This comes a bit later than I planned on it being, but vacations will do that to you. 2014 has been a great year for comic book fans. Being that it is
Thanksgiving close to the 3 hour window for a turkey dinner in the midst of the holiday shopping season, I wanted to share with all four of the people that read this the things I am thankful for as they relate to comics. And just to drive people nuts, I have no idea how long this list will be. Maybe five items. Perhaps twenty is the lucky number. Whatever, this list is being cutoff at an arbitrarily chosen number. Deal with it. Anyways, without further adieu, I present my top [insert number here] things I’m thankful for in comics.
The Flash television show – This should come as no surprise to anyone. Most people that know me are aware of my love for the Scarlet Speedster. Also, I was lacking a fun, almost whimsical show from my television lineup with the long-running Psych ending in the spring. Luckily, that void has been filled with a remarkably fantastic adaptation of DC’s famous, fleet-footed hero. In television landscape filled with police procedurals and generally grim programming, The Flash brings genuine smiles to audience faces with its combined sense of adventure and fun. The chemistry between cast members has been electric, and the effects haven’t been too shabby either.
Image Comics is a game changer – Back in the early 1990s, Image Comics was formed by talented and popular artists Todd McFarlane, Mark Silvestri, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eric Larsen, Whilce Portacio, and Jim Valentino, the industry as a whole was transformed as creators were finally able to do just that: create, only now without the restraints of licensed properties. In recent years, Image has experienced a rebirth of sorts, and the publisher is poised to truly transform the industry yet again. Far and away the biggest publisher after Marvel and DC, Image’s 10-15% market share is attributed to the simple fact that they allow top-level talent to create the high-quality stories that they want to tell. The result has seen several big-name talents leave their posts within the Big Two to focus solely on creator-owned work. The result has seen both readers and the creators emerge as the real winners.
Marvel’s comic book “seasons” – Publishers, especially the Big Two, relaunch titles all the time. It’s the cause of most collectors’ nightmares, especially when a later volume of a title reverts to the original numbering. But since the launch of the Marvel Now! initiative in 2012, the House of Ideas has begun relaunching it’s titles every year or two. Though the practice may drive the die-hards crazy, one can’t help but overlook the impact it has had. Sure, Daredevil was relaunched at #1 with the same creative team it had before. Ditto for Captain Marvel and Hulk. This has made it easier for readers to jump in and try out a character that they haven’t read before – including myself. Never a big time Marvel reader, I now pull more of their titles than I ever have before. And it’s awesome.
Comixology and publishers embracing DRM-free – One of the big things that has held people back from fully embracing digital comics is the stigma that transactions that occur on Comixology (the biggest name in digital comics) are not true purchases. This is because, for the longest time, Comixology only “leased” comics to consumers – people didn’t actually own what they bought. That all changed this year, when Comixology began offering DRM-free backups from select publishers. Though Marvel and DC have yet to sign-off on letting people actually own their digital comics, Image, Dynamite, Valiant, and nearly every other publisher offers readers the option to download .pdf and .cbz copies of their purchases.
The push for equality, when it’s done right – It comes as a surprise to no one that most of the biggest characters in comics are white men. As a white male myself, I have no problem connecting to these characters. However, it is troubling that in an increasingly diverse and global culture that there is a lack of big names in the superhero stable that represent today’s society. Marvel made headlines by launching several titles starring female leads, while also including a mix of races into their top-tier titles – the most notable move being Sam Wilson’s assumption of the Captain America mantle. Not to be forgotten, their competitor DC already published several titles starring both women and racially diverse characters.
The embrace of fun – From the late 1980s and through the 2000s, mainstream comics grew considerably darker thanks to the success of The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. However, there has been a recent push for a return to comics with the dreaded f-word: fun. From Mark Waid’s Daredevil to “The Batgirl of Burnside,” there has been an increase in the industry’s overall levity. Granted, darker comics such as Batman and The Punisher continue to be published, but not everything need be grim and gritty. The zany, ridiculous adventures of Ms. Marvel and the charm of Gotham Academy has reminded readers that it’s okay to smile as they read their weekly books.