…Hope You Survive the Experience #4

Ben Affleck made me do it…

Now this may be the case for any period in time when someone decides to begin reading comics, but I believe that this is the perfect time to enter the fray if it’s something you’ve been considering. Personally, I feel that everything has rebooted just for me. Every character that I’m interested in has seemingly received a fresh start either just before, or just after I began reading comics, and for that I’d like to thank every writer and publisher out there for doing so just for me.

To those who have been reading comics for a while, maybe it was the same back when the Civil War began, or even before then, but it just feels like every book out there knew I was looking to start reading and said…

“Hey, let’s make it easy for this guy…#1s all around for all characters!”

Sure, that’s a bit of an exaggeration in some cases (in others, that’s exactly the case) though in the ones where it wasn’t the case, there seemed to be some arc that was just beginning that kick-started a new direction for said comics. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have to do a little backtracking, as some of these personal reboots happened a bit before I climbed on board (okay, so they foresaw that I was coming a year or so in advance in some instances) but still, two trades, and wham, back in business. I mean, compare that to the thought of needing to backtrack 20 years in order to understand exactly where we’re at and it sounds quite nice.

Now, I know I’m being facetious when I say this was done for me, as I know comics have been trying to become more reader friendly in recent years. I’m basically showing that they’ve succeeded. However, at the same time, so many characters have been getting rebirths, or new series recently that I feel like while I’m missing an entire backlog of knowledge, I’m still okay if I want to make this my starting point.

Of course, I’m always trying to learn new things, or figure out who is who on the creator front, but it’s nice to at least be able to ease into the stories without stressing about needing 100+ issues to catch up. Actually, that’s not true as the only one I’m actually doing that for is Daredevil. For some reason I felt obligated to shoot all the way back to Kevin Smith’s hardcover Guardian Devil saga, and go from there. I know, Frank Miller did some great ones even before Smith’s, but I had to draw the line somewhere, and that’s just where it landed for the time being.

I’m not exactly sure when I first heard about Daredevil, or when I began to like him, but as with a lot of Marvel characters, he feels human, and flawed, and something about those characteristics can draw you in simply due to them being you can relate with more than a character like Superman. I do remember, and I can honestly hear some of you groaning as you read this, that I really fell for the character while watching Daredevil starring Ben Affleck.

Hey, I fully admit that I’m a movie buff who’s taken a liking to comics, and realize most of my tastes have somewhat been inspired by films that most would find incredibly lame compared to their written monthly counterparts, but that’s just how I feel, and I will love them both equally. Now, I really enjoyed Daredevil in the theatres, but when it really hit home was in Daredevil: The Director’s Cut, where they added 30 minutes of footage, in which an entire subplot about Murdock defending a wronged man comes into play that actually ties together the entire story. Of course, the studio wanted a 90-minute action flick in order to turn over crowds faster and pull in more money, so that won out and that’s what most people saw.

I still fully believe that Affleck was perfect for the part, and everyone played their roles perfectly (I could’ve done without the Electra spin-off though), and wouldn’t mind a direct sequel instead of a reboot – as unlikely as that is. If you haven’t seen the Director’s Cut, at least give it a shot. Unrightfully so, it’s available at Wal-Mart for $5 or so in a bin, or on Blu-ray for about $10 give or take. Regardless, I thought the character was intriguing, and aside from a few scenes that could’ve been tossed aside (the flaming DD in the subway?) I was hooked. Of course, as I stated in a previous column, I was hooked on the character…but still stayed away from the books.

I’m not sure why this was always the case, but it is what it is, and it happened more times than not as I built up to finally buying some books this past summer. Regardless, I’ve finally caught up, and Daredevil is getting the royal treatment. Things have been incredibly busy lately, so I’ve slowed in my reading, though not in my buying. This has left me with piles of weekly issues, as well as the hardcover and trade paperbacks I picked up beforehand; though when I get the chance to read I try to push through Guardian Devil.

The things I’ve heard about this story is that it was plagued by huge delays, and that Smith was incredibly unreliable as a writer, but at the same time, was responsible for bringing Daredevil back to the spotlight. This doesn’t bother me so much now, as from what I’ve witnessed (again coming in at the right time) it seems that a lot of books are at least really pushing to be out on time now (we’ll ignore the whole “Oh crap, I need another entire book to finish this Captain America series…go ahead and release the climactic one-shot book between Steve and Bucky anyway…nobody will mind” mishap.)

The book is interesting, though had a slow start, which only makes me feel bad for those who not only started when it was coming out monthly, but had to wait two or three extra months before the next issue came. It’s picking up now, though I hear the real Daredevil begins once Bendis takes over. After a great deal of searching I did pick up the Bendis Omnibus that collects his works that follow Smith’s arc; though that wasn’t easy. Luckily I was till able to find it at face value, as it just seemed to be getting harder and harder to find.

It was one I had been debating about since I went on a mass-buying spree of all the hard covers I could think of when I first started. Dropping almost $100 at once, while I still had so much catching up to do always nagged at me though, so I put it off until it was sold out everywhere, even at Amazon. Not wanting to spend the $300+ that “These Other Sellers” wanted me to pay, I held off, figuring I could pick up the individual hard covers at a comic-con if need be. Eventually I did find it at a comic shop in Toronto, and picked it up for $99.99. It still hurt the wallet to do so, but I felt relieved knowing it was just out of the way and my OCD was taken care of for at least that afternoon.

So now I get Daredevil monthly and push myself to try and catch up whenever I can. I began to get Daredevil monthly at issue #500, so the Return of the King arc had just ended, which leaves me the ability to nab the next two Omnibuses, as well as at least one trade in order to be good to go with the red devil. Needless to say, that’s a lot of reading, and I’m sure I’d be set for quite a while if that was the only book on my list…which of course, it isn’t; and the list just continues to grow.

I actually had a few other things I wanted to cover this week, but sometimes I just get carried away, and don’t realize just how much I’ve written about a single topic that if I added another one, let alone two, things would just get a bit too long. Of course, there’s always next time to cover the next topic in mind, which will hopefully come on a much more consistent basis.

Before I do finish though, I was at my comic store this week, and I was talking to the clerk about Daredevil I believe (something came up and I basically told him I’d just started reading Kevin Smith’s…okay, I basically quoted this entire column word for word…except for this part here because that’d be creepy if I started telling him about how I was talking to him about Daredevil at that very moment. Okay, that’s not true, but I did say I was reading Smith’s work and basically left it at that – see, go off topic for one second and tada, another paragraph…damn you ADHD.)

Anyway, he started talking to me about the different artists, and writers of other books. It just kinda blew me away, and I’m sure this is common knowledge to most that read comics, or those even reading this right now, but to me it was kinda like “How do you know all these people!” If I had to put it into terms I understand, I guess it’d be like me knowing a lot of movie stars, and things about movies that others may not know; though I mean, he talks about different artists styles, and why certain things stand out, and how this writer really delves into hidden meanings and makes the reader work for answers. I was kind of dumbfounded, just because I’m not sure exactly where to start to learn any of this.

Is this just something that comes with time? I’m sure you can read for a decade, and be blissfully ignorant to that type of information if you choose, though if you pay attention maybe certain names will stick with you. I mean, I’ve learned the likes of Grant Morrison, and Geof Johns, Brian Michael Bendis, and Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Daniel Way (simply because I started with Deadpool). I know Robert Kirkman, as well as Greg Rucka, and I’m sure a few others that aren’t popping to the top of my head right now.

On the artist front I know Ivan Reis, just because the first art I really took notice to was Blackest Night #1, which was around when I’d just started reading. I know…I’m thinking John Williams III…and I’ll check it right now, as I’m being honest with seeing what I actually just know myself (though that may just be the Star Wars composer with three I’s after his name and not the right guy who does Detective Comics, but I have a rough idea! Let’s look it up…) J.H. Williams III…okay, so maybe J. stands for John? Ah well…

And Frank Quietly, since he was so talked about during his run with Morrison on Batman and Robin. So those are the names I can think of off the top of my head, and I guess that’s a decent start; it’s just that I think those are all the heavy hitters, and these guys know everyone. We’re talking someone who just pops in for an arc and is gone, but they’re like “This guy is great!”…I’d like to hit that point, but I guess there’s no way I’d know this type of thing yet. I’d just like to get past the nodding blankly while names go off going “Right, right…yeah, that guy is good.” I feel like Joey in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. when he just wanted to talk about things that started with “V” because that was the only encyclopaedia he could buy.

Ah well, I’m sure it’ll catch up to me, as these guys have likely been around comics most of their lives, and working in a shop doesn’t hurt either I’m sure! Until next time…hope you survive the experience!

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