Comics I’m looking forward to reading the most this week:
100 Bullets #63
Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #3
Ultimate Annual #1
I’m anticipating all these books, especially Zatanna, but it got me thinking about what I get on a monthly basis and trades I wait for later. Below is a list of the stuff I am buying and have been buying for the past 18 months or so, indicating whether it’s an ongoing series or a mini-series, the sort of book it is, and why I’m buying the monthly. This is a long one, so I hope you’re sitting comfortably …
100 Bullets (ongoing)
Crime conspiracy/thriller. I got in at the ground floor and passed a point of no return regarding reading it in collected form.
Alternate superhero history. Bought because it was written by Neil Gaiman and because the individual issues (rather than the TPB) meant money would go to a cause.
Fantasy/alternate history. This is non-mainstream for comics, so deserves support, and a dream team of Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco meant I wouldn’t be able to wait.
Astonishing X-Men TPB #1
Straight superhero. In the words of PVP, Joss Whedon is my master now – Buffy, Angel and Firefly mean he can do anything and I’ll be there. John Cassaday is a stunning artist. But I KNEW this was going to be in trade and didn’t need me buying the comics in order to support it.
Astro City: The Dark Age (ongoing)
Superhero. This will be collected but Busiek has been away from his pet series for a while, so needed people to know they still cared, and looks to be too interesting a story to wait.
Authority: Revolution (maxi)
Superhero with a twist. I should have got this in collected form, as it will definitely read better that way, but Ed Brubaker was getting me via Gotham Central and Sleeper, and Dustin Nguyen was doing Wildcats, so I couldn’t help myself.
Judd Winick sets my world on fire with Barry Ween but dampens my ardour with his superhero work, so this seemed like an interesting compromise. The last arc seemed silly, with some pop culture riffing, but the first two were more powerful and ensured I had no regrets.
Captain America & The Falcon (up to #12)
Superhero. Priest is the man. He is also the man most likely to have a series he is writing cancelled. So I knew I had to support this. However, either I’m not a big fan of Captain America, the character, or this just didn’t work for me and, although I’m sad another book of his got dumped, I wasn’t as gutted as for Xero or Quantum & Woody or Black Panther or …
Movie treatment. I really wish I hadn’t bought this now. I thought Millar was returning to his Swamp Thing roots, if you’ll pardon the pun, for some mature storytelling. I was wrong.
Street-level superhero. Possibly the best combo for this book in quite some time; Brian Bendis just has perfect instincts for crime stories and Alex Maleev’s art is beautiful. There have been times when it didn’t quite work, but I’m glad that I have the floppies in my collection, even though I knew they’d be collected.
Desolation Jones (ongoing)
Detective/spy/Warren Ellis. I do have more than a bit of a thing for Ellis’s work – the only work of his I don’t buy straight off is his superhero stuff – and this seemed (and is) prime Ellis material. There was no way I was waiting for the inevitable trade.
Ex Machina (ongoing)
Political/superhero. Brian Vaughan has been doing some great things. Tony Harris is an artist I’ve admired since Starman. The idea seemed out of the mainstream enough to worry about the numbers. The work itself has meant that I can’t wait for the next issue.
Fairy tale with a twist. Started from the beginning, as it looked like it might not make it and now far too hooked to stop. Don’t know if I’ll get the spin-off, though.
Fantastic Four #511–524
Superhero. Mark Waid Mike Weiringo are a perfect team for the FF. The series started out at the cheaper price, which meant the TPB issue wasn’t considered (although they raised the price later) and it was a (very) minor protest at Marvel having booted them off the first time round. Stopped once Waid and Weiringo finished.
Garth Ennis’s 303 (mini)
Modern war/drama. Ennis is someone whose work I have enjoyed immensely and this seemed to be a return to the sort of material he wanted to be able to do outside of the mainstream. Also, seeing Jacen Burrows in colour was a draw. And doing this at Avatar, even though it will be collected eventually, meant I had to get the floppies.
Gotham Central (ongoing)
Crime (with a hint of superhero). The numbers on this have never been great, so I’m glad it’s still going. I knew I had to get this because of the idea (being a cop in Gotham), that it was going to be a tough sell, and the creative team. Very glad to be getting the floppies.
Superhero. Old-school superheroics with a new character was going to need support and this looked too charming to miss.
Hellboy: The Island (mini)
Action/horror. I doubt Mignola needs my money but I only buy Hellboy when he writes and draws, which has been a while, and seems to be a while in the future until he does it again.
Superhero (with a twist). I thought that the teaming of Waid and Marc Silvestri seemed interesting and there was a different take on the super-powers/government plot. I’m not sure if I’m convinced yet but am still intrigued enough to continue.
Superhero soap opera. With the news that it’s cancelled as of #12, it looks like my buying it to boost the numbers didn’t help. I’ll have to re-read it to see if I’ll keep it in my collection.
Jack Staff (slowly ongoing)
Superhero, Brit-style. This list of comics covers about a year and a half, and only 4 issues of Jack Staff have come out – how long for the trades? This is very enjoyable stuff from Grist that unfortunately loses momentum due to the large delays between books.
JLA: Another Nail (mini)
Superhero. This should have been a trade, as it was cheaper, but also because it wasn’t as good as the first, wonderful story. However, Alan Davis is a spectacular artist and I am weak.
JLA: Classified #1–3
Superhero. Grant Morrison setting up Seven Soldiers, with Ed McGuinness on art. I couldn’t wait. Good decision.
Legion of Super-Heroes (ongoing)
Superhero (obviously; the clue’s in the title …) I have a soft spot for the LSH. Not a huge fan, mind you, but enough to be sufficiently intrigued by a creative team I like (from Empire and JLA: Year One) to go for the individual comics, as well as the extra pages in the book itself. A bit less angsty-teen stuff and more of the titular aspect would be appreciated.
Losers up to #12 (Wait for trade)
Action/conspiracy. I switched to the trade, perhaps mistakenly, during a cut-back I had over a year ago. I am not a rich man, and can only afford so many comics a week. Some things had to go. Still a big fan, even if I have to wait, but I’m stubborn, so can’t go back to the comics now, especially knowing that it’ll be ending soon.
Sci-fi/action. See Desolation Jones for my Ellis-whoring. Also, Chris Sprouse is in my good books since some LSH stuff, Supreme and Tom Strong.
Outsiders up to issue 12, after which I stopped
Superhero. Judd Winick doing old-school superheroics with Tom Raney on art. Sounded like a good idea at the time. Winick’s dialogue was zingy but his storytelling wasn’t compelling and Raney couldn’t keep a monthly schedule. Don’t miss it.
Archaeological superhero. One of the best books, when it comes out, with a perfect creative team telling a brilliant story.
Crime/superhero. Another perfect creative team telling great stories, I’ve been with Powers since the Image days and wasn’t going to stop now.
Magic/superhero/Alan Moore’s treatise on magic. Although I still have trouble with the last issue (and I don’t want to cut it up), and the story stood still while Moore lectured us on tarot cards and the like, this was an amazing comic. Glad to have the floppies.
The Pulse (ongoing)
Super-hero/news drama (originally). The slowness of publication, the tie-in to the seemingly never-ending Secret Wars, the tie-in to House of M; all have dulled my joy. Needs a turnaround from Bendis to get me enjoying this again.
The Punisher (Max imprint) up to #6, waiting for the trade.
Violence. ‘Welcome Back, Frank’ was hilarious. Some of the later stuff wasn’t so good, but still enjoyable. This is obviously in collected form and doesn’t need me buying it to keep it going. Strangely, I haven’t bought the trades yet, perhaps based on some negative reviews from fellow bloggers, but I’ll get round to it soon.
PVP v2 (ongoing)
Humour. I have read the online strip for at least 4 years now and never made a donation to the site. Buying the comic is my way of giving creator Scott Kurtz some money to keep on doing what he does best.
Queen & Country (sort of ongoing)
Espionage. Wasn’t this Oni’s first monthly comic? I can’t recall but a spy book, about a female spy no less, in black and white from an independent publisher needed support from the start. And I was glad to be there, as this is a great book, which has been knocked off the radar due to Greg Rucka being one of the architects of the Infinite Crisis, which is a shame, but I don’t begrudge him work.
Superhero. I wasn’t sure about this book until I picked up the first issue in a comic shop and read it and I was completely hooked. I’m glad I got the comics because Vaughan does cliffhangers wonderfully and also because I don’t like digest size for the collection, but mainly because this is one of the most consistently enjoyable books that Marvel is putting out at the moment.
Morrison-esque. Grant Morrison usually makes me buy the comics anyway, but would have preferred this in the trade as I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of his other work. Personal taste thing, not a quality aspect.
Seven Soldiers (ALL)
Morrison superhero. These will be collected but I can’t wait that long; all those books with distilled essence of Morrison in them, about superheroes, in the DC universe, where he can do what he wants? No question.
She-Hulk TPB 1 & 2
Humour/superhero. I got into this late. This was a great story, with some wonderful art from Juan Bobillo and a lightness of touch from Dan Slott that means I’ll be buying the second season in the monthly format.
Sleeper Season 2
Conspiracy/thriller/slight superhero. This had trouble with low sales from the first ‘season’ which I also got in comic form because I knew it would be a tough sell. Glad to have got these, as it was a cracking story.
Fantasy. Alan Moore is a god of comics. Top Ten was genius. No contest.
Strangehaven (ongoing, sort of)
Categorizable? I was in on the ground floor anyway, before the schedule went from sort of monthly to annual, so I’ll be with this in comic format for the duration.
Stupid Comics #3
Humour. I guess these are almost collections in their own right, so I don’t know if they’ll be collected again. However, I don’t know if I’ll be getting this again, so the point is moot.
Superman: Birthright (maxi)
Superhero. I don’t read Superman, so this seemed like a way to check out the granddaddy of super-heroes, with Waid displaying his Supes love and the gorgeous artwork of Leinil Francis Yu. I should have probably waited for the trade but I’m happy this has a place among my comic books.
Supreme Power (ongoing)
Superhero with a twist. The team that brought us Midnight Nation on a ‘mature’ take on an alternate JLA had me salivating. I’m not sure about the hiatus, downgrade to Marvel Knights or the spin-offs (Jurgens on art rather than Frank?) but I’ll keep buying this instalments, whenever they turn up.
Ultimate Fantastic Four up to #6 then wait for trade
Superhero. I thought this would be an interesting take on the FF which, when done right, can be an excellent venue for ‘mad, crazy ideas’. The first arc didn’t really do anything for me, so I went for the ‘wait for trade’ policy that is scaring the PTB in the big publishing companies. I subsequently bought the Ellis-written stories in this form and thoroughly enjoyed them, made more enjoyable by being able to read in one sitting.
Ultimate X-Men up to #45
Superhero. Bendis and David Finch make for a good team, enough to make me weaken and get their storyline in instalments. I haven’t got round to getting Vaughan’s stories in collected form yet.
Ultimates 2 (ongoing)
Superhero. Millar may have problems as a writer but Ultimates seems just perfect for right now. I was never a big Avengers fan, so the stories are new to me, and the Hitch art is simply magnificent. I could probably wait for the collection but enjoying it too much to switch.
Usagi Yojimbo (ongoing)
Anthropomorphic/samurai/history. Simply brilliant comics. If I could afford it, I would buy the trades as well, just to be able to have a shelf of Usagi books on display. Sakai is a modern master of comic book storytelling and the Usagi Yojimbo box I have is a proud part of my collection.
Bollywood/fantasy/Morrison-esque. I debated this one for a while but succumbed in the end. A fun, if not earth-shattering tale (well, I mean, in the book the earth might have shattered but … you know what I mean), it was nice seeing Philip Bond on art duties again. Could have waited for the trade.
Superhero with a twist. Apart from the last page, this was quite good, if a tad juvenile in places. Lovely art from JG Jones and Millar doing an intriguing if slight tale. Could have waited for the trade.
Warren Ellis’s Apparat comics
Pulp variations. Until the recent Bad Signal said otherwise, these weren’t going to be collected; there was supposed to be no choice that these were going to be individual comics only. Still, I enjoyed three out of four immensely, so no regrets.
Let’s call it sci-fi action. I didn’t get this based on my reaction to Seaguy. Then the internet went crazy for it, so I thought I’d get the trade. Then the trade was more expensive than the individual comics, so I felt annoyed. Luckily, Gosh! Comics, my LCS, had the three issues as a set for £5, less than the individual comics, so I got lucky. Oh, yes, it was brilliant as well.
Wildcats v3 to the end
Superhero with a twist. This was a wonderful take on the superhero team and was always going to be a hard sell, so I felt obliged to get the comic as it came out, a decision I don’t regret, as this was immensely satisfying and a shame to see it cancelled due to low numbers.
Wonder Woman up to #217
Superhero. I decided to give this a try solely due to Rucka’s writing. The early issues, where fans were complaining of nothing happening, were perhaps the most interesting, exploring Diana’s mission and place in the DCU. The later stuff defining a nemesis for Diana were less interesting and I bolted when I heard of the involvement with Infinite Crisis. DC’s attitude to collecting books meant this seemed an unlikely choice for the format, so I don’t mind that I got the comics. However, I’m going to need another read-through of the books I have to decide whether they stay or not.
So, apart from displaying the narrow range of my tastes and my unhealthy taste for super-heroes (albeit with a twist), what have we learned?
Well, if a book isn’t working for me, I should give it fewer issues to impress me. It may be harsh, but a book has to grab me, and how, otherwise it’s not doing its job. The cutting down on weekly comics allows for more experimentation, although my range (I feel) is limited by my tastes. For example, a book that I stopped prior to the timeframe in this experiment was Human Target – Peter Milligan is a great writer but I wasn’t actively looking forward to this book when it came out, even though I could tell it was a good book. Another worry is trying things based on writers; this doesn’t always work. Judd Winick is an example; I’ve tried The Outsiders, his Green Arrow and a few others, none of which match his non-superhero work.
So, if there’s anyone still left reading who has detected some glimmer of my tastes and has an idea of the sort of thing I would like, but am not currently availing myself of, please let me know. I’m willing to try new things (he said, sounding like a pervy swinger) so feel free to leave suggestions in my comments section.