Those of you who’ve read my recent blog post “So Long Spandex, but Thanks for Stretching Yourself So Thick” will know that I’m not the happiest comic book camper regarding DC Comics’s “New 52” reboot of the world’s greatest superheroes.
However, on Wednesday, after working on a shot list for my next short film with Alain Aguilar, the film’s cinematographer and my best friend of over twelve years, I was ready to head off to Midtown Comics Downtown and attend my very first book signing; my favorite writer Scott Snyder (of American Vampire fame) was going to be signing copies of the much anticipated Batman #1.
I was about to go on my merry, solitary way when Alain decided he’d join me. He’d never been much of a comic book reader (he wasn’t one at all, actually), and as we got off the A train at Fulton Street, he asked me what the deal was with this whole Batman #1 signing. So I explained to him the basic ideology behind DC’s “New 52”––how the company is starting from scratch with all new first issues and brand new story lines that they hope will appeal to longtime and new readers since these stories would, in the case of Action Comics, Justice League and most others, start way at the beginning of superherodom.
Then something happened. In all the years I’ve ever spoken to Alain about comic books, yammering off about how superb a read All Star Superman is or how important costumes and color psychology are in The Boy Wonder’s evolution from Robin to Nightwing, never have I seen him so spellbound as I did that day––a glimmer in his eyes of the child who’d always wanted to pick up a comic book and read it, but for some reason or another never did, and never asked why, until that moment.
So we entered Midtown Comics, and I proceeded to the racks and picked up Batman #1 along with a small stack of other titles I was interested in trying on for size, such as Wonder Woman and Legion of Super-Heroes. “I’ll take one, too,” Alain said suddenly, and he reached out and snatched a copy. And he didn’t stop there! After asking for some recommendations, he also picked up copies of Action Comics #1, Nightwing #1 (‘cause he knows how awesome Dick Grayson is from hearing me talk about him over the years) and Catwoman #1 (by far the most interesting anti-heroine out there.) As we waited on line to pay for our books, he told me that he’d been wanting to get into some new material for a while, and to delve into new stories and good storytelling, and he’d avoided comics for all these years because he thought it’d be difficult to keep up with all that’s going on. But now that comics have started from the beginning again, he could finally get into them from the beginning with little chance of getting too lost.
So I guess DC’s “New 52” is doing some good after all. I mean, just look at how happy Al looks with his signed copy of Batman #1 and Certificate of Authenticity:
So although the days of old-school superheroes may be dead and gone, I’m happier now to see firsthand how younger and older generations will benefit from the joy of picking up a comic book for the first time and being pulled into a story from splash to final page and its inevitable “To Be Continued…” that hints at what’s to come so our inner children can feel once more (or for the first time) how slowly a month can pass by.
And me? I’ll be walking the Middle Road with comic books as with everything else in my life and spend my free time paging the “New 8” DC Comics titles (so far) that have caught my attention when not hunched over the $1 boxes at St. Mark’s Comics regaling in a simpler time of spandex and tinsel.