Originally written for eVent! magazine [ep] on November 16th, 2005.
Wednesday is the day that new comic books come out and so it is the day I make my weekly trip to the comic book store to pick up the new titles that came out that week. It’s a process that I’ve ritualized, eating at the same restaurant after picking up my books and reading through them all while having a late lunch or early dinner. Then I return home where I put them in bags and file them away.
Last week I took my friend Nathan on my weekly journey. A non-comic reader he waited patiently in the store as I collected my books and paid for them. Like most non-comic book people he knows the characters that have bleed over into popular culture, Spider-man, Batman, Superman and the others that have entered into pop culture. However when I suggested that maybe he should pick something up Nathan said what you’re probably saying now, “Oh I’m not really interested in comics.”
Comics have not always been linked with superheroes, in the early years characters like Superman and Captain America were just one small part of the comic universe. Comics, one of the few true American art forms, were merely a method of telling a story. They were about war, romance and horror. Slowly though it’s the men and woman in tight spandex that have come to dominant the comic market and it makes it seem like a closed society, one that you need a secret decoder ring to enter.
Now I enjoy my superhero comic books as much as the next person with a pull list at a comic book store but it does sadden me that people like my friend Nathan, and most likely you dear reader, write off an entire form of narrative just because of one category of stories told with it. It’s would be like never watching a movie because you don’t like the ones Mel Gibson makes.
Maybe though I need to give some examples of where to look if you’re interested in finding out exactly what comics has to offer for people over the age of twelve. Now I’m going to preface this here by saying that some of these titles are definitely not for children. A few of these are roughly equivalent to an ‘R’ rated film in terms of the violence, language and sex. I’ll let you know which ones are kid appropriate and which are not. Some of these books do fall into the category of superhero books but don’t let that drive you away. Also don’t worry as great as Maus is I won’t write about it here, using Maus as an example of why comics aren’t just about superheroes is clichéd at this point.
Y: the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan – not for kids
A worldwide plague wipes out all males on the world except for Yorick and his pet monkey. As humanity’s last hope to prevent extinction Yorick travels through a world inhabited solely by women that is dealing with the aftermath and devastation brought by the plague. The book manages to stay entertaining despite being heavy with gender politics at times and is definitely worth picking up in trade paperback from Amazon.
Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan – for kids
Available in a trade from Amazon,ca, Runaways does move into the superhero territory but is so fun it’s hard to dislike it for that. A book that’s kid friendly it features a group of teens who find out that they’re parents are part of a secret group that is trying to destroy the world and so they runaway and try to stop their parents evil plans.
Powers by Brian Michael Bendis – not for kids
This book is definitely about superheroes but takes a very post-modern view of them. Focusing on two detectives who work on homicides featuring the city’s super powered citizens Bendis pokes fun at the conventions of superhero comics as well as provides a look at what life would be like if superheroes really existed and the media culture that would surround them.
The Losers by Andy Diggle – not for kids
Following a group of British Special Forces soldiers operating in the Middle East the team finds themselves betrayed by the CIA and on the run. The comic has an action movie vibe but is well paced and enjoyable never the less.
This article could go on forever but oddly enough they want to put other things in this paper aside from just my comic recommendations. So I’ll end by saying that if I’ve managed to get you interested in any of these titles they’re definitely worth picking up. The easiest way to get them is in trade paperback form, which means that several issues have been collected into one book and so you can read through an entire storyline all at once. They can be picked up at comic shops or online at Amazon. After reading them hopefully you too will start to mark the day new comics come out on your calander.