Comics Are Nice!

A man raising someone this well can't be all negative.

A man raising someone this well can’t be all negative.

I think I owe you an apology, more-or-less-gentle reader. I’ve been pretty hard on Comics.

In recent weeks, as you may have noticed, I’ve involuntarily found myself getting a little, oh, let’s say down on the industry we cover here. This pen shows trace amounts of poison. It happens to all of us from time to time—our interests ebb and flow, like the tides of some kind of shrinking body of water made mostly of white males—but not all of us have put themselves in a position to write about it in a public forum on a regular basis, whether they are having the time of their lives or are sick to death of the whole affair at that moment. Moreover, since the day I arrived at iFanboy I have always tried to “cover” as many “hot topics” as I can manage, and it is the nature of “Comics 2013” that a lot of what’s “in the news” makes me want to “put my fist through a cinder block wall.”

Then again, if comics were perfect, we wouldn’t have a lot to talk about. How’s that for positivity?

There’s a lot to be positive about, actually, without have to stretch a rictus grin across your face and make the best of it. With all the tempests in all the teapots, it can be too easy (for me) to forget that this is a pretty amazing time to be a reader of these things. The best time? Well, I’m barely even an amateur historian, but right now I’ve got a lot to like.

I like that a lot of creators I came in with—the guys who were new on the scene and started doing exciting things with comics at the exact moment I started reading them again after a ten-year absence—have spread their wings and started doing more work they own. The Kirkman Manifesto added at least two wrinkles to my brow furrow when it was in the news, but in practice we have seen it produce some pretty cool work. As well as some recent clunkers that we’d rather not talk about. At least they were interesting clunkers. Positivity!

I like that established creators did not universally take the Kirkman Manifesto to heart. The reason it irritated me so much at the time was that I heard Kirkman saying, “Use Jim’s favorite books as training wheels, then when the big guys have given you name recognition leave his favorite books to the wolves.” I liked Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, but I like his Hulk and Daredevil even more. I’m glad I wasn’t deprived of them by some kind of arbitrary ethos.

I like that DC took the risk of The New 52. The endeavor seems to have lost its way, wandered off the trail, and fallen into a ravine lately, but at least they tried to explore a different path.

I like the way Marvel NOW! has repaved and freshly painted the existing path. The books that I like excite me more than they have in years.

I like Deadpool. Do you have any idea…? Do you have even an iota of a conception of what it means for me to say that? Anything is possible, True Believer! Even my personal growth! Exhibit A. (Possibly the only exhibit in evidence.)

imageI like the Bendissance, which is more than just a word I am trying to make happen. Both Brian Michael Bendis and the X-Men were flirting with a holding pattern for a while there, but the union of the two has produced some of my favorite comics in years. Ultimate Comics Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate has been as consistently good as it been inconsistently named. Oh, and Age of Ultron was the best “event” in years, if not in all of the modern era. Yes, it was too. I don’t want to hear it.

I like Twitter and the access it gives everyone to our favorite creators, now that I have unfollowed 90% of them and focused on the fun ones. It’s like simultaneously being at a perpetual convention and like being in the best iFanboy comment thread/Revision3 message board (remember those days?) of all time. It has revolutionized the way we hang out, even making a few of the old ways obsolete.

Needless to say, I also like having the chance to bleat my opinions at all of you about all of this. iFanboy is the best home a blowhard could ask for. I like the emphasis the Founders Three have always placed on positivity; I would rather not write the review than write a negative one, and they always respect that. (I know a lot of people disagree with that. Vaya con dios, mi amigo. Hopefully you can still manage to find someone, somewhere out there who will talk shit about comics someone worked hard on. It’s just not gonna be me.) Most of all, I like that they have always given me the freedom to say essentially anything I want without putting any restrictions on me worth mentioning. Even when I bend the rules, accidentally start a fight with an important creator, or thoughtlessly start a comment kerfuffle they desperately want not to have, they always have my back. Being a part of the discussion, even leading it at times, has made all the difference in a pastime I’d probably have ditched a dozen times by now without them. I subscribed to half a dozen comics podcasts the day I discovered iFanboy; this is the only one I still listen to.

What about you, iFaithful? What’s putting the spring in your step these days? Share the love. Someone just might need it.


Jim Mroczkowski was last seen headed towards the Mexican border.


  1. I like the resurgence of of great characters (Daredevil, Thor, Hulk, etc)

    I like the variety of comics available from the dark (Manhattan Projects) to the amusing (Deadpool, Chew, Atomic Robo), to the simply wonderful (Saga)

    I like that they are bringing back Nightcrawler and I have hope that Aaron knows how to use him.

  2. I feel like I’m having more fun with more comics than ever in my 20+ years of reading.

    Biggest high-point right now? Paul referenced it a bit in the 400th episode, but I love how The Private Eye just sneaks up on me every 4-6 weeks. As much as I enjoy my regular print books, I really like that there’s one title out there that doesn’t put out advance solicitations or preview pages. It really makes each release a “Holy Shit! It’s out! Gotta get it!” event.

  3. Jim, I must admit I was looking forward to an editorial about the Batman news, or the people’s reaction to it, or your own in some form. But this is a refreshing change of pace. For what it’s worth, even your most critical posts never fail to entertain.

    It is an exciting time in comics right now. The X-Menaissance (oh yeah) is probably the most refreshing thing in the capes and rights are a for me on a personal level. Having been a diehard fan in the 90’s only to disengage during my hiatus, and remain far away from the mutants even when I did return to comics in the early 2000’s, it’s so exciting to be welcomed back into the arms of my favorite corner of Marvel again. It’s been a great ride since Schism, and I couldn’t be happier to be back.

    For me, the one change that really gives me the feels, and makes me feel so very fortunate to be reading monthly comics, can be summed up in a single word: Image. This company has all but disengaged from its shoulder pad and pouch wielding roots to leap forward and become the most inspiring force in comics today. The material they’re putting out is raw, uncensored creativity on every level. It’s enough to inspire even the most casual creative person to create something of their own and watch it thrive. Not to mention that the stories are damn good, and as varied as any roster can be.

    Honorable Big Two mentions go to: Daredevil, Thor: GOT, Infinity, Uncanny Avengers, Indestructible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Earth 2, and Batman ’66.

    Honorable creator mentions: Hickman, Bendis, Aaron, Waid, Remender, Vaughn, Snyder, Azzarello, and Ennis for writers. Staples, Samnee, Parlov, Opena, Ribic, Irving, Francavilla, Immonen, Hardman, Dragotta, Capullo, and Chueng for artists.

    In the wake of recent (arguably) disappointing superhero movie news, it’s nice to be reminded of how good we have it on the publishing side. Thanks, Jim.

  4. Hmm, I was thinking about this on the drive to work and the drive to school. I’m just exsperated lately, and i don’t know why! Maybe I’m due for a stop into my LCS, but I don’t think thats what I really want. I think I want some of my books that are perputally late now, and the books I have now to maybe do more. It feels like I’m seeing quality dropping or the Big 2 just going thru the motions just using the same villains. Its like my ‘real” life should be great but reading wise it feels like I’m in a rut. IDK what to do.

    Where’s my Hellboy? Nowhere to be found Men? Trillium was pretty cool, looking forward to Collinder, Animal Man is usually a good read for me.

    I guess one thing that has me happy is that I have so much I was excited about, Venditti’s GL, stuff like that. There’s all this potential for me to find some cool new books. Like things were getting better in terms of quality for books. Hopefully my heart gets the message and I get back in my regular happy-go-lucky-groove.

    • Never hurts to check out recent trades. Some new books are great and fun and widely well received. Less of a gamble when all your friends tell you its great. Its how I got back into comics. But I totally feel you on the weekly comics. The numbers for my pull list are plummeting. And I’m definitely pulling more Marvel then DC, which is a noted change for me. Its always been a LOVE/hate relationship for all of us I think. Even when I was a kid and I went to pick up my favorite comic book only to learn that day that it would be the last issue. I still feel that frustration/confusion today. But then I pick up a new book…a new artist….a new writer and hope springs eternal…again.

    • My friends never encourage me to read comics, although one is very persistent about Manga. I think its that the stuff I want to read isn’t available. It may sound selfish/childish, but I hate not being able to read/watch/do what I want at the time I want it. Its not a blanket thing, I can wait on stuff. But if I want to get on here and my internet doesn’t work, stuff like that, I get kinda moody. So I think its that I’ve been waiting for my favorite stuff to come and its just not there. I’m reading older TPBs and theyre good, but I’ve still got this mood about me. Take my classes, I want to be in Art and Jukado today, but I can’t so I have Math and working out. Maybe I’m just a child IDK.

      I get what you’re saying but I don’t think it totally applies to me. I actually did read Volume 2 of Aquaman and was kinda let down by it, compared to the first one. But this mood thing has been going on for like 2 weeks now, still haven’t found the source yet.

  5. “I would rather not write the review than write a negative one, and they always respect that. (I know a lot of people disagree with that. Vaya con dios, mi amigo. Hopefully you can still manage to find someone, somewhere out there who will talk shit about comics someone worked hard on. It’s just not gonna be me.)”

    Yeah but Jim, sometimes writing a negative review is way more fun then writing a positive one. Case in point: The New 52 Justice League.

    Back in August 2011 we all held our collective breath with Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee hit the stands. We all wanted it to be great – good – even “okay”, but after the smoke cleared most of us felt let down by this reboot and some of us even felt cheated – how could DC do this do our favorite heroes?

    Cue the PISSED OFF reviews, of which I wrote my fair share. I never felt like I was shitting on what Johns and Lee delivered but more I felt like a concerned citizen – if someone didn’t stand up to City Hall things would never change, so to speak. (and things did get better in Justice League)

    I hear what you are saying though, a lot of hard work goes into making these funny books. A lot of people lose sight of that and it’s so easy to dismiss them away as crap. But Jim, some really are crap. 😉

    • Is it weird I came around to that book? I reread it last night, and came away thinking it was at least ok. I mean I was really bored by it the first time, and some of the dialogue is laughable; but overall I thought it had some interesting bits. Almost like Johns was trying to lay the groundwork for a JL screenplay for the future.

    • I’ll never understand all the flak that JUSICE LEAGUE has received since the relaunch on this site. I was uninterested in JL for years before the new 52. Now, it’s one of my favorite books. Fast action, lots of funny banter, beautiful art and ya can tell Johns is planting a lot of seeds that will bloom into wondrous stories in the future.

    • @IthoSapien – I recently compared Superman: Unchained to a Big Mac. The first 6 issues of the New 52 Justice League was the same thing – something that you know is bad for you but sometimes you just need a big sloppy cheeseburger. I get it, and while not the greatest comic book in the world, there are worse out there. In all honesty I may have gotten carried away with my negativity towards JL, but I was kinda having too much fun. All in all, I still feel those first 6 issues are sub-par work on both Johns and Lee’s part and I think by this point in time, history has reflected that.


      @sitara – the one redeeming quality JL had, to me at least, was that it DID bring more people into the world of comics and the DC Universe – and that my joker-faced-avatar friend is a good thing indeed. =)

    • @ghostmass. I don’t know, I feel like Unchained is more sub-par than JL. But I think a key thing about both books is expectations. Instead of saying “Scott Snyder; one of the greats at DC, is finally gonna make Superman, the greatest Superhero in the world, cool again”, we should say “Scott Snyder, a good writer, is gonna write Superman for 10 issues”. Or something like that. I mean I just find the book boring, JL at least had more characters and just had “newness” to it. I’ve only read the first 2 issues of Unchained but its just not doing it for me, I don’t know if I want to bother with the 3rd issue.

      @Sitara119, yeah the banter and the action are pretty good IMO. I just started volume 2 again and I’m kinda impressed with it. I think we all expected Johns and Lee to maybe reinvent the wheel or something, which isn’t an unfair expectation considering the reputation he’s cultivated. I like the quiet moments he puts into volume 2, which are short and kinda heavy handed but still show a different side to the characters. My favorite though might’ve been the first issue of TW where we finally see him maybe reveal new sides to the characters (IE, why WW has no rogues gallery!), thats the kind of stuff I want. In terms tho of basic standards its not a bad book. I imagine it’ll get better if he only has to work on 1 JL book every month.

      But about Jim Lee’s artwork in the first 12 or so issues of JL, I mean it looks good and all but the panels seem too rigid, too composed. IDK maybe thats what he wanted, but I felt like that made the art very business like.

    • Opps, that should be @ghostmann.

    • I kinda like ghostmass 😉

    • @IthoSapien I recently reread JL too and I am with you I found that reading JL this time without having high expectations I really enjoyed it, it wasn’t the greatest thing ever but still good. And I also agree with your statement that it was “Almost like Johns was trying to lay the groundwork for a JL screenplay for the future” while reading that first arc I kept thinking we were reading Johns’ pitch to WB for how he saw the JL movie going.

    • Thanks @ScottE. I remember David Goyer saying how “Superman:Secret Origin” was a big influence on him for MoS. Not sure what he got from it, but I enjoyed both tales. Go figure Johns would combine the Silver Age, the Donnor films, and Smallville together and make it a fun read.

      I don’t know if I’d like a verbatim movie adaptation from JL volume 1 (which we’re gonna get something close to, with the animated movie “JL:War”) but its a good starting point. If they did, make Cyborg’s intro a little more compelling, give it more screen time, maybe make WW less…IDK “Where’s all the Fighting?!”. Don’t have Batman just take off his costume in the middle of Metropolis. I never said it was perfect. I think its ok/good though, parts of it i think would lead themselves well to a movie. I’d really like to see Aquaman and WW have a little sparing of the wits; “Who are you?”. “I’m Diana, Princess of Thymescira, who are YOU?”. “I’m Arthur Curry, KING of Atlantis”. That kind of thing.

    • @Ghostmann & Itho
      Ghostmass sounds like a holiday that I would love to celebrate. 🙂

  6. The prospect of easily buying new comics on an iTunes esque platform has gotten me pretty stoked. I had a gigantic move recently, and the thought of moving a ton of the mediocre recent DC titles I’ve accumulated over the years was a depressing one.

  7. I’ve been reading comics since 1984, so I’d like to think I have perspective on things. What that perspective tells me is we’re in a renaissance period for comics. It can be easy to get jaded but I think us fans often can’t see the forest through the trees. Here are my reasons:
    1) Comics sales have reversed their long decline. Sure they’re not selling in the millions (per book) but do you know how hard it is to reverse that trend? There are things threatening this (like fizzling interest in the New 52) but there will ALWAYS be threats to growth.
    2) Someone above mentioned Image and I have to tell you, they’ve gone a long way to restoring my faith in the industry. The fact that they can rise up at the same time as more corporate-driven books is very encouraging. Between them, Dark Horse, Vertigo, and others, we’re seeing books that wouldn’t have been considered viable many years ago.
    3) The comics industry is producing stories that can only be found in our medium. Do you see Manhattan Projects as anything but a comic? Hell, do you think any Hawkeye movie will give you what you get out of the current book? This is important because with all the other entertainment out there, the only thing that will keep people reading comics is if the medium is bringing us experiences you can only get here.
    4) We’ve become a legitimate art form in the eyes of the public. I started reading comics in the last years of “those things are bad for you.” I had the rare parents that said “reading is reading” but being a comics fan was something you were supposed to hide. Now the elementary school my wife works at has graphic novels on the shelf. The stigma is gone, which opens more doors going forward.

    There are probably more that could be named, along with some bad trends going on, but things are never perfect.

  8. I’m really loving the surpluss of great writing talent from old standby’s such as Morrison, Vaughn, Ennis, Casey, Waid, Wood, Fraction, Millar, Brubaker, Pak ect that continue to make fantastic comics and are willing to keep taking risks and expand there scope of work in addition to all the newish writers like Hickman, Aaron, Snyder, Graham, Kindt, Hill, Lemire, Remender, Gillen, Kots, Brisson, DeForge, DeConnick, Weibe, Edmondson ect that continue to blow me away with new concepts and ideas a lot of which are doing top quality work on both Big Two properties as well as there creator owned material.
    I love that there are publishers like Image, Darkhorse and Top Shelf that have a major foothold in the market and use to expand the creativity of comics in the direct market with tons of high quality original stories that I could probably switch to reading exclusively if I ever got bored with the big two.
    I love that Marvel has taken a lot of these talents from those publishers and allowed them to apply there sensibilities to there own properties as opposed to conforming them to arbitrary editorial intiatives and that has carried over to the art which is getting further away from photo realism and closer to a unique style for each book depending on the tones of the series.
    A lot to like or love right now imho

  9. two thumbs up Jim!:)

  10. I should thank DC for their New52 re-boot. Setting it’s relative success to one side, their move stirred me from my ‘autopilot’ mode, encouraging me to genuinely consider my purchases. The result has been greater variety & better quality overall. I’m enjoying what I’m reading so much more these days.

    Honourable mentions : Azzarello & Chiang, Brubaker & Phillips, Tomasi & Gleason, Hickman & Pitarra and of course Vaughan & Staples.

  11. Bendis’ face is so creepy. He’s like Dr. Evil without the facial scar.

    • Yeah, I was thinking Dr. Evil mixed with John Wayne Gacy without his clown makeup. I remember when that picture first surfaced in a lineup of the “Marvel Architects”. Everyone thought it was super creepy then and I wonder if Bendis was intentionally trying to make a mugshot to remember.

  12. -I like physical comics.
    -I like digital comics (more than just a year ago).
    -I still like some Marvel comics (even though Marvel Now was kind of an jumping-off-point for me).
    -I like creators that take the risks of self publishing (panelsyndicater, fialkovs the bunker, monkeybrain, thrillbent, godhatesastronauts, bad karma & various kickstarters).
    -I like psychedelic science fiction (brandon graham, hickman).
    -I like dystopian futures (kirkman, brian wood).
    -I like autobiographic comics (jeffrey brown).
    -I like superheroes.
    -I like gritty crime (brubaker, aaron).
    -I like kids friendly (art baltazar&franco).
    -I like too much different stuff to list everything in this comment.
    -I like re-reading.
    -I like organizing my collection.
    -I like selling stuff I´ll never re-read in a 1000yrs on ebay and amazon.
    -I just like this art form and can´t stop celebrating it everyday. -I like self criticism.
    -I like positive articles like this one.
    Puh! That felt good.
    Thanks for an wonderful and inspiring article!

  13. I like Batman… 😉

    Seriously, though. There are TONS of great titles out there and lots more people reading them than ever before!

  14. I’m happy to hear this from an iFanboy because after all the comic movies this summer, the podcasts have taken on a somewhat dour mood regarding entertainment. I get being critical is the nature of a reviewer, but let’s keep things in perspective.

    Comics, movies, games are pieces of art and entertainment. They are nothing to get upset about. Want to get upset about something?

    Chemical warfare in Syria! Not Ben Affleck being Batman.
    Fukashima still leaking radiation! Not Superman killing Zod.
    10,000 heat-seeking missiles stolen in Benghazi! Not Mandarin being a fake-out.

    Like I said, perspective.

    • Agreed, this was a surprising and welcome addition to the Ifanboy mood. It’s gotten kinda dark lately I think, except for Mike Romo maybe, he always seems pretty upbeat.

  15. My view has always been that there are ALWAYS good comics out there to read, and I just concentrate on those.

  16. I guess if you keep saying that about Age of Ultron, you will believe it one day too. Hey, I really like Trinity War, but even if I keep calling it the best comic-book ever, like ever, it won’t change all the problems.

    • I’ve made my case on this one elsewhere.

    • I still say it wasn’t a very strong case.

    • You shouldn’t have to make a case just because you like a book. He’s not trying to get it inducted into the library of congress. He’s just saying he likes it a lot.

    • You say that like I am holding a gun. Sure, you don’t have to do defend your opinion against anyone, that’s basic freedom, but when you state it on a public forum people react, however so. If having any reaction is unacceptable, then you can easily avoid that by not engaging people.

  17. Things I like:

    – Ultimate Comics Spider-Man… Still miss Ultimate Peter, but I love Miles Morales, too, and I hope he (and at least some of the USM supporting cast) survives whatever happens in Hunger and Cataclysm. I would actually start picking up Amazing Spider-Man again if they put him in as THE Spider-Man in the 616 ‘verse,

    – The concept of the New 52, if not the execution — While I wish the New 52 was less micromanaged and had a lot more cohesion and long-term planning established in the beginning, I appreciate the concept of rebooting the DC line. It reinvigorated my interest in comics, and although my DC numbers have dropped, I find myself enjoying the titles I do read a lot more.

    – While we’re on the New 52, I like Batman for the first time in years. I’m also enjoying Animal Man and Swamp Thing, two characters I’ve only minimally cared about in the past. I really liked I, Vampire and Demon Knights, too…

    – That being said, I like how my DC deflation has spurred me to check out other comics that I never would have before, mostly outside of the Big 2.

    – I like just about every new Image comic I try. I’m currently reading through Revival, and it’s amazing so far! I’m also loving Chew, Morning Glories, Saga, Invincible, and Mind The Gap

    – I like the Valiant reboot! Having missed out on the original line twenty years ago, I’m loving meeting these characters for the first time, and I look forward to each new issue!

    – I love digital comics. Yes, you can make the case against them because of DRM, and it just might bite me in the butt some day, but the fact that I can try new series without eating up valuable physical storage space is a major boon for me. Now that I’m all digital, and with $0.99 sales on older titles so prevalent, I’m free to try series that I passed up before!

  18. ” I like that DC took the risk of the New 52. but the endeavor seems to have lost it’s way, wandered off the trail, and fallen into a ravine lately, but at least they tried to explore a different path.”

    Even in an article focused on trying to avoid negativity, the most positive thing you can muster up toward DC is a backhanded compliment. Classic Jimski. But, I think you’re making progress. 😉

    • Well, he was honest, no? It’s not good to be blindly positive either.

    • It’s also not good to be blindly biased. The New 52 has plenty of fantastic titles. Marvel has plenty of fantastic titles. So does Image and Dark Horse. They ALL also put out crap titles.
      But, there’s always been this feud between Marvelites and DC Nationalists. Some people will lean more one way or the other regardless of anything. Some people will always bash Marvel events. Some people will always bash the DC editorial staff. Some people will bash both companies just because they’re the Big 2.
      I just think it’s time to move past all this blue or red states of mind and just love comics PERIOD. Regardless of which side of the street is making them.

    • I like to think of myself as neutral between Marvel and DC… I’ve always loved them both and always will for all their faults.

      I agree, DC has put out some amazing titles since the relaunch. But there are SOOO many opportunities that they didn’t take and have squandered with their pointless events and inconsistent creative teams. I’m not saying Marvel has done much better with Marvel: Now, but the full reboot that DC did had so much potential that just wasn’t utilized.

    • And to be clear, I don’t think Jimski blindly bashes DC, but I think he clearly favors Marvel.

    • Squandered is a subjective term. Most comic fans have a strong opinion on what we think the companies “should” have done with our favorite characters.

    • Okay, that’s fair.. But it can’t be denied that some clear possibilities were opened for some characters that just weren’t done. My example is the current Batman/Superman series. THAT is what The New 52 could have done: exciting new tales with old characters put into staggeringly different situations done without gimmick or shock-value.