Going Back to Comics

note: this was written on 1 June then put into my blog queue
I don’t remember exactly what made me decide to check out some new comics, but I think it was a mix of inventorying my comics and clicking over to the Whiskey Media site, Comic Vine.  In the reviews for May’s comics, two books sounded interesting: FF and Gotham City Sirens.  I went to my local comic book shop, Comics to Astonish, and also ended up picking up a bunch of issues from the old Harley Quinn book.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was always into Marvel so I surprisingly chose to read Gotham City Sirens (GCS) as my first super hero comic since 1997. 

As you can probably tell from the title, GCS centers on female villains from Batman’s rogue gallery.  In particular, it focuses on Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy.  I nabbed issues 2, 3, and 23 (the latest one).  In the first few, the girls have decided to shack up together and combine forces.  I found this very appealing since one of my favorite episodes in Batman: The Animated Series (B:TAS) involved Ivy getting Harley away from Joker, becoming best buds, and proving the women could do a better job as villians.  Unfortunately, issue focused almost entirely on Riddler and Batman.  (Although getting to be inside Riddler’s head was SO much fun I’d probably subscribe to a Riddler series) When issue #23 comes around, a schism has driven the girls apart.  The series is very good and has some interesting dynamics so I ended up ordering the first two trade paperbacks so I could get the rest of the story.  I ended up adding it to my pull list at the comic shop.  The only bad thing about jumping in here is that apparently a bunch of stuff has happened in the Batman universe.  Both Bruce and Dick Grayson are running around as Batman and Bruce and Selina have a complicated relationship.  Of course that may leads into my one gripe.

GCS had me so excited about Batman that I was starting to figure out which Batman books I’d add to my pull list.  I’d do all of them if I didn’t want to have money left over for other pursuits.  Then I heard about how DC, the publisher, is going to reboot all their titles and start the stories all over again.  I already know about how Batman’s parents died.  I’m sick of that story.  I’m sick of the first time he met Joker.  I prefer the stories that occur after all that intro work is done and they’re busy trying to outsmart each other because the heroes and villians know each others’ tricks.  These reboots are not really something to get annoyed with – they happen about once per generation to keep the stories relevant to the new batch of kids and teens just getting into the heroes.  Look, we have wikipedia and Comic Vine nowadays, can’t we just ask them to go read up on the backstory instead of constantly rehashing it?  But this is part of the reason I had been hesitant to go back to comics whenever I’d go into Borders to Watchmen, Wonderland, or (for Danielle) Buffy Season 8.  I tend to go for stories I know are done because I know I don’t have to deal with the reboot nonsense.  And I feel the same way with all forms of story-telling.  I find it annoying that all the movies keep telling the same Spider-Man stories, Hulk has been redone twice in the last decade.  I hated it as a kid with the Hardy Boys reboot.  I’ve spent the day in a silght funk because of this news.  Will it ultimately put me off comics permanently?  Time will tell.  Some people on the Comic Vine forums think it’s just going to be a temporary change.  (Which also isn’t unprecedented in the comic world)

The Harley Quinn books I got covered the last story arc before the series ended. Although Harley is one of my favorite Batman characters, I didn’t really enjoy it.  I think it’s because Harley was in a vacuum.  She wasn’t with Joker, Ivy or anyone else.  Batman wasn’t even involved.  She was just a criminal for hire taking jobs that she heard about on the Street.  Of necessity this meant she couldn’t be as ditzy or psychotic as usual and almost seemed out of character.  I think, without an amazing writer, Harley really needs other characters to play off of.  In fact, it is her interactions with others, especially Joker, that make her a compelling character.  Even the dark ending to the series didn’t seem to match with her character, but I mostly know her from B:TAS.

FF is a series featuring the Future Foundation, not Fantastic Four.  Right…. It’s all of the FF other than The Human Torch, who died in the last Fantastic Four story arc.  Will he remain dead or will it be a comic book death?  We’ll see.  With Spider-Man filling in, I can’t see why they wouldn’t leave the name as the Fantastic Four unless they just are doing it out of respect for Johnny Storm.  I don’t quite have a feel for this series yet, but it does have some of my favorite characters: Spider-Man, Thing, and Dr. Doom.  Unfortunately, Thing was only in the issue for a page or two and Spider-Man hasn’t had enough speaking time.  The story revolves around 3 Reed Richards from other universes that are going to destroy ours to save theirs – or something like that.  We’ll see.  I added it to my pull list because I enjoy Fantastic Four and I want to see what happens with them, but I may drop it after a few more issues if it doesn’t pick up a bit.

I don’t know if it’s because in the past few years I’ve mostly been reading trade paperbacks of books like Watchmen, Wonderland, and so on, but comics feel so short!  Did they always feel short when I was a kid?  I don’t remember.  I do know that it really depends on the series.  I didn’t feel that GCS was too short at all.  I felt like there was a lot of story or at least a lot of story elements (character’s thought process, for exmaple) and so I felt “full” after reading the issues.  With FF, on the other hand, I felt like I’d eaten rice crackers – mostly air and I’m still hungry afterwards.

The nice thing about being into comics as an adult is that they are relatively cheap (commonly $3) so it’s possible to be into more titles than as a kid.  I did what I usually do and went into this with all my being.  Bought the trades for GCS, setup a pull list, started reading up on various characters on the net.  Time will tell whether I really end up getting into comics again or if it’s a summer fad.

2 responses to “Going Back to Comics”

  1. I’m sure you’ve figured this out by now, but I think the Freedom Foundation includes more than just Spidey, Reed, Sue, and Ben. I do believe Franklin and Valeria, among others, are part of it.

    • Yeah, it’s actually even bigger than that, but it would have been a bit more clear If I’d been following it from before the FF book even came out.