Axel-In-Charge: New X-Men Editorial Era, Garth Ennis' Marvel Return
There’s something both cathartic and self-indulgent about New Year’s resolutions. On one hand, you’re revealing to the world all your shortcomings, announcing how bad you’ve been at everything for a whole year past and telling everyone you can find about how this year, you’re going to change so much about you. That method rarely works out.
On the other hand, this is also a great way to look forward to the future. After all, it’s a new start, a brand-new year with all sorts of possibilities and you’re going to do your best at making things better. You have a list!
So while I may feel a little self-conscious about posting these every year, I like to think that reading over what I hope 2013 brings might give you, Dear Reader, some idea of what you’d like to see in the coming months as well. And while you don’t have to wear your shortcomings on your sleeve, we all can at least face front and do our part. Right? Right.
Old Resolution: Ease up on continuity
This one certainly went a different way that I expected. Originally, I had inspiring dreams of being retcon-friendly, embracing the New 52 from the Distinguished Competitor and welcoming change with open arms. Now, as far as creative teams go, I think I’ve done well with that. After all, having Jonathan Hickman and Ed Brubaker leave the Fantastic Four and Captain America, respectively, two books they practically reinvented for the new millennium, is a kind of loss of continuity. Matt Fraction on the Fantastic Four bundle has a different feel than Hickman’s stellar run, but that’s no reason to run from the shelves or scratch titles off a pull sheet. Rick Remender has gone in a completely different direction with the previously very real-world Captain America, with less stories ripped from today’s newspapers and more out-there adventure. Still, here I am, enjoying the new tone and feel of this book and absolutely willing to see it through. So on one hand, I think I’ve eased up on my vicious need for continuity.
On the other … well, I still haven’t seen X-Men: First Class. I made a point of not going to see The Amazing Spider-Man, and it wasn’t as hard of a choice as I thought it was going to be. I have found a new way to ease up on continuity and that’s to simply release yourself from the new. It’s not that I don’t like the creative teams on either movie. It’s not that I haven’t heard good reviews or have pre-judged based on their trailers. Both of these movies have a particular audience they’re aiming for and I know, for a fact, that I’m am not in those demographics. The Amazing Spider-Man is for a younger crowd, looking for a different kind of Spider-Man than I want to watch. X-Men: First Class is less about the history of the X-Men and more about general themes dressed up in special effects and set as a period piece. Both of these ideas remain true to the original content and are bringing in new readers to some extent, if not just putting out themes and concepts from comics into the mainstream. But … it’s just not for me. I may not know art but I know what I like and sometimes it’s better just to let go than rally your intent against something no one intended for you.
New Resolution: Don’t look back now!
So it’s not the wonderful, sunshine-and-lollipops version of continuity love I expected, but its kept me a lot saner. It would be super-easy to slide back into my old ways of grumbling about every change, nitpicking decisions in editorial, pulling out my armchair to play quarterback from and generally pining for the olden time when comics were “better.” If I’m truly going to face front this year, that’s the direction I must go.
Old resolution: Read all the comics
Yeah, this one didn’t work out too well. At least it’s a smaller portion of what I get every week that sits around until I have nothing else to do and then gets binged on? Especially with a certain Marvel-ous idea about doubling-up the issue count in a month on some books, it just feels like you’re taking home this huge stack of comics that can be a little daunting. I’m sure it would help if my comics were better organized and sometimes, finding a few good reviews of past issues can give you the energy you need to tackle a huge backlog, but I’m learning a lot about limitations. Give every series the length of a trade, and if they haven’t hooked you in or you just find that pile of comics getting bigger in a bad way (oh, God, more comics) and not a good way (oh boy, more comics!), time to make the cut.
New Resolution: Read more of the comics
I mean, I own them, right? There are literally right there, staring me down in small stacks as I type this, so understand that this is my “Lose Weight” resolution this year and make it really count in 2013.
Old resolution: Jump out of genre
I did better at this than I thought! I’ve read at least one full trade from the most asked about indie writers in the store (Dan Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Charles Burns, Marjane Satrapi) and I have at least read one in-depth review of a variety of other genres (thanks to this very website!). I feel that I can give a more honest opinion about a variety of different comic styles and, through the Christmas season especially, found a comic for everyone. Of all things, I’ve had to read more children’s books thanks to my job as that seems to be the sticking point for a lot of customers; people looking for more introspective titles seem to have a firm grasp on what they want to see inside a comic. Parents who are looking to get something for their kids is far less concrete (“I want a Batman comic for my 4-year-old, but it can’t have any violence in it whatsoever”). Still, I’ve made it my mission to branch out some and can say I at least understand more than I did last year.
New Resolution: Keep on keeping on
I think what worked out pretty well with this resolution is that I went small. I looked at what I really needed to know for comic book recommendations and then made it a point to at least understand those books. Keep in mind I haven’t said that I loved any of the out of genre titles I went over; my favorite so far seems to be Rachel Rising by the incredible Terry Moore, but nothing else has really grabbed me and shaken me like I had hoped. Even Saga, the book lauded by critics and fans, heralded as a brilliant narrative that spans beyond the scope of your common comic is just sort of “okay” in my book. It’s not that I think it’s terrible, it’s just that I’m not over the moon with it. It’s okay. And it’s okay to find some books okay because, out of a big pile of okay, you get something brilliant.
Old resolution: Read a digital comic
I have defeated the beast of resolutions! Not only have I read a digital comic, I have a small library of digital comics now. Not just on Marvel’s reader (though they have made it infinitely easy to create a library, as every book over $3.99 comes with its own digital version), but on comiXology as well (making sure that I have Thor: Ages of Thunder in every possible format available). They haven’t detracted from my physical copy sales, they haven’t confused me with complicated apps and lo and behold, I am still in one piece and remain the same comic lovin’ gal I was before I jumped in to the digital market. Hoorah! I blame Mark Waid entirely as his pitch about Infinite Comics and how the digital medium could change how we interact with our stories. Maybe it just took the idea that digital comics were a new product and not just a pale scan of what we already love. Either way, I love peeling off little stickers (take that, collectible value!) and adding in codes because — get this –my store gets a little kickback every time that happens! Yeah, it’s pennies on the dollar but it helps. It makes me feel better. And really, that’s the way to handle the old with the new.
If you guys have any particular resolutions in mind, comment below and share your hopes and dreams of a bright new comics year with everyone. Excelsior!