Comic books, it’ll probably come as no great surprise to most of you that I collected comic books. I don’t any more, I stopped many years ago… but that wasn’t because I “grew out of” them, clearly I’m still a massive man-child… and it wasn’t because I lost interest, it was partly a cash thing being out of work for a while, and partly because other things in life had to push the wonderful escape of superheroic adventures down the priority list a fair few steps.
I’ve always kinda missed comic books, but then I had my existing collection to fall back to when nostalgia struck. I had a great collection too, some superb examples of the medium, many limited editions and award winning stuff… Stories that moved me, shocked me, made me thing, inspired me, made me burst with laughter, and even a couple that broke me down into sobbing tears…
At least I had all that wonderful stuff until one day, while moving interstate, nearly everything I owned was stolen from the back of a broken down moving truck the (asshole) driver had abandoned in a street somewhere overnight!
I lost many irreplaceable things that day, and frankly even years later I’m still very bitter about the whole thing… I know it’s “just stuff”, but I’m no buhddist and I’m not ashamed to say I LIKE MY STUFF, my stuff was pretty fucking cool!
A lot of what has kept me from going back to reading comic books as a much enjoyed entertainment pass-time has to to with a kind of psychological “barrier of entry” … I’d been out of the loop for years, sure I’d picked up the odd graphic novel from time to time for a shot of self-contained adventure, but going back to the regular stuff issue by issue? That was hard to think about…
Where do I jump on? How much have I missed? How can I possibly catch up? How many new characters have appeared? what’s changed? who’s died? who’s been replaced? WHO THE FUCK IS THAT GUY, Wait Batman had a son with Talia and now he’s a borderline sociopathic ROBIN for TIM as Batman because Bruce is dead AND time-traveling!? FUCK!?
You see, the books I like carry with them an ever evolving massive weight of established lore, a huge arc of stories and character relationship progression that can span a years worth of issues in multiple books, or more, and that’s part of why I enjoy them, it’s an epic… so simply picking up a title an any arbitrary point and trying to catch up can be, at best; intimidating, and at worst; utterly confusing.
It’s be like only showing someone the final part of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on DVD two chapters in, and never explaining why this “Frodo” fucker looks like he ‘s a vegetarian with leukemia on a hike up a big fucking mountain with an engagement ring for his potatoman boyfriend and a malnourished slave who appears to have a brain injury or like, twelve extra chromosomes in his DNA!
The big Comic book companies know this shit can be intimidating, and they know they NEED to keep offering “on points” to keep bringing on fresh readers and expand the reading lists of existing readers, so every now and again they do “BIG CROSSOVER EVENTS” to not only snatch your interest, but also give new readers somewhere to jump on because these big events will usually run across several titles, or even ALL the main books, where individual characters or teams will play their parts, and there’s also a mini-series book(s) specific to the event, to help tie the whole thing together and feed you into the tendrils running throughout all the other books.
Sometimes these big events also completely change the “rules” of a comic book universe, like retconning some history, or reviving dead characters, killing others off or even re-booting the whole damn universe…. and once the dust settles you’ve not only had an epic story to get you revved up, but you got to know the characters, and how they interact, maybe you were introduced to some new ones that now has you giving their book a go…
DC Comics have such an event accelerating into play up right now, and I’m looking to it as my jumping on point.
The lead-up is called “Flashpoint”
Flashpoint is an American comic book crossover story arc published by DC Comics. Consisting of an eponymous core limited series and a number of tie-in titles, the storyline premiered in May 2011. The core miniseries series is written by Geoff Johns and penciled by Andy Kubert.
The series details an altered DC Universe in which only Barry Allen and Booster Gold seem to be aware of very significant differences between the regular timeline and the altered one, including Cyborg‘s place as the quintessential hero, Superman‘s apparent detention by the government, and a Thomas Wayne version of Batman who is “spending his days running Wayne Casinos.”
Consisting of a limited five issue run, the series will also crossover with time-travel comic Booster Gold, sixteen three-issue mini series and a number of one shots with four having been announced for release in June
It’s a great jumping on point for several reasons, one, it’s set in some kind of accidental parallel universe caused by events in the preceding “Flash” comic’s story arc, “Road to flashpoint“, so I don’t really NEED to know a whole bunch of recent DC history to get up to speed, and secondly… when it’s all done, the whole DC universe gets rebooted.
Although, the folks at DC Comics refuse to call it a “reboot“, or a “restart“, it’s a “relaunch” instead you see… what’s the difference? seriously, who gives a fuck about DC’s pr-spin schematics? … what it MEANS is that everything starts fresh, every single one of the 52 DC comic book titles are starting fresh with Number 1 issues.
It’s not QUITE a nuke-and-pave thing, though DC keep sending out mixed signals about some old stuff staying but it’s all entirely new old stuff and OHFUCKSHUTUP you’re just confusing people you asshats! … all I care about is, come September when this whole re-beginning-ering kicks off, I can, without a care about reading orders, and which crossover I should read in what order so the whole damn thing makes sense, simply read about batman kicking some muggers spleen inside-out for information about a drug deal or some shit!
Point is…. Come September I can just buy some comics, and enjoy them!
And just as an aside, the Booster gold tie ins for Flashpoint are ESPECIALLY awesome, even more so to those of us whose first “jumping on point” was the “Death of Superman” … if you’re reading it, you know what I mean already. My jaw dropped. :D