Trusting Readers With Subtlety

Over the weekend, my husband and I sat down and read comic books together. He wanted me to read the 36 short issues of Injustice: Gods Among Us. I’ve been trying to get him to read most of the series of comics on my shelf for a while. He doesn’t like the big trade paperbacks. They aren’t anonymous and pocket-sized like his Kindle. He can’t take them to work.

So, while I read the kindle versions of his comics, he read the paper versions of mine. I’ve succeeded in getting him hooked on Y the Last Man and Saga. He liked Sandman, but didn’t immediately ask for volume 2, so I’m not sure how hooked he is there, exactly. I didn’t bother with Unwritten, because while I’m enchanted by the premise, I could see him getting frustrated with that story line. I am still waiting for him to read volume one of Fables, because he didn’t think he’d like it until I gave him a few insights into the storybook world.

I’ve read a few more than the last time I mentioned this but I’m still not wild about superhero books, but I read them and enjoy them. I guess my problem is that they don’t stay with me. They don’t keep me coming back. They rarely feel subtle to me. I don’t need to mull them over or reread them.

Like I said yesterday, I know I appreciate books that make me feel smart.  Unwritten makes me feel smart to be able to keep up with the literary allusions. Sandman to keep up with literary and mythological allusions. The books offer depth and breadth, and you get an ever expanding picture of the world as you continue reading.

I don’t feel like that with superhero books. They don’t reward me for loyalty with nuggets of deeper understanding. They don’t make the insights subtle. They have moral questions and are undoubtedly about things, but they talk down to the readers. They don’t expect us to keep up. I don’t know how else to describe it.

I liked Marvel 1602 because it is a twist. It expected you to understand the Marvel ‘verse as well as the historical context. It made you think about how the world would see people with superpowers during the Inquisition. It made you look deeper at the characters themselves and how they translate across the centuries. I thoroughly dug it.

I like the Injustice series because it’s very much a dystopian alternative universe that’s working, and everything about that says “yes please”. The problem with it is that it only skims the surface. There’s so much more to think about in that world. I hope if they do a year two like they did year one, that the books have a few more pages and they focus it more on the normal people. I don’t think the ripples on that pond have been at all thoroughly explored.

I get impatient with superhero books. Give me something to chew on, already.

I need to keep reading them. I’ll find something I like. I’m just explaining my most recent reactions.

I think as a take-away from this, I need to trust my reader to understand my subtle nudges here and there. The subtlety and attention to detail is part of what I love about Rowling and Sanderson. I need to give the same gift to my readers.

The other thing I noticed while we were reading was the push-pull between electronic versions and paper in my house.  I want to buy more trades, he wants me to get it on Comixology instead so he can read them, too. The problem with that is that then I’m stuck reading them on my computer, which feels a lot like work instead of relaxing with a book. I don’t like reading them in electronic form, I like to take in the whole page, and really look at the art. Even on his Kindle, it was frustrating to toggle around the various settings. I don ‘t know how to explain that. I really prefer paper.

What do you think?

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