Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Comic Observations: Now Departing the DCU

Last week, I journeyed to my Local Comic Shop (or LCS, as they're popularly called in the nerd world; that's right, three words are too long, we don't have time for syllables anymore!) to pick up my weekly stash of comics to pour over.

My comic consumption has changed over the years. In my heady single days of solid employment, my pockets overflowing with disposable income, my metabolism able to process any processed foodstuff without converting it immediately into fat located squarely around my middle, I would spend a lot of money on comics. A LOT. I collected a ton of books, mostly published by DC and Marvel, but not exclusively. As I got married and had a baby, I had a little less to spend. Then we bought a house, and I had a LOT less to spend. Now, I'm pretty choosy about what I'll spend my heard earned cash on.

Put simply, some books had to go.

This is tough for a guy that grew up in love with comics, and could also recall the days of the quarter bins at your LCS where it was easy to walk away with a massive stack. But as my available funds shrank, I found myself becoming more discerning and was further surprised to see a definite pattern emerging as to what books I was dropping.

Out went Justice League of America, a book I had been collecting since the 1990s. I dropped Justice Society, a book I had read since it was relaunched as JSA. I dropped The Flash and Green Arrow. I dropped all the Batman related books except the one written by Grant Morrison, Batman & Robin.

All DC books. I didn't drop any Marvel books I can think of, and indeed, I added Fantastic Four to my pull list, after hearing that new writer Jonathan Hickman was an up and comer, and decided I missed Marvel's First Family after years of giving them a pass.

Over at DC currently, they're right near the close of Blackest Night, their Green Lantern-centric big event, conceived and mostly written by star Geoff Johns. People have been raving about it, but personally, it has left me cold. In my opinion, the series has been stuck in neutral, and I've sort of resented the way there has been a plethora of tie-ins that are way too essential to the main story. Same with Johns' other high-profile work, the much delayed Flash : Rebirth mini-series. This is a shame, as Johns' previous work on The Flash was some of my favourite comic book writing ever, but Rebirth has seemed rudderless, without a solid thematic underpinning to it.

The result? Well, other than Batman & Robin, I'm leaving DC behind and focusing only on Marvel. From Ed Brubaker's incredible work on Captain America, to the stunning run of superb writers they've had on Daredevil, to fun new direction of The Amazing Spider-Man, to the juggernaut Avengers franchises, to their bold re-invigoration of The X-Men franchise, they seem to be firing on all cylinders. They've had well-done mini-events like Annihilation, Planet Hulk, Messiah Complex and World War Hulk. Their big events have been well-done as well. Civil War may have forced its characters to act completely out-of-character for the sake of the story, but it left the Marvel Universe in an intriguing place, that allowed for some great stories company wide. And every event since has done so, as well.

Rather than the nostalgia-obsessed DCU, Marvel seems to be interested in using events to create a springboard from which to make bold new stories. That's why, while I'm a little disappointed to leave DC behind, I feel like there's some great reads ahead of me.

Like Siege, their current event. It requires only that you read the main mini, although the tie-in mini Siege: Embedded is good read, it's not essential, and I bet the other tie-ins will be the same. Unlike Blackest Night, the stakes are far more relatable than an ill-defined battle against "death". All in all, I'm enjoying it, and looking forward to see where the Marvel U is at when it ends. I'm betting it will set up yet another fascinating era in comics.

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