Comic Fodder

In What Order Do You Read Your Comic Books?

Ever hear the phrase, “I’m saving the best for last?” People do it with food, with movie rentals… I tend to do that with comics. The formula is fairly stable, but with exceptions, and depending on how excited I am about a particular title or storyline, the rules can be broken. So what follows is the complex thinking of a comic book addict. Fellow collectors will nod in understanding. People outside of our world, if they accidentally stumble across this, will shake their heads at the crazy amount of calculus that this weirdo puts into the reading of his funny books.

The initial setup is constant: Marvel puts out more titles, and I want a sense of finishing something, so I read my DC titles first, then Marvel, then any Independents. Sometimes comics are damaged, and it takes an extra week for me to get those, so I read those first, because they might be part of a tie-in, and I don’t want to read a new Batman when last week’s Robin is part one of the crossover, still sitting there on the table. It happened last week, so first I read through JSA Classified, followed by Teen Titans because it was wrapping up a story arc, then picked up the delayed comics, Checkmate and Batman and the Outsiders. Tangent: Superman’s Reign came next, then Green Lantern, Trinity, Final Crisis, and Madame Xanadu. The last one came in the final slot because it’s a Vertigo imprint title, and probably will take more of my concentration to read. Promethea was always my final read of the week, because I knew I would take more time out to re-read and study it.

That leads to another reason why I pick the least favorite titles to read first: usually I can breeze faster through a comic if the art is bad, or if the story is bad (hopefully it’s not both!). I tend to do a lot of things fast (insert innuendo comment here), and it’s easy to knock out a couple comics that have so-so stories than slow down to savor the better art and story of others. Every so often, I am surprised by how good an issue was when it was up front in the stack, and I feel like I got a little bonus by getting to such good material so quickly. The other rule is that mini-series tend to come last, unless they are really weak. Even then, like with Secret Invasion for example, which is not as good as I was hoping it would be, I still tend to shove it towards the back.

Next come the Marvel titles. The two “First Class" titles come first, not because they’re bad, but because they are closer to the light-hearted adventures I read as a kid. So you see, we have rules within rules: the worst ones go first, but only if there are no easy children-friendly reads in the stack. Solid reads like Iron Fist, Daredevil, and Avengers Initiative come next, with Ultimate titles usually following on their heels. Then comes She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel, but Ms. Marvel only comes next because of the current Secret Invasion tie-in; if not for that, She-Hulk would have been saved for slightly later. Next: New Avengers, X-Men: Legacy, Captain America, Mighty Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, and Thor: Reign of Blood tells us we have arrived at the mini-series section. The Runaways/Young Avengers mini-series for Secret Invasion actually is up front after the First Class books, partly because it might be kid-friendly, and partly because I’m not too sure that it will be good enough to wait for it.

Okay, we follow things up with Mythos: Captain America, Thunderbolts, and Fantastic Four. Notice some of my current favorites override the standard mini-series rule. I’ve picked up 1985, #s 1 and 2 based on recommendations from friends, and next comes Wolverine: Old Man Logan. We end with Conan issue 0 from Dark Horse, and Project Superpowers from Dynamite Entertainment.

“But Travis!” you say (that is my name, after all). “Surely you must have picked up a book so good that you just couldn’t wait to read it! A book so cool it simply had to come first!” Oh yeah. Sometimes you just know a story is going to rock, and you’ve still got a big stack of comics, and if you stay awake long enough to read them, you’re going to be late for work, and that won’t do. You pick up some of the best ones and crack them open (get your minds out of the gutters, we’re still talking about comic books here, folks). You have just enough time to read what you think will be the one or two best books before you hit the sheets. The formula tends to fall apart a little here at the end, I have to be honest. Certain titles like Captain America are preferred to Conan, but I know I can get through Cap faster, and if I haven’t read a good enough title to knock my socks off after ten books or so, I really have to bump a more worthy title up in the ranks to enjoy my read better.

Sometimes, if you’re in the right mood, bedtime doesn’t even matter. You just know that you’ve got a great read, and as soon as you get to a good spot to start, you dive right in. A lot of times it was Astonishing X-Men, that I couldn’t wait for other books before I had to see what was going to happen there. Recently, I decided JSA was going so well that I put it near the back of the pile, the “DC first” rule be hanged. That’s right, folks, I’m wild!

So there you have it, it’s my unique, strange system, but it usually works great. Every once in a while, I will save a comic towards the end and it turns out to be a dud, but you learn quickly. Now I want to know what your system is. Do you only read on nights that have a full moon? Do you take a copy of Wizard Magazine into the bathroom with you (for reading, for toilet paper, whatever)? Do you hold a sandwich in one hand while you turn the pages of the comic with your other? Does the wife make you take out the trash first? What intricate process do you have to follow to enjoy the perfect comic reading experience on new comic day? Somebody please share so I don’t feel like the only comic weirdo on the internets...

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

I do have a few titles I will always read first:
-DC titles almost always come first
-Event mini-series. This includes Final Crisis, and, yes, Countdown (but I have an explanation)
-Superman titles
-JLA and/ or JSA
-Green Lantern/ GL Corps
-Bat-Titles (but not Bat-mini's, such as Gotham Underground)
-Other continuing DC titles (ex: Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle)
-DC mini's, such as Salvation Run
-Indie titles and Marvel are generally a mixed bag. This is tough to call. I will say, when I've picked up Garth Ennis titles such as "War is Hell" and "Dan Dare", they tend to get read pretty quickly.

I am not sure my system is that well thought out, and has evolved somewhat organically.

What I will say is that if comics on my pull list are consistently, intentionally left until last, and if I really feel I can do without catching up on them immediately, I make a mental note. If this sort of unenthusastic attitude toward a title continues, I'll drop the series (see: Infinity Inc.).

-- Posted by: ryan at June 27, 2008 3:51 AM

I read the Bendis titles first, usually, because he's so good at the cliffhanger and I've got to know what happens next.

-- Posted by: Lingster at June 27, 2008 8:31 PM