Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday Comics

Comic books, I wish I could quit you!

Why is it that comics come out on Wednesdays now? In my college days when I first discovered an actual comic book store (Fanfare Comics and Cards--now called
Fanfare Sports & Entertainment in Kalamazoo, Michigan) new comics came out on Fridays. My then-girlfriend and I would get on a bus at Western Michigan University's campus for $0.75 and make our way across town, where we would load up our weekly take, trek all the way back for another six bits and pore over what we had bought. It was a great end-of-the-week ritual.

Now that new comics come out on Wednesdays, I have to worry about whether or not I can even get to the comic book store before something is going to sell out. My weeknights during the regular school year are pretty tied up in spending time with my daughter and I often can't make it into town until the weekend. I don't buy that many monthly comics now, and the number has decreased steadily over the years partly because when I miss out on an issue because of its selling out, I just drop the series and either wait for the trade paperback (if I liked it) or just forget it altogether (if I didn't like it enough).
When I was in college and had a little disposable income and comics were only $0.65 each, I bought virtually every Marvel and DC title published, as well as some early independents, like First Comics' "Jon Sable, Freelance" and "Badger," along with Comico's "Elementals." Now, with the state of comics the way it is, here's what I'm buying:

Kurt Busiek's Astro City

This is my favorite comic book series of all time. It's a self-contained universe, characters who die stay dead, and the perspective changes from story to story. Sometimes stories are told by bystanders, sometimes from the viewpoint of the heroes, and other times from the vantage point of the villains. Everyone has a say in how they see the world. The "Confession" storyline, probably my favorite, tells the story from the perspective of a boy sidekick as a normal kid comes to the big city in hopes of seeing some superhero action. He becomes Altar Boy, sidekick to the dark crimefighter The Confessor, and not only learns about his mentor, but also of a vast conspiracy to invade the Earth and a plot to get the world's superheroes out of the way.

Batman and Robin

I'm not thrilled with the direction that the Batman comics have taken with Dick Grayson being the new Batman (again) but with the team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (All-Star Superman) behind the wheel, I'm willing to go along for the ride for a while. So far, we're getting to see some good stuff, like a flying Batmobile (it's about time!) and there's an interesting dynamic to this dynamic duo as Robin is the dark, brooding character and Batman is trying to lighten him up. I'll follow this one at least through the first story arc to see where it goes.


I could write for pages on this book, and someday I will. It is hands-down, the best superhero book on the market right now. It's the story of Mark Grayson, the seemingly normal son of the world's foremost superhero, as he discovers his powers and embarks on his own career as a superhero. Read this one from the beginning, either through the trade paperbacks or the hardcover collections (which I prefer) because writer Robert Kirkman weaves twists and turns that will leave you stunned and you don't want to miss any of it. I bought this series from the first issue and sold the first 10 for around $150 on eBay. And it is that good!


If you like crime comics, this one's for you. I bought this initially because of the character's superficial similiarity to my RPG character, Domino, but what lay inside blew me away. It's the story of a villain in the witness protection program who can't stay away from the action of the super world. It's almost like a Richard Stark's Parker novel with superpowers.

Top Ten

Top Ten is the story of the 10th precinct, a police station in a world where superpowers have proliferated to the point of critical mass. Everyone has superpowers, origins, costumes, and the whole schtick. Think of it as Hill Street Blues in the superpowered world. Alan Moore wrote the initial "season" with Gene Ha art, and the new season is written by Zander Cannon with Gene's art on the first few issues.

Well, that's it. I am down to five monthly titles after all these years. They're good titles and only one of them is bogged down in universe-spanning continuity with danger of crossover contamination. Give them a try if you are really wanting something good to read and you can't quite quit comics.


KC Ryan said...

You really should be getting Wednesday Comics, the new "Sunday comics" section from DC.
It is that good.
Granted the pacing is very different, one page a week, but were else are you gonna get such fantastic artwork, or the Demon and Catwoman in one strip?

Jim McClain said...

I'll try it if it isn't sold out.

Jeff McClain said...

I loved Astro City (as you know) and Top 10. I just can't seem to bring myself to even consider looking into this genre anymore. I love the art, but there just doesn't seem to be much inspiration any more.

Jeff McClain said...

Oh, one more thing. A Brokeback Mountain reference? Really? :D

Jim McClain said...

Brokeback Mountain was a great movie.

Jim McClain said...

KC, you were right about Wednesday Comics. Loved it!