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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 11 comics last week: Justice League Darkseid War: Lex Luthor #1, Star Wars Annual #1, Batman #47, Amazing Spider-Man #4, Batman/Superman #27, Detective Comics #47, Grayson #15, Secret Wars #8, Star Trek #52, Star Trek/Green Lantern #6 and Batman and Robin Eternal #10.
The best comic I read last week was Secret Wars #8.
This is the fourth time out of eight issues that I’ve selected Secret Wars as my pick of the week. I think that speaks volumes about the quality of the writing by Jonathan Hickman and the art by Esad Ribic, because the series has been distended, delayed and outstripped by the titles that launched since its inception – titles which were supposed to come out after Secret Wars concluded. Oh, and the story of the mini series became so stretched, that Marvel added a 9th issue to it.
Again, it’s Hickman and Ribic that have made this book a must read each month. They have overcome all the delays (self inflicted by Ribic, I suspect) and the fact that new titles have premiered and, somehow, managed to maintain the energy of the book. Though not every issue has been perfect, #8 encapsulates the best parts of this story.
Hickman has been spinning strands of this narrative for over five years and the story reaches way back into his terrific run on the late, lamented Fantastic Four. To see him pull the strings together so deftly here is pretty amazing. As I have said in reviewing issues of Secret Wars before, this is really a Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom story and this issue is testament to that fact. Actually, Secret Wars is very much a Fantastic Four story and, if this is the last one of those for the foreseeable future, at least the FF is getting a grand send off.
There is action here as the Thing makes his move. There is pathos as Reed confronts Doom. There is a terrific cliffhanger. And we all know the result is a remade Marvel Universe. I look forward to next month – if issue #9 actually manages to ship next month – for the wrap up and the set up.
Hickman says he’s leaving writing mainstream superheroes for the time being, and that’s too bad. His work is terrific.