O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Like a lot of adult comic book readers do at some point, I’ve been taking stock of my reading choices and the type of mainstream, ongoing, monthly comic books which I read. It took me a while to figure out what was bothering me, but I found that I was making a couple of assumptions which, upon closer examination, were wrong.
1. I’ve been assuming that I read predominantly two types of comic books; fantasy and superhero (apart from the odd foray into horror, bios, and science fiction.)
2. Without thought and with quite some negative judgement about it, I’ve been thinking of the fantasy genre comic books as “girl” comics, and the superhero ones as “boy” comics (e.g. some weeks are “girl heavy”).
These are depressingly reductive ways to look at the comic books I enjoy, and the more I thought about it, the more I saw how wrong I was.
Momentum is a funny thing, particularly when it comes to reading monthly comic books. Recently I was surprised to realize that Unwritten is not “the new comic book which I’m not I’m going to buy regularly”, but is actually the book I’ve been buying faithfully for 3 years. It is monthly, (or maybe sometimes it’s bi-monthly, I’m vague about the specifics), and the upshot is that I’ve completely inadvertently made a somewhat major commitment to this comic book. Yes, it delivers, at least in terms of anticipation – on the weeks that I walk out of the comic shop with it crammed into my handbag, I’m always genuinely excited to get home and read it and until now, I’d never looked beyond that flush of instant gratification. Thinking of it as a “new” comic book, I hadn’t considered what it meant to me, but recently the real world intruded and I found myself facing an oddly uncomfortable reality – after 3 years and a major financial investment, I don’t really know what it is about and apparently I don’t mind enough to be bothered.
Last week I was finally walking again and able to pick up three weeks of saved comic books! In the haze of ankle sprain and grouchy tiredness, it was incredibly blissful to lie in bed reading the ongoing stories of some comic books that I know I love. Just for fun, and because I’ve been reading a lot of older comic books lately, I thought I’d give you a quick one paragraph synopsis of each book I read. I have to say, it was a very good month. Maybe I’m good at picking out books I like, but I have to say, this was a very entertaining batch and had me rethinking my questions about the quality of the years books…
Taking eight flights and traveling something like 14,000 miles in the last two weeks I’ve had some reading time on my hands. Thankfully I had friends with me, including Batwoman, Buffy, Hellblazer, Supergirl, Unwritten, Secret Avengers, and Wolverine. A girlfriend once told me that she loved to fall asleep with a book, it felt like company. Similarly, I was happy to have my comic books with me. The familiar faces were a comfort and a distraction.
For Vida, that moment was the beginning of happiness, and in that happiness, like some kind of disease, the beginning of her titanic jealousy, which stayed with her forever and finally drove her to her grave. Because one dies of happiness sooner than of misery. (Milorad Pavić, from Landscape Painted With Tea)
There was no hope for an empire that lost the will to prosecute the grand and awful business of adventure. (Michael Chabon, from Gentlemen of the Road)
“I was in the Resistance,” he went on. “There were thirty Germans for every one of us, and they came here like beasts, not soldiers – shooting children, hanging women, cutting off people’s hands – but we never surrendered.” He put a cigarette between his lips and turned back to the sea. “There is nothing good about war, even if you survive.” (Nicholas Christopher, from The Bestiary)
People do a lot of year end reviews, but I never have. This week I was forced to confront a year of reading all at once when I decided to clear the growing pile of comic books next to my bed. Continue Reading »
“You see,” Lardner said at the long bar of the Artist and Writers Restaurant, “Duke thought if his dream came true he would be a different person. He’s not unhappy about the dream. He’s unhappy that he is still the same man. Happens to a lot of us. We get somewhere we wanted and find we’re still ourselves.” (Roger Kahn, from The Boys of Summer)
“Bonding is like the romance in an Arnold Schwarzeneggar movie.”
If it happens along the way, fine.”
But it ain’t the reason you go there.” (Bruce Feirstein, from Real Men Don’t Bond)
“I’d like to change the world, but I end up as entertainment. Whereas all you lovers” — he spoke the word contemptuously — “who couldn’t give a fuck about the world as long as you’re feeling passionate, you’re the ones who make the cities burn and the nations tumble. You’re the engines in the tragedy, and most of the time you don’t even know it.” (Clive Barker, from Imajica)
“Keep away, keep away,” Hungry Joe screamed. “I said keep away, keep away, you goddam stinking lousy son of a bitch.”
“At least we found out what he dreams about,” Dunbar observed wryly. “He dreams about goddam stinking lousy sons of bitches.” (Joseph Heller, from Catch-22)
I have always pitied poor Abraham. Here he had the sword from his sheath, only seconds away from slitting his son’s throat, and he had to sacrific a ram in his son’s place. What a disappointment it must have been. What a damn tragedy. (Jeremy Leven, from Creator)
That woman was the closest thing to himself Achilles had ever come across. But he didn’t find out until a moment after he had killed her. She was hostile, and dead: everything Achilles loved in a woman. (Roberto Calasso, from The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony)
You go all your life thinking of your parents as these crushing protective monsters with infinite power over you, and then there’s a day when you turn round, catching them unexpectedly, and they’re just weak, nervous people trying to get by with each other. (Hanif Kureishi, from The Buddha of Suburbia)
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