Are you, like me, one of those people who has had an affinity for superheroes for as long as you can remember? Did you grow up watching one of the incarnations of the Superfriends, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Batman: the Animated Series, Superman: the Animated series, Justice League, or reading your favorite comic books every time one hit your local newsstand; you know, those things that existed before Barnes & Noble or Comixology.
Are you also one of those people who, again like me, tights and capes have started to lose their appeal for? Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the cartoons and the live-action movies that have come out since Adam West danced the batusi and Christopher Reeve stepped into the Man of Steel’s spit-curl. It’s just the comics that have started to lose their luster.
There have been a lot of storylines that have been very entertaining and engrossing. There have been stories that pull you into them and make you care about characters you never though you would or could. Stories like Kingdom Come and Identity Crisis, or Crisis on Infinite Earths or Blackest Night. Then there are the stories that introduced us to new characters like Maximum Carnage, Knightfall, or the Clone Saga. All of these were character driven. Simply read Identity Crisis from cover-to-cover and you will see what I mean.
It seems that recently the storylines have been more about gimmicks than good storytelling and I can’t recall anything since Blackest Night that I have eagerly awaited reading. Now, with publishers throwing in things like making Thor a woman, or Sam Wilson Captain America, one feels almost like the books are changing to fit what Hollywood is doing and it cheapens it.
As someone who has read superhero stories for nearly four decades, that saddens me. Fortunately, one of my friends is a professional comic book artist that has worked on a lot of different books and turned me on to several really good stories like Brian Azarello’s Joker graphic novel or Stephan Nilson’s The Pound.
It’s not too late to take another look. I say this because I have also been fortunate enough to live in a county whose libraries have a well-stocked “graphic novel” section. Because of this I have been able to catch up or binge-read a lot of great books. Books like, Y: The Last Man, Fables, Powers, Strangers in Paradise, Chew, Queen & Country, Grimm Fairytales, Return to Wonderland, and even The Walking Dead. None of these are books I would have picked up or even given a second glance to in my local comic shop a couple of years ago.
So, if you have stepped away from comic books because the superhero trope got old and monotonous, take a trip to your local library, sign up for a library card, and take a step back into the familiar with a few stories you may have scoffed at before or just walked by. I gave it a chance and can honestly say that any of the titles listed above are a good place to start.