My Back (Issue) Pages

For reasons that escape me, I’ve been reading extended runs of comics lately — running through collected editions of writers’ stays on titles (and, occasionally, artists’ stays as well, if the industry allows) that span years in just a couple of evenings. It’s not something that I necessarily intended to do, per se, as much as something that just happened — a re-read of one comic led to another, then another, then another.

It’s a surprisingly satisfying approach to late-night reading, I’ve found; in theory, I guess it’s “binging,” but it’s really just an attempt to recreate the experience of reading a prose novel, I suspect — reading a story that has a beginning, middle, and end and isn’t indefinitely continued until an undetermined point in the future. There’s a comfort in knowing where you are, in terms of the story — I’m on collected edition six, and there’s ten overall, so I’m basically at the halfway point — and also no small amount of comfort in being able to appreciate (and recognize) the recurring themes and intent behind the stories being told more easily, because I’m not waiting roughly four weeks between chapters.

(Of course, many mainstream comics don’t really have intentional recurring themes or an intent beyond Make Comic Get Paid, but that’s another story.)

The upshot of all of this, beyond something as base as “Immortal Hulk is good, but it dips in the middle and I’m not sure it lands the ending properly,” or “Man, the Five Years Later era of Legion of Super-Heroes is an utter mess, I can’t believe someone didn’t step in to tighten it up earlier,” is this: sitting down to invest the time and attention into an extended run on one set of characters and story has proven to be so rewarding as to feel as if I’ve managed to start reading for pleasure again, as opposed to work research or simply trying to keep on top of everything that’s out there because I’m supposed to.

Enjoying a leisure activity before I fall asleep at night! Will wonders never cease.

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