Saturday 4 July 2009

Back Issue Haul

I've been on a back issue kick recently, something I haven't done for a while. And a trip up to London this weekend turned up all sorts of goodies, including the rest of a run of Squadron Supreme (the Gruenwald maxiseries, which I've never read), Marvel Fanfare #40 (bought for its Mazzuchelli cover and short story), a missing Steve Gerber issue (#26) of Defenders, and a bunch of other Gerber things – odd issues of Omega the Unknown and a half dozen Marvel Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy. I dimly recall a passing obsession with the Guardians when I was a kid, in particular Vance Astro. Hmm.

Friday 3 July 2009

I'm actually

slightly behind in my comics reading. I still have a few comics left over from last week, which I didn't get round to reading because a) last week Marvel published a frankly obscene amount of comics, many of which I'm following, and b) I've been re-reading Mike Carey and Peter Gross' Lucifer, which is my favourite comic series of all time, and which I've been enjoying just as much this time round (the third time round, fact fans), even though I've noticed it does sag slightly in the middle. A bit like me.

Anyway, so before I get to read this week's comics (Green Lantern Corps aside, which I read on the train back from the comic shop), I've first got to finish off the remainder of last week's comics. One of which was Dark Reign: The Hood #2. I read that one last night, in between staring blankly at Celebrity MasterChef and feeling a bit tired as a result of going for a swim at the local outdoor pool (the first time I've managed to do so since moving to the area over a year ago). It wasn't bad. The comic I mean. Not the pool. Although that wasn't bad either.

This Week's Comics

Here's a list of the comics I bought this week:

Agents of Atlas #7
Batman and Robin #2
Captain America Reborn #1 (of 5)
Crossed #6
Destroyer #4 (of 5)
Fantastic Four #568
Greek Street #1
Green Lantern Corps #38
Invincible Iron Man #15
Irredeemable #4
Justice League Cry For Justice #1
Mighty #6
New Avengers #54 (Bachalo Cover)
Savage Dragon #150
Terror Inc Apocalypse Soon #3 (of 5)
Uncanny X-Men #513

I would have also bought the sixth issue of a Vertigo miniseries called Bang Tango, but my local comic shop didn't have it, which was slightly annoying, seeing as it's the final issue, and I've been enjoying its bizarre mix of Strictly Come Dancing/Carlito's Way/Transsexual Beauty Queens 17. As for the rest of the list, the only thing I've read thus far is Green Lantern Corps, and that I bought on a whim because it was billed as a lead-in to the Blackest Night event, which, as mentioned in the previous post, I'm bored of before it's even bloody begun.

See, this is the problem. This is what I'm talking about. I bought the latest issue of a series – Green Lantern Corps – that I'd previously stopped buying due to its utter mundanity, because this latest issue is a prequel to an event that is rapidly losing my interest before it's even started as a result of the convoluted yet tedious storytelling in Green Lantern Corps' sister comic – Green Lantern – which over many months has sapped any interest or excitement I might have previously had about said event.

Still, nice art. In Green Lantern Corps #38, I mean. Patrick Gleason. Nice.

Right. Well then. This new 'blogging about comics' era is off to a cracking start, I must say.

On Addiction

I buy a lot of comics every week. I mean, a lot. At the moment, with Marvel and DC's recent $3.99 price hike, my habit is costing me a fair bit of money each week. And yes, it is a habit, in the addiction sense of the word. Comics to me are like cigarettes – if cigarettes were things that, once you smoked them, you stored in specially made cardboard boxes which you kept in the cupboard above the built-in wardrobe. I try and cut down, to save money, to keep from further cluttering up my already cluttered life. But it's hard to break the habit. I need that weekly story fix, even though much of what I buy is ultimately disappointing. It's something to look forward to every week. It fills a void.

And yes, mostly I buy superhero comic books. This is what the majority of comics fans (as in 'buy comics regularly at a comic shop' fans) buy. Some make pretences to a more literary form of comics, myself included. For example, I genuinely love the comics of Eddie Campbell, Gabrielle Bell, and Kevin Huizenga. But it's the weekly churn of spastic superhero stupidity that I keep coming back to, that feeds the hunger, that scratches the itch. Gotta get the new comics. Over and over, again, again.

Like any addiction, it's a love/hate thing. There are regular cycles of self-loathing, comics-loathing, comics-liking, self-acceptance. Comics and creators often disappoint, but that's balanced by comics and creators who pleasantly surprise. Recently, Geoff Johns's build-up to the Green Lantern event Blackest Night – an event I was eagerly anticipating last year – has bored me shitless. Conversely, Jeff Parker's Agents of Atlas has proved an unexpected gem, and Matt Fraction has come into his own on Uncanny X-Men and Invincible Iron Man.

And even just writing stuff like the previous two sentences I'm thinking to myself, Jesus, this really is fucking sad. And then I'm thinking, is it? Is it really? Or is it something different, a unique form of entertainment, weekly pamphlets of colourful picture-stories, the modern equivalent of how Charles Dickens's novels were originally published, except, y'know, dafter. And this is the conflict of addiction, the constant struggle between denial and acceptance, between disappointment and delight.

This, then, is comics.

Instead of

posting occasional nonsense to my other blog (, which has become impossible to access on Firefox since moved to a new system (and I can't be arsed to get into it through Safari every time), I've decided to resurrect this blog, which I plum forgot about until ten minutes ago. But there's a reason for resurrecting it beyond technical hassles with Off Message. I think it might be time to blog about something other than nothing.

See, most of my Off Message posts really are about fuck all. Oh, there's the occasional post about politics, or music, or comics, but generally speaking, most of the posts are navel-gazing nonsense. Admittedly that was always the point of Off Message (and its precursor, the original Existential Ennui). But after four years of that rubbish, to quote Morrissey, that joke isn't funny anymore.

So now I think I'll do something with a bit more substance. Yes, that's right: I've decided to write more about comics.