Comics/Graphic Novels

A Tectonic Shift in my Reading: Settling into the DC Camp

Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

I have been feeling a little out of comics lately, but I have noticed a shift in my reading preferences. While my early days of the Big 3 were spent primarily reading Marvel (with a small amount of Image), I have found myself turning to DC titles when I’ve had the desire to read new material.

Why, I wonder?

Have I been feeling Marvel Overwhelm? Am I afraid of disappointment from other Image titles because Saga is just so good? What about all of those Marvel trades that I still haven’t gotten around to reading, even though I’ve had them forever?

It was time to investigate.

I didn’t read a single comic in the month of February. I had finished Princeless: Volume 4 on the last day of January and, while I picked up a few things—I even checked out Multiversity with the intention of reading the whole collection—I didn’t read a full issue, let alone a full trade. The closest I got was reading the weekly emails of Unshelved that I use to get my mind moving on Monday mornings.  February was about finding my niche in prose, too, so I found myself jumping from book to book and not finishing many novels, either. What I did finish were light, sweet books. You could even call them darling. Now, while I am sure there are a few things I could consider “darling” in my unread trades collection, that is not a descriptor I would generally use for all the things that were waiting for me on that particular shelf.

When I did pick up a new comic in March, it was because the first of several trade Batgirl Volume 2paperbacks I had put on hold while they were still “On Order” had come in. It was Batgirl, Vol. 2 and I was pretty happy to see it. I devoured that one, and then a few days later just as quickly consumed Grayson, Vol. 2 while waiting for someone in a bookstore. Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson are the centers of some wonderful stories, and their outlying encounters make their stories worthwhile. And even though Batgirl was not the all-consuming story that Volume 1 was, the thrill and delight was still there. Grayson was similarly un-compelling in regards to the story-arc, but the writing pushed me forward. And the supporting characters. And Jim. And Juan.  

The list of books I still await from the library include We Are Robin, Gotham Academy, and Gene Yuen Lang’s Superman. I know nothing about the first and last of the three besides the response from other Panels folks when they were coming out in issues, but that alone made me jump to be high on the holds list when they appeared.  And of course there’s my goal of reading as much about Wonder Woman as I can this year (which, man, I really need to get back into).

Meanwhile, I have several years’ worth of backlog in Marvel trades, which I have not been drawn to read, even if Carol Danvers is on the cover. Of course, I know that if I catch up I’ll have to jump into all those new trades with Secret Wars and Warzones titles and other giant events that I’m just…not excited about. While I do pick up comics expecting an exciting story, I also expect to be delighted by the characters. It’s why I pick up titles featuring Captain and Ms. Marvel, and the Hawkguys. It’s why I initially picked up Gambit and Deadpool Killustrated. Yes, there are characters like Natasha in whom I will now and always be emotionally invested, but the light and airy feeling went away a long time ago. Maybe I’m just not picking up the right titles (still need to read Secret Loves!), but I’m just not feeling it right now.

That’s probably why I didn’t read Multiversity, to be honest.

Even with the seriousness in mind, I think it’s the interconnectedness that I alluded to that is really keeping me away. I don’t read all of the titles. I never have and I never plan to. I haven’t picked up an Iron Man book since Tony got injected with Extremis. I started reading Captain America stories again when Sam picked up the shield, and then there were suddenly four different titles I needed to read to keep up with what was going on. Even Thor was sending me to other places to catch up. I understand that Marvel has become this huge, interconnected spiderweb, but did I really have to start reading Guardians of the Galaxy to keep up with what was going on in Carol’s life?

It’s. So. Overwhelming.

So when it comes down to it, why did I just sort of ignore Marvel when I was down on comics? What is the difference between Black Widow and Batgirl? Is it the quirk? The fun?

Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t feel like I need to going on in the entire universe to be able to read that one title.

Maybe I’m just subconsciously avoiding the daunting task of reading my own damn books.

I’ll never know, for sure.

But I’m glad I got my comics juju back.