Friday, January 26, 2018

The Joy of Sequential Comics

I had three comic book loves during my 1980's childhood: G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Thundercats, in that order.

GI Joe Issue 1

I had a love for these comics, but not the money or the stick-to-itiveness to get every issue. Not only that, but two of these series, namely G.I. Joe and Transformers, were published for years and years. They started before I was into comic books, and they finished after I had grown out of comics. Put all that together, and the result is a collection with no beginning and no end and many holes throughout. Say, issues 37 through 69 minus issues 39, 42, 47-49, 55-58, and 62-64.

As a compulsive middle-aged man trying to relive my childhood, that irritates me. Not so much in the case of Thundercats, as many of the issues are more or less standalone with no reference to other issues. But for sure on Transformers and especially G.I. Joe where there are long story arcs stretching on for dozens of issues. Every issue has multiple footnotes during the story: "See how this all went down in issue #35!" or "So-and-so was killed last issue!" And then there's the teaser at the end of each issue: "See you next week for the shocking conclusion!" It is no fun to read such things and then realize that you don't have the referenced issues. It's like reading a novel with some of the chapters ripped out.

Transformers Issue 1

This brings us to 2014, the year I decided to blow a chunk of money to complete my G.I. Joe comic book collection. All 155 issues of the main series, all 28 issues of G.I. Joe Special Missions, and various other specials and spin-offs. And then I began to read. Issue one. Issue two. Three. Four. Now I'm up to issue 128 with the end of the series in sight. I have realized the happiness brought by sequential comic book reading. I experienced the beginning, I'll experience the end, and I'll have experienced everything in between. Yes, this is how comics should be read.

Thundercats Issue 1

In 2016, I completed my Thundercats collection, a scant 24 issues that I read with my daughter, one issue each Friday night. In 2017, I completed my Transformers collection with 80 issues. My daughter and I are up to issue 20. One day she'll be old enough for G.I. Joe, though she may not care about such boy-focused geekery at that point. But that's ok. I didn't buy them for her, anyway.