Dark Trinity: Old vs. New comics

If you’re not a big comic book reader and just into the movies and shows, stick around. This is as much for you as the lifers and new readers. Especially if you’ve tried books in the past, but couldn’t seem to find what you were looking for.

Now I’m not exactly what you’d characterize as a reader. I’m hooked on the books and graphic novels, and I’ve always read articles (thus my profession), but I never was a big book guy. My wandering mind always made it difficult to focus. Plus, the desire to stay current with what’s going on (along with being an athlete until I was 23) forced me to be selective with distractions. I’m sure books without pictures will come into the fray at some point.

ANYWAYS, despite everything I just mentioned, I can’t stop reading comic books and graphic novels now. But the beginning wasn’t exactly smooth.

It started with the Moon Knight series prior to the current one. It was fairly well done, but having only known so much about the character, it made it difficult. Then there was the most recent solo Gambit series (my favorite writing with the character) and some older Daredevil.

Now, Daredevil is someone I was familiar with and a BIG fan of from learning about him as a kid, again just from his cartoon appearance and having looked up his background. I have read very little Daredevil. While I have to give this current series a chance, reading the old work kind of soured me on him.

Even reading some of the older Gambit was disappointing at times. I’ve read pretty much everything he’s been in and will continue to, but man some of the older stuff felt like work at times.

Which brings me to why the newer books seem to be better, especially the DC ones.

Books are being made much darker now. I know Tony Stark was a drunk back then and everyone jokes about Marvel being soft now, but read Old Man Logan and tell me things are soft. Look at Deathstroke New 52 or Rebirth and try to make that case. The current Moon Knight is one of the darkest things I’ve read so far.

These newer characters are also making that easier. Now there are some who suck, but others, like Jason Todd being reinvented as Red Hood or Bucky Barnes turning into Winter Soldier, both in 2005, have been amazing turns. Taking average characters, giving them a twist, only to bring them back to the light (sort of in Todd’s case) creates a new character without adding a new one to the universe.

But most importantly of all, and this is where DC has a MAJOR advantage right now, the newer books seem more character driven. When I think of an old superhero book, I envision the sequence of events being: I’m Superman trying to live a Clark Kent, oh no something bad happened, fight the bad guys, and either a cliff hanger or resolution at the end of the book.

The current writers, and Scott Lobdell does this excellently with Red Hood and the Outlaws, take a million different turns with stories. They talk about internal problems characters are dealing with. They make the character seem human, they aren’t above the rest of us despite being able to save the world or a city. Once you become invested in the individual, the actual villains and conflict regarding the plot become far less important to the books success.

There are naturally exceptions, like the Cable Messiah War series, including the ensuing three graphic novels (haven’t bought the fourth one yet, but certainly will to finish it off). I know who Cable is. Everyone’s researched him to this point. But good God he has no substance to him in that series. In fairness, he doesn’t have much more to him in the mini series that cam out this year (2017), but at least the plot was decent and the artwork was enjoyable.

That’s the other thing. The old artwork doesn’t do it for me at all. In that Cable Series, there were some good moments, but there’s some art I just didn’t get. And I’m not looking for the same type of drawing or coloring every time either. I just started the Green Arrow Rebirth and really enjoyed Otto Schmidt artwork. At the same time, I’d hate that style for Deathstroke, Red Hood or Nightwing.

The coloring is of course a big difference from the really old comics, but there’s nothing anyone can do about that. And I greatly appreciate the old books, but I only want to read them once in a while, and they pretty much have to include as Jason Todd or Gambit, someone high on my list.

But the penciling in these newer books just make everyone look more jacked and cut. They give you an unrealistic image to strike for, but they’re fictitious characters, that’s what I want. The female’s aren’t made out to be clunky like the guys, which is good, but the artists seem to chisel them down perfectly.

So if you appreciate killer art, new books are the way to go. In general, if you’ve wanted to try books, but haven’t found the right fit, go with the newer ones. Something You have to be careful because there are certain things you might not get, not having read older books about a given character, but you can usually look up whatever it is you don’t know. Plus that gives you a reason to look at some older books and fully appreciate them.

As I’ve mentioned, I love DC Rebirth and blew through the New 52 Red Hood and the Outlaws. That being said, there are a few series ANYONE would like that will help you get into books, some could help you figure out the direction you want to take with purchases (in no particular order):

  1. Old Man Logan, written by Mark Millar
  2. Flashpoint, written by Geoff Johns
  3. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, written by Cullen Bunn
  4. Deathstroke Rebirth, written by Christopher Priest
  5. X-Men ’92 (This one plays on nostalgia above all else. Artwork is slightly improved from the show, but not to the point where it’s unrecognizable.)
  6. Anything Batman related is generally well received. Shocker.
  7. Secret Empire, written by Nick Spencer (I know a lot of people know the path Captain America takes in this one and it pissed people off at first, but it has become VERY popular. And trust me on this, I love him in the movies, but Cap is not easy to read. Way to frigin cheery and positive all the time.)

(If you decide to try my guy Red Hood, start with the New 52. Rebirth is just as good, though most think it’s better, but since they’re on the same playing field, it can’t hurt to go with the original Outlaws.)

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