The Weekly Crisis recently invited 5 comics bloggers to write about why they buy the comics that they do, then turned it over to ask the readership the same question. This is an extended version of my response to that post.
For most of my comics-reading life, I’ve followed characters. I’d pick up The New Teen Titans and stick with it. I’d follow that to Flash (and that to Justice League Europe), Hawk and Dove, Deathstroke, Nightwing, etc.
Sometimes I would pick up a new book for the concept. I’d take a look at, say, Darkstars in the early 1990s, and think, “Hey, that sounds cool!” Or Planetary back in 1999, or Welcome to Tranquility last fall (yeah, in trades).
I’ve also tended to stick with the universe I know best — DC — and stand-alone titles. The Marvel books I’ve read tend to be either creator-owned (Groo the Wanderer when it was published at Epic), licensed (Transformers when I was younger), or off in their own little corner (Alias, The Twelve). Same with WildStorm — while I eventually tracked down some Stormwatch and Authority trades, mostly I read Planetary, which was off doing its own thing.
For a long time, I read most of the big events at DC. Partly it was because everyone was in them (and I was reading a lot more super-heroes back then), and partly it was because, if Big Changes were afoot, I wanted to see what happened. Though I drew the line at tie-in issues of series I didn’t read, unless they specifically crossed over with a book I was reading. (The one exception: DC One Million. I read almost all of those tie-ins because I wanted to see what DC did with the ideas.) Eventually I got tired of the endless crossovers of the 1990s, and stopped. Until Infinite Crisis, which looked interesting, but annoyed me even more in the end.
These days, I find myself following writers. Astonishing X-Men was far from my first comic, but it was my first X-Men comic — not counting the crossover with New Teen Titans back in the 1980s — and I picked it up because it was Joss Whedon. I’ll check out almost anything mystical written by Bill Willingham. Neil Gaiman’s name got me to pick up his Eternals miniseries, and you can bet I’ll pick up his Batman story next year. And I’m beginning to get to that point with Jay Faerber — Noble Causes, Firebirds and Dynamo 5 are hard to beat, and I resisted picking up Gemini, but finally gave in.
Like some of the respondents, I also have trouble letting go. I kept reading various incarnations of Titans for over a decade (everything from “Titans Hunt” to Infinite Crisis, minus the Jurgens series) even though I no longer really liked the book — just occasional stories. I kept hoping it would get better, but after being bitten over and over, I finally wised up and walked away.
I’ve gotten much better at only reading the stuff I actually like lately (Countdown to Final Crisis excepted; it was research material). I dropped Fell after a few issues because, as good as it was, it just disturbed the heck out of me. I gave Shadowpact and Jack of Fables a shot, but neither really grabbed me the way Fables did. I even came close to dropping Flash with the 2006 relaunch, though I decided to give it a chance. Once I picked it up, I stuck with it because the writers were clearly learning on the job (and you could see that they were learning from issue to issue), and then actually liked the next writer’s arc — not where it went, but how it was presented.
Looking at books I’ve started reading recently:
- Final Crisis. I was going to sit this one out until I found out Grant Morrison was writing it. Based on Seven Soldiers and JLA, I figured it was a good bet. So far, I think it’s held up.
- Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge. Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins return to the Rogues. How could I pass it up?
- House of Mystery. This falls more under concept. The setup reminded me a bit too much of the “World’s End” arc in Sandman, but the preview looked interesting. So far I’m liking it.
- Gemini. Jay Faerber’s work on Dynamo 5 and Noble Causes has been rock solid. Add in an interesting hook and a preview…
- Madame Xanadu. Like House of Mystery, it was the preview included in one month’s Vertigo books that got me curious about this one.
- The Twelve. JMS brings a dozen forgotten super-heroes from the 1940s into the present. This is a good example of where the shared universe becomes an issue. I’ve read all of JMS’ comics at Top Cow and Icon, but the only Marvel-branded books of his that I’ve read were Supreme Power (alternate universe), Bullet Points (ditto), this book (off in a corner) and the first trade of his Spider-Man run (I think I borrowed it from someone).
- True Believers. I never would have noticed this one if I hadn’t started this blog, and hadn’t read an interview with Cary Bates about this miniseries. The first issue is actually quite good. Though it looks like it’ll be a bit less off-in-a-corner of the Marvel Universe than I expected.
- Comic Book Tattoo. Comic book short stories based on Tori Amos songs. By the time I looked at the list of artists and writers, I already knew I had to get it.
And some books I’m planning to pick up, and why:
- Secret Six. Villains United was the stand-out among the Infinite Crisis lead-ins. With Gail Simone still writing the characters, it’s like Rogues’ Revenge.
- Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds. Research material. While I loved Geoff Johns’ run on The Flash, most of his other stuff that I’ve read just doesn’t grab me. But it’s got XS and (most likely) Bart, so…
- Final Crisis: Superman Beyond. Crazy alternate-universe Superman story, written by Grant Morrison, with a 3-D section. We’re talking Tales from the Bully Pulpit level of potential here.
- Zatanna. Somewhere along the line I seem to have become a bit of a Zatanna fan. Not enough to track down all her guest spots or even team books, but if it’s a solo book, I’m there.
- Flash: Rebirth. Geoff Johns and Ethan van Sciver on Flash? Again, how can I skip this?
- Velocity. What can I say, I have a thing for speedsters. And the Pilot Season special wasn’t bad.
Edit: I realized I should probably list titles that I’ve been reading long-term (more than a year), as well.
- Flash. Originally picked up because I encountered Wally in The New Teen Titans. Over time I got to really like the character. You may have noticed. 🙂
- Fables. Started because it was an interesting concept — new takes on classic characters. This was one of my absolute favorites up until “March of the Wooden Soldiers.” Since then it’s been up and down, but it’s usually a solid read.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I started watching the show with the Season 2 finale and caught up on videotape in time for season 3 to start. Then I never missed an episode. I read most of the original Dark Horse series, but it wasn’t quite the same. I picked up the current series partly for Joss Whedon’s involvement and partly because it’s set up as an in-canon extension to the story. It’s turned out to be quite good, actually. Oddly enough, I haven’t felt the need to pick up Angel: After the Fall, which is essentially the same combination of factors.
- Fallen Angel. I don’t remember what got me interested in picking this up, though Peter David’s name was a factor. I might have been reading his blog at this point. Anyway, it’s a weird not-quite-super-hero, not-quite-dark-fantasy cross-genre piece that’s sort of become my favorite underappreciated book over time.
- Noble Causes. A friend introduced me to the miniseries, and I was hooked. This title helped me realize that straight-on super-hero action doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to, but super-heroes with a twist do.
- Dynamo 5. I picked up the first issue — late — on the strength of Noble Causes. Aside from Flash, this is probably the closest to a classic super-hero book that I’m reading these days.
- All-Star Superman. Another case of the writer+character+concept convergence. Mostly done-in-one stories with wild and crazy ideas.
And in trades:
- Girl Genius. Madcap steampunk mad science by Phil and Kaja Foglio. Discovered this one when they were still doing it as a regular print comic, before they started doing it as web-to-print (see Girl Genius Online).
- A Distant Soil. A rare case (for me) of following an artist. I’d been aware of Colleen Doran for a long time, but it wasn’t until reading Orbiter and Book of Lost Souls that I started to become familiar with her work. Finally I decided to pick up the first trade of her science-fiction epic.