Spider-Man: Life Story – An Evocative Argument for Letting Superheroes Age

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic when I say, Spider-Man: Life Story is the future of the comic book industry.  Now I don’t mean to imply the comics industry as a whole is going to follow Chip Zdarsky’s elegant lead with every comic.  I’m just saying I think they should.  In Spider-Man: Life Story, Zdarsky (accompanied by my all-time favorite Spidey artist Mark Bagley (yay!)) explores what Peter Parker’s life could have been like had he aged naturally, with each issue of this six issue miniseries touching on one decade in Peter’s life.  For example issue #1 is set in 1966, four years after Peter was bitten by the radioactive spider (as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Spidey in 1962 (see how that works?)).  Issue #2 looks at the ‘70s and so on as Peter ages in real time.  He isn’t perpetually stuck in his late 20’s or early 30’s.  Four issues in, I’ll confidently say this will stand as one of the greatest Spider-Man stories ever told.  It’s the most interested I’ve been in Peter Parker’s adventures as Spider-Man in almost twenty years too.  In allowing Peter to age, Zdarsky has illustrated the hidden potential of the comic book genre. Continue reading

The Four Comics I Can’t Live Without

A few years ago, when I was counting down to my hundredth post on this site, I profiled the four comic books I’d found since my return to reading comics which had become indispensable to my reading life.  These were the comics that, even if I stopped collecting comics again, I couldn’t imagine putting down.  They showcased, for me, the best of what a comic could offer while doing things I never imagined a comic book could.  They were (in the order I wrote about them in my countdown), Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, IDW’s Ghostbusters, and Marvel’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  Thinking of those titles now, I can still feel the burgeoning excitement and awe that accompanied my return to comic reading.  They also make me think of impermanence. Continue reading

The Evolution and Devolution of Comic Book Characters

Where is the line for what can and can’t be changed in regard to certain characters?  Or rather, where is the line for what changes can be permanent as opposed to those inevitably reverted by future writers?  This question has been on my mind a lot last month (well, in addition to being terribly sick and having to do my end of term grading – but all my extra mental energy has been focused on this).  As a genre, comics demand new stories for their most popular characters every month (sometimes multiple times a month) unceasingly for decades without allowing characters to age more than five or ten years.  It’s easy to see why reboots, alternate realities, Legacy Characters assuming a mantle, time travel, alien doppelgangers, mind-wipes, and so on always pop-up.  How do you keep an unending story fresh?  One trope employed to this end is the redemption of a villain and this, specifically, has been on my mind. Continue reading

My Journey to Comics

By Krysta of Pages Unbound

When I was growing up, no one talked about comic books, not really.  Sometimes teachers would disparage comics as books for kids who could not—or would not—read.  Sometimes librarians would do the same.  Even five years ago, I still knew teachers and librarians who did not believe reading comics counted as reading.  Perhaps there were students in my classes who did read comics.  But, in a culture where liking comics was equated with laziness and stupidity, I can see why no one would have dared to talk about them. Continue reading

My Comic Advice: Where to Begin Reading Spider-Man

So you’re new to comics…or you’re new to the Marvel Universe…or you’re new to Spider-Man and you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’d like to immerse myself in the amazing world of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man BUT there’s over sixty years of comic books out there.  That’s intimidating!  How do I just jump in with decades of characters and continuity??  Where do I even begin?!?”  Well you’re in luck.  I’m here to help in my new series, “My Comic Advice,” where I’ll outline the best place for any newbie to begin reading a popular comic series.  What makes me the person for this job?  Well, I’ve loved comics for over thirty years but, more importantly, you are here reading this so it seems like we already have a bond :).  That being said…where do you begin reading Spider-Man?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

The Real Villain in Marvel’s Infinity Wars Event is Boredom – or – My Struggle with Loyalty in Comic Buying

In synergetic anticipation for the “most ambitious crossover event ever,” Marvel Comics first gave Gerry Duggan the reins of Infinity Countdown and now Infinity Wars – a yearlong event replacing their regular monthly Guardians comic and bringing the Infinity Gems Infinity Stones back into existence in the Marvel Universe.  I’m sure it was an attempt to make what was happening in the comics mirror their cinematic bonanza, Avengers: Infinity War, and thus hopefully attract new readers.  However, unlike their literary masterpiece Secret Empire, this has been a HUGE miss for me. Continue reading

First Impressions: The Fantastic Four

This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for ages.  I originally envisioned it shortly following the “First Impressions: The X-Men” post I wrote last year.  But, for one reason or another, I always stopped short of finishing it.  Now, on the eve of the Fantastic Four’s return, shepherded by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli, the time is right.  So let’s take another trip down memory lane and revisit the very first Fantastic Four comic I ever read!  It was 1993 and the cover leapt out at me from the spinning rack in a local grocery store (the now long-gone Loblaws on W 12th St, if I remember correctly).  It was Fantastic Four #374 and, while I didn’t know it at the time, I was about to meet the characters who’d become my all-time favorite comic book team.  To this day, they still hold this place in my heart! Continue reading

Jason Aaron’s Avengers #1 and Free Comic Book Day 2018

I’m not one for team books.  I used to be but, by and large, I just can’t get into them now (minus the incredible exceptions of Mark Waid’s Champions and Gerry Duggan’s Guardians Of The Galaxy).  I find them to be crossover hubs and often more action heavy then character focused.  However, like Lewis Black and candy corn, I can’t stop trying them.  This week, motivated by my love of his work on The Mighty Thor and knowing I’d see them in my Free Comic Book Day selections anyway, I decided to give Jason Aaron, Ed Mcguinness, and David Curiel’s new take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes a try…sadly, I wasn’t impressed.  Thankfully, I have higher hopes for my other Free Comic Book Day picks! Continue reading

My Grail – The One Comic I Covet

Last week Kalie and I were in Indianapolis presenting at the PCA/ACA Conference on Popular Culture.  It was so much fun!  Both of our papers were well received (mine (as I’ve mentioned once or twice) explored Jason Aaron’s use of the Divine Feminine in The Mighty Thor) and the whole week was an enriching, stimulating experience.  It was exciting to meet so many other people who teach through popular culture and there were papers on just about everything you could imagine.  To see all these different scholars in all these different areas, utilizing pop culture and speaking to its value in an academic setting was incredible.  While we were there, Indiana’s Comic Con was going on down the street.  And THAT got me thinking about the one comic I covet… Continue reading

Marvel 2 In One: A Fantastic Family Reunion!

Admittedly, I’ve been behind on my comic reading.  There was Christmas (not to mention the shopping, wrapping, and delivering of Christmas goodies).  There was getting work done so I could enjoy my Christmas vacation without school stuff to do.  And then there was this little movie that came out a few weeks ago that I was a wee bit focused on.  But now Christmas day’s over and I’m snowed in by the CRAZY HUGE SNOWSTORM hitting us here in Erie, PA.  So I’ve plenty of time to delve into the comics waiting for me!  One of the comics in my pile was Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung’s new Marvel 2 In One starring the Thing and the Human Torch.  Annnnd I’m in love! Continue reading