Comics, etc.

Common Grounds is a great comic I can't recommend enough. A lot like Astro City in feel but more self-contained and, y'know, finished.

SommerMatt wrote:

Another part of that is the business side of things... Spider-Man and Batman are cash-cows for merchandising. You can't have "dead means dead dead" in a world where your characters CAN'T die. That's what indy comics and manga are for, I guess. I get really sort of insulted when people say that classic characters with a 40/50/60 year history should be killed off and "stay dead." Who are you to ruin that character for future readers, Mr. editor-man?

Rant coming, be forewarned.

I don't quite agree with this argument personally. The death of that character in the universe we're dealing with doesn't mean they're actually dead. As the review of One More Day on CBR pointed out, if you want your Spidey fix without a side of marriage you have Ultimate Spider-Man, Mary Jane Loves Spider-Man, any of the Spider-Man movies, and so forth. Just having a dead character in a continuing world doesn't somehow remove the marketability of that; if Superman had really died (yeah, yeah, stay with me here) he still would have had a series of Elseworld/What If comics, not to mention standalone worlds like New Frontier, other parallel universes if they wanted to do that, an animated series, movies, and on and on and on. Superman wouldn't be dead, just that particular universes' version of Superman.

So when the big companies do things like change Spider-Man significantly but ignore the changes in most of their other comics or bring Bucky back from the dead (along with every other two-bit superhero or villain) or decide Superman's father fought in Vietnam rather than Korea rather than World War II I don't feel like they're hurting their brand for those characters, I feel like they're hurting the idea that there's some kind of cohesive universe these characters are existing in together. You want to make Spider-Man not married again go right ahead but don't try to keep the idea that he exists in the same world as Civil War and the New Avengers if those comics have almost no changes due to Spider-Man's change. You want to bring back every C-list Teen Titan who ever existed for a giant reunion special feel free, but don't then try to pass off that this is the same world and timeline Gotham Central is taking place in. I think one of the smartest things DC has ever done is to cordon off the Vertigo universe from everyone else and stop insisting Sandman, of all things, is canonical.

Hrm, that was more of a rant than I intended. I'll put a warning there.

I'd like to add Powers to the heap. I'm not sure if it's on the level of some of the titles mentioned here, although I think it's nice twist on the genre since the super-powered types are usually in the background.

I'm just gonna mention that after reading a couple volumes each of Fables and Invisibles, I don't really care for either.

I did enjoy the first volume of Runaways, though. Call me a BKV fanatic.

bnpederson wrote:

Rant coming, be forewarned.

You know, I've gotta agree with most of what you indicated, you can kill off iconic characters and keep them dead. In a lot of cases you can really evolve the story and world that way. Sure, it probably won't last, but Captain America is a case study in that. I've read every issue of it since the Ed Brubaker helmed re-launch and it's been bar-none the best superhero comic I've read over the last 2+ years. (Say what you will about the "resurrection" of Bucky, but the Winter Soldier is the best "new" character I've read in years.) And while I'm not saying that Marvel won't ever bring Steve Rogers back (I know better), I'll tell you, while Ed Brubaker is writing it, I just don't believe it'll happen. In the Brubaker penned CA, Captain America is dead. And as much as I didn't really like the notion of it, he's been writing a book without its title character in it for the better part of a year and it's still one of the best monthlies out there (for superhero books). It's coming up on a year since the Steve Rogers assassination and we're only just now getting to the point of a new Captain America. And again, as much as I hated the notion of a Steve Rogers death and a new CA, the way Brubaker's crafting the story, it's just totally working (IMO). If you haven't been giving the Brubaker run of CA a shot, I think it's well worth your time.

And then there's Spider-Man and "Brand New Day", the poster child for everything that's wrong with comic books.
This is where I really agree with you bnd. This whole Spidey ret-con is just utterly ludicrous. Comic Book Resources just did a 5-part interview about that with Joe Quesada and the guy is just deluding himself with this whole ret-con notion. Okay, maybe the Peter Parker/MJ marriage was a mistake, but you either man up and write a story that results in divorce, you kill off MJ or you live with it. Having science-wiz Peter Parker make a deal with the devil? Seriously?

There are still stories you can tell outside of canon. Ultimate Spider-Man was (and is) the perfect vehicle for a single kid Spidey. Hell, one of the few things I still really liked about 616 Spidey was that he was married and had grown up a little bit. It made it feel like in some small way I'd been able to grow up with the character, sort of like how this generation of kids has been growing up with Harry Potter, I suppose. But no, here comes the magical reset button. Blech. Ah well, it's not like the book has ever been good in the last ten, even twenty years. (Exception: The first story arc of Marvel Knights Spider-Man, I really enjoyed a lot. I think it was Peter David and Rachel/Terry Dodson.)

Ah well, now I'm ranting.

Anyway, right now Buffy Season 8 and Captain America are about the only two books I couldn't live without. (The jury is still out for me on the Angel Season 6 that just started up.) Though, I did enjoy the hell out of the Sinestro Corps. arc that just went through the Green Lantern books. And X-Factor, pre-Messiah Complex, was a consistently good read. (Not saying MC is bad, just that it's really not X-Factor right now.)
---Todd

So not a lot of other Iron Man and Wolverine fans out in our ranks? That's really interesting. I'm not sure exactly why yet, but I'm thinking about it.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

So not a lot of other Iron Man and Wolverine fans out in our ranks? That's really interesting. I'm not sure exactly why yet, but I'm thinking about it.

Wolverine is a character I loved when he was just in his own single monthly title and Uncanny X-Men. Then Marvel went all ape-sh*t and started putting the character everywhere and I just got burned out on him. It's like my ex-roommate and Peach Schnopps. It was the first thing he really drank and he drank a ton of it one night during a freshman year and got badly sick on it. After that he could hardly look at a bottle of it, let alone drink it.

Iron Man... I love the character. I really do and I'm looking forward to the movie. But it seems like it's been forever since I read an Iron Man story that I liked. (Exception: Orson Scott Card's Ultimate Iron Man was a good re imagining of the character.) Granted, I haven't touched his monthly title since the Extremis arc, which preceded Civil War. Civil War pretty much destroyed any interest I still had in what Marvel is doing with Iron Man. (That and my ever shrinking budget for comic books. I may have to just give up on monthlies entirely and just buy a trade once or twice a month instead.)
---Todd

LockAndLoad wrote:

One thing that is turning me off to comics is trying to figure out where to begin reading and what's fragmented into what (especially in Marvel's lineup).

Precisely my problem. I was excited about Marvel's digital comics then I started browsing the catalog and had no clue what was what.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

So not a lot of other Iron Man and Wolverine fans out in our ranks?

Depends on what era. I'm showing my age here, but my favorite run of Iron Man was the David Michelenie/Bob Layton collaboration in the late 70's.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

So not a lot of other Iron Man and Wolverine fans out in our ranks? That's really interesting. I'm not sure exactly why yet, but I'm thinking about it.

I've always loved Wolverine and I actually have the first printings of all of his Marvel Comics Presents: Weapon X series as well as like the first 20 or so of his solo title. I have the same problem as Ubrakto, however, in that we're just getting inundated with him now. He's everywhere, in everything. As I was going through my old comics last month organizing and bagging and boarding, I was struck by how even fifteen years or so ago he was always showing up in all the different Marvel titles. There would have to be an army of Logans for him to be that many places.

Iron man is a new addiction for me. I never liked him for some reason. To be fair I never really gave any Iron Man books a chance. More recently he's grown on me and now I'm starting to pick up more books with him. Ultimate Iron Man was great and UIM 2 looks to be good as well.

My favorite Wolverine era was Silvestri (god help me I can never spell that poor man's name right). But I've still been enjoying the Vol. 2 run they started in the early years of 2000 (2003 maybe?) I fell in love with the stand alone title in that issue where he jumps out of a plane, to attack another plane by using his claws to tear one of its wings off, and then just falls to earth into a lake and swims out. Total over the top badass.

I know they aren't, but I had always hoped that when they made a Wolverine movie they would have done it with "Patch" in Madripoor.

As for Iron Man I had barely touched it before Extremis and now I can't get enough. It was the push I needed to accept that this was a character worth investing time in reading back issues.

If you liked Extremis, Director of SHIELD is an extension of that arc and very action packed. I really loved it.

bighoppa wrote:

I've always loved Wolverine and I actually have the first printings of all of his Marvel Comics Presents: Weapon X series as well as like the first 20 or so of his solo title. I have the same problem as Ubrakto, however, in that we're just getting inundated with him now. He's everywhere, in everything

I agree with your here (and I can top you - I have Incredible Hulk #181), but him being everywhere is nothing new, it's been going on for 20 years now.

I love Wolverine, but I don't read him regularly for all the reasons people have mentioned about how there are only so many stories to tell.

Maybe Y, Preacher, etc. have spoiled me, but a good story has a beginning, middle, and end. It seems to me that the best Wolverine stories I've read were limited series, etc. The original limited series is one of the best works of comic fiction ever, imho. I also thoroughly enjoyed Enemy of the State.

Wolverine is a truly great character, as is (was, when he was in high school) Spider-Man. I would love some recommendations on trades featuring either of them.

As for Iron Man - he's okay. Very much looking forward to the movie, but he's not a fave.

Would be a good idea. I plan to have Logan sit in for me when I am on my honeymoon.

- Legion, taking "keeping it in the family" to a whole new level.

Xbox Live: Fedaykin98

My theory is that there are like 20 cloned Wolverines running around the Marvel Universe simultaneously. They all take turns working with the various teams, going on vacations, participating in super-soldier programs, collecting welfare checks. They have a whiteboard hanging up on a tree somewhere in the Canadian wilderness so they can keep track of where they all are and who they've pissed off recently.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

So not a lot of other Iron Man and Wolverine fans out in our ranks?

I have 1 comic t-shirt and it's Wolverine. I am a fan, but after college I for the most part stopped reading comics. I've only gotten back into trade paperbacks in the past couple of years.

Whether iconic characters CAN die really depends on the structure of the universe. Because of the shift from the Golden to the Silver Ages, DC established a pattern for "passing the legacy" to a new generation. That's why a new Flash doesn't annoy people all that much... the Green Lanters are a "corps," so it makes sense to have various members that can switch into the main title. As much as I enjoy Steve Rogers, and as much as they've proved for the last 40 years that HE *is* Captain America, I can accept a substitute because it is, after all, something that has been done before. Same thing with Iron Man... truth is, he's just some dude in a suit. Doesn't really matter if it's Stark or Jim Rhodes or whoever else inside.

Other DC characters, and most of Marvel's characters, are so specific that this will never really work. You can't replace Superman. It just doesn't work. Same thing with Batman. They've tried... and it sucks. No one else has that same drive and near-insanity to pull it off effectively. For Marvel... you can't ever replace Spider-Man with someone else.

I still think that people who want superhero comics to move into more grim n gritty realism, with "permanent death," are expecting too much from a genre that is ill-equipped to meet those demands.

re: Spider-Man in high school... the truth is that Stan Lee barely had Spider-Man in high school at ALL in the original run... after a year or two he was into college already. If you want Spider-Man in high school, read ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN... start with volume 1. Also, if you haven't read the original run of issues, do it. The first 100 issues still hold up pretty well today. Ditko's art was a little stilted, but once you get into the John Romita years things really get a more modern flavor. The stories are pure soap, but they're very enjoyable.

Wolverine-- same as the other posters. Loves him in Uncanny X-Men during the phoenix saga... thought he was awesome in Days of Future Past... thought him in a dinner jacket and eyepatch was silly... being in the Avengers even sillier.

See, I never read a lot of other comics with Wolverine in them. I usually just read Wolverine. I went through all (189?) of the first volume and have covered most of vol.2. I guess I avoided the burnout by ignoring the side stories.

I've read my share of X-Men but still not nearly as much as I've read the stand alone of Wolverine and the other Wolverine titles like Weapon X and Origins and so on.

Origins seems like a swell story, but they make Logan out to be only ~130 I think. I could have sworn I read somewhere that he hung around in Feudal Japan. That may be my fevered imagination playing tricks on me though. I guess the argument could be made that in the mid to late 1800s Japan was still feudal, though I was thinking he was much older than that.

Fedaykin98 wrote:

Maybe Y, Preacher, etc. have spoiled me, but a good story has a beginning, middle, and end. It seems to me that the best Wolverine stories I've read were limited series, etc. The original limited series is one of the best works of comic fiction ever, imho. I also thoroughly enjoyed Enemy of the State.

As other people have noted, that's the problem problem with all the big superhero franchises, really. A decent story usually requires change in the characters, but for these properties change is bad, and an actual ending is even worse. Telling a story is a secondary priority, because they exist mostly to service products in other media. Toys, movies and whatnot. So the characters don't go anywhere, any death can be undone in the blink of an eye, and there's no tension or danger anywhere. So you get crap most of the time.

The fact that they dominate western comics to the extent that they do pisses me off no end.

I'd actually really enjoy it if they stopped the Marvel universe and made Ultimate the revamped universe. You could reintroduce the old stoylines and characters but with new art and better direction. It would eliminate the idea of retcon if we just start over.

SommerMatt wrote:

Other DC characters, and most of Marvel's characters, are so specific that this will never really work. You can't replace Superman. It just doesn't work. Same thing with Batman. They've tried... and it sucks. No one else has that same drive and near-insanity to pull it off effectively. For Marvel... you can't ever replace Spider-Man with someone else.

That's true. Though I think you could do away with Batman if you really wanted to. Bruce Wayne will always be iconic, but if you committed to putting someone else in the cape and cowl, it could be done. (I'm just saying, in theory. Until now I could never have imagined a Captain America other than Steve Rogers, for example.)

Ultimately, I just think the DC's and Marvel's need a better balance of status quo vs. growth. Their core universes should, to some some small extent, age. Just a little at a time. Maybe a decade of comics only amounts to a couple years of growth to a character, just so long these characters are able to grow and change. It keeps things more interesting, IMO. It also makes the past more interesting for future readers if they can go back and discover a time when the characters they read now didn't exist yet or are just a different points in their lives. As opposed to reading stories from twenty years ago and that status quo hasn't changed at all or it's been restored by the mystical cosmic reset button.

But that said, I don't have a problem with the resurrection of dead characters. But character deaths and resurrections have to be rare enough that it's actually interesting. It's not like that most of the time anymore. I'm not reading it directly (rather I'm reading reviews of it), but you look at what DC is doing in that weekly Countdown series where Dan Dido, thanks to the multiverse, is killing off characters left and right, nearly every issue. That's just gratuitous and wasteful.
---Todd

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

As other people have noted, that's the problem problem with all the big superhero franchises, really. A decent story usually requires change in the characters, but for these properties change is bad, and an actual ending is even worse. Telling a story is a secondary priority, because they exist mostly to service products in other media. Toys, movies and whatnot. So the characters don't go anywhere, any death can be undone in the blink of an eye, and there's no tension or danger anywhere. So you get crap most of the time.

While I agree to an extent, here's where I say you're going too far-- GOOD authors can always create good stories, regardless of the restrictions they have to work under. Saying there is no "suspense" or "danger" because characters can't die is just not the case... ALL serialized fiction (TV, movies, comics) works under that same deep seated knowledge that the main hero isn't going to die. That doesn't mean you can't thrill to the situations that they're involved in. "Death" is not the only thing that motivates stories... it's HOW they get out of it that matters more than the "if."

IMHO, crappy storytellers say "there's nothing more I can do with this character" and think they need to kill them to tell a story. Good storytellers can always find a fresh angle or a new take on a classic character.

re: Brubaker on Cap. I won't say these aren't good stories... I just think they're not great CAPTAIN AMERICA stories. What kind of goofy logic has the title character absent from his own book for a year? This, to me, is an example of how many superhero comics are now being written with the collection in mind, as well as being written towards the aging adult audience. Kids and casual readers certainly aren't welcomed or catered to.

Grenn wrote:

I'd actually really enjoy it if they stopped the Marvel universe and made Ultimate the revamped universe. You could reintroduce the old stoylines and characters but with new art and better direction. It would eliminate the idea of retcon if we just start over.

How is this different than what they're already doing with the Ultimates line? Again, I don't see much point in simply retelling the same old stories. Who does that cater to? Most long time comic fans LOVE continuity... they want their 10-15-20 years of reading comics to all tie in together and have some kind of pay-off. That's one of the main reasons why I never much cared for Ultimate Spider-Man... I already SAW this once when Stan/Steve/John/etc. were doing them.

That said, I think Stan Lee's 1960's Marvel is what started this whole thing in the first place... they changed their books and made them a "soap" style continuous story... they had their characters age and grow. DC at the time was telling mostly one shot, stand alone stories where the characters rarely changed or aged or grew in any way. This was breathtakingly fresh at the time, and Marvel dominated. Problem is, 45 years later, they've got themselves in a corner where they have to keep the soap going, they've got to keep the characters changing and aging, and unlike DC, they've never had a "crisis" which wiped the slate clean.

Continuity is a double edged sword... we want it, then we complain about it when it becomes too "oppressive."

(sorry, lots of rambling)

My current monthly reading list is:

DC:
Batman
Detective
Batman Confidential
Gotham Underground
Nightwing
Robin
Teen Titans
Batman/Superman
JLA
Birds of Prey
Wonder Woman (the new relaunch)

Marvel:
Wolverine
Wolverine Origins
New Hulk
Avengers
Thor
Iron Man (started reading it after Civil War)
Silver Surfer specials
Cosmic Hero specials

Ind:
Transformers
Walking Dead
Spawn

I read X-Men and mutant titles exclusively from 88-93 but stopped when all of the different "X" titles started popping up and it was too confusing to keep track. I still love Wovie though. I didnt' touch comics much during college, but started reading Batman during the tail end of "Cataclysm" when Gotham city was hit by an earthquake (what an amazing story line) in 96-98 and have enjoyed the last 10 years or so.

I don't care for the Ultimates line because it just seems like they're repeating the old stories but with a different twist (like the Spider-Man "Clone Saga"). It's more like a giant "What If?" story to me.

I LOVED the World War Hulk and Annihilation stories (I'm a cosmic hero fan) and read anything involving the Surfer, Thanos or Galactus & Co. (i.e., Heralds).

Fedaykin98 wrote:

I'm still reading here and there; mostly been reading novels, though. I've fallen behind on a lot, though. I can only think of three books I'd go to the store for immediately:

Y
Invincible (thanks to this thread! It rocks!)
100 Bullets - everyone who likes true crime / conspiracy noir type stuff needs to read this; it's out of this world.

There's a bunch of other stuff I read but am not as hooked on:

Ex Machina (but I always love it, go figure)
The Walking Dead

I need to get more of that X-Factor, because I LOVED the Madrox series.

Would be a good idea. I plan to have Logan sit in for me when I am on my honeymoon.

- Legion, taking "keeping it in the family" to a whole new level.

Xbox Live: Fedaykin98

Sorry, I'm behind on this thread. Fed, gotta mention how eerily similar we are sometimes.

I regularly pick up the following, and only the following anymore (partly due to budgeting, and partly due to not wanting to buy anything that isn't absolutely awesome to me anymore):

Astonishing X-Men (wrapping up in the next 2-3 months)
X-Factor (because Peter David freaking ROCKS, and this run is easily rivalling and possibly surpassing his most excellent run in the 90's)
Invincible
The Walking Dead

I actually started getting into Spiderman over the year leading up to Civil War, as the character was finally interesting to me, but now with One More Day / Brand New Day, Quesada has utterly destroyed almost everything I found compelling about the character. I dug the bond he and MJ had and how the marriage influenced everything he did. I dug that he was getting older and more mature, dealing with more adult issues. His job problems were still similar to the old ones but more interesting, especially watching him deal with kids as a teacher. I also found that having his powers be organic in nature simply made more sense and did away with the much overdone "uh oh! I'm out of web fluid!" or "uh oh! my webshooters broke again! curses!" that too easily serve as storywriting crutches.

SommerMatt wrote:

re: Brubaker on Cap. I won't say these aren't good stories... I just think they're not great CAPTAIN AMERICA stories. What kind of goofy logic has the title character absent from his own book for a year?

No, they're not Captain America stories on the surface, I agree. But they do a wonderful job of showing Captain America's impact on the people around him and how they're trying to fill that void left by his absence. The spirit is very much still there. Plus, the way the storyline is playing out, it really is still a CA story, given who the inheritor of the mantle appears to be. Also, with the CA persona returning in the next issue, I don't think it's that big a deal to go seven issues or so without the title character in them. I'm not even sure it's made the title all that inaccessible since this half year (or so) story arc bookends with decent jumping on points.

Of course, I've fast become a Brubaker/CA fanboy, so I'm biased.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

There was one where his head was damn near crushed.

Well, anyway, I'm glad I brought all this up so now the next time we all get together it will be extra awkward.

cartoonin99 wrote:

I was following Green Arrow for a while. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_A...

Holy Crap another person that reads this. What do you think of Winnick's runs with the character?

I actually love Green Arrow, he's my favorite individual hero character, and while the relaunch was awesome (Kevin Smith's starting arcs in particular), it's turned to utter crap over the last year and a half / two years. It was, for a while, the fifth title on my list, but I finally just gave up and dropped it.

Farscry wrote:

I actually started getting into Spiderman over the year leading up to Civil War, as the character was finally interesting to me, but now with One More Day / Brand New Day, Quesada has utterly destroyed almost everything I found compelling about the character. I dug the bond he and MJ had and how the marriage influenced everything he did. I dug that he was getting older and more mature, dealing with more adult issues. His job problems were still similar to the old ones but more interesting, especially watching him deal with kids as a teacher. I also found that having his powers be organic in nature simply made more sense and did away with the much overdone "uh oh! I'm out of web fluid!" or "uh oh! my webshooters broke again! curses!" that too easily serve as storywriting crutches.

You had me until you dissed the mechanical web shooters! Logic be damned!!! But yeah, this is exactly why I hate the Brand New Day storyline

ubrakto wrote:

You had me until you dissed the mechanical web shooters! Logic be damned!!! But yeah, this is exactly why I hate the Brand New Day storyline

I actually don't have a problem with the webshooters being mechanical in and of themselves. It's a good way to show Pete's science capabilities (so he's not just another hero with powers). My issue is with them always being an easy storywriting crutch, whether from them failing, or a villain breaking them, or someone spotting them ("Oh noes! Crazy old Norman knows who I am now!"), or other cliched plot "twists" that writers seem to fall back on just when they seem to be getting good at working a nicely creative story out.

If someone were going to read just one Green Arrow trade, which one should it be?

Would be a good idea. I plan to have Logan sit in for me when I am on my honeymoon.

- Legion, taking "keeping it in the family" to a whole new level.

Xbox Live: Fedaykin98

Farscry wrote:
Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

There was one where his head was damn near crushed.

Well, anyway, I'm glad I brought all this up so now the next time we all get together it will be extra awkward.

cartoonin99 wrote:

I was following Green Arrow for a while. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_A...

Holy Crap another person that reads this. What do you think of Winnick's runs with the character?

I actually love Green Arrow, he's my favorite individual hero character, and while the relaunch was awesome (Kevin Smith's starting arcs in particular), it's turned to utter crap over the last year and a half / two years. It was, for a while, the fifth title on my list, but I finally just gave up and dropped it.

I loved the relaunch and Meltzer was good. Winnick hasn't been total crap to me, but, there are definitely some much better writers out there. I still enjoy his stuff, but, am still kind of waiting for someone else to grab the steering wheel.