Comics will break your heart. Comics and fandom lead us in one direction and then change their minds at the drop of a hat. Still, we keep coming back for more. More highs, more lows, and more reasons to dig deeper into this weird, wonderful little world we call comics.
I fell in love with the medium at a very young age and then watched as the industry soared, plummeted, and then clawed its way back to being in the public eye. I learned what it meant to call something my own but also accept that it isn’t. That all I can really do is enjoy the ride. All the while loving, lusting and in some cases hating it. Loving comics means that you will learn that it isn’t all about you, the reader, or what you like at all, but about the whole universe working together to find new ways to tell old stories.
In that way, comics really are a primer for life. They teach you that change is inevitable and that there will be great losses of things that you connect with. Some readers adapt quickly while others linger on the past. Who is right? Who is wrong? There is no easy answer, but if you don’t ask the questions and refuse to acknowledge that there are questions, well then my friends, you can’t fully say you love something.
With that out of the way, let’s jump knee deep into the proverbial shit.
Change. It happens so very quickly. In comics it happens more than most people would like. We find ourselves in love with a character or characters, a world, and an art style that sums up a mood or feel of those characters.
As a reader we work so hard to find our “comic kismet,” the perfect combination of every element that moves you. That one book that not only speaks to you as a reader but also speaks to you in a visual language that is completely in tune with how you see things.
When we find a book like this it becomes ours. We look at it as our property, as something that we take in and in many ways belongs to us, the reader. So when a special book comes along, we hope and assume it will be there forever, because why wouldn’t it?! It is a great fucking book that you discovered first or in some cases became the biggest fan of.
Then, like that last bit of 96 dollar Scotch your drunk friend “finishes off” for you, it is gone.You waited, you were patient, and you stuck around even when it wasn’t the best book because you loved the characters and you “owed” it to them to stand ready when they returned. Or even worse, you woke up to a Dear John letter. Just gone. Snuffed out far too soon, a great idea not allowed to fully breathe.
For me, personally, this book was the most recent Agents of Atlas. A great book from Marvel comics with the amazing duo of writer Jeff Parker and artists Carlo Pagulayan & Gabriel Hardman, Agents of Atlas supplied me with something different, something that was speaking to me. It had both a specific style and it occupied an unoccupied place within comics. In my opinion, there is still a void where this book once stood.
Agents of Atlas is both a retro secret agent book and also a futuristic sci-fi book. It operates on the fringe of the Marvel Universe while at the very same time connects to every little part of the “BIG” Marvel Universe. It’s built to be the in-between of the past and present. The last time it was really seen was as a small side story during the big crossover event “Fear Itself.” The book itself had been pulled long before that and ended with issue 5 of a book called Atlas.
I remember really loving that book because it took old characters created in the ’40s and ’50s and made them relevant within modern times. Each character had plenty of personality, and it was great. Then just like that it was gone, and I was left to chase Parker and Hardman in various other books. I tried to re-live that old magic that I had with the original book, but instead I found new books with new different types of magic.
I tell you all this because because it is a part of change.While I mourned the loss of a beloved story, I chose to continue loving it and celebrate the team that worked on it, as well as the company that provided it.
I have seen many situations where people have chosen to hate a company over unpopular changes and refuse to read another book by them or decide to only read older books because they don’t want to get disappointed or “bit” by that situation again. That is simply putting up walls because you enjoyed something and then didn’t get what you thought was fair or right.
Sadly, that is life, but I am here to suggest that you shouldn’t build up walls because you didn’t get what you expected. You could be missing out on another chance to find something special. Take that opportunity and apply it to anything—music, film, TV, relationships.
So yes, as the name of this article suggests, comics can, and will, break your heart. But the experience allows room for a bigger, more mature version of your heart to grow.