Due to poverty and an urge to buy better comics, I have decided to be super-selective about which superhero comics I read. Harnessing the Awesome Power of Maths, I have determined that I can afford to read 10 ongoing titles. So I get to read 10, and only 10, titles published by either Marvel or DC as well as one trade paperback a week of my choosing.
A complication of this is that I am forced to drop an on-going title if I want to try reading a new on-going title, an act of very tough love. Being financially responsible is the worst.
I will be dropping Batwoman and adding... I'm not completely sure! There are two comics: FF and The Indestructible Hulk that I would very much like to read. But unfortunately I only have one opening for a new comic book in my ten and only ten superhero comics. So I propose to have a kind of tie breaker where the two books go head-to-head and fight for that slot in my reading list.
Why not Batwoman?: I love the idea of this book: a queer woman superhero motivated by her tragic past and collisions with prejudice and adversity to take up the mantle of a Bat-person. When it was written by Greg Rucka and drawn by JH Williams III it was one of the best looking books on the stands, but also one of the best written. Rucka brought so much complexity, empathy, and intelligence to Batwoman. Without him, the book just hasn't been the same. It's still a pretty book by any reasonable metric, but Batwoman is also kind of a mess plot wise. I mean, I'm still not sure exactly what is going on in this book and worse, I'm not sure why I should care that I don't. The reality is that Batwoman is never going to be as good as it was when Rucka was writing it and that there are too many better books on the stands.
(I guess writing trumps art and creators are more important than characters?)
Potentially why FF?: Matt Fraction AND Mike Allred. This should be a complete no brainer: one of my favourite writers with an industry legend on art. By any conventional metric this should be an amazing comic book. And from what I read it is. The trouble here is that Hickman's Fantastic Four and FF had such a distinct vision, which I profoundly enjoyed, that I'm not yet sure that FF, despite the amazing creators, will live up to these lofty expectations. (Of course, it's hard to tell because the two issues thus far have been very set-up-y).
Potentially why The Indestructible Hulk?: I have never enjoyed a Hulk comic. I think the Hulk is a great character (brilliant scientist that turns into a giant green rage monster) in an ensemble. On a team he's both an asset and dangerous liability, and that is inherently interesting. Solo Hulk tends to be one note (leave me alone), questing on another planet, or involved in a needlessly crazy story. His books tend not to work for me. But Mark Waid seems to be an expert at taking a basic premise and making it work in fresh ways. And his premise in these first issues seems to be about celebrating both Banner and the Hulk in a way that feels new and very true to the character. Add in Lenil Francis Yu, an artist whose rough and sketchy style seems perfectly suited to a Hulk book and I've liked what I've seen. It'll be interesting to see if they can make a Hulk book I actually enjoy.
So for the first five issues these two books will go head to head to determine which is the book that will make my vaunted top ten.