Monday, November 03, 2008

You have been warned...

Hello my name is Erik, and I'm a comic book fan.

I have been reading comics for most of my life, and mom considers a contributing factor in the speed of my learning to read. I used to have a grocery bag of comics that had been given to me by a friend of Dad's who used to run a drug store. They had the titles ripped off because they had not sold, but I read them all. I had Archie, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Mickey Mouse, even others.

Comic books fascinated me, and in conjunction with the Super Friends cartoon, I always wanted more. Then there was the Spider-Man cartoon, and "Superman: The Movie". I read all the books I could find at the library, and became adept at the alter egos and origins of everyone.

But slowly things became polarized. I didn't enjoy Marvel like I did DC comics. As a kid there was no X-Man or Avengers animated series, and so the DC heroes were the ones I liked the best. Spider-Man was still cool, but none of the other Marvel heroes really hooked me.

Then it is 1985, and I discover that the local book/magazine shop is carrying comics in the back. That was when it started: the real collecting. The year 1985 was DC's 50th anniversary, usually measured from the first Superman comic, but there were a few other heroes who didn't quite last that came before him. And for the anniversary, DC had decided it was going to clean-up its continuity in a year long Maxi-Series. Two primary points in the Crisis on Infinite Earths was that Barry Allen as The Flash and Kara Zor-El as Supergirl died. Dead, gone, it's new continuity. I felt for the heroes with Barry's death, but Supergirl's sacrifice actually made me cry, and I can still get in touch with that feeling when I re-read the tale.

That meant lots of crossovers and an introduction to many new heroes. Moving to Maryland the next year nearly cut me off, but I found a small drug store that carried the mainstream books, but I was still missing out. I saw ads for The Dark Knight Returns and wanted to get it, but could never find it. And there were the occasional ones that sold out, and I never found.

Maryland was also where I saw my first real comic book store. It was little more than a booth in Baltimore's Inner Harbor (designed by the same guy who did San Francisco's Pier 39), but it had back issues. Oh, the wonder of first seeing long boxes of bagged and boarded books.

Then we moved to California, and I quickly found a tiny comic shop, that was unsatisfying, but then I found Land of Nevawuz (LoN). Sadly, LoN is no more, but that became my regular weekly hangout for the new books. And there I picked up issue number one of the Wally West as the Flash series. The Flash was always one of my favorite heroes. The running fast without getting tired, and the vibrational associated powers amazed me as a kid. He was a regular in the 70s "Super Friends" series, but like Green Lantern appeared occasionally as a supporting cast. I had read about Barry Allen dying, and had some of the back-issues, but Wally sounded interesting. Wally West as The Flash quickly (sorry) became a favorite. He grew, he changed, and he became more powerful. He even fell in love and got married. Linda Park became his anchor, and that was powerful for me.

Soon DC killed off (kind of) Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, and replaced him with Kyle Rayner. And this was cool too. Hal was okay, but It was great to experience someone learning the ring.

But eventually, the outcry was too much and they brought back Hal Jordan. And while DC kept Kyle he has been shunted aside, and I got bummed.

It seemed that everyone could come back from the dead for a while in the DC universe. Even Superman. But you could count of six major players to remain dead: Barry Allen, Kara Zor-El, Jor-El and Lara, and Martha and Thomas Wayne. Before the Superman re-boot there were eight with Jonathan and Martha Kent, but they were made not-dead through not having died in continuity, one of the few things I can thank John Byrne for. And I could accept that.

A few years ago, DC reintroduced Kara Zor-El, and now we have a teenage Supergirl. I was able to accept this also as she wasn't replaced (that had been a weak series then DC tried that), but simple introduced for the first time in this new single Earth.

But still Barry Allen was dead. Wally was safe.

Recently, DC in Final Crisis brought back Barry Allen from being trapped in the Speed Force (or maybe it's the Time Stream, I'm still not sure), and essentially nerfed Wall West by making him unable to break the speed of sound like he was as a teenager. And while he is still a hero, and they have future plans for him, I am depressed.

The story writers say they brought back Barry because they loved him as a kid. But you didn't see the guys who wrote the old JSA crying because Barry had replaced Jay Garrick (the Flash from WWII).

DC says there will be a future tale dealing with Wally. I can only hope they do him justice (sorry), and ... I don't know, just leave him with his dignity.

Hello my name is Erik, and I'm a comic book fan.

Oh, and you don't want to know how much I spend every month on comics.

Really.

Don't even ask.

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