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Superheroes are what got me into comic books. Like many Americans my age, I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons. My personal favorites were JLA, Batman and The X-men. What’s strange is that I didn’t read comic books at all. It wasn’t until high school, when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in writing, that I discovered comic books and the amazing stories they had to tell. Many people think of silver and golden age comics as the definition of what a comic book is, with “pow” and “blam” splayed across every page. Although such abuse of onomatopoeia creates nostalgia in many comic fans, comic storytelling has changed drastically and is more oriented to the adult consumer than kids. This week’s books are examples of some of the best the industry has to offer – for adults only.
Although 605 issues from the introduction of the famous crime-fighting quartet in 1962, the comic book still advertises with the same catch phrase – “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.” The nostalgia ends there. Writer Jonathan Hickman, who seems self-determined to change to comics forever, has been the creative hand behind the book for the last couple of years. Just wrapping up a massive story arc, Fantastic Four #605 is sort of the “well, what now” issue. Hickman deliver’s a heartfelt story from left field and explores the pains and sorrows of the ageless superhero. Fantastic Four is like the Fraiser of comic books, being one of the smartest told stories on the shelf, but within the technical babble of Reed Richards and the famous battle cries of Ben Grimm lies naked emotion and makes otherworldly characters seem a little more real.
Remember how I was telling you last week that Invincible is one of the best superhero books ever written? Well, that’s still true, but the down side is that it’s 90 issues in. Quite a hefty investment for anyone who would like to catch up. However, here’s a cheaper option. Thief of Thieves, created by Robert Kirkman and fellow comic writer Nick Spencer (Morning Glories), follows the life of ex-thief Redmond as he tries to reclaim what is life of crime took from him. As Spencer says, “this isn’t a story about getting things, it’s about losing things.” It’s a rare occasion that any reader, whether comic-inclined or no, get’s a chance to start reading a Kirkman book in its humble beginnings, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
Speaking of comic book legends, Saga is a new series by Brian K. Vaughn, who has written famous comic titles such as Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina and also for television on such shows as Lost, maybe you’ve heard of it? So it’s understandable that when Saga had its debut last month, there was some talk around the proverbial comic book water cooler. It had been a few years since Vaughn had worked in the industry, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Whatever I was expecting, it wasn’t this. Don’t get me wrong, this book isn’t below my expectations (in fact it surpasses them), but this book is so unlike Vaughn’s previous book that it took many by surprise. Saga is a science fiction/thriller about a family on the run. Filled with space assassins, zombie children and talking televisions, the book is at one moment strange fantasy and at another moment weirdly relatable. At it’s heart, Saga is a heroic epic. Who doesn’t like rooting for the good guy?
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