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Monday, April 24, 2006

 

Comics Avalanche

I'm drowning in funny paper. This weekend I made my monthly trip to Toy City, and in addition to 15-20 monthly comics, my save box contained the new Little Lulu collection, Essential Moon Knight Vol. 1, Essential Avengers Vol. 5, the Jimmy Olsen Showcase and the brilliant Kevin Huizenga's Or Else #4. Further, the clerk, Rob had just cut a deal with a distributor for 4,000 assorted books from the 80s and 90s ahead of Free Comic Book Day, and he let me take one free for every title on my pull list. Hence my proud ownership of Kid N' Play #4, Official Index to Marvel Team-Up #2 and 23 other deathless classics. That already puts me over a hundred comics.

On top of that, my pal Chris stopped by Saturday night and gave me the first two-and-a-half years of Geoff Johns' current Teen Titans. Chris actually is that rare animal one hears rumors about--a comics fan who enjoys reading the books, but who has no interest whatsoever in keeping them. I believe he may even--and this is difficult for me to type--throw some out when he's done. When Grant Morrison made that suggestion (tongue-in-cheek, I think) in an early Invisibles letter column, I laughed. Little did I know I would someday become friends with one of these people.

Chris's generosity made me realize something. That his attitude is perfectly healthy and that I have a sickness? That we should not be ruled by our possessions? That I should forgive my parents for tearing in half my issue of Super-Villain Team Up when I was five? That Teen Titans is actually, surprisingly kind of awesome? (No, No, Never! and Yes.)

I don't write a whole lot about new comics, given that I get most of them weeks after they come out, and Kevin, Graeme and Mike Sterling have already told all the good jokes. When I do mention new stuff, it tends to be crabby old fanguy grousing about how bad or misguided certain books are. But halfway through my stack of books from late March and early April, and 12 issues into the Teen Titans run, I'm surprised by how well-made and entertaining so many mainstream comics are right now. Kurt Busiek and Pete Woods' Superman comics are wonderful; not as deliberately crafted, timeless or epic as Morrison/Quitely's All-Star Superman, but every bit as enjoyable. The people on the various Superman books are simply getting it right, something which hasn't been true for decades. The recent Injustice Society arc in JSA Classified was as good as it was unhyped. Peter Milligan's Dead Girl mini-series is amazing, with the most engaging take on Dr. Strange in a long time, and reminds me how much I and Marvel miss the monthly presence of an X-Statix book. Planetary just gets better as it reaches its end, Morrison's Seven Soldiers is a wonder, and now that the book is up to speed I'm even getting a kick out of Johns' Green Lantern.

Where Geoff Johns really shines, though, is on the Titans book. I read and liked his Flash, and I still get JSA, but I steered clear of Teen Titans because A) I can't buy everything and B) I have no real interest in most of the characters. Now that I'm reading it all for free (thanks, Chris!), it turns out that my lack of interest works strongly in the book's favor. I don't care if anyone's characterization is "off" from their other appearances, and I'm not bothered by anything that might happen to any of the cast--most of whom are new to me. It's simply well-executed team book fun. And while it has exactly none of the thematic ambition as Morrison's New X-Men, it accomplishes the same feat of making all the continuity I missed since 1984 seem unneccesary. Whatever may have happened to the Titans in the intervening 20 years, the new book doesn't make me feel like I need to know. Just a bunch of plot churn, worlds lived, worlds died, now let's just set reset everything to vaguely resemble the Titans cartoon. Johns even managed to make the insufferable modern Superboy a readable, sympathetic character--which has raised my estimation of Infinite Crisis #6 from rushed, overy noisy hackwork to rushed, overly noisy hackwork with a genuinely effective death scene.

For the first time in years, I'm faced with the dilemma that I can't really justify the expense of all the books I genuinely like. Which is a good problem to have. All the complaining about how the industry needs better quality comics seems out of date now, at least from the perspective of my monthly saves. Good superhero comics are here now.

Comments:
Hi. I've noticed you like comics. Check out my blog(doodlesareart555)for a pretty cool comic strip.
 
Hi. I *also* noticed you like comics. Check out this representation of my winning smile:

:)

Pretty cool, doncha think?
 
Hi. I noticed you *all* like comics. I like comics, too, and I'm just going to totally pretend that first comment isn't there, because it's always hard to follow those sorts of comments. Yes.

Er, anyway, I read this and found it kind of refreshing. Nothing smug, nothing snarky, just a calm sort of joy. About DC and Marvel. (I read too many DC-centered blogs and should really stop. Just... take the feeds off my Google page. I'm not secure enough yet in my Marveliteness, apparently.) Yes, a calm sort of joy in the hobby. Refreshing.

Thank you.
 
Hi. I noticed that *I* like comics.

After so many years of buying them, occasionally more out of habit than anything else, sometimes it's easy to forget that actually liking them is (or should be) the reason why I read them. As I said in the Meltzer post, comics are only as good as they are that month, and they happened to be pretty decent over the past 30 days. The 1990s, that was a pretty grim decade for comics. But last month was aces.
 
Hi. I wet my pants when I read anything Dave writes.
A.M.
 
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