As per my previous blog posts, for the most part I’ve enjoyed a number of the DC “New 52” titles. Yes, a few titles dropped off my list, but overall I’m sticking with it.
My enjoyment clouded my better judgement and I did a very stupid thing, I decided to go to the message boards, read a few blogs and their comments sections.
Mistakes Were Made
What I read got me angry and depressed.
From what I was reading, DC titles are apparently the only titles available for purchase. There are no alternatives and you would think that there was a law stating people must purchase DC Comics by penalty of imprisonment.
Page after page of people reading titles they don’t like. Talking about what they didn’t like. Reading titles to “punish” themselves and then complaining about them to hear themselves talk.
What To Do?
First off, I have the Constitution app on my iPhone and it makes no mention of such a law (to be fair, I’m unclear on state laws outside of Texas).
But here’s my response to this type of behavior: Leave! If you are not happy with the current DC New 52 titles, stop buying them and stop reading them and read titles you do enjoy.
Why Do I Care?
Comics “journalism” barely exists, and it’s a pain in the neck to have to read through this type of stuff to get to even halfway decent conversations about titles I do enjoy.
Why Voting With Your Dollars Works
I personally like many of these titles. Which is why I purchase them. If you don’t like them. My advice, as above, is to not purchase them.
There has been a lot written about “voting with your dollars,” and all of it is true.
Opinions on Tumblr, blogs, message boards, etc. are the least effective way to tell DC Comics how you feel about their titles. The most effective way to show them what you like, the one that they will always see, is when you give them your money (or in this case, withhold it).
It’s simple. Either you purchase their product. Or you don’t. Your opinion as to like or dislike of a company’s product is secondary to whether you are spending your money with them.
If you have seen the movie Private Parts, Howard Stern in the 1980’s and 1990’s had as many haters as he did fans. When WNBC dug into it they found that the haters listened longer than the fans. The haters were unknowingly keeping Stern on the air by boosting his ratings. Had they not listened, they might have dumped him.
Opinions expressed online, as I’ve mentioned in the past, do not count for much. The best way to be heard is to vote with your dollars.
Time Is Short, Enjoy It
If your idea of a good time is spending money on things you don’t enjoy and complaining about how much you didn’t enjoy it; go ahead. It’s an odd way to spend your free time, but that is your choice.
But if you agree that life is too short. If you agree that you want to spend your free time (and your money) enjoying yourself, than pay attention: buy other comic books.
What To Buy
As I was compiling this list, it just kept getting bigger and bigger. Which was kind of cool.
This list is a document that provides a number of alternatives so that you can “safely” transition out of the DC New 52 titles you don’t like and supplement them into any number of things you’ll like as much…or maybe more.
One of the most common complaints for sticking with DC titles is the enjoyment of the super hero genre, so this list is focused primarily on super heroes, fantasy and science fiction; all the core elements of the DC Universe.
It’s true. There is an entire world of comic book reading that is outside of the DC New 52.
Yes. This is the same company putting out the titles you don’t like. However, outside of the New 52 is a back catalog of 70+ years worth of comic book stories that even readers of 30+ years (such as myself) have not yet really cracked into. DC is doing a tremendous job of publishing Showcases, Archives and hardcover collections of much of this work. Not to mention the work being done with digital publishing. The archives range from the mainstream (Superman) to the obscure and niche (Secret Society of Super Villains). In addition, back issues are easy to find on the Internet or in good local comic book shops like Austin Books (they sell pre-bagged sets of story-arcs and mini-series on a regular basis). There are thousands of hours of comic books waiting to be read. And re-read. And publications like Back Issue, Alter Ego and any number of blogs extensively cover this time period. Are these titles old? Yes, but if you have never read them, than they’re new to you.
As of late, Vertigo’s publishing strategy has been…confusing. But they still have a few core “world building” titles focused on fantasy. iZombie, for instance, is one of the best titles being published by DC Comics and both the Unwritten and Fables have similar loyal fan bases.
With Marvel, there are a number of options:
- New Marvel: for every DC title, there are at least 2 Marvel titles 😛 In all seriousness, there are a number of Marvel writers who write in the “DC style.” Marvel has done a great job of dividing up their universe into “imprints” (X-titles, Spider-titles, Avengers, cosmic, etc.). Pick your imprint and run with it. While there’s overlap, for the most part you can find the titles you like and stay inside that imprint. Spider-Man is a good example. That title is in the middle of its own event (Spider Island) that doesn’t crossover into the other imprints but is creating a very rich and interesting story within the core title and crossovers under the Spider-titles.
- Marvel All Ages: these titles (a number of which are written by Paul Tobin) are the closest thing to Golden Age DC you’ll find on the shelves, but done with a very modern sensibility.
- Ultimate Comics: Marvel is breaking the rule of “don’t let the genie out of the bottle” and has been constantly changing the Ultimate universe. Starting with the stories from Ultimate Spider-Man #1 and working forward to today it’s quite exciting and the new titles under Jonathan Hickman are unlike anything DC is publishing. (as a side note, Ultimate Spider-Man is consistently the best super hero comic book being published today).
- Marvel Comic Book Archives: like DC, Marvel is moving like a freight train to put it’s archives back into print and available digitally. If you like Jim Lee’s artwork, Marvel is doing an Omnibus series of X-Men collections with the classic Chris Claremont/Jim Lee run. Do you like Captain America? They’ve got a metric ton of Essentials, Masterworks and hardcovers/trade paperbacks collecting his adventures going all the way back to Captain America #1 and all parts in between. Never read the Walt Simonson Thor? They just put it in Omnibus form. Like the DC archives, there’s enough here to keep you entertained for years. And it’s all new to you.
- Icon: top writers like Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker and Mark Millar are putting out some of the best titles in the medium under this imprint.
- Star Wars: the Star Wars “universe” of titles is overlooked by many readers, but there’s a lot going on over there. Former DC writer John Ostrander is one of the writers building that world and there are numerous titles for the various eras (past, present, future) with all sorts of crossovers and events happening. I even saw a new title that’s a secret agent/spy title set in the Star Wars universe. Not to mention, they have been reprinting all the Marvel Star Wars work as well as the previous Dark Horse work dating back to the 90’s available in Omnibus and trade paperbacks.
- Conan: Dark Horse is also the current license owner of Robert E Howard’s Conan. In addition to new stories (including some by Roy Thomas), they are also reprinting some of the classic hard-to-find Marvel stories.
- Whedonverse: Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse are all being published by Dark Horse. And these titles have some of the top writers in comic books working on them.
- Hellboy and BPRD: Mike Mignola has been working on Hellboy universe stories since the 90’s. Dark Horse has all of these (and the BPRD stories) available in trade paperbacks. In my discussions with readers in the comic store, I have found that Hellboy fans are “super fans.” They love this title. Why not try it out?
Every month, I am always amazed at how much product is being published by Image. Image 2.0 (post-founding 7) has amazing titles like Chew. The Sword (which recently completed). Walking Dead and Invincible from Robert Kirkman. The Intrepids (a “Fantastic Four”-style super hero title). Paul Grist’s Jack Staff is a perfect example of an amazing super hero title that few are reading. Image is still a great alternative to the big two and there’s always something around the corner. There are a lot of titles in the Image catalog and I will mention an additional one by name that’s not a super hero title. Heart by Blair Butler and Kevin Mellon is set in the world of mixed martial arts fighting and looks to be well worth your time and money.
While Top Cow publishes under Image, they have their own rich universe with titles like The Darkness and Witchblade. Both titles are undergoing revamps after their Artifacts event and will be perfect jumping on points for new readers. As a point of interest, these titles were previously by DC writers Phil Hester and Ron Marz and those story-arcs are available in trade paperback. Top Cow is a very nice fantasty-based alternative to DC super heroes.
Locke & Key is a title that everybody should be reading. Period. Why you would waste your time on titles you don’t like and not read this amazing book is beyond me. But what about the rest of IDW? They’ve got 30 Days of Night coming as a monthly with Steve Niles writing. Former DC mainstay John Byrne has his Next Men here as well as a new title (Cold War) coming in the next month. And, IDW has licensing rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (with Kevin Eastman writing), G.I. Joe, Transformers and Star Trek; both classic and the J.J. Abrams version.
For as many American comic book readers that know of Judge Dredd, I’d wager that fewer have actually read a Judge Dredd comic book. In the past, 2000 AD (the anthology Judge Dredd appears in) was difficult to obtain in the US (and a bit expensive). Some of the most notable writers and artists in comic books started their careers working on Judge Dredd and 2000 AD characters. In the past few years, they’ve stepped up their American presence significantly with “Case Files” collections reprinting Dredd’s adventures in chronological order along with special collections showcasing some of the celebrity talent. If you’ve ever wondered what Mark Millar, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, etc. were like when they started, these books are a goldmine. In addition, 2000 AD is also publishing some of the other titles like Rouge Trooper, ABC Warriors, etc. and even publishing some of the more obscure (and never before seen in America) work like the British war comics that inspired Garth Ennis’ work.
Yes, Dynamite has The Boys by Garth Ennis, which is the polar opposite of DC Comics. But they’ve also created a nice catalog of titles based on licensing Green Hornet, Lone Ranger, Zorro, Vampirella and more recently Flash Gordon. And, of course they are now home to the Kirbyverse; characters that Jack Kirby created after he left DC Comics (and Marvel). This new line of titles is being developed under the watchful eyes of former DC creators Alex Ross andKurt Busiek.
Former DC Comics writer Mark Waid is writing modern day Superman and DC Comics in the form of Irremediable and Incorruptible. They don’t have the DC bullet on them, but they channel the Bronze and Modern Age era of the comics that they are inspired by. Also at Boom are the Stan Lee line of titles written by current and former DC Comics writers Paul Cornell, Chris Roberson and Mark Waid.
While Archie comics are not super hero titles, they are putting out some great material; and it’s former DC Comics creators who are behind some of that work. Paul Kupperberg and Norm Breyfogle are two of the creators currently working at Archie. Both of them instrumental in the creation of DC Comics in the 80’s and 90’s. And today Archie announced that they will be relaunching their super hero titles (aka “The Red Circle”) for digital distribution.
Self-Published Independent Press Titles
Terry Moore wrote one of the best super hero comic books in the form of Echo, but you might not have read it because it was self-published. He’s part of a group of self publishers who are producing some amazing work on their own and should be supported.
Manga is one of my weak spots, but there are hundreds of titles that Americans have not read that are being enjoyed by millions of readers overseas.
I am perfectly happy with the DC New 52 and will continue to read them and supplement my reading with some of the titles above.
But if your’e one of those people who don’t like the titles being given to you by DC, you have a number of options outside of the New 52. Stop reading titles that you don’t like. Start reading titles that you will enjoy. Vote with your dollars.
Occupy other comics.
If there is not a single thing in this blog post that doesn’t provide you with a satisfying alternative for the DC New 52, you’re on your own and I tried…