Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top 10 reasons you should read comic books

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 11:45 AM

At some point in your life, in one way or another, you've come across a comic book.

You read them when you were younger; you made fun of someone for reading them when you were younger. (Or last week.) You saw Spider-Man 3 on its opening weekend; someone gave you their copy of Spider-Man 3 for your birthday.

You decided to pass on playing Wolverine in the first X-Men movie; you're a household name because you played Wolverine in the first X-Men movie, the second, the third and eventually your own spin-off. (Or maybe that's only if you're Dougray Scott - hope Mission Impossible II was worth it.)

You watched Batman with bated breath; you watched Batman and Robin with a weak gag reflex.

Maybe you dated someone who read them, bought one as a gag gift, passed that guy with the unfortunate haircut looking at them at Borders, or just liked Batman: The Animated Series.

Or you just can't log on to read your Daily Loaf without some guy tricking you into reading about them with pictures of Ryan Reynolds' abs or Jennifer Aniston.

Whatever the case, comics are a part of your life -- and it's time for you to come to terms with the Top 10 reasons you should read comic books:

click to enlarge XMenHeroesB

10. EVERYONE SHOULD

KNOW HEROES IS A RIP-OFF

It's been said that there are no more original ideas. That everything's been done. Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that Marvel Comics -- or DC -- invented the idea of the superhero. The ideology surrounding them existed before Joan Rivers was in diapers. But in terms of modern pop culture, well, Marvel and DC practically did invent the superhero. They certainly made them relevant.

If you're going to do something that's been done, do it better. Google Days of Future Past or watch an X-Men movie: Hugh Jackman and Hayden Panettiere, Wolverine and Claire, respectively, share more in common than an eight-head.

I'm not saying Heroes is a bad show. It isn't. I've seen it, though like much of America, I'm not watching it now.  Humans discovering they have superhuman abilities, dealing with a government that hates and fears them, all while trying to save the world -- it's a great concept. Potential cures, racing through time and dealing with horrible futures -- it's compelling. When it's called X-Men.

On a side note, NBC: The Incredibles did the same thing... but it was incredible. And Disney bought Marvel, so watch out. 

click to enlarge Nightcrawler_B

9. YOU CAN LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

I took Spanish in high school. Three years of it. (Okay, two and a half -- but in my defense, Senor Smith collected tarea too often.) It took years of constant grilling and time spent in workbooks (or out of them, judging by what would've been my full third year) to get me where I am today in terms of my Espanol.

Which is nowhere. I can speak fractured Spanish -- a word here, a word there, insert joke about Taco Bell. But basically, I'm never going to live in Spain.

But simply by reading X-Men, courtesy of characters like Nightcrawler (pictured) and Colossus, I can answer yes or no questions in German and Russian. (And there are a lot of yes or no questions in the world.) I can even add mein freund to my answer. If I like you.

Comics are very educational... Ja?

click to enlarge RyanReynoldsB

8. YOU'LL HAVE ANOTHER REASON

TO FIND RYAN REYNOLDS ANNOYING

It's an exciting time to read comics. Characters you've read for years are being brought to the big screen, adapted for the masses to enjoy.

Things you thought you'd never see are right in front of you. It's surreal. Actors are vying for the roles in the next Iron Man, Thor or Batman flick.

But for every Robert Downey, for every Aaron Eckhart, there's a Ryan Reynolds.

The guy's good at what he does, I'll give him that. He's got a quick delivery, a silver tongue and abs that'll make you consider spending more time at the gym, less time at Wendy's or more time in the bathroom with your toothbrush.

But it's been done. The guy is stuck in Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place hell -- and as he isn't a bad actor, I keep Waiting, Definitely, Maybe, for him to accept The Proposal for a different type of role.

Unfortunately, however, that doesn't look likely -- and it doesn't bode well for comic fans: he'll be playing Ryan Reynolds (a second time) as Deadpool in a Wolverine spin-off and Ryan Reynolds as DC's Green Lantern. Grab a comic now so you'll understand the (Amityville) Horror of it all. Besides, everyone knows...

click to enlarge WolverineBullseye

7. THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE

There was nothing quite like seeing Wolverine pop his claws for the first time in 2000's X-Men. Or watching Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle reborn as Catwoman in Batman Returns.

Spider-Man's battle royale with Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 was sense-shattering, and Jean Grey's martyrdom at the end of X2 is unforgettable -- especially since, as a comic fan, you know she'll rise again as the Phoenix. (Not under Brett Ratner.)

And while there is something to be said for seeing these things live-action, there's something much more worthwhile in reading it. Taking in the artwork, panel by panel, being inside the character's head -- what they're feeling, what they're thinking. Not to mention moviedom's ultimate enemy when it comes to the characters: no, not the third installment -- but the dreaded film right.

Sadly, you'll never see Hugh Jackman's Wolverine gut Colin Farrell for playing Bullseye. (Remember Daredevil? Didn't think so.) You'll never see Downey's Iron Man ask Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man to join The Avengers. The movies are great, but the continuity is constricted and some characters fall victim to star power or studio greed. These are deep characters with years of intricate history. Sometimes violent, sometimes gritty, sometimes not for everyone.(Poor, poor frail, soft Wolverine. You deserved better. You deserved an R rating.)

click to enlarge paranormalcraptivity

7. ENTERTAINMENT AIN'T CHEAP

I don't have cable, I rarely see movies and when I do, they'd better be very, very good. In a world of Netflix and YouTube, cable and the theater are becoming more and more obsolete -- especially when coupled with most of America's viewpoint concerning "the almighty" dollar. Entertainment ain't cheap.

I recently saw Paranormal Craptivity. Two tickets cost me $19 -- and that was the scariest part. For the same price I could've walked out of a comic store with a stack of comic books, enjoying twenty-two pages of sequential, captivating art and thoughtful storytelling from each book. Not every comic's a gem, but at least I'm reading and not regretting.

click to enlarge HappyCamel
6. YOU'LL HAVE A HAPPIER HUMP DAY

Everyone needs something to look forward to. Something to get them through. It's a proven fact -- by someone, somewhere. More than likely.

Every Wednesday, new comics are released. It gives you that something to get through your work week, through your week in general.

People need to reward themselves - and every Wednesday, I do. Without fail, without question, I get new comic books. It helps build a sense of accomplishment: if you aren't rewarding yourself, why work? Why do anything?

Or maybe just renaming the middle of the week does it for you. I don't judge.

click to enlarge Fox_Comics

5. IF YOU'RE A STRAIGHT MAN OR A LESBIAN

YOU'LL HAVE AN IN WITH MEGAN FOX

Megan Fox: so pretty that I'm tired of talking about her.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: gone are the days of the comic book basement nerd. Megan Fox, seen right at San Diego's Comic Con, has been very outspoken concerning her love for the medium.

Maybe that's your ticket in.

click to enlarge StormOscar

4. YOU COULD WIN AN OSCAR

Halle Berry's real baby.

One of the most interesting things I've ever learned about Halle Berry is that, for every character she plays -- from Dorothy Dandridge to Catwoman, she has an acting coach. She wants to know what her characters are thinking; who they are.

No, Halle Berry didn't win her Oscar for playing Storm in the three X-Men films, but I will say this: She was doing B.A.P.S. before X-Men and had her Oscar after.

Just something to chew on.

click to enlarge TinyTitans1
3. COMICS AREN'T (JUST) FOR CHILDREN

There's an old stigma that comic books are for children. It's understandable. Many people start reading them when they're younger, and their popularity certainly didn't originate amongst business men.

The truth is -- they are. And they aren't. Both DC and Marvel publish lines of comics for children. There are younger comics, such as Tiny Titans (right), and there's the entire Marvel Adventures line, geared for older children. You don't have to start your children on a comic that's an allegory for social discrimination, though it's where I started. Comic books have a rating system, similar to movies, for different grades of maturity.

You can grow up reading them. If you want your child to be intelligent, you have to treat them like they are. Use "big words" around them. Challenge them. Pretty soon, they'll challenge you.

I know for a fact that I wouldn't be half the reader I am today had I not started reading comics so young, and because of comics, I read every week. Use it or lose it.

According to the National Right to Read Foundation, 42 million Americans can't read. 50 million read lower than the expected level of a fourth or fifth grader.

If reading is fun, more people will do it. And they'll do it more efficiently.

click to enlarge ObamaB

2. YOU COULD BECOME

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

It's no secret that President Obama collected comics when he was younger.

The news took the comic world by storm, resulting in in a campaign trail not just across the US, but through several comic books. He even made the cover of Spider-Man. Forget TIME.

Did collecting comics instill certain values in the man that would become our 44th President? I don't know for sure.

But I do know that for the first time in years, Presidential headlines aren't about cigars or an inability to pronounce nuclear.

They're about Nobel Prizes. Sounds like a superhero to me.

1. THERE'S A VERY, VERY SLIGHT CHANCE YOU'LL BE A MILLIONAIRE SOMEDAY

90sComics

If you aren't an avid comic collector and they've come up in conversation, you've probably heard someone tell you they have a number one of something. Or a Collector's Edition. They used to read comics, and in the 90's, well, they forked over their $1.99+ and purchased their very own copy of Web of Scarlet Spider #1. Or X-Men #1, above.

It's even still in the board and bag.

They don't read comics now - but thanks heavens for that investment they'd decided to make. The truth is, after people began realizing their dusty old copies of 1963's X-Men # 1 could bring them thousands of dollars, comic companies got smart: everything was a Collector's Edition. There were foil covers, wrap-around covers, variant covers... relaunches, # 1 this, # 1 that.

The possibility of getting rich off of comic books is highly unlikely. Many a "Collector's Edition, #1!" can be found at a flea market for a quarter. In terms of getting rich, something is only worth what someone will pay for it.

But reading comics, getting to know the characters, and enjoying the artwork and evolution of it all? Cultivating a sense of accomplishment, your literacy and having something to look forward to every week?

You can't put a price on that.

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