I know that this year has been a bit different when it comes to the content I’ve posted on the blog. After leaving my job at the comic shop back in December I had to make the painful decision to alter my comic buying habits to accommodate my new lifestyle. As such, I’ve been getting my comics from an online retailer, mailed out once a month and as such I haven’t had much luck posting real reviews on a timely basis. It’s just a sad byproduct of my current situation. Another byproduct has been the steady decline of my interest in the mainstream comics scene. I have, sadly, been dropping titles I once considered vital with each passing month and have instead been focusing on creator-owned work that manages to resonate with me more than anything that DC or Marvel sends down the chute every month.
I never thought I’d see the day that I’d say this but I may just be done with DC comics. Lately the only books that I can say I’ve enjoyed fully are Morrison’s Batman Inc., Palmiotti & Gray’s Jonah Hex, Cornell’s Action Comics and Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Roberson’s handling of the Superman book has also been admireable. But that’s five books out of a line that will see 52 titles jump started with a new # 1 issue.
Dan Didio was quotes in the USA Today article as saying:
In September, more than 50 more first issues will debut, introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.
“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line,” says Dan DiDio, who co-publishes DC with Lee. “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”
Fans around the internet have been in an uproar over this and I have to say that I understand where some of them are coming from, in light of this news coupled with the rumors that have been coming out that have not yet been substantiated such as Lois & Clark’s marriage being lost in the new continuity as well as several creative team changes that are less than exciting including a possible loss of Gail Simone from Birds of Prey. The last time that happened it sucked just about all the energy from the book and it was left to die a slow death. On the other hand Grant Morrison is rumored to be taking over the central Superman title and it is confirmed we will be getting a Justice League book written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, in a move that clearly parallels Marvel’s decision to put Bendis on New Avengers several years ago.
The problem I have with the Justice League book being handled by Johns & Lee, aside from the fact that the creative team is almost begging for publishing delays, is that it seems like they’re aping Marvel’s formula several years after it has already gotten stale. Granted, DC could never make such a move any time after Marvel does anything similar because it’s either too soon or too late after the fact for it not to seem like a stunt or playing catch up. My philosophy when it comes to the DC v. Marvel debate comes down to the way Marvel treats its writers. They sell the writers in a way that makes them out to be superstars. Marvel presents their writers as the A-list. The cream of the crop. Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Nick Spencer, et. al are sold as being equal commodities to the characters they write. DC does not seem to do the same for their writers outside of Morrison or Johns. They have a SMATTERING of amazing talent in people like Chris Roberson, Matt Sturges, Gail Simone, Paul Cornell, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, and so many others. But you don’t see DC publicizing them like walking gods of creativity the way Marvel does with their stable.
The whole line-wide reboot thing reads like a desperate stunt. DC loves to pull stunts. The repeated weekly series plan alone shows that. This stunt in particular will alienate a great deal of the fanbase and probably lose them for a good long time. They say that the point of all this is to garner new readers by eliminating the confusion surrounding certain characters and their continuity but they are failing to understand the simple reason why the comics market isn’t viable to younger readers and that’s that comic books are not cost effective to the consumer.
The article in USA today also mentions that beginning in September, DC comics will be going same-day release with digital and print copies. This is a major leap forward in the digital market but raises even more questions. Are the digital comics going to be significantly cheaper than the print counterparts? If DC wants to make me pay full price for a copy of the new Superman # 1 at $2.99 when I can get it from an online retailer for anywhere from a 10-40% discount, then what is the impetus for me to switch to digital? The price debate is probably the most important hurdle that the comics industry will have to face in the coming years. I bought a blu-ray movie yesterday for $8.99. That’s two plus hours of entertainment plus special features for roughly ten dollars with tax applied. A comic book is 20 pages of content for about $3.25 after taxes are applied and the best case scenario is usually a ten minute read-time if there’s actually any dense content to the book. If you’re trying to attract new readers, you have to give them more bang for their buck. I respect DC for trying to lower the cost of buying comics, but the content provided for the price is a huge turnoff to people who aren’t already hooked. Add to that the fact that comics aren’t readily available anywhere outside of specialized shops and you’ve got a major dilemma. All the continuity stunts in the world will not save you from that pitfall. Comics are being displayed at Barnes and Noble now, but I’ve seen that selection and it’s not very impressive and not too well organized.
I don’t want to sound like a doomsayer, foretelling the end of comics or anything like that. The industry will adapt and survive in some manner, because too much money stands to be lost if they don’t. But the logic that has gone into DC’s latest stunt boggles the mind of anyone who takes the time to look at it carefully. Perhaps this whole article will be rendered worthless when more information becomes available. I hope everything does work out for the best. I still have friends who work in the retail level of the industry, and all the writers and artists who I’ve developed a rapport with since developing this blog don’t deserve to see their chosen profession crumble because the companies don’t know how to adapt. All I can do is sit and wait and see if what DC has to offer is worth paying for.
This was not a huge week as far as comic books go. Thank god, because my wallet needed a break after the companies seemingly unleashed every major title in their arsenal on me last week, a volley I was not prepared with and was nearly washed away by. This week however, we got a different sort of approach. A few books came out that I was downright looking forward to, and some new titles launched that I was able to pick up because the rest of the week was so slim. Touche marketing department, touche.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #630 2.99
ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN WOLVERINE #1 3.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #12 2.99
BOYS #42 (MR) 2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #1 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #35 TWILIGHT PT 4 (OF 4) 2.99
IZOMBIE #1 (MR) 1.00
JSA ALL STARS #6 3.99
MANY LOVES OF AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 3.99
RED ROBIN #12 2.99
SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN TP VOL 07 (C: 0-1-2) 19.99
SECRET SIX #21 2.99
SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #1 (OF 4) 2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #524 XSC 2.99
WALKING DEAD HC VOL 05 (C: 0-1-2) 34.99
It took a lot of willpower not to throw aside this week’s books and just read Walking Dead, as I’ve been waiting for that book since…well, for-fucking-ever. But you people need to know what I thought about Brightest Day, so I have restrained myself.
I love Jason Aaron. I think he’s one of the fresher talents that Marvel has and I love that he’s getting more exposure. I think that he’s doing better work with the Punisher than Garth Ennis did in the last years of his run. If he can make the Punisher seem fresh, he might be some sort of genius. So obviously I was going to pick up this issue. In all honesty, the first issue is a slow burn that slightly turned me off of picking up the subsequent issues. In a six issue miniseries, decompression can be a killer and this issue is fairly decompressed. There is great effort taken to establish the world that these two characters now occupy, a world at the dawn of time with giant spiders and neanderthals who think Wolverine is their god. The narration by Parker and Logan is very much in line with the characters but it seems very roundabout at times.
If there is one saving grace for this book it is that the final page begs the reader to return for issue two. Jason Aaron realizes that the previous content of the book was indeed a very slow, methodical setup for a killer finale and the reader can’t help but jump on board. Unless they just don’t like comics that rock harder than Judas Priest on a Wednesday.
I didn’t like Brightest Day # . This is well documented. I think that’s because Aquaman didn’t summon an undead Kraken to kill pedophile pirates in that particular issue. Yes, you just read that sentence. Geoff Johns is turning into some sort of mad scientist with a pen. I would love to see him write a Lex Luthor mini-seri at this point, because I’m pretty damn sure that Johns is bordering on that level of insane right about now. I’m pretty sure the pressure of his time at DC has melted his brain down to the point that he watched the scene from Megashark vs. Giant Octopus where the shark jumps out of the water and chowed down on a flying airplane and thought “What if that shark was a zombie and the plane were a person?”
Geoff Johns is my hero, for all the wrong reasons.
Vertigo really knows how to sell a book. The dollar intro issues are just the sort of thing that Marvel and DC proper should be doing with their series. I might have passed on this series if it had started out with a higher cost on the cover. In fact, since the dollar intro series has started, I think I’ve picked up all of them. Joe the Barbarian, Unwritten, etc., I picked them all up because for such a price it’d be stupid to pass up what could be an amazing series.
iZombie could be one of those amazing series. It’s an interesting premise, as allVertigo books are, with the all the style that Mike Allred’s art style can provide. I spent much of the issue trying to second guess the narrative in finding out what the crux of the story was really about. When the reveal finally comes, the simplicity of it sort of smacks you in the face. The multiple genre crossing looks like it could make it a classic, and I’m going to give at least the first arc a full read.
This issue featured some great character moments. Especially from Wolverine. When was the last time we got some great character development out of Wolverine? Anyhow, the issue was essentially a breather issue. Where the action beats slow down long enough for the reader to catch his breath before they head into the final confrontation with Bastion and his minions. It’s obvious that this issue was basically a buffer; one where everything basically moves in slow motion. This issue was perfectly timed and really helped to drive home the importance of the crossover on both a small scale in how it affects the characters personally, in addition to the changes it will bring to the mutant community on a universal level for the months to come.
*Note: this post will be edited to include a review of War of the Supermen # 1 when I locate my copy. I think I may have left it at the shop. I have the dumb.
I think it’s common knowledge around these parts how much I love the Batwoman driven Detective Comics title. And while a great deal of that love comes from my unabashed love of J.H. Williams III’s wonderful artwork, just as much of it comes from writer Greg Rucka, who has turned a character who could have been a throwaway token lesbian into someone fully developed by subtle characterization and organic growth.
Now the news has broken out of Wondercon that Greg Rucka will be leaving the title and focusing on work outside of the comic industry. I’m not going to rant and rave about how disappointed I am, because as an artist I understand that if doesn’t want to work within someone else’s system, under someone else’s mandate, and would rather let his mind work freely, he should be allowed to do so and commended for having the strength to do it. The main crux of this little article is meant to illuminate what I believe to be a major problem with the DC system, namely, the manner in which their writers are promoted as an entity.
Look at the way Marvel handles their writers. Names like Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Slott, etc. are treated like they’re members of some holy pantheon. They put their writers up on a pedestal in such a way that even if we have never heard their names before, the marketing forces us to sit with mouths agape in awe. One only need look at the way Quesada pushed the rotating teams of writers on the Amazing Spider-Man title as an example of how Marvel sells the writer just as much as they do the book itself.
And DC does the same thing, to a point. But my main problem with DC is that at this moment, with Rucka exiting, it’s easy to see that DC doesn’t promote their talent roster the same way that Marvel does. I will be the first to admit that DC has just as many good writers as Marvel, if not more. The difference is the way in which they tier them. DC has Morrison and Johns at the top, with Stracynski joining them after getting little fanfare during his little run on Brave and The Bold. But where is the hype for people like Matt Sturges, who is knocking it out of the park with JSA All Stars? Where’s the love for Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray? People will claim that these names don’t sell books, but that’s my entire point. Marvel has an entire marketing machine built around making their writers, ALL their writers, seem like the cream of the crop. You don’t think people would be consistently buying JSA All Stars if DC ran to Wizard every month telling people how important the work he’s doing there will be at some point? If they splattered editorials all over the internet proclaiming him to be the next Geoff Johns? You bet your ass!
I’m afraid that DC is going to rely on the same “established” writers they’ve had on their books for the last several years, like Winnick and now Robinson, who has fallen so far from his wonderful work on Starman to the point that I can barely read any of his work. JT Krul has been getting a lot of high profile gigs but they’re doing nothing to inspire consumer confidence in him as a writer. The same goes for all the new blood that seems to be working their way into the system. In this regard, DC really needs to take a page out of Marvel’s handbook and start working some marketing mojo.
That is all.