I've just finished reading a whole whackpile of Buffy comics. Both the regular series, which essentially fills in gaps in the main chronology, and the Fray miniseries set some 200+ years in the future. The combined experiences leave me wondering something.

Why is it that, in every comic book future, the future is portrayed as a grim, dystopian place? I'm sitting here absorbing the reads and wondering, what's the point of all this gloom? I can think of a few possible reasons, and I think i want to go over them here.

First, there's the obvious one. For some reason or other, nearly every single comic writer who has ever felt like doing a future story has concluded, after giving it a lot of thought, that the future is doomed to be this tangle of gloom, petty crime, technological dehumanization, and mutations. In addition, of course, the societies of that era will be stratified to an extreme, with the lower castes being the sole repository of goodness, and the forces of law something to be respected at most and feared most of the time.

Second is the almost-as-obvious suggestion that, just maybe, these people need to take the Blade Runner DVD out of the player, put the Gibson and Sterling in a box to gather dust, and spend a little bit of their creative energies imagining their own visions of the future. But, hey, that's just a suggestion.

Thirdly is a possiblity that just occurred to me a few minutes ago, and that's that the writers have to use futures of such crushing darkness to contrast the light that they want us to see in their heroes. We've gotten so accustomed to the old hero cliches that there's really not much an average writer can give us to make us sit up and go "Wow, what a hero!" So, instead, they feed us middle-grade heroes who are made to seem special more by the collection of superpowers and the dearth of hope that they have, instead of by being a character that overcomes the more mundane. Now, i can see a lot of fiction that this accusation could apply to, and I suspect that very little of it fits. But it's a thought.

I guess it's just me, sitting here feeling a bit doomy about the future. It's corny, but I really do need to believe that there's more than that. The things i want to see don't happen in worlds like that. I want to see growth, light, strength, not this pathetic caricature of a future, where technology has become dead weight, not the wings it should be.

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