New To Comics: So… I Guess Hawkeye Drives A Yaris?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Crisis On Infinite Midlives is proud to introduce our newest contributor: Pixiestyx. Pixiestyx is relatively new to reading comics, and therefore brings a different perspective to the comics world then Amanda and myself, who have been around the block enough to know who to curse at by name and general description. She’s been leaving great, interesting comments recently, and we’re glad to add her to the Crisis On Infinite Midlives team!

Does the comic industry really want to bring in new readers? If they did, one would think that the publishers would want to make it as easy as possible for a new reader to find a storyline that interests them, as well as figure out where to begin following that storyline. I have been an occasional comic reader for just over two years, yet when it comes to much of the comic world, I feel very much like Hal Jordan, having been told to speak the oath of the Green Lanterns without knowing what that oath is – completely lost.

I know how to do research; how to comparison shop, read reviews, and decide what to buy. However, most of the publishers’ websites have not been very helpful. They are good at listing the new books for this week and what’s coming out next week; but other than great cover art images, they do a very poor job of drawing me in and telling me why I should begin reading a series. They tend to have a busy layout and are unintuitive if you don’t already know what you are looking for. The UserWiki on Marvel’s site offers series background information, but the volume of information is inconsistent – a page and a half on some, non-existent on others. It appears that Marvel’s primary focus is on getting visitors to buy a Toyota Yaris instead of their comics anyway.

The DC and Marvel universes in particular are incredibly overwhelming. Their series have been around forever, have several arcs and often include multiple crossovers. DC’s re-launch, New 52, with every series renumbered to start at #1, did help eliminate some of my confusion. There was suddenly a starting point – yea! Now I just had to decide which of these 52 series might hold my interest and be worthy of my money. Crap. To make it easy on myself, instead of trying to navigate DC’s unruly site and find summaries of 52 different series, my plan is to begin with what I know. I’m a child of the 80’s and I fondly remember watching Super Friends and reruns of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, so I decided to pick up Wonder Woman #’s 1-3.

I almost picked up Justice League and Green Lantern as well, but I’m not sure how many arcs I want to try to keep straight just yet. Besides, there were two Green Lantern series to choose from and I had no idea why there were two or if that should impact my choice.

Instead I chose to give Marvel’s Avengers a shot because I enjoyed the Iron Man movies and I’m looking forward to the Avengers movie.  Of course the Avengers series has several different arcs and once again, I was at a loss as to where to begin:

  • Avengers Forever
  • Essential Avengers
  • Mighty Avengers
  • Sith Avengers
  • The Avengers meet Scooby Doo

So, before heading to the comic store this morning, I called on Rob for advice on where to start with the more recent material. He suggested Avengers Disassembled and The New Avengers #1.  By the way, if that recommendation is completely at odds with my movie based decision making above, it’s my bad because I forgot that the “why” might be important and just asked for a recent starting point.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Whoops. Yeah, those are probably not the best arcs to get familiar with the movie version of The Avengers. Next time, try Joe Casey’s two miniseries: Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (out of print, but your local comic store might still have copies) and Avengers: The Origin, which is in print and ten bucks on Amazon right now.)

Anyway, yea starting point! Except that the store had two different “The New Avengers #1” books. One was subtitled “Breakout” and the blurb on the back mentioned Disassembled. The other had no subtitle and seemed to have nothing to do with Disassembled. They were two completely different storylines, but with the same writer, TPB title, and number.

This is why I get frustrated as a new reader. I had a recommendation from a seasoned comic reader and thought I was in the clear when it came to confusion – yet, had I not been looking closely and noticed that there were two books, differentiated merely by a subtitle, I could have easily walked out with the wrong one. Help me publishers. I want to read your stories. Please, stop making it so damn hard for me to find the ones that pique my interest.