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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Why Now Is a Good Time to Be Reading Comic Books

Superheroes are everywhere. Unless you’ve been sitting in a cave recently, you’ve probably seen superheroes on television, in the movie theatre, in a bookstore, plastered on a candy wrapper or soda can in the supermarket, or on some promotional poster in any populated area. Today, America is a land of superheroic media, even if you aren’t reading comic books.
Superman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Batman, the Avengers, Aquaman (don’t laugh!), Captain America, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, and the list goes on (yes, yes, we could list the independents too). Superheroes are American icons that we can’t escape — and why on Earth-Two should we?
You might be thinking, “Dude, comics aren’t all about superheroes (or superheroines)!.” And you’re right! Marvel and DC, the two largest publishers of comics in the U.S., may publish a mind-boggling list of superhero comics each week, but plenty of big-name publishers like Dark Horse, Dynamite, Image, IDW, BOOM! Studios, Archaia Entertainment, and dozens of other companies put out comics on every topic imaginable.
In this article, I want to try to convince you, if you aren’t already a comic enthusiast, that comic books are something you should be reading, or at least paying more attention to. There’s just as many reasons to read comics as there are comics, so if I haven’t covered anything, feel free to email me about it!
We’ve just come off the summer movie blockbuster high, and we got a hefty dose of comics on film: “Man of Steel,” “The Wolverine,” “Iron Man 3,” “Kick Ass 2,” “R.I.P.D.,” “2 Guns,” and probably some I’ve forgotten. Right off the bat, being entertained by any of these movies is a great reason to head to a comic bookstore and pick up something related to any of these movies.
Summer is typically also a blockbuster time for comics, but the summer of 2013 was sort of meh for comics. Instead, it was mostly a build up for the fall. Both DC and Marvel used their summer publishing schedule to set up events that  will be shaking up their comic book universes, namely the Forever Evil (DC) and Infinity and Battle of the Atom (Marvel) crossover events, which will tell universe-spanning stories across multiple titles.
One of the biggest reasons people stay away from comics is the numbering system. Who wants to read “Spawn” #236, “Invincible” #104, or, heaven forbid, “Batman” #698? “Won’t I be missing, like, hundreds of important plot points?!” Luckily, both DC and Marvel recently (within the past two years) rebranded themselves, so that with few exceptions, DC’s comics are now around issue 23 this month and many of Marvel’s comics are below issue 20.
And if that’s not less intimidating, I can say from experience that many comic books are written to be reader friendly at the start of any new narrative arc (roughly every three to five issues). Marvel’s comics now include an introduction page catching the reader up on recent events! Brian Michael Bendis’ two X-Men series and “Guardians of the Galaxy” are great examples of easily accessible stories.
This very week, in fact, is a great time to pick up a DC comic. “Forever Evil” is starting, which means for this month only all of the titles are on a sort of hiatus. Why? Because the super- and not-so-super villains have taken over the titles! Now you can pick up “Batman #23.1 The Joker” or “Wonder Woman #23.1 Cheetah” and get an introduction to your favorite heroes’ archenemies.
Marvel is doing something similar with two separate events. “Infinity”is an event which has the very foundation of the universe being ripped apart by the Mad Titan, Thanos. Hannah Means-Shannon of BleedingCool.com recently wrote an article about how Marvel’s “Infinity”is tailored to being inclusive to new readers, and I think it’s a great place to hop into the Marvel-verse.
Meanwhile, it’s the X-Men’s 50th Anniversary, and a ton of strange timey-wimey stuff is happening with “Battle of the Atom,” which will give you a chance to learn X-Men history while also getting acquainted with them now. There are four or five good X-Men books out right now, so if this piques your interest, there’s plenty to follow. And next week, a groundbreaking, largely African-American superhero lineup hits stands in the form of “The Mighty Avengers” #1.
So maybe it’s lucky that school starts this week, that this paper comes out this week, and that the comics industry is at a perfect juncture for you to jump on or re-start your comic book adventure. The way I see it, the sheer number of comics should be a reason to read comics, not a reason to stay away — after all, if you like what you read, there’s dozens to hundreds of other similar comics you could read! With comics, you’re never without new adventures.
Excelsior, current and future comic book readers!