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: Superman #39, Chrononauts #1, Amazing Spider-Man #16.1, All New X-Men #39, Batman Eternal #50, Batgirl #40, Batgirl: Endgame #1, Princess Leia #2, Batman/Superman #20 and Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #4.
The best comics I read last week were Batgirl #40 and Superman #39. It was a very, very good week!
As it turns out, what I want from superhero comic books is that the superheroes featured in them are actually heroic. In two very different comics this week, I got just that from the title characters. The creative teams on Batgirl and Superman are really clicking right now. On the one hand, in the case of Superman, that is all about to change as the title is about to have a creator shift. On the other, in the case of Batgirl, my hope is we can settle in for a long ride from the current creative team.
Batgirl has been a terrific read since co-writers Brendan Fletcher and Cameron Stewart took over scripting. It’s been amazing to look at since the highly talented (and fun Twitter follow) Babs Tarr began penciling it. From the moment the book moved the protagonist to the Burnside neighborhood of Gotham City, redesigned her costume and gave her an outlook on life more suited to a happy 20-something than a damaged character with a 50+ year publishing history, this has been a wonderfully fun book to read. It’s not that the team isn’t taking on some real issues – they are. And it isn’t that they’ve not put the character in real jeopardy – they have. What works here is that it is clear that the creative team knows Batgirl, loves Batgirl and has a plan for Batgirl. That that plan seems to include giving back the Oracle persona to the DC universe in a creative and remarkable way is just icing on the cake.
If you’re not reading Batgirl, you don’t love comics enough. Period.
Superman #39 is Geoff Johns’ swan song as the writer on this title. He’s been matched with John Romita, jr for this run and they’ve been a great team. Anyone who’s read one of my weekly picks before knows I love Johns and I am very sorry to see him leave the book if only for one scene he wrote this month. In fact, Superman #39 is the co-pick of the week because of one line spoken by a powerless Superman: “You think I only step in front of guns because I’m bullet-proof?”
If there is line that better explains who Superman is and can be, I’ve never read it.
Bravo, Mr. Johns. Bravo.