What comic books are you reading?


#1

I found out recently that companies like Marvel and DC are making a lot of limited-issue series than they did years ago, where the story wraps up in five or six issues. For example, 1872 was part of the overall “Secret Wars” story event that took place on Battleworld, but was a self-contained story with Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, May Parker, etc., in the old west town of Timely, living as if they had been born during that time. 1872 was followed-up with Red Wolf, focusing on that character, and also a limited-issue series.

The companies also are fairly quick to publish these smaller series into graphic novels, so if you miss the original release, you can find them easier not that much later. They also make it a lot more accessible to the gerneral public because it’s easier to get interested in a smaller portion of the overall universe before you even have to deal with things like the Red Wolf who is a part of Earth-616, the Red Wolf who is a part of Earth-51920 or the Red Wolf who is a part of Earth-829.

We have topics for the books people are reading, songs they’re listening to and movie reviews for what they’ve seen. So let’s add in comic books and graphic novels.


#2

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is pure joy.

I’m also reading the Legends Of Baldur’s Gate / Dungeons & Dragons (2016) in which Minsc and Boo from the 90s Baldur’s Gate games are back in action, kicking butt for goodness. (Despite the Forgotten Realms having advanced a hundred+ years since then!)

Sword, meet evil! Go for the eyes, Boo!


#3

I have a bunch of comics from Humble Bundle I haven’t gotten through. I did just pick up Vol 1-3 of Spy Boy.


#4

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is the one that prompted this topic. I kept seeing it in the comic shop and didn’t give it much thought. But as I saw more of the covers, it reminded me of The Sensational She-Hulk from the late 1980s, such as this one where She-Hulk is carrying the writer of the comic off because his ego’s getting too big. I still have those. They are amongst the few that I decided to keep from back then.

The two issues I got were pretty interesting. They have a lot of meta humor and the current series include two other pretty nice touches. The first is that the first page is screencaps of Twitter messages between SG and other superheroes like Tony Stark, Hulk, etc., as well as a hashtag list that seems to indicate the subect of the issue, though the most recent one included #voteloki, which is a separate series about Loki running for the President of the US. The second item is the running commentary at the bottom of most of the pages, which is from either SG, one of her friends or sometimes the writers.

It prompted me to get some more issues and somehow wound up with two numbered as #8. Then I found out that when Marvel renumbered all of their series last year, TUSG lampshaded it by announcing “Only our second #1 so far this year”.

The “Unbeatable” in the comic title is accurate, but there seems to be a lot of hand waving in her battles, which adds to the charm of the series. Whether it’s by her own squirrel-like abilities, getting help from whatever squirrels are nearby, or simply using logic and reason to diffuse a situation, she hasn’t lost yet. You may be Doctor Doom or MODOK, but you get a bunch of those furry critters crawling over you or gnawing through your circuits, and you’re gonna end up discombobulated and defeated.

But even when that happens, she remains on pretty good terms with everyone. Case in point, she needed to borrow a time machine, so she asked Doctor Doom. His reaction was pretty much, “Meh, doesn’t interfere with what I’m doing, so why not?”

 
Backstory on the character:

Doreen Green is not a mutant, but she developed squirrel characteristics not long after she was born like a prehensile tail (she stuffs it in her pants and kind of enjoys the fact it gives her the appearance of a bigger derrière) and a few other squirrel-like physical characteristics, able to talk to squirrels, and an overall attitude of being awesome.

She wanted to be Iron Man’s side-kick when she was 14, but he advised her to go to college and try again then. She teamed up with the Great Lakes Avengers, Defenders, Champions, or whatever they’re called this year, but decided to leave after realizing she was overshadowing all of them. Think Mystery Men, and just about as effective.

She back in New York now and has a few friends that help her out. She somehow got ahold of Deadpool’s stat cards on heroes and villains, so that’s the first thing she or her friends consult when they meet someone new.

Neither Doreen or her friend Nancy Whitehead are classical beauties. You definitely see the squirrel in Doreen, especially around her mouth, and her current appearance is drawn quite differently than how she first looked back in 1991. I picked up the Volume 1 trade paperback that shows those early days and it’s an improvement. But it’s also striking how much the overall comic book art has progressed in the last 25 years.

This is one I will be reading for quite a while.


#5

The art style of USG is likely a big concern for a lot of people, and is a valid concern. However, I’ve decided that it visually signifies that this is the wacky sitcom perspective on the Marvel universe.

I mostly read funny comics. Other than a brief period 7-8 years ago when I was traveling a bit for work and would get one of the big phone-book omnibuses of various series for the trip home, I generally don’t feel like I want to make the time investment for the soap opera that is the main X-men continuity. So I’ll happily read Deadpool or similar that tends to be on the outskirts of the main drama, supplemented by web searches to plain the event-of-the-month.

Deadpool tends to be in “standard US superhero style” for artwork, which to me means it trends towards realistic even as it of course focuses on giving almost all major characters unrealistic body types and such. By comparison, USG is almost grotesque, with facial expressions trending towards screwed-up mouths and googly eyes. It took a bit to adjust, but now I like the art and I feel it signifies that this is going to be a funny off-shoot of the more serious mainstream.

USG also plays with Marvel’s “sliding time scale” or whatever it’s called. Basically the system where characters never really age unless it’s a a plot event. Tony Stark was originally injured in Southeast Asia in what may have been intended to be Vietnam, but now the Middle East. He also met with a teenage Squirrel Girl decades ago despite her just starting college at the expected age just recently.

The USG art makes me kick in the MST3k mantra: “if you’re wondering how they eat and breathe and other science stuff, just repeat to yourself it’s just a show and I should really just relax.”

For those looking for similar material, I’d recommend Nextwave: Agents of Hate which is a Warren Ellis written short (12 issues?) comic based around exploring the hole “team comic” book. It uses some B-listers from the marvel lineup and tended to get placed in its own alternate universe as far as continuity is concerned. Interestingly, it was well received by fans and writers and bits of Nextwave kept showing up in the mainstream books. I’ve heard they’ve recently made it more mainstream as a character has acknowledged that Nextwave “happened” although it’s a bit muddled as to if it was an alternate reality, hallucination, etc.


#6

My daughter got a magic acorn from a USG at GenCon. I may pick up a couple issues for her, she seemed enamored.


#7

She might just want to start with the 2015 or 2016 series. The graphic novel The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl & the Great Lakes Avengers will give you her entire backstory, but the portion devoted to the GLA was playing on the gimmick of comic book companies announcing that one of their characters was going to die in order to drum up business. In those GLA issues, a character dies every issue, but it was accompanied by fourth-wall breaks of SG or one of the squirrels making announcements of “don’t imitate what you see on page 8”, or “bulimia is bad”.

There’s a few other instances of a little more mature content in them, but depending on her age, she might still want to read it.


#8

She’s nine. But pretty mature reading wise.


#9

Whether or not she reads the previous material, getting started with the current comic is a little easier since Marvel reprinted the first #1 issue under their $1 “True Believers” banner. Just to clarify, that’s the March 2015 #1 issue, not the December 2015 #1 issue.

That’s also a trend amongst a lot of comic book publishers. They’ll do a reprint of the first issue of a comic at a $1 price tag.


#10

I can’t find the webcomics thread, so I’ll squat here.

If anyone reads Goblins, it’s finally getting somewhere again. And I saw the Schlock Mercenary that my daughter was pestering Howard about at GenCon on Saturday. It was pretty awesome to see that happen.

In other news, Order of the Stick is moving the plot along as well. All kinds of things up in the air there.


#11

Okay, this is web comic rather than comic book, but I just started Grrl Power today. I’m already laughing at the first panel. Ctrl + C on the copy cap… :laughing:


#12

A little more on Squirrel Girl before I move onto other comics. The artwork for Doreen in her solo title is a completely different style than how she appears in The New Avengers. Issue 16 of USG gives a recap of her life and fills in a few things: she was apparently born with the tail instead of developing that later, how she met Monkey Joe and a hint at what she might do in the future.

It’s getting really hard to keep track of all the shake-ups in both the Marvel and DC comics. They have to do reboots every so often, but it’s getting really bad lately. DC did their “New 52” reboot about three years ago and then the “Rebirth” reboot last year that kind of wipes out the “New 52” stories yet manages to keep bits and pieces from them.

Marvel’s current reboot is all over the place, with some of it labeled under their “Marvel NOW!” tag, but this is the second time they’ve used that tag, so I’ve got it in my notes as “Marvel NOW! 2.0, 2016” to help me keep it straight. The New Avengers has now has restarted with issue #1 under the title of U.S. Avengers. Basic idea of that one is that the Advanced Idea Mechanics group decided to go corporate, which allowed Roberto da Costa (Sunspot) to buy them out and turn it around. Both Roberto and the new AIM (operating under the name of Avengers Idea Mechanics) hadn’t been trusted based on both of their pasts, but now is American Intelligence Mechanics in the new series as a subdivision of SHIELD. When Roberto is presented with a problem, the rest of AIM is usually listening in on a conference call, so they’re already starting to work on solutions to present him involving the science, logistics, behavior analysis and other divisions.

Throw in that new people are taking up a lot of familiar titles, with many of them being women: Jane Foster is the new Thor, the old Thor is now Odinson because he’s not as worthy as he used to be, a different Red Hulk (still a general in his non-Hulk form but a different one than Thunderbolt Ross), Riri Williams is building her own Iron Man armor and getting help from an AI version of Tony Stark because something happened to Tony that I’ve deliberately not looked into what that is, Doctor Doom reformed, I think there’s a female Wolverine, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

If we didn’t have wikis like the Marvel Database and the DC Database, there is no way anybody could keep this straight. (edit to add that I wound up buying issues of “All-New, All Different Avengers” because I got it mixed up with “The New Avengers”, a series that Squirrel Girl is featured in. Marvel and DC: when your comic book titles are confusing, you need to re-think your titles.)

Even with taking a list with me when I go to comic book stores, I still occasionally buy duplicates of the same issue by mistake. Some of it comes from the alternate covers. It’s a money-grab on the part of most comic book publishers to entice you to buy the comic more than one time, and sometimes I will if I like that particular design. But last month, I walked up to the counter with three different versions of the same issue because the way they had done the covers, I legitimately could not tell that they were the same issue.

I may have to put my comics list into a database app on my tablet and bring that with me so I can include pictures of the covers. “Okay, I’ve got that issue. No, that’s just an alternate cover for what I already have. Ooh, that’s one I’ve marked I want to buy.” I’m glad I limit which comics I get from the mainstream publishers and mostly look for independents.


#13

Here’s a select few of the comics I’m reading from IDW. They’re a larger publisher that does comics tying into quite a few franchises. Go to their website if you want to see the full list.

 
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic and My Little Pony: Friends Forever. The second one is usually a story just involving two of the characters. For example, in the recent issue, the leader of the Wonderbolts sends Rainbow Dash to find one of the other members because a poor performance at an event caused him to fly off and try dangerous things to prove he’s still Wonderbolt material.

The artwork style is different between the two series, but both will occasionally make references to events in the main cartoon series, and if I’m not mistaken, sometimes events or characters in the comics will occasionally show up in the series. Plus, if you look closely, both comics slip in background references to things like Star Trek, just as the TV series does. Slipping back to the TV series for a moment, the 100th episode, “Slice of Life”, all but named a character as The Doctor and had him interacting with The Dude, Walter and Theodore from The Big Lebowski.

 
IDW also has various series for Star Trek, mostly based on the 2009 movie, but crossing into the “Prime” universe (the versions played by Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, etc.) as needed. In another example of the comics influencing the main source, I’m pretty sure that the android-like character that was the embodyment of the U.S.S. Enterprise from one of the IDW comics appeared on the birdge for a few seconds in Star Trek Into Darkness.

 
The comics for Back to the Future takes things quite a bit further. They have the direct involvement of Bob Gale, who was the co-writer along with Robert Zemeckis for all three movies and the animated TV series. He’s co-writing the main comic and the “Biff to the Future” series, which shows how Biff Tannen rose to power after being given the almanac by his future self. They also did a “Citizen Brown” series, which adapted the Back to the Future: The Game that was published by Telltale Games. Zemeckis has approval over all films in the franchise and won’t allow any remakes or reboots and Gale says he wouldn’t want to do any more without Michael J. Fox, but Gale considers the video game as close to what they would have made for a fourth film.

 
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Back when the BBC announced they were working on a new series that was based on the Douglas Adams books, IDW started a comic book series that puts Dirk Gently in San Diego. So it isn’t that hard to see how he could have wound up in Seattle for the TV series. This continues in the “A Spoon Too Short” series and now “The Salmon of Doubt”. It’s been a while since I’ve read the books, so I don’t remember if this is an adaptation of that book or if it’s just inspired by the title. However, some of the alternate covers for the various issues feature artwork that comes directly from the BBC TV series, such as the one with the comic book version of Dirk with his arms across the shoulders of the characters played by Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood.


#14

Last ones for today.

 
DC has quite a few Batman comics. I’ve been reading the newer Batman Beyond series, but some reason I can’t quite explain, I’ve been getting the various Batman '66 comics. Maybe it’s just nostalgia because I’ve never really been a big fan of the TV series. But it’s nice to see those characters having new adventures, which includes additional comic series where they meet The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Steed and Mrs. Peel from the British series The Avengers. The most recent one is Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77.

 
Doctor Who fans have their favorite Doctor and any who have followed the series for a while know that there’s quite a few stories that are published separate from what we see in the TV series. Big Finish does a whole slew of audiobooks with the various actors, which is great because if an actor isn’t physically up to portraying The Doctor any more, they can still play them by providing the voice.

Titan Comics continues this with new comic books. The ones for the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelvth Doctors were their main line-up, but after doing a mini-series for the Ninth Doctor, they continued it with the “Ongoing Adventures” series for his character. Other mini-series have been for the Third, Fourth and Eighth Doctors.

Titan also has is publishing some translated versions of the manga series by an artist named “Jay.”. (I didn’t slip up and put a second period in there. That’s how he’s credited). Jay. is adapting the BBC Sherlock TV series. “A Study in Pink” just wrapped up and the first issue of “The Blind Banker” just got released last month.

Another Sherlock series by Titan is written by basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It’s called “Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook”.

 
One independent publisher I’ll spotlight this time is Antarctic Press. I picked up an issue of Airship Enterprise, which is a steampunk version of Star Trek. There’s also quite a few in their Steam Wars series that steampunks Star Wars. I’ll have to see if I can get the back issues because their other steampunk comics cover some classic tales like Cinerella, Goldilocks and Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. That last one is a three-part series and looks like it has some elements of Disney’s Frozen in it.

The title Sherlock Ninja sounds pretty intriguing. I’ll have to get that one.

 
That’s all for now.


#15

On Webcomics: I finally got around to reading the last few chapters of Dr. McNinja over the weekend. It was worth getting caught up. Due to my schedule changing, I’ve mostly stopped reading webcomics these days: I sued to read nearly a dozen daily! I think I’m going to focus on one-at-a-time catchups, especially as some old one end.


#16

I really need to get a few of the issues I’m missing so I can binge-read the stories. I bought issue 6 and 7 of “The Salmon of Doubt” on Thursday and noticed on the “Dramatis Personae” page, they have Dirk and Sally Mills from the comic and Dirk, Farah, Todd and the Rowdy Three from the BBC America series in the same story. He’s not listed there, but Colonel Riggins is also in the story. Which, if you saw the TV show, having the comic book Dirk meet the TV series Dirk is entirely plausible given what happens to him.


#17

Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday. Check their website for the list of which issues will be at the participating stores. They’ve got it split into “Gold” and “Silver” comics this time. Not sure what the difference is, though.


#18

FYI… Comixology finally has some Marvel titles to it’s unlimited subscription.

Linky


#19

If you’ve read Schlock Mercenary before but faded out, time to catch up. He’s hitting some really interesting thoughts on practical immortality from machine backups. We’re getting into that person that died wasn’t really me territory and I like his take on it.

Still moving at a snail’s pace compared to more action-packed years, but good story.


#20

What a coincidence. I just finished reading today’s Schlock Mercenary right before I came to CoG.