I know what you’re thinking, by the way, and honestly, that thought you’re having is perfectly understandable considering.
What in the world is “stackology” and why should you (or perhaps already) care?
Simply put, for the purposes of this blog, it’s “the science of the stack” in regards to a particular week’s new comics. One of the most popular pieces I ever posted on Newsarama involved a particular routine I’ve been following over the years that determines exactly when certain books are read in my weekly stack, essentially saving the “best” or most anticipated material for last. This weekly series will greatly expand on that central concept, breaking down an entire week’s worth of books, while providing an additional highlight to the one that creatively dominated all others. Obviously, it’s just not enough to evaluate why we’re reading certain comics, without taking into account how we’re reading them.
This is really something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now, but it never seemed to properly fit into Ambidextrous, and here will be only one of many expansions and perspectives I’m able to tackle in this new blog format. What follows next are a few quick rules for Stackology, and an example I prepared for the books that released October 21st, 2009, since it was a fairly huge week, even for me. Fully functioning message board below, if you have your own rules and such you’d like to add or discuss.
#1- Best is Last
Probably the central tenet of this whole approach is that the books you’re most excited to read cannot be touched until almost everything else in the stack is gone. This gives you something to work towards, and is the first step in creating some dynamite sequencing for your weekly hauls. The easiest way to do this is to arrange your pile according to creator and/or character. For instance, anything written by Bendis, Fraction, Morrison, etc., or featuring Spider-Man and Batman, usually settles near the bottom of mine each and every week, and will always make it when combined with a creator I really enjoy. Only tip here is to remain highly flexible, as there’s nothing better than a book starting off a little high, and then gradually moving down as it becomes another clear favorite.
#2- Create Balance
I have a good friend that does the exact opposite of this, but I never to read books from the same creator back-to-back. I feel that it disturbs the overall tempo, but that’s not the only thing I try to smooth everything out. Will also attempt to alternate solo vs. team/ensemble books, split up books by writers who I know typically use a lot of dialogue, and adjust for the occasional oversized issue. Like a great album being built on the back of flawless sequencing, it’s possible to create the perfect little batch of comics that’ll amount to hours of enjoyment.
#3- Don’t Buy Bad Comics
This should probably be number one, and will never be a bulletproof affair since we’re ordering these things months in advance, but please go out of your way to avoid buying bad books. If there’s something you’ve been buying for a couple months that you’re not enjoying anymore, don’t spend another dime on it, and move on with your life and your hobby still intact. Don’t keep buying something just so you can have a complete set, or you’re committed to following the character no matter what, or because you liked the work someone did five years ago, etc. Stackology doesn’t work at all if you purposely buy bad comics over and over again, so do the best you can in this regard. Comics should be enjoyable above all else, otherwise, why even talk about them?
Okay, so here’s the damage (and the champion) from 10.21.09…
ROBOTIKA FOR A FEW RUBLES MORE DOUBLE-SIZED #3 & #4 (ARCHAIA)
BLACKEST NIGHT SUPERMAN #3 (DC)
AZRAEL #1 (DC)
FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH DANCE #6 (DC)
GI JOE MOVIE SNAKE EYES #1 (IDW)
SUPERMAN BATMAN #65 (DC)
POWER GIRL #6 (DC)
COWBOY NINJA VIKING #1 (IMAGE)
AIR #14 (VERTIGO)
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #38 (DC)
CHEW #5 (IMAGE)
TITANIUM RAIN DOUBLE-SIZED #1 & #2 (ARCHAIA)
BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #5 (DC)
THUNDERBOLTS #137 (MARVEL)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #609 (MARVEL)
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28 (DC)
SPIDER-WOMAN #2 (MARVEL)
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #19 (MARVEL)
DARK AVENGERS #10 (MARVEL)
Just barely edging out the excellent (and quite shocking) Chew #5, Fraction and company conclude the yearlong World’s Most Wanted arc in glorious fashion. Even with his brain slowly dissolving away, the genius of Tony Stark is on full display, his ultimate plan appearing a delicate mix of technology and good old-fashioned teamwork. Pepper continues to be a character that Fraction displays great affection for, and her role in Tony’s endgame is more important than most, though Maria Hill has a fantastic moment that gets her and Natasha out of a really tough spot. The coolest reveal though is that despite a very violent disagreement over Tony’s behavior during the superhero civil war, he chooses to put himself in the care of Thor, who he obviously still considers one of his most trusted allies. The road to Siege begins right here, and the very last shot of the story has me anticipating the upcoming Marvel Trinity Reunion more and more.
(by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca)