In Q & A, a semi-regular feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
What’s your favorite current, ongoing comic book series?
This question is easy for me. I don’t get to the comic store every Wednesday or even every week and unless someone tells me Polaris is in an issue there is only one comic I go out of my way to get the week it is out: Invincible Iron Man.
Which is funny because I used to consider Iron Man a jerk and the most boring Avenger.
Here’s what my favorite comic has: accessibility (it is not distinctly involved in the currently heavily-plotted expanded Marvel Universe); wit (Pepper Potts is particularly well written as she is true to her character while being updated to the new millennium); robots, magnets and the drama of the past come to haunt you. And then it has Tony Stark, Iron Man, who is a jerk, but, it turns out, is not boring at all.
I hate politics. I’m refusing to watch this year’s Presidential debates, for fear my disgust with the whole stupid system would cause me to repudiate the people I’ve already decided to vote for. But for some odd reason, I love politics in fiction. I particularly love stories that explore how politics work in a fictional world that doesn’t exactly resemble our own.
No surprise that I fell in love, at first sight, with Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’s Ex Machina. In this Wildstorm series, Mitchell Hundred is both the mayor of New York City, and a retired superhero. Around this weird and wonderful premise, Vaughan and Harris have assembled one of the best casts of characters in comics, from Hundred’s dreadlocked, long-suffering deputy mayor to his formidable mother to a radical ex-sidekick named “Kremlin.” I read the first four trades of Ex Machina largely in one sitting. I’ve been trying to do the patient trade-waiting thing since then. But the issue schedule has been very slow — it’s bi-monthly, now — the trade schedule is slower, and I’ve discovered that I love Mayor Hundred and his friends too much to know that new stories about them are out there, and not read them as soon as I can.
Shockingly enough? Wolverine: First Class.
You have to understand — half the reason I came to comics was because I resented Wolverine. After seeing X-3, I craved stories where poor Cyclops wasn’t pushed aside so some cliched Canadian bad boy could take the spotlight. Somehow, in the years that followed, that furry little ball of rage began to win my heart in X-Men stories, but I was still convinced that Wolverine couldn’t carry a solo book. And then I found this little Fred Van Lente gem.
This is a “First Class” book, which means it’s appropriate for kids. But it’s also appropriate for anyone who loves good old-fashioned Wolverine stories; for anyone who loves comics set in past continuity with scrupulous adherence to the canon of the time; for anyone who loves fun, imaginative, modern comic books with a classic sensibility; or for anyone who simply loves stories featuring Kitty Pryde as Wolverine’s first — and, in my opinion, best — teenage girl sidekick.
Each issue so far has been a self-contained (or, at most, 2-issue) story that features various characters and themes from Wolverine’s 1980s adventures. As a result, readers get to experience stories that should feel old and tired — Wolverine battling Sabretooth, Wolverine fighting against his animal nature, Wolverine coping with his missing memories — but that, instead, feel new all over again. The humor is sharp and clever, the characterizations pitch-perfect (especially Kitty, who really does read like the 13-year-old girl she was, and is the true uncredited costar of the book), and the plots are tight and often emotionally resonant. This series isn’t going to shatter any records or break any molds, but it does offer the kind of pure, unadulterated comic book fun that’s so rare in comics these days, and for that I can’t fault it one bit.
I like different comics for different reasons. The reasons don’t compete; it’s like asking which do you like better, sex or sleeping? Some weeks, I like Hellblazer and its in-your-face arrogance and anger. Other weeks are more of an Echo mood — waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to find out who these people really are. Sometimes it’s a New Avengers kind of day, reveling in the scope and depth of the Marvel Universe. Every once in a while my favorite is Birds of Prey, with the fan service pin-up shots and the tongue-in-cheek subtextual relationships. But there’s one comic that is my favorite every week it comes out — when it comes out, which is a problem. Astonishing X-Men will be my favorite comic for a long, long while, I expect. It won’t even have to stay as good as it is — and, yes, I like Warren Ellis’s new direction with the team, thanks — I will still like it. It has the characters I love, with the characterizations I treasure, doing comic-book-y things while sounding like people I ache to have as friends. Coming back to X-Men comics with this title and Joss Whedon wasn’t like dating an ex-girlfriend, it was like coming home and finding that everyone has grown and changed but the love is still there. AXM may not be the best superhero title Marvel publishes. But it is my favorite.
What about you? What’s your favorite current, ongoing series?