Weekly Recommendation: Batman: the Court of Owls

Batman appeals to practically everyone. From Adam West’s campy TV rendition to Christian Bale’s dark and gritty portrayal, there is always an audience for the caped crusader’s adventures. One of the core qualities that reaches across all versions of Batman is that of the self-made superhero. Bruce Wayne went out and learned dozens of martial arts techniques, trained as a master detective, and studied hard to invent so many of his crazy bat-gadgets that many know and love. Another key characteristic of Batman is his indomitable will. Even though the Dark Knight has no powers, he always finds a way to win the day with his cunning intellect, saving the day through hard work and dedication. Above all else, Batman continues in his attempt to create a brighter tomorrow out of the darkness of his own tragic origin. While some would believe that all of Batman is a dark, brooding savior of Gotham, he still cares very much about his city, as well as building a better future for its citizens.

The Dark Knight fights on

The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is a perfect place to start when it comes to this vision of Batman. From the very beginning, the story fully establishes Batman and his world, including villains, allies, and Gotham City as a whole. Another great reason to start with this story is its use of Batman as the world’s greatest detective. The premise centers around a mysterious organization known as the Court of Owls, who have allegedly been hiding in the shadows of Gotham throughout its history, only now revealing themselves in a series of murders. Batman investigates this secret society and its mysterious assassins, showcasing his often overlooked detective skills. Furthermore, the introduction of the court brings in exciting new elements to the Batman lore, in which both new and older readers can invest themselves.

World’s greatest detective

The Dark Knight himself is in top form in this storyline. At the beginning of the first issue, Batman is shown easily taking down all of his major villains during a prison break. This Batman is more confident than ever, tricked out with all of his finest gadgets, fighting like a demon, and using his cunning as the world’s greatest detective. All the while, the caped crusader is backed by a close network of allies such as the Gotham police, his butler Alfred, and all of the various vigilantes of the city. These connections only serve to highlight the close connection which Batman shows to Gotham in this story. From the loving narration about the city, to historical facts about Gotham, Batman is truly one with his city in this storyline. Even as Bruce Wayne, Batman shows his love for his home through ambitious plans to renovate Gotham and build a better city for everyone.

At the top of his game

The connection to Gotham carries over to the titular villains as well. If Batman was believed to be the shadowy embodiment of Gotham, the Court of Owls delve even further into the darkness, challenging Batman’s role within the city. The court acts as a very mysterious, shadowy organization, originally believed to be an urban myth told to young children. This mythical status serves to test Batman’s detective skills to their limit, forcing him to look closer at the dark history behind Gotham. More importantly, Batman is forced to face certain aspects about Gotham that he might not understand. On the physical level, Batman is confronted by Talons, who serve as the court’s assassins. These nightmarish figures are quite formidable, challenging the Dark Knight’s fighting abilities like few others have.

Beware, the Court of Owls…

The themes of this story primarily deal with Batman’s connection to Gotham. Specifically, for the first time, Batman has to cope with the fact that he doesn’t know Gotham as well as he thought. For much of the story, Batman denies the very existence of the court, indicating a sense of knowledge and ownership of Gotham. In order to move forward, however, the Dark Knight must face what he doesn’t understand: a history that goes far before his time. Batman must accept Gotham’s dark past in order to build a brighter future. More importantly, the detective must let go of his sense of ownership for Gotham in order to truly move forward. To illustrate this point, Gotham itself is given its own personality. Snyder writes Gotham as a living, breathing entity, elaborating on each minute detail and piece of history within the city.

Gotham’s sinister past

The supporting characters are given much room to shine as well. As usual, Alfred is written masterfully. Bruce Wayne’s butler is given a sarcastic, witty personality to bounce off of the Dark Knight’s cold, calculating demeanor, along with providing a much needed source of guidance for our protagonist. The whole Bat-Family’s presence is felt throughout, without feeling shoehorned into the narrative. At one point, when the Talons begin invading the city, Alfred calls in all of Batman’s allies, showcasing the wide network of heroes which Batman has inspired. Other key players, such as Commissioner Gordon, Lucius Fox, and Harvey Bullock make appearances throughout, contributing to the idea that Batman is truly not alone in his mission to build a better Gotham.

Allies of the Bat

Greg Capullo’s artwork is perfect for Snyder’s writing. Batman is given a dark, foreboding presence from the beginning, as well as a tall, muscular stature befitting his training. The shadowy illustrations also beautifully illustrate the dark nature of Batman’s detective work. Capullo particularly excels when it comes to the court themselves. The court and their talons are illustrated in a horrific, demonic manner, befitting their insidious nature within the story. When Batman is cornered by the court, the reader can see his confusion and terror as the Talons close in on him. The action is also beautifully portrayed. Capullo provides a fast-paced sense of motion straight out of a big-budget action movie.

He can’t hear you…

Batman: the Court of Owls is a terrific read. There is plenty of action, mystery, and suspense to keep new readers and longtime comic book fans satisfied. Beyond that, Snyder and Capullo make an important statement on Batman and Gotham City in general. Batman is always seen as the calm, collected hero who has everything under control. He is prepared for any eventuality. In this case, however, we see a more fallible Batman, one who doesn’t have all the answers. The best thing about a hero without all of the answers, however, is watching him ask the right questions. Batman must put aside all of his pride and preconceived relationship with Gotham in order to uncover the evil within his city. Only through confronting this hidden menace can Batman move toward a brighter future for Gotham.

A hero and his city

If you would like to continue reading about the Dark Knight, here are a few other recommended reads:

  • Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
  • Batman: the Long Halloween/Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
  • The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  • Batman: Zero Year by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
  • Batman: Strange Apparitions by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers
  • Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee

That’s all for this week! Follow the page for more posts, and feel free to share with your friends!

Weekly Recommendation: the Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home

It’s no secret that Spider-Man is my favorite comic book hero. Much of this appeal comes from the relatable nature of the character. Peter Parker is just an ordinary kid who happens to attain these amazing powers, demonstrating how Spider-Man could really be anyone. As far as heroes go, Spider-Man is the perpetual underdog: he’s strong, but not the strongest, he’s smart, but not the smartest, and ultimately makes do with what he’s given. The most important, and most heroic thing about Spider-Man, is that he refuses to give up. He’ll keep trying to save everyone, even if it kills him. Even in the face of overwhelming odds, Spider-Man also manages to maintain a happy face. Peter Parker remains optimistic, funny, and able to come up with creative solutions in a crisis.

What a tangled web, indeed…

One story that appeals to these qualities of Spider-Man is the six-issue storyline entitled “Coming Home”, by J. Michael Straczynski. I recommend this storyline for several reasons. The first is that it works as a great jumping-on point for new readers, beginning the highly acclaimed tenure of Straczynski on the Amazing Spider-Man as a comic. “Coming Home” is also a great modern take on Spider-Man, depicting an adult Peter Parker who is more experienced and mature. In maturing the character, Straczynski allows for further development of the Spider-Man lore. Instead of treading familiar ground with villains such as Doc Ock or the Green Goblin, Straczynski brings in fresh new ideas. Not only does this make the story accessible to new readers, but a welcome change of pace for those already familiar with the character of Spider-Man.

All grown up

The basic idea of this story is that Spider-Man is being hunted by an energy vampire known only as Morlun, who feeds off of the life energy of those who represent mystical totems. The assumption here is that Spider-Man, in being bitten by a radioactive spider, was chosen to represent the spider totem. This idea calls the entire origin of Spider-Man into question. Was it a science experiment gone wrong that gave Peter his powers, or was he chosen by some mystical being? This question highlights an overarching theme of religion vs science, which continues throughout Straczynski’s run on the character. More importantly, in questioning Spider-Man’s origin, Straczynski forces the character of Spider-Man to reevaluate fundamental aspects of who he is. This reevaluation coincides with Peter returning to his old neighborhood in Queens, emphasizing the important role of homecoming to the character. In returning home, Peter recognizes not only how far he has come, but how far he has yet to go in growing up.

Magic or science?

Throughout this ordeal, Straczynski manages to perfectly capture the character of Spider-Man. Peter is written as a genuinely relatable, down-on-his-luck character, who has to come to terms with where he is in life. The story finds Peter quite lost in the beginning, returning home in an attempt to truly find himself once again. Despite these hardships, Peter is never written without some great humor to go along with his angst. Straczynski keeps the character witty and charming, both in and out of costume. The internal monologues capture Peter’s thought process so well, including some genuinely funny thoughts. Most importantly, Straczynski maintains what makes Spider-Man great. No matter how hopeless the odds, Spider-Man keeps on fighting against guys like Morlun. Not just for himself, but for everyone the villain has killed or threatened. Spider-Man stands up for the little guy, saving civilians from the rampaging Morlun, and even stopping a school shooter at one point in the story.

Tackling real issues

Peter Parker’s life outside of Spider-Man is not ignored either. The true loneliness of being Spider-Man is perfectly captured, as Mary Jane has left him, and Peter spends most of the story alone. The isolation is felt in an early scene where Spider-Man angrily demolishes an abandoned building. Despite Peter’s loneliness, however, Straczynski shows the character move forward. Continuing the themes of growing up and homecoming, Peter becomes a science teacher at his old high school. This move perfectly parallels Peter’s life as Spider-Man, as now Peter stands up for the little guy in and out of costume. The young teenagers who Peter used to resemble are now under his guidance.

Coming home

The supporting characters add much to this story as well. Ezekiel, an older man with powers just like Spider-Man’s, serves as a sort of flawed mentor who guides Peter through this storyline. More importantly, Ezekiel is representative of a different path which Peter might have taken. Ezekiel has used his genius to become a billionaire with his own company, just as Peter might have used his own scientific genius for profitable purposes. Ezekiel also represents someone who has fully committed to the idea of totemism, choosing to believe in the mystical spider totem. Still, Ezekiel remains fairly flawed, choosing to hide rather than face the demonic Morlun. This flaw illustrates how, despite choosing a different path than Peter, this does not necessarily mean Ezekiel chose a better one.

Does whatever a spider totem can

As far as villains go, Morlun is absolutely terrifying. The villain is depicted as the perfect unstoppable, inevitable force. This makes for a perfect foil to Peter’s determination and defiance in the face of unbeatable odds. If Spider-Man is the nerdy kid in high school, then Morlun is the school bully. Straczynski shows just how relentless Morlun is, asthe villain tirelessly chases Spider-Man through the streets of New York. If Spider-Man flees, Morlun will endanger civilians to lure him back out. With his back against the wall, Spider-Man has no choice but to stand up to the bully.

Spider-Dracula?

Of course, this story cannot be discussed without praising John Romita Jr.’s artwork. Romita and his father, John Romita Sr. (who first drew Spider-Man back in the ’60s!) have both illustrated iconic versions of the wallcrawler. Spider-Man is both heroic and strange in his appearance and movement, crouching and contorting in ways only a spider could. The art style is very sleek and smooth, perfectly capturing facial expressions and character builds. Most importantly, Romita perfectly depicts the brutality of the fights in this storyline. The artwork truly demonstrates a Spider-Man who is in the fight of his life, but who refuses to back down. The battle damage of Spider-Man’s suit and the bloodied bodies of all involved make the reader almost feel the pain.

And this is just the start of the fight…

Overall, this story is a perfect jumping-on point for Spider-Man. The new characters, the perfect characterization, and the beautiful artwork make this quite accessible for new readers, as well as old readers who want to dive back in. This is just the beginning for the Straczynski run on Spider-Man, which I would recommend continuing if you enjoy this story. There are many great stories that follow this one, and developments involving key supporting characters such as Aunt May and Mary Jane. Most importantly, Straczynski continues to raise new questions and ideas which challenge the fundamentals of the character. In doing so, Straczynski allows Spider-Man to grow up, while remaining true to the spirit of what makes Spider-Man great.

Awesome

Of course, since Spider-Man is my favorite hero, there are many more stories that I will recommend over the course of this blog. Until then, however, there are a few off of the top of my head:

  • the Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, & John Romita Sr.
  • Spider-Man: Blue
  • Marvel Knights: Spider-Man by Mark Millar
  • The Superior Spider-Man
  • the Amazing Spider-Man: Big Time
  • Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis

That’s all for this week’s review. Be sure to come back next week for another weekly recommendation from the Comic Book Column! If you liked this post, feel free to follow the blog for more and share with your friends!

Weekly Recommendation: All-Star Superman

For my first official weekly recommendation, it feels only fitting to talk about the original comic book hero: Superman. There are so many common misconceptions when diving in to a character like the Man of Steel. Some people say, “He’s boring”, “He’s overpowered”, and generally, “Superman is lame”. Is Superman the obvious choice when starting a blog about comic books? Absolutely. However, this choice is obvious for a reason. Superman is not only the first real comic book hero, debuting all the way back in 1938, but he also has one of the broadest appeals, once you get to know the character. In a time of dark and gritty comic book representation such as Zack Snyder’s controversial Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it can be nice to remember a brighter, more optimistic rendition of the character. Somewhere in-between the goody two-shoes conception of Superman and the brooding alien interpretation lies the true essence of the character. This essence is best embodied in 2010’s All-Star Superman, by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely.

The Man of Tomorrow

The first thing that makes this storyline so great is its sheer accessibility for new readers. All-Star is only twelve issues long, and fairly self-contained, as the story takes place outside of the main DC continuity. In this way, there isn’t any pressure to commit yourself to years of background information and required reading. In fact, each issue of the series is its own story, connected through one overarching narrative, yet speaking to a different aspect of Superman’s world in each individual issue. Don’t be fooled by the series’ accessibility, though. No time at all is wasted on the origin of Superman, with which most readers are quite familiar. Even if you do not know anything about Superman, the origin is very straightforward, covered succinctly within the first page of the entire series. This leaves much more room to jump straight into the exploration of Superman as a fully-formed character.

Short and to the point

Speaking of character, Morrison captures all of the key ideas behind Superman, as both a man and a symbol. All of the hope, optimism, and heroism can be encapsulated in one line repeated throughout the story: “No matter how dark it seems. There’s always a way”. To put this line into a greater context, some elaboration upon the series’ premise is required. Superman is dying, but before he reaches the end, the Man of Steel has several feats to perform for not only his loved ones, but humanity at large. While there are certain impressive physical acts, such as simultaneously arm wrestling mythical figures Samson and Atlas, the truly stand-out moments come in small acts of kindness. For example, in one beautiful scene, Superman stops to prevent a teenager from committing suicide. This scene has been shared across the reaches of the internet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it seems familiar already. Ultimately, though, this scene exemplifies Superman as a character and as an idea: he’s a genuinely good person who does everything he can, from saving the planet to simply taking the time to help one person who needs it. It’s not the powers that make Superman, it’s the heart of a farmboy from Kansas.

The Man of Steel at his Finest

As a writer, Grant Morrison knocks it out of the park. Within twelve issues, Morrison demonstrates pure love for Superman’s decades of history, incorporating all of the key aspects of the character from Krypton to the Daily Planet, all the way to Clark Kent’s teenage years in Smallville. Morrison even manages to integrate some of the stranger sci-fi aspects of the Man of Tomorrow’s lore into the series, such as the Fortress of Solitude, the Bottle City of Kandor, and Superman’s disturbed clone Bizarro. While Morrison does include some rather eccentric sci-fi concepts, he also keeps the story grounded by raising big questions about fundamental aspects in the world of Superman. For example, is Superman really making the world a better place, or is he simply enabling humanity’s complacency in the face of his power? What would the world look like without a Superman? These questions are woven into the fabric of the series, even as each issue manages to be fairly episodic in nature. In this way, a larger narrative strand can be seen through the smaller, character-focused stories.

You wouldn’t see this in Man of Steel…

Of course, All-Star Superman simply cannot be discussed without praising Frank Quitely’s gorgeous artwork. There is such a dynamic energy given by Quitely to each of the characters. The style is so exaggerated in a really fun way, which certainly helps when it comes time for the larger-than-life sci-fi portions of the story. Superman looks more heroic and confident than ever, while Quitely creates a nice distinction between the Man of Steel and his alter ego. Clark Kent is given a timid, slouching posture, along with considerably baggier clothes, as opposed to his upright, awe-inspiring persona in bright red and blue tights. The environments are treated with beautiful detail, through magnificent splash pages at the right moments. Some character moments are perfectly captured in Quitely’s unique sense of movement, such as the introduction of Clark Kent as he stumbles into the Daily Planet.

Mild-mannered, indeed

It is almost impossible to talk about Superman without his supporting cast, which Morrison captures just as well as the rest of the mythos. Just as each individual issue serves as its own story, each story showcases a different supporting character in the life of Superman. From longtime love interest Lois Lane to Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen, arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, all the way to adopted father Jonathan Kent, Morrison demonstrates not only what makes each of these characters compelling, but the impact that Superman has on those close to him. Even scientist Leo Quintum, created exclusively for this series, serves to highlight Superman’s impact. This impact is not only on those around him, but on science in general. As the head of a special think tank named P.R.O.J.E.C.T., Quintum is inspired by Superman to make the world a better place through the exploration of other worlds similar to Krypton and even attempts at creating more Supermen to replace the Man of Steel one day.

Talk about a Man of Tomorrow…

Naturally, I can’t spend the whole time praising everything in this series, as much as I would like to. Some areas of Superman are missing, such as his connection to the larger DC Universe. It would have been exciting to see Superman’s famous partnership with Batman in this setting, along with how Morrison would have played the two off of each other. Some of Superman’s rogues’ gallery are left out as well, such as Brainiac or General Zod. Of course, with twelve issues and such a tightly woven story, there can’t be room for every inch of the Superman mythology. Furthermore, this iteration of Superman does not really illustrate much of the struggle that comes with being an alien in human society, as is characteristic of most versions of the character. With that being said, it seems to be Morrison’s intent to convey a Superman who has fully reconciled his alien heritage with his time on Earth. Superman can at once embrace the Kryptonian relics within the Fortress of Solitude, while at the same time maintaining his identity as a mild-mannered reporter in Metropolis. Glimpses are even given into Superman’s coming of age in Smallville, alongside the lessons taught to him by his adopted father Jonathan. In this way, it is not as if Morrison entirely ignores Superman’s initial struggles integrating into human society.

In fact, he becomes something of a Superman

Overall, All-Star Superman serves not only as a great introduction to Superman, but to comics in general. It’s not just because Superman was the first hero, or that he’s the most powerful. Superman represents something that is within all of us: the capacity for good. It’s as simple as that. Even without any superpowers, we can all choose to be good to each other every single day. Superman shows us this, not only from how he chooses to save the world, but in how he chooses to treat everyone. This can be seen in his friendship with Jimmy Olsen, his inspiration of Leo Quintum, and his enduring love for Lois Lane. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely deliver a Superman who is not simply an all-powerful, unrelatable god. Rather, these two authors give the reader a man who inspires and impacts all those around him through his good deeds and kind words. In exploring the essential components of the Man of Steel, Morrison and Quitely show time and time again how much of an impact one person can make on the world. This idea inspires, and it is this inspiration which makes comics such a wonderful medium.

Even Superman needs some R&R every now and then…

If you happen to pick up All-Star Superman and you enjoy it, here’s a list of other Superman recommendations:

  • Superman: For All Seasons
  • Superman: Secret Origin
  • Superman: Birthright
  • Action Comics by Grant Morrison
  • Superman by Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason

That’s all for this week! Check back in next time for another of the Comic Book Column’s weekly recommendations, and be sure to follow the page for future posts!

Introduction: Why I Love Comics

For anyone reading this, welcome to the Comic Book Column! In future entries, I will be discussing several storylines and famous comic books. In this entry, however, I want to illuminate my own background in the subject matter, along with why I write about comics.

Growing up, I was enamored with anything science-fiction related: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Ben 10, you name it. I was entranced by the genre. These larger than life stories with settings that ranged anywhere from outer space all the way back down to the sewers of New York captured my imagination and took me away.

Superheroes were never a huge focus for me. I saw a few Spider-Man cartoons, and Batman was in my periphery, but nothing really stood out as amazing. This all changed in the third grade with the release of one movie: Spider-Man 3. If you’ve seen Spider Man 3, that must sound strange. Spider-Man 3, the movie that ended the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy on a rather sour note, inspired my interest in superheroes, and eventually, comic books in general. At the time, however, as a nine-year-old, I didn’t see the cringe-inducing dance scenes or the overstuffed plot. All I could see were the colorful costumes and amazing powers on display. From Spider-Man’s red and blue suit swinging on the big screen, to Venom’s gigantic mouth with razor sharp teeth and protruding tongue, I was fascinated.

“Wise man once say, forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza”.

I went to see Spider-Man 3 in the theater a few times, each time awing at the special effects and action sequences. The larger-than-life story of Peter Parker captured my imagination. My fascination escalated from then on. At the school book fair, I bought an encyclopedia on Spider-Man, reading up on each and every character and concept within this amazing world I had discovered. From the colorful rogues’ gallery of villains, to each and every power which Spider-Man possessed, I learned it all in no time. I then rewatched all of the 90s Spider-Man cartoons, along with the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, until I could recite lines verbatim. Every fight scene, every word, all became a part of me. Then  I learned that there were 45 years of comics to read about this amazing, spectacular, sensational web-head, stories that were ongoing to this day. Needless to say, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s web-slinging wonder had me from that point on, forever.

Pretty cool for a third-grader

Ultimately, this unbridled passion was very simple: I wanted to be Spider-Man. He was smart, funny, and kind. He had an amazing power set, and went on awesome adventures. I’d be hard pressed to think of a kid who wouldn’t aspire to these qualities. The most important part of this aspiration, however, is that I didn’t just want to be Spider-Man.I felt like I could be Spider-Man. I was no genius, but I felt I was a reasonably smart kid. I could make a good joke every now and then, although I was no great comedian. I may not have the proportionate strength of a spider, but ultimately, I did my best to be a good person. At the end of the day, I felt that being a good person was a fairly attainable goal. That idea resonated with me above all: be a good person and do the right thing.

Sheer inspiration.

Fast-forward about 13 years into the future. I remain more invested in the wonderful world of comics than ever. It may come as a surprise that I never really outgrew stories about people with strange powers in colorful spandex, but there are plenty of features that kept me interested in comics over the years. For one thing, while Spider-Man is still certainly my favorite character in comics, there have been so many different stories that have caught my attention over the years. From the drama of the X-Men‘s “Dark Phoenix Saga” to the dark and gritty corners of Batman by Frank Miller, comics maintain a plethora of characters in which I have become engrossed. If I grew bored with Spider-Man one day, Superman was a good change of pace. If the X-Men were too moody for me, I could count on the Fantastic Four to cheer me right up. I could explore any part of the Marvel or DC universes at any time I wished.

Comics on infinite earths…

These characters are also diverse in their appeal and transmit different messages which can apply to different times in one’s life. In my angsty middle school years, for instance, the X-Men were relatable for their feelings of alienation and marginalization from regular society. Batman connected well in high school for his preparation in the face of any obstacle, all the while remaining calm and collected. In college, the dysfunction of Marvel characters such as the Hulk and the Fantastic Four resonated during a time of offbeat, idiosyncratic adventures. Through these diverse sets of character types, one message remained a constant, since I was nine years old: do the right thing.

Protecting a world that hates and fears them

The overall impact of this message on my life has only been exacerbated by one of the most comforting yet frustrating ideas in comic books: the story never ends. Today, all of the characters I have grown to love and learn from continue their stories in the pages of comic books. Spider-Man still fights the Green Goblin and struggles to make ends meet. The X-Men still protect a world that hates and fears them. Batman, for over 80 years, has continued to protect the streets of Gotham City. While there are certain criticisms over the fact that there can never really be a true, satisfying ending for these characters, I find this idea to be a comfort. All of the characters with whom I relate, from whom I learn, and about whom I love to read, continue on as I do. Spidey and I have been going strong since 2007, and even as he has had his marriage erased, gotten rich, been mind-swapped with Doc Ock, lost his fortune, and gotten back together with Mary Jane, he has remained Spider-Man. In the same way, I have gone through school, moved from my hometown, started college, and nearly graduated, while generally remaining the same person I am now. The amazing thing about comics is having these companions who travel with me through my journey, just as they journey themselves through different stories, writers, and artists over time.

The more things change…

It is this endurance of characters through comic books that make it such a unique medium. Even outside superhero comics, comic books have a way to continue where movies and television shows simply cannot. Actors grow old. TV shows end, never to return. Movie franchises finish off, and creators move on to new projects. The wonderful thing about comics is the way in which the medium can pick up where other mediums leave off. TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, and Firefly are all given room to continue and expand their lore within the world of comics, even after their respective TV runs are finished. Movie franchises such as Star Wars are allowed more space via a universe in the comic realm. Even childhood classics such as TMNT are revived and given new life within the pages of their own comic book. Not only do comic books allow for a continuation of these franchises, but the medium also has more story potential, unrestricted by special effects budgets or actor availability. From this freedom, movies and television can continue in a more imaginative direction than ever, including any characters the writer can think of, along with big ideas restricted only by a budget of the artist’s imagination.

TMNT Forever

It is my goal for this blog to share the love of comic books. I want to share all of the characters that have shaped my life from age nine onwards, along with the values they imbue upon readers everywhere. I want to discuss the best stories told in the medium of comics, superhero or otherwise. Most importantly, I hope this blog can illuminate what makes the medium of comic books so fantastic. The artwork, writing, and everything that makes comics what they are, deserve recognition for the distinctions they provide for the medium as a whole. It is these distinctions which have allowed comics to endure as long as they have, and allow them to continue to endure today. In the spirit of the enduring nature of comics, I intend to review not only comics I have read in the past, but also comics I will be reading for the first time as this blog continues. Even 13 years later, I am still discovering many wonderful comics, and will continue to explore this world for years to come. In that vein, I invite everyone reading to join me on this journey to discover endearing characters, larger than life ideas, and what makes comic books so enduring as a medium.