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March 2, 2014 / Jett

Notes From Comic Book Ground Zero

Marvel Now New 52Ever since I bought the Marvel Now and New 52 omnibuses, I’ve been on a bit of a comic book vision quest. The benefit of starting with these books is that I can start at the first issue of almost every Marvel and DC franchise. The experience has kind of been like reading the first chapter of a few dozen books, which in itself is a bit odd. But with the way comic book stories have progressed over the years, this is a perfect introduction to the landscape. I’ve still got a long ways to go before completing either book, but I did want to jot down some notes regarding my progress.

Most stories that I’ve read so far don’t actually start from the very beginning

With so many of these comics being billed as relaunches or reboots, I was expecting to read all about how Bruce Wayne’s parents were shot and how Superman’s parents sent him to Earth before the eventual fall of Krypton. Nope. At best, most of these comics graze the origins of each character before moving on with a different story. In some cases, these issue #1’s are largely a continuation of an existing story thread with just enough context or separation provided to stand on its own. I’m glad I didn’t have to read through well-worn origin stories again, though there were instances with characters that I’m not familiar with where a bit more context would have been appreciated.

A standard comic book issue is really short

Finishing an issue of a comic book takes about 5-10 minutes. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most, but they really don’t have much time to grab your attention. I find that the things I look for within that limited time frame are a good plot, interesting characters, visually appealing art and some sort of hook that makes me want to read the next issue.

So far, most of the issues I’ve read have been duds

I started my vision quest on familiar territory, which helped ease me into the medium. X-Men is a franchise that I’ve loved outside of the comics for a long time and reading All New X-Men Vol.1: Yesterday’s X-Men felt like coming home. I got the same sensation out of reading Batman. Once I started venturing outside of my comfort zones, I came across a number of comics that just weren’t cutting it for me. I guess if I were to sample 100 random video games, I’d probably feel the same way about most of that lot as well.

Art is more of an important factor to my enjoyment of these comics than I thought they’d be

I’m not really a fan of the new Captain Marvel story, but I love its striking water colour art style. I ended up not being a fan of FF, but its bright and kiddy look was enough of a differentiator to get me to check it out. For the comics I really like, I’ve noticed that they’re able to deliver on both story and art. I’ve even grown to appreciate the ways in which panels are laid out in a way that matches the flow of the on-page action. Having read a bunch of different comics in quick succession, I’m quickly developing a taste for what I like and don’t like.

Biggest surprise: Suicide Squad

Steff started reading the Suicide Squad after picking up issue #1 at Toy Expo last year and loved it. I read it and didn’t think much of it at the time. Recently, I read Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth and was really impressed by it. It has a great art style, quirky characters that share an interesting dynamic and dark story beats that kept me entertained and engaged throughout. This was largely off my radar before but I’ll absolutely make an effort to keep up with it now.

Biggest disappointment: Wolverine: Hunting Season #1

Despite my love for the character, Wolverine: Hunting Season #1 falls well short of my expectations. I think that it captures Logan as a character well, but I don’t like how it looks and I have no interest in the story that’s been set up. With Wolverine having at least one more solo line and a number of appearances in other Marvel titles, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Having said that, I still wish this was better.

As I make my way through these, I’ll post more insights and some of the series I want to read more of. Till then, happy reading!

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