My takeaway from this year’s adventures in reading comics was: I’m largely not going to ‘get’ the massively influential or popular stuff, but sticking to the couple of series I know I enjoy is quite rewarding.
The Killing Joke | Alan Moore
So, I’m sitting in my living room, talking to my roommate about comic books. She’s a big fan of the bat family and I like hearing her opinions on the goings on of the DC universe. I make curmudgeonly comments about Christopher Nolan’s political conservatism; she begins to rant about how overrated The Killing Joke is, on top of which, the recent animated adaptation, she says, takes a mediocre story and makes it worse! Alan Moore himself don’t consider it to be among their better work. “Oh,” I respond, “well it’s too bad I borrowed it from the library today just to find out what all the fuss is about.” And this, my friends, turns out to be a better plot twist than what I found in The Killing Joke.
Sex Criminals, Volume 3 | Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky
I was worried this series would lose its charm as it got weirder, but it hasn’t. It’s still delightfully real, and while I was not totally on board with how it broke the fourth wall, I appreciated the emotional honesty. It is also just refreshing to read something progressive enough that an ace character is a given, not something to search for between the lines. I usually find it difficult to stay invested with such long gaps between volumes, but I am so glad I have stuck with this one, and look forward to seeing where it will go.
The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium, Commercial Suicide | Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie
I’m glad I accidentally waited until I could read two volumes back to back, because graphic novels are a slightly unintuitive medium for me, and this allowed me to get into the story more. I am definitely raising this series in the ranks of graphic novels I care about, just under Sex Criminals. Pop-stars as gods is just a great idea to begin with, and I really hope we get to see more international cultures’ reverence/devotion/obsession with their equivalent celebrities come into the story. The plot is no longer as slow-moving as it had been in the past, and I’m beginning to get a sense of where it might go. Hopefully, given the release structure of comics, it isn’t forced into rushing a conclusion.
Pretty Deadly | Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Ríos
The art is pretty, but I have the same problem with it as I generally do with graphic novels: I don’t feel like I’m experiencing the heightened emotions I’m supposed to be feeling as I read. The images scream “WHOA PLOT TWIST LOOK AT THAT”, and I’m thinking “Uh-huh, okay”. The overarching effect is that I feel like someone is trying to manipulate my emotions via blunt force, which is already grating, but they’re also really ineffective at it, which is exhausting. I keep thinking if I read more I will adjust, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Sandman, Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes | Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s very hit or miss for me, and this was a miss. There were a couple of arcs that worked for me, like the one in hell and a bit of the Constantine stuff, but I don’t feel compelled to finish the series. As with everything well-known that I read, I’m just happy to finally have a semi-informed opinion.