The world has gone mad for comic books. I believe it’s because technology has finally reached the point where the super feats the heroes undertake no longer look fake. But we are inundated with Leagues and Avengers and Squads and vigilantes, mutants, inhumans, anti-heroes and all sorts of other costumed characters. We have comics and TV shows and movies and computer games. Even the Simpsons have gotten in on the act.
I have a couple of students at school who are massive fans of comic books. Every week we get new graphic novels, collections and standalone stories from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, Spider-man and the Green Lantern Corp.
It’s given me a good chance to catch up.
If my memory is correct, I read heaps of comics as a child. But I never really got into the collection aspect. And I don’t think I read the “right” type of comic.
In my younger days, I read lots of Archie, lots of Duck Tales and Darkwing Duck.
As I got older, my memories are of Moon Knight, Lobo and the Silver Surfer. I read the What If… comics, where the Watcher showed us what would happen if Peter Parker married Mary Jane, or didn’t marry Mary Jane.
I bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – the Eastman and Laird graphic novels to start with, and then the cartoon adaptations once they ran out. I read Cerberus the Aardvark and Groo.
And then I moved onto Heavy Metal and National Lampoon. I read Cracked and Mad, which gave me a good round education on what was going on in movies without having seen a lot of them.
I read the odd Batman. I read quite a few Superman one offs. But I wasn’t around for any of the big things that happened in comics.
It’s weird, looking at it from the outside. I remember seeing the covers when Robin was killed by the Joker. That was huge. I mean HUGE. My comic reading friends were devastated. The issue in mint condition was worth a fortune.
I remember when the front page of the newspaper told us that Superman had died. I saw the comic covers and I saw the hardcover book adaptation, but I didn’t read either of them.
I remember finding out that Peter Parker had stood up in front of the press and outed himself as Spider-man (or was it Spider-man outing himself as Peter Parker?). But I still haven’t read through that story. That was part of the first Civil War wasn’t it?
I missed Crisis on Infinite Earths, but by the time Flash and Arrow were on TV, I at least knew what that was all about. I didn’t realise it was so long ago.
I have a lot of catching up to do. But it’s worth it. It’s worth doing it now, with all of the stories collected into handy graphic novels, instead of subscribing to ten different comics just to get one story.
Now I’ve read Knightfall and I wish I’d read it before the movie came out.
I’ve read Dark Knight Returns and Year One and The Killing Joke and they are absolute masterpieces (but I get why there is such a controversy over the Killing Joke).
I read Red Son and I think I missed some of the references due to not having been in touch with comics for so long.
I read the Death of Superman and I have no idea who Lex Luthor is meant to be or why he was speaking in an Australian accent.
And then I started in on the new stuff.
I read Flashpoint, and loved it. I liked how they rebooted the universe, especially as I didn’t have decades of backstory stuck in my head. Most of what I know of Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman and The Flash comes from TV and movies (I still like the 80s Flash show and I’m glad so many of the cast came back for the new show).
And from Kevin Smith. He’s given me a much better appreciation for the DC universe, both from his podcasts, from references in his movies (which made me look stuff up) and from his Batman comics (write the third one, damn you!).
And I started catching up on the New 52. Most of that comes from the two boys in the library who regularly put forward suggestions for me to read next. So I was just getting into this rebooted universe…
And then Rebirth happened.
I’m lost again. There are too many Flashes and too many linked story-lines and I have to buy seven series to make sense of the basic timeline. I have to let it go and wait for the good stuff to float to the top and get collected into omnibuses again.
While that happens, I still keep to my eclectic reading schedule. I might be over the madness of intertwining titles, but I still love comics.
I’m just behind the TV series in Walking Dead and loving it, although I don’t think they should be out for just anyone to borrow in the school library.
I love the adaptations and new stories in the Dresden Universe.
The comic book adaptation of The Stand is phenomenal and the prequels to the Gunslinger books are absolutely worth it.
I love stories written in comic form more than I like universes written into multiple series. Standalones like The Watchmen and…
Oh, God help me, I forgot about the Sandman.
I found out about the Sandman at university. My friend Shay was living with some really cool people, interested in things my Kyabram bumpkin self hadn’t even heard of. Sandman was part of that. Sandman was a gateway drug to the rest of Neil Gaiman, along with Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens. Those two things lifted me out of the staples of Stephen King and Tolkien and into a whole new realm of writing. Comics are cool. Anyway, back to the list.
Oh, and the continuation of the Buffyverse. Oh, just anything with Joss Whedon in it.
Speaking of which, I’ve almost completely ignored the Marvel universe.
I suppose most of that is that the boys in the library don’t seem to care about Marvel beyond Marvel Zombies (which I hate) and Deadpool (which is great, but so full of multiverse backstory I can’t get right into it).
All of my Marvel knowledge comes from the TV shows and movies, post about 1984.
I want to know what’s going on, but even reading collections like Age of Ultron still has me at a major disadvantage. I need to go back. I need some new library monitors with a Marvel fixation.
What series keep you up until late at night?