Well, this went off on a tangent.

§ September 27th, 2019 § Filed under collecting § 9 Comments

Robcat17 says

“And as much as I may question your Swamp Thing collection, I will buy Legion of Superhero books… every reboot, every time Giffen kills Karate Kid, I’m there. Which makes me ask other collectors ‘What’s your “sucker” book?’ You know the one. It may be bad, but you buy it anyway because you’re hopeful, or loyal, or whatever… but you really just love the character…”

You are indeed wise to question my Swamp Thing collection. No reasonable human should own a pair of these.

But yeah, “sucker books,” I get that. I’ve followed many a character through, shall we say, rough times, simply because that character was a particular favorite of mine. It goes without saying that Swamp Thing is one of those characters for me, though fortunately there have been very few Swamp Thing comics over the years from which I haven’t derived any entertainment value. Yes, there have been some stinkers here and there that I feel no need to revisit, but, eh, no biggie.

An example of a book that I kinda stuck through for the entire run despite things going, well, I won’t say “bad” but “not entirely to my liking” is the second Firestorm series, the one that run 100 issues. I used to say “the first 20 were good, the last 20 were good, the middle 60…um, maybe not so much.” But did I continue buying through that 60-issue slump? Oh yes I did, because I sure liked Firestorm, and though I didn’t much care for the stories they were in, I was still interested in what was going on with Ronnie and Martin (and Cliff).

To be fair, I’ve softened a bit on my opinion on those middle issues. I still bought them, I still enjoyed them, even if I thought they weren’t quite up to the standards of the entries at either end of the series. And I still have them…when the time came to populate the back issue bins in my store with material from my own collection, the Firestorms I kept. Maybe a big chunk of them were dopey comics, but they were my dopey comics and part of my life, a monthly ritual I followed from that first issue in my grade school days until that final issue came out when I was in college.

And I’ll still buy Firestorm whenever he (or they?) turns (or turn) up. But the main impulse, to follow a character, is somewhat undermined by the various reboots/relaunches that have happened. I followed the ongoing subplots and development of Ronnie and Martin in Firestorm, even through the lean years, because I liked those characters and wanted to know what happened to them, how each incident in their lives built on each other and moved forward. The reboots etc. break that chain…suddenly a character can be back at square one, all previous development removed from the story, and my need to see where things go is lost.

Now, it can be done and still maintain reader involvement. The mid-80s reboot of Superman kept my interest, and even as creative teams changed and fictional universes got fiddled with, it still felt like I was following the same character that got re-introduced in Man of Steel #1. The New 52 initiative kinda broke that line for a while, but it’s kinda come around again with, well, more universal retooling shenanigans, and while not quite back to where we were with Supes, it at least is within spitting distance.

One place where it didn’t work with me was the Legion of Super-Heroes, which I read for years and years and years and through a couple of reboots (both soft: the Five Years Later thing – and hard: Zero Hour)…and then finally the New 52 relaunch was just one new beginning too many. I’m willing to give the new Legion of Super-Heroes title a try, but….

…Well, sometimes I’m at war with my own nostalgia and that can get in the way of reading a new take on a character (or team of characters) that I like. Yes, I would like some consistency to the characters that I follow. But no, I can’t honestly expect everything to be of a piece with a comic I read 20, 30, 40 years ago. Things change with the times, and concepts have to be retooled to be appeal to current audiences, even if that retooling means casting away the old to make way for the new.

The way the Superman comics were done, I still feel like I’m reading the same guy (with a couple of exceptions) that’s been around since the 1980s. Legion of Super-Heroes, I feel like maybe they bent it ’til they broke it, and they lost me. Maybe they’ll grab me again with this new run, I don’t know.

Anyway, that got a bit away from Robcat17’s question, maybe. I think what I was trying to say is that a seeming consistency (if not necessarily explicit continuity) of the characters can be enough to carry you through any quote-unquote “bad” comics they may appear in. When that consistency is disrupted, suddenly it’s harder to tolerate even what was once a favorite character in a comic you don’t care for.

I’m probably way overthinking this. And I’m aware of the irony of ballyhooing the seeming consistency of the Superman character starting in ’86, given that one of thee main complaints about the Superman relaunch then was that this new iteration didn’t feel like Superman. For some people, that Byrne reboot was the disruption in the line…”this isn’t the same character I irst started reading in 1938!” …Hey, you don’t know, it could have happened.

Thanks for reading…whatever that was. I’ll get back to more of your comments and questions soon.

9 Responses to “Well, this went off on a tangent.”

  • Daniel says:

    My “sucker book” would be Shazam!/Captain Marvel, although that interest has waned significantly in the last several years and was pretty much killed after the awful film was released earlier this year.

  • Chris V says:

    There have been a lot of Marvel Comics which would fall in to this catergory for me.
    I usually buy comics based on the writer.
    However, with a lot of Marvel books, I feel a connection to the characters, after reading about them for so long.

    So, I’ve continued reading X-Men, even though (outside of the Morrison run), I haven’t really enjoyed them since the end of the original Claremont days.
    I even stuck through the entirety of the Chuck Austen run, which nearly did me in.


    As far as Firestorm, I thought the entirety of the John Ostrander run was pretty entertaining.

    I didn’t read what came before Ostrander on that series, but I enjoyed all of the Ostrander issues.
    I wouldn’t have a negative opinion of you continuing to read the book through that entire period.

  • John Lancaster says:

    As one would suspect, my list for something like this is long and varied but I have to agree with Robcat17 on this one as well. I’m a sucker for Legion. Man, were those New 52 issues horrible, but I bought and read every single one of them. Even Legion Lost. And I will go on supporting The Legion in every iteration in the hopes that this one (or the next one) may be the one where they get it right.

    On a related note; My secret wish is that somewhere around issue 7 or so in this new Inferior 5 comic that Giffen is doing, we just get a random panel with a dead Karate Kid and nobody mentions it. Since it’s set in the past it won’t even bother the new series’ continuity.

  • John Lancaster says:

    Hey Mike – To circle back around to things like New Universe, what were your thoughts on the Marvel/Epic Shadowline titles?

  • Ray Cornwall says:

    My sucker book was the DeFalco/Ryan run of Fantastic Four. It kicked off with “I married a Skrull!” It did not get better.

    I bought every issue. I bought the variant covers. I bought the foil covers. I read them all. I rued them all.

    I could go off on day-long rants on how bad DeFalco’s dialogue was. Wait…let me change that.

    I! Could! Go! OFF! On day-long rants! On how BAD! DeFalco’s dialogue…AND HIS USE OF EXCLAMATION POINTS! WERE!

    Paul Ryan was a very good artist (and left us much too soon), but he could not draw a good FF. Every character lacked oomph. The lines were the wrong weight. The compositions were dull.

    And the plots were the worst example of 90s comics. Just plots set up…to SHOCK! YOU! Everything was about ridiculous cliffhangers. The cliffhangers didn’t make sense, but don’t worry…NEITHER DID THE RESOLUTIONS THE NEXT ISSUE! MWAH HAH HAH!

    And the costumes! EVIL SLUT SUE! THE THING WITH A BOWLING BALL ON HIS HEAD! Lyja the Skrull with a weird headpiece- why did SKRULLS WEAR HEADPIECES?

    You know what? The book didn’t get better after DeFalco and Ryan left. We got Jim Lee FF, which was ok. We got a few issues of Lobdell and Alan Davis, which was surprising AWESOME, but then we got years of late-model Claremont.

    Finally, we got a bit of a turnaround when Loeb and Pacheco arrived…then the underrated Kesel issues…and then FINALLY. Waid and Ringo. And after that, most of the FF issues have been pretty good.

    But boy, those DeFalco/Ryan books. UGH.

  • CalvinPitt says:

    I think Amazing Spider-Man was probably a sucker book for me for a while. I started getting it monthly when I returned to buying comics late in the Howard Mackie run, and stayed until just before One More Day. (There’d been enough spoilers on the internet I knew OMD was just going to piss me off, so hell if I’d pay for the privilege)

    But looking back, for as much as I enjoyed JMS’ early run, I probably should have left when John Romita Jr. did, because the last couple of years (Sins Past/The Other/interminable Civil War tie-ins) were not worth it.

    I don’t think I have a current book now that qualifies, because most of the things I buy don’t last long enough for it to matter. I imagine if Marvel announced another New Warriors book I would give it a chance, but even that depends on the creative team and who was on the roster.

    DC’s constant reboots and semi-reboots seem to have broken whatever connection I had to the characters they have I liked, because I can’t even tell if it’s supposed to be the same one any more.

  • Mikester says:

    John – gotta be honest, never read a single Shadowline book, and barely remember selling any. I think there was a brief window of interest when Terror Inc. got marginally “hot” for a second, but that was about it!

    I actually have posted about Shadowline on the site before!


  • Adam Farrar says:

    @ Ray: I’ve almost got that whole run. I just need four more issues.

  • Chris G says:

    I honestly think the Legion doesn’t work unless it’s a spinoff of a Superboy who is Superman When He Was A Boy. Then it becomes part of Superman’s history and in-universe proof that Superman will endure as the greatest hero of them all. I wish the new book well and I might even read it when the collection shows up at the library but it’s just not for me any more.