The following is a video I made for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s the first in what I hope to be a series about the special, often overlooked gems in the world of comics. I plan on making others like it. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!
The following is a video I made for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s the first in what I hope to be a series about the special, often overlooked gems in the world of comics. I plan on making others like it. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!
The comic book industry is in a state of crisis. I know you can say that about a lot of industries amidst a global pandemic, but the comics industry has been extremely hard hit. Shipments of new comics have ceased. Comic shops are likely to go out of business without that influx of new product. The industry that I’ve loved since I was a kid has never been this vulnerable.
It’s very depressing. I certainly have felt that after multiple weeks of no new comics. A handful of people, namely the whiny agenda-pushing loser types, have been talking doom and gloom about the comics industry for years. However, this hit has nothing to do with some overly political T-shirt that Mockingbird wore.
Even after the pandemic ends, this industry that I love will never be the same. It can’t go back to the way it used to be. This crisis has shown, among other things, that the current model that the comic industry utilizes just isn’t sustainable. It needs an overhaul of some kind.
I’m certainly not smart enough to know what that overhaul entails. I doubt few people are. However, as a long-time fan and follower of the industry, I have a few ideas. To keep it simple, here are four steps to saving the comic book industry in a post-pandemic world.
Step 1: Emphasize Quality Over Quantity
This is a simple metric. There are just too many books coming out all at once. However, this is a problem that predates the current crisis. It’s a problem that has lingered since the industry almost crashed completely in the early 1990s. It came down to simple economics. Publishers made too many books that not enough people bought. Even if they were only a dollar apiece, there’s only so much consumers can consume.
This is not a sustainable business model. Companies like Marvel and DC Comics grew the most when they were just publishing a dozen or so titles a month, with a few mini-series on the side. You could, conceivably, follow every major event in the Marvel or DC universe for less than $40, adjusted for inflation. That kind of easy access is what helped create the massive fandom that these franchises enjoy today.
That said, this isn’t the mid-1960s. The world is changed. Markets and consumer habits have changed. However, there’s still a place for comics in the publishing world. It’s just a matter of making those products more valuable. Books like DC’s Earth One series are basically single-issue graphic novels that tell a rich, complex story at a higher price and it’s worth every penny.
At a time when people are strapped for cash and looking for value, the comics industry is in a perfect position to tap into it. Make every comic count. Make every dollar feel like it was well-spent. It won’t just keep new fans happy. It’ll help create an entirely new generation of fans who are less inclined to go to crowded movie theaters.
Step 2: Embrace Digital (In A Novel Way)
This step plays directly off the first in that it embraces new technology. Decades ago, comics were easy to access because you could buy them at news stands and grocery stores. As a kid, I got most of my comics from the grocery store at first. They were easy and, much to my parents’ delight, cheap ways of putting a smile on my face.
These days, you can’t find comics in grocery stories. However, digital comics have grown a great deal and are more accessible than ever, thanks to companies like Comixology. Most comics are already released digitally on the same day they come out in shops. That’s great, but it’s basically just an extra convenience for those who don’t live near comic shops. That can’t be the extent of how digital comics impact the industry.
At the moment, digital comics are only a small part of overall comic sales, but they’re growing rapidly. In conjunction with that growth, the industry needs to embrace the other opportunities that digital offers. Services like Marvel Unlimited are nice, but they’re just giving us products that were already released. Why not give us something we can’t get anywhere else?
I’m not sure what that something is, be it a motion comic or something that sets itself apart from a traditional paperback. I’m not smart enough to figure it out, but digital offers so many rich opportunities. The first company to figure it out will make millions and entice a new generation of fans.
Step 3: Make Comic Shops More Than Comic Shops
I love comic shops. Some of my fondest memories have occurred in comic shops. I don’t want them to go away. However, embracing digital comics doesn’t mean the same as ditching these important brick-and-mortar structures. It just means changing their role in the overall comics infrastructure.
When I was a kid, there were two types of stores. One were the stores you could hang out in and the other were the stores in which the owners kicked you out if you lingered for more than 10 minutes. The future of the industry needs to embrace the former rather than the latter.
Comic shops can’t just be about selling comics and merchandise. Too much of that is online and relying on that model is doomed to failure. Instead, comic shops need to be part comic shop and part coffee shop. Make it a place where you don’t just browse the racks for new material. Make it a place where you can sit down with friends, get some coffee, get a snack, and enjoy comics in a communal manner.
Once comic shops are an experience again, people will visit them and not just because there are new comics to buy. If comics can become a popular hang-out once more, then they’ll have a place in a new market.
Step 4: Empower Creators (Instead Of Screwing Them Over)
As much as I love comics, I don’t doubt that it has engaged in some shady business practices. There are many stories about comic creators getting screwed over by major publishers. While every industry has shady practices, the comics industry relies too heavily on brilliant creators to screw them over.
While Marvel and DC have their Disney/WB overlords to please, they can’t just rely on being farms for intellectual property. There has to be a new and better way for compensating creators. Alan Moore may be a cankerous blow-hard, but he really did get screwed over when DC flat out broke their promise to him.
Broken promises always cost more in the long run, especially with respect to comics. It’s not enough for the publishers to just acknowledge the contributions of creators. They need to have a way to profit. It’s not impossible. Apple does it with their app store, creating a means for creative developers to profit from their creations while still making Apple billions.
When both benefit, everyone benefits. It’s really that simple.
I know the comics industry is undergoing rapid change. I don’t doubt I’ll be upset with some of those changes. However, I also understand that the industry needs to change in this increasingly chaotic world. These are just some ideas on how to go about it.
Whatever happens, I hope this industry that I love continues to thrive. I don’t know how, but I do know that a lot of people love it and they’ll find a way to make it work.
Another Wednesday has arrived. Once again, it’s another Wednesday without the weekly dose of joy that is new comics. It wasn’t a surprise, but it still happened. All major publishers, including Marvel and DC, have announced that no new comics will be released this week, except for digital only titles or previously scheduled compilations.
There aren’t enough words in any language for me to articulate how much this sucks. However, rather than spend another lonely Wednesday complaining about it, I’m going to make an effort to find a shining gem in this sea of doom and gloom.
Yes, major publishers are still delaying their shipments and releases. That’s to be expected of big, entrenched businesses who have been following a particular model for decades.
At the same time, independent comic creators still have an opportunity to publish their work on established platforms outside that entrenched system. Thanks to sites like Comixology, some creators can bypass the typical comic publishing model altogether and release their work straight to the public. As a lifelong comic fan, I can’t say enough about these creators.
While the selection of independently created comics tends to be limited, there are still quality books within this crop. I would even argue that the current lack of major titles gives them a chance to shine in ways they never would’ve been able to in an ordinary market. If a book is really good, it deserves to be singled out for the joy it brings during these difficult times.
To that end, I’d like to highlight one particular book that came out today. It’s not a superhero comic. It’s not from a major publisher, either. Despite all the forces working against it, this book still found a way to shine through on this gloomy Wednesday and for that, I’m happy to single out its greatness.
Some stories don’t need to be full of epic space battles and alien invasions to be impactful. In fact, the sheer grandiosity of those stories often make it hard to relate to. Most people aren’t billionaire playboy philanthropists or a demigoddess born into a race of warriors. We can be in awe of their exploits, but overwhelmed by their impossible standards.
That’s exactly why “Lost on Planet Earth #1” is so refreshing. It’s a story built around futuristic, sci-fi aesthetics in a post-scarcity world. It involves alien races, star ship fleets, and a universe full of interplanetary intrigue. At the same time, it feels like a down-to-Earth, slice of real life story that real people in the real world can relate to.
Written by Magdalene Visaggio, with art by Claudia Aguirre, we follow the boundless ambition of a young woman named Basil Miranda. She starts out as focused, determined, and dedicated. She’s like that person we all knew in high school who went out of their way to overachieve, setting a high bar for herself and doing everything she can to top it.
She’s not smug or self-righteous about it, either. She’s also not someone who relies on a super soldier serum, bites by a radioactive spider, or a billion-dollar bank account to pursue that ambition. She’s just a very driven young woman who decided at age 5 that she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. From that day forward, she worked hard every day in pursuit of that goal.
Then, the day of her exam to join the interplanetary fleet, something unexpected happens. She’s asked a question that she never could’ve prepared herself for. It’s a simple question, but one people in real and fictional worlds alike struggle to answer.
What makes you happy?
It sounds basic, but it has profound implications, both for Basil and for anyone who has ever thought about it for more than five seconds. In all her ambition, she never stops to contemplate whether this goal she decided when she was five-years-old is what will make her happy.
Yes, it will make her successful.
Yes, it will put her in a position to have a major impact on her world and others.
However, will it make her happy?
That triggers a full-blown crisis in Basil, which Aguirre’s colorful artwork captures beautifully every step of the way. Suddenly, this determined young woman who was so disciplined and certain is now utterly overwhelmed. She doesn’t know what to do with herself and struggles to figure that out. I won’t get into spoilers, but it does lead her down some unexpected paths.
What Visaggio does with “Lost on Planet Earth #1” is remarkable in how it flips the script on an ambitious character’s journey. It’s easy for anyone in a sci-fi fantasy world to look up at the stars and yearn to explore, thrusting themselves into new conflicts. It’s also easy for someone in the real world to envision their future, thinking this is what they want for themselves.
It’s a lot harder to stop for a moment, take a look inside yourself, and ask why you pursue these goals in the first place. Do you genuinely think they’ll make you happy? Is success and achievement really the same as happiness and fulfillment? These are questions some people go their whole lives without contemplating. Many people, especially young people like Basil, aren’t inclined to think that far ahead.
These heady concepts help make “Lost on Planet Earth #1” a unique story within a sci-fi worlds. They’re concepts that are worth exploring in the real world, as well. We can all identify with Basil’s unexpected struggle in this story. In times of crisis when we have more time than usual to think about these things, this book asks some profound questions that are worth answering.
To Magdalene Visaggio and Claudia Aguirre, thank you for making this comic and releasing it during difficult times like this. As a comic fan and just someone in need of a more uplifting story, I really appreciate it.
Another Wednesday morning has come and once again, there are no new comics to wake up to. This is the second week in a row that this tragedy has occurred and it’s not something I want to get used to. The news came down on Monday, so I still had time to brace myself.
It still wasn’t enough.
This is the longest I’ve ever gone without enjoying a new stack of comics since the dark days of waiting by the mailbox on Wednesday afternoons, hoping that my comics weren’t late, which they often were. There were times when stores were closed and entire shipments were delayed, but that was usually because of a blizzard or a severe weather event. Those never lasted this long.
There’s still no timeframe for when New Comic Day will resume, just as there’s no timeframe for when sports will resume. According to the Comixology website, some of my pre-orders and pull lists are set for release on April 15th, but that’s very likely to change. Pretty much every release date is likely to change until the pandemic subsides.
Even for those saying the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight, it can’t come fast enough. It’s hard enough going through the first few weeks of April without watching any baseball or going to the movies. Not having new comics to read on a Wednesday morning is just making it worse.
It’s downright disheartening.
That said, I am finding ways to cope that still involve comics. As hard as it is not getting anything new for weeks on end, it has given me an opportunity to catch up on some other books that I haven’t had the time or budget to read. Most of these books are compilations or older graphic novels that I’ve been waiting to buy on sale through Comixology. Thankfully, there have been plenty of those sales lately.
It’s pretty much the only way I can get new comics. While most are books that have been spoiled, expanded, or retconned, they still have value to anyone who appreciates comics. In that sense, I intend to make the most of some of these sales and catch up on some of the books that I’ve had on my wish-list for a good long while.
To those looking for something to fill that lingering void that new comics aren’t filling, here’s a brief list of books you can buy now to help tide you over.
This will end eventually. It just can’t end soon enough. Until then, I’m going to take some extra showers every Wednesday so that I can’t tell how much I’m crying.
I knew it was coming.
I was bracing myself for over a week.
Then, it finally came and it still felt like the Hulk kicking me in the nuts.
The wheels for this were already in motion when major distributors shut down a week earlier. Now, the doomsday scenario is complete. The release dates on Comixology that were scheduled for today have since changed. The only new books coming out are compilations, which are full of comics that were already released, and small digital-only books.
This is a dark day indeed for comic fans like myself. I cannot overstate how painful this is to fans like me, who have made it a habit of waking up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning to download my pull list for the week. I’d already lost all the sports I loved watching. Now, I’ve lost comics too.
This fucking sucks in ways I cannot hope to articulate. Every time I hope for things with this crisis to get better, it somehow gets worse. There isn’t enough beer and whiskey in the world to help me cope with a situation like this. Instead of a list and a pick, I’m just going to take a moment to mourn this sad, painful occasion with my fellow comic fans.
Fans of sports and movie releases can join in, as well. We’re all pissed off. We’re all miserable and just want this shit to end. However, the end seems so far away.
Usually, I try to end with something hopeful. The best I can do is this.
What do you do when you can’t go out to a movie, hit the gym, watch sports, or hang out at a bar? That’s not a rhetorical question. Seriously, what do you do? It’s a wholly relevant question when you’re living through a global pandemic and happen to be in an area that’s on lock-down. As I write this, pretty much everything is closed except grocery stores, hospitals, and gas stations. It’s scary and more than a little frustrating.
Thankfully, Wednesday morning still brings a brief reprieve in the form of new comics. It’s one of the few things I can still look forward to, although that might not be the case for much longer. I’m already bracing myself for the idea that new comics might be delayed because of this crisis. For a lifelong comic fan, it’s an inconceivably terrifying thought.
For now, though, New Comic Day is proceeding as usual, thanks largely the wonderful folks at Comixology. Seriously, these guys are a big reason why comic fans like myself can still enjoy this weekly batch of awesome that so enriches our lives. I really hope things continue to operate on their end without a hitch. There’s only so long a guy can last without new comics.
As such, my pull list this week is a little bloated. Does this count as panic buying? Yeah, it probably does. No, I’m not going to apologize for it. When every day brings terrible news about a worsening crisis, I think that kind of buying is forgivable. Please keep that in mind as I share my list and my pick of the week.
Stay safe and wash your damn hands!
What does a fair, just, and functional society do with their most deviant citizens? It’s a very relevant question for the real world, as well as the world of superhero comics. Ever since the famed Golden Age of comics, that question has been largely overlooked. Most stories end with the heroes throwing the villains in jail, getting a pat on the back, and telling kids to eat their vegetables. It’s simple, comforting, and frustratingly inane.
Then, a book like “Hellions #1” comes along and decides to stop running from that question. On top of that, it even dares to have fun while trying to answer it. After all, comics should be fun. They can also answer profound questions about the endless pursuit of a better society. It just takes the right kind of story and that’s exactly what writer Zeb Wells and artist Stephen Segovia set up.
The world of mutants and the X-Men have faced massive upheavals since the events of “House of X/Powers of X.” With the founding of Krakoa, mutants aren’t just looking to survive the endless attacks of killer robots, hateful humans, and superhero civil wars. They’re looking to build their own society and establish their own culture. It has been an arduous process that has spanned many books. “Hellions #1” is now part of that effort.
Specifically, it addresses the inescapable question of what to do with the mutants who aren’t necessarily supervillans, but are as mentally unstable as Deadpool in a chimmichanga factory. Many have popped up in various parts of X-Men lore. Most casual fans won’t know who Wild Child, Empath, Scalphunter, Nanny, and Orphan Maker are. However, you don’t need to know who they are to follow the story. You just need to know they’re crazy, violent, chaotic, and they have mutant powers.
While it would be easier for the powers that be on Krakoa to just shut them out of their growing society, that wouldn’t fit with their ideals. They founded Krakoa to help all mutants and not just the ones who look good in yellow spandex. That includes the psychopaths.
Wells and Segovia put together a quirky, but entertaining ensemble of characters together. They feel less like a superhero team and more like a collection of irritable psychopaths who just need something to do to keep them from being too psychotic. Fittingly enough, Mr. Sinister is tasked with doing just that, complete with the blessing of Charles Xavier, Magneto, and the rest of Krakoa’s leadership.
On paper, it sounds like the kind of thing that can only end in unmitigated disaster. In practice, it’s still a messy disaster, but one that can be aimed properly. Under the watchful supervision of Havok and Psylocke, this new team of Hellions is tasked with channeling their psychotic tendencies for good. It’s one of those ideas that sounds so crazy that it has to work.
Wells and Segovia don’t just throw this new team into the nearest conflict involving killer robots or angry aliens. Like many other X-books since “House of X/Powers of X,” there’s a legitimate effort at world-building and depth. There’s motivation, purpose, and vision behind each decision. The fact that psychotic mutants often make for hilariously entertaining moments is just a nice bonus.
It’s an approach that feels distinctly different from what petty, unevolved humans do with their deviants. If the final page of “Hellions #1” is any indication, there will be ample opportunities to test that approach. It’s bound to be chaotic, messy, and mentally unhinged. That’s exactly what makes it so entertaining and my pick of the week.
During times of crisis, be they global or just a string of bad days, you got to make the most of what little good you can find. One major benefit of being a comic book fan is that you get a nice shot of good once week, every Wednesday. For us, New Comic Day is like a free massage, a free meal, or a free lap dance that adds a silver lining to an otherwise shitty time.
Let’s be honest. It’s been a long time since things have been this shitty. The news surrounding the Coronavirus/COVID-19 is historically bad and keeps finding ways to get worse. For the foreseeable future, there can be no sports, no concerts, and no major gatherings of any kind. It sucks, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying a fresh stack of comics.
This feels like one of those weeks where every comic fan is entirely justified in spending more than they usually do. When you’re stuck at home or are looking for new ways to combat boredom, it’s the best possible time to pick up a new series or take advantage of one of Comixology’s many sales. You might just find something awesome.
The world will continue. The news will likely get worse before it gets better. Until then, every bit of awesome we can find is all the more precious. Below is my pull list for the week and my pick. A new batch of comics may count for much for some people, but in my experience, there aren’t many bad situations that cannot be improved by great comics.
Teenage superheroes are among the high risk/high reward ventures of superhero comics. When done right, teenage superheroes can create great characters who grow to become iconic heroes. Peter Parker is the gold standard for just how great those characters can be, as evidenced by his merchandising sales. However, he’s the exceedingly rare exception.
Most of the time, teenage superhero end up being superheroes with teenage angst. That’s why so few go onto become iconic. In recent years, Marvel has been reaping the rewards of putting considerable effort into their teenage heroes. Characters like Ms. Marvel, who is destined for her own Disney+ series, is probably their greatest success story. However, a comic like “Outlawed #1” reminds us that her success extends beyond her character.
A big reason why teenage superheroes have become so prominent at Marvel lately is because the adult heroes aren’t exactly raising the bar. Between superhero civil wars and mass Hydra infiltration, they’ve been letting the younger generation of heroes down a lot lately. They’ve been trying to make up for those shortcomings and it’s led to some remarkable stories and character growth, especially in books like Champions.
All those efforts finally hit an adamantium wall in “Outlawed #1.” Writer Eve Ewing does something different in taking a step back to see the bigger picture surrounding teenage superheroes. The story raises an important question that probably should’ve been asked much sooner.
Should teenagers even be superheroes?
That’s a question that Marvel’s top teen heroes, including Nova, Ironheart, Moon Girl, and Miles Morales try to answer. Even other adult heroes like Captain Marvel and Captain America chime in. Unfortunately, there’s a messy context to the question and it badly affects the answer.
“Outlawed #1” effectively sets the stage for the teenage superheroes of the Marvel universe to prove themselves. Like teenagers who have to prove they can be trusted with their parent’s car, they have to show that they can handle the duties and responsibilities of being heroes. On top of that, they have to do so after striking out on an incident that went so poorly, the government got involved.
Even the most irresponsible teenagers rarely let it escalate to that extent. While their intentions were always good and their ideals always solid, their youth and inexperience showed. The authorities they rarely respect have successfully made the case that teenagers cannot be responsible superheroes. Now, they have to prove that notion wrong.
It’s a daunting prospect that gives “Outlawed #1” a level of dramatic weight we haven’t seen in superhero comic for a while. It doesn’t just raise questions about teenagers being superheroes. It doesn’t frame them completely as one of those simplistic concepts that involves adults lecturing teenagers on responsibility.
There will always be a place for teenage superheroes, but it’s worth questioning how capable these young heroes can be when they lack experience, maturity, and perspective. They’re difficult questions, but “Outlawed #1” gives these heroes an opportunity to answer in a way that makes this book an easy pick.
Regardless of how you feel about irresponsible teenagers, they’re going to do crazy things that adults don’t approve of. That includes being superheroes. Let’s face it, there are worse things they could do with their powers.
I’m going to sound old when I say this, but comic fan under the age of 22 has no idea how good they have it. I remember being a comic fan as a kid. There was no comic shop within walking distance of my house. The grocery store sometimes had comics, but the selection was limited. Even when I got a subscription, they rarely arrived on time in the mail.
Today, it’s never been easier to be a comic fan. Thanks to Comixology and tablet computers, you don’t even have to put pants on to enjoy new comic day. Kids will never know the agony of waiting for the mail to arrive and hoping that your books aren’t late. If it ever snowed, then you were really screwed and with dial up internet, you couldn’t even get spoilers.
Now, it’s all so seamless. You wake up on a Wednesday morning, you check the Comixology app, and you download your pull list. You can do it all before you brew your first cup of coffee. For younger fans, it’s mundane. For older fans like me, it’s nothing short of comic book nirvana.
That’s why I’m so grateful to have services like Comixology at my disposal. It makes every Wednesday morning a joyous immersion into the medium I love. Today is no exception. What follows is my pull list and my pick of the week. The fact that I can enjoy all this without putting on pants makes it all the more enjoyable.
There are few constants in the real world and even fewer in the world of superhero comics. Sure, it’s a running joke that nobody stays dead, everything reverts to a certain status quo, and a sizable number of characters are going to be Batman rip-offs, but there are still core tenants that help keep a franchise anchored to its core. For X-Men comics, those tenants are many, but include a handful of important constants.
Jean Grey never stays dead.
Deadpool never shuts up.
Gambit’s accent will always be sexy.
Cable will always shoot things with big guns.
There are plenty of X-Men comics where these uncanny themes play out in any number of forms. “Cable #1” focuses on the ones that make Nathaniel “Dayspring” Summers the battle-hardened badass that X-Men fans have celebrated since the early 1990s. For a character with such an insane backstory, it’s not easy to keep things simple. Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto manage to do just that.
However, they don’t just focus on giving Cable something to shoot with his oversized guns, although that is a major part of the plot. “Cable #1” picks up in a strange place during Cables exceedingly bizarre story, but it builds on that story in a way that’s both overdue and engaging.
The Cable who has been running around the X-Men comic isn’t the same old, grizzled Cable that Josh Brolin brought to life so masterfully in “Deadpool 2.” Instead, we’ve got a younger, bolder, and more hormonal version of the character. Some call him Kid Cable. Others call him a cocky little shit who murdered his older self. Both are equally right.
Since he first showed up in “Extermination,” his place in the X-Men’s world has been somewhat tricky. Cable has never been a team player or one to stand with the X-Men and take orders with a smile. That’s just not his style and “Cable #1” doesn’t radically change that. More than anything else, it embraces the more youthful quirks of Kid Cable while highlighting the explosive action that he often brings.
The details are simple. Cable is just one of many mutant resident of Krakoa who just happens to part of the Summers family. There’s an issue involving a young mutant being chased by a monster. Cable decides to help and brings his favorite guns. It doesn’t need much beyond that to be entertaining, but Duggan and Noto add a few extra twists that help set the stage for the character’s next upheaval.
The basics of “Cable #1” make the story entertaining, but it’s the more personal moments that make it noteworthy. Kid Cable, or whatever you want to call him, is not the same brooding time traveler who sneers at everyone. He does smile. He even flirts a little with the mutants his age. He’s even humbled somewhat when Cyclops enters the room.
These aren’t new concepts for most characters, but they’re new for Cable. They effectively humanize him in a way we haven’t seen in quite some time. You might still think he’s a cocky little shit who isn’t nearly as awesome as his grizzled self, but he’s still Cable.
He can still shoot big guns, fight monsters, and save innocent mutants. He still has the same appeal he’s had since the heyday of Rob Liefeld. Now, “Cable #1” sets the character up for a new set of challenges. Being younger and less cantankerous, it creates new opportunities for a character who hasn’t had many that don’t involve shooting things and teaming up with Deadpool.
I may be in the minority when I say that Kid Cable is growing on me, but “Cable #1” shows that his appeal has a place in the X-Men’s uncanny world. He’ll always be the grumpy old badass from the future at heart. This just gives him a chance to do more and I’m glad he’s running with it.
Reading comics is one of those special activities that works during any time of the year. When it’s cold out, there’s no greater feeling than curling up under some blankets, downloading some new comics via Comixology, and letting the inherent awesome warm your soul. When it’s hot out, there’s no greater feeling than sitting out in the sun, getting your new comics through Comixology, and soaking in both rays and awesome.
New comics can make any season more enjoyable, by default. There have even been Wednesday mornings when it’s pouring rain outside and I still sit on my porch, reading new books while drinking a hot cup of coffee. The experience is nothing short of Zen like. I’ve tried it in a blizzard too. It doesn’t work quite as well, but it still works.
I say that because this is usually the time of year when the weather is nice enough on a Wednesday morning to watch the sun rise while reading new comics. Whether you’re at home or on a beach, it’s a great feeling that I recommend every comic fan enjoy at some point in your lives.
This week is the first of many opportunities. I’ve got another lengthy pull list, including a few books that I’ve been closely monitoring. What follows is the list of books I have on hand this week and a pick that will make that morning sunrise that much more beautiful. Enjoy!
Teenage superheroes are often hit-and-miss. They’re often high-risk/high-reward characters who can either become beloved global icons in the mold of Spider-Man or they can just become annoying, insufferable, and not the least bit endearing. I won’t name names, but I have singled a few out in the past.
By almost every measure, Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan is a hit. She’s probably the biggest hit Marvel has had for a teenage superhero since X-23. She has her critics, but a character doesn’t go from a complete unknown to starring in her own TV series within a decade without being awesome on some levels. “Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13” perfectly demonstrates why she’s so awesome and why her critics are just being difficult.
This book comes out on the heels of a huge upheaval in Kamala’s life outside her superhero identity. Her father is still recovering from an illness that almost killed him and left him with permanent health issues. Her kinda sorta almost boyfriend, Bruno, is looking for clarity when Kamala isn’t ready to give any. She’s a teenager. Emotional clarity is still an emerging concept.
Through all this drama, she still finds time to go to a county fair and hang out with her friends. She also finds time to fight some magic monster hiding in a fortune-teller’s crystal ball and gain a new side-kick in Fadi “Amulet” Fadlalah. That’s a lot for one teen hero to tackle in a single comic, but writer Saladin Ahmed pulls it off beautifully.
In a single issue, “Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13” offers a simple, but dense story that has just the right amount of teen melodrama and teen heroism. Those are the key ingredients for any successful teenage hero and Ms. Marvel mixes them better than anyone not affiliated with Batman.
Kamala takes time to be a teenage girl and a dutiful daughter trying to meet her 9:00 p.m. curfew. She also tries to be a good teenage superhero who inspires others for all the right reasons. Her new side-kick, Amulet, is just the latest example that she is having a positive impact. She’s inspiring others, as good heroes do. The fact she does this while still being an emotionally insecure teenager only makes her more endearing.
If you ever need a reminder of why Ms. Marvel is such a special character, “Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13” offers all that and then some in a single comic. It’s not just my pick of the week. It’s my personal reminder of why I love this character so much and why her upcoming Disney-plus series cannot come out fast enough.
Everyone has their vice. Some are more destructive than others. There’s no question that crack and heroin are more damaging than a spicy foods and late 90s boy bands. Some are only destructive to your wallet. In that sense, I’m lucky my vice is comics. Say what you will about the cost of a collector’s item. It’s still cheaper than cocaine, cars, and caviar.
Wednesdays are the days I know I’ll blast a hole in my wallet. When I was in college, new comic day almost always coincided with Ramen Noodle day. I don’t doubt that dining on cheap food had an impact on my health. For a fresh stack of comics, it was worth the stomach pains.
I’m not in college any more and I don’t have to plan new comic day around cheap meals either. For that, I’m thankful. I’m also thankful that as my financial situation has improved, I’m able to better absorb the weekly splurge I often do at the comic shop and on Comixology. It makes new comic day that much more enjoyable.
In terms of vices, it’s plenty manageable. Sometimes, the message boards are a little dramatic and so is social media. It’s still a price worth paying. Some weeks cost more than others. This week is definitely one of them, but considering what I get from that money, it’s still a bargain.
With that in mind, here’s my pull list and my pick for the week. My wallet may be hurting, but I’ll manage.
When you’ve been a fan of a particular comic or franchise for years, you get a sense for which issues will be controversial. It doesn’t always involve character deaths or betrayals, although that is an all-too-common trope. In fact, those that don’t involve character deaths tend to be the most controversial because they raise difficult questions that even long-time fans struggle to answer.
That’s exactly the kind of controversy that I imagine “X-Men #7” will inspire. It’s one of those books that introduces concepts that are sure make certain fans feel uneasy, but for entirely nuanced reasons. This goes far beyond Charles Xavier lying to the X-Men or Wolverine sleeping with Squirrel Girl. Writer Jonathan Hickman is taking the X-Men into some very morally gray areas that are sure to have larger consequences down the line.
There’s a context to those actions and one that has a basis in the founding of Krakoa. It’s established in “House of X/Powers of X” that creating a powerful mutant nation isn’t enough. Mutants are still a vulnerable species. They’ve been decimated through acts of genocide and de-powered through reality warping. To realize their potential, they need to get take back what they’ve lost.
However, doing so requires a somewhat distressing recourse, to say the least. It involves a process they call Crucible. It’s nothing what it sounds like. I won’t spoil it, but the goal is simple. It gives mutants who have been de-powered a chance to regain their powers, but how they go about it raises some serious moral dilemmas.
It’s a dilemma that some veteran X-Men, namely Cyclops and Nightcrawler, have mixed feelings about. It also raises questions about Krakoa’s resurrection protocols, which they’ve both experienced at one point. They act mostly as observers because as distressing as Crucible is, it’s something that de-powered mutants freely choose and who is anyone to question their choice?
It still feels like the X-Men are crossing some lines in their effort to make mutants stronger. It also raises more concerns about the nature of Krakoa and how the X-Men are going about realizing their goals. Years from now, “X-Men #7” might be one of those comics that acts as a turning point in a larger narrative. Hickman has never shied away from bold ideas, but this might be his boldest to date.
There are many concepts he’s explored since Krakoa’s founding in “House of X/Powers of X.” Many others are hinted at in “X-Men #7,” including some innuendo with Cyclops and Wolverine I’m sure will get a certain sub-set of fans talking. The X-Men franchise is entering uncharted, morally ambiguous territory. If nothing else, “X-Men #7” makes clear that there’s no going back and that’s why I believe it’s my pick of this week.
That said, it might be a good idea to avoid comic book message boards for a while. It’s going to get heated.