of New York way back in those Defenders books we looked at awhile ago. Justice in space isn't always akin to what we mete out on Earth!

Reading-wise, I'll side with Joe -- depends on what I'm wanting at the moment. I just love a good DD or Batman story. But you can't beat it when Galactus shows up for a four-issue scrap with the FF, either.


Anonymous said...

I think I agree with JW more than joe. Cosmic stories are like the invention of CinemaScope. Some movies really used the epic scale to great effect, some just filled a big screen for the sake of it and were leaden. Likewise, cosmic tales need to have a nugget, a kernel, something real and human-scale at the core (although the joy of Kree/Skrull war was not having any idea what was going on most of the time and just watching the Avengers get battered).

Street level heroes like DD always have their best stuff when they’re down & dirty. I still remember Karen Page selling his secret for an armful of smack like it was yesterday. Actually quite shockingly real.

Doug – I agree about cosmic heroes queuing in McDonalds, always fun. Whilst I agree with JW’s point about Dave Wenzel’s artwork, if such it can be called, I also liked the fact that the Korvac saga ended in a suburban home. It was suitably ironic / non-cosmic, especially given that it was the loss of faith from his wife that actually brought him down.

Your Spidey equation is a good example of why you’re both right & wrong. I remember a dreadful Spidey + the Avengers + in space story (I think he hitched a lift on the bottom of a Quinjet and they went to fight some Dire Wraiths ?? And he was just there because he heard he could get paid for being an Avenger??), but, on the other hand..... MTIO Annual #2.
You knew I was going to say that, right?


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