I don’t think I’m worthy enough to call myself a comic book aficionado, but I’m a fan of several comic books to say the least. I’m no stranger to brands beyond Marvel and DC since I’ll gobble up anything with a good story. My love for the medium has endured through the years. My dad would give me a variety of comics every time he would pick me up from my mom’s house. I read Archie, Tomb Raider, Witchblade, and of course DC and Marvel comics. However, there was a time when I took a break from comic books and I only recently started to get back into it back in 2011. This was a time when I started to rediscover my love for comic books.
I’ve always been a fan of one shots or storylines that have a definite beginning and an end. Is it called a miniseries? The best examples I can think of are Marvel’s Ultimate and DC’s Earth One publications. I’ve been following Uncanny X-men and All-New X-men presently, but I’ll admit that I was really lost before I jumped back in the scene in 2011. There were a lot of moments when I didn’t get the references or why this character hated the other. I’m still a bit lost now. Sure, Wikipedia is anyone’s friend but I don’t think anyone wants to read so much summaries if you’ve been inactive for a lot of years. It’s also not the same as experiencing the story through the comic book panels. Let’s face it, it’s not financially realistic to buy all the issues I missed. This is why I largely tend to read more “contained” narratives.
When I was trying to have a “fresh” start with the X-men series, I resolved myself to follow at most two series which were the ones I mentioned earlier. I thought that I could survive with just reading one or two series. You could, but there are a couple of information and references left out. Like now, I have to purchase Guardians of the Galaxy in addition to All-New X-men to follow the “Trial of Jean Grey” story arc. I’ll probably do that (Let me apologize now to my wallet in advance) since I got lost with the previous story arc “Battle of the Atom.”
It’s quite interesting how the All-New X-men series is a part of the Marvel NOW effort to attract new readers. I think it’s fair to call myself a “new” reader under the circumstances. I do think that Marvel does succeed with All-New X-men since it deals with the X-men most mainstream audiences would know from popular culture. However, the story still heavily relies on past issues so it’s not really a complete relaunch. Sure, there’s like a mini summary in every issue but that doesn’t provide context to key scenes. If I get lost, what about the completely clueless person who is dipping into comic books for the very first time? You can’t tell them to read comics that are decades old.
DC also had their own relaunch campaign with The New 52 and it’s not exactly a walk in the park either for new readers. I’m not sure how both companies are getting new audiences. If you know, I’d really like to wrap my head around it. Now, I’m not saying that the best way to get new readers is to completely disregard everything that happened in the past because that’s a disservice to all the loyal readers. There’s got to be some way to go about this. If you think I am trashing comic books, you’re dead wrong. I love it so much that I want it to flourish again and connect with modern audiences.
I don’t think the comic book industry will ever go out of business since their IPs can make loads of money through blockbuster films, television shows, and video games. However, I do think the medium of comic books have become a novelty since there are so much other alternatives. On top of that, I think that comic books are wee bit too expensive. The price is relatively the same for decades, but it’s tough when audiences have other mediums to choose from. I mean you spend $3.99 for 20 pages that you can read in 10 minutes, while an hour long TV episode costs $2.99 on iTunes. The times are a changin, and this industry needs to adapt.