Rediscovering Comic Books

When I was younger, I was a huge comic book fan. You could even say I became a collector. I amassed a large enough collection to fill two long-boxes.[footnote]Long-boxes are boxes that are slightly wider than the width of a comic book and go about 3 feet deep[/footnote] Like most kids, I started with the classics. I was a huge Superman and Batman fan due to the movies, so I started there. Then, I naturally moved to comics that featured both of those characters, The Justice League of America.

Now in the ’90s, the only Justice League that existed was Justice League America, a shell of its former greatness. I preferred the heroes of old. Instead of reading the exploits of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and the Guy Gardner’s Green Lantern of the ’90s era Justice League, I was reading about Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern, The Flash, and The Atom. I tried getting my hands on as many books of the Justice League of America from the ’60s and ’70s as possible. What also drew me to the books was knowing that they were some of the same books that my dad read as a kid. It was a bonding experience to know that we were reading the same things. Eventually, I expanded my reading to the solo books of Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkman, and even The Atom. Some of these titles were good. Others, not as much.

Once I started running out of books from the ’60s and ’70s I decided to try and pick up with my favorite characters in the present day. Again, some books were good and some were not. I really enjoyed the rebooted JLA of the late ’90s, which featured all the greats back together. Green Lantern with Kyle Rayner and eventually returning to Hal Jordan was also one of my favorites. I enjoyed a few issues of The Flash. Limited series, such as the DC event Final Night and the mini-series Kingdom Come were also excellent. It was about this time that I entered high school and started spending all my money on CDs instead of comic books. The comic book store was replaced by the mall, Best Buy, or even Blockbuster Music [footnote]I swear, no one remembers Blockbuster Music, but it was really a thing.[/footnote]One day, I just quit reading and I never thought about going back.

Fast forward 15 years or so and comic books have made a pretty big comeback thanks to the cinema and TV. The rebooted Batman films and films from Spider-Man, The X-Men, and Iron Man and TV shows like Arrow[footnote]I hated Green Arrow in the comics but Arrow is a pretty good show[/footnote] and The Flash have paved the way for the resurgence. Not just that, they made it cool to like comic books. Nerd and geek culture became mainstream. When DC decided to launch it’s New 52 campaign,[footnote]The New 52 is the 2011 revamp and relaunch of DC Comics’ entire line of monthly comics. All of the existing series were canceled and 52 new series debuted[/footnote] I briefly considered reading again. I even downloaded a few of the number 1 issues that DC offered for free in their iOS app. The problem was, I just couldn’t get into them. Perhaps it was because I was reading them on an iPad 2 and there’s something that just feels right about holding a physical comic book. Perhaps I had outgrown the stories. Perhaps they were just bad. It’s hard to say why I they didn’t hook me then.

A few years later I decided to give them another try. Why the change of heart? A lot of people I follow on Twitter and the podcast world[footnote]The Incomporable and Nerdist to name a couple[/footnote] would discuss comics fairly regularly. They made me feel like I was missing out on some great stories and characters. I began to feel left out of a larger conversation that was going on. So, a couple of weeks ago I made my way to a local comic shop[footnote]The excellent The Fantasy Shop, which had the nicest clerks working[/footnote] to see what I could find. I had no idea where to start. I asked one of the clerks for suggestions and they got to know what my interests used to be (the DC Universe) and recommended the trade paperback Flashpoint, which sets up The New 52.

So that settled it. I purchased Flashpoint and a couple of other New 52 trades, Batman Court of Owls and City of Owls, as well as vol 1 of the new 52 Green Lantern. Flashpoint was pretty good, but the Batman series was amazing. It made me go on Amazon and purchase the next several volumes right away. Green Lantern was disappointing, especially considering he was always on of my favorites. I decided to try out the new The Flash series as well. It is pretty good. The intentional cheesiness of the book makes it fun. I’ve even purchased some comic books using the DC and ComiXology apps. Reading comics on the iPad Air 2[footnote] I was previously reading them on an iPad 2[/footnote] is a lot better this time around, though nothing beats the physical touch and the smell of a good comic.

So, after more than 15 years, I have rediscovered comic books. I just hope my bank account isn’t impacted as much as my allowance was when I was a kid.