Given my love for all things super hero, it may surprise some people to learn that I never really got into the whole comic book thing. There only three or four comic books that stand out from my childhood, and I assume that I was given them by someone. I can vaguely remember a Thor comic, a Ghost Rider comic and an Obsidian comic, but that is about it. My passion has always been for all the peripherals, the tie novels (I really should do a post on some of the good ones I have come across), the movies and especially the animated series.
I devoured Smallville and if I ever met Bruce Timm I would probably fall down at his feet, and I have to confess to spending a lot of time reading Wikipedia entries on story arcs and characters (which is pretty sad, I know). I think Avengers is one the greatest movies ever made and I dream of a great Superman movie. But, the actual comics themselves? They left me cold, to be honest.
I think there were a few factors that contributed to this. One was the often convoluted storylines that made it hard to just dip and pick up what was going on fairly easily. There was also the thinly concealed contempt that the big comic houses seemed (and still seem to) have for their readers, as if they felt that whatever they did, the fans would keep coming back. So, they just kept on with the retcons and reboots and plain butchering of characters.
But, the biggest obstacle for me has been the sheer immensity of the investment of time and money involved in being a serious collector of comic books. It’s usually not enough to read the core comics of a story arc, there are all the crossover titles as well, and it can be pretty daunting for the casual reader. It may seem lazy, but it has always just been easier to get into the condensed versions, the movies or the novelisations or the TV shows, which hopefully take all the good bits and discard the fat.
The comics that I had managed to get into in the past were the self contained ones, that didn’t rely on too many external titles. Perhaps my favourite was the Kingdom Come series, which in my opinion is a work of Art witha capital “A”. I actually purchased the trade paperback of that by mistake in an attempt to buy the very hard to get Eliot S! Maggin novelisation, but it was serendipity. I’d buy anything involving Alex Ross.
But, recently I discovered a real game changer and it has changed the way I have looked at comics, and I fear for my financial future. It’s the Comics app by comiXology on my iPad, and it is brilliant. A very quick rundown, the Comics app is very much like a Kindle store for comics. It allows you to browse titles by the major publishers and a lot of the smaller imprints. You can then purchase the titles within the app, download them and read them on your iPad.
And this is where the app truly shines. It shows off the potential of the iPad as well as any app I have seen, taking advantage of the screen real estate and the graphical interface. As you read it zooms in on the current panel, then out to give you the whole page view. And, just like with ebooks, you can stores thousands of comic titles without the hassle of finding shelf space! In terms of ease of use it really makes the comic book experience hassle free.
But, it’s this ease of use that is the major problem, and has shown me that comic books are evil. It’s so easy to go on a shopping spree, especially when you get to the end of a comic it gives you a button to buy the next one. So, in the past three days I have purchased more comics than I had in my entire life beforehand.
So, sitting in on my iPad I have:
SALVATION RUN (COMPLETE)
KINGDOM COME (COMPLETE)
DEATH OF THE NEW GODS (COMPLETE)
SMALLVILLE Season 11 (ONGOING)
FINAL CRISIS (COMPLETE)
ALL STAR SUPERMAN (still reading)
JUSTICE (still reading)
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS (still reading)
As much as reading on the IPad has ignited a fresh desire to read comics, I did notice that there is still the same issue where you need to read all the crossovers, Final Crisis especially gave me the impression I had missed a lot of backstory, But, perhaps because of the convenience of tracking things down, I find I am more tolerant of this.
So, what comics would people recommend for a relative newbie to the comics world?