Books, How's This Book?

The Wonderful, Wacky World of Comic Books and Why I Don’t Talk About Them

No, I’m not just padding for time so I can finish another few books. What are you talking about?

Comic books have had an odd sort of explosion in the last decade or so. It’s safe to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a major part to play in it, considering the… um… impressive success it has seen. Out of the decades of time that they’ve existed, it’s safe to say that comics have never been this successful!

Or at the very least, their characters are.

Think about it. Ten years ago, it’d be a miracle if you found one person in a group of twenty that knew who Thanos was. Now, he’s a household name! You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know who the Mad Titan is! He’s one of the most iconic, beloved, and heavily memed villains in recent years!

But here’s the thing: you can’t compare movie Thanos to comic book Thanos. Movie Thanos is a decently deep, complex and oddly likable character. Comic Thanos is about as deep as the juice puddle from a mid-rare steak, with his main goal being ‘Kill universe, get laid by Death’. Comparing them is unfair for the comic book version!

*I would like to remind all the angry comic purists that may be reading this that everything on this blog is purely my opinion. Keep that in mind before you lambast me in the comments. Thank you.*

Today, I want to go back to the source material that birthed the characters that everyone has fallen in love with. I aim to explain why I don’t review comics on ‘How’s This Book?’, what makes them worthwhile, and why they should be looked at more often than they are.

Even if they are super fucking weird!

That’s probably the first thing I enjoy about comic books. See, when you read a book, you can expect a certain level of sanity. A book can be incredibly odd, but they very rarely dip into the kind of insanity that you get from an acid overdose! Most writers are capable of thinking ‘Okay, no, that’s too crazy. Better leave that out.”

Comic writers seem to think “No, that’s not crazy enough! I need to crank it up!” And oftentimes, they are wrong. But I absolutely love that!

Did you ever want to read a book about a cow dressed like Batman named Bat-Cow? No? Well, you got it anyway! And you know what? It’s fantastic!

5ad
Someone wrote this and said, “Yeah, that’ll do!”
Batcow_2
How the actual fuck does that shadow work?

Bizarre things like these litter comic books at every turn! A member of the Red Lantern Corps. is a literal cat who got thrown off of a bridge in a sack! There was a Marvel-Attack on Titan cross over where Spider-Man fought a Titan! Decades before that, Godzilla and Thor had a wrestling match with a building sandwiched between them! Death is a common love-interest for several Marvel characters! Deadpool has a female counterpart named Gwenpool, an average girl with no powers that came from the real world into the comic world!

*Side note: if you haven’t read Gwenpool, fix that. It’s one of my favorite comic stories out there that isn’t related to Spider-Man. Go give it a look!*

None of that was a joke. Just look at these!

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I love all of these so damn much!

What’s even cooler is that comics still have the potential for genuinely great storytelling! The ‘Deadpool Kills Marvel’ series is one of my favorite comic stories, as it perfectly blends Deadpool’s signature comedy with dark storytelling that makes sense for the character (even if it has a lot of pacing issues). The aforementioned ‘Gwenpool’ stars a genuinely likable, relatable and compelling protagonist that is equal parts hilarious, tragic and heart-warming as she struggles (and mostly fails) to be the superhero that she’s always wanted to be! ‘The Killing Joke’ is an incredibly dark, frightening and engaging story, easily the best between Batman and the Joker! Marvel’s ‘Civil War’ was the best example of superheroes clashing in an organic, impactful way!

Not all of these stories are hits, mind you. ‘Civil War 2’ was a messy disaster that has been rightfully forgotten. Deadpool stories walk a fine line between ‘hilarious and dramatic’ and ‘annoying’. Worse yet, the stories often drag on for so long with so many issues that they eventually plummet in quality and become forced, boring, and sometimes annoying!

But when they’re good? They are damn good!

It also helps that the artwork in these stories is often incredible! The panel structure is often incredibly simple, which lessens the possibility for dynamic-looking pages like you’d get from Japanese manga (which is a rant for another day). But the lack of complexity makes following the action super simple. Picking up and reading a good comic book is super easy!

Even if it does take a long time to take in every detail of a truly spectacular piece of art.

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No, I’m not still hung up on Bat-Cow. What are you talking about? You guys are really cynical today!

Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t reviewed any comics for my ‘How’s This Book?’ series up to this point. And if I can be honest, I’m never going to. As much as I love them, comic books kind of defeat the purpose as to why I created this series.

Before ‘How’s This Book?’, I had made the single worst mistake a writer can make: I stopped reading. My free-time had been reduced to mere slivers thanks to my adult life. If it weren’t for my blog or my day job, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything with it.

‘How’s This Book?’ was created to remedy that. By making reading work, I could make myself read more books and reignite my passion for literature! Plus, I’d have something interesting and fun to talk about every week! Bonus points: maybe I could do the same for someone else! It was a win in every aspect!

To me, reviewing comic books seemed like cheating. Not only was it too similar to my other reviews, as I’d have to break down the art and panel structure of the book. But the artwork in a comic is used to replace everything in a regular book that isn’t dialogue. So it wouldn’t fulfill my needs as a writer.

Not to mention how easy it is to burn through a comic book quickly. Most comics can be read in a day! Sure, that works for my busy schedule! But my goal was to reignite a childhood passion in books that had long died out. A good book is a time investment that you the reader should be happy in partaking in. Reading a comic, which can be done very quickly most of the time, defeats the purpose.

So no. It is unlikely that I will ever make a series out of reviewing comic books. I love them to death, don’t get me wrong. They are bizarre, they are gorgeous, and they are a ton of fun to read! But they don’t fulfill the needs that I have when it comes to literature.

I’m an aspiring novelist. Not a comic writer/artist. To improve my craft, I need to read books, not comics.

Also, I am kinda tired of these characters. Movies starring them are a dime a dozen these days. Variety is nice.

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