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The Completist's Dilemma

Comic Books

The Completist’s Dilemma

I have a problem – I’m a completist.

Actually, hold on, let me quickly Google “completist” to see if I am, in fact, a completist.

“An obsessive, typically indiscriminate, collector or fan of something.”

Wow, is that really what you think of me, Google? Well, I guess you do know me – or my search history – pretty well.

Anyway, yes, I’m a completist. I feel like I’ve been one my entire life and to be honest, I’m constantly questioning my completist ways. Is this some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder or just the curse of being a geek? I hope it’s the latter. I mean, it would certainly seem that way, based on the fact that my completist tendencies are associated with my nerdier passions.

Let me give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.


I’ve been a die-hard Transformers fan my whole life. Have you ever been to BotCon, “The Official Transformers Collectors’ Convention?” I sure have (it was awesome – Peter Cullen, Optimus Prime himself, was there). As I grew up with the original toys and cartoon show, I have a sweet spot for those classic characters and storylines.

But the Generation 1 lore, as well as later series like Beast Wars and Transformers: Animated, ensured I would be obsessed for life with these transforming robots. I’m compelled to watch every Transformers animated series from beginning to end. As there have been several, in the U.S. and Japan, I’ll likely be pursuing this goal well into my golden years.

I’m currently on the second Japanese series, Transformers: Super-God Masterforce. And by currently, I mean that I’ve spent two years trying to get through this 42-episode series.

Despite its awesome title, it’s a true chore getting through Super-God Masterforce. In addition to the subtitles, I have to sit through the formulaic adventures of the Autobot Pretenders, who spend much of the episodes in their human disguises. They work with the Headmaster Juniors, who are three children who pilot robot bodies. Your older brother’s Transformers, these are not.

The Completist's Dilemma
You’re not alone, Mr. Kaiser.

But I have to get through it, and then it’s on to Japan’s Transformers: Victory, which is the final animated series of the Generation 1 era.

I could go on about the countless other times my Transformers obsession has led me astray, such as how embarrassed I felt after dragging my friends to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on opening day. I swear, the Transformers I grew up loving didn’t celebrate racist humor!*

*For the record, I don’t support any of Michael Bay’s super-god-awful Transformers movies. Though, if he keeps making them, I will have to see them, for I am a completist.

Are These Really “Masterworks?”

Your life changes the minute you join comic book fandom. Wednesday isn’t hump day, it’s new comic day. You understand that every now and then you need to devote a day to bagging, boarding and filing away your loose issues. Also, you can’t help but dig through back issue bins and skim trade paperback collections for key moments in comic history.

But let’s be honest, not every old story will be the Death of Gwen Stacy or the Dark Phoenix Saga.

The X-Men – specifically the original five – are my favorite comic book characters. As a result, I’ve had no choice but to seek out Marvel stories that go as far back as the 1960s, when telling tales that would stand the test of time really wasn’t a top priority. Reading all eight of Marvel’s The X-Men Masterworks hardcovers truly tested my devotion to Scott, Jean and the other original mutants. From boring page layouts to panels packed with excruciating dialogue, many of these early tales were far from “masterworks.”

Still, volume 7 did introduce me to what could be one of the most underappreciated super villains in the Marvel Universe: Griffin.

First introduced in 1972’s Amazing Adventures #15, which became a vehicle for the newly mutated Beast, Griffin started out as a self-described “punk” in New Orleans gangs, until he hooked up with the Secret Empire. This evil organization promised to transform this hooligan into an actual super villain. What he didn’t realize was this meant surgically grafting a mane, wings and tail to his body and, wait for it, replacing his hands with lion paws.

They replaced his hands with lion paws! What’s great is just how much that bugs him. What’s even greater is no one seems to care that it annoys him so much! Seriously, if Axel Alonso is reading this right now (and why wouldn’t he be?), I will totally write a Griffin series for All-New, All-Different Marvel.

The Completist's Dilemma

And yet, despite the laughs The Griffin afforded me, the rest of these hardcovers, which were far from cheap, weren’t very memorable. But I’ve learned nothing. I’m currently mustering up the courage to start reading Essential X-Factor volume 4, because how else will I get to volume 5?

Keep Fishin’ for a Better Purchase

Sadly, my completist desires aren’t limited to Transformers series and early X-Men comics; they extend to music as well. Well, specifically to my favorite band, Weezer. When I started listening to the Weez in high school, I immediately connected with Rivers Cuomo’s lyrics and melodies, which set me on a path to devouring every B-side, demo and live rarity.

In a time before Spotify, this meant purchasing Weezer’s physical singles. Yes, long ago, bands released singles on CDs, along with a few extra tracks. So Weezer fans were in for a real treat when Keep Fishin’, the second single off 2002’s Maladroit, had not one, not two, but three single CDs to buy!

Now, if you’re familiar with Weezer’s early B-sides, you know they’re some of the band’s best songs. I’m talking classic tracks like Mykel and Carli, Susanne and Devotion.

Boy was I spoiled, because the first single had Keep Fishin’, of course, as well as live versions of later-day Weezer songs Photograph and Death and Destruction. Single two had, wait for it, Keep Fishin’, as well as live versions of later-day Weezer songs Slob and Knock Down Drag Out. I can tell you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what the third single had on it. Well, how about Keep Fishin’ and Keep Fishin’ (Franklin Mint Version)?

To sweeten the deal, Weezer put Kermit the Frog on two of the three single covers, which made purchasing them at my local Best Buy all the more enticing.

Did I say enticing? Sorry, I meant to say embarrassing.

The Completist's Dilemma

Despite the fact I haven’t listened to these three singles since I purchased them in 2002, I’d probably do it all over again tomorrow. I mean, I’m a guy who didn’t hesitate to pick up Weezer’s 2010 Record Store Day release, which featured a song titled I’m Your Daddy (Featuring Kenny G) as the lead track.

Is It Just Me?

I could keep going, but why make myself any more undesirable to women than I already have? At the end of the day, I guess we completists are just fans on the hardcore end of the spectrum. It’s not always going to be fun; there’ll be times when we have to make a sickening sacrifice (like giving Michael Bay more money), but we know exactly what we’re getting into because we cherish whatever we love so super-goddamn much it all seems worthwhile.

And though I suggested being a completist is nuthin’ but a geek thang earlier, I’m reminded of a party I went to in 2006. In the host’s bedroom was a wall of shelves overflowing with Phish CDs. These weren’t official releases, mind you, they were live bootlegs he burned himself. And believe me when I tell you, this man was no nerd. He was, well, he was your average Phish fan.

I wish I could talk to this guy now and ask him where he found those bootlegs, how tedious it was to create them or how often he actually listened to them. Despite the fact that he constantly annoyed me by ending every joke he told with, “It’s all good,” I feel like we share a common dilemma – the completist’s dilemma.

Are you a completist like that Phish fan who once hosted a party or myself? Have you tried to shake the habit to no avail, or do you relish your collector ways? Share your thoughts!

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