In 2014 I dove deep into my geek identity and started reading comic books again. I’ve read a few in the past several years but I haven’t really been much of a comic book reader since I was a kid. But last year I spent lots of my evenings and weekends reading comics and deeply enjoying it (as those of you who follow me on Twitter know).
Some of this comes from listening to fun comics podcasts (which I may talk more about when I write on pop culture later this week or next week). A lot is due to a great service from Marvel comics called Marvel Unlimited which is essentially a subscription service accessing thousands of digital comic books from the past 60 years – including newer issues that hit the site roughly six months after initial publication. And some comes from a cool local comics shop in the mall where I frequently shop. It has also been true that as I started reading comic books again and talking about them on Twitter and with my friends I discovered other people still reading comics.
As a kid I was mainly a Marvel comics reader (though I read a few DC titles) and it has been great diving back into old issues of Spider-Man (always my favorite) as well as reading the current story line called Spider-verse that spans a number of Spider-Man titles. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how easily I could get into the new Spider-Man stories after not reading comics for over 25 years. The characters and themes still feel familiar even as the writers (primarily Dan Slott and Christos Gage in the books I’ve been reading) have updated the stories. I haven’t gotten back into X-Men (another childhood favorite) as easily but I think that’s because the whole cast of characters in that part of the Marvel universe expanded and changed dramatically between the early 1980s when I stopped reading and now.
I have also enjoyed some DC books, including Frank Millar’s Batman Year One, Scott Snyder’s Batman Court of Owls, and Watchmen (a classic that reads much better than the movie). I’m slowly working my way through the Sandman series from Neil Gaiman as well.
Unlike when I was a kid, I’ve also branched out beyond ‘the big two’ to read books from other publishers. My current favorites are a series called Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who knew Archie could be so creepy?). And current technology means I read most of my books digitally rather than buying hard copies, making a largely free service like Thrillbent an incredible way to discover new writers and stories (or older stories like Empire by Mark Waid).
Finally I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for art in comic books than I had as a kid. When I was young all I really noticed were the story lines unless an artist did something I didn’t like to a character’s design. Now I am sometimes as moved by the drawing and coloring as I am by the plotting.
I’m sure that this weekly blog feature on what I am reading will circle back to comic books regularly given how many I am enjoying these days, but for now I’ll stop with this overview of some of the great books I’ve been reading. If you read comics and have suggestions of things I should check out let me know. And if you want to know more about any of the things I’ve mentioned here please ask me or dig into them on your own; everything I’ve talked about can be found on Comixology, Thrillbent, or Marvel Unlimited. There’s tons of great comic books and graphic novels out there so I’m sure you can find something you’ll love.