How “Essential” Were They?

20190921_091745.jpgSitting in the back of one of my long boxes behind some old Wizard magazines (all of which I will be offloading on eBay for very cheap) are some free graphic novel catalogues that I picked up from my LCS at one point or another.  More importantly, when I picked them up, I went through them like a kid going through the Sears Wish Book marking off the graphic novels and trades I hadn’t read but was interested in.

The four (yes, four) catalogues I have are: The Marvel Reading Chronology 2009, Son of Marvel Reading Chronology (also 2009), All-New Marvel Backlist Reading Chronology (2012), and DC Entertainment Graphic Novel Essentials and Chronology 2014.  I’m way more of a DC guy than a Marvel guy, so I marked off significantly fewer books in the Marvel catalogues than I did in the DC book, but there was stuff that piqued my interest back in 2009 and 2012, and before I throw all four of these books into the recycling bin, I thought it would be interesting to look at what I had checked or circled.  Because I used them for their intended purpose while also unintentionally turning them into yet another symbol of my accumulation.

So I spent a little time going through the catalogues and decided to list here the books that I had circled, indicating which ones I read either by buying the trade or graphic novel or checking them out of the library.

I’ll start with the Marvel books:

  • Captain America: Scourge of the Underworld
  • Captain America: The Captain
  • Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle
  • Iron Man: Armor Wars Prologue
  • Iron Man: Armor Wars
  • Iron Man: Armor Wars II
  • Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys (read)*
  • Spider Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff (read)
  • Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt (read)
  • Spider-Man: One Moment in Time (read)
  • X-Men: Lifedeath*
  • Ultimate Spider-Man

I’m not surprised by not having looked at most of these because Marvel is a huge blind spot for me and while I thought these would be a good way of dipping my toes into the Marvel water, I haven’t gone that route and instead have been going through the Essential X-Men collections (which, by the way, is why there is an asterisk next to the “Lifedeath” X-Men collection because I now own the story though it is still unread).  I think Spidey might be my next deep dive because I do like the character and have read some stuff.  I read quite a bit of Ultimate Spider-Man back in the day and might try and track down the entire series and read it all the way through in addition to more Amazing Spider-Man than just the one essential volume I have (which contains the death of Gwen Stacy issue, so that’s why there’s an asterisk there).

Now, DC’s book has listed what their “25 Essential” graphic novels are, and they follow that up with a whole section on the New 52 trades and then go through other graphic novels featuring particular characters.  I thought I’d split my look at this in two, first by looking at the 25 Essential so I can note what I either own or have read and then will note what I marked.

Here’s the “25 Essential” as of 2014

  1. Watchmen (read)
  2. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (read)
  3. Sandman vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes (read)
  4. Batman: Year One (read)
  5. V for Vendetta (read)
  6. Saga of the Swamp Thing vol 1 (read)
  7. Fables vol 1
  8. Batman: The Killing Joke (read)
  9. Y: The Last Man vol 1
  10. All-Star Superman (read)
  11. Batman: Court of Owls
  12. Kingdom Come (read)
  13. Batman: The Long Halloween (read)
  14. Justice League (New 52) vol 1: origin
  15. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 1
  16. Batman: Earth One
  17. Green Lantern: Rebirth (read)
  18. American Vampire vol 1 (read)
  19. JLA (Grant Morrison) vol 1 (read)
  20. Final Crisis (read)
  21. Batman: Hush (read)
  22. Identity Crisis (read)
  23. Joker (by Brian Azzarello)
  24. Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello) vol 1: Blood (read)
  25. Superman: Earth One vol 1 (read)

I find it slightly amusing how current-day promotional that top 25 list was.  At one point, I had an Image Comics book like this that talked about 25 years of the company but only highlighted Spawn and Savage Dragon from its early days before going right to the 2000s.  Here, we have a lot of effort by DC telling us what we think it should be as opposed to what it has been, whereas years prior to this they were very happy to promote their long history.  And yet I’ve read so many of them.

Diving deeper into the catalogue, here’s what I marked and read:

  • Batman: Dark Victory (read)
  • Batman: RIP
  • Batman: Knightfall vol 1 (read)
  • Batman & Robin vol 1: Batman Reborn
  • Batman: The Black Mirror
  • Superman: The Man of Steel vol 1
  • A Superman for All Seasons (read)
  • Flashpoint (read)
  • DC: The New Frontier (read)
  • DMZ Vol 1 (read)
  • Sandman (all collections) (read)
  • Tiny Titans

In the years since, DC’s been digging deeper into its past and printing stuff that is way more interesting to me (Crisis crossover omnibi, anyone?), and its back catalogue is keeping me somewhat loyal as I feel more and more turned off by their new stuff.  I’m kind of glad I had these catalogues and glad I did at least make a little progress in getting through them.  This does beg the question: with my efforts to “uncollect” here, is there a place for these graphic novels and trades?  Would I be betraying myself if I went through a 2019 or 2020 version of these books and circled the trades that I wanted to buy?  I’m sure someone would say that it is while I would say that there is going to become a point where I am so close to only what I’m keeping that buying won’t seem like some sort of violation of my code.

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