Tuesday, October 25, 2011
... Seems like almost a shameful admission, doesn't it?
I read an "Ask Chris" column by Chris Sims on Comics Alliance the other day (not realizing the column was from January!) and it stuck with me. A reader asks, "Are there any great Superman Stories that are actually part of current DC continuity?" Chris goes on to discuss, in an entirely fair way, that while he's a fan of continuity himself, the fact that a story isn't in continuity shouldn't be a reason to avoid it. Chris rightly says that continuity is "a tool, just like anything else. The problem is when it stops being a tool and starts being a shackle. Not for the creators, but for the reader."
Given that I agree with this, however -- and I've enjoyed DC: New Frontier and All-Star Superman and Fables and Y: The Last Man and Ultimate Spider-Man and other sub-continuity or non-continuity comics -- I still find myself feeling a tad ashamed sometimes to say I'll probably pick up all of DC's New 52 collections except All-Star Western because it's not as "tied in" as other titles, or that I picked up the Magog trade even though I didn't have high hopes for it mainly because I thought it was connected to Flashpoint. As if having as continuity one of your primary interests in comics-reading makes you a less pure fan or a "zombie" picking up whatever a publisher produces.
Except I think I finally worked out a paradigm that explains it better.
I mainly collect just one title, I realized, and that title's called DC Universe. Not DC Universe Presents, mind you, but DC Universe, the ongoing story of the DC Comics superheroes. That series is published in a couple of volumes every week (never mind the different names on the books), and the books often look at different corners of the DC Universe more or less simultaneously.
To put it another way, what I enjoy reading about is the DC Universe in its entirety. It's not always a cohesive story -- sometimes Captain Atom's doing his thing over here and Flash is doing his thing over there, but then other times Flash is in Captain Atom's book, or Frankenstein and OMAC are in each others' books, or all the heroes from all the books are in the same book called Blackest Night or Final Crisis or such. As the DC Universe became increasingly interconnected after Identity Crisis and in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, what I began reading was more or less all the titles, because together they formed a tapestry telling different parts of the same story.
So if I were to forgo All-Star Western for the moment, it's not so much that the book is outside continuity that's important to me (though, from what I hear, there may be continuity ties there, too), so much as the fact that it's just not part of the series that I read, arbitrarily defined as that is. And if I were to pick up the Magog trade even if I hadn't heard great things about it (and then had the gall to be disappointed), I justify that decision in part because that book is a little aspect of the tapestry of my "series."
Certainly, continuity shouldn't keep you from enjoying a good book. But I'd like to see some of the stigma fall away from enjoying continuity, too.