October 19, 2018

So, I have a pre-teen daughter and she is just beginning to get into comic books. And, that was somewhat predictable as I collected comic books from around 1975 until about 1984, and I continued reading them for several years after that and just recently got back into it.

Let me tell you, comic books are quite different now than they were a few decades ago. X-men was huge when I first started reading and collecting. Wolverine was the mysterious Canadian superhero. Hulk and Captain America were super boring. DC was a joke, and their stories tended to be quite predictable.

Things are very different now. There is swearing in comic books. There is blood and guts in comic books. There are a lot of mature comics out there right now, and there were very few while I was collecting. In fact, it seems as if the ratio of mature to child-friendly comic books has reversed.

Having said that, my daughter loves reading Ms. Marvel, Unstoppable Wasp and the recent Marvel Rising series. So now I end up doing online searches for other comics that are suitable for her and her younger brother to read. There are some, and they aren’t just comic books any more.

I remember when graphic novels were first published. It was a big deal! No comic book creators were going to be able to tell the stories they really wanted to tell about their favourite characters, but would be able to write it and draw it for a mature audience. Now, graphic novels come in an assortment of genres and some are as suited for children as some are definitely not.

It’s all good, though. To each their own. I don’t mind a grown man or woman reading a comic about zombies eating someone’s brains, and I don’t mind a child reading a comic suitable for them. Comic books and graphic novels aren’t trash. Truthfully, they never were…well, many of them never were. The good ones had stories, and the images enhanced the stories. The art was…art. You would pause to absorb a huge panel that showed a scene you never thought you could imagine, despite the fact it contained no violence at all.

Getting back to Ms. Marvel and Unstoppable Wasp, I read through all the issues available to ensure they were safe for my children before I let them read them. Both were good to go. I’ve talked to comic store employees who gush over how wonderful both magazines are for young women.

I have to say…I agree. Both are pretty good reads, though a little simpler than my usual fare. And, both are suitable for pre-teen boys and girls. Also, both seem to be written specifically for that market. Which means they weren’t meant for fifty-something me. Keep it quiet…but I still enjoyed reading them.

However, when I have done internet searches on Unstoppable Wasp I seem to continuously pull up Youtube reviews of this comic. Most of the reviews are positive, pointing out who the stories are written for, the good points and the weak points, and then they give an honest assessment: “I didn’t enjoy it although it wasn’t meant for someone my age” or “I did enjoy it despite the fact it wasn’t meant for someone my age”.

Yet, some of the reviews are very negative, and for a short while I am quite surprised that grown men would spend so much time putting together a review of a product they apparently despised especially when it was obviously targeted for an audience which they are not a part of. I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised. There are always people out there willing to tear things apart just for the joy they get from spreading destruction. And, some people are naturally negative people…unwilling to see the silver lining no matter how fluffy and diaphanous the cloud.

This may be odd, but I showed my daughter the negative reviews. Then, I critiqued the reviews! I figured this was an opportunity for a life lesson. I guided her through her own analysis of the most recent issue of Unstoppable Wasp and shared two of the negative reviews with her, then sat back as she pointed out the obvious flaws in these men’s reviews. “But, Daddy. That man said they mentioned science sixty times in the book, but it was nowhere near that much. And it’s a book about girl scientists!”

Yes, the internet is a useful tool for teaching children! Who would have believed it!

Chris Kalyta