In the long ago past, comics were written month to month, operating as single stories that may link to others later, or the occasional multi-part saga, but you tended to get 22 pages per month that were complete in and of themselves. It’s not quite like that now, is it? With one and done stories the exception and not the rule and with the rise of (sigh) decompressed story-telling. More and more the model for pacing is designed not for the single issues on the newsstands, but for the collector based direct market. So instead of each comic being its own thing, they became chapters of a larger tale. As well as giving the quieter moments more room to breathe, the pacing allows the chapters to be collected into collected editions or trade paperbacks more easily.
Writing for the trade is not unknown to any comic fan and it’s the way most people who are not comic fans experience them, either in the trade paperback form or as a set of separate comics bunched together. The MIGHTY Rosie found comics like that, first reading the 8 part Up Up and Away story in Superman and Action Comics. What the upshot of this is that comics are read both in single issues as you buy them, but can be re-read as part of the overall whole. Read 1-6 over six months and then re-read 1-6 in one day and it’s a different story.
Last weekend, I went to Caewrys in Wales with Super Sam, Wilma the dog and the MIGHTY Rosie (more on that story later) had a lovely time and there was an amount of downtime and rather than listen to a podcast or watch TV when we were all taking five, so I packed some comics. Didn’t read them all, it was very much a being together weekend, but I made a start.
The series I started on was Boom Studios Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I have up until this point bought 0-24 as well as the 2 annuals.
Ok, quick aside. I was a fan of the 90’s X-Men animated series which was on Saturday morning when the first series ended the timeslot was taken up by a new series called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I will be honest, I was less than enthused with this series, but periodically I would look in and see what was happening. It was heavy on action, mostly cut from Japanese program Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, light on anything resembling characterization and formulaic. But there were good ideas in there, as well as bonkers action with monsters and giant robots. I watched some of the first 3 or 4 series, but had no access to any of the original Sentai footage, or at least not till many years later. I did watch some related stuff called Tokusatsu, which included Sentai characters, I wrote about it here, but that’s by the by. The point is, with some more depth to the writing, this could be more enjoyable and that was borne out last year when Boom started their MMPR title.
Written by Kyle Higgins with other creators on the art, this series is set shortly after the Power Rangers TV episodes Green With Evil. We have the original 5 characters from the series Jason Scott, Trini Kwan, Billy Cranston, Kimberley Hart and Zach Taylor, their mentor Zordon of Eltar and their mascot/sidekick Alpha 5, all trying to cope with the inclusion of recently freed Tommy Oliver. There’s an evil doppelganger, hidden histories, stealth bad guys, parallel worlds and hints at future events that the TV shows have already revealed. It’s a tie-in comic to a below-par TV show that at this point is over 25 years old. This has no right being any good. But it is. I have in fact enjoyed it tremendously and it’s been consistently entertaining throughout its run. Is it high art? No. Is it top quality comics of the best kind? No. But it is fun and enjoyable and whenever I see it’s out that week, I’m happy for that.
It’s about to start a big crossover featuring other ranger teams and since my son Super Sam and I are watching Power Rangers from the start (we’re up to the 9th season/7th variation Time Force) and am looking forward to whichever characters that he and I know, or ones we have yet to watch.
Another pleasant surprise has been the recent Avengers event No Surrender.
Currently, Marvel is putting out 3 Avengers titles: Avengers, US Avengers, and Uncanny Avengers. I will be perfectly honest, I have no real interest in any of them. The art on Avengers leaves me cold, US and Uncanny haven’t really made too much of an impact and for me, the loss of prestige in the name of Avengers is as bad as it was under Bendis’ tenure on that line of books. This seems to be Marvel’s attempts to bring the some of the grandeur and epicness to what has in the past been a flagship book. This comic is coming out weekly, starting in Avengers 675 (yay, renumbering again) and moving forward, so there is no US Avengers or Uncanny Avenger and the creative teams are shifting to keep up with the schedule. I read the first issue on a whim but had to take a break shortly after since the comic became harder to get hold of, given the increased demand. So as it turned out, without that being my original intent, I read parts 1-9 fairly close together. As a result, I have been able to view it as close to a complete whole and I am happier for it.
The story Mark Waid, Jim Zub and Al Ewing is a mix of the old miniseries “Contest of Champions” and the Doctor Who story “Stolen Earth.” Earth has been stolen, most of the world’s superheroes and villains are in suspended animation and the alien groups Ebony Maw and Lunatic Legion are battling for some alien artifacts on Earth and the only hope for anyone to make it out of this alive is parts of the several Avengers teams that are forced to band together along with a time-lost Avenger who has returned to help. There are thrills, spills and surprise twists and a bit of a motley crew of heroes called together by happenstance to fight a battle too big for anyone else to fight. Now isn’t that what the Avengers really is? There aren’t many heroes in here that feel that iconic Avengers type of characters, but this most certainly feels like an Avengers title. I wasn’t expecting that much from this and was glad to see this story vault over that bar with enough of a gap to see daylight. I’m 11 parts out of 16 and it is only getting better. It looks like there’ll be a new Avengers title out of this and I’m kind of excited for an Avengers comic, which was also a pleasant surprise.
So that’s the comics I have been reading as collected. Hope to be doing that kind of reading again soon, when my day starts to allow it. If for no other reason that to inspire new thinsg to write about.
Ta ta for now internet people.