It would be charming if it hadn’t been so innocuous, so pathetic. How, other than bland, does one describe spam from Warner Brothers and its wholly owned subsidiary DC Comics with a subject line that read:‘The New 52.' What’s $10 for some comic books, I thought, it can’t hurt, right? It’s only now that I’m finding out how deep this rabbit hole goes.
I stopped collecting/reading comics, about 1986 or 1987. Oh, sure, I bought a graphic novel here or there and once in a while I would buy three or four issues for something to read. I tried to get into Sin City, I bought the trade paperback for ‘The Yellow Kid,’ but Frank Miller had moved on and I wasn’t willing to follow. I was a comic book curmudgeon who could claim to have bought Watchmen when it came out. Batman: Year One? Back in my day that was just the latest issue of Batman. Truth be told, I never really read the comics I bought back then. I mean I read some of them, glanced through most, sure, but I was naïve enough to think that I needed to keep my comic books in 'pristine' condition. I was under the impressions that someday, my comic book collection would 'pay for college' or 'provide a down payment on a house,’ or, perhaps, a yacht; this was long before the word ‘grading’ had been coined. Turns out my ‘investment’ in SteelGrip Starkey, Boris the Bear, and Red Fox didn’t pan out as I hoped except as, maybe, fool’s gold; halcyon days, halcyon days indeed.
One thing about collecting comics in the dark ages of the last century was that if it wasn’t nailed to the wall or stuffed into long boxes at the comic shop (or flea market), it didn’t exist. When I finally saw the cover to G.I. Joe #10, it was like setting eyes on a holy relic, or something like that. Now, not only can you see every cover of every issue to (almost) every comic (and see what's going out months in advance) -- there’s even a wiki for Steelgrip Starkey. Seriously, I checked. One would almost think that computers and the internet were invented for collecting and reading comic books … one would think.
Those first five or six New 52 books I bought in late August turned into four times that and the next thing I know I’m buying the ubiquitous ‘white cardboard’ box, bags, and boards. I read everything I could trying to (re)acclimate myself with the multiverses, what had happened to Majik (still don’t know, really), why weren’t Bill Sienkiewicz and Dave Mazzucchelli still drawing and writing superhero comic books and since when did writers get all the credit for creating comic books? Which brings me to this 'new universe.'
There are two people I need to thank. The first is my my old friend and fellow Victorian Lit. survivor, Seth, who ‘carried the fire,’ as Cormac McCarthy says, and kept the dying embers of my comic book past alive with his enthusiasm for superheroes and serial storytelling. I am forever in his debt. The other is someone I’ve never met, Kelly Thompson of ‘Comics Should Be Good’ and her own blog, 1979 Semifinalist. While in throes of my comic book madness I took a chance and sent an email to Ms. Thompson to ask a few questions that would help me navigate this new old world of comic books. Her response was filled with kindness, patience, and grace. When I sent her my thoughts on Conan The Barbarian #1, she suggested (her advice, she admitted, was very 2005) that I start a blog, this blog. She also suggested that I write this introductory piece; I hope she doesn’t suggest I lend her a kidney.
So, there it is. I’ll try to post on a regular basis and see this thing through as best I can. Here’s hoping Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s Conan the Barbarian is tomorrow’s Dark Knight Returns and not Thundermace (highly unlikely) or Elementals (which was a good comic back in the day), but it won't get you much unless of course you start a blog.