What to read, what to read, what to READ?! Seriously though, unless you’ve got a disposable income and can drop forty bucks every week, you’ve got to be pretty selective on what titles you snag. Personally, I’m a sucker for mainstream titles with good creative teams behind them, and I’ve always been more loyal to a good writer or artist than to a particular character or genre. In the past few months, my comic consumption is steadily on the rise. Here’s what has kept my interest so far this year.
This is a darker, edgier superhero mini-series written by the colorful and often outspoken Mark Millar. The artist is one of my favorites, Leinil Yu. It’s the story of a young, handicapped teenager who is given the powers of Superman (Superior=Superman, get it?!) by a small, astronaut monkey demon. Yeah, that’s right.
What works about this series is Millar’s edgy writing. Like Kick-Ass, Superior featured occasionally over the top, R-rated language, and is refreshing when compared to typical mainstream comics. Leinil Yu’s absolutely stunning artwork boldly compliments Millar’s writing. The teenage characters of the book feel real and react to the crazy things around them in a way that you might expect teenagers to authentically react. However, the series is marred by seemingly random releases for each issue. The seven issue series started back in October of 2010 and only wrapped up this past month. All things considered though, good stuff.
Yeah, The Avengers… you may not have noticed, but this is one superhero team that’s experiencing a little bit of a popularity surge right now. It’s damn-near impossible to avoid them. That said, I don’t really think I can do a post about 2012 without saying something about these books. Currently, there are roughly 6 dozen different Avengers teams each consisting of about every character in the Marvel universe (at least that’s what it seems like to me). Seriously though, you’ve got The Avengers, The New Avengers, The Mighty Avengers, Secret Avengers, The Ultimate Avengers, The New Ultimate Avengers, Avengers Academy, and the recently added Avengers Assemble, which conveniently consists of the exact team from the upcoming movie. Oh, and I almost forgot the latest Marvel super event, ‘Avengers VS X-Men’ (because we’ve never seen the Avengers fight the X-Men before).
Lately, I’ve been keeping it simple and have been reading The Avengers and The New Avengers, both written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Daniel Acuna and Mike Deodato Jr. respectively. The arc leading up to the Avengers vs X-Men has been a little bit of a retread of Dark Avengers involving Norman Osborn assembling his own super-powered team to defeat and replace the Avengers lead by Steve Rogers. The writing was pretty good, the stories held my interest, and there were some fun moments. Then again, it all felt too similar to Dark Avengers. It was a story that I think both Bendis and Deodato nailed the first time, so there wasn’t any good reason to revisit the idea. Since my excitement for the movie is in full swing, however, I’m going to stick with those two titles and see how the next major arc plays out.
This is the big one for me. I have consistently picked each issue up the week (and sometimes the day) of release. This is the first Batman I’ve read in a long time that doesn’t feel weighed down by huge story arcs involving not just Batman, but his entire team of costumed ‘bat-staff’. It’s the way it should be, Batman and Batman alone out there pounding the pavement of Gotham with his partners essentially just stopping by the batcave to say “hello.” The post-‘New 52’ rebooted Batman also has excellent villains. The Court of Owls is a criminal organization that is firmly rooted in the history of Gotham City. Even though we’ve never seen them before, they feel like they belong in Batman’s greatest rogues gallery. The Talon, a grounded, realistic, well-designed, very equal physical adversary to Batman, does the heavy lifting for The Court. His presence has made for some pretty amazing fight scenes and dialogue exchanges.
In terms of the writing, Scott Snyder is on his game. He clearly knows these characters, and places Batman in situations that we aren’t totally sure he’s going to make it out of. In the art department, Greg Capullo is giving us the Batman that we both deserve and need right now (did you get that one?!). He brings a very refreshing kinetic energy to the character’s universe that I think has been severely lacking in the last few years.
On the opposite side of Harvey Dent’s lucky coin, some of the later issues are getting a little out there. I’ll keep this spoiler-free and all, but I’ll say that Scott Snyder is beginning to get into more supernatural territory. Other than that, it’s been a really good read and better than a lot of the other stuff that’s out there, Batman or not. With seven issues out, four remain in the Snyder/Capullo run. At this point it’s unknown if Scott Snyder will be staying on as writer after issue eleven, but Greg Capullo has said that he will be moving on after this arc concludes. Bummer.
Overall, 2012 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for comics. Even though there is a fair amount of trial and error that goes into finding a good title to stick with month after month, the prospects are looking good. Each time I go into my local comic shop, I’m finding more and more that I want to check out. So here’s hoping to an increasingly larger percentage of my paycheck going to good comics. Keep readin’ friends!