Once Again With Feeling

I get the idea of pop culture nostalgia overriding critical faculties, believe me; as much as I get frustrated at seeing long-running comic book series turn into a series of seemingly never-ending re-runs and repetitions of previous successes — just today, Marvel announced the new X-Men series Inferno, which just so happens to share its name with the X-Men storyline from (checks notes) thirty-two years ago — I can’t deny that there are certain things that I grew up with that I find myself drawn to, over and over, in indefinable ways that I long to return to as an adult.

In almost every example of those things, though, it’s never actually a reboot or a retelling that I find myself craving. Whether it’s G.I. Joe, Transformers, or He-Man and the Masters of the Universe — I am a child of the ’80s, and happy to be so; I feel that it’s the highpoint of a kind of toy line that crossed over into cartoons and comics in a way that was both cynical for the times and effortlessly innocent in retrospect, and endlessly charming to me as a result — I never actually want to see a recreation of whatever I loved as a kid, and it’s also not enough to re-watch old cartoons and re-read old comics even with all the nostalgia that might bring.

(The old G.I. Joe comics in particular bring a lot of the old feelings back; in contrast, I find the old cartoons so bad that I’m almost pained to know that I liked them way back when.)

Instead, what I want is for something new — whether it’s new versions of stories with those characters and concepts, or something entirely new — to make me feel the same thing as I felt back when I was a kid and discovering these thing for the very first time.  That’s an impossible ask, I know, but ultimately, that’s what I’m nostalgic for, what I’m missing: A way to feel that sense of possibility and excitement again.

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