Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Comic Book Subscriptions!

The first comic book to which I ever bought a subscription was Marvel’s The Avengers. My one year of home delivery of this precious commodity ran from issue 188 through 199 and I still regard those issues with real joy whenever I spot a cover or a reference to the tales told therein. I also remember being disappointed at having to buy the double sized issue 200 off the rack and lamenting that I hadn’t continued my subscription. At this late date I can’t remember why I chose The Avengers as the one comic to have guaranteed access to, but I guess it was because of the team aspect of the book. You were sure to have at least five cool superheroes per month with Captain America or Thor being a good bet each time.

The reason I bring this up is that I now have at my advanced age subscribed to a comic book again. As a matter of fact I have subscribed to two! A few months ago I took advantage of the deal of a $15 price to pick up a year of the Geoff Jones scripted Aquaman book and just last week I plunked down the same price for 12 issues of Batman: The Dark Knight. Both of these are books I’ve enjoyed for the past year or so and this is a great way to have them painlessly drop into my ‘to read’ pile. Of course, these comics are part of the current, controversial revamping of DC Comics entire line of superhero books so many fans would wonder why I am bothering with them at all. A number of older fans hate the ‘New 52’ approach to these beloved characters and to a degree I can understand their anger. The classic tales of Batman, Superman, etc. are such a big part of what makes these characters important to a lot of people and to have those stories discarded could be considered an insult. But I can’t feel that way. I’m thrilled to have a new version of these old tales and having good, creative folks come in and tackle these icons is refreshing to my eyes. Anyone that can turn Aquaman into a badass again is doing the right thing and the only way to make the current series any better would be to magically have Jim Aparo do the artwork as he did in the 1970’s.

That’s not to say that DC has done a good job across the board. In fact I think that, from the books I’ve read, they might have more misses than hits in this massive recreation project! Their Hawkman book was completely awful – incoherent, sloppy and just a total waste of time. Likewise, the new Teen Titans run started out with some strength and potential but degenerated quickly into a confusing mess of cross-over madness and pointless plot complications that left whole issues feeling like a waste of time and money. The entire first year of the new Firestorm comic was a disaster of stupid plots and poorly defined direction with too many creators trying to control the book. It improved greatly in the second year with Dan Jurgens’ take over of the title but by then too many readers had written the revamped Nuclear Man off to keep the book afloat.

It’s never going to be easy to recreate the origins of characters this well known, but in too many cases DC seems to have broken things that didn’t need to be fixed and, in Firestorm’s case, fixed things too late to matter. With Aquaman and most of the Batman titles I have been happy to see a level of quality that makes fifteen bucks for a year’s run seem like a pretty good gamble. We’ll see.

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