Adventures in Reading Part 1: Comic Books

First an update-

This week I’ve felt a little bit like the mole man.  I came up on Wednesday after my voyage from California and have only gone downstairs one time in those days.  It’s very strange living in a tunnel and 2 rooms.  It feels kind of like I’m in a bomb shelter.

As far as my knee it is still painful, swollen, and sore.  I can’t put weight on it but it is improving everyday.  I’ve been able to shower and walk around the room with a cane without too much trouble.  Standing up and then sitting down are the hardest.

Needless to say I’m getting more than a little stir crazy up here so if any of you aren’t doing anything come by and visit (thanks to those that have!).

But I am encouraged by my progress and tomorrow am going to go to church which should be a nice way to get out of the house without too much walking.

Thanks for the prayers and thoughts my way.

———————————–

Back to regular post

This is actually a post I’ve wanted to do for some time.  I’m sure some of you have gotten sick of my movie posts so I thought it would be fun to focus on literature for a little while- particularly literature I am less familiar with.  Some I thought of are comic books, graphic novels, anime, poetry (epic, limericks, hiaku, different types), plays etc.

What am I missing? I’ve talked about fiction and non-fiction a lot (and some poetry but it’s been a while).

Anyway, today I am taking the first item off the list and talking about comic books.  Until beginning this project I had never read a comic book in my life.  I’ve seen some of the movies and to be honest they are usually not my favorite.  Even one’s everyone else likes such as the Dark Knight movies I couldn’t get into.

I keep hearing I would like the movies better if I read the comic books, so I went into the project with an open mind and excitement with what could be a new world of writing.

And you know I’m glad I did. I learned a lot and have a genuine respect for the melding of art and story in comic books.

Here’s how it all went down

20140726_170727In April I bought a lot of 50 comic books off of Amazon.com and it was only $20. So comic books are definitely affordable literature!  This lot had a variety of big names like justice league, avengers, x-men and fantastic 4. I had seen all of their movies so these were easier for me to grasp.

comic books1First of all the artistry and colors blew me away.

20140726_195454I also thought the dialogue was brisk and didn’t shy away from large words and big concepts

20140726_161803
From a Green Lantern comic book. A lot of big words in there!

In my lot of 50 there were two that stood out the most for me:

1. DC 507 Adventures of Superman Bloodsport

You will probably be surprised I picked this one because it is very violent and I probably wouldn’t like it in movie form but I’ve always said that reading about violence is a different experience than viewing.

What made this story interesting to me is the villain bloodsport is not a super villain.  From what I’ve read there is no science experiment gone awry, no scarring injury that made him bitter.  This is a man who has decided that certain people are worthy of living and certain people are not.

20140726_164815

I think you could also have a good discussion with a mature child about hate and discrimination after reading this issue (but I don’t think it is overly-moralistic.  It fits with the story)

20140726_164654
In this issue Bloodsport attacks a neighborhood called Hob’s Heights which he deems as taking not giving people.  Welfare drains and drug addicts in his eyes and this disgusts him.  He is also a violent racist.

The reason this villain interests me is I feel like it isn’t that far off from the kind of villains that actually exist. At the very least, there have been many people who have justified taking lives because they view the humans as worthless, as an affront to civilization. To me this is much more interesting than say a Joker or Two Face that feels very far removed from anything in real life.

There’s also a real emotion to the story with a little boy named Adam murdered at the beginning and his mother’s grief turning her back to alcohol. It is this human element that is often missing in the comic book movie adaptations.

20140726_1648352.  World War Hulk: Frontline

This is called hulk but I don’t think you actually see the hulk.  It is more about 2 reporters Ben Urich and Sally Floyd and how they are able to cover the story of aliens in New York.  Along the way they have some help from Korg, The Sentry, Ironman and others I didn’t recognize.

I really liked the character Sally Floyd.  I thought she was tough but soft and a little bitter.  She is also an alcoholic, which could throw her off the story if she isn’t careful.

20140726_162549
My kind of hero. Kram!

This is one of the only comic books I read that had a woman I could relate to.  I thought it was cool to have a comic book story where the superheroes assist the humans in fighting not the other way around.  Jonah Jameson is in this as well

 

Things I don’t like about comic books-.

There are some things I didn’t enjoy about comic books.  Believe it or not I actually found them difficult to read.  The font is so small and packed in and sometimes there are so many images on the page my brain didn’t know where to look first.

20140726_161216It’s just so busy!

The other thing I am not crazy about is the way men are portrayed as chiseled beefcakes.

20140726_162134Even the women often look a little too chiseled.

20140726_163232

That is preferable to the sexpots, villainesses, and damsels in distress that are in almost every comic book.

comic books2Honestly all of this would make me hesitant to recommend comic books to my son or daughter despite their other positive characteristics.

The interesting thing is from what I can gather the two comics I liked best and mentioned above appear to have been flops.  Bloodsport only appeared 3 or 4 times and as for Sally Floyd evidently she gets turned into a shrill, judgmental, shallow, jerk who argues with Captain America that the Nazi’s weren’t the bad guys in WWII…

Language in this article but it says what they did with the character.

Darn it Marvel.  Couldn’t you have left one woman that was relatable and interesting that doesn’t have a bust size DDD?

Final Review-

Comic books are visually striking, fun, even thought provoking stories that can inspire creativity and teach basic moral lessons.

Comic books are also crowded and visually assaulting at times to read.  They portray only one type of body for both men and women, especially women.  This can be demeaning and even bordering on the pornographic.  Many are also very violent and would certainly be R rated (or worthy of R if the rating system meant anything) so it could create a desire on the part of young fans to see movies that are not appropriate for their age group.

Those would all be concerns of mine if I had children interested in comic books.

But there was a lot of things I did like and I must say I enjoyed the experience of diving into comic books more than I expected.  None of what I read was in order so if there is a series you like please recommend it below.

I also got a lot of support on twitter when I started this project from @HowtoLoveComics and @Nea_Pol so give them a follow if you are on twitter.

What do you guys think of comic books?  Are you fans? Would love to hear your comments.

11 thoughts on “Adventures in Reading Part 1: Comic Books

  1. Hi Rachel, it is a shame that you only found two comics you could enjoy in that pack. In the defence of comics it appears that many of the comics in the pack you bought were 90s, which was seen as a bit of a Dark Ages of comics. During that time a lot of superhero comics tend to be a bit excessive with spikes, hard lines and sharp edges in attempt to emulate a few popular artists at the time. The problem with that with speculators buying as many comics as they could with the intention of selling them in 20 years, making enough money to pay off their mortgage. Of course this has happened buy it means we have been left with a lot of comics with poor writing and “extreme” art.

    Comics now-a-days are far superior and represent a wider group of people, with increasing push for strong female characters. I would highly recommend that you give some of these a try before write comics off completely.

    From Marvel I would recommend…

    – Fearless Defenders
    – Ms. Marvel (current series)
    – Elektra
    – X-Men (All-female current team series)
    – She-Hulk
    – Captain Marvel (by Kelly Sue DeConnick)
    – Thor (Will star a female character from October)
    – X-Men Legacy (the earlier issues staring Rogue)
    – Black Widow

    From DC Comics…
    – Batgirl
    – Batwoman
    – Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang)
    – Harley Quinn (current series)

    Now-a-days there is also more variety in art and styles so hopefully you can find something that you will like.

    Let me know if you check any of these out or if you need any more recommendations 🙂

    1. Thanks so much. I will definitely check some of those out. I actually liked more than 2. Those were just my favorite. I found the experience to be very exciting. It’s fun to have a whole new world of characters and writing open up to you.

      What you are saying about the 90s makes sense from what I know about the comic book movies of that era (Batman and Robin…). I’m nervous about the upcoming female Thor and Wonder Woman because even in these recent good movies the females have been weak and Catwoman, Elektra were pretty bad. (Although Black Widow has been great)

      No one will cheer more loudly than me when we get a true awesome female super hero movie!

      I also shouldn’t have said all comics are a certain way. I was just referring to all the 50 I read.

      Of the comic books you mentioned what like 2 or 3 from Marvel and DC would you recommend first? Are there particular issues you recommend or starting at the beginning?

      Thanks again for all your support. Next up I’m doing anime/manga so if you have any suggestions on that please let me know.

      1. Of the Marvel series the one I am enjoying the most is She-Hulk, which is only 5 or so issues in. But most of the female centric comics from Marvel started up in the last 6-18 months so it will be easy to catch up in trade paperback or digitally. As for DC, Batwoman, especially the earlier work is a stand out for me. Beautiful art and experimental page layouts make it a winner for me. But Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s run on Wonder Woman, which is 30+ issues in has been a fan favourite too. Both you should be able to catch up easily in trade paperback or digitally.

        1. Cool. Do you often read digitally? Is that a satisfying experience for a comic book fan?
          I’m actually glad to hear of a She-Hulk reboot. She was in a couple of the issues I read and I was not a fan but I sense the character has potential.
          I will order some of those and let you know.

        2. I generally prefer print, but I am not against digital. It is good way to catch up n stuff if you can’t find print issues.

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