My Insomnia Loves These Comics

daredevil frameI’ve noticed something happening, lately. At first I barely noticed it, but, overtime, I couldn’t help but recognize what was happening.

I started reading comics regularly.

Not “once every few weeks,” but, like, almost every night–comics. Weekend lunch? Comics. Regularly. To the extent that I am totally blowing it with my regular prose reading. To the extent that people are saying I “look tired” almost every morning because I have been up late, reading comics and that i should read some of the best facts about sleep.

This is not unwelcome, to be sure. It’s been a lonely kind of existence, not being “in the know” with what was going on in comics, but, dammit, I just couldn’t get behind what them. I saw buzz about Age of Ultron and shrugged, I glanced at Wolverine and the X-Men and sighed, muttering something about “lost chances”…but slowly, ever so slowly, I settled into a few books and, I gotta say, life is good.

It was really interesting to reach the end of Daredevil‘s recent storyline, which ended kinda lamely, but was still pretty good. Indeed, it was Daredevil that was kind of my beacon through my dark times, a blind hero leading me, no less. The real surprise of the year, for me, has been Matt Fraction and David Aja’s (and others) Hawkeye.

I’ve never had the kind of relationship with the character that other people seem to have, but Fraction’s take on Clint Barton has made me a real fan. We’ve talked before about how important the “other life” of superheroes is, but I’ve always thought about it in terms of, “yeah, at least people are getting an idea of how hard it is to balance a job and your passion”— never, honestly, the “I’m just tired and want to watch TV” part of life, which, I will admit to you, can be a pretty big part of my life these days. I have often gone back and forth with Fraction’s books; some I’ve quite liked, others I’ve kinda hated. This story, these characters, there’s something just authentic about his writing, I really get the sense that Fraction really loves writing this book.

Hawkeye is that kind of book that I am almost loathe to draw attention to lest someone at Marvel finding out that it’s still in print and want to kill it just for existing. It has this wonderful under-the-radar feel to it, despite the fact that, starting with the covers, it is a book that looks different from all the others. Throughout the various issues, we’ve had a chance to play with comics whether it be through the actual format, like seeing life as a dog (#11) to the wonderful holiday issue, which really broke down “sequential art” in very innovative and specific ways.

It’s more than just the format that Fraction and his artists have fun with, it’s the way you sense Barton’s personality through his actions and reactions. You just get a sense of him, of this legitimately good guy, by the way he treats people, what he does for them. You also understand that as good a “good guy” as he is, he’s often clumsy with how he deals with relationships and tends to make mistakes—lots of them. We’ve seen “everyman” comics before, we’ve seen attempts to humanize super heroes, make them look and feel like normal folks, but Fraction really succeeds here, possibly because he’s freed of having to deal with Clint as Hawkeye in the book at all, despite the comic’s, you know, name.

There has been one book that I have stuck with throughout the past year that I hold on to less out of desire and more out of moribund curiosity, and it is called Justice League.  To be clear: this is, for the most part, not a very good book. Despite my frustrations, I’ve held on because I want to see it succeed, and I want to be there

hawkeye frame

when it happens. I want to see, from a craft point of view, the transition from “crappy bloated comic” to “exciting, must read adventure,”  It’s also been the book that gives me a taste of characters I’ve long since drifted away from, and gives me a chance, once in awhile, to read other books when the inevitable crossover happens, which happened with Aquaman (not so great) and Justice League of America (not so bad but ultimately forgettable). The current storyline, featuring the so-called Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, is intriguing, especially given that I’ve never seen Batman have to deal with Superman and Wonder Woman as a couple before, which is kind of a fun dynamic (reminding me of the best parts of the most recent Star Trek movie, those Uhura/Kirk/Spock scenes). Justice League is my nod to the “big” comics, with all the effort and glamor and budget, and I find it is with some chagrin that while I can remember specific moments in both Daredevil and Hawkeye, I recall Justice League as this big mess, with no small amount of ocean thrown in.

I knew things were different when I realized I was actually looking forward to a next issue. And not just any next issue, a second issue of a new comic.  I am referring to last week’s PotW, Batman Superman #2.

There’s some marketing chart somewhere, one of those big four-quadrant charts, and there’s a pin there, and that pin right in the middle of a picture of my head.  Like, this book just captivated me from the start. Yes, I like the art (and see why others don’t), but it’s just a truly fun comic book, taking two characters that I know very well and putting them in a time where they not only don’t know each other all that well, but are thrown into an alternative universe where they have to engage themselves and each other again.

This is the kind of thing comics are made for. The ability to use characters we all know and love, put them in profoundly unusual circumstances, and keep the reader on the edge of seat because he knows that eventually the two characters will become great friends through this adventure…we know what needs to happen but can’t wait to see how it happens.  Fun, fun, fun.

And then there’s Jupiter’s Legacy, which has its own problems but is so beautiful to look at that I just need to buy it. I fear it’s going to be come a soap opera (but then again, comics are soap operas), but I’m going to stick it out. It also forces me to go to the comic book store, which, sadly, I don’t do as often as I used to—or should.

SupermanI read other books, too, of course. I am always look forward to Saga, and I am still on Batman and just realized  this weekend I had forgotten about Chew, which I still enjoy very much. I’m digging The Private Eye when it comes out, too.  I guess the books I discuss above have kept the conversation with comics going, kept things interesting and fun.  Putting aside Justice League, these books have a done a pretty great job of keeping me on my toes, whether it be through these story or how the actual story is told. These books alone, these four books, make me happy.  I used to think being a comic book fan meant really diving in, managing that stack of books each and every week, keeping up with everything, being able to participate in any conversation/argument that was being had at the store.

Now, I don’t necessarily feel that need. I am slowly becoming that weird guy at the store that only buys one or two books on a Wednesday whenever everyone else is complaining about how heavy a week it is. Am I missing out? Sure. But that’s okay. The good stuff will come out on trade and if I am really jonsing for a different book, I can always download a new one or pop open my Solo trade, which is just fantastic.

Comics are a conversation, as much with yourself as with other fans and creators. I can say to myself, and to others, “No, I don’t read that title, tell me about it.” I am at a great point now where comics are a fun part of my life, not a burden. I talk more lively about the ones I read and listen more intently about the ones I don’t. It’s not the good ol’ days of 20 issue weeks, but I’m okay with that — as is my wallet! What gives me joy is that I am back into comics—maybe not as many, but I am at a point where the ones I read…are just good. And good comics = a good life!

How about you? You still reading as many books? Are there any books that have rekindled that? Share your faves in the comments!


Mike Romo is an actor in LA. Drop him a line via email, follow him on twitter, and like him on Facebook.


  1. The last book to give me sleepless reading nights was Locke and Key. It’s still the trade I look forward to the most when it hits the shop. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a finale to a series either.

  2. The one thats rekindling EVERYTHING i love in comics right now is East of West. The world building is phenomenal. it truly feels lived in and vibrant, which might seem strange to call a world on the verge of apocalypse. Every character seems intricately designed, with an accompanying voice that is distinct and its obvious Hickman “lives” with these people all the time. Dragottas layouts and storytelling is just phenomenal as well…if the 18 panel page in #4 doesnt get your blood pumping…i wonder if blood flows through your veins at all.

  3. “To the extent that people are saying I “look tired” almost every morning because I have been up late, reading comics.”

    This is totally me the first week of every month, sometimes the last week of the month like this week when my comics for the month ship a week early. I average about 30+ comics per month plus a few trades. And when they all come at once I am up pretty late reading them for a few days. But I love it. What I am most into right now is Trinity War and trying to figure out the murder mystery. Can’t wait for the next parts and tie ins in August(which I won’t read until the first week of September).

  4. I’ve managed to hover at about 6-8 books a week for a while now, but I save them for my days off (which, since I work retail, usually works out to be a Wednesday or Thursday anyway). I usually binge through them and then get sad. Or sometimes I’ll read the most anticipated ones and save the others for later. My pre-bedtime reading is usually reserved for prose.

    The book scratching my itch for the last week has been Fear Agent Library Edition Vol. 1. I’ve been reading a little bit at a time for two reasons; 1. I want to prolong the magic, and 2. The fuckin’ thing is so big you can only read it at a table. But my god, is it wonderful. That format is how every great comic should be collected. Gorgeous stuff.

    • Haha! I’ve been doing the exact same thing w/ Fear Agent, for the same reasons.

    • My girlfriend has started using phrases like “I set it on Fear Agent.” instead “I set it on the end table.”

    • She better be usin’ a coaster!

    • My box of comics for July came last Saturday. I put the box upstairs and went to take a shower. I got dressed and went back upstairs to find my wife having opened the box, strewn all of my comics all over the floor, and she was reading Justice League #22 while eating a bowl of cheerios over it. I almost passed out. I came to realize it was only a joke though as there was no milk in the cereal. She just knows how anal I am and wanted to give me a heart attack. And the comics strewn all over the floor were no big deal as they were still in their bags with boards. I pretty much had a melt down though.

    • @Daningotham, and that’s why you can’t have nice things 🙂 .

    • LOL, exactly. “Can’t have nothin’ nice!”

    • Fear Agent is a special book indeed, so good.

  5. I’ve recently starting reading Terry Moore’s stuff in trade–first Rachel Rising, now Strangers in Paradise, soon I’m diving into Echo–and I LOVE it all. The Mignolaverse line of books always leave me wanting more–in the good way–and my Marvel top three of Daredevil, FF, and Young Avengers keep a smile on my face every time I crack one open.

  6. I’ve stuck with some books hoping they would get better; “Hellboy in Hell, Green Hornet (Kevin Smith, dropped it), Green Arrow (Jeff Lemire), IDW Doctor Who (dropped after #6, not soon enough!). You can’t do it with everything, sometimes you have to say “This isn’t cutting it and hasn’t been for awhile”. I try to limit myself to 8 books to collect every month. I want to add more, but it’s tough. Although, last issue of JL I thought was good and MUCH better than either volume 1 or 2 combined. JLD took a sharp dive, which saddens me. But I’m halfway through Trinity War so I can cut it some slack and see where it goes.

    My LCS clerk has kind of dropped the ball. Aside from going in to buy comics, I go there for some conversation (read:to talk about comics). I know he’s busy, but last time was the first time in a while we managed to talk about stuff, and it was all movies and previews. So I don’t really buy books just to keep up with others. I do finish mine and hurry here to talk about them though.

    The last few that kept me up (that I stayed up REALLY late reading) were “Superman: the Unauthorized Biography” (great book) and the 52 trades (excellent story). To be honest, it’s been awhile that a comic has done that to me, made me stay up so late because I HAD TO read the next couple of pages. Then again, I’m always tired lately!

  7. I read comics just about every day, new or old, doesn’t matter. (Recently been getting really into George Perez’s Wonder Woman, and staying up too late reading it) – It’s what I usually do in my leisure time.

    Is this an uncommon habit for people here?

  8. For another year or so, I have all the time I want to spend reading. When I’m not out with my buds, you can expect to find me going over my new pulls or classics I haven’t gotten to yet (just started Promethea!). It’s really a luxury to be able to find the time for most, I understand.

  9. I’m probably reading the fewest amount of books now than I ever have in my past 10 years of reading comics, averaging three or four books other week. In the past I probably would’ve gone crazy because I felt I had to “keep up” with certain books or events. Thank Rao I no longer feel this this way, otherwise I’d probably be reading all the Trinity War books even though I would’ve had no real interest in doing so. I may not be reading many issues these days, but what I am reading are all interesting to me and give me enjoyment. The best part about not making weekly trips to the comic shop is I can finally delve into the stacked shelves of bought but, unread, comics, trade paperbacks, and hardcovers. I’m finally reading those issues of Peter David’s Atlantis Chronicles and afterward I’ll dive into The Starman Omnibus Vol 3-6, which I’ve waited far too long to finish.

  10. I recently borrowed all the issues of All New and Uncanny X-Men and read all of it in two days. It’s really good but almost nothing happens. There are plenty of awesome character moments and intense conversations between various X-Men though. I pretty much always read my weekly books the day I get them. Although I only pull 8 or 9 a month so it’s not very much to do at once.