2012 so far... What to read, what to read, what to READ?! Seriously though, unless you’ve got a disposable income and can drop forty bucks on comics every week, you’ve got to be pretty selective on what titles to read. For me personally, I’m a sucker for mainstream titles with a good creative team behind it. I’ve always been more loyal to a good writer or artist than to a particular character or genre. In the past few month’s my comic consumption is steadily on the rise, here’s what has kept my interest so far this year. Superior: This is a darker, edgier superhero mini-series written by the colorful and often outspoken Mark Millar and one of my favorite artists Leinil Yu. It’s the story of a young handicapped teenager who is essentially given the powers of Superman (Superior=Superman, get it?!) by a small, astronaut monkey demon. Yeah that’s right.
What works about this series is Millar’s edgy writing. Like Millar’s Kick-Ass, Superior is R-rated when it comes to the language which can be a little over the top at times, but is refreshing when compared to typical mainstream comics. The other strong point of this series is Leinil Yu’s absolutely stunning artwork which boldly compliments Millar’s writing. The teenage characters of the book feel real and react to the crazy things around them in a way that you might expect teenagers to react to having super powers or being around people with super powers. However, one major negative of this book was the seemingly random releases of each issue. The seven issue series started back in October of 2010 and only wrapped up this past month. All things considered though, good stuff all around.
The Avengers: Yeah, The Avengers...you may not have noticed, but this is one superhero team that’s experiencing a little bit of a popularity surge right now and it’s damn-near impossible to avoid them. I don’t really think I can do a post about comics in 2012 without saying something about these books. Currently in the comics there are roughly 6 dozen different Avengers teams each consisting of about every character in the Marvel universe. At least that’s what it seems like to me. Seriously though, you’ve got The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Mighty Avengers, Secret Avengers, The Ultimate Avengers, The New Ultimate Avengers, Avengers Academy, and recently added to the stack is Avengers Assemble which conveniently consists of the exact team from the upcoming movie. Oh, and I almost forgot the latest Marvel super event, ‘Avengers VS X-Men’(because we’ve never seen the Avengers fight the X-Men before).
Lately, I’ve been keeping it simple and have been reading The Avengers and The New Avengers, both written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Daniel Acuna and Mike Deodato Jr. respectively. The arc leading up to the Avengers vs X-Men has been a little bit of a retread of Dark Avengers involving Norman Osborn assembling his own super-powered team to defeat and replace the Avengers lead by Steve Rogers. The writing was pretty good, the stories held my interest and there were some fun moments but it all felt too similar to Dark Avengers which was story that I think both Bendis and Deodato nailed the first time so there was any good reason to revisit the idea. However that being said, since my excitement for the movie is in full swing, I’m going to stick with those two titles and see how the next major arc plays out.
Batman: Well, this is the big one for me. I have to say that this is the book that I have consistently picked up the week of and sometimes the day of release. The main reason being that this is the first Batman book I’ve read in a long time that doesn’t feel weighed down by huge story arcs involving not just Batman but his entire team of costumed ‘bat-staff’. It’s the way it should be, Batman and Batman alone out there pounding the pavement of Gotham with his partners essentially just stopping by the batcave to say hello. The other major thing the post ‘New 52’ rebooted Batman has going for it is the villains. The Court of Owls is a criminal organization that is firmly rooted in the history of Gotham City and even though we’ve never seen them before, they feel like they belong in Batman’s rogues gallery. Doing the fighting and heavy lifting for The Court of Owls is The Talon, a grounded, realistic, well-designed, very equal physical adversary to Batman, which has made for some pretty amazing fight scenes and dialogue exchanges. In terms of the writing, Scott Snyder is on his game and clearly knows how to write these characters. He is able to put Batman in situations that we as reader, aren’t totally sure he’s going to make it out of. In the art department, Greg Capullo is absolutely kicking ass and is giving us the Batman that we both deserve and need right now (did you get that one?!). He brings a very refreshing kinetic energy to the world of Batman that I think has been severely lacking in the last few years.
On the opposite side of Harvey Dent’s lucky coin though, some of the later issues are getting a little out there. I’ll keep this spoiler-free and all I’ll say is that Scott Snyder is beginning to go a little bit outside of the more grounded, realistic world he typically writes and starts to get into more supernatural territory. Other than that, it’s a really good book to read and better than a lot of the stuff that’s out there. With seven issues out, there are four remaining in this story arc and to the Snyder/Capullo run. At this point it’s unknown if Scott Snyder will be staying on as writer after issue eleven, but Greg Capullo has said that he will be moving on after this arc concludes. Bummer.
Overall, 2012 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for comics. Even though as always there is a fair amount of trial and error that goes into finding a good title to stick with month after month, the prospects are looking good. Each time I go into my local comic shop, I’m finding that there is more and more that I want to check out. So here’s hoping to an increasingly larger percentage of my paycheck going to good comics. Keep readin’ friends!