§ November 15th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

(Oh Milo, you scamp!)

Special thanks to everyone for participating in this little survey of mine. Like I’d said previously, this wasn’t a popularity contest or anything, so there are no winners as such. However, I did want to say a few words about some of the titles that did seem to pop up with some frequency:

JSA – I’m about to say something that is apparently self-contradictory, but bear with me: JSA is one of my favorite comic books, and it’s exactly the kind of comic book we don’t need more of.

Now I’m a long-time comics fan…specifically, I’m a long-time DC Comics fan, so I’m fully mired in the company’s convoluted fictional history. A comic like JSA is in effect a celebration of that history, playing with the pieces that are still left after continuity-changing events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour. However, this heavy dependence on continuity means that it’s aimed primarily at people like me…people who have read more comic books than is probably healthy, and not at anyone new to reading comics. Again, that’s fine within moderation…companies like Marvel and DC need to publish books like this that cater to their fans and keeps them happy, so long as the majority of their other comics are more accessible to newer readers. (Whether the other comics are accessible is another argument entirely.)

Y The Last Man – alas, I don’t buy this title, as it started at a time when I was desperately avoiding picking up any new series for fear of getting hooked on yet another comic book. However, I do flip through each issue as it arrives at the store (a good sign that I should probably be buying it…I was like this with Astro City before I finally broke down and added it to my purchases). It’s an addicting title, hooking readers with the mystery of just why the Last Man on Earth did in fact survive whatever it was that killed all the other men. Given that the series does have a definite direction and a catchy “hook,” and the promise that this series will have a definite ending sooner rather than later, and that it’s supported by a trade paperback program — all these factors have contributed to this series’ success. (Other DC/Vertigo titles also benefit from these factors, such as Fables and 100 Bullets.)

Ex Machina – this is the first non-Warren Ellis breakout title from Wildstorm in a while, and it came as a real surprise to me that it sold as well as it did at our store. It came as even more of a surprise that I ended up buying it as well, spurred on by the interesting premise (a former “superhero” trying to live down that past while trying to function as the mayor of New York City) and a knock-out of a last page in the first issue.

The series continues to pick up readers as each issue is released…issues 2 through the current issue are all still available from Diamond for reorder, though I wish DC would go back to press on the first issue. The trade paperback isn’t due for a while, and I’d certainly be able to recommend this comic to more customers if I could get them started with the beginning of the story.

Ultimate Spider-Man – for over a decade, the only Batman comics I read (aside from the occasional Elseworlds special and a handful of issues of Legends of the Dark Knight) were the comics based on the various animated series. In general, these comics were consistently well-done, attractively drawn, competently written, and for the most part, self-contained, without heavy reliance on Batman’s extensive history or without being tied into yet another interminable crossover. I think this, in a way, explains the appeal of Ultimate Spider-Man. I think a lot of people do like Spider-Man, but don’t want to read the regular titles due to the perceived high entry cost (knowledge of past history, crossovers, etc.). In fact, if I’m remembering correctly, in the nearly 70 issues of this series, there’s only been one storyline that explicitly crossed over with another comic (Ultimate X-Men). I do have some quibbles with the series, mostly in the apparent padding out of storylines for eventual paperback reprinting, but those paperbacks also add to this title’s success, so who am I to complain?

Other titles that turned up in my survey with some frequency include Planetary (probably Warren Ellis’ most superhero fan-friendly series), WE3 (I didn’t think people would suggest mini-series, but it’s hard to argue with this particular comic), Gotham Central (a Batman title that approaches the franchise from an unusual angle, via Gotham City’s police force), Astonishing X-Men (sort of Marvel’s JSA, playing with X-Men history and clearly aimed at X-fans), Conan (just when I thought that Conan the Barbarian’s time in comics was done, Dark Horse goes and makes it a hit title), and I have to salute the bravery of people who cited Identity Crisis.

Again, I’d like to thank you all for contributing to my informal survey…if any of you still want to add to the list, please feel free…I’ll keep checking in and seeing what you have to say.

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