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.
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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.