I had high hopes to get a lot of reading done over the last couple of weeks, but life keeps getting in the way. I did finish The Ringed Castle, the fifth book in Dorothy Dunnett’s legendary Lymond Chronicles, and Jenny and I should have a review for you in a couple of weeks. But that’s about all the reading I’ve managed lately, thanks in part to good stuff, like yoga classes and cooking and theatre and church stuff. But also thanks in part to a cold that wiped me out and turned into a mild sinus infection. And the middle of this week brought a tooth infection that may be the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Today has been the first day since Tuesday that I’ve felt even slightly normal, and even that normal feeling is due to strong painkillers that are keeping me a little off my game. So although I’ve been too sick to do much work, I’ve also been too sick to read dense text and too sleepy to watch TV without napping. Yet I need distraction from pain. The solution? Comic books.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m interested in comics but intimidated by them. With so many long-running series out there, there’s a high bar for entry, and it seems like a lot to keep track of. For a long time, I relied solely on trade paperbacks to read Fables, but even then, I’d lose track of when new trades were published. When I read the first trade paperback of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, I knew I didn’t want to wait for more. Enter Comixology.
I discovered Comixology when I took the Gender and Comic Books MOOC last year, and it’s a wonderful service if you’re intimidated my comic shops and don’t really want to fill your house with hard copies of new comics. Probably my favorite thing about it is that you can subscribe to comics that you like. A few days before an issue of Hawkeye is released, I get a note saying it’s coming (so I can cancel if I’ve lost interest), and then on the release date it appears in my account. They have a comic reader that works well on my laptop, phone, and Kobo tablet, so I can read on whatever device I have handy. It’s probably not the same experience as reading and enjoying the art on paper, but it works for me.
So I’ve used Comixology to keep up with Hawkeye for a while now, and a new issue dropped just this week, and it was perfect reading for a sick day. Right now, the two Hawkeyes, Clint and Kate, are on opposite coasts, and although I’m enjoying their separate adventures, I miss seeing them together. The latest issue focuses on Hawk-guy Clint and is very cleverly put together. It also pushes the story further into more serious territory, but it doesn’t neglect the comedic touches that make the series so great.
I wrote a while back that my feelings about Fables had soured a bit, but after reading Jenny and Vasilly‘s reviews of Volume 18, Cubs in Toyland, I decided to give it another try, and I really loved that book. So I used my sick time to download Volume 19, Snow White, and all the issues that are available (so up through issue #138). The current story arc, Camelot, focuses on Rose Red, one of my favorite characters, and Snow White’s story has taken some interesting turns as well. When I gave up before, I was getting frustrated with the depiction of women in the series, particularly with the idea that youth and beauty equal power, but in recent issues, gender roles have been subverted and toyed with in interesting ways, sometimes through pure reversals, but also through the use of women’s vulnerabilities in relation to men. I’ve been pleased with how it’s going.
So far, all the series I’ve followed are ones that were well-established when I got interested—at least established enough to have led to a trade paperback. But I thought it might be fun to get in on the ground floor of a new series, and thanks to Pop Culture Happy Hour, I found one to try. The new Ms Marvel series features a teenage Pakistani-American superhero. Ms Marvel is not a new hero, nor is she part of a new universe. Kamala Khan will actually be the fourth Ms Marvel, part of the larger Marvel universe. The first issue features several well-known Avengers characters and provides Kamala’s origin story. By the end of the issue, this misfit teen who wants to be popular and powerful is given her new identity as Ms Marvel, but we don’t know what’s in store for her. The first issue was a fun read, respectful of Kamala’s religion and family without denying some of the challenges she faces as a Muslim in America, and I’m interested to see where it goes.
So, dear readers, are any of you comics fans? Are there any series out there you recommend? How do you manage your comics habit?