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Limited Edition #2: My Future in Comics

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Well a lot has happened since we last spoke. For starters tax season descended upon us like a terrible Kanji seeking to destroy everything I hold dear.

You see tax season in the Meidell home is a time of preparing, budgeting and my wife discovering just how much I spent last year in comics. Which means it’s a terrible time filled with fear and self-loathing as she realizes that I spent above and beyond anything she can imagine.

To make matters worse, this year marked the single worst year I’ve ever done when it comes to buying comics. I blame it mostly on Marvel Now! and All-New Marvel Now! But don’t think you’re off the hook indie books from Image, you’ve done a lot of damage too. Even my trusted Batman had several double-sized issues with prices ranging from 4.99 to a whopping 7.99 for Detective #27.

Not this Detective 27, I'd gladly pay 7.99 for this one.

Not this Detective 27, I’d gladly pay 7.99 for this one.

Sadly, something had to be done. And before you think negative of my wife, just know that she actually supports me buying my comics. Sure she’ll cringe at the number but in our seven years of marriage, she’s never once asked me to stop. This is all on me.

So when I say something had to be done, that’s because I realized, for myself, that something needed to change. But what? I debated a lot of different options.

I could try cutting back titles. I made a list of every book I bought each month (which totaled almost 75) and then started cutting. I got the list down to around 45 but frankly I couldn’t handle it. I was stressing about playing favorites and wondering if something would spoil something else or what I would be missing by cutting this book instead of this one. So I scratched that idea.

Then I thought maybe I could trade wait. Lots of people do that. So I started doing the math. Adding up the numbers and seeing what was what. Now trade waiting did provide some savings but crazily enough it wasn’t that much. A typical book has six issues in it and at four dollars a piece you’re looking at 24 dollars for those six. Most trades release on amazon 15-20 dollars so you’re saving anywhere from 5-10 dollars by trade waiting. Not bad… but frankly not good enough.

I was at a loss. I didn’t know what to do. The nerves of this situation made me feel poopy. So I decided to take my mind off of it and do some reading in the bathroom. Maybe there in the quiet serenity of the porcelain throne, I’d be able to think of an answer.

Now I signed up for the Marvel Unlimited App a year ago and have been quite enjoying it. I’ve been working my way through Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men run. The app has all the way from Giant-Sized X-Men to Uncanny X-Men #150. That’s basically 60 issues of his run unbroken and when the run was at it’s prime. This has been my on-the-pot reading.

For me, this image evokes the need to poop.

For me, this image evokes the need to poop.

As I opened the app, I saw they listed all the new books they added that week. It was all the pre-Infinity stuff building up to that event. Further investigation revealed that every issue was from exactly six months ago.

I started researching further and sure enough, every week they released the books that hit the shelves exactly six months ago.

Then I had an idea.

What if I stopped reading Marvel completely for six months? Then in six months I just started reading again on Marvel Unlimited. It would be as if I was waiting week to week. I could read EVERY Marvel book that comes out for 75 dollars a year. Meanwhile, I’ll continue buying my Batman and Image titles like normal every week.

I did the Math. My comic budget dropped from being near 350 dollars a month to being around 25 dollars a month.

Holy crap. First, I had no idea I read so much Marvel. Second, this could work. There was only two major downsides.

One) Marvel Unlimited is great but the digital quality is not on the same level as Comixology. It’s not quite a user friendly and it’s not quite as crisp but I think I could live with it. If I really love a story, I buy it in trade anyway.

Two) This would mean for the next six months I would have almost no weekly comics to read. Compared to the past few year where I could have as many as 15 books in a week to read this meant I would have some free time on my hands. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to follow comic news sites as closely.

It was the second one that really got me nervous. Six months is a long time to just go cold turkey. I think I could cut the news out, that wouldn’t be too hard but interacting on the Facebook groups would have to drop significantly for sure.

For the first little bit, it looked like a PSA for depression in my house.

For the first little bit, it looked like a PSA for depression in my house.

But in the end, I decided to do it. There was no other option. I needed to spend less money and you couldn’t argue with this math. So on January 22nd, I didn’t buy any Marvel comics.

The first day was the hardest. I had the shakes and even contimplated breaking into my friends house while he was sleeping to read his books. I was basically an addict going through withdrawals.

This is what I looked like by Wednesday night... day 1.

This is what I looked like by Wednesday night… day 1.

The next week it got a little bit easier. I actually picked up a couple titles that week because I am letting the series that are ending just play out. So Wolverine and the X-Men, Daredevil, Superior Spider-man those three are going to just finish up soon, so I might as well cut them off at a good ending point.

These past two weeks have been significantly easier. Sure there are times when I miss my books and there are times when I feel the temptation to take a peek at Hawkeye or Superior Foes of Spider-man but the reality is, if I fall and peek, that’s just starting my six months over again on that title.

Wednesday, July 23rd 2014 is my six month mark. On that day, all the books I passed on buying will appear on the Marvel Unlimited app. On that day I’ll become a regular reader again, albeit six months behind.

I mean I’ve still got my Batman titles and my Image books so I am not completely empty but I do have a ton more free time particularly before bed. What was I going to do with that time?

Sex? Nah, I am a comic book man. I needed something to read.

If this guy was reading comics this would basically be an accurate photo of my home life. Maybe add a bit more regret into the woman's eyes as well.

If this guy were reading comics this would basically be an accurate photo of my home life. Maybe add a bit more regret into the woman’s eyes as well.

So I’ve decided that I am going to read a few “real” books (you know, novels) and I am also going to read the classic runs of several of my favorite characters. As I said earlier, I’ve been working my way through Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men run and when I’ve gone as far as I can in that I am going to start Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man. I also want to read the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four and a few other’s like that.

I am also going to use this time to read other random stories and runs that I haven’t had time to read. Well that’s where this month’s column finally comes in. I read a couple series I’ve been putting off forever and I wanted to chat a little bit about each of them here at the end of the column.

I think this will be something I try to do every column but at the beginning. Before I’ve kicked off the actual topic I will start each column with a review of a series/story I’ve read and at the end, I’ll let you know if I reccomend it. These of course will remain mostly spoiler free but typically we’ll be dealing with fairly old stories.

This week there are two series but they are connected by the creative team behind them. I am talking about Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s The Sentry and Inhumans.

Upon quitting my comics these are the first two series I decided to read. I read the Sentry first and then followed it up with Inhumans. Let’s start with Sentry.

marvel_sentry1

If you are familiar with Brian Michael Bendis’s run on New Avengers you know that the Sentry played a major role in that story. He’s also shown up as one of the Horsemen of Death in Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers. But Paul Jenkin’s story is the original. This is the first time we’ve ever met Sentry and I have to say it’s probably my favorite appearance of the character I’ve read thus far.

Now I am not a huge Sentry fan but what I like about this story is that it’s very self-contained. It has a great build up, lot’s of great story beats and reveals but ultimately Jenkin’s puts all the toys back exactly as he found them at the end and that’s what is great about it.

This is a mini series where everything changes and nothing changes at all. I liked that aspect of it. Sentry is essentially the Superman of the Marvel universe and what I love about that universe is that is has no Superman type characters. So logic said I wouldn’t like this run.

But without spoiling anything, the way they end this book leaves you in a place where you could accept the character or not and either version can be right without affecting much continuity. It’s up to the reader and that’s a really smart way to handle this character. His role in New Avengers will later undo all this but for now, based on this series alone, it’s a good use of the Sentry.

As far as Jae Lee’s art is concerned if you’ve read the recent Batman/Superman series from DC you know what you’re getting into… generally speaking.

reed 2

If I am being honest, I am not a Jae Lee fan. He does amazing covers but I dropped Batman/Superman and his Before Watchmen title not entirely because of his art but that was a big part of it.

But what I found with Sentry (and Inhumans for that matter) is a Jae Lee showcasing his unique style but also maintaining a lot of the traditional approach to comics as well. Which works for him.

What this means is that unlike Batman/Superman Lee’s art actually features some backgrounds. It’s a bit softer and the coloring on it isn’t quite as mute (still very mute but not as much). I came to find myself appreciating his art a lot more from these two runs than I have from anything else.

The Reed Richard’s he draws is absolutely amazing and one of my favorite versions of that character. Reed plays a fairly main role in the book so you get a lot of him.

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One thing to keep in mind about this book is it’s not all in the one series. There is the main series featuring Jenkins and Lee and then each supporting character gets a one off to tie into their storyline. That ends up being a Hulk, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Angel from the X-Men.

The art in the supporting issues is done by different artists. It’s not terrible (for the most part, Angel was bad) but it’s not great either (really Angel wasn’t good).

After you’ve read these four supporting titles you read one last one-off called The Sentry: The Void that wraps everything up. This books is drawn by Lee again and closes the story off. The four one-off titles aren’t necessary to the story but they are enjoyable and I would recommend them.

Now on to Inhumans. Inhumans is great and I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the Sentry and while this doesn’t quite put all the toys back as he found them, he wraps the story up nicely, making this a great standalone series.

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Inhumans features a cast of characters most of whom I don’t know or are being introduced for the first time. If you don’t know anything about the Inhumans this is a great series to read as it catches you up with most of their history pretty quickly.

My only problem with this series is the events that are going on in the book are made very public to the Marvel universe and I find it hard to believe that groups like the Fantastic Four, Avengers or X-Men wouldn’t be on hand to help the Inhumans out. I mean I know if they did, you’d have a totally different series but it was just hard to ignore the fact that nobody was doing anything to help them.

But that’s a tiny nitpick. This story is pretty great and is a awesome look at what the Inhuman’s can be. As mentioned above the art is pretty slick. Lee covers this whole book and while sometimes, it gets a little dark or muggy for the most part this is another example of Lee doing art that I really enjoy.

Overall these are two great reads that I highly recommend… Especially if you have a bit of free time while you’re trying to break a habit you’ve had for almost twenty years.

(You guys this whole article is a cry for help! What am I going to do without my weekly comics for six months! Help me)

I am fine.

(Help me)

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

All work and no comics make Travis a dull boy.

I am fine.

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