Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Comics Wednesday: Revisiting My Post About Why People Do or Don't Read Comics

Last July, about two weeks before my daughter had her bad accident which pretty much removed me from the online community for a few months, I wrote a post with a short questionnaire about why people do or don't read comics. I was particularly hoping to get some responses from people who don't read comics as to why they don't read them. As it turns out, pretty much all of the comments I received were from people who do read comics, which is interesting although not all that surprising I guess.

I've written before about how I originally got into comics, and about various stages in my life when I "re-discovered" them after not having read them for a few years at a time. That's pretty well-covered territory. I've also talked about some of my current favorites, and I did particularly enjoy what other people think of as their list of best comic arcs/series over the years - I discovered a bunch of new ones that I haven't read before. You should definitely check out the comments to that post if you want to get some reading ideas.

Here are my answers to the other questions I asked in my little questionnaire:

  • What other things do you read (e.g., fiction, non-fiction, specific types of genres, etc.)?
    • I read a lot of different subjects/genres, as I've mentioned in my "What I'm Reading" tab (although that hasn't been updated forever). Most recently I've been reading a lot of books about the history of comics, including Grant Morrison's Supergods and The Secret History of Wonder Woman, as well as histories or personal recollections about role-playing, including Of Dice and Men, Fantasy Freaks & Gaming Geeks, Heroic Worlds, and Designers & Dragons. I've also been reading a lot about spirits and beer - next up on my list is The Audacity of Hops. Lastly, I've fit in a few fiction novels as well, including, most recently, Ready Player One
  • Do you like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? 
    • I do, although the movies can be pretty uneven. I really liked the first Iron Man, but was less impressed with the two sequels. I thought Winter Soldier was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in Ant-Man. I wasn't a big fan of Age of Ultron (I didn't hate it as much as some people, but it's clear that it was a case of too many executives trying to change the movie to fit their corporate needs). But, altogether, I think the MCU celebrates the fun of comics and recognizes the silliness of some of the character's powers without being campy. It's a fine line to walk but I think they've done it very well. 
  • If so, does it make you interested in wanting to read more stories about the characters?
    • Interestingly, I'm not as much a fan of current titles of Marvel Comics. When I returned to reading comics shortly after DC's New 52 came out, Marvel also did a soft reboot of sorts called Marvel NOW! and I read a bunch of those titles for quite a few issues, but slowly one by one I dropped them until I wasn't collecting any. I'll read some one-off stories, such as Captain America: White, and I read some of the Star Wars titles (which doesn't really count as "Marvel" anyway). But, by and large, the characters and writing doesn't work for me. One recent exception would be that I just read Volume I of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye, and that definitely got me interested in reading the rest of his run. 
  • Do you like the DC Cinematic Universe? 
    • This is a hard one to answer because, so far, we've really only had one entry into the DC Cinematic Universe (Man of Steel, which I wrote about a few weeks ago). I'm really not optimistic with what I'm seeing in the trailers for Batman vs. Superman. Zack Snyder, to me, does not have a good handle on Superman, and Warner Brothers as a whole is just really pushing the "dark, gritty" themes too much for me. "Dark" does not mean "better." It's a real shame that they have chosen to ignore more than 75 years of their history that featured colorful, fun stories of heroes that people can look up to, instead of dark, gritty stories of heroes that people are afraid of. I'm all for a darker tone for Batman, but even the old Bruce Timm animated series got the idea correct - Batman: The Animated Series worked well as an independent series with darker, noir tones. However, when the Justice League series came out, which was in the same continuity as Batman: The Animated Series, the tone changed. Colors were brighter and they embraced some of their goofy Silver Age past but modernized them and made them relevant again. The long story arc in Justice League that featured the government and CADMUS working with S.T.A.R. Labs to work against the Justice League behind-the-scenes was a relatively dark storyline, but it still was gritty and depressing like the DC Cinematic Universe is shaping up to be. 
  • Similarly to the above - would you be interested in reading more? 
    • I've been pretty vocal about preferring DC's characters to Marvel's, so my superhero reading is mainly filled with DC titles, although truth be told I'm reading fewer than half of the DC titles than I was reading a year or two ago. There's so much other stuff out there from Image and other independent companies that appeals to me more based on their storytelling and the artwork. 
  • For you role-players out there, have you ever used a story, character, or other concept from a comic book in one of your games? 
    • I've definitely patterned NPCs on various characters from comics. Since most of my players aren't currently reading comics, I can get away with this without anyone being the wiser. It gives me an instant hook in terms of how the NPC looks and what their personality is. And I've taken parts of story-arcs to weave into my campaigns, and grabbed a ton of images from the old Marvel Conan comics from the 1980's. 

And, since today is Wednesday, here's a list of what I picked up today. None of the Image, Boom! Studios, Dark Horse, or IDW titles read came out this week.


  • Batman
  • Batman & Robin Eternal
  • Batman/Superman
  • Flash
  • Flash (variant "Adult Coloring Book" cover - my daughter specifically requested that the store hold aside a copy of this for me since Flash is my favorite character)
  • Legend of Wonder Woman
  • Supergirl 

Anybody else pick up any comics this week? If so, which ones?

Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
Drinking: A barrel-aged "Pasadena Christmas" (Blanco Tequila, Reposado Mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, and Sherry, with Smoke Bitters)
Listening: "Something Cool" by June Christy


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