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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 5 comics last week: Avengers #4, Lois and Clark #4, JLA #7, Grayson #16 and Batman and Robin Eternal #18.
The best comic I read last week was JLA #7.
Many comics fans have a thing against “out of continuity” books or stories that do not adhere with rigidity to established story lines. If Batman breaks his arm in an issue of Detective Comics and that situation is not reflected in the latest JLA story, some comics readers throw up their hands in disgust. I used to be just that way. I used to want it to all fit together like a puzzle.
But comics in general are moving in a different direction and DC Comics in particular.
DC Comics has been condemned in the past, justifiably, for continuity that is so complex that their books were inaccessible to the new reader. This kind of continuity that requires readers to be up on the most recent events of a series of books to understand the adventures of one character discourages new readers and is seen as a tactic to get consumers to buy more books. DC is moving away from this model with a number of comics.
Bryan Hitch’s JLA is one of those books and, man, does Hitch know what to do with this freedom. Hitch is writing (and drawing in superior fashion) a story that is more concerned with super heroics and wide-screen action than it is with being sure that the characterization of Barry Allen matches up with the Flash monthly. He’s created a high-stakes, high-octane plot that has something to say about subjects as varied as hero-worship, religion, time travel and comradeship. JLA is truly a tour-de-force.
Intelligent, face-paced, exciting and compelling, JLA is a wonderful example of what comics can be. Comics can tell stories that are impossible to readily realize in any other medium and Hitch knows this. What a great companion to Geoff Johns’ in-continuity Justice League JLA is. Fans of comics’ best (yes, my opinion) super team are truly in a golden age.
With stories and art this good, one can only hope that Hitch’s JLA lasts for a very long time.