I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 10 comics last week: Batman Eternal #46, Avengers World #17, Batgirl #39, Justice League #39, Batman and Robin #39, Batman/Superman #19, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #10, The Multiversity: Mastermen #1, Superman/Wonder Woman #16 and Uncanny X-Men #31.
The best comic I read last week was Batgirl #39.
What a fun read this book is. As a former teacher (for 10 years!) at an all-girls high school, I think I know a thing or two about young women and, although Batgirl and her supporting cast are about 5-7 older than the girls I worked with, I can say that they read very, very real to me.
Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher are killing it. They are writing a Barbara Gordon who is endearing and vulnerable but tough and tenacious all at the same time. When she questions herself in this issue, the reader feels it. When she seeks out Dinah for her friendship, the reader wants the two to bury the hatchet. When she is confronted by the reality of her latest adversary, the reader is rooting for her. That’s a lot for comic book writers to inspire in their readers but Fletcher and Stewart deliver the goods issue-after-issue. From Barbara’s move to Burnside to her radically cool costume redesign, this book has been a great read for months. If you’re not on board, get there.
This is the book I would give a non-comic reader to introduce them to the medium. It’s that good.
Much of that credit has to go to Babs Tarr who is drawing something we don’t see enough of in comics: realistic women. Her characters, cartoony and fresh, look as though their analogues could actually exist in the real world. Both the women and the men she draws are distinct and clear representations of the genuine article. She knows how to capture expressions and, lately, her inclusion of illustrated side-thoughts are creative and compelling.
Batgirl is the second best Bat-Book on the market (after Snyder and Capullo’s Batman) and that’s saying something. I look forward to it each month.