It's been largely a comic-book-free summer in Easton, Pa. thanks to Marvel's Secret Wars. The publisher canceled all of their existing comic book titles in favor of new crossover Secret Wars books that revisited classic storylines (Civil War, Inferno, etc.) while creating a "battle world" for superhero smackdowns.
The comic book pile has grown large over the last few weeks, partly because I was busy with family and work, partly because I knew I'd have time to catch up during Christmas week. Topping it is Marvel's crossover event Axis, in which the Red Skull (augmented by Charles Xavier's brain ... I kid you not) tries to take over the world.
We're in the lull between mega-events at Marvel right now, so I'm focusing my monthly pull on X-titles. Those titles are currently dealing with the aftershocks of the recent Avengers vs. X-Men crossover.
Two big story arcs have concluded in the comics universe over the last few weeks: Marvel's Secret Invasion mini series, in which the alien, shape-shifting Skrulls attempt to take over the Earth, and Batman R.I.P, in which the Dark Knight dies. Or appears to die, because really, what are the chances that he's actually dead?
As a result, we're into the clean-up phase of both story arcs, as their respective universes attempt to deal with the consequences that have been unleashed upon them.
The X-Titles have gone through another cycle of relaunches in the wake of the Mutant Messiah crossover, most of which are disappointing.
My comic collecting has entered the mid-winter doldrums; the big X-Men crossover has just ended, and while DC's Countdown is approaching it's end, that means little to me since I haven't been keeping up with it.
Last week was a light one for Marvel (or at least the Marvel titles I read) so I let Tony at Phantom of the Attic talk me into trying out a couple of other titles. In addition to my X-Universe standby – this week it was “New X-Men”, Part 12 of the Messiah Complex – I picked up Penance: Relentless #5 and Dark Horse Comics' The End League.
Finally there’s Marvel's The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, one of the four graphic novels I got for Christmas.
After spending the month of November writing fiction, I’m finally getting back into reading it. While the Fall of Hyperion waits on my bookshelf, I’ve decided to ease back into things with my comic books … and the truly mammoth stack of graphic novels lent to me by long-time friend and Nuketown commenter Evil Genius.
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the fact that my local comic book shop, The Phantom of the Attic, has moved to Third Street in downtown Easton, which is far more convenient then tracking over the old location at the 25th Street shopping center.
Looking back over my Top of the Pile columns, and considering what this week's might bring, I found that I was in something of a rut -- I've got my standard comics that I get every month -- X-Men, Conan, Ex Machinia, Batman -- but I haven't been venturing very far from that core. That's partly a monetary issue -- I just can't afford to pick up too many more comics then I already do -- but there's also my comic comfort level: I'm just used to my routine.
I decided to shake things up this week by trying out some new titles, adding Omega Flight and the Incredible Hulk to my pile, and picking up a fun new one-shot for my daughter Jordan.
Gaming comics top the pile this week as my copies of Knights of the Dinner Table #125 and Dork Tower #36 arrive, augmented by the sword and sorcery (though mostly sword) of Dark Horse Comics' Conan #39.
Rounding out the picks in this pile is the latest issue of Ex Machina, which sees a mysterious future time traveler arrive in New York and tease Mayor Hundred with the secret of his machine-talking powers.