This morning I was pondering exactly what it is I love about comics. What it is that really speaks to me. That keeps me coming back, even after quitting for month or year long stints.
On the surface, I just love the bright, colorful costumes, the flashes of lightning that streak behind The Flash, the green energy constructs of Green Lantern, Captain Marv... err... Shazam's red and gold cosutme, with the bold lightning bolt on the chest. I love the visual appeal of a superhero comic.
Going a little deeper, I love the story of the good guys beating the bad guys. I love the idea of a super powerful dude standing against bad people, and the bad people can do nothing to beat him. It makes me feel more secure. It gives me a sense of justice in a world that usually doesn't seem fair.
But when you come down to it, I think the thing that really hits me in the gut of my soul, that makes me dearly love the comic I just read, are moments with heart. Moments where a hero just sits with a friend and puts his hand on his shoulder, or does the right thing, even if his life would be incredibly easier doing the wrong thing.
For example, in a Justice League arc where Mark Waid fills in for Grant Morrison (JLA #21), Adam Strange asks the Justice League for help. It was a great story, but the best part was at the end. We find out Adam Strange can't get back to the planet Rann to see his family. The Justice League is at their headquarters, and realize Martian Manhunter isn't around. We then go to another scene and find Adam Strange looking longingly into the stars, and Martian Manhunter is there, with a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Another example is Astro City: Confessions. The city is at a point where they HATE their heroes, and the Mayor is trying to put them all in jail. Alter Boy (Yes, his name is ALTER BOY, don't laugh!) is frustrated with how the city is acting, and the Confessor tells him how you still need to do the right thing, no matter what, regardless of whether those you're helping deserve it. Later, the Confessor does something incredibly heroic and sacrificial.
The ending issue of Starman are rife with moments with heart. ESPECIALLY the funeral towards the end.
A more current example is in the New 52 Justice League book. During Darkseid's invasion Green Lantern is losing it, and ready to hang it up. Batman takes him aside and gives him a pep talk, where he opens himself up, and lays out his soul, giving GL the strength to keep going. I was not a huge fan of this book, but that moment (and the earlier introduction of Wonder Woman eating ice cream with a little girl) were the ones that made the story worth reading.
I even found some great moments like this in, crazy enough a place, a Transformers comic. "The Death of Optimus Prime" had robots showing more emotions than many humans do.
It seems like it's harder and harder to find these moments in comics. So many books seem to need to have a dark edge, a clever twist, or just huge explosions. It seems harder and harder to find heart.
I miss that.
Anybody have any recommendations where I could find it?