A brief but not boring history lesson: I was born to be a geek. I had everything a developing geek needed, including poor eyesight, crushing social awkwardness, and an inability to dress myself without looking like my parents picked out my clothes (when my mom picked out my clothes, I looked way better). Also, my folks were in the military, so we moved around a lot. To top it off, my dad is a big fan of sci-fi/fantasy books & TV and comic books. So, because everything physically and geographically prevented me from making (and keeping) friends and the fact that the most prevalent entertainment sources in the house at any given time were of the geeky variety, it was extremely likely that I was going to end up on the internet spouting my opinion about Star Wars, DC vs. Marvel, and my undying love for Buffy the Vampire Slayers.
We were the typical American family.
My dad collected comic books and when I was about ten years old or so, I discovered his abandoned collection in the basement of my grandparents’ house. This was a day that changed my life forever. There, in a wooden filing cabinet was four drawers filled with his comic books collection from the 70s and 80s. The fact that he was a Marvel fan (particularly of Spider-Man and X-Men) is what molded me into becoming a little Marvel fan. I would spend hours and hours reading, learning to love stories told via images and word-bubbles. I was already an aspiring writer and illustrator; comics just made me realize just how much you can do with storytelling. I was absolutely hooked.
Several years later, puberty hit and suddenly I became very aware of who I was and, most importantly, where I was on the social ladder. I might have been the one holding the ladder steady while all of my peers stepped over me in their attempt to reach the top. Being a young teenaged girl, this pained me more than I’d ever hurt before. Like everyone in middle school and high school, I just wanted to be liked.
Social status be damned! I'm surrounded by funny pages!
I decided that part of the reason I wasn’t liked was because I liked comic books. It couldn’t have had anything to do with the aforementioned lack of social skills or the style sense of someone who had never in her life looked at a magazine! So I kept my love of comic books a secret, spending my lunch money on them and then hiding them in a special pocket in my backpack. I would sit on the radiator in the lunchroom, the comic book stuffed in a notebook that I was pretending to study from, and peer out over the sea of other students who hated and feared me because of my
mutant powers inability to interact with another human being love for comic books.
I eventually made friends and became less paranoid about my love for comics. My hobby survived my awkward teenage years with a little bit of bruising but more or less in tact. What I didn’t suspect would happen to me was adulthood. The freedom crushing sense of needing to go to work to pay bills, go to college, get a haircut, eat at McDonalds every day, etc began to weigh on me. I was also discovering that girls are really pretty and that was pretty much taking up all of my time. And, as it turned out in the early 2o00s, girls didn’t like girls who liked comic books. By this time, I’d learned not to dress like an idiot and cut my hair short so that I wouldn’t have to put my hair in a stupid ponytail all the time so other than the fact that I could recite all the dialogue and sound effects to The Empire Strikes Back, girls were actually starting to take notice of me back. So I did the only thing that made sense: I started reading People magazine and stored all of my geekery into plastic tubs, never to be heard from again.
And don't even get me started on webcomics!
Flash forward ten years (because my God, I’m depressing): comic books and geekery are totally hip now! Thanks to movies like Iron Man, Batman Begins, and Star Trek and shows like Heroes, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica, people are way more accepting of geeks and their hobbies. Comic books are being recognized for their ability to tell stories and writers like Alan Moore, Neil Gaimon, and Gail Simone are being acclaimed for their work in the field. It’s a great time to be a geek!
The trouble was, I’d been out of the scene for almost ten years. Where to start? What to do? Fortunately, DC started the New 52 campaign, which wiped the slate clean (more like erasing a chalkboard) to give new readers a jumping in point. And they had other goals like
making money rejuvenating the line and things like that. But it was good enough for me. I picked up Batwoman, Catwoman, and Batgirl and am loving each of them to varying degrees. I’ll be writing reviews of them very shortly.
But what about Marvel? Well, at around the same time, the X-Men had undergone a “Schism”, breaking the groups into two teams with opposing worldviews. Not entirely original, considering their long history, but (again) it was good enough for me and I had a launch point for a title I had loved as a kid. Of course, there is a lot of stuff I missed by being away so long, so trying to figure out who’s who and what’s happened when has been a challenge.
Oh good, that cleared things up.
Additionally, IDW has restarted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title and that has been brilliant so far, too!
I suppose the moral of my story is that you should only do things when everyone else is doing them. Because peer pressure is the only justification for anything you decide to do. Which, of course, is a joke. I’m glad that geekdom is rising in popularity, but in all seriousness, I’m bummed that I let myself be swayed from something I’ve always loved. It was only a matter of time before I really came back to the flock but Joss Whedon, JJ Abrams, Christopher Nolan, and Robert Downey Jr. really helped make the path back an easier one to tread.
I started spending time at my local comic book shop, browsing the shelves, getting opinions from other geeks, and decided to start with Batwoman, Catwoman, and Batgirl for DC. As a member of the LBGT community, I feel that it’s part of my duty to read a comic that has a lesbian as it’s main character so that pulled me to Batwoman. And I have not been disappointed. It’s beautifully drawn and I really feel for Kate Kane and her struggles. Catwoman was recommended to me and while I’m not a hundred percent on board yet, I’ll give her a few more issues. Batgirl I picked up because Gail Simone writes it and I am loving it. It’s got a sense of fun that the other two don’t have quite yet but is still grounded in the seriousness of the rest of the Bat-line.
Uh, anytime you're ready to tell a story, Catwoman writers, I'll be waiting.
For Marvel, I’ve picked up Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & the X-Men. I have A LOT of catching up to do, since Marvel hasn’t done a reboot the way DC has, but I’m sure a few days on Wikipedia will solve any confusion. They’re both very different books: I like the grim feel of Uncanny while Wolverine is witty and fun in a way that is unexpected for a Wolverine book but is very easy to get into.
And TMNT is the frakin’ Ninja Turtles. I’d be an idiot not to read!
All in all, I expect my return to comics to be anything but disappointing. All the effort made to modernize them and engage the audience has made it an exciting time to make my return to the fold and I am very happy to be back.