Option One: Go for a company’s second tier titles.
There has been a lot of moaning about Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Justice League and other flagship titles and characters. I should know, I have been doing some of the complaining. The problem with the top billed is that they have too much editorial control, too many eyes watching, too many fingers in the pie. Didio wants Ras Al Ghul back. Quesada wants Spider-man single. As a result we get months, sometimes years, of crap.
Back in the day the term B-movie referred to the lower budget, less publicized film in a double feature. These films were basically created to fill screen time but no one expected them to have any importance or be any good. But you know what? Some of them were brilliant. In fact, it is the B-movie system that led to the creation of many the great film noirs that survive today. The studios paid less attention and therefore the directors were able to put out great, inventive pieces of cinema.
One should apply the same idea to a company’s roster of comics. Blue Beetle, Wisdom, Checkmate, the 2004 relaunch of Alpha Flight had the ability to be gems because it feels like editorial mandate is low. The writers just get to write good stories. Of course there is a danger in these B-side comics: sales will most likely be low. That will lead to either A) cancellation or B) forced tie-ins to hike up profits. Think of the “Sinestro War” issue of Blue Beetle or the “Amazon’s Attack” issues of Catwoman. They were terrible and just an example of forced plots messing up a good thing.
So if you are going to go with this option be careful because it can be just as unrewarding.
Option Two: Go outside of your comfort zone.
When I was a comic shop clerk, I always heard people complain about the state of the superhero genre. Sure. What surprised me was the flat out refusal of said people to read anything else. Sure some of them dabbled in Star Trek or Star Wars comics but you give them something, say Hellboy, and they look at you like you have handed them a dirty diaper. It’s weird and I never understood it. Why cut yourself off from significant portions of a genre you love?
That is like being an avid music fan and saying you just don’t listen to rap. That might not be your thing but if you ignore it you will never hear the wonders of “The Black Album.” That is like being a film buff and saying you just don’t watch romantic movies. That might not be you thing but if you ignore it you will never watch some truly moving flicks like Truly, Madly, Deeply. That is like being - you get the picture.
In this dread time take the opportunity and really branch out. Grab Polly and the Pirates, grab SCUD: The Disposable Assassin, grab Scott Pilgrim or Street Angel or the Popgun or Flight anthologies. Grab something out of the ordinary. There is a world of books out there that you might not have looked because you are capes and cowls only. I ask, what has capes and cowls done for you recently?
Option Three: Go back in time.
I do not mean this literally, although how awesome would that be? What I am saying is go back and read those books you loved before. I just got the Starman Omnibus and it has filled my last week or so with joy. When I am feeling down about what is coming out monthly I reread Planetary or the “Black Reign” story arc in JSA. It is like being away at camp and you are scared and unhappy but you have your lucky blanket to get you through the nights.
Also, now is the perfect opportunity to read those books you have always been meaning to. I just read the whole run of Invincible, all fifty issues. It has blown my mind. Man, that book is good! For years people have been telling me to read it and for years I have just tap danced around reading it. Well, I am reading less monthlies and so Invincible it was. From it I got a few days of something I couldn’t complain about, something that renews my faith the quality of the genre.
Maybe it is time grab that copy of Batman: The Long Halloween you have been putting off or committing to Preacher. Take a trip back in time and pick up something good.
This is how I have been dealing with recent trends.
How Have You Been Surviving?