I’ve been reading comic books since… well, since I learned to read. The thing that’s great about comics is they’re the perfect marriage of a book and a movie, and if that doesn’t sound good to you, then I’ll never win you over to comics. For me, it started with Captain America and spread to the occasional issue of Daredevil or The Avengers – fairly swashbuckling, but Daredevil was always grittier. When I got into my teens, Captain America got silly and I took an extended break. (This is where I called it quits. Even as a lifelong comic fan, I just couldn’t believe this was real.) When I got older and had the money to read whatever I wanted, my comic spending got out of hand. I was reading a ton of books: Superman, Batman, Justice League, Green Arrow and a bunch of other crap. Finally, Captain America Volume 4 got so terrible that I just gave up on comic books all together for a second time. (I recently exercised those demons over at ACB.) In the last few years, I’ve come back to the fold, but I’m starting to wonder if another separation is on the horizon.
If you’re not a comic book fan, here’s a handy analogy I can lob at you as to why you might suddenly get turned off from your favorite comics. Imagine you have a favorite spot you like to go to for lunch; let’s say it’s Chinese because I dig Chinese food. Anyway, you go there for lunch all the time, it’s great and you rave to your friends and even when you’re having a shitty morning, you know that come lunch time, it’s on. Then you show up one day, pumped for some vegetable lo mien and KA-BLAMO! “Under New Management!” The food isn’t as good as it used to be. Something’s missing; these people don’t know your name, they don’t know your order and they sure as shit don’t know how to make a quality lo mien with only broccoli. You keep trying, but it’s just not the same and finally, you move on. This sort of thing happens in comics all the time (I guess a better analogy would have been Family Guy from Season 4 to date, but too late now), particularly when the creative team or writer changes. A bad creative team can ruin a comic, and if it’s not an iconic character, possibly forever.
So it goes with comics. Here’s a list of titles I have dropped, might drop soon or think are so great I don’t know if I’ll ever stop reading them.
Here’s a fun game – count the Batman affiliated titles! (Note: Detective Comics is also a Batman book.)
- Detective Comics
- Batman and Robin
- Batman: Streets of Gotham
- Red Robin - The only thing worse than the title was the uniform. This book wasn’t bad, but like most Batman books, I got tired of the storyline crossing into other Batman books.
- Batgirl – this book was one of my favorites until DC rebooted their universe (huh?) and replace the current Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) with the original Batgirl (Babara Gordon… who apparently isn’t in a wheel chair anymore? Yeah, not trying to figure that one out. You’ll need a Bat Specialist for that.)
- Batman Incorporated – worst title ever. The idea is to have a Batman in different cities all over the world… why not call it “Order of the Bat?” I think that’s way cooler. “Batman Incorporated” sounds like they sell Batman themed lunch boxes.
- Batman: The Dark Knight
- Batman Confidential – this was cancelled; I didn’t voluntarily stop reading this book. They made lots of interesting choices here (especially with art) – I miss this book.
- Superman/Batman – a book with two of the most famous comic book heroes of all time should be awesome, and I tried for a long time, but I just couldn’t get into it.
- Green Arrow – kudos to the creative team for driving this book into the ground before DC’s reboot. I’d never seen a comic book commit suicide – it was inspiring in it’s own way. Then Iron Man 2.0 followed it off the ledge.
- Iron Man 2.0 – this was cancelled before I could stop reading it. Marvel beat me by a month, so well done there. The last issue looks like it was finished by whichever interns weren’t busy collating that day.
- Wolverine: Weapon X – I liked this book a lot; it got crappy toward the endbut it had some great moments
- Wolverine: The Best There Is – this was literally the grossest comic book I’ve ever read. I guess the gore was part of the story, but it got out of hand.
- Air – this was cancelled, which sucks because it was totally original.
- House of Mystery – this was cancelled. I miss this book a lot; it’s one of my all time favorites. Matthew Sturges is a great writer, but he just couldn’t write it anymore. He went out on top.
- Avengers Academy – Comic books are silly and dramatic, but this was a little too Days of Our Lives for me.
- Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive – this was cancelled, which sucks because it was great.
- Ultimate Captain America – this was cancelled, and deservedly so
- The Ultimates
- Ultimate Avengers
- Mighty Avengers – this was cancelled, and not a moment too soon
On the chopping block
I’m currently reading these books, but I don’t think I can hold out much longer. I could stop buying them after the very next issue if it’s too crappy.
- Secret Avengers – the only reason this book is selling enough to not get cancelled is because it was ‘Avengers’ in the title. Period. Still, there’s potential there. They’ve just done a major shakeup as Captain America has left the book and is being replaced by Hawkeye, so I’m giving it another chance.
- Justice League – I just don’t get how they’re managing to screw up a book that has Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in it. Isn’t that the DC Holy Trinity? After this story arc ends, I’m out.
On the fence
The Avengers books are getting stale; they certainly don’t need two separate books about two teams that work a few blocks away from each other in Manhattan that spend most of their time fighting the same bad guys. Something needs to change quickly or they’re going to get demoted to the chopping block
- The Avengers
- The New Avengers
These are the books I can’t let go of
- Captain America – one of these Captain America books probably needs to go; I’m thinking it’s going to be this one.
- Captain America and Bucky – Yeah, just don’t need two Cap books. Still, Ed Brubaker is making it work – for now, at least.
- X-Factor – Peter David is the man! X-Factor is probably the best mystery series ever.
- Iron Man – Matt Fraction really knows how to handle this book and these characters.
- Daken: Dark Wolverine – Rob Williams is doing great things with this book. I never know quite where it’s going, but I’m always glad when it gets there.
- Winter Soldier – still too early to truly decide, but so far, Winter Soldier is everything I expect from Ed Brubaker.
- Shield – this isn’t a monthly book – it’s more like a whenever-the-hell-they-feel-like-it sort of book, but it’s great.