The Nexus Top Seven: Guilty Pleasures

Regular readers of the Nexus should know by now, one thing that we take pride in is the fact that we are fans, just like the rest of you. We come from a variety of backgrounds, have a multitude of interests, but when it’s all said and done, comics are what we have in common. What this lends itself to, and what hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot of in the coming weeks and months, is a wide range of opinion on even the simplest of topics.

Like, take this week for example, the proposed topic is “Your guilty pleasures”. We’ve got books, creators, entire eras, and Robert with the most profound statement on the entire matter (and despite that he felt it deserved to open the entire piece, I personally found it to perfectly encapsulate the entire piece as a most epic conclusion).

Now, most sites will give you a top ten list, or maybe they’ll short change you at just give a top five. Not us, not here at the Nexus. We have our own lucky number.


Now let’s get things started with our newest of the new blood, Joe Smith.

Honourable Mention:  Hawk and Dove (DC New[ish] 52)

7. Justice League International (DC:  the New 52 version)

This comic wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly good either.  With the reboot, the events of Generation Lost were completely abandoned.  Booster Gold was almost too generic and wasn’t as lovingly self-serving or goofy as he usually was.  There was no Skeets (on panel).  Rocket Red wasn’t Dmitri, which was odd considering how I thought they could’ve taken advantage of the reboot by reintroducing both him and Ted Kord.  There were many things that I didn’t care for in this comic, but I still had it on my pull-list and bought every issue until cancellation.  It wasn’t terrible to read, but it could have been so much more.  Most people I know openly discussed their dislike for what was (or wasn’t) going on in the book and I continued to read it albeit in silence.

6. Katy Keene (the Archie Romance Series)

My sister used to read Katy Keene, which was published by Archie.  I wasn’t into the fashion world and romance by any means when I was a kid, but I couldn’t help to read the damn comic.  I remember that you could send in your fashion ideas and I drew one out for my sister to send in.  I only did so to see if I could get art published in a comic book.  It was probably the worst outfit of all time and showed that I had no future in the fashion business.  At least I didn’t take it too far by joining the Katy Keene Fan Club where you could buy pens and sweatshirts and stuff.

5. Infinite Crisis (DC)

Many people did not like this series as it was graphic, pissed on the past, and had so many unnecessary tie-ins.  I remember being so mad when Superboy-Prime was revealed to be the bad guy, but I still looked forward to this book when it came out.  I even braved a severe snowstorm to grab issue five, which was crazy because the city was virtually shut down and there was only one LCS open.  I can understand people’s reasons for disliking it, but even when I re-read it I still enjoy it.

4. The Infinite (Image)

I bought this book solely for the reason of nostalgia.  Kirkman was the writer and this book wasn’t up to snuff with relation to his other work.  I didn’t rag on the Liefeld art the way that I used to because in a weird way I didn’t mind seeing it again.  It seemed somewhat harmless because he was no longer threatening to overthrow the comic book world with his style.  For some reason I didn’t mind reading this book even with the art.  One example is that a character was supposed to look at a woman from his past with feelings of love and longing.  Well his face had this skeezy expression as he stared at her with this dirty looking grin.  There was also an anti-hero with a giant Mohawk name Core.  Good old Liefeld.

3. Storm Riders (Azure)

So my LCS owner noticed that I’ll take a chance on anything and found me another comic that leaves something to be desired. The art is really awkward in some spots and the overall execution is lacking.  The sneak peek at another title in there has even worse art.  It was placed in my file because they thought it was bad enough to put into it.  I buy it quietly and I sneak it into the bottom of my pile of comics.  Also, I make sure that no one else is around when I do so.  I’ll give it a chance to see what happens and perhaps watch it show signs of growth and development.  It was kind of embarrassing until I found out that Grey is the creator and moderator of the Limp Bizkit Fan Site…kidding.

2. NFL Superpro (Marvel)

In my defense, I picked up most of the twelve-issue run with a big pile of comics at a garage sale.  I was out of stuff to read so I started reading them because after all, I did pay money for them.  Innocent enough right? But that’s where my defense pretty much ends because then I proceeded to track down the rest of the series.  Maybe I have some secret tendency to be a completist…or maybe I’m just messed up for insisting on reading NFL Superpro in its entirety.

1. Phazer (RZG)

I don’t even know what everyone else has as their number one, but I know I have them beat hands down with this one.  I walked into my LCS one day and the owner said this is the worst comic that he had ever read (he only ordered it because it had a Jim Steranko cover).  I simply had to have this book so I proceeded to buy it immediately.  The art was possibly the worst I have ever seen.  The storyline was uninspired, the plotting was awkward, the ongoing narration was elementary, and so on and so forth.  This was “The Room” of the comic book world.  I cannot help myself.  I will buy this book until it’s cancelled or concludes on its own.  I have to read it and I don’t know why.  There is a new artist and whatnot, but it still has some improving to do.  It has this bizarre charm to it (first book I read when it’s released) and my LCS owner just shakes his head every time he sells it to me.  However, there is a place for everything in the comic world I suppose and at least the people involved realized a goal or dream by publishing it.

A pretty awesome list, right? Now, let’s see what Mike “Skitch” Maillaro had to say.

Skitch’s Guilty Pleasures:

A lot of my books on this list are licensed books, which has always been my guilty pleasure. From Star Trek to Star Wars to Primeval to Doctor Who to Torchwood to Mass Effect I read a lot of licensed novels and comics.

Mega Man – As soon as I saw a solicit with Proto Man, I had to go back and buy all the back issues of Archie’s Mega Man series. The cartoony art style fits the character perfectly, and they have done a great job stringing the “continuity” of the various games together brilliantly. It can come off as childish at times, but it is a lot of fun.

KISS – I love KISS, but they hasn’t always had the best track record when it comes to comics, but after reading KISS meets Archie, I was real curious about IDW’s KISS comic. It is about the strangest comic I’ve ever read, reimagining KISS as 1930’s gangsters and fantasy warriors and mages all fighting an eternal battle. BUT, it’s also been a tremendously well written book with lots of fun little name drops. If you are a KISS fan, this book is ideal for you.

Star Trek/Doctor Who – I am a huge Doctor Who fan. My wife is a big Star Trek and Doctor Who fan. While 4 bucks an issue is obscene to me, I really had no choice but to buy this crossover. Thankfully it had been a very good read! I also liked IDW’s Star Trek/Legion crossover quite a bit too. IDW definitely does crossovers right.

Ame-Comi – DC reimagined as a world where pretty much the only heroes are females and done in a very Mangaish style. The style of this book should turn me away, but I had to give it a try because of Jimmy Palmiotti and my interest in seeing female characters get more exposure. The comic can be hit or miss (I thought the last issue was kind of lame with Jimmy Olsen coming off like a Mary Sue) but, it is well worth a buck a week.

Smallville – I have never even seen Smallville other than a few episodes here and there. But when I heard a rumor that Stephanie Brown was going to be Nightwing in the comic, I had to check it out. Even though that rumor ended up being false, Smallville is still a great comic. Actually it is by far the best Superman story DC has told in a very long time. This book probably is the best example of a guilty pleasure to me. Most comics I freely admit I read no matter how odd they may seem. This one I don’t even tell my wife about just because I don’t want to hear, “But you always said you didn’t care about Smallville!” Well it still isn’t enough to get me to watch the show, but it is one hell of a good comic.

Youngblood – Yeah, back in the day Youngblood was far from the most original book out there, but I always loved this book (and Brigade and Bloodstrike). So when Image relaunched their extreme line, I was first in line to pick up Youngblood. Loved it so much I ended up picking up all the Extreme relaunch titles (all of which was really good and worth checking out!). A great example of a modern take on superheroes living in our celebrity obsessed culture.

Youngblood? Liefeld? Really? WWWYKI. Next us is the specter of the Nexus, my best bro that swoops in and out like some Dark Knight Vigilante, Matt Graham.

Fever Moon – I own up to everything I like, so I don’t truly believe in guilty pleasures. I came close at C2E2 2011, though. On the last day, one of the book publishers was handing out free novels, I grabbed a few to read on the way back to Toronto. Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever (the first in the Fever series) was the book I dove into. It’s about a young girl named MacKayla who ventures to Ireland to investigage her sister’s disappearance and learns that she is a sidhe-seer, capable of venturing into the world of the Fae. In execution, it’s very close to Buffy the Vampire Slayer except with the Celtic faery world instead of vampires. She can even kill them with a stake: a broken off tip of the Spear of Longinus, the spear that pierced Christ, easily concealed in her purse. The books are also dripping with sexuality that borders on softcore; one evil faery has the ability to make her very aroused and…well, even heroine Mac classifies him as “one of the death-by-sex ones”.

Karen Marie Moning struck a deal with Marvel, and the Fever series expanded into the realm of graphic novels. In Fever Moon the sinister Unseelie Court has loosed their baddest of asses yet, The Fear Dorcha. Taking place well into the series timeline, Dublin is now a war zone where the Fae run wild. One third of the world’s population has been slaughtered. And little Mac, the girl who used to be concerned with her manicures and which celebrity boy is cuter, is all that stands between humanity and the twisted machinations of the wicked Unseelie Court. Al Rio of X-Men, Gen 13, and DV8 (to name a few) is on art duty, his last work before he passed on. Cliff Richards finishes the series.

As supernatural romance books go, you can do a lot worse than this. As a huge fan of Celtic mythology and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Moning managed to hit me where it counts. And I’ll be damned if MacKayla and her mentor Jericho Barrons aren’t cool in all the right ways. It’s formulaic, yes, but it’s entertaining. In the end that’s all I ask: there’s a reason I dropped Avengers and half of the X-Stable, with a waning interest in the New 52, yet grabbed this hardcover as soon as I saw it.

Cable – This character gets some hate to this day, because he’s the epitome of what fans call a Mary Sue. He’s the future son of two key X-Men characters, a tactical bad ass with psychic powers that put two other key X-Men characters to shame. He heralded the end of New Mutants and the coming of X-Force. He was designed by Rob Liefeld, a guy the industry and it’s fans love to hate. It’s like he’s specifically engineered to be disliked, to hear some fans tell it.

Twenty years ago, Cable’s inherent awesome wasn’t looked down on. Rob Liefeld was pretty beloved. And to those who still want to hate: Liefeld just had the concept, on orders from above. Louise Simonson, Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell, and some guy named Chris Claremont are more responsible for Cable than haters will ever accept.

By now you’re probably wondering why I haven’t chimed in, and it’s fair, I am pretty awesome, and my views are the ones most regular readers know…well, myself and Babos (and James Fulton of the always awesome Weekly Round Up and Were Money No Object), but alas, Babos was too busy this weekend to chime in (and the beauty of a sizable staff is that we can afford for a few people to be busy and still provide you, the reader, with something great). James Fulton didn’t have too long, but he had enough to give us this.

My guilty pleasure is Wet Moon – Ross Campbell’s graphic novel series published by Oni Press. It’s about a group of late teens and early twenty-somethings who go to college in a small town somewhere in the Deep South. They are all punks of one stripe or another, and most of them have fluid orientations, rotund shapes, and as many characters are missing limbs as others have piercings. Basically, this is a young adult soap opera comic, nothing like anything else I read, slightly trashy, and completely absorbing.

Kind awesome, right? Now it’s my turn!

Grey’s Top Seven:

7. Clones.

I don’t care if we’re talking about Ben Reilly, the 90’s Red Skull, Bizarro, Kaine, Superboy, X-Man, Stryfe, X-23, Madelyne Pryor, or any of the countless that I haven’t listed here. I love clones in comics. Maybe it’s the 90’s kid in me, but I still mark out for an identical copy of a character I love with the ominous “are they good or evil” about them. Ben Reilly is still my favorite Spider-Man, Superboy will always be Superman’s clone (and I even liked the Luthor connection), and X-Man is one of my all time favorite characters. It’s why Mr. Sinister is my favorite X-Men villain, and why any Spider-Man story with the Jackal is bought up instantly. I always thought it was just the coolest damn thing when I was a kid, and here I am at twenty-seven and I’m constantly wishing for more clones.

6. Female characters in solo titles.

I can tell you the exact book that made my main staple of comics a strong female lead, Spider-Girl (obviously for anyone who knows me), but I can’t really tell you why. Over the years I’ve read a multitude of books, and my pull list is never small, or ‘reasonable’, but through all of the big hype books, and ones with an X on them, since the day I found Spider-Girl you will never see my list without strong women. I love Spider-Girl, the Birds of Prey, the current run of Wonder Woman, the Sterling Gates run of Supergirl (well, now too, but Gates made me love Kara enough to stick with her into the New 52), Captain Marvel (huge Carol Danvers fan that hasn’t read enough of the classics), hell, X-Men Legacy starring Rogue has been one of the strongest books at Marvel for years. I personally took offense to Marvel cancelling their female led titles, most of which I felt lacked any sort of true promotion, like the highly underrated X-23 by Marjorie Liu, but then they gave us Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and female creators in comics is another story for another day. Oh, and hey, don’t forget about one Ms. Stephanie Brown, whom I don’t need to go on a rant about right now. I miss my Batgirl.

5. Rob Liefeld

The funny thing about Rob Liefeld is that I’m not a Youngblood fan. Or a Supreme fan. I’m not a fan of his writing, and I’m far from in love with his art. I just really like him. Now, as a kid I loved Cable and Deadpool, and before I knew every comic book should be an anatomy lesson, his Captain America #1 was the first issue of Captain America I ever purchased. Now, I understand, he’s not a great artist, he’s not a great story teller, and yet I still have the full run of Hawk and Dove from the New 52. I still actually bought the first issue of Onslaught Reborn, and I have The Infinite in trade. The thing is…I have fun with all of these things. Sure, some of them (Onslaught) are downright terrible, but there’s a sense of nostalgia to how things looked when I first got into comics. But really, my guilty pleasure isn’t his work, it’s just that I’m a fan of Rob Liefeld the man. For as long as I’ve been aware of what other people thought about comics (in other words, once I found my first comic book message board in eighth grade) I’ve had to hear about how terrible his work is, and how much people hate seeing his name on books, and all the crappy jokes. I saw a guy bragging about giving Rob a copy of a how to draw book with a snide message, and I wanted to punch the guy in the jaw over it. You know why I love Rob Liefeld? Because for all the shit he has taken during his tenure in the industry, for all the jokes and hate and insults, you know what Rob Liefeld does? He keeps drawing comics, and that’s why I support him.

4. Time travel

Time travel is my favorite science fiction concept, as has been ever since I saw Terminator. Yes, I’m the kid whose parents showed him Terminator when he was five before showing him Back to the Future, and that’s why I love them. They prepared me for a future where being desensitized is a great thing. It also taught me that the future is a horrible terrible awful place filled with evil things that want to come back in time and kill us all, despite the obvious paradox. Comics indulged that for me early on when an issue of X-Men Classics introduced me to Nimrod, as he came to the past to slaughter the X-Men. It continued with Bishop and Cable, animated Days of Future Past, and, the mess that was Zero Hour. Seriously, I was nine the first time I hit issues of that, think about my brain trying to wrap itself around what was happening when I’d just gotten into comics with Superman, the only franchise I cared about, a year earlier. I started to eat up time travel movies, and gravitate to any book that had that sort of a feel…like Exiles when I started reading again at the end of high school. It’s a multi-medium thing, too. I’ve, obviously, since watched Back to the Future more times than I can count, and for the love of it all, my favorite fictional character is BOOSTER GOLD!

3. Ninety-nine cent sales on Comixology

This is a recent one, and it’s the most painful of them all. See, I love a good bargain, and I love comics, and there are plenty that I don’t buy issue to issue that, for the right price, I will buy in trade. Now, I love my LCS, and the only reason I won’t go full digital as long as I live in St. Louis is because I could move across town and I’d still drive out of my way to give them my business, but there is no chance in fucking hell I am paying cover price for a trade. Have you seen those things? Spider-Island is marked as $35, Amazon offers it for $20. Buying in stores means paying the premium price plus tax, Amazon gives you the shipping cost, and either way, that trade is thirteen issues and material from other ones. It’s not as bad as some of the more recent offerings from Marvel, which have actually seen collected editions costing more than the combined cost of the issues collected (I’m looking at you four issue hardcovers that nobody ever asked for). But you know what I bought the other day? Eleven issues of Fraction’s Iron Man that I didn’t own for eleven dollars. Ninety-nine cents an issue during a one day sale. Same sort of deal gave me a year of Transmetropolitan, Green Arrow Year One, a host of JLI, three volumes of Marvel Zombies I didn’t buy in singes or trades, and so much more without even considering the regular series releases going for that same price tag. Hell, right now I’m looking at the Marvel Monday sale as my wallet thanks me for already having read most of it in the past, and if you want to look at it just click on the big picture of Hulk! I provided a link right to it. I love reading comics, and I love doing so at the best price possible. It’s how digital is winning me over.

2. Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl

A year or so ago a rep from Titan books sent me a hardcover of Lenore to do a write up for, and I was hooked. I bought the the previous two volumes, I received another from the rep, and I’ve also picked up a Roman Dirge art book. Normally, this sort of thing isn’t my style. Invader Zim was fun, but the style…it was taken and given to a generation that I do not understand. It’s just. the characters are so endearing, and the story telling is so well done. Reading Lenore makes me smile, and it makes everyone looking over my shoulder to see what I’m laughing at think that there is something wrong with me. After all, I was the guy they just saw reading a stack of superhero comics, and now I’m reading about a ten year old undead girl and her friends. Oh how I love the Lenore version of Pop Goes the Weasel.

1. Anything by Garth Ennis.

You know what my favorite book right now is? THE BOYS. You know what the only Punisher trade I own is? The Garth Ennis omnibus. Favorite “you don’t want to know” inside joke? Lines from the first Crossed mini series. I say “Jaysus” and “Cunt” as much as Cassidy and Billy Butcher. I can’t tell you the exact moment, but a few years back I realized that few comics were as darkly hilarious as Garth’s, and that his style really did speak to me on a very different level from most other writers. It’s been a love/hate relationship though, as I’m actually not a fan of Hitman, but I really can’t imagine an industry where Garth isn’t standing up and taking a piss on everything and everyone. There is nothing like a Garth Ennis book to put you in a good mood while everyone you tell about the book thinks you’re a crazy fucking asshole for reading such a thing.

And last, but certainly not least, I bring you the profoundness that is Robert Schwabe!

In my opinion, the following is either the #1 entry or it should not even be on the list at all. (not ego, just in terms of dramatic effect)

My guilty pleasure is not a specific comic book, but all comic books.

It’s nice to think that after all of the superhero movies, all of the Entertainment Weekly articles, and the mainstream acceptance of shows like the Big Bang Theory, that comics are now ‘cool’ and no longer need to be considered a guilty pleasure on their own.

And maybe it’s true. I do feel like I will be judged less when reading comics than I have in the past. But for me there’s still that cloud that hangs over it. Expecting a stranger to look over at my comics with the look of “Oh, you’re one of those. You never got over superheroes huh. Arrested development, I guess.”

I don’t know that comics as a whole will ever not feel like a guilty pleasure. And maybe that’s one of the things I love about them.



So what about you guys? What are your guilty pleasure comics? Feel free to chime in with them, or your thoughts on ours, and stay tuned for the next edition of the Nexus Top Seven!

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