October Recommendations

Awhile back I wanted to start a podcast with the goal of getting people into comics. Every month I and two other people would each pick one issue of something, read all three, and talk about them. We’d suggest good jumping-on points and series for newcomers and let people know a little more about it before spending their money. No one wanted to join me in that, though. I’m the only bigtime comics reader in my circle of local friends, and that’s fine. Instead, I’ll do my own monthly recommendations on the blog! I might occasionally stray if I find a really cool book or something, but for the most part this is ongoing comics or TV series, or maybe things available on Netflix. That way it stays current and relatively low-cost. All comics this time.

1. Archie
Archie was my first comic. My sister and I think that mentioning this on a job application for the local comic store might have hurt me, but I don’t care. 😀 I got two of the digests for my 9th birthday, and at that age I thought they were pretty cool. I started reading “big kid” books when I was around 5 or 6, so it had been awhile since I had lots of pictures in my stories. My American Girl books had pictures, but only a few spread throughout and they were more for extra info than for real storytelling value. Learning to look to the pictures for the full context was a challenging exercise for me as someone who tends to just speed through a text. I never actually got a third Archie comic, but I read those two so many times they fell apart even though I kept them on my bookshelf and treasured them as much as any other book. When I considered buying more as an adult and flipped through them…they’re horrible! I no longer find them remotely funny and the art is such a let-down now that I’m used to mainstream comics. Besides that, there are a lot of weird outdated messages in some of them.

Luckily, this series just got a reboot. The new Archie series is currently on issue #3, and a Jughead series just started. And I absolutely love Archie again. Beautiful artwork, a talented writer, more interesting characters (while still recognizably the same characters as they were before). An ongoing story instead of shorts built around jokes. As much as I dislike the snobbery that makes people dismiss the old series, I do have to admit there’s a difference here and this feels more like a “real” comic that is perfectly at home with the rest of my subscriptions. I don’t like Jughead quite as much so far, but it’s definitely also worth a look if you’re in the mood for a fun, light read. I’d recommend Archie for people who like more story and relationships, Jughead for people who are looking for something sillier and less involved.

2. Batgirl
Na na na na…oh wait, no. I love Batgirl. I love all the Batgirls and especially Barbara Gordon no matter who’s writing her, but my absolute favorite is the current run by the creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. The art is gorgeous but more casual and cartoon-ish (that is, like typical superhero cartoons, not funny animals or something) in comparison to the more realistic style of Gail Simone’s run. It’s just unapologetically fun, young, and girly and I love that. It gets criticized a lot for things like a cover where Batgirl is taking a selfie, which of course makes me love it even more. “Oh, sorry, am I bothering you over here having a good time and taking control of my own image? Too bad.”

There is actually an in-story explanation of that selfie where she’s using it to defeat a bad guy, and I’ll bring that up to people I know and trust more, but really it doesn’t matter. The selfie-shaming (and general “things we make fun of girls for liking specifically because we’ve associated them with girls and therefore assume they’re silly”-shaming) really needs to stop and Batgirl can take all the selfies she wants whether it’s justified through crime fighting or not. 😛 Also, even in-story there’s a point where another character, a friend of hers, criticizes her for taking selfies and seeking fame instead of just focusing on the job. But someone had recently stolen the Batgirl identity and depicted her in ways she didn’t like. Barbara defends herself and states that she is taking some control over how she’ll be seen, since she was famous already for things she didn’t do. I like that.

Overall, this series is just brimming with girl pride, nerd pride (Barbara and pretty much all her friends are super-smart and she’s working on a graduate degree herself), self-pride in whatever form that takes. She starts out in kind of a bad place, and it’s great to see her taking control of her life. It’s not all about crime-fighting. Her friends and family play an important part in helping her be her best self, and those relationships get plenty of page time. We get to see her as a superhero and an ordinary person, making mistakes but ultimately becoming better and inspiring us to do the same. All things that took her from “pretty awesome” in my mind to “best superhero ever.” Sorry, Captain America, you’ve been replaced.

3. Invader Zim
It’s just like the cartoon, but in a comic! Zim has been gone for awhile, and Dib has shut himself in his room…watching. Waiting. And notably not doing important things like bathing. Ugh, take a bath, Dib! While it might be fascinating to read Dib’s super-intense staring adventure, you could probably guess the first issue also leaves room for Zim (and GIR) to finally make an appearance. Hurray, the gang’s all here! I’ve only read issue 1 so far, but it was great and I am definitely ready to catch up on their shenanigans. If you were a fan of the TV show and have missed it, you should check this out. If you never saw the TV show…it kind of depends. I don’t even know what to compare it to, so it’s hard to say “if you’re a fan of ___, you’ll probably like this too.” It’s not really like anything else I’ve seen or read. It features a lot of cuteness, but also a fair amount of gross-out humor, but a lot more just weird humor. Definitely not for everyone, but I love it and I’m thrilled that it’s back.

That’s it for me. What have you been reading lately?

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