Comic books are a fun medium to experience. When you first dive in, it can be a little intimidating and even confusing, but eventually you settle in. The best way to start is by choosing one or two comic books that you really enjoy. As time passes and you read more of them, you might go back and read the issues that came before where you started, to get the back story. Then, you start to identify whether you simply like the character or one character out of a cast of characters. Maybe they had a solo book at some point? As you progress from partaking casually, to becoming a fan, you may find yourself gravitating to a specific writer. Maybe they have written something great that you have never read? And you wade in slowly until you are a pretentious connoisseur…probably shouldn’t wade that far in. But seriously, you figure out what you like and go with it. Then, when you are a seasoned veteran, maybe you look for something completely out of your comfort zone. Me, I read comic books for entertainment. I know what I like. But, it seems like Marvel is (almost regularly) doing things to surprise me. Today, I thought that I would highlight a couple of them for you.
Mighty Avengers is a series written by Al Ewing (best known for writing nothing that I am remotely interested in) and drawn by Greg Land (click this if you don’t know about Greg Land) that started in September 2013 (the worst month…j/k). It follows a team of superheroes that consists of White Tiger, Blue Marvel, Falcon, Luke Cage, Power Man (Jr.), Spectrum, Superior Spider-Man, and now Ronin (formerly Spider-Hero). The fact that the team is almost all African-American is a fact that is not lost on anyone. They come together from all different backgrounds to face a common enemy, much like the Avengers always do. The young Power Man is annoying at best and many of the characters are more action set pieces than anything else. The Blue Marvel is a super-being that I had never heard of, but looks strikingly like President Obama. There are multiple moments featuring contrived plot elements that feel juvenile and forced. The whole thing is a red flag to stay away…but I like it. I mean, I really do. I own every one of the first four issues. I care just as much as the Deadpool-loving, dribble devourers who Spider-Hero is. The Blue Marvel reminds me of Omni-Man. Spectrum is great and although she is much more serious than when I fell in love with her (Nextwave) the spark is still there. This is just a meat and potatoes, “decent” Marvel comic book that gets the job done and keeps me interested. I don’t know why I am interested…but I am.
Matt Fraction and David Aja are writing one of the most talked about series of the last couple of years in “Hawkeye.” Fraction’s “Hawkeye” is the story of a douche-bag guy living his life when out of the super-hero spotlight. What “Hawkeye” does put in the spotlight is Clint Barton’s irresponsible and childish behaviors. I mean seriously, sometimes I don’t even like Clint. He’s such an idiot…a charming, relatable idiot. We all have that friend who is fun and charismatic, but makes foolish decisions based on impulses. Clint Barton is an everyman that we can all connect with. His comic book looks damn-near independent with it’s unique panel arrangements, wacky action scenes, and long form storytelling. What “Hawkeye” is is great. It is an enjoyable comic book to read and receives heaps of critical acclaim. All the while, what is happening in the book is antithetical to what the typical, mainstream Marvel Comics reader likes. It exists and succeeds even though it shouldn’t work. Great book.
Thor God Of Thunder
I have never given a single, solitary bleep about Thor. I’m not even slightly compelled to know anything about him or his stupid magik adventures in Whiffleballheim or whatever. But, Marvel takes Jason Aaron and puts him in charge and all of a sudden we are in a freaking renaissance of comic booking.
The “God Bomb” story line, the series’ beginning arc, featured three Thors from different times coming together to fight what Ifanboy.com called “an Aggressive Agnostic.” The story is long (11 issues) and every bit as epic as you might imagine. However, the thing that is surprising about Thor God Of Thunder is not that it pulls off giant, cosmic action sequences. That is to be expected. It is that through meeting the three Thors, we really get to know Thor. Thor becomes a 3-dimensional character when placed in Aaron’s capable hands. I like Thor.
Then, in his greatest trick ever, Aaron drops issue #12 on us. The issue shows Thor on a regular day, in between epic celestial quests. It was so perfect and poignant that it hit me right in my “good comic” spot.
I like Thor…it is so unexpected. My favorite scene in Infinity was only good because Thor was in it. I own all of the issues of the current story arc. Thor is surprising me constantly, not only with the fact that it is good, but that I would ever like it at all.
Now, Marvel is making a movie out of one of it’s least known franchises (Guardians of The Galaxy), relaunching a concept that they already canceled (She Hulk), and launching a new main character with an odd power set and belonging to an oft-forgotten ethnic group in comic books (Ms. Marvel). Marvel seems hell-bent on surprising me constantly for the foreseeable future and I like it…
~ Scott Deaux ~