Friday, January 26, 2007

COMICS: They still make those things?

Went to my local comics shop today for the first time since... the last time I talked about how long it's been since I've been to the comics shop. That was a month and a half ago. Keep in mind, before I made my decision last year to give up, more or less, buying single issues and switch over to trade paperbacks, I had been going to comics shops as near to every single week as I could possibly manage ever since my Freshman year in college. That was 1988. Eighteen years ago. Exactly half my life. So, yeah, that was a tough habit to break.

Much of what I said about my last visit still applies. I still miss the social aspect -- hanging out with Mike and faithful employee Aaron (no blog yet, Aaron?), talking comics and movies and pop culture, and cracking awful jokes which grow more and more vile and upsetting until someone has to walk away and cover their face in horror. It's fun! And I still don't miss the actual comics all that much. I'm still pretty financially strained (that game show money's more than two months out!), though I did treat myself to a bundle of goodies today, but even if I had the money, I think I still wouldn't be much interested in weekly comics purchases anymore. Frankly, I don't have the time, patience, or retention to follow all those books one issue at a time, especially these days, when releasing books on a regular schedule appears to be so woefully out of vogue. How many issues of All-Star Superman came out last year? How many issues of Wonder Woman? For crying out loud, how many issues of the "monthly" All-Star Batman and Robin came out in 2006? (Was it none? I guess none.) There are a lot of books that do meet their schedules, mostly, but why try to keep up with the rich, complex stories of, say, Fables or Y: The Last Man from issue to issue when I know each storyline will be six issues long, and will be gathered together in easy-to-read-in-one-sitting book form in the near future?

Anyhoo. I did buy me some comics goodness today, and here's what it was:

--Castle Waiting #4. Which is one of my favorite comics ever, and which I'll still buy in individual issues because, unlike most other comics, I need to read it NOW.

--All-Star Superman #6. Which will be the last monthly issue I buy, since I had already bought the first four or five issues before deciding to switch over to trades, and the next issue will be the beginning of the second trade collection. This is the only comic I've read so far, and it was good, but not as good as I was hoping from a Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely* book that took -- how many months to produce? And certainly not as good as I'd been hoping from the comics blogosphere buzz. I mean, it's got Krypto, and a visit from the Superman Squad (from the year 853,500!). It's got neat stuff, and poignant moments with Jonathan Kent. And I caught the sly bits, like the "Calvin Elder" alias (Calvin Elder = Kal-El) and the fact that the golden leader of the Superman Squad is in fact our modern Superman, who, 851 millennia in the future, still has yet to die. ("Which of my descendants are you?" asks our modern Superman. Golden future Superman merely replies: "Ha.") I enjoyed it. There was nothing bad about it. But it didn't blow me away. Which is what I expect from this comic, and this creative team.

--The third The Goon trade. Turns out it's not really the third one. Sure, it's got a 3 on the spine, and I've already got what are definitely the first two collections. But it turns out the first collection is labeled 0. Making the second, 1. Which means 3 is really the fourth, and I've skipped a book. Oh well.

--The first two trades of Ed Brubaker's run on Captain America. This is where my new "trades only" policy will finally, finally be put into practical effect. This is a comic I definitely would've bought on a monthly basis. And this will be the first trade of a comic I've bought after deciding to switch to trades (other trades I've bought, like The Goon, are of comics I never bought issue-to-issue, and other comics I used to buy weekly have yet to produce collections of material I haven't read yet). I like Brubaker's work, and I've heard mostly raves about this series. But I decided to wait for the collection. Now, I'm going to read both books back-to-back, really immerse myself in it all, and I'll at long last see if it's really a better reading experience than individual issues, if it was really worth the wait. Hope so!

Enough jibber-jabber. Time to read some comics!

*It took me a long time to realize this, but... that's not his real name, is it? "Frank Quitely"? A spoonerism (or whatever the proper term is) of "Quite Frankly"? Really? Maybe I'm being crazy here, but it just all of a sudden started sounding like a blatant pseudonym to me. And I can't be bothered to look up whether I'm right or not.

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