Friday, 6 July 2012
28 Comics Which Prove That Modern Life Is Not Rubbish (Why 2012 May Be The Real Golden Age)
It was written at least partially in jest, but only partially. It was undoubtedly delivered with a knowing smile and a friendly tone, but it did echo sentiments which have been expressed here before. An anonymous visitor to the blog recently described feeling somewhat alienated by "comments about how nothing good ever came from DC comics past 1989 and the like". What, he asked, about those "intelligent human being(s)" who "happen to like a lot of the New 52?" Isn't it possible that they might "feel a little insulted" by the suggestion that the company's superhero line has, despite notable exceptions, long since seen since better days?
On the one hand, it's easy to respond with the suggestion that anyone who objects to a difference of opinion ought to consider heading off in the direction of less disagreeable points of views. But the banter was both good-natured and entitlement-free, and I have to concede that it is easy to see how this blog might seem to be somewhat snotty when it comes to today's comics. I don't tend to discuss the books of the past unless they strike me as being particularly fine examples of the medium, whereas the product of today runs the risk of being reviewed on its own merits as a recent release. It's easy for me to feel that I'm generally positive in what I write, given that there's the Q Magazine column every month, which deals with today's books in what's nearly always a positive fashion. Yet to the visitor to TooBusyThinking who picks the wrong week, or who randomly arrives at a few negative reviews one after another, it may well seem that TBTAMC is nothing more than yet another reactionary, yesterday-was-better blog.
And that's not actually what I believe at all.
In fact, I doubt that there's ever been a time in which there were more thoroughly good, and often great, books being published.In so many ways, this could be the medium's true golden age in everything but sales figures, and that's especially true where the monthly comic is concerned. Yes, I do believe that the superhero book in general is stumbling through hard times, but that doesn't mean that there's not fine, fine work still being done in the long underwear comic. And look beyond the world of the costumed crimefighter and, as I'm sure we'd all agree, 2012 is a time so rich in entertaining comics that it's impossible to keep up with even a fraction of them.
There may be a case for arguing that today lacks a hardcore of truly brilliant, genre-smashing, medium-redefining monthly books. And we could argue whether that's true, and even whether that's an inevitable consequence of living in such a media-saturated and savvy age. But push that aside and the reader who can't find work to be inspired by today is either possessed of particularly individual taste or they're not truly looking past their prejudices to what's on offer.
It's something which I just don't emphasise enough, and I should. Mea culpa. What follows is simply a list of 23 titles which are always worth the buying, as well as a mention of one digital site and two one-off tales which are quite possibly my favourite stories of the year so far. Those who've visited TooBusyThinking before may notice the presence of comics by creators whose work I've previously struggled to enjoy, and of titles which I've given mixed reviews to in the past. In some cases, I've simply learned that I was wrong, and in others, the weaknesses of the comics concerned are more than compensated for by their strengths. These may not all be great comic books, but they are all thoroughly worthwhile reads. (It should be noted that a few of the titles in the list were introduced to me in the Readers Roulette rounds on the blog, so my sincerest thanks to those who've been generous with their time and nominated comics which I ought to have been paying attention to.)
It's so very easy to recall long-past years in which a visit to a newsagent or a comics shop resulted in a great stack of rewarding books. And it's easy to imagine that those days are gone. Yet any half-a-dozen of the following titles chosen at random would constitute the kind of comics bonanza which nostalgia can suggest will never return. Even given the fact that I'm a long way from up to date with such promising fare as LOEG:2099, Jennifer Blood, Chew, The Unwritten and BPRD, and considering that I've yet to dip into the Valiant relaunch, the IDW pulp books or DC's Shade, amongst many other titles, there's still far more that's worth buying than my pocket can possibly afford.
So, just to make the point as plain as I might; 2012 is proving to be one of the best times for comics-buying that I've ever experienced in my almost half-a-century of reading.
These are, as Chic have been reminding us since 1978, The Good Times. As such, and in no particular order at all, will you please be upstanding for;
1. "Saga" by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image, ongoing) review pending
2. "Journey Into Mystery" - by Kieron Gillen, Doug Braithwaite et al (Marvel, monthly) review pending
3. 2000AD (Rebellion, weekly) featuring in particular Nikolai Dante, The Zaucer Of Zilk, Judge Dredd: Day Of Chaos, Ichabod Azrael, & Absalom (reviewed in Q 309 & at Sequart via here)
4. "Snarked" by Roger Langridge (Kaboom, ongoing) reviewed in Q313 August 2012
5."Saucer Country" by Paul Cornell &Ryan Kelly, (Vertigo, monthly) reviewed in Q 311, and TooBusy review pending
6. "Beasts Of Burden: The View From The Hill" by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson (in Dark Horse Presents #8, one-Off) review pending
7."Batman: Incorporated" by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham (DC, ongoing) Toobusy review here
8."The Goon" by Eric Powell et al (Dark Horse, ongoing)
9. "The Dandy"(D. C. Thompson & Co, weekly) reviewed at TooBusyThinking here
10. "Daredevil" by Mark Waid et al (Marvel, monthly) reviewed in Q 309 & at TooBusy here & here
11."The Manhattan Projects" by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Piatta (Image, monthly)
12. "Batwoman" by J. H. Williams III & Amy Reeder (DC, ongoing), discussed on TooBusy here
13."The New Deadwardians" by Dan Abnett & I. N .J. Culbard (Vertigo, monthly, limited), reviewed at TooBusy here
16."Batgirl" by Gail Simone & Alitha Martine (DC Comics, monthly, particularly as with the above)
17."Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred" by David Hine and Shaky Kane (Image, monthly, limited) review pending
18. "Crossed; Wish You Were Here" by Si Spurrier & Javier Barreno (Crossgen, Digital), collected edition in August) review pending
19. "Dial H For Hero" by China Mieville & Mateus Santolouco (DC, monthly)
20."Fatima The Blood Spinners" by Gilbert Hernandez (Dark Horse, monthly, limited)
21."Scalped"by Jason Aaron & R. M. Guera (Vertigo, monthly) - title reviewed at TooBusy here
22."Prophet" by Branoon Graham & Simon Roy, (Image, montly)
23."Demon Knights" by Paul Cornell & Diogenes Neves (DC, monthly) reviewed in Q 308
25. "Mind MGMT" by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse, monthly) TooBusy review here
26. "Uncanny X-Men" # 14 by Kieron Gillen & Dustin Weaver (Marvel, monthly), reviewed here
27. "Mudman" by Paul Grist (Image, ongoing)
28. "Action Comics" by Grant Morrison et al (DC, monthly)
What have I missed? Where was I wrong? I realise that everyone's got far better things to do, but I would love to know your opinion of the State Of The Comics Nation IN 2012, and there are, of course, no right or wrong answers. As those who've popped in here before will be able to see from the above, I find it hard to resist a well-made argument and not change my mind.