Sunday, April 03, 2005

Comics Stash Redux

No more Comics Stash – I ran it for a month and now have stopped. The intent was to track what I was buying and see if any patterns showed up. Sort of like when you’re on a diet and writing down everything you eat. So if you were tolerating it - well, we're done. And if you were enjoying it, well, we'll go off and do somethine else for a while.

But what have we learned from the experience? What conclusions can I draw from this?

1. Not as Independent as I once was. As a younger struggler, I was reading independently-published books: Love and Rockets, Cerebus, and Elfquest. Now they have fallen by the wayside. I’m definitely doing the four-color heroes in capes, and among those, mostly from the big two (Yes, Authority and Ex Machina are Wildstorm, and Promethea was America’s Best Comics, but they are satellites of the DC/Warner Empire). Have the “ground levels” gone away, or is their subject matter (a lot of them fell into the Bad Girl art pit in the 90s and never climbed back out) just not my pipe of tea?

2. I prefer teams to individuals. Missing from my reading list are the Big Heroes – the Superman and Batman family of books, and the Spider-mans (except for Ultimates and Straczynski). I am reading JLA, most of the core X-men, JSA, Teen Titans, and other gatherings of heroes. I must like group dynamics.

3. I’m reading writers, but I'm not buying because of the writers. While I my point out “star-casting” in the writing, I am reading Joss Whedon and J Micheal Straczynski’s books, and enjoying them. And yes, recognizing the name on the masthead (Claremont, Waid, Bendis, Eliis), gives me an idea of what kind of story I am getting into, but I'm not actively seeking out their works.

4. I’m carrying some dead wood. I can’t give you a good reason why I’m reading Hawkman or Aquaman. The stuff I enjoyed in these series has been ignored (The whole Hawkman/Hawkgirl reincarnation romance has gone by the wayside, and I prefer to large-issue politics of Aquaman to the gritty Batman-underwater stuff). I am going to have to edit down my list.

5. I’m willing to experiment. I have a three-issue rule, so I’m more likely to pick up an issue 1, or to hang through a six-issue miniseries. Often a book gets added to the permanent list. Similarly, I will drop a book (Doom Patrol, Ultimate Iron Man, Age of Apocalypso) if it doesn’t take.

6. I follow continuity, but I like to see worlds evolve. DC is driving its universe darker, which gives me qualms, but I’m still along for the ride. Marvel is shattered among a handful of sub-universes – core, ultimate, lost stories, year ones, alternate futures, alternate presents. I’m not horrified by any of this.

7. I like the Ultimate line. I'm suprised by this. When it got started with Ultimate Spider-man, I was very much of the opinion that here was another poor attempt to reboot the universe, bagging down origin stories with even more continuity. Instead, its provided fresh, interesting looks at the heroes. Still, it is strange that I can accept the Ultimate Vision as an alien robot but not Ultimate Iron Man as a mutated-in-the-womb supergenius.

8. Green Arrow is the Wolverine of the DC Universe. Intentional or not, he’s everywhere, every week. Weird for a guy who was dead a few years back.

OK, enough on comics for the moment. More later,