Favourite Comics and Graphic Novels: Ones that Speak… to Me

I read a fair few graphic novels last year towards the end.

Having discovered my local library supplied them, when I was living in Peterborough that is, I tried to devour as many as possible.

Although recently it’s all research stuff or reading my own work for editing reasons. It gets a bit dry and boring after a while, but I’ll plod on. If my work is as good as I am sick of it, then I’d be too good right now!

Okay, I’m not sure how to go about this exactly.

I don’t have a favourite single comic book, I do have several favourite comic book series though. Since they are linked to one another, I think people would think that would be a good enough reason, because I do.

Now graphic novels are a whole other game. If you don’t know the difference, they have many more pages to comics, and carry multiple stories, narratives, include minor characters and sub plots, much like a novel. They basically are a visual novel, hence the name ‘graphic novel’.

A comic is something you get at a newsagents, or at a shop like WHSmith’s, and a graphic novel is something you would normally get at book shops like Waterstones. I just preordered my X-Men 1# comic a few days by Brian Wood too. I’m well exited about an all female X-Men. I hope it works out. Getting back to it:

Graphic novels are also usually aimed at a higher aged audience. Though there is no reason why, or any reason whatsoever why there shouldn’t be more childrens graphic novels; other than the more obvious reason I can think of: Childrens attention spans?

Graphic novels and comics are still sometimes seen as a childish, not so serious medium. These mediums were once exclusive to kids stories, and only kids stories–at least at one time.

But times changed the medium, as well as their stories, characters, authors, and not to mention–our economy.

Alan Moore is a name quite a few of you would have heard of that has made the graphic novel medium a more serious, adult focused fictional story experience. A person who has created deeply rich characters that are not to remote or fantastical to imagine being real right these very moments. And as Stan Lee said, the formula for making comics successful… “is creating characters as if they [could or] would exist [with us in the real world now]”.

Before moving this forward, it is important to establish an understanding of what is meant herein by the term the “fourth dimension.” Mostly because this is a special relationship with space and time wherein the two conflate such that infinite multiple dimensionalities become simultaneously present.

When the reader’s interaction is accounted for, this evocation of space-time becomes quite literal–and expands exponentially. The fourth dimension is simply bridged by human experience and interaction.

Okay, on to the numbers. These are in no particular order:

1.  Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was turned into a comic series instead of a TV show, and I was quite impressed at how it converted over. But then Joss Whedon has had quite a lot of practice with sequential art prior, as he worked on The Astonishing X-Men with Marvel, as well as doing a lot of other Buffy comics whilst the show was running still too, wanting to expand the Buffyverse beyond the screen. So–of course his carry on seasons of Buffy and Angel comics together with Dark Horse were going to be successful, at least to some degree.

It is hard to call each one a comic or graphic novel, as they are not short, but not as long as a full graphic novel story that stands on its own either. They link together like a comic series, but are quite a bit longer than a comic. It’s more in the middle, like an episode of Buffy on the TV (running fourty-two minutes usually) I guess; not a TV movie, but not a twenty odd minute show either. The thing is, Joss Whedon does this with another series on my list too. But it seems to work, so never fault what works, whether you can box it or not!

2. Birds of Prey (Gail Simone’s era) is probably the best all female superhero comic. And its for reasons that I didn’t even think about before writing this. It one of the inspirational series I used for my own female superhero team. And if you do eventually read my novel, you will find out why.

The leader of the group is a disabled familiar face called ‘The Oracle’, but was originally called ‘Batgirl’. To say that a leader can be disabled, as she is in a wheelchair and has no powers like Professor X does in X-Men, requires a pretty convincing character on its own. The comic really plays on her back story, and it so hard not to be engulfed by her life altering scene of being disable in Alan Moore’s graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke. This graphic novel shows the actual story which made her the person she is in Birds of Prey; the ‘Joker’ shot through ‘Batgirl’s’ spinal cord in her civilian identity (called Barbara Gordon), resulting in her becoming permanently paralyzed.

However, she does prove her worth; she possesses an information network, a photographic memory, and extreme hacking and programming skills. Barbara is also a skilled hand-to-hand fighter and a master in weaponry, though she is rarely shown in a physical fight because of her limitation of movement because of being paralysed; she usually directs the team remotely.

Although, after the events of Flashpoint, Barbara eventually regains the use of her legs and returned to the Batgirl identity, taking a temporary hiatus from the team.

I also thought putting Posion Ivy as a hero in another era of this comic series was an interesting turn, because she was never truly evil. She just had severe actions that made her want to protect Mother Earth, which in turn, I feel, made her a better villain; she wasn’t being evil for evils sake–she just went about what she was doing the wrong way. But then again, my favourites are usually not that of the majority.

Also I’ve only just figured this out… Poison Ivy is the human form of Mother Earth, and she means to fight back to protect it 😮

DC gets major points for character continuity and developing Barbara Gordon in this state. They do this with a lot of characters, which is good. I always think it is good to develop your character arc ASAP, so you know where they are always going, and can plan things ahead for them. When you shock people, I think it’s easier for the writer to draw from those moments, because it gives you (the writer) more to work with.

I have to agree that DC has some of the better story and characters out there, but at the same time, they have made some of their superheroes too powerful; like superman. We all know how he’s gonna die one day: Magic or Kryptonite. It’s just when. I feel it alienates him as a character, because I feel I have nothing in common with such a being, and they also just keep reusing the same tools in his storyline, which bores me to death these days! But again, that’s just my opinion.

3. Astonishing X-Men

Only read the first graphic novel series thingy (Gifted) due to money constraints more than anything, as the library has none of these. Yes, these are more on the heavy side in comparison to the Buffy graphic novels/comics.

The first is apparently 152 pages long, but was an immensely good read. Considering X-Men 3’s movie was based on the concept of the ‘cure’ created from this series, it does it insanely different–and much better. It’s hard to believe a movie used it, with it being so drastically different.

4.  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

If I’m honest, I’ve only read two of this series so far, due to my library only having them two available. Plus, Alan Moore’s name, like Joss Whedon’s, brought my attention to this, as well as the movie of course. Which really doesn’t do it justice in my opinion, but is still an entertaining ride.

Bringing preexisting literary characters together was quite a genius move really, as they have established backgrounds and abilities to build on. Each character comes from a classic text, so it’s hard to say they had chosen the wrong people either. If you’ve read the novels belonging to each individual, things fall into place easier for you about the characters motives, but Moore draws what is necessary for his audience to know either way.

5. Wonder Woman: Odyssey

It would be hard not to put this on here. I have downloaded the Wonder Woman: Odyssey Vol. 1 and 2 for my Kindle Fire HD. I have to say that I love reading comics on my Fire. They are instantly delivered with HD crisp illustrations–and with your favourite characters!

Wonder Woman is a very tough cookie when it comes to any superhero really. Although her powers are not science fiction based, they are mystical, and from the power of the Greek gods. A little idea I liked and am trying to develop in my own superhero story, but in a different light. It’s debatable if Thor was created to counteract Wonder Woman on Marvel’s side, since she is such an iconic character for DC, I assumed they jumped and hoped for success too.

I do have some problems with the character, like her weakness: All of her powers being rendered powerless if she is chained by a man. WHAT! In fact that makes me FUCKING angry… but I’ll not get into it here.

She is such an amazing icon for women, and was the first ever woman superhero. Plus, I do like her darker side, the whole moral thing about killing somebody when there is no other choice to be made. Where Batman failed to kill in the Justice League–she will, but only if she had too. What’s even better, is her story of redemption from the killing. I wrote some fanfic with her in actually. It is pretty awful at the minute though. But I think all my stuff is.

If your interested, check it out. I have nothing to lose at the minute: Diamond Force: The England Front

That’s it for me. You’re doing well if you have come this far. So well done.

Till next time

Jon

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