Comics for Your Quarantine
If there’s a silver lining in this pandemic pandemonium, it’s that while most of our regular routines are necessarily disrupted, we should have time for other stuff.
Like reading comics.
Raiding bargain bins at shops and shows has given me quite the back catalog to peruse, plus great runs from years past I’d like to read again. Even if you’re not in the same situation, the advent of digital comics gives you an opportunity to read up while maintaining social distancing protocols.
Digital can never replace “floppies” for me, and I encourage you to do what you can, while keeping yourself and your family healthy and safe, to support local comic shops. They fostered this hobby for many of us and are a fantastic resource and social hub. Parkersburg-based comic writer James Patrick suggested that if you haven’t started a pull list at your local shop, now’s a good time to do so: You won’t miss the comics you want and you can pick them up sparingly.
But digital has its place, especially for those of us whose appetite for comics dramatically outpaces our budget. Marvel and DC have digital apps and Amazon’s Comixology offers an Unlimited service with entries from numerous publishers, all for a monthly fee. Hoopla is a free, library-based app that also features ebooks, music, and a lot of comics.
In March, publisher 2000 A.D. made a nearly 400-page volume of “Judge Dredd” comics available for free download, and you can purchase other digital collections from their site as well. Humble Bundle frequently offers digital runs of comics at fantastic prices, with the most recent being a massive “Witchblade” collection. What you get is based on what you pay, between $1 to $15, with a portion going to charity.
Here are my recommendations on comics to binge while you’re quarantining:
“Black Panther” by Christopher Priest (Marvel Unlimited, Comixology Unlimited) One of the original “Marvel Knights” titles, this series introduced me to Priest and a take on the Black Panther I’d never seen. It still resonates in the character on the big screen today and is a clever, action-packed ride.
“Batman” by Tom King (DC Universe, Hoopla) Most but not all of the latest signature run on the Dark Knight is available on these platforms, including his engagement to Catwoman, a double date with Superman and Lois Lane and my personal favorite, “The War of Jokes and Riddles” (warning: unexpectedly heartbreaking in places).
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” (DC Universe, Hoopla) Read the story that inspired the recent CW crossover – and many other comic events – through a collection of the core series on Hoopla or that series and a host of tie-ins on DC Universe.
“JLA” by Grant Morrison and company (DC Universe) Morrison’s mainstream superhero magnum opus is 41 issues, interrupted by the occasional (awesome) fill-ins from Mark Waid. It combines Morrison’s offbeat sensibilities with his love of the genre into one of the best superhero comic runs ever.
“Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” (Comixology Unlimited, Marvel Unlimited) Come on, you didn’t think I’d leave this off the list did you? ALMOST the entire run is available, and hopefully the rest will be soon.
Valiant comics (Hoopla) Read the early ’90s origins of Bloodshot and other Valiant characters headed to the big screen, assuming we still have a movie industry after all this. Even if there isn’t, it’s still neat to check out a whole comic universe from the ground floor.
“The Walking Dead” (Hoopla) All 192 issues of the landmark zombie series are available in trades for those of us who appreciate its brilliance but don’t have the intestinal fortitude to watch it in living color on TV. The first 10 trades are on Comixology Unlimited.
“X-Men” by Chris Claremont (Marvel Unlimited) Claremont shepherded the X-Men title from issue 98 to 279, turning an almost-canceled franchise into a comics juggernaut (wink) that revolutionized the industry And it’s all available online. Plus, “The Claremont Run,” a scholarly study at St. Jeromes University, with an online database and Twitter account, can add an academic dimension to your reading.