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Friday, May 10, 2013

My Trip to the Comic Shop (or, How I Started My Journey Back to Comic Books)

(Note:  I am still open to comic/graphic novel suggestions.  Feel free to leave them here.)

Yesterday, I went to the comic book shop.  It has been close to a decade since I last went into one, and longer since went shopping for comic books (or graphic novels -- manga excluded).  And so, I took the bus out to MEGA Gaming and Comics in Gainesville, FL expecting to find a few interesting things in that tiny shop by the gas station.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.  MGC is not so tiny after all.  Unlike the place in Placerville, CA, where I would sometimes buy Magic: the Gathering cards and what not, MGC seemed enormous in comparison.

The fellow running the place was also quite helpful.  The greatest fear I have as a new comics reader (or renewed, if you will) is jumping into the middle of a series and getting hopelessly lost (DC and Marvel in particular).  While I think some of my selections will require some backwards reading, the staff member (whose name I didn't catch) was kind enough to point me in the direction of a number of renewed properties that would be less alarming to a new reader.  Apparently DC and Marvel have recently tried to reboot some of their characters/series (the New 52 for DC and Marvel Now! for, well, Marvel), and I wouldn't have known that if MGC's staff hadn't told me.

As the list below will indicate, I didn't get that many things that were suggested by you readers.  Part of this was because the store simply didn't have some of them or were missing book #1.  The other part was that I forgot to write some of the titles down on my way out, and subsequently forgot the titles.  I've since added them to my Amazon Wishlist.  Since I have already read two of the books I purchased (yeah, that fast), I expect I'll buy a lot more stuff in the future, which means that my Amazon Wishlist is going to fill up with comics and graphic novels.

In any case, I won't hold off telling you what I got anymore.  Here goes (large pictures ahead):

And there you go!

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  1. That looks like a fairly good selection, though I am not a fan of most current DC comics. However, I think Mega Comics is a terrible store; the staff are unfriendly, the layout of the new comics is confusing, and the back issues are overpriced. I'd recommend going to Florida Bookstore Vol. 2 instead -- they probably have a better selection. Hoyt's Comics is my favorite comic book store in Gainesville, but it's only open three days a week and specializes in back issues.

    1. I probably shouldn't have jumped into Green Lantern with the New 52 line. I was under the impression that all of the 52 stuff were full reboots, meaning that jumping in there wouldn't require me to know everything that happened before (such as what I need to read New Avengers, hence why I bought Avengers Disassembled). But if you don't know the entire Sinestro story, you'll end up very lost with the 52 Green Lantern. I knew a little bit, so I could reasonably get into it.

      My only beef with the stuff I've read is that the character development is nearly nonexistent, which tells me that the format of a lot of comics hasn't changed from what I read as a kid: lots of action, low on character. To be fair, this is after reading Avengers Disassembled, which is essentially a long string of bad things happening to lots of characters at once, so I may be reaching for character development there. There is a little development in the 52 Green Lantern, though, which I like.

      I'm rambling, though. I do expect to go a little more into the "indie" route, though. I like me some classic superheroes and what not, but I certainly want to try different kinds of things. I do really like Mouseguard, if only because the art is bloody gorgeous. I may look into similar stuff.

      Thanks for the recommendations about the other stores. I'll send you a message on FB about them, since I know next to nothing about these places...

  2. I would not recommend Avengers Disassembled. For an Avengers series that has better character development, try Avengers Academy, or Kurt Busiek and George Perez's Avengers. I haven't read the New 52 Green Lantern, but I think the previous period of Green Lantern, starting from GL: Rebirth, was probably better.

    As for other superhero comics that have characterization as well as action, Hawkeye is actually a good example of that. I'd also recommend the following: Invincible, Astro City, Kelly Sue DeConnick's Captain Marvel, Gail Simone's Wonder Woman, Wolverine and the X-Men, Kieron Gillen's Journey into Mystery, and Young Avengers.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations!

      I actually just started the New 52 reboot of Batman. It's actually pretty good, though I have zero experience with previous incarnations. My understanding is that a lot of fairly recent Batman comics have been remarkably well written.

      And I agree that Avengers Disassembled wasn't that great. I think part of the problem is that I simply don't have all the back story for the characters, but mostly it just felt rushed. Still, I have to read it to be able to get into the New Avengers/Dark Avengers arc. Or it seems so, at least.

  3. If your into the Batman character, The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Year One by Frank Miller are phenomenal. They bring a Film Noir style to the character that inspired the animated series. Year One is actually the origin of the character, and you'll see a lot of familiar sequences, as Chris Nolan basically stole a lot of scenes from the book. I love Jeph Loeb, simply because his comic books get inside the character's head and always have engaging stories.

    1. Yeah, I really do like Batman (New 52: Court of Owls). I never figured myself for a DC man, but I really appreciate the effort to show actual character development and depth in 6 issues (I have the collection for Court of Owls). I do like the Avengers, but I find it's mostly for nostalgic reasons (childhood; the new film). It's not as well written, and I don't know if that's because that's how all superhero group comics are written or if that's specific to a lot of Marvel (I'm leaning to the former).

      Granted, the New 52 version of Green Lantern has the same rushed, rough feel as The Avengers (Disassembled and Breakout). Maybe I'm just pretentious...

    2. I've found that rushed feel with a lot of the New 52 comics, so you're no the only one. I love Superman, so the first New 52 issue I checked out was Action Comics. It was basically Superman going from one location to the next with stuff blowing up and Lex Luthor and Braniac. There were some great twists, but overall it could have been much more character-oriented, especially since it is a reboot of the characters. The great thing about Loeb and Miller is that character development is the main part of their stories. Frank Miller made Bruce Wayne more interesting than Batman in Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, and Loeb's The Long Halloween is pretty much a character study on Harvey Dent. It's pretty much like the movie industry nowadays. The most successful of the comics aren't always the ones with the best stories.

    3. Have you read the Batman New 52 (Court of Owls)? It's less of that run-around-explosions feeling. There's a lot of that in The New Avengers and Green Lantern (52), though. It's weird. I used to make fun of Dragonball Z because they'd have battles last for 5 or 6 episodes, with characters constantly powering up more and more (why any character is shocked by these things is beyond me, since they happen _all the time_), but here I kind of want these stories to run for longer stretch. Take The Avengers Disassembled: the concept is great. Scarlet Witch has gone insane and has begun using her reality altering powers to destroy anything she perceives as a threat to her "insane" reality (the one she has reconstructed for herself). But the whole situation, which leads, obviously, to the end of the Avengers as we know it (and some character deaths) is handled in 6 issues, with the concluding battle over in about 6 pages.

      The art is gorgeous, but I really do want more out of these comics than quick fights, character doing the same thing over and over. The only character who seems to show any development in Disassembled and Breakout is Iron Man, but that's because he actually shows that the things that happened to him (or the things he did, for that matter) in Disassembled has an actual affect on his view of things.

      The same problem exists for the New 52 version of Green Lantern. Sinestro returns, but he's semi-a-good-guy...and the whole "we have to save Sinestro's planet from his own army" thing is handled in...6 issues. Try 12. 12 so you can show Hal Jordan actually dealing with what happens to him throughout that series (Sinestro, too).

      So, I'm with you. I want more character-oriented work. I'm hoping the single-issue, single-character stuff (X-Men and Iron Man -- I got two issues of each of the new series) will offer some of that. I love the art (never figured myself for an American comics art fan, but there it is), but the stories are severely lacking. Except that new Batman. That one was friggin good.

      Don't get me wrong. I am still enjoying this (and have almost decided to start collecting Avengers comics), but I definitely want to find the really good stuff that's being released right now.

      Thank you for those suggestions, though. I will definitely check them out. I just hope I don't get stuck on the bat :P

      Maybe I need to get off my ass and start writing comic scripts for once...

    4. I haven't read the Batman New 52, but I'm glad to hear it's good. I was really disappointed with the Justice League New 52 because it had so much potential and didn't deliver. It could have been a great origin story, as it hasn't been told over and over again. It had Geoff Johns, a great writer, and Jim Lee, who is perhaps the greatest comic book artist of his time. Suffice to say, it was a dud. They needed a threat that could bring everyone together and they chose...Darksied. I like Darksied, I think it's a great Superman villain, but Darksied's plot was to invade and conquer earth. That's right, the exact same motive as the villains from the Avengers movie. It was just so frustrating, as there were sequences that just plain stole from Avengers, such as Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, and the Flash fighting each other in the middle of Metropolis. It had two of the superheroes, Batman and Green Lantern this time, that didn't like each other but in the end have to work together to save the world. All in 6 issues.

      I understand that there aren't many threats that can match up against the Justice League, but this is in their infancy. It could have been a much better story showing the parallels between the origins of the Justice League and the Legion of Doom, but instead we get to see Superman blow up aliens with laser vision. What frustrates me is not the action, it's the fact that there is so much more to the characters besides the action. The interaction between the heroes is what interests me, not the constant explosions. Hopefully the next few issues will be better.

      I still haven't forgiven Marvel for destroying everything I love about Spiderman, but I have heard that they're doing a great job on Deadpool, who is my second-favorite character in the Marvel universe. I might have to check those out. When you finish the X-Men stuff, let me know if it's any good. I think those guys are the hardest to write because all of the characters are so complicated. I've been trying to write a few scripts myself, but the problem is that I'm not a very good artist, so I don't know what to do with them when I'm done. I guess I really have to practice my drawing skills.

    5. Green Lantern (52) had Geoff Johns on it too, and it wasn't as good as I would have liked. So far, I think the best 52 series is Batman. Court of Owls is just damned good (so good I went back and bought a bunch of Scott Snyder stuff, Batman and otherwise -- thus far, I have not been disappointed with his work). I'm not sure if it's because they were trying to re-boot Green Lantern by bringing back a classic Lantern character (or two) or what. It has a better story than in New Avengers, I think, but it's not as strong as it should be, particularly when you think about what they could have done with it to give Sinestro and Hal Jordan considerable depth. So it goes. I still love the art and I'm still buying stuff, so that's all th really matters, I suppose :P

      I got an idea...why don't they *create* a threat to the Justice League. There's a thought. Come up with something that actually matches their abilities, or surpasses them so they have to rely on other components of their personalities to get the job done.

      I'll try one of the X-men (Marvel Now!) stuff tonight and let you know. All I can say is that you need to read Court of Owls. The collection is in paperback now (so $15 or $17 or something). I haven't read Night of Owls or City of Owls yet (the sequences that follow), but I suspect they are good, too. I like Court so much I am trying to get my hands on the entire sequence in the original comic form. Tis expensive.

      Something I just learned: Darkhorse has an open submissions policy for writers, artists, etc. So if you're interested in writing stuff, you might look at their guidelines and see about submitting. I'm considering the exact same thing.

      Hell if I know whether Marvel or DC have the same policy (I highly doubt it; seems the indies or the non-Marvel/DC guys are more open to new hands).

      And I may have to check out Deadpool. To be honest, I have never been a huge fan of him, and that was not helped by Ryan Reynolds in that hell-hole of a Wolverine movie. I like Reynolds...just not in everything. I feel like he needs his own superhero or something.

    6. Short version: I'm one issue in and it is better than The New Avengers, but not quite as good as Batman: Court of Owls. That might have more to do with the fact that Batman is a single-character series, with some sidekicks, whereas X-men is a group series. So, I'm enjoying it so far :)

    7. Thanks for the update, I might have to check it out. On Ryan Reynolds, I thought he did a pretty good job of playing Deadpool, but the writers messed up all the characters so badly that even a young Al Pacino wouldn't have been able to save it. I would like a sincere apology for the Green Lantern movie, though. It is up there with G.I. Joe as one of the few "blockbusters" that I've seen that failed on every single level. Reynolds really needs to do a better job picking the movies that he is in. I still think they made a mistake not going with the John Stewart Green Lantern, as he has a different personality than Hal Jordan. Since Jordan is a hothead in the comics, the producers immediately thought, "We can cash in on the Tony Stark craze", when they are completely different characters. Stewart is also a former Marine, so he is a lot more of a tough guy than Jordan is. I might be a little biased though, as I grew up watching the John Stewart Green Lantern on the Justice League cartoons. I will have to look at Darkhorse, it sounds promising.

    8. I've never had much love for Green Lantern to begin with. He's an awesome character, but I was never a DC guy...until now. So I thought it was awesome that they were making a movie, but only because I like superhero movies and seeing geek culture get its due. And I had high hopes that the film would be wasn't. To be fair, I don't think it's nearly as bad as G.I. Joe, which so horribly bastardized my childhood that I think it might be grounds for a crime against humanity charge...

    9. They should have made a "Knowing's Half the Battle" segment at the end of the G.I. Joe movie that said: "Hey kids, even if you blow up ice into little chunks, there is absolutely no way that it will sink. This is because ice is less dense than water, which is why ice floats in the first place. Sorry that we totally ignored the laws of science, but we though ice sinking would look really cool. It wasn't. Now you know."

    10. And knowing is half the battle!