What I’ve Been Reading (July 2020)

Another month, another “What I’ve Been Reading” (yeah, I renamed it). This time, the comics industry is properly restarted, which is nice… then DC did their distributor thing which makes re-ordering trades awkward (and screws over retailers)… and now we’re in the middle of event nonsense with DC’s Dark Nights: Death Metal and Marvel’s Empyre… so yeah, so my comic reading is still mostly trades, which is what these posts are about, essentially — older stuff I’m reading, usually in trade, which I give my very quick and casual opinions on (and I guess it’s also now also a general blog update thing), which is harder when Australian comic stores are having trouble getting some DC trades.

Oh yeah, I’m including manga I’m reading on this too now. I got back into reading manga late last year and have kept up with it fairly well. It’s sequential art, even if manga has different conventions to Western comics, so why not? Also, so I can have more non-superhero stuff on here, because it’d probably come off as kinda one-note if that’s all that was on here.

Anyway, here’s what I spent my time reading in July as I braced myself for uni to start again and the upcoming X of Swords crossover to begin, which I will be reading.

Continue reading “What I’ve Been Reading (July 2020)”

In the Hood — Who Should Be the Next Red Hood Writer?

Scott Lobdell’s run on Red Hood and the OutlawsRed Hood/Arsenal and Red Hood: Outlaw is coming to an end. For the majority of the 2010s, Lobdell has been the driving force behind the stories told with Jason Todd, the second Robin and then Red Hood. I can’t say I’m sad to see it end, because I’ve always felt that Lobdell took an interesting character and boiled him down to his lowest common denominator appeal — this is not helped by the likely reason behind Lobdell leaving.

For those who don’t know, Jason Todd was the second Robin and famously was killed by the Joker. He returned to life and took up the identity of the Red Hood and was a Batman villain because he couldn’t get over how Bruce Wayne never killed the Joker for all he’d done — clearly also tied to his own daddy issues with Bruce. He would also go on to menace Dick Grayson during his Batman tenor before the New 52 clumsily reintegrated him into the Bat-family, and he has since been primarily written as a largely generic anti-hero bad boy by Scott Lobdell. It has not been a good run for most people, and every fan of the character I know has welcomed this news and has been waiting for a change of writer for years.

I’m going to talk about who I feel should be handed the reins to Jason Todd’s character. Some will be obvious, some less so, but these are creators who I feel would do Jason Todd justice. These aren’t writers who I feel would really be replicating Lobdell’s style or even be the types to have him be aligned with the Bat-family, if they had a choice. These are just writers who I feel would do well with the character.

I want these to be at least somewhat reasonable, so I’m not going to throw, like, Brian Michael Bendis on here or something — these are creators who I could actually see writing a good Red Hood ongoing, and I’ll explain why. Continue reading “In the Hood — Who Should Be the Next Red Hood Writer?”

The Best Comic Book Runs of the 2010s

As we near the end of the 2010s, for my final look back at the decade in comics, I’m going to be looking at the best comic runs of the 2010s. This decade had some of the best and worst comic series, but I’m here to celebrate the best runs. The 2010s had a lot of good runs that were somewhat unappreciated, that I feel deserve acknowledgement. This is the decade that I got into comics, so I followed a lot of these when they were ongoing. Yet, there is enough distance from most of these runs — most of which are complete — that I feel comfortable judging them as a whole.

For comic runs, the amount of creators and issues varies, but the general idea should be obvious — a bunch of comics where at least one creator has a big presence in the creative process. To qualify for this list, the run needs to have had most of its issues released in the 2010s. That means Grant Morrison’s Batman and Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern, both of which started in the mid-2000s but ended in the 2010s, are out, but Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four, which started in 2009 and ended in the 2010s, is allowed on. Essentially, the runs will have started in the 2010s, with a small handful of exceptions that had very few issues in the previous decade. The key part of it is that this is “runs” as opposed to a series — I’ll be copying a bit of CBR’s rules and say that miniseries do not count as “runs”, unless it’s a group of miniseries in some way; this is for the the best runs on a comic, not sprints. But it can be one ongoing series, something that had multiple series, or just a specific chunk of a series for whatever reason (maybe the creative team lost the artist or something). To keep things manageable, I’ll be focusing on writers and pencillers — not that inkers, colourists and letterers aren’t important, but it’s hard enough to get every artist down for some runs, and I’ll probably miss some, that this is just the compromise I have to make.

Anyway, with all the rules out of the way, let’s get on with it. Here, arbitrarily ranked, are the best comic runs of the 2010s!

(That I read).

Continue reading “The Best Comic Book Runs of the 2010s”

The Best Comic Book Story Arcs of the 2010s

As I’ve made clear in previous posts, the 2010s were a good time for comics. I’ve looked at the best comic runs, but now I’m taking it a step down and going into the best comic arcs. These aren’t entire series — unless it’s a miniseries or an ongoing that was cut short — or runs, but arcs. Naming these is a bit weird because some writers don’t really name their arcs, but luckily trades exist, and you can usually tell when something is an arc.

To qualify, the first issue of the arc needs to have been released in the 2010s. That limits my options enough while setting strict rules. Hopefully this makes it fair. Also, this is more of a superhero comic thing, so be warned if that bugs you.

Anyway, get your six (most likely) bag and boards ready, because we’re going to be looking at the best comic book story arcs of the 2010s!

Continue reading “The Best Comic Book Story Arcs of the 2010s”

The Best Comic Book Moments of the 2010s

So far, I’ve looked at the biggest shake-ups in comics status quos in the 2010s. Of course, I think those were important. They’re paradigm shifts that allow for different stories. But sometimes, you need to go smaller, and that’s what this is. This time, I’m going to be highlighting specific moments in comics that I feel were the best in the 2010s.

These can range from a single scene to a single panel, but they’re what I consider the best the 2010s have to offer. They might stand on their own or be the payoff for years of storytelling, but these are the ones that had the biggest impact on me as a reader. As a rule: it can’t be an entire issue. I’m also trying to avoid placing similar scenes on this list. So yes, it’s a loose criterion, but it’s mine. Anyway, let’s see what we have for arbitrarily ranked my personal best comic book moments of the 2010s… Continue reading “The Best Comic Book Moments of the 2010s”

The Best Comic Book Shake-Ups of the 2010s

Superhero comics are said to be cyclical, stagnant, unchanging, and all manner of things meant to imply that they love their status quos. But the 2010s gave us a bunch of new ideas and shake-ups that ended up becoming some of the landmark moments for the superhero genre. Sure, the superhero genre loves its status quos, because that’s a part of the brands, but sometimes people shake things up in ways that open the door for great storytelling, adding to the gargantuan mythos of the genre.

I’ve decided I’m going to draw attention to these status quo shifts. This is very broad, obviously, but I think it’s a good way to look back at what the 2010s did to shake things up a bit and innovate. Later, I’ll probably look at best moments, single issues story arcs and maybe even runs. But for now, here are the best comic book shake-ups of the 2010s. Continue reading “The Best Comic Book Shake-Ups of the 2010s”

Superdads — Fatherhood in Superhero Comics

The 1st of September is Father’s Day in Australia. While I find it weird that we placed it so far away from the rest of the world’s usual date, it is what it is. So, in honour of Father’s Day, I want to take a look at fatherhood in superhero comics.

The idea of characters being “aged” by younger characters around them is a concern of the comics industry. Indeed, a lot has been done to ensure that characters like Spider-Man and Batman remain at a vague age where they can be considered at least somewhat young. Many in the industry have spoken out against allowing characters to grow and age, in fear that this would also age their paternal figures — the most recent example I can recall would be X-Men editor Jordan D. White mentioning that the younger X-Men cannot be allowed to age, as this would make the core group of Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue and the like older. I think this fundamentally misunderstands superhero comics and their appeal, the stories they can tell and some of the best works in the superhero genre, and how children are vehicles for further development of characters. While comics like Saga and Birthright have excellent portrayals of parenthood, superhero comics lend a greater weight to everyday struggles, to everyday emotions and relationships.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll be looking at specific characters and specific runs on those characters (to a degree). This is just meant to look at the different kinds of fatherhood presented in superhero comics, while focusing on specific works where possible. Anyway, let’s have a look at our superdads. Continue reading “Superdads — Fatherhood in Superhero Comics”

New Reader’s Guide — Where to Start Reading Batman

New Reader’s Guide is a recommendation thing I do where I list works in a franchise that are good for new readers, that hopefully make them want to check out more of the franchise or character. It features franchises/characters that I am personally familiar with, although I will be using others’ opinions at times. The key point is that these are recommendations for new readers.

With Detective Comics #1000 only a few weeks away, I decided work on this ahead of Superman (sorry, Big Blue) for the people who will inevitably buy Detective Comics #1000 but not actually be Batman readers, but who do want to read comics. Along with the X-Men, who I covered here, the Batman franchise helped get me into comics. Unlike many, who came into comics from The Dark Knight, I got into the franchise through a combination of Batman: Arkham Asylum (the video game) and Batman: Under the Red Hood (which came bundled with Arkham Asylum) before watching The Dark Knight. I started with a few titles here and there, got big into Scott Snyder’s Batman run, then jumped around a lot. I have a lot of experience with the franchise, so this is something that I’m comfortable talking about.

Anyway, without further delay, here are the comics I recommend to those who want an introduction to the world of the Bat.

Continue reading “New Reader’s Guide — Where to Start Reading Batman”

Worst Comics of 2018

I wasn’t going to do this. I like to celebrate the good in comics, not lampoon the bad. Comic readers already have an image of being overly negative and I don’t want to be that guy. But… some of the comics this year truly did it for me. They managed to take my goodwill and optimism and grind it into the dirt. Yes, some of these series may recover, or may even have already. But that doesn’t take away from how terrible these particular comics are. With that in mind, here are the worst comics of 2018. Continue reading “Worst Comics of 2018”

Best Comic Issues of 2018

2018 was an uneven year in terms of comics. A lot of series that were good took a nosedive, while others that were terrible managed to crawl their way to readability and sometimes even quality. But sometimes, there’s an outlier. Sometimes a single issue manages to say more than a series, or manages to elevate itself above the others. This is about those, the issues that stand as the best of the year. Continue reading “Best Comic Issues of 2018”