Thursday, November 5, 2015

My recent comics reading

As a kid, my spending money was extremely limited, and usually went towards novels or LEGO or some other hobby rather than comics. However, I did read enough comics (and enough about comics) and see enough cartoons and movies, to become familiar with quite a bit of the DC and Marvel universes. Especially for someone who never collected more than a few issues in a row of any given titles. In fact, I gravitated towards series like What If...? and Elseworlds, where I could enjoy a self-contained story without needing to know the characters' complete histories. (With that first taste of alternate historical fiction, it's little wonder that I got turned on to Harry Turtledove, LXG, and Kenneth Hite years later!)

When I had more spending money as an adult, I bought more comics, but my purchases still tended to be limited to discreet story arcs, like The Infinity Gauntlet, The Death (and Return) of Superman, etc. I also started collecting comics in graphic novel or omnibus format. This was how I was introduced to less mainstream comics like Watchmen, The Sandman, and Hellboy, which still heavily inform my eclectic tastes in comics today.

Here are a few of the comics I've read and enjoyed most in the past year or so:

Locke & Key: After their father's murder, the Locke children have to put their lives back together--and unravel the mysteries behind the weird magical keys that they keep finding in their family's old house. That brief summary completely fails to do justice to the complex story being told here, which alternates between horror survival story, high fantasy adventure, and black humor--and frequently mixes them all. (A fellow Sandman fan turned on to this title. If you like one, you'll probably enjoy the other.)

B.P.R.D.: This series continues the adventures of misfit heroes Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and others after Hellboy's departure from the Bureau. The stakes are higher than ever: During the Plague of Frogs storyline, Abe finds more clues about his origin, and the outside world becomes more aware of the supernatural. By the start of Hell on Earth, horrific disasters and eldritch monsters are appearing worldwide, and humanity is fighting for survival. 

The Sandman: Overture: I've read the entire Sandman series multiple times, so was very eager to read this sequel/prequel. I hesitate to say much about it out of fear of spoilers, but it was a very enjoyable read. (I borrowed the 6 issues from a co-worker, and plan to buy my own copy once the collected edition is available.)

Wonder Woman: So far, WW is the only New 52 series that I've read past the first volume, and I just finished Volume 6 this month. WW has always been one of my favorite DC heroes, ever since watching the TV series when I was a kid. (Jill Lepore's recent book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, did a lot to rekindle my interest.) This new series is excellent, showcasing what defines the character, while cleverly reinventing her identity within the context of her Greek mythology origins.

Ms. Marvel: I've only just started reading this title, after seeing friends post about it online the past few months. The new Ms. Marvel is a Muslim teenager--and nerdy superhero fangirl--who defies many of the conventional stereotypes about costumed heroes. Kamala is an refreshing and much-needed example of female empowerment in comics. WW was a trailblazer in that respect, but Ms. Marvel is probably more accessible to young girls today. Plus, it's just plain fun to read! This is a comic that I will be making an effort to introduce to my daughter--and my son, too.

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