I’m tense here in talking about comic books, cuz I know it’s so niche, but I wanna mention quickly that I just subscribed to the DC Universe app, the Caine to Marvel’s Abel, and I’ve been reading old Action Comics for a few days, really digging it, but the reason I’m sticking to the past, and to its obvious heroes (Superman, in this case), is because there are so many comics to choose from that, same as with the Marvel Universe app, I’m experience a bit of paralysis.
Because the ugly-seeming truth is that, simply cuz they never had a major movie adaptation when I was young, I’ve never read a comic book about Shazam or Green Arrow or Wonder Woman or Green Lantern or Bat Girl or whomever–and I wanna correct that.
These characters generally have huge intricate mythologies, though, so I’m looking for a series that’ll work as a friendly starting ground.
The folks who edit these collections seem to know they’ll be visited by a reader with such needs as my own, and I feel like they’re nodding, buncha sages, all sympathy and knowledge, robed in satin, sipping something colorful and smiling bigly, ready to guide me.
(The thing about the smile reminds me: someone joked, in the 2012 election, “Joe Biden’s teeth are so white they’re voting for Romney”–which reminds me, incidentally, you can look online and see before-and-after photos that illustrate how, in anticipation of his 2020 campaign, Biden got a facelift and hair plugs and some other stuff–Evan Osnos, interviewing Biden after he won the primary, described his hairline as “reforested,” and it made me pensive about the way that these cosmetic maneuvers are supposed to be subtle, they’re supposed to be covert, and yet the reality is that they’re obvious, glaringly obvious, but still nobody discusses it except in offhand remarks; kinda like there’s an unwritten understanding that looking attractive, or at the very least looking interesting, presenting yourself in a dignified way (when did we last see a president with a 5 o’ clock shadow?), is just a necessary prerequisite for being president; and it makes me wonder–will we ever again have an obese president? a president who’s missing a front tooth? missing an eye? consider the cultural significance of seeing a president climb the steps of Air Force One–when will the country feel comfortable enough in its own skin that it isn’t offended by the sight of a wheelchair-bound president, a la FDR, ascending toward Air Force One via elevator? We don’t discuss their appearance because it’s indecorous to do so—and yet we unspokenly agree that it’s necessary, which is inherently indecorous and actually kind of oppressive, no?)
Back to DC Unlimited and tryna find something new to read:
Staff Suggestions tells me that, if I’m new to DC, why not start with Green Arrow?
Matter of fact: if I’m new to Green Arrow, they say, I should start with this four-part series from the early 1980s.
Bite-sized, I can read it in a sitting, might be interesting and, best of all, I’m gonna feel, afterward, like I’ve got some grounding in this character’s mythology, and will thus be able to move a little more freely through the DC canon (cuz all these guys’ stories are overlapping).
I click on the series, I plow through it, one to the next to the other.
And dude: this is one of the worst things I’ve ever read.
I’m unbudging in my conviction that The Dark Half by Stephen King is the worst novel I’ve ever read, but this shit was nearly as bad as The Dark Half (there’s a character in that novel named “Clut,” and I defy you to not be utterly distracted by every appearance of that name). Granted: I’m not yet such a student of the comic storytellers’ craft as to be able to appreciate some of its subtler strengths.
There’s a good chance it’s got a ton of redeeming attributes I’m just blind to.
But man those merits must be subtle as a fart in the fuckin ocean cuz I can’t find a good goddamn thing to recommend about this series–which presents us with Green Arrow as a kind of fully-formed character. It’s not an origin story. He’s just a dude who puts on a mask and shoots arrows at people at night, but then he’s a normal dude during the day. And somehow he gets embroiled in this parlor-type murder mystery, there’s an action climax on a yacht, a couple of big “reveals” that didn’t do much to move my dial.
Just fuckin lame.
After that I asked my roommate, an longtime DC aficionado, for some good stories and he pointed me immediately toward the Batman story Court of Owls, which is scrumtra-fuckin-lescent. Loved it.
Anyway. The quest for good comics continues. Lemme know if you’ve got any recommendations.