Saturday, September 10, 2011

Comic Book Nerd

This entry is double posted in one of my other blogs, which is why it's de-nerded a bit.

As many of you may already know, this is the year of the comic book for me. As a matter of fact, one of the major reasons I wanted to get this iPad was because I can now carry a large comic book library with me everywhere I go. It's a nice perk, but not the only reason I bought this thing (that would make me a huge nerd if it was the only reason, which is why I tell myself it isn't).

Since starting to read comic books back in July, I have read many many comics. It's so much easier to read them digitally than in paper form. I do actually own some hard copy comic books which were purchased from the fantastic Atomic Comics before it closed it's doors for good last month. I own a few TPB's (trade paperback): one DC Crisis, and two UK Transformer compilations. The bulk of my collection, however, is comprised of about 90 issues of Alpha Flight.

What is Alpha Flight? It's a team of Canadian superheroes similar to the X-Men. As a matter of fact, Wolverine got his start in Alpha Flight before running off to join the X-Men. How did I get involved with such a strange group? Well, I started reading comic books because I felt I needed more X-Men in my life. The issues that introduce Wolverine to the X-Men also introduce Alpha Flight to the world. I really like Alpha Flight because it's basically a crisis in every issue. They pull of stuff in April issues that other titles save for December or their annual. They kill off major characters and replace them fairly routinely. Also, Alpha Fight doesn't always have the benefit of sponsorship by generous benefactors, and more often than not they are not even supported by the Canadian government. When you read Alpha Flight, you will absolutely never know what they're going to do next.

Anyway, just because I feel like it and I have the time, I'm going to run down all the comics I have read thus far and give them a rating (no, I won't do it issue by issue. I'll just rate each series).

Alpha Flight Volume 1 There are three volumes of Alpha Flight thus far (well, I think they just started a 4th. I own the first issue of it). The first volume has 130 issues, the second has 20, and the this has only 12. I started the second volume, but I'm not done yet. Anyway, I loved the first volume of Alpha Flight. I read it after having read every DC Crisis. In Alpha Flight, every issue is a crisis. There were very few throwaway issues. they always faced awesome foes, and there were so many twist and turns, I couldn't possibly explain them to you in a concise form. Just chalk me up as an Alpha Flight fan. These issues were as good as anything I've read thus far.

Scott Pilgrim This was the first (and only thus far) graphic novel I ever read. I read it after seeing the fantastic movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. If you haven't seen it, you are missing a movie unlike any other. It's an all-out visual feast. It's as good a comic book movie as there will ever be. Anyway, the graphic novel is as good if not better than the movie it inspired. It's a graphic novel for people who enjoy comic books, video games, and indie rock. If you enjoy any or all of those things, you should enjoy it. I love the story as a metaphor for modern romantic relationships, but I also love it as pure entertainment. It is smartly written, and all the dialogue is almost over the top in its wittiness. All in all a very good read and highly recommended.

As for the DC Crises, I think I'll rank them from my favorite to my least favorite. Before doing that, I think I'd better explain what a crisis is in comic book terms. DC has been around since the 1930s, which means they've had 80+ years to muck up their continuity and make things so convoluted that it became darn near impossible to jump into any of their series without doing a lot of research first. The first major crisis was Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was DC's way of blowing up everything and putting it back together again in a more reader friendly way. With that knowledge in your pocket, here are the crises I have read in order from my most favorite to my least.

Infinite Crisis Oddly enough, Infinite Crisis was the comic Joel always tried to make me read when he was trying to convince me that I should read comic books. I liked Infinite Crisis the most because it seemed like it had the most compelling story lines. It just generally had the most going on, and the things that were going on were all worth following. You really can't ask for more in a massive crossover series.

Crisis on Infinite Earths You really can't do much better than the original massive crossover. The only thing I didn't really like about this series was that at times it seemed like story lines were being laid out in a very meticulous way simply because they needed to shape certain characters in certain ways in order to get themselves out of certain corners they had painted themselves into previously. I'm just saying that the story seemed a little less organic than it could have been, but I understand why they did it the way they did. Aside front he one gripe, Crisis on Infinite Earths is very good and highly enjoyable.

Identity Crisis Identity Crisis is more of a minor crisis than other crises in the DC catalog. It centers around The Elongated Man's wife going missing. I love this story because of the awesome husband/wife relationship between Sue and Ralph Dibny. This is a story that carries over into Infinite Crisis, and even though the conclusion is fairly senseless, there's a lot of real emotion in this story. I'm only downgrading it because it makes me so sad and it seems senseless in the end.

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time Zero Hour continues to story of Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and his transformation to Parallax and his attempt to rewrite time. I loved the story of Hal Jordan's fall, and Zero Hour is a good story, but it has waaaaaay to much rainbow in it. Seriously, it's very distracting to look at that much rainbow without seeing unicorns. Oh, and there were a couple pieces of the story that seemed like too much of a stretch, even for a comic book. I would tell you what they were, but it's been a while since I read this and I honestly can't remember.

Final Crisis I just really didn't like Final Crisis much. If I was a goth (no, not a Visigoth or Ostragoth or any other sort of actual goth. I'm talking about the people who misuse the word goth and take it to mean "draped in black and obsessed with death") I would eat this with a black fork and spoon, but since I'm a normal person, I didn't like the satanic overtones. I also really hated the aftermath story lines. The Super Young Team is an abomination, and the whole crisis seems 1) unappealing 2) not so critical that it can really call itself a crisis. After reading this one, I wanted to hit it with a rolled up newspaper and shove it's face in the Super Young Team side story so it would know what it did wrong.

In addition to all these crises, I read all the lead-in and aftermath stories. I won't bore you with the details of all of those, except to say that 52 was an excellent series and really made me care about Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. The last comic book series I'll tell you about (you didn't really read this far did you? I wrote this more for myself than anyone else) is...

X-Men I have read the first 200 or so issues of X-Men, and loved every single one of them. With all I've read thus far, I'd consider myself much more of a Marvel man than a DC guy. The X-Men are now so iconic that people who have never read a comic in their life have a general sense of the characters and their respective stories. It's just been a pure delight to get a deeper sense of the X-Men. Although I like to tell people I'm an Alpha Flight fan, I think the X-Men are my favorite comic book characters of all-time.

Well there you have it. I've read a bunch of comic books and loved most of them. If you actually read this, I hope you're a nerd, otherwise I'm sorry for wasting your time.

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