Comic books have been around for over a century now, so getting started might be a little daunting. But don’t worry: we’ve put together ten easy tips to get you caught up on the world of comic books, right here, right now.
1. Comics Aren’t Just for Adults Anymore
Think comic books are the sole domain of overripe, sweaty men in their thirties? Not anymore! Yes, there’s a fair amount of comic books aimed at oversized children, but there are also comics aimed at actual children, too. And actual adults. And even women read comics! WE KNOW! It’s like all those stereotypes perpetuated for decades might not be true. Weird, because most stereotypes ARE true. Right, fellas? Right? Hello?
2. No One Stays Dead
There used to be a rule that “No one stays dead in comics, except Uncle Ben and Bucky,” referring to Spider-Man’s uncle, and Captain America’s partner. With Uncle Ben having come back as an evil alternate universe version of himself, and Bucky dying, and being resurrected twice (once in less than three months of his “death”), the rule should be, “No one stays dead in comics, except characters no one is interested in, and civilians.” And we’re sure that won’t be true soon, too.
3. Heroes Don’t Fight Villains Anymore, Just Heroes
Used to be back in the day that super-heroes spent a lot of their time fighting super-villains. Not so anymore! In the modern era, superheroes mostly ignore crime, and pummel each other into a pulp. That’s called “character-driven storytelling.”
4. Like TV? Then you’ll love comic books!
Everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to, er, Jericho has gotten a comic book continuation.And some of your favorite TV stars, from Rashida Jones (that’s her book to the left) to Joshua Jackson have penned comic books in recent years. We’re still waiting for “Crisis On Infinite The Wires,” but we can’t ask for everything.
5. Don’t Worry, There Are Only Four or Five Different Versions of Superman
Worried about getting caught up in confusing story continuity? Don’t worry, DC recently simplified things, rebooting their entire superhero universe with new number one issues. So now, there’s only the “modern” Superman in his title comic, Superman; one just starting out five years ago in Action Comics; one that takes place one year after that in Justice League; an entirely different one in the Graphic Novels Superman: Earth One; and they’re about to introduce another, alternate universe Superman in the new comic Earth 2. See? Super easy.
6. Swarm Is a Supervillain Made Out Of Nazi Bees
Marvel Comics has actually published multiple issues featuring a villain named Swarm, who, no joke, is made entirely out of Nazi bees. you could take this as how insane and ridiculous comics are, or you could take it as the possibilities that are available to readers of the great medium of comic books.
We just wonder whether the bees are ALL Nazis, or if there’s maybe a few that feel uncomfortable about that whole deal.
7. They’re Not Collectible (Unless They Are)
Any comic being sold as the latest collectible won’t actually be collectible… Unless it is. Meaning, if you’re picking up a polybagged, foil variant signed copy of SuperSlammer #85 featuring the Death of SuperSlammer (NOTE: This is not a real comic, but we wish it was), so is everyone else… Meaning your investment is null and void. However, if you put down a few hundred dollars for an actually rare variant cover, you might get slightly more than you paid back if you sell the comic immediately… Or sixty years from now. Anything twenty years old or less? Sorry, buddy.
8. They’re Not Like the Movies (Unless They Are)
You saw the latest big superhero movie, and want to get into the comics. Sounds easy, right? Sorry! The continuity in comics is often vastly different than the one you saw on the screen, with some exceptions. Publishers like Marvel and DC have gotten savvier about this, often tweaking their main comics to fit in with a movie. For example, Marvel will be releasing a book called Avengers Assemble around the same time as The Avengers movie, featuring the same team, though also following where those characters are at in the comics. So easy to jump in for new readers, bad for fans of Scarlett Johansson.
9. Know Your Lingo
Most comics are released monthly, in 20-30 page format: they’re called comic books, or floppies, or pamphlets. When those comics are collected, usually 4-6 issues at a time, they’re called Trades. When someone publishes a longer form comic book story, it’s called an Original Graphic Novel, or OGN. Don’t call Trades Graphic Novels, unless you want a comic book fan to kill you.
10. You’ll Never Get Caught Up, So Don’t Try
Okay, seriously though, folks, you’ll never, ever be able to keep track of everything in comic books, so don’t even try. Instead, the smart reader reads what they want to read, based on art and writing they like, rather than religiously reading the latest Mega-Crossover. There’s plenty of stuff out there to choose from, so choose wisely, and have fun.