I sort of became disillusioned with collecting superhero comic books awhile back. After reading Alan Moore’s Watchmen when I was in high school in the 90s and eventually Sandman, I was hard pressed to find anything more exciting with superhero comics. Besides, after reading comics for over 20 years (I started really buying back in ’89) the big American comic book companies have continually rebooted and retconned their histories to the point where stories you once cherished and thought mattered suddenly became irrelevant. So I drifted towards independent stuff and creator owned material. I like comic books stories that have a definite ending instead of books that went on and on and on.
But that’s not to say I didn’t keep up with what happened in the superhero world. I still read a lot (maybe even more than when I was starting out). It’s just that I couldn’t bring myself to actually shell out money for these kinds of books. I got them by borrowing and downloading. I reserved my money for graphic novels that I really wanted to have. More often than not, they were Vertigo books, or First Second, D&Q, Fantagraphics or Oni graphic novels or anything that didn’t seem like it was made on an assembly or wasn’t in danger of being retconned out of existence.
But thanks to Scott Snyder’s Batman series, I’ve picked up a ton of Batman books this month, even those he didn’t write. Incidentally, I already read these books in digitally pirated format and just decided to get the actual copies. Now who says piracy doesn’t translate to sales. 😉
So I’m back to buying Batman. And I guess the character work’s because he’s such an archetypal figure. There’s a simplicity to the concept of Batman that brings out the best stories in a lot of the writers and artists that have handled him.
It also helps that despite DC Comics going through several restarts and continuity house cleaning over the past 20 years, Batman’s adventures have remained pretty much intact with some of the older stories still as fresh as the day they came out.