Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fun

Snowy daysIt's Thursday night, and currently, we here at Exfanding Headquarters are hunkering down for yet another major winter storm. My drive home tonight was, let's say...different. There weren't many cars out on the highway, but the roads alternated between nightmarish and just plain wet.

I'd drive a couple miles in the driving rain, then I'd hit a section of white, fluffy snow, then I'd cycle back into a wind tunnel of freezing rain and nice, big chunks of ice. And the last weather report I heard said, and I'm quoting here, "the snow will start up sometime after 6:00 and will continue for the next 18 hours."

Which is encouraging.

I can hear the ice pelting against my window as I type, and...wait. I just turned on the outside light, and it's snowing. Yikes. Officially.

As Nathaniel so eloquently alluded to last week, it's funny how our opinion of snow changes as we get older. As a kid, snow means a day off from school, an afternoon spent throwing things at each other, and hot chocolate.

And that lasts pretty much up through college, since most universities now close at the drop of a flake. (Except NYU, which never closes. Except that one time, my Junior year, when everyone referred to that day as, "the one time.")

Being a grown-up turns snow days into "dangerous driving conditions" days, which are only about half as much fun as building a snowman on the front lawn. (Or, hilariously, in the middle of the street. And, no, I won't tell you about that time.)

But, like it is with any other rule in life, there are always exceptions. And, typically, 8-to-14 inches of snow means we can all work from home. Now, as mentioned, I'm writing this Thursday night. So, if all us East Coasters wake up (today), look outside, and see nothing but green grass, then I was The Jinx.

And I apologize for that.

But if I am, indeed, completely snowed in today (remember, I'm writing from the not-so-distant past here), and I do get to work from home, I fully intend to throw in some comics reading time at some point.

I've been buying more trades lately than Renfield had flies, and they're just piling on up in a corner, begging to be read. Hopefully I can sit down and enjoy one or two of them tomorrow. I mean, today. Right.

This weekend, I plan to (at least attempt to) catch up on all of my single issues. I've made a huge dent in that stack recently, and I'm almost there. Of course, just last night I started reading my old, beaten up copy of Daredevil: Yellow, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and now I'm going back and re-reading the rest of their Marvel "color" books--Hulk: Grey and Spider-Man: Blue.

And after reading Yellow, I really want to go back and read more Daredevil. I'm thinking I'll start with Frank Miller's run on the title, then go to Kevin Smith's, then read the entirety of Brian Bendis' 12 volumes.

That's the problem with comics, you see. But that's also the best thing about comics.

Like when you try to "organize" your collection, and instead you pick up and open every single book on the floor, or in the closet, or in that big, stinky box in the basement, and you flip through the pages, look at the pictures like a little kid, and read bits and pieces of dialogue.

Comics are a continuous form of entertainment. Spider-Man is going to get himself into some impossible death trap once a month, every month, like clockwork. And, most times, he'll escape the deathtrap and save the day.

But we all know the story (especially in super hero comics) isn't about beginnings and endings. It's about how we get there.

And luckily for us, the stories of how they got there will always be there. No matter what your favorite character is doing in his or her current incarnation, your favorite stories will always be around, just waiting for you to come back to them.

Now, I can hear you asking--what does this have to do with snow? That's easy. Absolutely nothing. But, like snow days, it's not the comics that change. It's us--our age, our situations in life.

But the stories stay the same, and when you need them--they'll be there.

I have a strange, cool little tradition that I always, always take part in whenever there's a moment of...oh, I don't know what to call it. Doubt? Fear? Anxiety? Maybe anxiety.

Anyway, there's an issue of Justice League of America that always gets me right in the gut. It doesn't matter what the issue number is, really, ( but since we're all obsessive compulsive comics fans, I'll tell you that it's issue zero from Brad Meltzer's run.)

It's a story about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman getting together after a year away to choose a new roster for the JLA. But before that happens, Meltzer tells the story of the history of the League through the eyes of each character. We see moments from the past and moments from the possible future.

We watch as Clark Kent buries the man who adopted him and we see Batman and Wonder Woman cry when they hear the news that Superman has died.

We experience the joy and anxiety in Batman's voice when he first agrees to be a part of the League, and we take a peak into the moments after he lays Guy Gardner out with one punch.

And even if you didn't read comics (or, more likely, weren't even alive) when the JLA fought their first battle, or were turned into diamonds, or even when the Dark Knight returned, it just doesn't matter.

Meltzer paints life--even for super heroes--as the up and down roller coaster that it is. And I dunno, it just makes me feel better knowing that somewhere, there's this fictional guy running around in a cape who has gone through way worse than I can ever imagine, and he made it through the storm to fight another day.

Sure, it's unrealistic and kinda stupid, but it's how I feel. We all read the things we read for our own reasons. Sometimes, I just want to see some dude punch another dude in the mouth. Sometimes, I want to read about a group of aimless twenty-somethings, trying to find their way in life.

Comics are a big tent. They allow room for all kinds of stories, and that's why, despite all of my frustrations with the mendium over the past year, I just can't put them down. I just can't give them up.

I might be a grown up now, and I might have one heck of a commute waiting for me in a little while, but there's 12 inches of (possibly metaphorical) snow on the ground, and darn it, I'm building a snowman in the middle of the street.

You know, it's times like these when I wish I were a better writer, because then I'd be able to tie all of these thoughts together into something coherent and touching.

Sorry, folks. You get what you pay for.

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And with that, Happy Friday, everyone, and enjoy your weekend! And read comics!

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