Comics Cavalcade

So, the grand Not-A-Reboot known as “Marvel NOW!” has been with us for a few weeks at this point. Several books have dropped, quite a few comics have been bought (we’ll know just how many in due course), and everyone’s talking about the new books versus the old books and mulling over the still-more changes to come (quite a few Spider-Man fans are having a rough month). But for me, as well as most of you, the biggest question is “Are the books any damn good?”

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I am often asked by friends who don’t read comics what comics they should read to get started with the format. They don’t want superheroes, they don’t want simplicity. They want “literary” comics, things that will reveal the true range of this art form we love. There are certain standard recommendations to give in response to a request like this. Watchmen, of course, along with Maus and Blankets and American Splendor. And now I have to add a new member to this elite list of Graphic Novels That Will Blow Any Reader Away. Meet The Art of War, a comic that will flat out knock you on your ass.

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(Remember COMICS REWIND? Well, guess what? It’s COMICS CAVALCADE now. Why? I just got tired of rewinding, I guess. I wanted a column where I could talk about back issues that I love alongside current stuff that interests me. I wanted a broader range. And thanks to a little discussion with Luke, this is what you get. I’ll be doing this every two weeks, and who knows what I’ll come up with. Enjoy.)

People ask me about Marvel NOW! with astonishing regularity. They ask me about it more than they asked me about the New 52, more than they asked me about The Dark Knight Rises, more even than they ask me about the Star Wars prequels (that seems to be the go-to topic of conversation when you tell people that you write about science fiction on the internet; I’m not sure why). At any rate, my point is that Marvel NOW! has people talking, but almost none of the talk I hear is about enthusiasm. No, friends, this is the stuff of confusion and doubt and sometimes outright frustration. So I’m here to tell everyone, on the eve of the Marvel NOW! launch, that it’s time to just relax already.

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