Saturday, July 23, 2011

Comics Relief, Part Four: Civil War!

Well, we’re still sitting outside Jaybee’s “doctor’s” office and, well I don’t care anymore. I’m just too tired to get up. Oh, no! Voices!

Jaybee: So I fell off the wagon again, doctor, and I blame the lists. You know, top ten albums, top ten movies, etc. Show me a top ten list of farts, and I’ll start sniffing around.

That's how my wife gets me to go to the grocery store. She says that she found an article on top ten grocery items. Before you know it, I've done the week’s food shopping, and find myself raving at her “You've interfered with my plans for the last time!”

The list I’m referring to now, though, is the book “1000 Comics You Must Read” by Tony Isabella . Is he one of your patients? He should be.

Going through it, I found a disturbing number of comics I'd already read, and worse, a whole bunch more I wanted to read. It was like “1000 Beers You Must Drink”  for alcoholics.

And of course, being a true Marvel addict a simple story taking place within the confines of a single issue is not good enough. I go for the sagas, the epics, the same, age old device to get suckers to buy more comics. And of all the comics listed in “1000 …” the one that caught my interest was Marvel’s “Civil War”, a story involving every superhero Marvel has, which takes up several issues of each franchise, thus spanning, depending on who's doing the spanning, anywhere from 80 to 150 issues.

This seemed long, complicated and frustrating, so naturally I was intrigued.

Now even I'm smart enough at least to try the library before spending money unnecessarily. My wife believes I would check out hell first if heaven had a cover charge.

And you don’t have to even check the stacks anymore, either. You can go on line and place a hold on any book you want, so why not comics? I’ve more or less used up the branch that’s closest to my house, and now go to another one, where I would have the comics sent. It has the added advantage that I’m not as well known there. So the whole sorry enterprise would go unnoticed.

So, sure enough, within a few days, I start getting notices that X Men this or Iron Man that had arrived.

When I get there it turns out that comics are not placed in the usual area for pick up. Like condoms, they're behind the counter and you have to ask for them.

So I get on line, feeling nice and anonymous, when I look up to see the old Italian lady from my local branch sitting behind the counter. She knows me pretty well, and even thinks I’m respectable. This will ruin all that, I’m sure. Unless I can count on that total freeze out I’ve come to occasionally expect from the old (and young, come to think of it) ladies in my neighborhood.

But no such luck. She looks up and smiles at me.

"Oh, Hi, what are you doing here?" I say, acting pleasantly surprised and happy to see her.

"Our regular branch is now closed on Saturday, so they moved me here."

"Oh, that's great…” I try some distracting chit chat, but I can hear muttering and pages being violently turned, which means that the book nerds behind me are getting restless.

“Okay, bye! Oh! I almost forgot! I've got something waiting for me on the shelf behind you." I couldn't bring myself to say the word "comic".

She turned around to look.

"Oh. A GRAPHIC NOVEL" she said..

What? Not “COMIC”? Graphic Novel actually sounds pretty classy. But who's kidding whom? I was afraid she wouldn’t find it, and resort to one of those drug store overhead microphones:

"Manager, please. I've got a fifty three year old man who wants a COMIC BOOK. That's right, a COMIC BOOK!" And a room full of homeless people laugh in unison.

Luckily she found them, and no such announcement was required. I scooted out of there quick, covering the “graphic novels” with a large print edition of “Everything’s Illuminated”.

The library doesn’t carry individual issues, but rather bound collections of more of less self contained stories, running about eight issues long. Well, I had a foot high stack of them on my dresser. And with the help of a couple of internet sites manned by some people with too much time on their hands (links?) – I began reading the saga, taking care to not read Spider Man 531 before Fantastic four 565, etc…

All in all, I read about seventy five of the comics that make up the “core” of the story, and I know of at least another fifty that were at least peripherally related. But since not everything was available at the library, and my obsession didn’t extend to actually paying for anything, I settled.

Doctor: So how was it?

Jaybee: It was…pretty good. Not great. Pretty good.

Doctor: I’m not surprised. The reality is usually worse than the anticipation. I suppose you think because of this, you’ve somehow grown up and are cured.

Jaybee: No, as you said (see the legendary previous posts!) one is never curred.

Doctor: True, true.

Jaybee: And besides, I’ve decided that I’m sick in the first place!

Doctor: Oh, rest assured, you’re quite mad.  But go on!

Hang on for the thrilling (eh) conclusion!!!

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