When is it time to break up with a comic book?
Sometimes, the decision is obvious: The comic’s quality plunges or goes in a direction you don’t like. Maybe the writer and/or artist changes and their work doesn’t move you.
But let’s say you’re reading a book that you’ve enjoyed for a long time, one that is still solidly good and has had its moments of genius. It’s still better than many comics you could be wasting your money on and you’ve made it this far. However, you’ve had the sneaking suspicion lately that something’s missing. Whereas you once couldn’t wait to fetch it from your LCS and dive right in, you’re now putting it aside and thinking, “I’ll get to it eventually.” Then when you do, your attention drifts. It’s not that the book is bad or even mediocre, but it just doesn’t excite you anymore.
A variation on this theme is character loyalty. Sometimes you’re so invested in a particular character that you’ll buy their title regardless of quality. I’m like that with Wonder Woman and doubt I’d ever drop that book unless something truly dreadful happened. But unless you’ve got money to burn, is it better to spend that $2.99 or $3.99 elsewhere — perhaps on that up-and-coming series that you’ve left on the shelf week after week?
The first scenario illustrates where I stand with Fables. I don’t say that lightly, because this is a series that I have been buying in trade and enthusiastically recommending to friends for a long time. Who can forget the classic 1000 Nights of Snowfall? The excellent concept, well-written characters and knock-your-socks-off storytelling enthralled me for years. Fables is still a fine series, but somewhere around Vol. 13, The Great Fables Crossover, the fire began to dim. I’ve been trying to put my finger on exactly why, because it’s not like there hasn’t been some exciting stuff since then: the entrapment and subsequent escape of the deeply scary Mr. Dark, Frau Totenkinder’s transformation and rock star heroism, and Rose Red’s recovery from her deep, pitch-black depression come to mind. Maybe it’s because the bar was set so high early on, but when I picked up Vol. 16 two weeks ago, I wasn’t dying to read it. I still haven’t. That makes me a little sad.
As for character loyalty, it also pains me to say that I’m thinking about chucking the relaunched Teen Titans. Tim Drake is still the man. Unfortunately, this is the only book in which he’s playing a lead role, and it isn’t grabbing me. I had a tiny glimmer of hope after reading the second issue, but with the exception of a few panels like the one above, Teen Titans #4 was a letdown. A big fistfight between Wonder Girl and Superboy, complete with silly inner monologues? An epic argument between Tim and Bart over (and I am not making this up) a borrowed sweatshirt? What would make it even more difficult to drop this book is that I so appreciate the diversity of the characters. Plus, it’s the Teen Titans! I just don’t have much confidence that I’m going to fall in deep like with this book, even with Red Robin starring.
And then there’s my dear Nightwing. This comic book is actually entertaining, but not so entertaining that I’d buy it if it were about any other hero, aside from Wondy. The story is solid and Eddie Barrows’ art is very appealing. Still, I have yet to finish an issue and think, “I can’t wait to see what happens next.” Meanwhile, I am all about the excellent Daredevil, despite never having even a passing interest in the character. I want to be just as enthusiastic about the Nightwing comic, but how much time and money do I really want to spend while waiting for that to happen?
Have you guys ever reached a similar crossroads with a once-beloved comic book or ditched a favorite character’s title? What did you do?