New Comics Reader - DC and Marvel First Impressions

(I'm moving over old posts from my previous blog host. This one posted September 15 2011)

I’m a newbie when it comes to reading comics. This summer, I decided to fill the gaping hole in my “geek cred” and dive into comic book reading. The comics industry claims that they are trying to acquire new readers – so I thought I’d give my own little tidbits of feedback. I’ve already read and reviewed (for a friend’s site – ) some Buffy trades, Dollhouse Epitaphs #3, and the first issue of Buffy Season 9 (loved it). This post is about the DC and Marvel comics I’ve just started to try.
Starting out, I have at least one strike against me. As a woman, I know I’m not the “target audience”.  But I’ve seen a lot of comic book movies and cartoons, and I know a decent amount of backstory when it comes to the better known heroes and characters. So I’m not coming in as a complete blank slate. I’ve spent the summer listening in on the chatter about the New 52 and some of the new Marvel offerings, and I chose some comics as my starting point.

Batgirl – A masterpiece, I’m coming back for more
This was a complete win for me. I was drawn to Batgirl for a lot of reasons. The controversy over Babs leaving her wheelchair and returning to her role as Batgirl lured me in. The female lead was another point in its favor.
Batgirl #1 was masterfully done. There was action, beautiful images, and joy. Batgirl is clearly a survivor – and she’s delighted to be back in the game. I completely understand the anger over her departure from the role of Oracle, but I’m new enough to comics that I can accept it without resentment. I feel her pain, learn her backstory, and jump into her current life. The pacing was just right. After reading some of the other comics on my list, I appreciated the pacing even more.

Ultimate Spider-man – Wonderful, count me in.
Another serious win. Once again, a controversy drew me in. I know Peter Parker (from movies and cartoons). Yes, I liked him. I do want to know how he died. But I wasn’t emotionally invested in him the way some old guard readers are. So I had an open mind, and was highly impressed. It was another comic with great pacing and fabulous art. As a teacher, I felt for the family waiting for the charter lottery. All kids deserve great schools (I work at a wonderful school, myself). This was a great “ground level” comic. I didn’t feel confused, or lost in the missing pieces. There were some nice little bits I caught because I’ve seen the movies, which was fun, but it didn’t seem necessary to understanding the story. I was happy to pass this one to my 9 year old son, and he also loved it. I have to say, I also loved the little “42” references. Go Hitchhiker’s Guide!

Justice League –  Meh. I’ll probably give it another issue or two to decide.
Yes, I’m supposed to love it. I do have a decent background on the characters in this comic – mostly from the television series. But I wasn’t super impressed. Batman is probably my favorite superhero, and he just didn’t “feel” right to me in this one. The interaction between GL and Batman wasn’t as zippy as I was hoping to see. The art was awesome, though. My favorite interactions in the League (in the cartoons, anyway) are between Batman and Superman – so I’ll stick it out and see how that goes in the next issue.

Suicide Squad – So so - but again – I’ll give it at least one more issue to decide.
I love Harley Quinn. She’s one of my favorite villains. Wild, crazy, but awesome. I wanted her to be the focus of this comic. Really, I would have been fine with ANY of the characters being the focus. Instead, it jumped around and felt plodding and dull. Lots of torture scenes does not equal action. Nor did I really want to see a crotch shot of any of these characters. As a reader with some background (again, cartoons), I am also firmly in the camp that resents the change to Amanda Waller’s appearance. Her appearance was really part of her character, and I’m not happy they changed it. Because I love Harley, though,I’ll come back again to see if the pace picks up.

Batwoman – Gorgeous but confusing! Wow, really confusing. But I WANT to love it – so I’m going to dig in and do some research.
Here’s another one I really wanted to adore. Strong female lead, right? What’s not to love? Well, I was really confused. My confusion stems at least partly from my lack of background. I don’t know her, and there wasn’t enough in the comic to help me figure her out. The layout was also confusing to me – as a newbie comic reader. Unlike many of the other issues, I often had trouble figuring out what to read next. I feel like I should love it, so I’m going back in for another… but there’s only so much ‘work’ I’m willing to do to love a comic.

Still on the “to do” list:
Demon Knights – wasn’t going to read it, but the buzz is good.
Detective Comics – because of the reference to it in Suicide Squad, and because I do love Batman.

And then there is next week! 


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