Today, I downloaded my first1 real comic book.
(I imagine long-time comic book enthusiasts are cringing at the thought of my using the words “download” and “real” together with respect to comic books.)
I was never a comic book fan, not as a kid, not as a teenager, not at any point in my life. I’ve always been a fan of Superman, however, and when I heard that DC Comics was coming out with their “New 52” I was pretty excited. By rebooting re-launching some of those story lines, and bringing them up-to-date, DC Comics provided an opportunity for folks like me to start from the beginning2. It couldn’t have come at a better time. After 10 seasons, Smallville concluded (rather brilliantly, in my opinion) and I was left with nothing to fill my Superman cravings.
But today, DC Comics released Action Comics #1 which starts the Superman story in a new light. I’ve been deep into writing these last few days and I completely forgot that the issue was coming out today. If it wasn’t for my friend Michael A. Burstein running out to his local comic book store to buy a print copy of Action Comics and then telling everyone about it, I would have completely forgotten. I saw Michael’s post early in the afternoon. DC Comics didn’t release the digital version of Action Comics #1 until 2pm Eastern time. But you can be sure that at 2:01, my issue was downloading:
After I finished my second writing session of the day, I decided I had some time to sit down and read the re-launched Action Comics #1. I found a comfortable seat, opened up the DC Comics app on my iPad, selected the comic and started reading.
I like how the DC Comics app has the comic flow built into it. Otherwise, I might not follow the frames in the right order. Let me say that I thought the drawings in the comic were stunning. I have very little to compare to, but I was captivated by the drawings, I could stare at the for minutes at a time absorbing the details. I absolutely love the artwork in this comic.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away to those who haven’t read it yet, but I’m not sure that I could even if I wanted to. I had a difficult time figuring out what was going on and why. Perhaps it was because the comic story line started in medias res; or maybe I’m just not used to the writing style of the comics. But I had a bit of a hard time figuring out what was going on. Ultimately, I think I know what’s happening (although I will admit to thinking that the Superman that appears in the comic was an impostor) and I get the cliff-hanger at the end, which I thought was a good one. I was just lost at some parts in the middle. Lois and Clark work for different papers? Lois coined the name Superman, but he’s only been around for six months? I’m hoping it’s not me and that all of this will fall into place as succeeding issues emerge.
I was also surprised at how short the comic was and how quickly I was able to get through it.
By the time I got to the end, however, I was hooked and I am eager for the next issue which will appear in four weeks. In the meantime, I have Superman #1 to look forward to in the near future.
Incidentally, I loved reading the comic on my iPad. The application is really well done and it feels like the perfect platform for reading comic books–this coming from someone who never read them in their paper form.
As a comic book geek from way back, can I just say ‘welcome to the club’. You couldn’t have chosen a better writer-character combination to start with than Grant Morrison on Superman.
My copy of Action #1 has also been downloaded and is waiting for a quiet moment to be read.
(And, yeah, comics on the iPad kick butt.)
Great perspective. I hope DC gains a ton of new readers like yourself!
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, David. But I’m so new to comics that I don’t even know where to go to look for word on how well these new issues are selling, or how they are being rated by readers and reviewers. Probably for the best. I am enjoying them and I don’t have much time to browse yet another set of discussion lists.
As a pretty heavy comic reader since the late ’80s (mostly DC), it’s interesting to see your reaction. People in the comics blogosphere are very curious about the reactions of the “new reader” DC is trying to attract with this relaunch, given that the insular, continuity- heavy nature of the superhero “universes” has long been thought to be unfriendly to the new reader, and DC is making an attempt to change this. Of course, such new/casual readers are not hanging out at comics blogs!
Grant Morrison is one of the few reasons I still read superheroes (and a big reason I got into them in the first place, with his Animal Man and Doom Patrol series). I haven’t seen Action #1 yet, but his writing is not always crystal clear on first reading (and all is not always as it seems…), so hopefully you’ll give it a few issues. Also, modern comics tend to be more “decompressed” than they used to be. Stories develop over multiple issues, and there are fewer panels per page. I think the idea is to create a more “widescreen” look and showcase the artwork, making each issue a quicker read than might be expected. There is much debate over whether this trend is a good one or not, but it does mean you can grab a comic when you have ten or fifteen minutes to spare. Many readers, though, wait for the trade paperbacks that collect several issues together as a “story arc.” I often wait until I have a few issues of a series, then read them together(or reread them, if I’ve already read the singles), as they often read better that way, and I forget details waiting a month between issues.
If you’re interested in pursuing comics further, Scott Snyder’s Batman and Swamp Thing series (also part of the DC relaunch) should be a good bet…
Personally, I’ve been cutting back on comics in order to read more SF!
Scott, I will definitely stick with Action Comics for now; and probably the relaunched Superman as well. But I’m not sure I’ll go beyond those. I, too, read SF and it’s tough just keeping up with the volume of short fiction I read. I can spare 20 minutes here and there for the comics, but not more than that. Plus, the price adds up. I think it was $4 for the issue, and 2 each month is probably my limit for now.
These are some great web sites devoted to comic book news. You’ll find lots of previews of new books where you can read the first few pages of new floppies as well as reviews. Enjoy!