Monday, May 25, 2009

Jumping On Points for New Readers

One of the many contest entries we've gotten caught my eye this week and I wanted to take a look at it. If you haven't entered the contest yet, get to it! You've got until May 30th! I'll be listing the complete prize pack at the end of this posting.

One thing a lot of people seem to love about comic books is their rich history and back story. When the hero stands facing that same old villain, sometimes there is this sense of glee that can only be enjoyed by a true fan of the series who realizes that they're fighting in the villain's original lair, or perhaps the spot where the hero lost his sidekick years before, or something like that.

But there comes a time when it becomes so convoluted the casual reader can't understand what in the world they're reading. "Who's the guy in the Captain America mask?" "Why is the Hulk red?" "Where's Spider-Man's wife?" So for those who wonder, here's my take on safe titles for casual readers and those who are going to require some explanation.


Believe it or not, Clark's not working for the Daily Planet anymore. As a matter of fact, he's almost impossible to find in his own title! Instead, the world has been taken over by a bevy of Kryptonians, some good and some bad. Mon-El (from the Legion of Superheroes) has become Metropolis's protector while Supes is away. Flamebird and Nightwing are also there to help, along with a mysterious new Superwoman and the Guardian. If you're just starting in this title, you're going to need to go back about a year to catch up with the current storyline. You can pick up the "Superman: New Krypton" TPB to get up to speed.


Pity the fool who thinks they know enough about the character just because they've watched Christian Bale in action. Bruce Wayne is dead--twice--or he's trapped in the Stone Age somewhere. Anyway, since he's been gone we've had a little bit of a tussle amongst the folks who believe they should be the next in line for the suit.

Tim Drake (Robin) is wearing it out of loyalty. Jason Todd (Red Hood) wants it to make Batman the bad dude he's supposed to have always been. Meanwhile, the obvious choice, Dick Grayson (Nightwing) doesn't want the costume (yet) but doesn't want Batman's memory sullied by pretenders. That results in several versions of Batman running around at once and fighting each other.

If you're a new reader, you can possibly pick this up by just going back about six months. Take my word for it that Batman is dead, find the first two issues of "Battle for the Cowl" and wait for the third. If you want the backstory on who everyone is and why they're fighting, it's going to take a little while. Go back about three years to see the Jason Todd/Nightwing dynamic, and about two years to see the Tim Drake/Damian Wayne conflict.

Captain America

Steve Rogers is dead, but even the most casual reader knows this since it made national headline news when it happened. Bucky (his old partner who was considered the standard for dead characters for years since he never came back) has returned and now wears the suit. He was a bad guy named Winter Soldier, but he gave that up to honor Steve's memory. And yes, Captain America is carrying a pistol now.

To make things slightly more interesting while we wait for Steve's inevitable return, the Captain America from the 1950's is wandering around out there still thinking he's Steve Rogers as well. Both Caps have fought before, and it's safe to say they'll do it again.

You can catch up to this one with the Captain America Omnibus, and the two TPBs that follow. Or just remember that Bucky is Cap, Cap is dead, the Red Skull is behind everything, and Steve's coming back.


This one actually isn't that bad. Green Hulk is still around, and yes it's Bruce Banner. But there's also a Red Hulk running around as well, and we have no idea who he is yet. At one time it appeared they were going to make it Doc Samson, but that's been proven wrong. Now I have no idea. He's someone with some serious issues in the past with Bruce Banner, and he's someone with absolutely no qualms about killing or maiming.

If you want to follow this one, it's easy. A six-issue story arc has just ended this month, so pick up next month's issue and keep reading from there.


Here's one you might be a little confused on if you haven't read it in a few years.

Mary Jane and Peter aren't married, and never have been, in fact. This is due to a deal with Mephisto that Peter made to save Aunt May. In order to make sure the old bat didn't die, he gave up his life with the woman he loved and all memory of it right to her face.

Now roughly the past 20 years of Spider-Man continuity is gone...but only in this book. Venom is still around with a hatred for Spider-Man that comes because the Symbiote used to be a part of him--even though it technically wasn't because it never happened. However, instead of losing this valuable character Marvel just figured the fans would be to stupid to figure it all out. Likewise, Harry Osborn isn't dead, and neither is Norman Osborn.

To get caught up to speed, pick up "One More Day", "Brand New Day", and everything in between. Roughly a year or so back to get caught up again.

The Flash

Barry Allen is back. This is the perfect time to jump into this series if you've missed it. With the "Flash: Rebirth" miniseries just starting out, even older fans will have something to grab on to. Barry Allen, Bart Allen, Wally West, and Jay Garrick are all actively involved in the title, so somebody named Flash is bound to be familiar to you!

You currently don't have to go back at all to catch up to this. Barry Allen was dead but is back. Bart Allen went through time and grew up, became Flash when Wally West disappeared, and then lost his powers and died when Wally came back...and now he's back as a kid again. Wally West was Flash, has kids, and is still Flash in a way. Jay Garrick is and always has been the Golden-Age Flash. Now you're ready for the next issue. This series has been throwing some wonderful bones to long-time readers lately, but it's not so impossible to follow you'll be lost or anything. Jump on in!

These are obviously just the big heavy-hitters in the comic book world. There are several other smaller titles that you can jump in on and not need to know a lot, but here are a few to avoid unless you want some serious back story reading:

* X-Factor
* Green Lantern
* Iron Man
* Wolverine (read X-Force instead)

And now, the contest prize pack! Don't forget, we're holding a drawing on May 30th for some great prizes. All you have to do to enter is send an email to me at with an idea for a future posting. I may or may not use your idea, but even if I don't you automatically get an entry into the random drawing and could win some great stuff.

Here's the Prize Pack:

* A digital copy of "Comic Book Confidential", the documentary about comic book history that includes interviews with Frank Miller, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, and many other great artists and writers! You'll need an iTunes account to download the gift from the iTunes store, but the account is free and almost everyone has iTunes on their computer already.

* A copy of "Was Superman a Spy?", a new release book about comic book urban legends. Which white superhero was supposed to be the first black one? Which famous mutant was actually supposed to be an animal that evolved into a man? Who looked exactly like Mister Incredible with wings in his first incarnation over 50 years ago? All these great questions will be answered and a lot more. It's a fun read!

* A dozen different comic books from the Modern Age! These are from my collection and will hopefully introduce you to some titles you might have missed, along with some that are well-known like Spider-Man, etc.

* One mystery superhero action figure! This will be a superhero figure that is new in the package and in great condition. I don't know if you're an action-figure collector or not, but it would make a great gift for any comic fan you know who is.

* I'll also be throwing in a copy of my latest novel, "Stolen Lives". While this has nothing to do with comic books, you still might find it a fun summer read.

All this just for sending in one little email! So hurry up and get with it! We're on our last week of the contest. You can enter as many times as you'd like as long as you give me a different posting idea with each one. So if you've ever had a burning comic book posting question, now is the time to make it known!

1 comment:

pete doree said...

Brilliant post, and one of the reasons I just can't be arsed to read mainstream comics these days. Wish I did, but there it is...

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