New Comic Book Day

Today is Wednesday, which, in my world, means pretty much only one thing: it’s the day new comics hit the shelves. While I wasn’t that involved in comic books as a kid (instead spending my hours devouring science fiction and fantasy novels), I did dabble in them and found a few I really loved. Calvin & Hobbes, Green Lantern, The Mighty Thor, Spawn, Witchblade – even though most people didn’t particularly care for them in the 90s, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It really helped that my role-playing group met in our local comic shop (which has sadly since closed).

After moving away, my comic reading took a dip. I’d still read the Sunday funnies and was addicted to a number of webcomics, but strayed from the classic comic-book format. It wasn’t until college that I started to consider returning, partly due to my increased consumption of manga. After all, if I was willing to spend time and money on comics from Japan, it was only logical to try a return to the American variety. After testing the waters, my tastes quickly gravitated toward DC and a number of independents over Marvel, (though I typically prefer Marvel properties in movies, cartoons, etc).

And so here we are, about 7 years and many MANY comics later. I’ve been to conventions, met authors and artists, and managed to bring others into this nerdy pursuit. Even better, I’ve made some real friends online and in a number of shops around Boston.

But the last 2 years have been tough, starting with the saga of Blackest Night. (Here’s where this post starts getting a bit ranty.) Being a huge Green Lantern fan, I was excited to see it take center stage in a big crossover event. And I fell headfirst into the trap that has been so prevalent in comics since the early 90s, buying every single issue, spin-off, and side-story. To add context for those not in-the-know, the late 80s and early 90s saw a huge jump in the speculative value of comic books. Accordingly, Marvel and DC began publishing “special” issues (variant covers, ridiculous tie-ins, etc) because people would by them thinking they would eventually be worth something. But true value comes from rarity, and this practice quickly backfired, leading to a pretty serious crash in readership (one that it hasn’t really recovered from).

Now, I want to be clear, I didn’t buy them for collecting value, but so that I could experience every angle of the story line (I do occasionally buy a variant cover, but only if I like the art or artist). But despite my almost rabid level of faith in Geoff Johns, I finished Blackest Night pretty disappointed. Not simply because it meant having to buy into Brightest Day (a separate event title, but a direct follow up) to see how everything really worked out, but because the plot and characters left me unsatisfied. I’m not saying that there wasn’t a stunning amount of genius involved, and quite a few jaw-drop moments, but really the only thing I got out of the entire ordeal was a new love for a character I had always dismissed – Barry Allen’s Flash.

As for Brightest Day, you guessed it – I bought into that too. And boy, that was possibly the most pointless stretch of comics I have ever read (I get that Swamp Thing is an awesome bit of nostalgia, but the whole thing was poorly constructed).

Simultaneous to all this was the drama surrounding  Bruce Wayne’s death and rebirth, which resulted in it’s own group of spin-off titles. And while I’ve never been much of a Batman fan (or Superman for that matter), I am willing to trust in Grant Morrison’s vision. But there has been a serious consequence from all this – a kind of malaise that envelopes me every time I think about reading some comics. Aand now months worth of comics sit to the side until I can build up the willpower to dive into them

All told, that’s a lot of time, money, and self invested into the DCU. Which is why I was skeptical about this whole New 52 relaunch, dubbed DCnU (DCU being the classic means of referring to the DC Universe).

52 new titles launch in the month of September. 4 of them are Green Lantern-related titles. They roll back on some momentousness character events. That sounds a lot like the old trap, and I would really prefer not to be burned again. I mean, there’s no way all of them are worth reading (let alone buying), and the market won’t support it. I see maybe half of those at most making it 6 months.

But, at the same time, I don’t want to give up on DC or wait 5-6 months to figure out which storylines are worth getting in trade form. So here’s what I’m going to end up doing: sticking to authors I trust, like Gail Simone. Not buying into any events or tricks.  Hopefully that will keep me interested in DC. If not, I suppose I’ll end up sticking to the indies that have always stood by me.

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