Saturday, February 11, 2017

Comics TODAY!

I have loved comic books for over fifty years. The earliest comic book I remember reading was an 80-Page Giant starring Lois Lane, published in 1965. I really got hooked the following year, when the Batman TV series debuted. I was six years old, and I've matured since then. I'm at least seven now.

I quit the hobby for a few years in college, but not because I thought I'd outgrown this silly nonsense of costumed superheroes. No, I quit because writer Steve Englehart and artists Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin had completed their stint on Detective Comics (starring The Batman), and every comic book I read after that was a dismal disappointment. I returned to comics after college, in the early '80s, drawn in by Frank Miller's Daredevil and The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, among other titles. I have never stopped buying and reading comics since that time.

Within just the past couple of years, I began to feel that mainstream comics publishers weren't interested in middle-aged superhero fans, because there were fewer and fewer titles that I could stomach reading. I even reached an unthinkable point: I dropped the Batman books, because they were simply no fun anymore.

But something changed, and something clicked. Suddenly, I'm buying and enjoying as many or more comics titles as I ever have. These are the titles I'm currently reading:

Which one's my favorite now? Er...I dunno. Archie? Future Quest, which teams the Hanna-Barbera action heroes (Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, BirdmanFrankenstein Jr., The Impossibles, The Herculoids, Mightor, and The Galaxy Trio) in one rip-roarin' adventure that never fails to thrill my inner seven-year-old? Batman, which went from being awful to being really, really good? Wonder Woman, which just may be the best it's ever been? I like 'em all. I try not to get caught up in a collector's mentality; if I'm not enjoying a book, I drop it. I add and drop books from my pull list at Comix Zone in North Syracuse nearly every week.

Superheroes are still my thing. Comics are an art form, not a genre; there's no real limit to the subject matter that can be addressed nor the style that can be used to tell a story in a comic book. But I like superheroes, and I'm not going to pretend I don't. I like good versus evil; I want nuance, I want engaging characters and verisimilitude along with the biff and the bang, but I want to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys, and I want to see the bad guys get their asses kicked. The Archie titles are the only things I buy that couldn't be called action books; neither Mother Panic nor Shade The Changing Girl is traditional superhero fare, and Vampirella, Jessica Jones, and Captain Kid also stray from the familiar matrix a bit, but otherwise? Yeah, superheroes are still my thing. I fail to see the appeal of outgrowing that.

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