(I tried to think of a wittier headline, but simply couldn’t. Sorry.)
Maybe it’s the art. Maybe it’s the need to read a good story. Maybe it’s the desire to become a kid again. Whatever the reason may be, lately I’ve been seriously digging the American comic book scene (eg., DC and Marvel).
It actually started a few months ago, during my “addicted to the Matrix” phase. I found out that Burlyman Comics had released the entirety of The Matrix Comics online for free. After reading all those — finding myself admiring the art of the story as well as the visuals — I wanted more. During that time, I also found Misfile, which was a few months after finding Wapsi Square.
Still, as much as I liked those (and I still read them, every day) I was looking for something else. I discovered that a large part of The Matrix was inspired by The Sandman, a comic book series written by Neil Gaiman, featuring the immortal anthropomorphic personification of dreams and story telling. I couldn’t readily find those comics so after a while I dropped my search.
Random Trivia: “Morpheus” in The Matrix was loosely based on “Morpheus” from The Sandman comics, who is supposed to be the Greek god of dreams. As such, many of his most important lines through all three of the films are dream-related, such as one of his final lines in The Matrix: Reloaded (“I have dreamed a dream, but now that dream is gone from me,” said after his ship is destroyed) and in The Matrix: Revolutions (“Is this real?” said after the Sentinels stopped attacking and the war ended).
A few nights ago I went to the local Barnes and Noble’s for my weekly relaxation time — the one night in the week I set aside three hours to stop and let my mind float and entertain thoughts unrelated to anything involving responsibility (very relaxing, and highly recommend it for ultra-busy people) — I saw that Vertigo comics, the same company who published both The Sandman and V for Vendetta among other titles, had released the complete Sandman series as a leather-bound, boxed book. I immediately picked up the volume and (after asking the help at BN to unwrap the cellophane covering on the box), grabbed myself a frappuccino, and started immersing myself in Gaiman’s dark world.
The Sandman was particularly interesting due to its incredibly heavy use of various mythologies and theologies — everything from Biblical imagery, to Greek mythology, to occult history and theology — in order to weave together an addicting and intellectually engaging story line. (To someone unfamiliar with the various sources used, this comic may simply seem like an overtly violent and morbid presentation. I assure you, it is no more morbid than those tales of gods and ancient wars we learn in school.)
Two very quick hours after I started reading, it was unfortunately time to go. My appetite, however, had merely been whetted.
Since that day, I’ve devoted a small part of each day (maybe 10 minutes) to finding out information online about the various comics and comic book companies producing material. I started with the usual online free comics (such as Misfile and Wapsi Square), but then asked myself the obvious: why not check out the major makers online myself? With American comics this would be a rather easy task.
My first endeavor was to Marvel’s home page. Marvel, as you may know, is the publishing company responsible for Spiderman, the X-Men, Ghost Rider, Captain America, Ironman, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Punisher — among many many more. It was here I discovered the Civil War cross-over series that’s been taking place for about the past year. (A cross-over series is a story line which engulfs a number of different series, usually done to increase the number of comics sold.) The series deals with extremely serious world issues, specifically the ethical and governmental issues to which we’ve all been subjected ever since 9/11/2001. (This was covered rather expertly in Henry Jenkin’s article series “Comic Book Foreign Policy”, which ran in four parts on his blog, Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.) Being a sucker for pondering philosophical and ethical issues, this is one that’s made it on my priority wishful reading list.
Note: There’s an intro video for the Civil War series at the bottom of this article. In addition, I’ve added a video trailer of the latest Spider Man movie which looks awesome.
After reading through that site, I headed over to DC’s home page to see what was going on there there. DC, like Marvel, has a number of well known superheroes in its roster, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Nightwing (aka. the first “Robin”), and the Green Lantern, among many more. DC also owns a number of other comic book companies, including the aforementioned Vertigo; Wildstorm, which features Ex Machina and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; CMX Manga, which features Mega Tokyo; and MAD magazine. Despite their size, however, I found much more useful (informative and entertaining) content on Marvel’s website. Then again, it may have something to do with the fact that I lean more towards Marvel. (Also, the fact that Marvel allows readers to preview a number of their current comics may have something to do with it.)
Anyway, to the point of this post: I don’t know why, but I’ve started to become rather heavily attracted to comics again, maybe even more so than when I was a kid. It probably has to do with all the movies being released, or the fact that I’m now starting to admire the artwork a bit more. Whatever the case may be, I fear that I may soon become my neighborhood’s “Comic Book Guy.” Worst. Fate. Ever, although owning a comic book shop would be kind of cool.
With that, enjoy these two clips. The first is for the Marvel Civil War series (hosted by YouTube), and the second is the trailer for Spiderman 3 (hosted by iFilm). I’ll probably spend a bit more time in the future talking about American comic books and Japanese manga.