This month so far I have been reading two specific characters: Conan and Superman. I’d purchased a Conan bundle of issues 0-50 (the entire self-titled run) during the Dark Horse anniversary sale and decided to hack into it.
As to the Superman spree, I have a digital subscription for the Superman/Wonder Woman releases as I rather like that particular book. Sadly however it has begun doing the thing that I absolutely loathe about superhero comics: “Continued in Superman #30!” which then says, “Continued in Action Comics #31!” which then says, “Continued in Superman: Doomed #1!” which then says, “Continued in Superman/Wonder Woman #8!” and so on. My biggest gripe is that I like the creative team and the pacing in the Superman/Wonder Woman title. I may or may not care so much about the other creative teams (or the particular writer/artist/editor groupings), so when I am forced to switch from one title to another in order to figure out what happened and why in hell Superman is missing at the start of issue #8, I have to follow a trail of breadcrumbs through all these other stories where there is already some ongoing thread that I don’t follow and have no clue about. What happens is that the pacing and narrative voice switch from author to author and the mood/feel of the art changes the interpretation of the world and characters, leaving me feeling totally out of whack as I book-hop. I HATE it with unmitigated passion. I still read the required pieces, but only because I have pointedly avoided doing so for a number of years and was hoping that perhaps this time I’d have developed a tolerance for it. Nope! I share my account with my fiancée (who is also reading and enjoying Superman/Wonder Woman) and thus I wanted to allow him the option of getting the full story. I don’t know if I’m going to persist in playing hopscotch with my books however. This may force me to drop my subscription if I start missing too much story or if it jacks up the narrative flow too much. I already feel like I was shortchanged with that little romp particularly as I’d read issue #8 of SM/WW before backtracking to see what in hell happened. End rant, begin discussion of comics.
- Conan #9-36 – I find that the stories that are directly based on Robert E. Howard’s originals are the best as they are by their nature the most character-accurate. I certainly don’t mind the new stories that Kurt Busiek tells, but sometimes although Conan is definitely pretty close to the original characterization, sometimes he seems a little “off” in a way that unseats the particular story just enough to reduce my enjoyment of those particular issues. This is not always the case however, and sometimes I enjoy the comic-original pieces as much as the retelling of Howard’s prose. One thing that I like is that the art team is for the most part rather consistent, but in the newer issues (of the ones I have read this month) there have been more guest artists and changes to the style that I do not like. The quality of the bulk however is still very good and does a decent job of remaining faithful to the spirit of Howard’s world, so I would certainly recommend these to any fan of the character and his adventures.
- Superman/Wonder Woman #8 – I read this one in an attempt to simply continue the story, but because I was extremely curious as to how in hell the story developed the way it had, I followed the trail through all the other titles to sort it out and was left feeling shortchanged, unsure that it all actually made sense and generally upset that I couldn’t have just stayed with the title and creative team I’d been enjoying so much. The actual content of this issue was just as awesome as the prior issues, however. In particular I loved the changes to Superman’s personality due to Doomsday. I really hope that there won’t be too many breadcrumb trails in the future because I feel the story is better told with the same team that’s been building it to date in this title.
- Superman #30 – Part of the breadcrumb trail leading into Superman/Wonder Woman #8. This was the least memorable for me of the random issues in the story.
- Superman: Doomed #1 – Part of the breadcrumb trail leading into Superman/Wonder Woman #8. This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as exciting for me as SM/WW.
- Action Comics #30-31 – Part of the breadcrumb trail leading into Superman/Wonder Woman #8. Issue 30 is actually the prequel to the Doomsday arc. The team on this one is likeable, so I may actually go back and fill in the missing issues from this title. I still much prefer Superman/Wonder Woman.
- Batman/Superman #1 – Because I’d read all these other Superman stories and had this one in my “to read” list, I opened this one up too. The interesting art style is what initially caught my eye, though Jae Lee moved on from this series after only a few issues. I will likely continue to read it as I usually enjoy the interactions between these two characters. It’s not the highest on the priority list however.
What I plan to read during the rest of the month: the rest of the Conan run and to continue my trend, Sin City trade #3. If I have time for more, Iron Fist #2 and American Virgin trades #3-4 to finish that series out. I’m also interested in reading Superman: Unchained. I’m presently most excited about Superman when it comes to comics thanks to SM/WW. It has been so enjoyable for me that it actually rekindled my ancient love of that character (who was my first superhero and fictional character crush) and also caused me to finally like Wonder Woman for the first time. I have attempted to read her in the past and just have never picked up the right book. I watched the old TV show as a kid and tried various random issues as well as the Jodi Picoult run a few years back. I love Picoult’s novel The Tenth Circle so I thought that she may be able to translate over to comics for me, but none of the things I’ve ever seen Wonder Woman in stuck to me. Superman/Wonder Woman has changed that at long last, and so after I glut myself on Superman I want to ask around for recommends on good Wonder Woman books.