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General Comic Book Discussion

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I figure a few of us here at A+F read comic books on a regular or semi-regular basis. Since I graduated from seminary a few months ago, I've been catching up on a large number of titles (mainly Batman, Superman, Spider-Man) over the last few years.

I think it might be helpful to have a thread devoted to general discussion of current or recent comic books. This can include any news about trade paper backs (TPB - when several issues that contain an on-going storyline are bound together), etc.

The two major publishers, DC and Marvel, are currently undergoing a series of storylines that are intended to change their respective universes. The DC storyline, entitled Infinite Crisis, is a means of restructuring the DC Universe similar to their Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot back in the mid-1980's. The means for this is very complicated - there were a number of one-shot titles that dealt with various changes in the DC Universe a year before the Infinite Crisis storyline. Even now, while Crisis still has two issues left in its run, the usual titles are undergoing what's called One Year Later. Each title has jumped one year ahead of events at the end of Crisis, and promises some major changes in characters.

(Confused yet?) In order to fill in the missing year, DC is doing a one-shot title called 52, in which the one year gap in the DC Universe will be told. This is a weekly publication, lasting (you've got it) 52 issues. By the time this all finishes, it will have taken nearly 4 years of comic books in the DC Universe to finish this whole crossover.

Alright. That's the easiest way I could describe it.

Meanwhile, the Marvel Universe is gearing up for Civil War, which promises to restructure a number of characters. The Marvel titles are now in a Countdown to Civil War mode, where sides are chosen, etc. Mark Millar, who is writing the series, has stated that there is a political allegory to the story. He has also stated that out of all the characters, Spider-Man will be affected the most.

So, that's a run-down of the major crossover story lines in each big company.

Feel free to discuss any title, but try to keep major revelations and the such spoilered. As an example - it's not a big surprise by now that Jason Todd (Robin #2) has returned to the Batman universe, but it was revealed in Batman Annual #25 that

Superboy-Prime is responsible for changing the timeline and restoring Jason Todd back to life.

Edited by Clint M

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Sounds like an excellent idea, Alan. There's so much great stuff out there right now. I don't read too many DC/Marvel comics anymore, but I try and stay plugged into the current crop of graphic novels/artists/writers as much as possible.

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I stopped collecting comic books at roughly the same time Garth Ennis stopped writing Hellblazer, but I'm still fond of them. But I don't pay as much attention to the current stuff, unless it's on the web.

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Ok, I just read the Infinite Crisis Secret File yesterday and it's a good story by Marv Wolfman (who penned the original Crisis on Infinite Earths), which gives us a glimpse into the lives of Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane, Superboy-Prime, and Alex Luthor in their "heaven" and fills in some of the details of what has been happening.

I have to say, DC is making me a huge fan with this stuff. IC has proven to be far more interesting than Marvel's House of M last year (and now with this Civil War thing...). I don't know. I wish Joe Q would just get booted out as EIC. The only titles at Marvel that hold any interest for me at the moment are Ultimates 2, Ultimate Spider-man, and Whedon's Astonishing X-men. Which is sad, since I used to be a pretty big Marvel guy.

IN fact, if I had to pick my favourite publisher right now it would easily be Dark Horse, as Conan, The Goon, and B.P.R.D./Hellboy are probably my favourite titles at the moment.

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I finally got around to reading Alex Robinson's Tricked recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. It would be a daunting challenge for any artist/writer to follow up a masterpiece like Box Office Poison, but he does so with an impressive confidence. Although it lacks some of the scope and depth of Box Office, Robinson still shows an amzing knack for writing and drawing unforgettable, humorous characters.

Just read Pekar's The Quitter over the weekend, which of course I loved... Currently rereading the updated edition of Eisner's Contract with God series (The Trilogy)... On the nightstand: Black Hole, which I cant wait to dig into.

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BTW, I realize I focused more on the big two in my opening post, but I'm trying to catch up on reading their titles first before I delve into other stuff. I did check out a couple of Alan Moore's works (I have From Hell and Watchmen on request at the library), American Splendor, and Sandman in the last few months.

What are some other non-mainstream titles I should check out? I'd appreciate the help.

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What are some other non-mainstream titles I should check out? I'd appreciate the help.

Great thread, Clint! The Comic Book sub-forum would be cool; I hope such an addition wouldn't in fact be restricted to graphic novels. Not many super-hero GNs come out, and super-heroes are the heart of comicdom, no matter how lowbrow that may seem to some.

Anyhow, I've been following "Infinite Crisis", but find it equally frustrating and entertaining. The frustration comes rom the apparent need to be reading just about EVERYTHING DC has put out in the past few years in order to really get the big picture. I don't consider myself to be totally out of the loop with DC right now, but the business of the two Lex Luthors in IC#3 (I think that it), for example, had me totally lost. Also, not being a "Flash" reader, I didn't get the business about the Speed Force in #4. The individual issues I liked were #2 (for the revelation of what Earth-2 Superman really wanted - Wow!) and #5. I appreciate the way #4 layed everything out in one or two pages, though. But on the whole, I find my beef to be with Geoff Johns' writing style. He tends to be so inside of his own little world that he regularly operates in, that's it's hard to just jump in cold. A major event book like "Infinite Crisis" should be more accesssable.

Just a few months ago, I reread the original "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Now THERE'S a story! Twelve solid issues, a self-contained. In contrast to that, I doubt someone could pull a TPB of "Infinite Crisis" off a shelf 20 years from now, and make nearly as much sense of it. Not without prior knowledge of our current DC universe dating back two or three years prior to the IC series.

That said, I'm probably in for the long haul on "52". I work in comic shop, so I like to have some knowledge of what's what.

Switching gears, I am really a Marvel guy at heart, and love "The New Avengers". The last one, #16, was so cinemtic in its presentation, it was easy to forgive the complete absence of any actual Avengers. I have a theory of what this new villian is, but it's probably the same theory most everyone has, so I'll hold onto it for now. ;) I've gotten bit hard by the Bendis bug (the self-proclaimed anti-Geoff Johns :D ), and have been going after his vast backlog of work. In upcoming weeks, I'll be getting the HUGE "Alias" Omnibus. Getting caught up on "Powers" and "Ultimate Spidey" are going to be tough, though.

As far as "House of M" went, I only bothered with the actual series itself, and had a great time. Those who did the crossovers tend to have a bad taste left in their mouths from the whole experience, so I'm glad I avoided those. Actually, I did do the "Pulse" issue and the "Captain America" issue. Both were solid one-offs.

Just today, I finished my "Captain America: Winter Soldier" HC, which collects the new Cap series issues #1 - #7. Holy crap, is that a great read! I was skeptical at first - I didn't know Brubaker's work, and had enjoyed the old school fun style of the previous series, which had just wound down, and this new darker tone was big shift - but after hearing all the acclaim this story has recived ("Best Comic of 2005" awards, and whatnot), I had to give it a look. Bendis named it as his all-time favorite Cap story, which seemed weird to me before I read it, since it's still pretty new. But after reading it, I may have to agree. And how big of a statement is that, really? Just what are the really great Captain America masterpieces, anyway? Outside of "The Avengers" not much comes to mind, really. This is certainly up there. By all means, get this, and read it! Now I gotta find the subsequent issues...

I'm just getting into "Walking Dead" via TPBs as well. I've read only the first collection, but it blew me away. As a fan of the zombie film sub-genre, Romero's stuff inparticular, I can honestly say that this easily ranks right up there with the best of those films. I'd be shocked if some Hollywood studio hasn't already paid handsomely to option this into a series of films. It's ready to go.

I'm about to read the "Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD" TPB that collects the Steranko stuff. Haven't read it before, but since SHIELD is so omnipresent in Marvel these days (post 9/11 world!), I felt like this would be a good history lesson. Plus, it's Steranko's classic!

I've got more "Walking Dead", the big "Jinx" TPB, "Angel: The Curse", and "Heaven's War" all waiting in the wings. Also, a huge stack of unread comics like "Son of M", "The Sentry", and "Spider-Woman". I'll probably be getting the "Ultimate Iron Man" HC by Orson Scott Card and Andy Kubert this week, also. This is what happens when you run up some major trade credit while working shifts in a comic shop! :)

JiM T

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Although it's not the type of book one would normally read cover to cover, I'm nearly finished with Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library collection, which Ive found to be overwhelming in its detail and scope. I hated his earlier Jimmy Corrigan , but for some reason this, which covers many of the same themes and characters, has hooked me.

Finished Tatsumi's very dark, Push Man last week. The book compiles his short comics from the late 60's, all with his characteristic simple inks. A grim, poignant look at the underbelly of Japan's poor, working class-- filed with harrowing tales of prostitutes, sewer workers, sex slaves and like heartwarming subject matter.

Also, not for the faint of heart... Black Hole by Charles Burns. I'm about halfway thru this horror graphic novel set in the 1970's about an insidious sex virus that causes gaping holes and unwanted appendages to grow in all the wrong places. Creepy as hell.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Great thread, Clint!

I wish I could keep up with all of the comics that I like, but I've at least been able to read a few regularly. I'm really enjoying the New Avengers. Well, I've only read the two trade paperback collections, but still.

Also, I agree with Jim-- Walking Dead is fantastic. I own all four trade collections, and the writing gets better. And while there is a good amount of zombie-oriented terror, the characters are the most interesting part of the series (though the over-expository dialogue is something worthy of eye-rolling).

Edited by Jason Panella

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Did anyone pick up the Marvel Zombies run? Hillarious!!!!!

This came out of an Ultimate Fantastic Four storyline in which the FF cross over into an alternate dimension where the whole planet has succumbed to a Zombie virus, and the only real humans left are Magneto and a hand full of normals. They are being hunted by the rest of the Marvel Superhero's who have all become zombies. The FF storyline was written by Mark Millar and was more creepy than the stand alone run that came later. I'm sure a trade paperback will come out and you should pick it up if you missed it the first time around.

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I picked up the Captain America: Winter Soldier trade yesterday, and I'm almost done with it.

Great writing from Brubaker, and the art is fantastic. I also really like

how they bring back a long-gone character without making it cheesy

.

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Can any of you guys advise me on Marvel's 1602? I am tempted to buy/read it, but I haven't heard much about whether or not it's any good. Graphic novels cost a lot now, so I'd rather be safe. Suggestions?

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Can any of you guys advise me on Marvel's 1602? I am tempted to buy/read it, but I haven't heard much about whether or not it's any good. Graphic novels cost a lot now, so I'd rather be safe. Suggestions?

I was pretty disappointed by it. It's a great creative team, but it's not at all up to the rest of Gaiman's work. The poeple who seem to really like it are big-time Marvel fans that got a thrill out of seeing the characters re-interpreted, but that didn't really do it for me.

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Has anyone read George Perez' JLA/Avengers? I got some graduation money, and thought I might blow some on it.

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Can any of you guys advise me on Marvel's 1602? I am tempted to buy/read it, but I haven't heard much about whether or not it's any good. Graphic novels cost a lot now, so I'd rather be safe. Suggestions?

Well, I quite enjoyed it for it's references to Elizabethan/Jacobean England (I am doing my MA in English and specialize in Renaissance Lit). I think it's worth the money, but it's certainly not Gaimen's best I'll agree with that. But it's one of the better "events" that Marvel has done in years.

Has anyone read George Perez' JLA/Avengers? I got some graduation money, and thought I might blow some on it.

I have all the issues of this over-hyped _____. Wish I hadn't bought it. It's the worst elements of Crisis or Secret Wars put together. The only good parts of it involve the funny observations the characters make about each other's universes and what that says about the characters involved. I expected more of Busiek at least. Perez's art is good if you're a fan, though I like his work better back in the day with the inks of Dick Giordano.

There's a lot better you could spend that grad money on is all I'm saying.

Edited by Anders

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For example, the new Hellboy trade (Volume 6). It's a bit short, but it's definitely one of my favorites. Concrete by Paul Chadwick is another interesting take on superheroism.

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Anyone been following DC's Infinite Crisis/52 storyline? IC essentially served as a sudo-reboot, but they should have extended it a couple of more issues. They also

killed off all of the characters left over from the first

Crisis series, with exception of Superboy-Prime. The big major death in this series was Connor Kent, the Superboy clone - sound familiar?

As a result, there are now some changes to the characters origins (the killer of Batman's parents is now in jail, whereas before he was still at large, etc).

Some other notable changes:

Jay Garrick, the original Flash, is now the "fastest man alive" again; Superman's powers were lost as a result of some events from IC #7 (but he's been regaining them as of recent); Selina Kyle is now a mother (the father is currently unknown), but the title of Catwoman belongs to her friend Holly; Green Arrow is now the mayor of Star City; there is a law that allows countries to ban superhero activity; Jim Gordon is commissioner of Gotham City again; Batman left Harvey Dent in charge of Gotham while he was gone, there is a new Blue Beetle, etc.

52 sounds interesting, from a conception standpoint. It's a real-time series, with each weekly-printed issue representing a week in the DCU(niverse). It's meant to fill in the gap between the end of Infinite Crisis and the "One Year Later" jump the other books have now made. The big hook is that Superman, Batman (with Nightwing and Robin), and Wonder Woman are taking a year off, leaving the rest of the DCU to function without the "Big Three". The series is focused on six characters: Renee Montoya, The Question, Steel, Ralph Dibney (Elongated Man), Black Adam, and Booster Gold.

Of course, not to be outdone, Marvel started their big "Civil War" storyline. From what I've read, Spider-Man will be the one superhero most affected at the end of the story. The first issue was interesting, with

Captain America surprising everyone by not siding with an initative towards superhero registration, while Iron Man supports it.

The last 3 issues of Amazing Spider-Man set up the series nicely.

As far as trades go, I'd recommend Kurt Busiek's Astro City series. The focus is more on what occurs in the mind of the superhero and the villians. Great read.

Edited by Clint M

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Can any of you guys advise me on Marvel's 1602? I am tempted to buy/read it, but I haven't heard much about whether or not it's any good. Graphic novels cost a lot now, so I'd rather be safe. Suggestions?

It's not bad. As the others have said, it's not Gaiman's best work by any means, but it's still a fun read. I liked it overall, but it's something I'd rather borrow again than buy.

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As far as trades go, I'd recommend Kurt Busiek's Astro City series. The focus is more on what occurs in the mind of the superhero and the villians. Great read.

I love Astro City - it's some of the best stuff out there. I'm following Infinite Crisis as it comes out in trade paperback. I love the DC Universe.

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Ok, I'll admit I'm still somewhat confused about how I feel after reading IC #7. I've even been re-reading Crisis on Infinite Earths to really figure out how I feel about it.

In the end I think IC ended up being somewhat disappointing. It started out really strong (that ending to the first issue was great!) But in the end it seems less impactful than it could have been (on some comic book messageboards the rumours are circulating that Johns hand was stayed about half-way through the series preventing him from doing what he really wanted to).

As a result, there are now some changes to the characters origins (the killer of Batman's parents is now in jail, whereas before he was still at large, etc).

IIRC, as it stood before, Joe Chill was at large until Bruce grew up as Batman and confronted him. Alex says in this new issue :spoilers: "Batman still fights for Gotham even though his parents killer was caught." I think the implication is that Joe Chill was caught immediately after the murder (ALA Batman Begins). I don't think this suggests that Joe Chill was still at large in the time immediately preceding IC, but that Batman's origins have been subtley altered.

Either way, as huge a Batman fan as I am, even I am somewhat confused about what is post-Crisis continuity etc. I'm sure SDG could answer our confusion, as I will cede to him as the more knowledgeable Bat-fan on the boards.

Far more interesting is Alex's statement that :spoilers:

"There are recorded rumors of Superman's activities before his appearance in Metropolis."

In the Man of Steel continuity, Clark doesn't appear as Superman until after he already lives in Metropolis and saves the space-plane thing. Could this mean the return of

Clark as Superboy in continuity?

Smallville fans should be happy.

Edited by Anders

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Thanks to you guys I decided to hold out on 1602 until the library has it.

What I'm wondering now is whether or not Joss Whedon's X-Men run is available in trade paperback somewhere? I'd love to check out his work. :)

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Thanks to you guys I decided to hold out on 1602 until the library has it.

What I'm wondering now is whether or not Joss Whedon's X-Men run is available in trade paperback somewhere? I'd love to check out his work. :)

It is out, as I saw a copy of it at the LCS (local comic book store) last week. His run isn't considered that great, however. From what I've heard, the first couple of issues were good, but it just died as it went along.

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It is out, as I saw a copy of it at the LCS (local comic book store) last week. His run isn't considered that great, however. From what I've heard, the first couple of issues were good, but it just died as it went along.

Really? I'm not sure what the General Consensus is--and the above may very well be it--but the majority of comic book fans I talk to at work said it's good, and the new arc is off to a great start.

I haven't read it, though. I might check it out (employees at my bookstore are allowed to "borrow" books, as long as we don't damage them), and I'll let you know what I think.

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So, what is the difference between "graphic novels" and "comic books"? I was under the impression that it was something like that between "films" and "movies" - just a difference in brow position.

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So, what is the difference between "graphic novels" and "comic books"? I was under the impression that it was something like that between "films" and "movies" - just a difference in brow position.

From what I understand =

Comic book = monthly/bi-monthly/whatever issue, usually 32 or so pages long. Doesn't have to be part of a larger story, or arc.

Trade paperback = collection of said comics, frequently compiled to tell one story arc.

Graphic novel = long-form comic, sometimes written solely as a graphic novel.

Lots of people use trade and graphic novel interchangably.

Analogy: if you watch a single episode of "Firefly," that's comparable to a comic book. Buying the whole season on DVD could be the trade paperback. Serenity is the graphic novel.

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