Monday, 3 August 2009: Comic-Con and graphical entertainment

Google's Comic-Con logo

It’s too bad that in all the news media coverage of last week’s San Diego Comic-Con and costumed fans, the source material for television shows, movies, and games was often overlooked. My hat goes off to the writers, pencillers, inkers, letterers, colorists, and editors who work on comic books. The Eisner Awards, named after the creator of The Spirit,
recognizes each year’s outstanding achievements in graphical entertainment.

As I’ve mentioned before, I mostly read monthly superhero comic books, but I appreciate other genres, independent publishers besides DC and Marvel, and longer graphic novels. As the average reader gets older, we’ve been increasingly targeted by titles around licensed
properties and nostalgia, but as long as new readers are brought in, the hobby should stay healthy.

I’ve been a fan of the colorful, iconic superheroes of the DC Comics universe since college in the late 1980s. The “event“-driven crossovers of the past few years have been dark in tone, and Green Lantern: Blackest Night is no exception. However, it does look like it will address
the revolving door of death necessitated by the need to keep characters forever young while also respecting long continuities. Speaking of Green Lantern, Janice and I enjoyed the direct-to-DVD Green Lantern: First Flight this past weekend. It covers some of the same territory as the recent Justice League: New Frontier but is more of a police procedural in space.

I’ve blogged before about the often-confusing or lackluster storylines in DC’s team books, but I hope that the latest roster updates of the Justice League, Justice Society, and Teen Titans will get them back to being the world’s finest superheroes. Over at Marvel, I’ve
stopped following the three Avengers teams and numerous X-Men, but Spider-Man 600 did a good job of merging Silver Age nostalgia with an update on what’s going on in Peter Parker’s life now. Captain America is still my favorite Marvel title right now, as Steve Rogers returns to wear the red, white, and blue.

The Batman family of titles has been among my favorites lately, with strong art and
writing on Detective Comics, even without Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight. I haven’t been following Superman as closely, but I’m glad to see epic storylines and art inspired by the late Christopher Reeve. I’ve also been watching the Kirk Alyn serials from the late 1940s on DVD. DC’s Wednesday Comics have continued to impress me, even though, as with any anthology, some features (Teen Titans, Wonder Woman) are weaker than others (Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Kamandi). On balance, I’ve been enjoying the experiment.

Speaking of avant-garde storytelling, I look forward to Volume 3 of Umbrella Academy, Gerard Way‘s postmodern fever dream that turns the conventions of costumed vigilantes on
their heads. A dysfunctional family of foundlings, raised by an alien and a
robot, fights itself and reality. The latest ongoing Doctor Who title got off to a decent start.

Manga (originally Japanese comics, in a more compact format) seems to have peaked in
popularity, with bookstores across the U.S. tightening their shelf space offering it. However, that’s still a wider distribution network than the direct market of specialty comic book shops, and manga did draw many younger, female readers. I hope that, like the upcoming live-action adaptation, the Avatar: the Last Airbender manga does justice
to Nickelodeon’s fantasy television series.

Coming soon: Games and travel!