Something interesting is happening in comics these days – stories that actually end!
It’s often been said that comics are a habitual medium. What that means is they’re created in such a way that you’ll come back next month and the month after that and so on. It turns into a habit that you make regular visits to your local comics shop to get your books.
That’s a good and a bad thing. After a while, we get to the place of wishing that somehow, somewhere things would actually wrap up in some way.
Well, some storytellers are discovering that coming to a conclusion (of sorts) can inspire sales and also satisfy readers.
JEFF LEMIRE’S ANIMAL MAN
Recently it was announced that Animal Man, a breakout hit from DC’s New 52, would conclude with issue #29. According to Mr. Lemire, he had come to the end of the stories he wanted to tell with Buddy Baker and his family in their own setting. Now, A-Man will join the Justice League where he will still be written by Lemire, but will function as a member of a team instead of in his own individual situation.
I’ll really miss that title a lot. I never knew what was going to happen next. On the other hand, I can understand that after 29 issues, Lemire may want a change of scenery to show different aspects of the character and those around him. I’m happy that he won’t be taken over by a new team since I wouldn’t be sure the quality would continue.
I should also note that Lemire drew another series to a very touching conclusion, and that was Sweet Tooth. Occasionally, I still pull out that last issue and read it again. It was something special, and if you haven’t read that title yet, I highly recommend it. This gives me a lot of confidence in Lemire’s handling of Animal Man. He knows when it’s time to bring things to an end.
THE SIXTH GUN
It was announced some time ago that Oni Press’ The Sixth Gun would come to a conclusion with issue #50 will be the final one of the ongoing series. However, Cullen Bunn has indicated that there might be more miniseries’ moving forward like The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun. It’s a very strong comic that has a great female lead character (not to mention the other people around her), and it’s an effective mashup of two genres – the western and supernatural ones. It’s loaded with surprises and shocks, and the art matches the tone very well.
This is another book I highly recommend if you haven’t gotten into it yet.
You can listen to my interview with Mr. Bunn at this link.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT
It also grieves me to see Gregg Hurwitz’s tenure on this popular comic coming to an end, as well as the book itself. David Finch started it a few years back, and the new teams have kept the quality high, so I’ll miss this title a lot, being the Batman fan that I am. I view this as a conclusion of sorts because Mr. Hurwitz had a unique take on the Dark Knight, which I won’t get to enjoy any longer.
I’m glad to hear the Mr. Hurwitz will be working on other DC projects, so I’ll get to enjoy his writing there as well as his novels.
It’s important to point out that this is not Kickstarter, the popular project funding website, but Kickstart. You can locate their excellent books at this link.
What attracted my attention about Kickstart was that they created graphic novels and have rarely put out a continuing story. That made reading their books a very different experience because no character was safe since the story would end. Also, Kickstart creates a wide variety of stories, from mystical to superhero to action/adventure to sci fi. As regular readers of this column know, I’m huge on variety, and that’s something Kickstart delivers in spades!
It’s tough for me to pick out favorites because they’re all so different, but I’d start with Hero Complex, Space Gladiator, Divine Wind and Knowbodys. Perhaps the biggest success they’ve put out has been Bounty Killer, which is now a motion picture.
I’ve been fortunate enough to interview several Kickstart creators for my weekly podcast, so you can check them out when you get a chance or want to learn about a specific graphic novel.
Honestly, I’ve read just about every Kickstart book to date, and I haven’t read a bad one yet! The most recent interview I’ve had was with Chris Wyatt from Suicide Layne, which will appear in an upcoming episode.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END?
Look, I understand that popular characters appear in books that will go on as long as possible. Each issue has to be written so someone else could take over if that needed to happen. Like Mr. Lemire, other creators run out of storylines and want to try other characters/teams instead. (I prefer they go rather than the endless downward spiral happen, where another team takes over and they aren’t as good, followed by another team until the book is eventually cancelled, it’s glory days long gone.)
However, even Detective Comics was on the chopping block once. As I’ve previously discussed, both the Flash and Green Lantern were killed, so it’s always an iffy thing to get attached to a character, no matter how long-lived he or she has been.
Still, it’s good to see storylines and characters wrap up since we have “endings” in our lives as well. Perhaps more creators will follow Lemire’s example and make things “end” more often.