On Nerd Hack! The Gladiators will provide for easy “how to” tips or hacks in the world of Geekdom.
For our debut article, Gladiator Gino will answer the all too common question “How to start reading comic books” or simply, where is the perfect jumping-on point for new comic book readers.
I’m pretty much sure that each and everyone of you have encountered this question, either personally asking yourself that question, or being asked said question. I, for one, have been asked this question time and again. So to provide a service to all those interested, I give you the most common and easiest ways to hack yourself in to the world of comic books.
START FROM THE VERY START
This, by far, is the easiest and most common way of getting into comic books. And why not, this is the origins of your comic book hero/character, and every world-building is done in the first pages of the comic books.
For purists, this is their go-to answer. And if you’re that type of person that wants to get the whole picture and story, this is the hack for you.
But then, what if the comic book series has a long history and number of issues, what now? Well things have become much simpler nowadays with the major publishers (DC, Marvel) remedying this conundrum.
Recently, DC Comics launched the New 52, which served as the reboot of their entire comic book line. And how does this help in catching people up, or being a jumping-on point? Simple, it provides a fresh start for every comic book line. As a matter of fact, this is one of the reasons why DC decided to reboot their comic books, and for that DC gave newbies a chance to start fresh and not go through the whole collection of comic book issues. I for one commend DC for this step, because it provided a way for me to read their comics, and which I really cannot understand why enthusiasts have dissented to this, but I digress.
As for Marvel Comics, though they haven’t gone through the whole across the board reboot, Marvel has some “soft” relaunches of their main titles and thus giving a chance for people to enter the comic book scene. Marvel, throughout the past few years have relaunched numerous titles to signify a new story or a new creative team (more on those later).
As for indie comics , as far as I know, the first issue is always the best place to start. And more often than not, the number 1 issues of the indie comics are good enough and well worth the price, and personally a really good hook for you to keep digesting the stories it offers.
BEGINNING OF A STORY ARC
Short of starting from No.1, the next best thing is to pick-up a comic book whose story arc is just beginning. Why do I recommend this, well, truth is the individual story arcs are, more often than not, self-contained. It rarely has a direct connection to that of the previous story arc, but rather, it would have some references in it and would simplify the whole conflict in the previous arc.
Furthermore, at the start of the story arc there would be an epilogue or “catch-up” page at the start which would summarize the previous one. I can only compare this to watching a TV series, where there’s so much back story going on, and you’d just jump in at the start of a later season and would still know what has happened before with their recaps.
Writers and publishers also have taken this into consideration and would provide a little text box from the creative team that would refresh or give readers an idea as to what happened in previous issues.
Another clue as to when a new arc is beginning is the cover page. Publishers are now mindful of putting on the cover labels as to what part the issue is out of the on-going arc, or even announce that this is in fact the start of a new arc.
CHANGE IN CREATIVE TEAMS
I always harp on this, that the best way to get into comic books is when there is a shift in the creative teams. However, this may seem like an intermediate level type of skill, or an after-acquired skill. But I don’t believe that it is. All it takes is a simple search on the internet on the latest news regarding the change in creative teams or change in writers, and instantly you get your access point.
Now most people would be cautious about the change in creative teams because normally this would be a red-flag. In fact when you hear that a particular movie changes its producer or director or whatnot, you’d instantly get the impression that the movie would flop. In the comic book realm, not really. There are a lot of things that factor into the change, be it expiration of contract, poor sales, publisher decisions, but the usual reason is that the team behind the book has already written their entire story arc and the book or character would now experience a shift or new character arc.
Truth is, the change in writers and artists has it benefits. Case in point, New 52 iteration of Green Arrow. Green Arrow has already gone through 3 creative teams dating back to the DC relaunch, and at first it was floundering as the books failed to capture an audience, but when Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino took over the results were astounding. Green Arrow became one of the more popular comic book lines DC had. For Marvel, the change in creative teams have also resulted in a fresh jumping-on point for readers. Take for example Hawkeye which had an immaculate run under Matt Fraction, and upon the end of his arc came the change of creative teams, which is now under Jeff Lemire (yes, Jeff seems to get involved with archers).
ASK YOUR RESIDENT GEEK
This speaks for itself. If you have a comic book enthusiast friend then just ask him. More often than not, that friend knows just what comic book to suggest and where to start reading that particular book. In fact, I’m sure that he has that particular book that he always recommends to his friends and is a sure-fire way to encourage people to read comics. Heck, he’d even go out of his way just to lend you that book just to convince you to read comics (looking at you Gladiator Raffy).
Truth is, this hack can even be a way for you and your friend to have something else in common. Win-win in my book.
READ A PARTICULAR STORY ARC
As I said earlier, a good place to start is at the beginning of a new story arc. Well that hack works for getting up to date on your preferred book, but what if you want to read some of the stories that have become a classic? The answer is simple, you just have to pick-up the book. As stated earlier, the arcs are usually self-contained, and therefore by reading that particular story you get the best of both worlds, you enjoyed reading a classic tale without the hassle of knowing where to start.
In fact, there are volumes or omnibus books that publishers release covering the complete story arc. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to scour high and low just to find all the issues in the series and the cost is relatively cheaper than buying the individual issues.
Research. Which is probably why you ended up on this hack on how to start reading comic books. But again there are various ways of acquiring information and getting the answers you need. You could use the internet the scour for answers, such as those given to you, or you could even ask your local comic book store for tips. Basically, you just have to be curious.
So overall, these are techniques or hacks that I have, at one point or another, used personally or have given to my friends to get them on the right track in terms of locating that jumping-on point. But no matter what techniques or hacks you used, whether one or a combination thereof, the fact still remains that comic books are a way to entertain oneself and is intended to be a source of joy, not one of stress or confusion.
Did these tips or hacks work for you? Have you used them at point in time? Or do you have tips or hacks of your own? We’d love to hear your answers on our comments section below. P.S. We don’t bite.
Gino is the Gladiators’ resident TV and Comic Book reviewer. He is a lawyer in the making at day and full on geek by night. He believes that the lightsaber is the best weapon during a zombie apocalypse. #AgeOfTheGeek