I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll mention it once more, with feeling. I go to a comic book store every week because of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern. I’d read trade paperbacks in the past, but once I reached the end of New 52 Green Lantern Vol. 1, after reading from Green Lantern Rebirth on in about two months, I couldn’t stop to wait for another trade to be released months down the line.
That’s how they get you, I guess.
Over the course of a state-trekking week I acquired every issue of New 52 Green Lantern that was out at the time: #’s 0-12 and annual #1. I also decided “why stop there?” After all, in the New 52 there were three other Green Lantern series.
The thing with collections is, once you’re 53 pieces in you either acknowledge that you’ve gotten a little carried away (i.e. admit defeat) or you commit.
I stuck with the auxiliary Green Lantern books through issue #26 in December 2013. Hell, I even followed the fourth Green Lantern spin-off, Larfleeze, since its debut several months ago.
There were some good times along the way; the trial of John Stewart was a thriller that felt like something out of an intergalactic episode of 24, New Guardians #23 was one of my favorite issues of 2013, Relic and the entire Lights Out event were badass, and sometimes there were neat drawings in Red Lanterns.
But, while I still eagerly await each month’s issue of Green Lantern, even after Johns’ departure, I’ve never felt quite the same sense of anticipation for the other four Lantern books.
So with the end of 2013 I made a resolution. No, not the 2014 Channing Tatum Initiative. Another resolution. I quit Green Lantern Corps, New Guardians, Red Lanterns and Larfleeze.
Green Lantern Corps #27 came out last week, and I didn’t miss it. I picked it up in the store and stared at the cover. We exchanged quick glances and nervous smiles. And then I put it down and walked away.
Brand loyalty is a myth. If nothing else, it’s a bedazzled float thrown atop the rickety old car that drives it – the commercial guilt trip.
Month after month I’d halfheartedly pick up Corps and Guardians and Reds from my box and month after month I’d think “I should stop reading this.” But then I’d tell myself “but these are part of a crossover event.” I’d tell myself “Green Lantern is why I started reading comics.” I’d tell myself “I’ve already followed these books this far.”
None of them were good reasons. They were selling points. And bad ones at that.
Month after month I was doing DC Comics job for them.
Rather than getting the spin-off Green Lantern books because they hooked me in and held my attention every month, DC Comics was getting my money because month after month I was pushing books I didn’t love on myself out of some perverse sense of commercial gratitude.
If you learn one thing from my break-up with these books, let it be this – you never have and never will owe anything to any brand for any reason. Whether it’s a comic book or a car company, when you affix your personal loyalty to a brand you’re attaching emotional tethers to a relationship that will always be a quantifiable commodity to the other party.
At the advice of a friend my comic book readership has recently taken a turn away from characters and publishers towards creators. If I like a writer I’ll give their books a shot. It’s been a much more intellectually lucrative pursuit.
But at the end of the day you don’t owe them either. I’ve recently fallen into Charles Soule’s excellent work on Swamp Thing. And I’m loving his Superman Wonder Woman series as well. That doesn’t mean I owe it to him to pick up Red Lanterns again, even if I do appreciate Soule’s impressive and prolific output.
The point it, the only reason you should be following a comic book is because you like it. And as soon as you stop liking it the book, its characters, its writers and its publisher have no right to your loyalty.
I don’t know if there’s a power ring in the emotional spectrum for fiscal responsibility and soap box consumerism, but if there is Green Lantern Corps, New Guardians, Red Lanterns and Larfleeze have taught me to wield it.
1. Do you owe entertainment and entertainers anything beyond the price you pay for the products they release?
2. Do entertainers owe you anything for your fandom?
3. Where’s Ryan Reynolds?