Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Comic Book Wednesday – Thinning the Herd

By Dave

It’s been too long since I sat down and looked at the pull list I have with my Local Comic Shop. I have a huge stack of unread comics at home, and part of that stack consists of books that I have lost interest in and am now buying out of habit. Like The Wicked + The Divine, which has meandered so badly that I don’t even know what’s going on. I probably have six unread issues at home, not including a one-shot that I couldn’t be bothered to read.

Comic books are damned expensive these days, even counting for inflation, so I think we all owe it to ourselves to sit down every few months and take a look at exactly how much we enjoy the books that we’re buying. For me, the simplest way to do this is to go to the Previews website and check out the current online edition of their catalog. When you’re buying books week by week it’s easy to look at one book among ten and think, “Well, I’ll go ahead and get it”. At the time you’re looking at a small portion of what you collect and one title doesn’t seem like a big deal. But if you’re getting one book you no longer care about every week, that can add up to big money.

When you have a list of every available book and time on your hands, however, you can make some real decisions about what you want to spend money on. It’s much more practical to look at the big picture all at once and realize, “Holy shit, I’m spending thirty bucks a month on books I don’t even like anymore”.

So what follows is my revised pull list, perhaps with some notes about books I am dropping or have dropped. I’m not in any way suggesting that you should drop any of those books if you enjoy them. I’m just noting that for one reason or another I no longer find them entertaining.

It’s not them, it’s me.

Essentially, if I don’t have to think at least a bit about putting a title on the top of the stack (to be read first), I need to drop it. This list is only the ongoing series that I am reading, not minis or limiteds.

Hellboy and the BPRD – Every issue is entertaining and I look forward to it every month. One of the virtues of this book is that it’s different from most of what I read. In general Dark Horse produces quality comic books and Mike Mignola, specifically, has never let me down.

Black Hammer – I’m actually surprised a bit by the fact that I’m still engrossed in this story. It’s very good and I love the art, but the pacing is a bit slower than I generally like. The characters are solid and the way that Jeff Lemire is unpacking his version of a superhero universe (that is so familiar in many ways) is fascinating. Unless things grind to a halt, I am sticking around.

Batman – I love what Tom King is doing with Batman and am very happy with this book.

Deathstroke – This is one of the best comic books that I’m reading right now. It’s action-packed, entertaining, and smart. Almost every issue has presented me with a quote or scenario that I have felt compelled to relay to others or to use in some way. No other comic is stimulating my brain quite as much as this one. Priest’s storytelling style sometimes asks a little more of the reader, but I find that I am rewarded for my investment.

Detective Comics – James Tynion IV is presenting Batman in an entirely different way from Tom King and I am enjoying it just as much. I love the way the Bat Family is being used and characterized and this book is managing to give me characters I have followed and loved for years and surprise me with them.

Teen Titans – Two things got me reading this book – the introduction of Kaldur’ahm and the very well done “The Lazarus Contract” crossover that has led to the current state of events in this, Deathstroke, and Titans. This title wisely takes some inspiration from the animated Teen Titans and Young Justice shows and has hooked me with the character interactions.

Side Note: I don’t know why I’m not picking up Titans other than I just don’t want to add another book to my list.

Trinity – Sometimes this is a book about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, sometimes it’s a Justice League book. In both cases it’s very good. So far the arcs have felt like Justice League Unlimited episodes, in that they’re rooted in the DCU, but don’t necessarily feel as constrained by continuity as some other things. The story being told takes precedence, if that makes any sense.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this the creative team has changed and I don't care for the art or the writing. I'll give it a minute, but Trinity is on notice.

GI Joe: A Real American Hero – This is the only Joe book from IDW that I’m interested in reading. As far as I’m concerned this publisher has done very little good with my favorite franchise and it’s only gotten worse recently. I can’t be too mad, though, as they’ve given Larry Hama a place to continue to tell GI Joe stories.

Rock Candy Mountain – As of this writing everything that Kyle Starks does is golden. I’ll buy it all.

Hack/Slash Resurrection – The first issue hasn’t come out yet, but there’s no way a Cassie Hack comic won’t be on my list. I mean, unless it ends up being terrible.

Saga – The best ongoing comic book I have ever read.

Walking Dead – Still compelling after all this time. I can’t imagine where it goes now, which is a good thing. This new Princess character seems terribly off-putting, but I trust whatever plan Kirkman has.

Side Note: I still don’t watch the TV show.

Captain America – This is a new addition. I have faith in the team of Waid and Samnee.

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man – Okay, so I’m way behind on my books thanks to Dragon Con and still haven’t read the three issues that I have sitting at home. I’ve heard that this book isn’t quite as wacky as Zdarsky’s Howard the Duck, so I guess I had better get on it and see if I like it before the next issue comes out.

The Punisher – I’ve enjoyed Becky Cloonan’s run on the book and I hate to see her go, but I’m intrigued enough by Frank as War Machine to leave it on my list. For now.

Gwenpool – I love this book, but from time to time it has had extremely sub-par fill-in artists. If it ever goes more than an issue or two without the excellent Gurihiru on pencils, I’m out. A big part of its charm is the artistic consistency that is so rare these days.

Star Wars – This book has been consistently excellent from the start. At the moment Jason Aaron is telling these interesting one-shot stories that highlight specific characters and I’m enjoying it as a break from multi-issue arcs. What I’m not enjoying is the bizarre coloring. One character will have these almost photorealistic colors, while another will look like a comic book. It looks like shit and I don’t know who’s responsible, but it needs to stop.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra – Kieron Gillen’s pet character is great. The last arc sagged a bit, though, so this one is on the watch list.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron – More Poe Dameron is exactly what I wanted after The Force Awakens and this book has been delivering Rogue Squadron-style stories in a very satisfying way.

Brilliant Trash – This doesn’t start until November, but it’s Tim Seeley, so I’m excited.

Captain Kronos – The first issue hasn’t shipped yet, but Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I have high hopes. Dan Abnett is writing, so there’s a decent chance it will live up to them.

Sheena – I added this mainly because I love Moritat’s art, but the #0 issue was actually pretty good. Now I’m curious to see there the series goes.

Space Riders – I think this is actually a miniseries, but it isn’t listed as such. I’ll go ahead and mention it because it’s awesome and everyone should be reading it.

There’s Nothing There – I thought that this was a miniseries, but the trade paperback is listed as “Vol. 1”, so I’ll include it. It’s a weird and unique horror book with fantastic artwork.

And that brings me to the end of a list that is twenty-four titles long, which surprises me because I felt like it would be more. Of course, that doesn’t include miniseries like Dark Knights: Metal and Mister Miracle. There’s also the possibility that a book I normally get just happens to not have an issue coming out the month of this catalog. Saga doesn’t, but I remembered it because it’s the best comic ever. And honestly, if I did overlook something it can’t be all that great, right?

Going down the full list, the titles I’ve dropped recently are:

The Wicked + The Divine – Like I said, it lost my interest. What really killed it for me was that magazine issue. Just as things were about to take a turn, what with the gods being on their own, we get that self-indulgent nonsense.

I realize the entire series could be categorized as “self-indulgent nonsense”, but that’s usually what I like about Kieron Gillen’s work. It feels like he writes for himself and if you happen to enjoy it that’s just a happy coincidence. But in this instance it just left me annoyed.

Cable – I dropped it after the first issue. I usually give books a little longer, but that debut did nothing for me.

Vampirella – It isn’t bad, but it’s just not done in a way that I find compelling. I still love Paul Cornell, this just isn’t for me.

Harley Quinn – This wasn’t actually a recent drop, I just wanted to mention it because I still feel somewhat compelled to pick it up sometimes. For me the jokes just got old and the stories took too long. I’d prefer one-shots with the occasional two or three issue arc. I don’t feel like what Conner and Palmiotti are doing supports longer arcs than that. Chad Hardin’s art was still beautiful, though.

GI Joe – As I mentioned above, I can’t stand this newest book from IDW. I hate the art and I couldn’t stand the way the characters were represented. It feels like a version of GI Joe meant to appeal to people who don’t like GI Joe.

If you’re curious, here are the limited series that I’m buying as of this writing:

Dark Knights: Metal

Doomsday Clock (though it doesn’t start until November)

Batman and the Signal (also not until November)

Bug: The Adventures of Forager

Imaginary Fiends (November)

Mister Miracle

Nightwing: The New Order

Ragman (October)

Star Wars: Jedi Republic – Mace Windu

Hopefully this will inspire some of you guys to look at your own pull lists and maybe save some money. Which you can then put towards and the exclusive content available there!

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