Alan Moore has never been shy about showing his disapproval, and this time that disapproval is turned on the rising popularity of superheroes.
Even if you've never read a comic book or watched a cartoon in your life, it's been hard to escape superheroes for the past five years. The success of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Zack Snyder's Man of Steel got plenty of attention, but Marvel Studios' ever-growing movie universe got even more. Add to that the continued success of X-Men films at 20th Century Fox, the Amazing Spider-Man reboot at Sony Pictures and the countless toys, games, T-shirts and other apparel on the shelves at stores everywhere, and you're living in a world of superhero ubiquity.
In some ways, you could argue that Alan Moore laid the foundation for this. After all, he penned some of the most acclaimed superhero comics of all time in the 1980s, stuff like The Killing Joke, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and, of course, Watchmen, all of which offered a more mature take on classic superhero characters and tropes and got many adults excited about the medium again. But ask Moore how he feels about superhero stories now and he immediately responds with disdain. His reason? Well, it's a somewhat complex answer, but his main point seems to be that superhero fans now are just too old.
"I haven't read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen," Moore told The Guardian in an interview to promote his new limited comic series Fashion Beast. "I hate superheroes. I think they're abominations. They don't mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it's nothing to do with them. It's an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience."
So, apparently, if you're still into superheroes and you're no longer a child, you're "emotionally subnormal"? That seems to be what Moore's saying. And he goes on to address the continued success of superhero movies, noting that the genre has gone beyond its supposed purpose, with "alarming" results.
"I don't think the superhero stands for anything good," Moore said. "I think it's a rather alarming sign if we've got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s."
Moore famously built his career on subverting expectations in superhero stories, but these days he seems to be outright dismissive of the genre. Still, he continues to be a master when it comes to stirring the pop-culture pot, and this interview is, if nothing else, yet another shining example of that. It's also an indicator that he seems to be done with Superman stories, no matter how much money DC Comics might dangle in front of him. That's no surprise, though.
Well, since this interview is going to throw sparks everywhere whether we ask or not, what do you think? Is Moore right, or is he biting the hand that feeds him?