The (comic) book was better than the movie


Addison Etnier

There are a variety of comic books for fans to read.

Addison Etnier, Staff Writer

Whether or not someone reads comic books, they probably know quite a bit about them. Over the past few decades, comic book influence in popular culture has risen to the mainstream. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become the highest-grossing film franchise with $22.55 billion, and the CW has created its own popular television universe spanning eight different series, dubbed the “Arrowverse.” With comics going mainstream, it can seem at times that the original source material is being overlooked. But as an avid comic book reader, I believe that they are well worth a read.

Growing up, my favorite movies to watch were movies like “Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and “The Avengers.” During recess I would play superheroes with my friends. We would all pretend to be our favorite heroes, and we would run around the playground fighting villains. 

During this time, the only comics I ever really picked up were “Star Wars” titles, and I would mostly just look at the pictures. I was fascinated with the vast array of colorful and unique heroes that mainstream comic publishers would put out, but I never read anything myself.

In middle school my interest in comic books grew until I eventually read “Batman: Hush.” It is a graphic novel that puts Batman in a mystery that redefines his whole life and his allies. As a story, it was full of mystery, plot twists and gripping characters. As a comic, it was the best entry point I could have had. I got to see some of my favorite characters in action, and they were part of telling a cohesive and compelling story with phenomenal art. I was hooked.

Despite their reputation as childish, comic books have actually been acknowledged as legitimate literature. The 1986 adult comic series “Watchmen” was included on TIME magazine’s All-TIME 100 Novels list and the series “Sandman” has previously been nominated for a Hugo Award. Kristi Miller, an English teacher, utilizes a comic book in her Heroic Men and Women class. “I think a common misconception is that graphic novels or comics are easier than other texts,” Miller said. “Sometimes they are, like Spider-Man’s a pretty accessible story, but we have other graphic novels…that are pretty deep and pretty intense and give you a lot to think about, so there’s definitely a range.”

Kellie Stiles ‘21 started seriously reading comics in her sophomore year, starting with “Batman.” “I really liked Batman as a character and I’ve seen a lot of stuff about Batman and [the] other characters in the Batman comics, like the sidekicks…and they really interested me as characters, so I decided to read the comics and get to know them better,” Stiles said. “I think the characters are the best aspect of them.”

When I was in middle school I attended several comic conventions, or comic cons, held at Hy-Vee Hall. Fans walked around the main floor filled with toy vendors and cosplayers. Stormtroopers and Spider-Men would stroll around this massive space, talking and having fun. A highlight was entering the Artists’ Alley, where artists and creators displayed and sold their work, often in the form of pins, bookmarks and prints. The absolute best part of a comic con were the panels. Actors would sit in front of a crowd and talk about their experiences in the fandom, as well as answer fan questions. During my second con I was first in line to ask a question for famous Batman and Robin voice actors, Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester, respectively—the latter even complimented my Nightwing hat.

This year, no comic conventions have been held nationally due to Covid-19. However, this is not stopping some publishers from giving their fans a memorable experience. DC Comics held a virtual con on Aug. 22 and Sept. 12, where they released new trailers and content from their various media. “The Batman” trailer released during the con has reached over 22 million views on YouTube. 

In 2019 DC Comics released a new brand for which to expand their readership. They have released young adult-targeted graphic novels spotlighting characters in their franchise. They are written and drawn by creators with an established young adult fan base. After reading them, it is obvious that they are different than typical comics, which are more serialized and far more adventurous. These graphic novels, however, focus on real teen problems and issues they mask with ‘super’ characteristics. They are a great entry point for readers who prefer realistic and grounded stories.

Comic book movies come out in droves yearly, but comic books are where the adventures really begin.