Both Higher Earth and Planetoid start with a single white male protagonist falling from outer space onto a trashy, dystopian planet. Both men go on to survive their initial experiences by fighting the inhabitants of the planet, using the advanced technology they brought with them. Both of these books came out within the last couple of months and both are produced by relatively independent publishers that are considered forward thinking. Those are some pretty interesting parallels to be drawn from the first issues of a series that I bought on a whim. What does it all mean?
What it tells me is that we as a comic book industry have been dipping from the same well for far too long and that even when we see new titles from separate, independent publishers, we are getting the same metaphors and messages. I don’t think that these ideas were so brilliant that one or both of these companies pulled a Bugs Life vs. Antz kind of theft – the idea is not worth that much to either company and both books seem to go different directions by about 3-quarters the way through. But the overriding themes are the same: white man falls form sky with advanced abilities to punish/save the inhabitants of a wasted place. I think I’ve read this somewhere else before.
So, how do we fix this? Start looking for new sources of inspiration. Start looking for stories that are inspired by more diverse histories and backgrounds. But it’s not just the job of the creators. We as readers need to support new and inventive ideas. We as buyers need to support artists/writers with more diverse muses. We as readers also need to keep reading. Maybe we don’t get a story the first time we read it, we need to read it again or at least give it additional thought. As long as the comics are well-crafted – and we all know the difference between a well-crafted book that we just don’t understand and a book that is just not done very well – but as long as the book is an extremely high quality product, we need to give it more than a passing glance.