Hello there. Welcome to my first Spotlight for Population GO! As with the rest of the contributors on this site, I have been asked to write a Spotlight on my particular area — which in this case is comics — and share with you my love for the medium.
After sitting down and having thought about how best to do this, I decided to go down a personal route, sharing with you all some of the reasons why I have been reading comic books for the last 14 years, and showing no signs of stopping soon.
I have already discussed what sparked off my interest in comics, back in an old Spotlight with my fellow Pop GO contributors, so if you are interested in that, then check it out. The intention of this piece is to try and share with you why comics still hold such a strong appeal to me now, and as such, I have simplified this post into 5 reasons.
This is something which I’m sure a vast majority of comic book readers will agree with. Life can be pretty hard at times, but comics offer the reader, literally, another world to escape to. And there are a lot of books out there on the stands, meaning that there are a lot of worlds out there waiting for you to explore.
That in itself is part of the beauty of comics today, with there being a lot of sub-genres within comics for you to enjoy. Whether you want some good ‘ol fashioned superheroics, a thrilling mystery, a supernatural horror, or just something plain fun, there is a world of choice out there. Admittedly, the comics themselves do vary in quality, but once you find a comic which you enjoy, you’ll love it, and you’ll often find yourself reading with a smile on your face.
Just like a good book, you can really lose yourself in the world of comics. And once you get started on one title, you’ll soon find yourself branching out and exploring others.
Sure, you can find many weird and wacky concepts in other mediums, just like you can escape into your favourite TV show, film, book or video game. But out of everything I enjoy, comics still deliver the most bizarre and wonderful concepts and ideas, and they do this on a regular basis.
Now I’m not just talking about writers such as Grant Morrison, and some of the wonderfully insane ideas he comes up with and the kind of themes which he explores (the power of the idea is something which I’m quite fond of reading about), but I’m talking about the world that these characters live in. Every facet of comics has the potential to deliver the spectacular, whether it is the Flash hurling himself into the Speed Force, Batman defying his physical limitations, or the Fantastic Four adventuring into the unknown depths of space and different dimensions.
When you consider it, the everyday in superhero comics is just utterly fantastic, and it’s something which still inspires excitement and wonder in me just like a small child. Comics are cool, and don’t you forget about it.
Development Of Characters
Even stripping away the bright costumes, wonderful gadgets and amazing abilities, the characters themselves still demand your attention. Some aspects of a character’s motivations and aspirations have been well covered over their history and, to a certain extent, there is almost a limitation to development, with comics often seeing the reset button hit and certain status quos restored: e.g., Bruce Wayne is Batman.
However, even when a character is reverted back to a more classic and familiar level, the old stories and developments are still there to be enjoyed, and the reset character won’t be stagnant forever — Batman will undergo new adventures, which will affect him as a character and shape his outlook and reactions. In essence, he will develop and evolve once more, taking a new, previously unexplored path. Peter Parker may still be Spider-Man, and the unpopular “Brand New Day” storyline may have reset him and his supporting cast, but his old adventures still stand. He still has been a photographer, a high school science teacher, etc. And by drawing the line under his development up to that point, it allowed for a fresher, new take on the character, taking him into a new direction — a direction which has seen Peter become part of the team of scientists at Horizon Labs.
I’m not saying that all development is good, and sure, there are certain directions which creators have taken with characters which I personally don’t enjoy, but you have to remember that it isn’t necessarily the end for that character. Comics are constantly evolving, and one thing is for certain: for the characters within them, the stories never end.
My Attachment To Characters
And that leads me nicely to my next point: my attachment to the characters. Having read comics for a while, there are some characters who I relate to, and others which I just enjoy reading, with their heroics and personalities being the main draw. These are characters who I feel joy when they succeed, and feel sorrow when they fail. These are characters that in some respects I almost feel like they are mine, meaning that stories and developments which I don’t necessarily agree with can sometimes irritate the hell out of me. For instance, DC’s decision to effectively bench Wally West before removing him from the picture altogether with the New 52 really annoyed me, with Wally being my Flash.
Despite this, however, there are still a load more characters and stories currently out there to be enjoyed, such as Mark Waid’s revival of fortunes for Matt Murdock over in Daredevil, the stellar work of Scott Snyder with Bruce over in Batman and, of course, Kieron Gillen’s wonderful work with Loki in Journey into Mystery. These are all characters whose stories I am currently loving with the developments within their storylines, and more importantly their lives currently keeping me hooked to reading their adventures in monthly format. I can’t simply stop reading comics, because that would mean I’d have to say goodbye to all these wonderful characters.
And perhaps most importantly for me, one of the main reasons I read comics is for the journey on which I go on with the characters. Indeed, the journey which Christopher Nolan took us on with Bruce in his Dark Knight trilogy is why I loved The Dark Knight Rises so much. For all its flaws, it was the end of Bruce’s journey as Batman, something which I’m sure we’ll never see in comics.
Sure, there are a load of titles which I read where I don’t have a particular strong attachment to the cast of characters, but in reading the comic, you are starting to delve into their world, and starting experience it with them. For instance, I had never read much of Buddy Baker prior to the New 52, but after a year’s worth of stories, I feel like I know the character. I worried for him and his family when they were on the run from the Rot, I felt despair when he was killed and joy when he was rebuilt and returned to save Cliff. The story itself, of Buddy’s heroism in this bizarre world, running and fighting against a force which he couldn’t understand, was something which lured me in, making me come back month after month to check out the next chapter of his adventures.
And that is what keeps me coming back for more. The joy of experiencing these weird and wonderful adventures with these characters and watching them grow and develop is something which has me hooked. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Although, I’m sure that my wallet probably would if given the choice…