At the NYCC this past weekend, both Marvel and DC promised that costs on their publications would drop in early 2011, with DC stating that their books would drop two pages of content and return to a $2.99 price tag. A good majority of comic fans rejoiced, knowing that most of their books have been $3.99 for a while and that saving a dollar on each of those books would be a huge relief in the long run. Others voiced concerns that cutting content is not the answer and that paying what was the norm not too long ago for less material is not an acceptible comprimise.
Marvel has remained vague on their price changes, noting only that no new regular books will be launching next year at $3.99. I doubt that their major moneymakers like the Avengers or X-Men franchises will decrease in price anytime soon. I think they would sell more issues at $2.99, especially considering the way Bendis writes. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I feel like I don’t get my money’s worth with his decompressed writing. In the long run I greatly enjoy his work, but if I had to pay $3.99 for his Daredevil run way back when I might have gone insane. Seriously, go back and read that run sometime, it’s amazing stuff but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a little padded in some areas.
But I digress…
What does this mean for those of us who still have the disposable income in this economy to collect comic books? I think a good majority of people won’t change their buying habits one bit. They’re not going to use the money saved to buy other titles, they’re going to put it back in their pocket and walk away. It’s not going to do anything to help out the comic publishers. While I’m sure a select few will spread some money around, the majority most likely will not. I’ve been working in a comic shop for close to five years now and I see the way people react to price changes. Granted, this is the first time prices have dropped after going up, but it’s not that dissimilar to running a discount sale. You offer a discount and people will use it on what they were already getting and then shove the money they save back in their wallet and walk away. I don’t blame them. All I hear from people is how most of the mainline books have been declining in quality while the prices increased. I hear that gripe about Amazing Spider-Man just about every week. Not everybody feels this way. I personally haven’t liked Spidey this much in years. But the mindset of the consumer right now is heavily influenced by the recession we’re in. They’re picking and choosing their books with a lot more insight. I’m hoping that this price cut will help people discover new books. Take that four extra bucks and buy a book you normally don’t. Jonah Hex is amazing. Supergirl is getting a new creative team and looks like it should be pretty epic. Freedom Fighters is solid. Over at Marvel you’ve got Avengers Academy, Young Allies, or the new Spider-Girl. I’m just saying there’s good stuff out there you should give a chance.
The real interesting element of all this will be to see how the stores handle it. If people do only buy the same books they buy now, that means that the shops will be looking at a smaller profit for the same amount of books sold. In an industry where a lot of stores are hurting for business, this isn’t going to help. I’m lucky enough to work in a shop where even if one department starts to dip, like comics, the others can pick it up; ie. gaming, toys, statues, etc. But what about the small shop in the strip center down the road who works on a very thin margin? It’s not fun to think about but it needs to be discussed so that everybody can stay in business.
Basically this is just me telling you that if you’ve got the extra cash and you really love this industry, put it toward another book when these price shifts happen. You’ll get the added enjoyment of reading something you previously didn’t have the chance to and everybody from the writers and the artists to the people who sell the books get to keep doing so for a long time to come.
The Spider-Man Wedding : A Treatise on the Dynamic Nature of the Ever-Shifting Comic Book Status Quo and the Reactions It Produces
Last night I watched my friend get married. Today I feel compelled to write about the demolition of Spider-Man’s marriage by the One More Day storyline. I know it’s been a long time since that particular story arc actually occurred, and that in the two and half years since it transpired we’ve had about five years worth of Spider-Man stories condensed down on us in the Brand New Day format. The fact that we have had so much happen in the Spider-Man universe since the deal with Mephesto ended his marriage is one of the factors that has helped Marvel quietly settle it’s readership into the new status quo. We as readers have mostly adapted to the point where Mary Jane no longer being a regular part of Peter’s life doesn’t register on our radar unless explicitly shoved in our face, ie. whenever Mary Jane shows up and makes cryptic references to the past that never was.
My feelings on the dissolution of the Spider-Marriage are fairly simple. I think that in the context of the story, it was poorly executed, but in the realm of comic-books, where fluidity is the name of the game, I cannot condemn it any more than I can condemn the death of Captain America or the Heroes Reborn debacle, or the Clone Saga for that matter. In the end, the events of One More Day are only as permenant as the popular writers of the day choose to make it. If tomorrow Geoff Johns jumped ship to Marvel with a plan to reunite Mary Jane and Peter, you bet Quesada would bow to his whims because he knows it would garner massive media attention and sales. That’s what it all boils down to, commerce. While comic books are an art form, they are also a business. Joe Quesada made a business decision based off of personal preference. There was no malice intended ot the fans in his action, simply a desire to run the creative side of the Spider-Man franchise that was more in line with what he envisioned as an Editor-In-Chief.
I think that the main reason for the uproar over the end of Peter’s marriage, aside from the qualms with the manner in which it happened, is that the majority of readers for Spider-Man grew up with Peter Parker and Mary Jane interlocked and inseparable. To them, Peter without Mary Jane seems like an incomplete machine, a muscle car without an engine. I’m sure anyone who picks up a Spider-Man book in the aftermath of the One More Day storyline would argue that Mary Jane has no more right to be the definitive Peter Parker significant other than Carlie or any of the other new characters introduced after the end of the marriage at the hands of Mephesto.
I think this all boils down to how in the world of comics, due to the fluidity and ever-shifting organic nature of the medium as a whole, events that add an edge of finality are basically a timebomb. Graduation from High School for teenaged heroes, marriages, deaths, children, etc. These elements serve the purpose of allowing the character to grow, but at the same time put up roadblocks that will eventually have to be dealt with. It’s a paradox in every concievable way.
I think this is why I, along with many other readers, are being drawn to series that have a finite run, with a clear beginning and end. You don’t have to worry about important developments being reversed in a series like The Boys, or The Walking Dead because their nature will not allow for it. Superhero comics do not seem to have that advantage. For long-running serialized characters, there will be change after change and then reversion. For every step gained there will inevitably be two steps back. This isn’t to say that serialized superhero comics are somehow inferior to limited-run series, but the fandom associated with the DC/Marvel superheroes will always encourage this sort of behavior.
My overall contention with all this is that there seems to be an overwhelming negativity when it comes to any change made to a mainstream character. I am simply saying that instead of grousing about it for two and a half years, enjoy the progression of the story that comes in its wake and patiently wait for the eventual return of the status quo that you enjoyed so much. And if you simply can’t handle the things being done to the character in between, find another title that doesn’t cause you so much mental anguish.
After all, comics are supposed to be fun.
You know what the best part of yesterday’s “Avengers Day” festivities were? Seriously? When my co-worker brought in cake. Volstagg understands where I’m coming from when I straight up tell you that even the crappiest day could be saved by cake. I mean, obviously when the zombies come and the fecal matter hits the rotating blades, cake isn’t going to make up for that, but I guarantee you that it won’t not help. That’s a promise.
AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #2 2.99
DEADPOOL #23 HA 2.99
EXECUTOR HC (MR) 19.99
GALACTA DAUGHTER OF GALACTUS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #26 HA 2.99
SCALPED TP VOL 06 THE GNAWING (MR) 14.99
SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #3 (OF 4) 2.99
X-FACTOR #205 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #236 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #1 2.99
I’m not gonna lie, dear readers…this week was slim pickin’s after last weeks full frontal assault by the big two. I will however give you what I can, as is my journalistic duty.
AVENGERS # 1
Let me get this out of the way, compared to New Avengers, this is about as Avenger-y an Avenger book can get. Sure, there’s a lot of Bendis’ trademark standing around and talking, but having recently re-read Busiek’s awesome run, there was a fair amount of expositional dialogue slinging in that era too, and I don’t know too many people who badmouth that run. Mostly out of fear that George Perez will come for them in the night and annihilate their souls with the power cosmic that he keeps stored in the lining of his Hawai’ian shirts.
Let’s see, Romita artwork? Check.
Clint Barton as Hawkeye? Check.
Steve Rogers giving an inspiring speech? Check
MOTHERF##KING KANG?!?!? CHECK!!!
Seriously, is there anything I think of as being more of an Avengers staple than Kang? No! Because he’s the most ludicrous Avengers villain of all time. He embodies the over-the-top grandiose nature of the book in ways that Dr. Doom or Ultron simply cannot. I know that’s a matter of opinion, but I would consider it to be fact, because that’s just how big my goddamned ego is. Kang has the sort of absurd over the top nature that could only be found within the pages of a comic book. I mean that with all the love and respect it entails. Comics as a medium have the ability to take the completely batshit insane and make it work the way that if you tried it on television or on film, you would be laughed at like a gimpy orangutan in a sailor outfit. Oh, the laughs you would garner if you tried to throw a time traveling despot into the workings of even the most out-there television show you could find. If Kang showed up in his purple helmet on the island on LOST, people would groan and punch themselves in the groin. Well, I would make a high pitched shrieking sound and bounce around the room like a walaby on angeldust, but that’s because I like things that nobody else likes.
The fact of the matter is that Bendis has gone back and made an Avengers book for the people who spent the last six years complaining that his books didn’t feel like they were Avengers books. Are those people really going to be able to make those claims when Kang shows up sporting a doomsday device that was supposedly built by a future version of Tony Stark and tells them that the future of the world depends on their new team triumphing over seemingly insurmountable odds? No, those people will have to eat their words like a slice of spongey Avengers Day cake. How does it taste, people? The answer should be chocolate.
Wanna guess what I love more in comics than Kang? Give up?
Yeah, I went there. You think I stuck around through all of Green Arrow/Black Canary because I enjoyed the story. Nope. It’s because I am bound by honor to purchase any and all comics featuring a character whose costume involves fishnets. My brain is hard wired that way. Is that shallow? Maybe. How many people bought Power Girl just because of the boobage? I bought it because I love the character. The boobs are only a fraction of that element, so I suppose that makes me better than everyone else. That’s me, champion of ethics.
Anyway, this issue begins with Zatanna in full bondage mode, chained to a gigantic St. Andrew’s cross while the Joker is set to ram a gigantic drill through her torso. Fan service? You bet your ass. It’s all a swerve, of course. It’s a Zatanna book, nothing is going to be exactly what it seems like. But do you think anybody who just flipped open the book to see a hot brunette in fishnets and sexy boots bound and gagged in pure fetish fuel fashion is gonna put the book back on the rack after that? No. They’ll buy it. They have to. Unless they’re a female who can’t appreciate how friggin’ hot that opening page is. But take a closer look femi-nazis, that panel is all about the empowerment of the female form, that when we view a woman at her most helpless she’s truly always in control. Satisfied? I hope so, because I don’t really wantto overanalyze the book. It all really boils down to the fishnets. Let’s be honest.
Before it got shut down by the FBI earlier this week, HTMLComics.com was a website that specialized in putting online, for free, older comics from just about every major publisher and other more obscure ones as well. The site reportedly saw traffic in the numbers of over 1 million hits per day.
To put that in perspective, this site never hits that amount of traffic per month. Granted, we’re a newer site and we are growing exponentially each month, but that’s PennyArcade traffic there. I think that is a fundamental statement on the comic book reading community. Let’s not kid ourselves, comics are popular right now. The geek chic thing hasn’t crashed and burned yet and Iron Man 2 opened to $52 million dollars on opening day. The market is there for the material, the culture however is diverging from the traditional business model due to a shift in the mindset of the modern consumer. You see, it seems like the majority of the populace thinks that piracy is a victimless crime. The majority of people who pirate content, any content, is that if they never intended to buy the product in the first place and only obtain it because it was free, you’re only depriving a creator of money they never would have handed over in the first place. It’s roundabout logic, and in some twisted way I think it makes a little sense. There is a part of me that wants people to be able to experience art, whether it’s music or film or comic books, no matter how they get it. The only problem with that is that people work very hard to produce that art and they deserve to be compensated. That includes retailers. People who work in comic stores like I do need to see people come in and pick up the books. I want to see the medium proliferate, but at the same time I want to see it expand through my doors. I harbor a bit of animosity toward Barnes and Noble and the like for being able to undercut our prices for trades and graphic novels. Casual readers tend to gravitate to them rather than us because they don’t need the things we offer, like back issues and snarky commentary.
But at least it’s legal and nobody is getting fucked over. It’s competition between retailers, that’s about it. They may offer good intro deals on new trades and graphics, but they don’t stock bulk like my store does. They don’t have out of print first editions like we do. But what good comes of a guy who scans old issues and uploads them for free? Erik Larsen of Image comics called HTML Comics “the greatest comic book website on the face of the earth!” on the Image Comics message boards. His Savage Dragon issue were hosted on that server. He didn’t seem to mind too terribly much. He considered the site a great resource, both for fans and creators. Image, coincidentally enough, was not part of the coalition of publishers who lawyered up to shut the site down. DC, Marvel, Dark Hourse, etc., all put their differences aside to combat a site that flaunted it’s illegal activity claiming legal loopholes prevented it from technically being an act of copyright infringement. The FBI raid obviously proved their claims wrong.
So what can we take away from all this? Prices are restrictive to the readership, both new and old. If product could be made available, in a manner that was cheaper than what the average is now, you would see an uptick of purchasing. A dollar an issue versus four? That’s a no brainer. It’s like when the Marvel Omnibi went on sale at Amazon for 10 bucks a pop, people turned out in droves to buy them. That glitch proved that value can attract mass sales. Perhaps an inventive approach to the digital distribution model is worth looking into.
I can’t tell anyone what to do; in regards to their illegal activities or their buying habits. I just want to point out that there is room for new ideas. Someone just has to put them to work.
Presented without comment…
I am going to basically take the week off for spring break, but each day I’ll update with pictures of superheroes in bikinis. Because I have integrity.
I woke up to find someone had e-mailed me a link to CBR where I read this shit.
Sadly, DC Comics announced today at MegaCon that the creative team that launched the title in May 2009 is leaving the book following the release of “Power Girl” #12. The new team replacing writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (“Jonah Hex”) and artist Amanda Conner is expected to be announced next week.
You know, I’m not going to say that whatever creative team comes on next won’t be great, because they could be. But damned if they could live up to the exceptional style that has been present on this book since issue one. Palmiotti and Gray understand how to make the character work without falling into thirty two pages of boob jokes, and Amanda Conner is about as perfect an artist as you can get on any title.
What I’m afraid of is that all the life is going to get sucked out of this title and within another three issues it’ll get canceled. Probably one of the best books DC has launched in years will see the same fate as the other great books that get shafted for no reason at all.
If you look at the comic book industry through a long-term lens. This shit should be infuriating. A new title launches with a character you enjoy, and for once they put a competent creative team with an amazing artist on it. For a character like PG, who isn’t an A-Lister in any sense of the word, you hope for a kind of stability. Because, as I’ve said in the past, in the modern publishing climate, you only have a short while to establish yourself in order to not get canceled, and for PG to last 12 issues is a testament to the creative team doing something right.
Now, as a consumer you’ve invested 12 months into a title. Everything is established and you’re happy with where it has progressed, now the paradigm shifts and EVERYBODY on board from writer to inker gets shifted off. You have to imagine that at least a sizeable percentage of the readers of that book will decide to jump off at that very point. The hope, on the part of the publisher, is that the new team will bring in people to make up the difference. But, in today’s climate, not to many people like to jump onto a book at issue 13, even if it is a new creative team without having read what has come before it. And considering that the first six issues of this particular series haven’t been collected, there is no easy format for transition. Also, like I said, PG isn’t exactly an A-lister, so unless the new team is A-List talent, the ration of incoming:outgoing is going to be skewed.
Why does all of this matter?
Revolving door creative teams buttfuck small titles into cancellation. That’s why. It’s a kick in the balls to diversity in publishing. If this book gets canceled due to a new creative team not catching on, chances are the publisher will not want to place blame on the talent, they’ll say that “the character just doesn’t connect” and then that character, who a great many people have invested time and money in, get shafted because the publisher doesn’t want to invest time in him/her anymore.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go into the corner and weep.
Hey folks, sorry the reviews are going up a day later than usual because this week was mid-term week and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing that didn’t have anything to do with comics and thus my brain and resolve has been whittled down to a viscous goop.
ACTION COMICS #887 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #624 2.99
BATGIRL #8 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1 3.99
POWERS #3 (MR) 3.95
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #2 (OF 5) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #5 (MR) 3.99
RED ROBIN #10 2.99
SECRET SIX #19 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #1 (OF 3) 3.99
SWORD #5 (MARVEL) 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8 3.99
And here’s my piddling excuse for a review section:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 624
Have you ever been walking along enjoying your day and then been smashed in the face by a brick from out of nowhere? That’s kind of what this issue feels like. I knew from extensive spoiler-riffic media coverage last week that this issue would be the one where Peter gets “fired” or some such nonsense, but I didn’t expect it to be such a contrived and out-of-left-field development that left me feeling like I was reading a different book.
Up to this point in the Brand New Day era of Spidey books, the writers have seemingly understood that Peter Parker has bad luck that really only results in an “aw shucks, that didn’t go well” sort of way. Not the “ARGH! MY LIFE IS FALLING TO UNIMAGINABLE SHIT!” kind of luck that I just call “Matt Murdock’s Life.” And this issue falls firmly into the Matt Murdock level of life upheaval. I know that his uncle was murdered, I know that his girlfriend got chucked off a bridge, but aside from that, you don’t see the entire world coming down on Peter that often. Because as Marvel’s everyman character, nobody wants to try to relate to someone who is publicly shamed and maligned for making an error in judgment.
I’m not going to say that what Peter did to get fired was out of character. Not at all. Because Peter is kind of a dumbass who does stupid things on a startlingly regular occasion. It’s the resolution that sticks me as the wrong way to move the character and it feels like all these weeks I’ve been praising the work on this book is worthless if this is what they were leading to.
BATGIRL # 8/RED ROBIN # 10
This is what I like to read. The interaction between the Bat family is something that makes those titles different from other books. You don’t get this kind of interaction with, say, the Superman family. Nor is anything like what you get in a team book like JLA. There is a close-knit togetherness and interwoven history here that doesn’t get played out elsewhere. The closest to it would maybe be the X-Men, but with the revolving door and expansive cast list I would say that it’s too expansive to work in the way the Bat family does.
This crossover deals with the fallout of the intro arc of Red Robin, with Ra’s Al Ghul coming for his vengeance as well as resolving some dangling threads from the time Stephanie Brown spent as Spoiler. Perhaps its the nature of resolution that makes this crossover so worthwhile.
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL # 1
Where to begin? Okay, I only skimmed Cry for Justice. I didn’t care for the first two issues and wasn’t going to invest any money into the rest of the series. The ending, where Green Arrow straight up shot an arrow through Prometheus’ head was both jarring and stupefying. This follow up issue, where the JLA finds out about that event, is better written than the mini-series that established the need for its existence, but that’s like saying that getting shot in the arm is better than getting shot in the leg.
I’m conflicted here, because I pretty much concur with Ollie’s new worldview, but I’m not so sure if I could ever fully imagine him as a character doing these things. With all the continuity established, Ollie doesn’t strike me as the gung-ho killer type. I’m hoping that this is leading somewhere that I’m not seeing, otherwise I might be giving up on Green Arrow after several years of collecting monthly.
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 2
This one didn’t suck. Mostly saved by Xavier trying on wigs and trying to bang Emma Frost. Reminds me of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Danny DeVito basically did the same thing. Except Professor X always makes any situation funnier. You know, because he’s a cripple.
SWORD # 5
I hate you Marvel. This book was beautiful and you tossed it aside like it was a bucktoothed hooker. For shame. Just, for shame.
And that’s all I have for this week. Next week I won’t have classwork to deal with and I’ll be able to give you some meatier writing, but for this week just be glad I put up anything instead of diving into oncoming traffic.
By now, if you’re in any way a comic book geek or collector you’ve heard about this weekend’s ginormous Amazon sale/glitch that saw Marvel omnibus editions normally retailing for upwards of fifty US dollars or more being sold off at prices of around eight to fifteen dollars a pop. I, like many people, went absolutely apeshit and bought close to TWO HUNDRED dollars worth of hardcovers I otherwise would never have had the means to obtain. I was overjoyed, thinking that somehow this was a liquidation on Diamond’s part that somehow trickled down to the consumer level in a way that had never before been witnessed.
A few hours after placing my order, the news broke that it was in fact a glitch and that the prices were reverting to their regular high double-digit levels. A collective holding of breath ensued from everyone who bought a discounted book that day, myself included. Reports have come out of people getting notices of cancelation for their orders. As of this writing, I have not recieved one. If you talk to some folks, Amazon plans to honor the orders up to a point. If you ordered fifteen copies of the Captain America omnibus, you’re probably not going to get those books. Those orders will either be cancelled or have their numbers reduced to a single copy. There are rumors running about that Diamond has given a few people their walking papers over this incident, which leads me to believe that they’re going to be eating some cash on this deal and hoping to stem the damage by placing direct blame on someone.
No matter how this little drama unfolds, we learn a crucial lesson about the marketplace. Fans want cheaper books. I know this isn’t a huge surprise, considering how irritated the fanboys get whenever a price increase hits the cover page of their favorite book. But from a larger standpoint, this incident echoes what I’ve been saying for a LONG time about how the trade market is getting it backwards nowadays.
I would say that around 50% of the trade paperbacks that come out onto the market cost MORE than the original issues. Now, when I first started buying trades it was because I could save anywhere from 5-10 dollars overall on a title by purchasing the collection as opposed to the issues. That was the incentive to buy trades, wasn’t it? But now you’ll see a book that in issue would have run you 12-15 bucks showing up in collected form running 20-24 bucks. Where is the logic here? People won’t buy the book in issue format because they think that’s too expensive and you expect us to pay MORE when it hits collection?
It’s all part of why we’re not seeing much industry growth nowadays. The powers that be have made reading comics cost prohibitive. There are companies like Top Cow, who have refused to jump to 3.99 and put out some of the most reasonably priced trade collections in the industry, but they don’t have enough of a market share to really make an impact. Imagine of Marvel started making more trades set at $9.99 a copy. To a consumer, when they see a trade that’s under ten bucks, they might be tempted to pick it up based on value alone. A trade collection of 4-6 issues for ten bucks, while two issues of a main line title run 4 bucks a pop; the consumer would get more for his money. I have seen this principle first hand while working in the store. The average consumer cannot turn a blind eye to a good value, as evidenced by this Amazon glitch. This glitch put multiple comic collections into the TOP SELLING AMAZON ITEMS list.
The lesson is simple. Price to sell, people. Give us quality at value and we will buy.
As of 03-09-2010 at 12:15 PM my initial order has dropped down to five of the items I’d ordered. Volumes 1-4 of Punisher MAX, The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, and Volumes 1-3 of New X-Men collection have been removed. The Captain America, Criminal, Ultimates, and Wolverine Omnibuses are still on the invoice, as well as vol. 5 of Punisher MAX. Will they be shipped? Not yet sure.
***UPDATE # 2***
As of 03-12-2010 my entire order was canceled. Sadly, this whole thing was too good to be true. However, I did get a free $25.00 credit from Amazon out of it, so it’s not a total loss. In fact, I pretty much count this as a win. I would have loved to have gotten what I ordered, but from the moment it was announced as a glitch, I could see that I would most likely not be getting those books. Maybe I will find them discounted to an affordable degree at a convention or some other locale. Maybe.
Batman loves sexy hats.
Hey, guess what? I read some books! Just like last week? Aren’t I unpredictable? But seriously folks, I got my books yesterday, though about six hours later than usual so I actually stayed up late reading comic books to ensure that I would be able to get this post up in a reasonably timely manner. You guys should send me a gift basket.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #622 GNTLT 3.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #33 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #9 2.99
BLACK LANTERN GREEN ARROW #30 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT #7 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #3 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN SWING #1 (OF 4) 3.99
CHOKER #1 (MR) 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #83 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL #20 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #2 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #576 2.99
GI JOE TP VOL 02 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #9 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #36 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99
MS MARVEL #50 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #62 SIEGE 3.99
SUPERMAN #697 2.99
THOR #607 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #4 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #41 2.99
X-FACTOR #202 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #233 XN 2.99
That’s a pretty healthy haul. So what did I think?
For the last few week’s I’ve really been boosting up ASM as a book. I think it’s been consistantly good and that the naysayers have been blinded by their own biases. This issue however is a bit of a mixed bag, in that the lead story with Morbius is actually quite fun if a tad on the light side, not actually being full length and thus appearing somewhat rushed, while the second story with Flash Thompson is just sort of a discombobulated mess.
I am willing to bet that the secondary tale is in there because they need to quickly set up Flash’s new status quo for when he inevitably comes back into the fold of the supporting cast on a regular basis. It feels like the writing team’s attempt to get us re-aquainted with Flash and let us know that by featuring him in such a beefy role in what amounts to a backup story, he must be important enough to care about. Continuity wise, at least.
Like I said, the issue is a mixed bag, but it’s only a slight hiccup in the road as far as I’m concerned, because it’s a one-off story meant to act as an interlude anyhow. I don’t blame them for trying to cram some exposition in there that might have gotten cut short if it were rammed into an ongoing storyline. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…Amazing Spider-Man.
It’s like Sin City meets Blade Runner with enough of the classic Marlowe noir not to feel cheap. Choker is Ben McCool’s debut creator-owned story and damned if he didn’t knock it out of the park with this first issue. The dialogue is crisp and feels as solid as noir dialogue can, which admittedly can sometimes come off as really cheesy. Remember Frank Miller’s script for The Spirit? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.
I’ve admitted that I’m not normally a fan of Ben Templesmith. His artwork is hard to critique because any complaints can be attributed to his wanting to add a sense of style. And luckily, in the case of this book, the style works. Whereas I felt it actually hindered the story in something like 30 Days of Night, here it feels like any other type of art style would have seemed…off.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I’m always telling people that there’s great new stuff out there and this is no exception. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you pass it up.
Speaking of original material, fuck you Warren Ellis. How the living hell do you manage to crank out so many titles in such short periods of time, and all of them be thoroughly entertaining? Where is your off month? When do I get to read something from you that sucks. That would be a surprise. I would actually be shocked if I picked up an Ellis book and didn’t like it. The man has such a vivid sense of world-building and setting that he could tell an infinite number of stories simply by interchanging the characters and plots from his different endeavors into each other’s locales. In this case, we get a pre-industrial revolution London in the time of the formation of the Metropolitan Police (aka the “Met”) and a mysterious steampunk villain(?) who fires electric bullets and cavorts around town in a flying airship.
Once again, fuck you Warren Ellis. You creative prick.
It pains me to say that reading this final issue of Ms. Marvel, I understand why it’s going away. When your grand finale is so astoundingly anti-climactic that it makes the reader’s chest hurt, you probably should thank your lucky stars that you made it to issue 50. Now, I’ve followed this title since # 1, and I’ve tried to get people on board, because I think that it’s been a really damn good title for the majority of the run. But I see the final arc as sort of a missed opportunity. It seemed…I guess rushed is as good a word as any. Like this is all Brian Reed could come up with because the weight of delivering a final issue was weighing on him so heavily.
The backup story is passable. I’m not a big Noh Varr fan, so it didn’t speak to me on any real level. But something tells me that what happened there will come into play whenever they decide to focus a little more on that character. At least when that happens I’ll be prepared.
Overall, this would have been a fine issue were it not the grand finale. In that sense, it feels like a bit of a misfire.
It’s an extended Power Girl cameo, how the hell do you think I felt about it?
And that’s it for this week, join us next time when I aim to be even more passive aggressive.
The web address ccq-blog.info should now lead you to the forums. My hope is to build a thriving internet community where people can come together and discuss all kinds of different topics, not the least of which being the comic books I detail here on the blog.
Tell your friends! Join today!
Whoever didn’t see this one coming obviously does not read the blog on a regular basis.
Inmates Running The Asylum : Jim Lee Named Co-Publisher & Geoff Johns Named Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics
The internet got itself all up in a maelstrom over the news that Jim Lee would join Dan Didio as a co-publisher while Geoff Johns would step up as DC’s new chief creative officer.
A lot of people took this to mean that now every book published by DC will be populated by death and mayhem, with just a tinge of regressive silver-age obsession. A Teen Titan would die every month and so on, etc., etc.
Look people, I riff on Geoff Johns a lot. I mean, I’ve nearly been assaulted in the shop by merely stating that he’s not the greatest writer of all time and that as a writer, his stories won’t be remembered in 20 years time as anything more than an example of what comics were like at a particular point in history. His writing is really rather middle-of-the road. The fact of the matter is that his books sell because of hype and promotion, not because of quality. Blackest Night is not an amazing event. It’s actually fairly tepid. But people buy it because they’re told it’s important. His stories are not particularly inventive or ground breaking, which is partly due to his obsession over the DCU’s history.
So after spending a paragraph ripping on the guy (again), how can I actually defend his appointment?
Perhaps because he’s exactly what the company needs. He’s a fanboy and at the same time he’s a businessman. He knows comics on the retailer level, because he is one, as well as on the creator level. He knows h0w to hype his own product to the fans. He sees himself as one of us and speaks as such. Which is something that DC has seemingly lacked, a sort of fan-level enthusiasm. DC has, as of late, seemed so corporate and robotic when compared to Marvel’s hype machine. I believe that having someone like Johns overseeing the creative direction of the company, and being able to sell that direction, will be a major boon to DC. Which I really do hope for, because I love DC comics. I grew up with Batman and Superman as much as I did Spider-Man or the X-Men.
All I can say is, please, stay calm and remain optimistic. If I can do it, so can you.
I’m back. Though I’m completely sore and drained after an amazing concert last night at the House of Blues, I have found it in my heart to post up this week’s reviews in a manner that vaguely resembles professional.
The Pull List 2-10-2010
ACTION COMICS #886 3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS WITH BLACK LANTERN SUPERBOY #7 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #620 GNTLT 2.99
BATGIRL #7 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #8 2.99
BOOSTER GOLD #29 3.99
COLT NOBLE AND MEGALORDS (ONE SHOT) 5.99
GREEN ARROW BLACK CANARY #29 3.99
HAUNT #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #3 3.99
NEW MUTANTS #10 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #4 (MR) 3.99
QUEEN SONJA #4 2.99
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY ILLUSTRATED #1 4.99
SECRET SIX #18 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SWORD #4 (MARVEL) 2.99
TITANS #22 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #7 3.99
And now, on with the show…
Amazing Spider-Man has become a freight train style juggernaut that moves along at seemingly breakneck speed without any signs of slowing down. The 3x a month format allows for a cacophony of plot development in a VERY short span of time. What amounts to the third arc of the Gauntlet storyline has come to a close. Were this a traditional Spider-man story, played out once a month, it would have taken 3/4 of a year to get where we are.
Thus far the story has been like the beginnings of a chess game, with pieces being carefully put into position in ways that we can see that an endgame is approaching but don’t yet know how it will truly play out. In this week’s issue, we get a classic Spider-Man throwdown between the webslinger and Mysterio, who constantly plays mindgames with Spidey and the reader, keeping us guessing as to whether he truly is Quentin Beck come back from the dead. Ambiguity breeds interest, and this arc certainy has it in spades.
And, I must once again take a moment to praise the art of this particular story, as it reminds me very much of the 70′s styled Spider-Man stories that I enjoyed so much, with none of the hyper-realistic definition that seems to have plagued the book in the wake of McFarlane in the 90′s. The art is a key componant here in making the story feel like classic Spidey.
MINDLESS ZOMBIE BATMAN!
I am an unabashed lover of Hack/Slash and its creator Tim Seeley, who writes stuff that will never be considered high art but could definately be called high concept. His sense of comedic timing is a wonder to behold and his latest venture, a sci-fi/fantasy romp with a sarcastic comedic flair tossed in to make things interesting is truly worth a read.
Now, at 5.99 it’s a bit pricey. But let me tell you this, the issue had more damned story and content than the majority of the books on the rack this week. Compared with Zenoscopes Sci-Fi Illustrated (Which I will get to in a moment…) which held a pricetag of 4.99 with about 1/4 the content, you cannot argue that you’re not getting a good value.
And honestly, you’re getting more than a good value. One of my major complaints with the comic book industry and its followers today is an overwhelming tendency toward constant negativity and adherence to canon/continuity. Fans tend to feel like everything must be kept in strict order and the line must be towed at every turn. For example, take a look at the fanboys who got worked up into a sweat about how Dick Grayson could have POSSIBLY had Batman’s body at the point in the timeline where Batman & Robin # 7 took place when it was contradicted by Blackest Night. Those questions were answered in # 8 but some fans got so worked up in the specifics that they COMPLETELY sucked all of their own enjoyment out of the issue in question.
Books like Colt Noble and the Megalords are a breath of fresh air. In an industry that seems to be trying so hard to be looked upon as a mature art form, where genuine fun is tossed aside for stern-faced seriousness, Seeley presents us with a book that does exactly what a comic book should; entertain. Look, I get it. There are comics out there that are just as legitimate as certian works of prose fiction and should be regarded as such. Whatever. Don’t act like it all has to be like that. For every “Pride and Prejudice” there is a whole rack of novels that don’t aspire to be “art” or “literature.”
Colt Noble is like the dirty girl you take home from the bar and do things that the Bible expressly forbids. You know that you liked it but you’re not gonna go mouthing off about it to your parents in polite company.
The cover has Magog getting punched in the face. Of course I bought it!
The book has Power Girl beating the snot out of Magog. I think I want to make out with Matt Sturges.
Look folks, you remember how I went on a rant about how comic books don’t have to be serious? Yeah, I stand by that. But that doesn’t mean that comic books get a free pass for being utter crap. And they certainly throw away any right to critical fairness when they charge you $4.99 for such crap.
Science Fiction Illustrated is like bad fanwank to classic Twlight Zone and Outer Limit episodes, spliced with the worst heavy-handed pseudo Skinimax artwork one could possibly lay their hands on. It panders to the comic geek who can’t get a girl with a story about buying a perfect robotic woman that then spends spash pages dressed in various naughty outfits cooking and cleaning for the protaganist schlub.
I love me some smut, but let’s be honest, and I mean brutally honest, if I so chose, I could download multiple terabyte hard-drives full of the most disgusting pornography on the planet for free with a click of a mouse. Why would I pay $4.99 for cheaply and crudely drawn comic book girls if not for a compelling story to go along with it. Remember Boogie Nights where Burt Reynolds got all pissed off about porn without a plot. THIS IS WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT!
There is no fathomable way anyone could read this and say they got their money’s worth. That’s just the plain truth.
Gail Simone is awesome. This issue has explosions and zombies and twisty endings and whatnot. It’s part of a crossover and it didn’t suck. Gail Simone obviously made a pact with the devil. That devil might be John Ostrander. Just sayin’.
And that’s it for this week. Join me next time when hopefully I don’t rant quite so much*.
(*totally not gonna happen)
There’s your disturbing visual for the day.
Yeah, it’s that time again…
In which we learn the limits of Power Girl’s super-powered bajango.
Looks Like Everybody Is Taking A Secondary Job…
I think a little background would serve well to illustrate why I am writing this entry. I am an English major, in addition to a comic enthusiast/shop manager. I published a novel early last year, that can be found on Amazon though I don’t ask that you read it, as there are literally thousands of books that you could better spend your time delving into. If you still wish to purchase it, I certainly won’t stop you, but you have been warned.
Anyhow, I’ve spent a good deal of the last few years reading different works of literature from a varied selection of genres and time periods, and in the course of my readings only one comic book was entered into discussion, that of course being Alan Moore’s “Watchmen.”
I haven’t taken a course centered around comic books, though I’m told one is offered at the university. I would like to take it if time permits, but here and now I would like to offer up the selection I would offer if I were a professor teaching a class on the intricacies of graphic literature as a medium. This will be a recurring column, with new entries added every week in the hopes of compiling a sort of omnibus of books that just beg to be read and analyzed.
Up first is one of the greatest pieces of graphic literature in the history of the medium. One of the longest running and critically acclaimed indy series in the history of comics, “Strangers” has the sort of intricate plotting that wins countless awards for cable television shows, blending humor and pathos with vivid characterization and close attention to detail that is unparalleled in a medium known for continuity flubs and retroactive continuity fixes.
Writer Terry Moore poured his heart and soul into this book for over a decade, and the care he put into the characters shows with every panel. That alone earns it a spot as worthy of study and dissection on a scholarly level. Any work that has such a lengthy run by a single creator is worth a cursory glance, in this age of revolving door creative teams. Add to that Mr. Moore’s masterful storytelling and wonderful art, both of which are astonishing in their realistic portrayals of human emotion and anatomy, and you have a book that could be dissected a million times over.
I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Moore at a gathering for the 2009 “Free Comic Book” day event where I was signing my own book. A highlight of the day being when he jokingly referred to me as “a real writer,” when flipping through my clumsy prose. Aside from being one of the more talented creators in the medium, he is also a gracious and hospitible man who I was able to discuss, at some length, topics ranging from the local music scene to the state of comics both indy and mainstream. He clearly has a great deal of love for his own creations, and yet he never came off as a man of inflated ego.
“Strangers” is definately the kind of book that deserves to be studied. To be honest, a single issue of this series could be dissected for hours on end. The whole series would likely require at least a whole semester, if not two.
Next up is Brian Michael Bendis’ first appearance on this list, and believe me he will show back up again later. “Powers” is the kind of book that defines a writer’s style and sensibilities so well that every reader who picks it up knows what to expect out of that writer down the line. That isn’t to say that all of Bendis’ work is identical to “Powers” but it definately establishes Bendis as a writer whose main talent lies in crafting character voice and fluid dialogue. The people that populate the world of “Powers” are a diverse and eclectic group, with every character’s arc taking them somewhere that the reader may not have expected.
Bendis’ work here will make you angry. You will experience emotion while reading this book. In that, he is special. There are few writers who can write a book filled with people you actually care about. How many major characters have the big two companies killed off where the reaction you experienced was akin to passing a car wreck on the side of the road where your only thoughs are centered on how horrible it really looks without giving a second thought to the emotional weight of the situation?
That is not what happens in “Powers.”
Bendis writes a comic book that utilizes everything the medium has to offer in the forms of storytelling technique and at the same time writes in a manner that nobody else can quite nail down without coming off as skewed and off balance. Bendis has critics that feel his style doesn’t work within the traditional confines of the comic book medium, arguing that he comes off as dense and needlessly wordy, whereas I would argue that he simply knows how to tell a story and those who don’t like his style are simply too familiar with the tried-and-true mainstream storytelling methods to truly appreciate his work.
While his style doesn’t truly fit other projects like the “Secret Invasion” mega-event, where people expected a Michael Bay-style thrill-a-thon and instead got seven issues of Bendis’ hyper-realistic character interaction, books like “Powers” prove exactly how talented Bendis is as a writer.
Jonathan Hickman is proof of evolution. Where Bendis, Kirkman, Johns, and a whole slew of others are the logical progression of what Alan Moore and Grant Morrison ushered in with “Watchmen” and “Doom Patrol,” Hickman is the evolution of the Image generation and the post-modern revivial of comics.
Where Bendis is all about the dialogue in the context of the medium, Hickman is all about manipulating the confines of the medium to fit the message and all of that can be seen on display in “The Nightly News” which is about as perfect a book as one can possibly fathom. It blends the sort of graphic design wizardry that has come about in the fast-paced media sphere we now occupy with the biting social commentary of the eighties boom.
This is a book that begs to be read and re-read in order to capture every detail. The truth of the matter is that the book is somewhat hard to read, because we as readers are not used to this sort of stylistic delivery of the narrative, but when you find the rythym that Hickman has created, the book cracks along at breakneck speed and weaves a tale that would not be done justice by any other creator.
Originality is the name of the game here, and I don’t doubt that others will shamelessly ape this approach in the years to come, because it really is quite effective.
That concludes the first installment of this series. Next week another selection will be added to the syllabus and if there are any suggestions that you’d like to see covered down the line, don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments section, as I assure you I want to cover as many diverse titles as I possibly can.