So far so good, I’ve managed to get through the rest of this without life getting in the way, hopefully it’ll be a clear run to the end now. Day 26, this one should be an interesting one. “A guilty pleasure comic”. Funnily enough, this was the challenge day on Comic Book Resources that I first noticed this whole thing on, purely because it discusses Ron Marz’s run on Stormwatch and he linked to it on Twitter. The thing with this challenge today is that I know what makes a comic “good” in theory, and I know what most people consider turn offs from comics, but really it’s all pretty subjective. Yes, there are plenty of comics out there that are just bad (anything Liefeld has worked on drops into this category 9 times out of 10) but still, even these find readers that enjoy them.
Having said that, I also know there are plenty of comics I’ve read in the past, and enjoyed, that most people would turn their noses up at. Sure, there are a hell of a lot of comic readers out there that don’t like to step out of their comfort zone, not straying too far from the things they like, which is always a bit of a shame, but there are also plenty of comics out there that don’t have a wide target audience. Stuff from independent publishers.
One thing that does trouble me with today’s challenge, though, is that by definition I feel like a guilty pleasure comic should be a title that you’re almost ashamed to be reading or enjoying. Something you wouldn’t freely tell you’re friends you’ve read, let alone enjoyed, and looking through my collection there isn’t a book in there that I wouldn’t happily declare I’ve read. There’s stuff in there that I haven’t really got that into, usually because it missed the mark in one way or another, but nothing at all I feel guilty for.
Ohhh no, I got one. And you know what the really sad thing is? While I feel no shame or guilt for reading it, there is a certain stigma attached to this character even though this series is really, really good.
Aquaman from the New 52 relaunch
This is the book that, for me anyway, proved that Aquaman is no longer worthy of being the butt of everyone’s jokes. Since this has come out, Geoff Johns has made Arthur a truly believable character, he has conflicting loyalties to his people of Atlantis, and to those he was brought up with on the surface. I tend to find that people who still mock Aquaman in the way he has been in the past, haven’t read this book and aren’t as knowledgable in comics as they perhaps thought they were (I’m looking at you, Big Bang Theory, but we’ll come back to you another time).
It’s the revitalisation Arthur needed, and from start to finish this is one of the best books to have come out of the New 52. And, thankfully, since Johns’ departure from the title, it hasn’t faltered in it’s ability to portray a true hero, both as Aquaman and as Arthur. He’s no longer the fish out of water he used to be, and while water based characters have never had a tremendous amount of pull with me, this will be going on my pull list in the near future.
I really hope more people give this book a go, anyone that hasn’t read it still looks down on us as idiots, basically. It’s really not the case anymore, if we look at the full line of New 52 titles and judge them purely on which book has improved the most, both in terms of story/art and character, this would be the top of the pile. Batman has been a phenomenal book, probably one of the best and most consistent, but he was already highly regarded by comic fans and the general public. Opinions didn’t have to be changed by that book, which is something that Aquaman needed. They even make light of his public reputation in the book, which I like.
Thankfully, this isn’t a big focus for the series, it’s just a poke at the ignorant who continue to mock Aquaman, which I think is a great move from Johns. I get that a lot of people this is aimed at won’t read it, but that doesn’t matter to me, it almost feels like more of an in joke for those of us who are reading it and enjoying it.
So there we go, a kind-of-but-not-really guilty pleasure comic. I will be back later on this evening to lay down my next Top 5 list, but first I’m going to go have some dinner and watch Hawaii Five-0. Don’t forget to check out previous posts here.