Q & A 3: What’s your favorite current, ongoing comic book series?

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?

Anika:

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.

Caroline:

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.

Jennifer:

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.

Sigrid:

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?

  • Twyst

    I have a few that i am following, tho all related. I follow almost anything with Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Medusa or Polaris. Therefore, i get SI: Inhumans (issues), SI (trade, when it comes out), New Avengers (trade), Mighty Avengers (trade), Ms. Marvel (trade). I am now picking up the Magik storyline, and will be following Kingbreaker for suuuuuuuure.
    Oh, and Spider-Woman, Agent of SWORD (provided it is Jess) when it comes out. It’s all about the heroines for me :)

  • X-Factor… or Incredible Hercules.

    I really love what Peter David is doing X-Factor (minus his SI tie-in which was just lame) and he just keeps the ball rolling every issue. It’s never a dull moment.

    Incredible Hercules… what can I say other than that it is probably one the most whole-hearted and well put together comics coming out right now. A perfect mix of action and comedy all rolled together in one book.

  • Jennifer

    Mike –

    You know, I’ve been hearing great things about the Herc book from all corners. It may be about time I check it out, considering how much I seem to like Van Lente’s writing.

    (And X-Factor was a strong contender for my favorite ongoing, too, along with Captain America and Fables.)

  • Margot

    Tiny Titans! I do not care that it is a kids book. It gives me characters I love being close to the personalities I recognize for them. It always makes me happy and I actively look forward to reading it, and wish that it was out every time. There are many other books I look forward to, but Tiny Titans is the one where I always feel happier whenever I see its coming out.

    But if you want the non kids book answer, that is Blue Beetle. Same reasons. Characters I’ve come to love, being *good people* and heroes. Teen heroes trying to come into their own. All things I love in comics. Plus, it has superhero mini golf. This is never going to stop amusing me.

  • Anika

    Twyst –

    That looks like my list! I’ve read Avengers forever and I am a big fan of Bendis so I pick up New Avengers and Mighty Avengers when I can and I especially adore Ms. Marvel :)

  • I’m not sure if Hellboy and B.P.R.D. count in this context, since they’re both a series of on-going mini-series (hmm, that’s a philosophical debate in the making right there).

    I’m LOVING Buffy Season 8. Justice Society of America is also freakin’ awesome, as is Captain America.

    Sadly, GM’s run on Batman has done the impossible…it’s moved Batman from the first comic I read when it comes out to the 3rd or 4th.

  • I totally agree with Jennifer’s Wolverine: First Class and also Sigrid’s Astonishing. Those are 2 books I definitely look forward to.

    For me, however, there are 3. I love Brubaker’s take on Captain America and I think I’ll be buying that as long as he keeps writing. Same goes for his Daredevil. He writes those characters perfectly. Finally, I love Cable. It has the feel of being really important to the Marvel U without being directly tied to anything going on. And it is just plain and simple damn good writing.

  • Jennifer –

    I promise, you will NOT regret it if you start reading Herc. Especially this new arc that just started (finally out of Secret Invasions! Woo hoo!). They’re going in a really cool direction mixing the mythology behind Herc and the Greek gods with some very interesting characters from the Marvel Universe.

  • lilacsigil

    Wolverine: First Class is tremendous fun, and I’ve cancelled all other Wolverine titles. Captain America – a character I’ve never liked – is a wonderful, wonderful title, though I’m a bit disappointed by Brubaker’s Daredevil (apart from the arc co-written with Rucka). He writes the characters brilliantly, but seems unable to kick the storyline in a meaningful direction outside of their interactions. Maybe he should leave out the superheroics and write “Nelson, Murdock & Blake: Attorneys at Law”.

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