A while back I examined my comic book buying patterns by deciding which books I would buy if I could only buy three comics. It’s one thing to name books you’re ready to drop, or to name your favorites. Looking at it in terms of what you’d keep if that was all you could get really forces you to evaluate. It’s also helpful for ranking if, after you pick your top three, you expand it to four, then five, then six, etc.
I asked the question again last year, and found that things had changed a bit (though that was partly because two of my top three comics had been canceled). With the new year, and with the first round of New 52 stories reaching their conclusions, I thought this was a good time to pick up the question again.
So if I could only buy three comics, they would be…
- The Unwritten – Consistently one of my favorite titles over the last few years, and I wrote about why I like this series for the “Read This Too!” event. It’s been in my top 3 every time.
- The Flash – It’s been a bumpy road. Last year, “The Road to Flashpoint” squandered all the enthusiasm I’d built up with “The Dastardly Death of the Rogues,” and Flashpoint came close to killing what was left, but the new Francis Manapul/Brian Buccellato series feels like it’s finally getting the book back on track.
- Lady Mechanika – This steampunk action/adventure mystery was one of my favorites to come out of 2010.
What DC books missed the cut?
A couple of years ago, I wrote about cutting down the pull list by figuring out what I really liked reading, as opposed to what I just bought out of habit. This was followed up by a harsher test: if you could only buy three comics, what would you choose? At the time, I picked The Unwritten, Madame Xanadu, and The Unknown. Yes, at the time, The Flash wasn’t in my top three.
I found myself thinking about this again. Two of those series are gone, and I’m enjoying The Flash a lot more than I used to. What would my choices be today?
- The Flash, definitely. While I didn’t care much for Flash: Rebirth, the ongoing series has proved to be a fun adventure.
- The Unwritten. I think we’re approaching the half-way point with this series, which continues to be fascinating, thought-provoking, entertaining, and occasionally downright creepy as it explores the way stories shape the world. This book was one of my picks for the Read This Too! recommendation.
Those two are easy. The third one? That’s the hard part. The two contenders are:
- Velocity. In the strictest sense of the question, I’d have to go with this one. It’s been a great story, and I want to see how it ends. But once that last issue comes out, I’d go with…
- Lady Mechanika, which is shaping up to be a good steampunk mystery/adventure.
Actually, since Lady Mechanika is bimonthly and Velocity’s finale will probably come out between its issues, I could probably make a case for them sharing the third slot!
So what missed the cut, and why?
A few weeks ago I talked about decluttering the pull list. Over the weekend, noscans_daily took things it a bit further, asking people to consider how they’d cut down to three titles. I didn’t properly do the suitcase test last time, since I approached it from the “What can I drop?” perspective instead of “What do I have to keep?” but a specific number — however harsh — really puts things into perspective.
If I had to cut it to three, I think I’d go for:
- The Unwritten – My favorite new series of the year. I’m always a sucker for stories about stories, and this one’s holding up well.
- Madame Xanadu – My favorite new series of last year. I never had any interest in the character before, but casting her as a magical detective/troubleshooter rather than simply fortune teller, and making it possible to tell stories anywhere from Arthurian times to the present, has made this
- The Unknown – Mystery, a protagonist whose key feature is intelligence, and exploring the boundary between science and the supernatural — or at least what seems to be supernatural to us. This is currently on its second 4-issue miniseries, and Mark Waid said at Long Beach Comic-Con that he could see it going for 3 or 4 minis depending on how long they can keep the artist.
The other more-or-less regular books, not counting miniseries with only one issue left:
- Flash: Rebirth – At this point I’d be perfectly willing to wait until they launch the ongoing next year, by which time The Unknown should be finished. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m looking forward to Blackest Night: The Flash, which will overlap. But just based on what’s in progress now, I’d drop it if I had to. (Of course, since I run a Flash fan site, that’s not really an option!)
- Fallen Angel – This would be the hardest one to cut. If I were choosing my top 4 instead of top 3, it would definitely be in there.
- Astro City – I can wait for the trade on this one.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I’m pretty far behind on this, which should tell me something.
- Dynamo 5 – It’s the best superhero book I’ve read in a while, but I’ve also been losing interest in superheroes.
- Farscape – I’m waiting until each mini finishes to read it anyway, so I may as well trade-wait.
- Wheel of Time – I half-suspect this is on hold anyway.
The surprise for me was finding that neither Flash nor Fallen Angel — two books which have been my #1 favorites at various times in the last few years — quite made the cut. I hope this will change once the ongoing Flash and Kid Flash series launch.
So…If you had to buy only three comics a month, what would you choose?