Saturday, May 12, 2007

comics, comics, comics...

I've been spending alot of time reading comics.
which ones do i like?
well.. I'm traditionally a DC guy, but i have read quite a bit of marvel over the years. i used to hate image books, but that is slowly changing thanks to robert kirkman. nowadays i read different books for different reasons and i really don't care who makes the comics as long as it's a good read. i also understand that different people will like different comics. (DC fanatics, marvel zombies, indies fans, etc.)
I'll try to explain my love of DC. when i was a kid and just started collecting comics, i was exposed to mostly marvel. their comics had such great iconic characters such as spidey, the hulk, captain america, etc...somehow though i got bored a little with reading the same old characters. the books were fun enough, i guess, but i felt like i was missing something because it didn't matter what marvel issues i picked up, the same things kept happening. with the exception of spiderman i felt the stories were going nowhere. i had started reading novels at the time and loved the idea of continuing plot and character development.(or as my young mind put it "stuff happening") then i read DC's legion of super heroes. i loved the fact that there was so many colorful heroes, each with their own back story. it was set in the future so i got my sci-fi fix. and they made numerous references to past issues. i know most comics have little blurbs to tell the reader that this villain or that villain appeared last in issue whatever, but legion had anywhere from 2 to 7 different story lines going, and they would tell you where to look to find them or which issues to get. i guess it was like watching a soap opera. i would buy back issues to see where a storyline would start and then i would get hooked on another storyline and want to see where that started. before i knew it...i was trying to collect the whole series.
this led me to try other DC heroes superman, batman, flash, etc. the thing i really enjoyed was the sense of history these characters had. they had stories that went back all the way to the 1930's. WOW!!!. there just seemed to me that marvel had these great flashy characters that went nowhere and DC had these characters with history. i think they had a stronger sense of continuity. like i was reading some giant story that was constantly growing.
now before the marvel guys start raking me over the coals, i should point out that i don't hate marvel and i think they have put out MANY, MANY classic stories. they have had wonderful artists and quite frankly, had they not rejuvenated the comics industry in the 60's, i would not be reading comics today because most likely the medium would be gone. i just feel that from the 60's to around the early 2000's marvel's style of storytelling has not changed much. (with exceptions of course).
i feel like their idea of history is keep the comics and characters just like they were in the 60's. oh sure they change them, but in the end they always change back to the way they were. even this current state of marvel, with "civil war" and the initiative, does anyone believe that the marvel universe will not be back to way it was in a few years? does anyone REALLY believe that captain america will not be back from the dead within a year or two? marvel seems to resist permanent change.
this goes back to why i like DC. they are one of the few companies that will change their entire universe if need be. take "crisis on infinite earths" in 1985. where there was a vast multiverse, now there was only one. with "52" there is now a new megaverse. DC seems to have track record of having sidekicks or others take up the role of a specific hero. my favorite example is the flash. jay garrick was the 1st. he was active in the golden age. then came barry allen for the silver age. barry had a sidekick in kid flash named wally west. eventually, wally took up the mantle of the flash from barry who died in the crisis. years later wally was replaced by bart allen (barry's grandson). now sometimes the changes are good, sometimes i don't like them. the point is the characters in DC grow and change. they are part of a legacy. i like that. the new "justice society" comic is a perfect example of this. they have over 3 generations of heroes on the team. sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of classic heroes on the team. they respect their history for the most part. marvel just seems to drop stuff right out of continuity if they don't like it. just ignore it and it will go often has someone new taken up the identity of a major marvel character and kept it? not much i bet.
anyway, the comics i seem to enjoy the most these days are:

from DC
legion of super heroes (of course!)
justice society of america
manhunter (one of my new favorites!!!)
firestorm (recently cancelled "sigh")
justice league of america
the all new atom
blue beetle
countdown (the new weekly comic)
birds of prey
brave and the bold
trials of shazam!
jsa classified

from vertigo
jack of fables

from marvel
moon knight
the irredeemable ant-man (love robert kirkman's writing)
squadron supreme

from dark horse
buffy the vampire slayer season 8

from image
invincible (kirkman again)
walking dead (that kirkman guy gets around)
astounding wolf-man (enough with the kirkman already!!!!)
dynamo 5
madman atomic comics (he's back yea!!!)

other publishers
battlestar galactica
star trek
transformers (i like licensed properties)
army of darkness

i didn't count the numerous mini-series i read cause that would take forever! i also am probably sure i missed some other series, but will add them as i remember them.

anyway....tell me what books you like and why!

(this post is dedicated to my pal macguffin, who is slowly being dragged kicking and screaming back into comics) welcome back to the dark side buddy!!!


MacGuffin said...

lol, When I read the title of your post, I knew it was in response to my needling. And people say harassment doesn't get you anywhere. What're friends for eh. I'm gonna have to pick up Invincible at some point, I keep hearing good things. What do you think of the new Madman stuff? To me, the art has a crayola look to it. Not sure I like that. And I was bummed the new Nexus freebie was just a bit of this bit of that reprint. Damn you Rude! Thanks for the list, i'll get busy looking some of them up. You oughtta review some these you really like sans spoilers. And what do you mean Captain America is dead? Marvel wouldn't do that. ;)

Mob said...

Glad you're writing again, and I thought I should mention that I picked up the All-Star Superman hardcover awhile back, and it was a lot of fun, though I did have a quibble that I discussed with Macguffin that I thought you might have some thoughts on.

The two writers I see doing it the most are Morrison and Ellis, and while I love their work, they tend to paint things with a broad brush when it comes to pseudo-science jargon, yammering on with cool sounding bits about nano-technology and bio-engeneering that doesn't add up to a lot. Ellis in particular tends to yadda yadda a lot of detail when telling superhero stories, and while I thought it was an interesting approach at first, it's become the standard and it can be off-putting at times, having to fill in a lot of blanks yourself rather than the writer creating more of a fully fledged world in which to play.

Don't get me wrong, I love the work, it's just seems a tad lazy on occasion when they describe an entirely new universe in pne paragraph, and then proceed to destroy it over the next 22 pages, it makes it hard to get attached to the characters, y'know?

buckaroo banzai said...

macguffin old boy!
you are in luck. the very next issue of invincible (#42) is a recap of the whole series up to date. the best part is that the cover price is only $1.99. buy it or the trades. (i love this book )
i hear ya about the free comic day issue of nexus, but i can't wait for the new series (continuaton?)
now if they would only bring back the badger, i'd be in hog heaven!
by the way, i liked the new madman. it may not have been perfect, but i'm just glad to get anything by allred at all these days..

mobster..i think morrison and ellis write the way they do because it's supposed to evoke that "silver age" feel. having read so many silver age DC comics, i think it was the norm to say "here it is" it doesn't need any explanation. readers were kids and therefore not very sophisticated. explanations just get in the way of a character getting from point A to point B. all-star supes reads like a 60's superman book and that's okay by me.
now as for all-star batman....i don't know what miller is trying to say other than "look my talent has left me!". i joke at the comic shop that both all-star books are annuals. the lack of timeliness on either book is beyond me and i'm only going to collect them as trades.(if those ever come out beyond the first story arcs that is)

Blancodeviosa said...

Oh just admit it, you like Dawn

ultravox said...

So ok, blogger ate my old name, and my doggie ate my homework. So I had to re-up. Enjoyed the write-up, but dang, I don't have much to comment--I haven't been reading comics lately. I think the last thing I read was one of those Pekar American Splendor comics on DC. I picked up the Castle Waiting hardback collected book, but have yet to dive in, the last time I was in the Dallas area. I also picked up some back issues of Conan as the guy was having a sale at the time, which was a rare event. My fave comic shop in Dallas right now is: Titan Comics. Me and my brother usually swing by there when I'm in town, it's a huge superstore type affair--check it out if you're ever in Dallas, it's over off Marsh Lane, near Southwest Airlines airport: 3701 W Northwest Hwy (actual address). Castle Waiting is cool though, as I read the smaller paperback, if you like fantasy. I can see what you say about DC, and tend to agree, I prefer them myself. I'll try and check out a few of the titles you mentioned, making a list now ;) so thanks for that.

ultravox said...

Oh yeah, I agree with Macguffin: a blog on certain story lines or specific books would be interesting since I don't know much about some of the newer titles. I saw you listed the Shazam title. I read a few of the Power of Shazams by Jerry Ordway some time back, they were fun. How do the new ones hold up?

buckaroo banzai said...

hey ultravox!
thanks for the info on the dallas area comic shops! i'm so lucky to live in the middle of comic mecca! there are at least 5 honest to gosh comic shops within a 100 mile radius, and about a dozen more a little further out. (houston and dallas area) i'm talking about REAL shops, not that crap of having a cell phone store that happens to have a few comics in it. (you know who i'm talking about.) these shops have comics, statues, graphic novels, toys, videos, etc...
now about shazam!
the ordway series was really good and if you like the charaters, the jeff smith "shazam and the monster society of evil" 4 issue series is flat out awesome! it really capture the feel of the old fawcet comics. it is also a stand alone series. as far as the other series i read "the trials of shazam!", it has been controversial to say the least. what you need to know is that the specter a few years ago tried to wipe out all magic in the DC universe. his actions led to the death of the wizard shazam and the destruction of the rock of eternity. then it was reformed and billy batson seems to be changing into the new wizard. (complete with a white captain marvel suit and white hair). now freddy freeman (cap marvel jr) is going through trials to get the powers of shazam. he hopes to be the new captain marvel. the art is great and i actually like the story, even though others can't stand it. it's a 12 issue series up to issue 6 right now. give them a try and i hope that helps....

ultravox said...

Geek--thanks for the update on Capt. Marvel. I'd been curious about the Jeff Smith run, and also that graphic novel. A friend mentioned that it was controversial as well. I'll have to check these out. I saw where Hastings has the black and white collected book to the early Shazam stories, which I've only read a few issues of. I've been thinking about picking that up just for grins. I agree with the cell phone/comic shop thing, seesh, a great comic shop in our area would be nice, so you are a lucky guy in those regards.

You asked the question about what we were reading lately? And a lot of things I might read may not be the newest, hottest thing off the press lately, which is similar to the way I listen to music as well. I figure if something is good, it doesn’t have to be the newest model, or whatever, (which is not to say I don’t like a lot of new stuff either) nuff said. At any rate, some time back I picked up the collected Supreme: The Story of the Year by Alan Moore with various artist. Now for my money, I still think this British comic writer is still leader of the pack of comic writers. I place him in front of Miller, Morrison, and well most of them. Supreme, as you may know, was started by Rob Liefeld (whom I consider a hack) on Image Press. The character was very Kirby-inspired, whether homage or stolen, you be the judge. At any rate, I didn’t read it back in those days, as like you’ve stated, I wasn’t a big Image fan. The new collected novel which is issues 41-52a & 52b covers Moore’s take on the character, and is well worth seeking out and plunking down a few bucks for it.
To kick the story into gear, issue 41 starts off running, with a new Supreme returning to a double exposed-type Earth. Images of people and things are super imposed on each other, already setting the reader up for an off-kilter experience. Then Supreme is attacked by other similar looking Supreme beings. One that closely resembles him, a 70ish black Mr. T-talking gal Supreme, and last but not least *Yeek* a Mouse Supreme, yes I said a Mouse Supreme. Reading between the lines from the Liefeld tenure he had taken Supreme away from Earth seeking a host of counterfeit Supremes and other false Earths. So with his return to Earth for a little r & r, and upon finding these other Supremes and the world so odd, the reader and the main character, are caught off-guard and thrown into a pretty dizzying, discomforting, and kaleidoscopic world (something comic books are pretty good at conveying, more so than a lot of other media).
Furthermore, as you read, you can see that Moore is also referring to how the comic book industry reinvents its characters, starting from the Golden Age, thru the Silver Age, and on to the Modern and so forth. These other characters are products of this reinveniton. So when the newest installment of Supreme seems to have amnesia, its not so much that he can’t seem to remember his past, it’s that his past hasn’t been written for him yet. He’s soon taken into a portal called Limbo (get it? The place where comic characters are placed, when books go on hiatus.) There he begins to see other Supremes and understands where they come from: The 50's Supreme (and Mouse Supreme, which was a supporting cast member from that era), the 70's female black tough talkin’ Supreme, and so forth. So though at first, the comic world Moore has painted seems irrational, we begin to uncover what he’s driving at. The story reminds me of Morrison’s conclusion or end of the story arc to Animal Man meeting his maker (writer), and coming to the conclusion that he’s just an imaginary character, but in Supreme the book really begins “somewhat” in that manner. So you can read it on a couple of different levels: just as a weird action story or that Moore is also addressing the comic book industry and all its adaptations of keeping characters alive, modern and interesting for readers. Well, I’ll leave the conclusion up for you to read, and that’s just the first story in the graphic collection, there are other interesting stories to read in the book as well.

MacGuffin said...

I've been buying the Smith Shazam stuff, I'm waiting to read them. I've been tempted to read the Moore Supreme tp but hate the idea of giving Liefeld any of my money.

buckaroo banzai said...

ultravox and macguffin-
i have read the supreme stuff and it's not bad. it's like morrison writing spawn. great writer, bad comic character. i hate giving mcfarlane (and liefeld) my money.
vox, i'll see ya a moore and raise ya a morrison. try morrison's animal man and doom patrol runs for something special. both are in trade format.
i'm really digging manhunter these days. the main character (kate spencer)is about as fleshed out and well written as anyone. the book also ties into the "manhunter legacy" by refering to characters named manhunter, from all the way back to the 1940's. she is kinda like the DC version of the punisher, but WAY more interesting.
i recommend invincible by image for that "old school" type comic. he's the best superhero in years. and i also recommend walking dead.
ask mob, it's such a great story that reading just one issue is almost impossible! both series are available in TPB.

ultravox said...

Ok, Geek, I will check your bet on Morrison's Animal Man & Doom Patrol and raise you an Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, Miracle Man run, a League Of Extrordinary Gentlemen run, a V for Vendetta, a Watchman, and throw in the Supreme run for a freebie, and call. Ha ha. But seriously I have read Animal Man and DP,and I'd agree they both are hard to beat. However, somewhere around Morrison's The Invisibles, my interst sort of fell off, and when I read the graphic novel, The Filth, I thought he'd run dry of ideas and started regurgitating ideas he's already gone to the well for, as Mob mentioned: alternate realities, behind the scene machinations of some alien race or illuminati type thing, alterted states of awareness, or some sort of drug, sex fetish things, with mixed gender roles thrown in there for good measure, and so forth. Still he's a pretty good writer, and I'd like to read his Superman series.

While I was at Hastings last night, I ran across something I'd been hoping DC would reprint, and that's from their Showcase Presents series--those black & white phone book collections. They have put one out on Legion of Super-Heroes w/ Superboy. For whatever reason, it's not exactly chronological order, though I don't know enough about the run to really say for certain, but what I mean is that it just doesn't begin with Adventure #247, and then go to #248, 249, and so forth. In fact after #247 there is an Adventure Comics #267, then an Action Comics #267, so it seems like it's skipping around to me, but that's ok. I just wanted to read some of those early Superboy stories. I also noticed that they'd put one out on Flash. So that's cool too.

Another thing I've read lately is Steve Ditko's Tales of the Mysterious Traveler from Eclipse. They are short stories done in a sort of Twilight Zone, Tales from the Dark Side or even EC type manner, that generally have some twist at the end, but fun to read, and of course, great Ditko art.

I mentioned Linda Medley's Castle Waiting, which is fantasy, and if you like stuff like Princess Bride or fairy tales, it's a great read. Basically it starts out with a Princess leaving her hometown while pregnant, and trying to find some place of refuge to have her child. She runs into a colorful cast of characters, and the story unfolds. If you like the comic, Bone, you should enjoy it as well.

Also I've really enjoyed reading some Osamu Tezuka, particularly his Phoenix series. I've read up to about book 5, and although for a while, I couldn't see a connection with the books, but after reading it, I've begun to. Some of the books takes place in the farflung SF future (that's how it starts out), and the other part in early 240-300 AD Japan, and they crisscross back and forth. It has great artwork and story, and if you don't read it all at least give Vol. 5, Hou-ou, a try. It's about two sculptors, one of whom is a murder. Their paths in life meet, and then they part from each other. His work always has some sort of hope or redemption in it somewhere, but there's also murder, corruption, and the rest. He's a great storyteller.

Thanks for the other recommends. I'll keep an eye out for those books. Oh, if you're ever in Dallas and want to go to Titan Comics, also go by Half-Price Books as well. They have graphic novels there as well as SF books, DVDs, CDs, cassettes, game software, and other stuff-- your wife would probably enjoy looking around there too. I usually hit that place first to see if I can find any bargin comics first ;). They have a huge turnover I'm sure. Their main huge store is at 5915 E. Northwest Hwy. off Hwy 75 (Central Expressway), which is north of Mockingbird and that area. After you hit them, I'd suggest going back down Northwest Hwy to the west and you can visit, Titan Comics. There's also many other outlets of the Half-Price store in Dallas, but that's where the main store is.

MacGuffin said...

Hey, for what it's worth, I watched a buncha episodes of Heroes today and found it fairly engrossing. Seems like something you might have SOME interest in. :)

Malnurtured Snay said...

I never really got into comics, although I've developed an appreciation for some of the harsh Batman stuff.

MacGuffin said...

Hey, i've yielded to the dark, or should i say in my case, dork side and am now blogging.

MacGuffin said...

In my best Ben Stein(and you know I do a good Ben Stein), "Calling Mr. Enthusiasm...? Mr. Enthusisam...? Mr. Enthusiasm...? Mr. Enthusiasm...?" I know you been consuming alotta pop culture my friend, so give.

MacGuffin said...

Hey homey, hope I didn't offend ya or anything. I was totally, like, kiddin ya. Hope you 'n the better half are well. Shoot me your e-mail, ok. I thought I had it saved but apparently not.

buckaroo banzai said...

hang in there my friend...big ch-ch-ch-changes are a-comin' to the blog!

MacGuffin said...

Really? Hmmm...