Friday, September 29, 2017

FRIDAY FIVE: Five Comics that Changed My Reading Life

I've had some issues lately with people driving a wedge between what they see as "important" research, information, and culture and the things I like and try to bring focus to. That's vague, I know, but what I'm trying to say is in reaction to being implicitly told that comics are juvenile, I'm writing this blog post to explore some of the reasons I enjoy them so much. So, here are five comics that have changed my reading life.

Pride and Prejudice
Getting into comics was daunting for me. Part of it was because the history of superheroes is so long that I didn't know where to start, but a lot of it had to do with being a girl. It was hard because every time I'd walk into the comic shop that was down the street from my college, I was always the only woman in there. That took some getting used to, but one way I did it was by finding something I really wanted to read. I've been a nerd for 19th-century lit since I was a teenager, so Jane Austen was a natural entry point into comics for me. Haven't read this one in a while, but it taught me that comics aren't all superheroes. There are lots of different stories for lots of different readers.

DC's Bombshells
I love the idea of superheroes, but I never knew where to start with reading them and it was hard for me to find any female superheroes outside of Wonder Woman and Supergirl (not that I don't like them--I love them--but it's nice to have more than two characters). Then a friend recommended this, and it combines so many things I love, namely history and a good number of women from the DC universe. This series plops them down in WWII. It jumps around to different story lines to introduce you to more characters and let you take a look at how the war affects different people in different places. And, obviously, I love the amount of girl power in this one.

Morning Glories
My feelings about Nick Spencer aside, this title sucked me in. I picked up volume one at the comic shop on a whim. By the time I finished it, I was itching to get my hands on the next volume. (And I'm currently contemplating reading it all again.) Like Pride and Prejudice, this isn't a superhero comic, though people have strange powers and there are unexplained phenomena. The approach to storytelling in this series is interesting and roundabout--a lot of secrets and questions and little answers that get you reading in hopes of bigger answers. It makes for a fast read. While ultimately, I was disappointed in the lack of resolution, I'm still hanging on and waiting for the day Summer Vacation #1 drops because Casey remains one of my favorite comic characters.

The Legend of Wonder Woman: Origins
By now, I've read a good number of Wonder Woman comics, and, honestly, they don't thrill me too much. I hardly ever get beyond volume one. But this one is heads and shoulders above the rest. The art is gorgeous, the storytelling is lovely, and de Liz makes great use of Etta Candy. The story makes use of Diana's long history while still making it feel fresh and exciting. This is just a joy to read and demonstrates that comics can be accessible to a wide audience.

Listen. I can't even explain this comic. It is so. good. The art is stunning. Stunning, people! (And yes, I love this so much that I can't really be coherent.) But the characters? Also stunning! They're complex and move through a richly detailed world, and Maika is one of my favorite kinds of characters--damaged and prickly and in possession of a big heart. Kippa and Master Ren are also standouts for me. Just . . . I can't even explain what this is about. Please just go read it. The next issue comes out in January, and I think I'm going to start reading them issue-by-issue because I can't wait. I cannot wait.

In conclusion, I believe value is what you make of it. I've learned things--about comics and about fiction writing and about life--from each of these titles and from many more. Popular culture is valuable even when it's not being studied simply because people enjoy it, and that's that. But if you want me to prove it with a twenty-page paper, I will for sure do it.

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