I have two confessions. Okay, three, but the third barely counts because it's never been as much of a guilty secret.
1. I don't read comic books.
2. I love superheroes anyway.
3. I'm writing a superhero novel.
The lack of experience with comics is, potentially, a major failing for a geek. It seems like most women in the geek community online are familiar with the ins and outs of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Marvel, DC, so on, so forth, etc. Or perhaps I just have the bad luck to follow women who are into comics? Still, this is something I eventually want to remedy, especially because of Confession #3. I tell you this so you know I'm not an expert by any means. Moving on…
I think I've always been fascinated with superheroes, on some level. Even though I only know of them from pop culture references, movies, and (more recently) the occasional prose work, I'm pretty hooked. There are the themes of transformation and identity. There are the powers and the potential for greatness. There's the camp, the quips, the bright colors, the casual disregard for the laws of physics. There's the fact that there really is only one story—average Joe gets powers/technology/a cause and reinvents himself as a fighter of crime and champion of justice—but incredible variation within that story. We haven't run out of variations yet, actually. Every time I run into superheroes, I end up grinning like an idiot.*
You know that WIP I've been railing about off and on since … forever? It's about a guy who becomes a superhero, in a world much like ours where superheroes like these guys and these guys already exist and everyone's grown up watching the same superhero films and reading the same comic books as we have. So it gets a little meta in places, but not overmuch because, as noted above, I haven't read comics. But you can see why it would be important for me to be familiar with as many heroes and as many works of superhero fiction as possible. I've already made my way through a lot, in the name of research.
Sometimes this job is awesome.
I've got a lot more research to do, though, and since this is the year I hope to complete the novel once and for all, I'm going to try to cover as many heroes as possible. I'm going to meet the Green Hornet, the Green Lantern, Thor, and Captain America this year. I've got two unread superhero novels on my TBR shelf, and three or four more on my TBR list. There are superhero TV shows I haven't seen but want to. With any luck, I'll even find a not-too-scary way to break into this whole comic book thing.
Basically, I'm proclaiming this year the Year of the Superhero. I'll be blogging about my experiences with these as the year progresses—my impressions, my thoughts on how they relate to each other, the way they play with what I understand to be the tropes. And I'll be blogging periodically about the superhero shows, films, and prose works I've already been through in the name of research or otherwise. I hope you'll stick around.
To further my quest to familiarize myself with superhero works, I'm looking for recommendations. Books, movies, and TV shows are all welcome, but what I'd really, really like are comic book recs. For someone like me, who's just starting out with comic book heroes and is a fan of good plots, action, and camp, what are the good trade anthologies? The seminal ones? The good intro ones? I've read Watchmen, I've got Sandman marked as TBR, but otherwise… anyone?
* Okay, not every time. I've seen some episodes of Smallville that don't elicit this reaction.