I love collecting comic books but I have a problem, I buy too many comics. I buy more than I can possibly read. Every month when I fill out my Previews order book I say that I am going to cut back and I don’t. This month I am going to draw a line in the sand. I’m going to take a couple of weeks before I have to turn the order book in to cut back my next order. How and why am I going to do this?
I’ll start with what I think the problems are. For starters I have piles of comics that I just don’t read. It is not because I don’t want to read them, I just don’t get around to it. One of the reasons for this that I feel modern comics cannot be just picked up and read. I feel like I have to read the whole story arc in order to know what’s going on. There is a part of me that does not want to pick up Justice League Odyssey issue #9 without having read #1-8. Is that silly? Probably. Would I be able to understand what is going on the issue if I am not caught up on the rest of the series? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a little bit like Schrodinger’s cat, I think.
I’m going to stick with Justice League Odyssey, because it is a good example for my poor choices when it comes to buying comics. Another reason that I have a pile of unread comics is that when DC launches a new series I almost always want to try it. That is even more true when it features characters I really enjoy, like the Green Lantern Jessica Cruz or Cyborg. I mentioned that I fill out a Previews order book every month, that’s how I get my comics. That means that I am ordering my comics in advance and have to take a fair amount of risk when something new starts, or when things are delayed.
Coming out of the gigantic Metal event DC launched three new Justice League books; the core title, Justice League Dark, and Justice League Odyssey. I made the decision I was going to read all three of these books. Now here is where the risk comes in. I get the first issue of the main book and like it. And then another, and another while JL Dark and Odyssey are late. DC is still soliciting orders for Dark and Odyssey. Justice League Dark finally comes out and I like it. Through this period I continue to order all three books, even though I have really only read the main title and Justice League Dark. Finally the first issue of Odyssey comes out and it is not fantastic. Well I think I’ll give it a couple issues and see if it picks up. Two months later the third issue comes out, I’m committed through issue #5 or 6 at this point, and the book is not great. For the next order book I make the decision that I am going to stick with it. It ends up being a vicious cycle because I cannot tell myself to stop buying this book and keep hoping it is going to get better just because it has characters I like in it.
Another problem I have is that there are too many good comics out, I have a hard time limiting myself. Let’s take a look at the recent X-men comics, specifically the line that was just dropped with the latest re-launch. When X-men Blue and Gold were released back in April 2017 I read some online reviews that were very positive and suggested that it was getting back to stories that featured many of the older characters that I liked and the series was going to be done in a more “classic” vain. I picked up the first couple of issues at Newbury comics and thought they were pretty good. Soon after that they were on my Previews order. Then they came out with the X-men Red mini-series, that sounded good, so I picked that up. My brother read the New Mutants Deal Souls mini-series and said it was decent so I picked that up as well. Then Astonishing X-men was launched, then the new weekly Uncanny X-men, and you can see where this gets out of control. Finally they announced that they were all coming to an end and were going to be re-launched. That was enough and I stopped buying them. I bought the books I was committed to but dropped all the titles, many of which are still unread as I write this.
The final argument I’ll make in order to prove that I have a problem is that in the back of my mind there is a tiny little voice that tells me what comics I have to buy. It is the voice that says if you stop buying that comic it is going to be cancelled and I don’t want that to happen. The same voice also reminds me that when you read a series, you should read the whole series. It also reminds me that I keep hoping DC will try new books with some of their rich history of characters. That means that when they do release a book that does not have Batman in it I feel like I have to buy it because that is exactly what I said I wanted them to do. I call this voice the collector bug.
The New Age of Heroes line that was launched out of Metal is the perfect example to demonstrate the control that collector bug has over me. These comics had all new characters, i.e. Silencer, or characters that had not been seen in print in years, i.e. Damage. I thought it was pretty cool that DC was starting eight new books. These were characters that were “fresh” faces, not Aquaman, Wonder Woman, or Batman related. Mr Terrific was going to be in The Terrifics and that was one step closer to the Justice Society of America being back in the DCU. To me it almost felt like the New Universe line that Jim Shooter created for Marvel. There was a lot to like about the idea of these books. I ordered them all.
Of course then the books came out and they did not live up to the hype. They were released before Metal had wrapped up, due to delays with that series, making its ending even less impactful. Jim Lee did not draw much of the first issue that he was the announced artist for and was only the cover artist for that short series. The New Challengers was turned into a six issue mini series before the first issue dropped. Eventually one by one cancellations were announced. The only series to survive was The Terrifics, the best of the bunch. I’ve got all the issues of all the series with the exception of Immortal Men. From go that was delayed and when the third issue was solicited, with the Joker who Laughs on the cover, I dropped it like a hot potato. The collector bug was no match for my dislike of that particular character.
These confessions have been pretty negative up until this point but it is not all doom and gloom. I do have a plan. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to try and read the most recent issues of the series that are on my hit list. Things like Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Vampirella, and Detective Comics, all the comics I have a ton of back issues to get through before I would be caught up. I’ll read the most recent issues and if I like them well enough I’ll keep getting them. If I don’t like them, then they won’t be checked off on this month’s order form. The other thing I am going to do is think twice about ordering a new series and stick to my decision, no picking it up later at Newbury.
I had no intention of buying the Jonathan Hickman X-men books at first. Then my brother and all my friends decided to buy it. In order to be able to talk to them about it I decided to pick the mini-series up myself. I justify this because one of the most fun things about collecting comics is talking to my friends about the comics I read and the the ones they read. It is even more fun when we are all reading the same comic. So I’ll buy these mini-series but when the new books launch in the fall I’ll get the first issue of Hickman’s X-men to see how much I like it. But that’s it. I’m not buying any of the other series no matter which ones my friends read. I’m not falling for that trap again. Marvel has pulled the relaunch trigger too many times in recent years for me to get into another series of comics that will just be cancelled or relaunched in year or so when the next big thing comes down the pike.
There it is. This month I will fill out a more sensible order form. I will no longer order books that I don’t like or don’t have the time to enjoy. I’ll mute that collector bug in the back of mind as best I can. Any new series or mini-series will be strongly considered and reconsidered instead of just checking it off on the list in the hopes that it might be good. DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, they are not going to go out of business if I don’t buy Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series III and I can accept that. If all this goes according to plan then I’ll post an update in a few weeks.
It felt good to write all this down. Sort of like once it is written down I can own the problem and be free of it at the same time. I’ll close this confessional out on a happy note, The cover of the new Ragnarok series from Walt Simonson. I really enjoyed the first story and am very much looking forward to the new one!