Giving in to Peer Pressure
I'm so cheesed. The Thing was the only Marvel book I read; as a former big-league Marvel Fiend, to find myself still reading comics but not touching Marvel is amazing. And Hard Time? Jeebus. Someday soon I'll have to write a postmortem on the series and why it gave me hope for the medium. With any luck, it'll be remembered as an unjustly ignored oasis of Damn Good Comics.
Therefore, out of solidarity with most of the other bloggers I read and because I'm running perilously low on comics I like, I'm giving a new, widely-beloved underdog a shot: Manhunter. The basic premise does little for me, but when so many smarty-pantsed bloggers rave about it and go into hysterics at the prospect of its cancellation, then fine, I'll give it a shot.
A few thoughts:
--Much as I grouse about the cheesecake covers on Dan Slott's other smart, funny book, She-Hulk, twenty bucks says that the horndog appeal of said covers keeps it alive. Betcha. -sigh-
--Hawkgirl: a letdown. A letdown with protruding nipples and what I can only describe as "comedy breasts." Man, what the hell is that about? Or did I answer that question with the previous thought?
--When I go into the shop, there's so much material now that rests in a nebulous gray zone, where it interests me enough to want to read it, but not enough to part with three bucks to do so. Stacks and stacks of stuff catch my attention, but almost never quite enough. I have a hard spending cap, not a large one, and it's ingrained in me a high standard of comic buyin'. That which is boring, derivative, or suckass must go, and it must go immediately. That which is okay but not gripping tends to stay on the shelf too. This leaves a shockingly thin field from which to draw. Also, it means I do a hell of a lot of fishing, picking up random issues of stuff I've never heard of, in a foolish hope that something will strike my fancy. Seldom does it succeed. Argh.
--Someday, when the Comic Book Gods are less cruel, they will allow the publication of a Showcase Presents volume of The Brave and the Bold when Bob Haney was writing it. The insane Whirly-Bat, Earth-Haney, Batman-checking-out-hot-girls-on-a-sunny-afternoon days of yore. And on that day, I will do the Happy Fanboy Dance.
--Essential Defenders Volume Two, the fruit of Crazy Marvel at its craziest and best, would also generate this dance, at an even greater intensity. You should see it. The Happy Fanboy Dance is part MC Hammer, part polka, part lambada, and just a smidge of morris dancing. The ladies, they love it.
--The small-time indy comic Elk's Run got a glowing mention in Entertainment Weekly some time back. Two things should be noted here: first, Elk's Run really is excellent. It's one of the few comics I recommend wholeheartedly, even to non-comic fans. It does the medium proud. Second, EW has a circulation of over 1.6 million. Net result of this staggering publicity, the likes of which few comics could even dream? An increase of about three hundred issues sold. Yes, the distribution system for comics is powerfully messed up. Gads.
--I read a chunk of Nextwave in the shop, and to my dismay, I didn't find it funny. Absurdist humor is tough. The issue (the one with Fin Fang Foom and his giant pants) felt tone-deaf. "Giant Chinese Dragon from Outer Space + Superheroes + Giant Pants" should equal comedy gold, but it didn't pull it off. Argh. Had I the money to spend on comics I don't dig, I'd buy a few issues and dissect the crap out of 'em, see why it doesn't resonate for me.
--Conan: Fun. Loud. Interesting. But I always burn out on him after a year or two. Just can't keep that stuff up for too long before it becomes a blur of over-muscled swordsmen, monsters, and angry self-pity crafted into sullen contempt. Bored with him again.
--Thinking of this, is anybody reading the new Warlord series? Is it any good? The blogosphere, at least the part of it I read, has been silent. Bart Sears art scared me away.
--I'm so bored and frustrated with the bulk of the world-o-comics that I'm inching towards picking up another Internet Darling, in hopes that maybe it is as good as people say. The target? Scott Pilgrim. My hesitation? The last few Internet Darlings I tried were huge letdowns.
Blankets was a young adult novel written by a young adult. Reading it as a grown man felt bizarre. Polly and the Pirates never caught my imagination. Two issues of boredom was enough. Street Angel was okay, but not nearly as clever or interesting as the blogosphere seemed to think. It's a trifle, a pleasant diversion, jammed with pop culture riffs. Not the stuff of greatness. A friend loaned me the first collection of Invincible, and it was pretty good, but...I just can't work up the interest to buy it. The first issue of Fell was online, and I read it. Lemme just say that cynicism is both boring and unsophisticated, and that to shock me takes a lot more than sexual deviance or violence. Thus, I give it a pass. Leafing through the works of Internet Darling James Kochalka turned me off of his works completely. Again, I'd be more than happy to discuss it at length, but I'm not paying for one of his books. Maybe if the library has one.
Scott Pilgrim has the earmarks of another book I wouldn't much like. I was born a few years too early to catch the manga vibe. The world of small-time musicians is one I've lived, and it holds no interest for me anymore. I can't romanticize it. The video-game-esque approach sounds like a recipe for meaninglessness, and thus, boredom.
And thus I hesitate. Could be great, could be something that Everyone Loves But Harvey. Hurm.
So I throw it open to you, the comic book internet folks: what's good out there these days? Is there anything you'd call great? Right now I'm reading Action Philosophers, The Black Coat, Blue Beetle, Godland, Rex Libris, Jonah Hex, Shaolin Cowboy, Aquaman, Elk's Run, and one or two others that I can't remember off the top of my head. Oh, and 52 for the goof, at least for now. Graphic novel recommendations would also be appreciated. Assume I have the classics already.
--You know what would be cool? If ATMs dispensed not only cash but donuts. "I'll take...forty bucks...and a cruller..."