Welcome back to my semi-regular column about the stuff that caught my interest in the last week or two.
I’ve been known to rant a bit and today is no exception. There are a number of things that irk me about blogs and message boards and one of the things that bugs me to no end is when a new writer is announced for a book how people start fretting about what he (or she) is going to do the character(s) in that book.
And this is months and months before a book is even printed mind you. Reams and reams of idle speculation is launched with all kinds of irrational ideas that they heard from someone or that a so-called “inside source” has leaked or whatever. Now I do realise that this is something that happens all the time but it does not mean that it is right. When I want to speculate I prefer to do so with at least some concrete factual information.
Take for example the speculation over what JMS would do with the Wonder Woman and Superman books, people worrying and getting inflamed with very little basis. A whole thread on Bleeding Cool wandered about like a spastic dinosaur until JMS had to come on and quash stupid ideas like Superman wandering across America like Jack Kerouac or Kaine in the series Kung Fu. I’m going to reprint what JMS said on that thread just in case anyone didn’t get it.
“I wish to make several points very very clear.
It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I have at any time had any conversations at all with DC about Marc Guggenheim.
It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I insisted “that Superman only appear in the Superman book he’s writing.”
I have made every indication to DC that as and when Superman is needed during the time I am writing him, he will definitely be made available. You simply can’t keep a character as major as Superman out of every title for the length of my initial run. It’s impossible, and the idea that we could or would try is absurd.
It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that Superman is “going to drop his Superman identity.”
It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that he “not use his powers.”
So to those who have reacted (properly) to say that these are stupid ideas, you are absolutely right.
They are stupid.
Which is why we are not, have not been, and will not be doing any of them.
The only stupidity greater than those lay in the suggestion that we ever would.”
So there you go, from the horses mouth as it were. Speculation is fun, but please, it is better to do it where its based on facts.
…Except of course when it comes to Bendis, Loeb and Millar where its better to think the worst. The worst will probably happen but at least you’ll be prepared for it!
JMS on the other hand is a writer with more hits than misses so I think he’s worth the benefit of the doubt.
The DC Implosion
Back in the late 70’s DC canceled a couple of dozen of their poorer selling titles due to the bad economy of the time and other factors. This became known as the DC Implosion as it drastically reduced the amount of content that they were publishing.
Just in the last month DC have canceled the Red Circle titles, The Web and The Shield, they’ve canceled one of my favourite titles, The Warlord, and they’ve canceled The Great Ten (as of issue 9, so they are canceling a 10 issue series with one issue to go, great planning eh?)
It seems like its no coincidence that a new management and editorial team have come in and not long after a bunch of titles get canceled. So who’s going to be next then?
Based on the sales charts, titles like Magog, Wildcats, Authority, REBELS (keep spreading the word on this title!), Doom Patrol and Batman Confidential have cause to be worried. Johnny DC titles will be ok as they mainly sell at supermarkets and newsstands and most Vertigo titles should be ok as they do big business in the Trade Paperback market.
The DC Explosion
Another story that came out recently was that DC were looking to expand their range of output in order to compete equally with Marvel on the comics racks and to take market share off of Marvel. Word was put out that it was a good time for freelancers to approach DC for work as a rapid growth was foreseen.
So, considering my previous rant about the current DC mini-implosion, what exactly are DC going to publish in order to ramp up their market share. It looks as if anything they publish that’s quirky (Warlord, Doom Patrol) or non DCU-centric (Red Circle characters, possibly the First Wave characters) have weak sales potential.
What are your bets on what DC is going to do, will it be extra Batman (and surely there’s more than enough already!), more Superman, more Flash and we know that there is at least 1 more Green Lantern title on the way. Just what franchises can DC mine to increase their production? Personally I can’t see where long term growth is going to come from.
The Amazing Spectacular Amazing Spider-Man Price Increase
You didn’t think I was gonna go a whole column without laying into Marvel over something right? One thing I noticed from last months Marvel Previews magazine is that Amazing Spider-Man comic has gone up in price to $3.99. They are gone up to 40 pages though with a 2 page Spidey Sunday story and a Kraven back up story but still, if you want to follow the main Spidey comic now you need to shell out 12 clams a month whereas just a couple of years ago you only needed to buy 1 issue of Amazing for $2.99 a month. Marvel seems to be out to exploit every segment of their fan base these days.
It used to be great back when you could buy 1 Avengers Comic, 1 X-Men comic, 1 Spidey comic and you didn’t need to buy 4 or 5 of each a month. No wonder smaller titles can’t get an audience now…
How does your nose get so brown?
Well if you shove it this far up Jeph Loeb’s arse your nose would be brown too, just take a look at this video (oh and keep the sick bucket near by in case you upchuck).
COMICS CAPSULE REVIEWS
Milestone Forever #2
I’d love to say that this comic got better with the second issue but I just can’t. As with the first issue the cover is horrible and the packaging and design is terrible, I can’t believe that Rian Hughes designed this thing. I did figure out what made me uneasy about the first issue though and it was that these two books felt more like shout-outs to old Milestone fans rather than something that could bring new readers into the fold.
After 2 expensive prestige format issues, I still don’t really know who Icon, Hardware, Static and the rest are, what their powers are or anything about their personalities. That’s a pretty bad indictment for any book. Regarding the art, Jean Paul Leon doing the framing sequence was good again and Denys Cowan and ChrisCross both did decent jobs on their sequences.
Brave and the Bold #32
After sledging a comic I like to follow up with a book I like, it freshens the soul or something, I dunno. Anyhoo, B&B 32 features Aquaman and The Demon teaming up against some underwater demons from hell…or thereabouts. After a Joker/Atom team-up that rather misfired this comic was satisfying on a number of notes. JMS had a handle on both characters, so much so that I’d like to seem him do solo books for either character….or at least backup features in either of his new books. Aquaman does much of the work carrying this issue with the Demon mostly standing around spouting rhyming couplets until the ending where he KABLAMMO’S the invading demon.
Jesus Saiz does another beautiful job on this issue, he’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists, he has sort of a Ryan Sook mixed with John Buscema quality, there’s a lovely sequence of Aquaman fighting a shark/demon on page 9 that works so well in its power and movement. Also the splash page of Aquaman backed up by thousands of whales, sharks and every other type of sea creature took my breath away. One of the best books of the month easily.
This is the tie in to the Rise and Fall of Arsenal that documents the post Cry for Justice JLA continuity. It was ok, certainly an improvement on the direness of the Blackest Night issues. Mark Bagley’s art is certainly better, especially pages that seem to be inked by Norm Rapmund. The main problem with this is too-many-character-itis , I count at least 14 members which means that no-one gets any face time, except for Ollie who we learn likes curry, no not Arthur Curry, the Indian chicken tikka sort of curry.
One thing that does really annoy me about DC though… and this sounds like a contradiction of the last point I made….but DC editors obviously tell writers they can use characters and then 2 issues they take the fucking characters away because they’re in another book. This completely ruined McDuffie’s run and its affecting Robinsons already. This issue Starfire zoomed off to join the REBELS, why couldn’t she just be in the 2 books, who the fuck cares much about continuity that a character can‘t be in 2 fucking books?
ZVR Aventure #1 and #2
Another Zombie book? Well yes it is but it’s the continuation of Ashley Wood’s Zombies versus Robots world, this time in the form of a 4 issue anthology book. Each issue has 3 eight page stories which continue from one issue to the next. Ashley Wood does the (amazing) covers and Chris Ryall writes all the stories.
The first adventure has Sgt Davis organising resistance to the zombie horde in a New York-esque city, the art is by Menton Matthews III and is a strange heavily photoshopped type of art. The second story is about a remote testing facility where the cook is the only person left alive and pilots an early Iron Man type costume/robot while trying to survive another horde, the art by Paul McCaffrey which is reminiscent of Juan Gimenez’s style. The last story has art by Gabriel Hernandez which shows voodoo Zombies fighting normal zombies in Haiti. This is a great book for horror/aventure fans and considering the card cover and heavy quality paper its probably worth the $3.99
I never hear this book mentioned anywhere but it’s a consistently enjoyable tale by Terry Moore. The main story is about a young woman called Julie who unexpectedly encounters a disastrous military test and gets part of her body covered by a strange living metal. She is forced to go on the run from the government and the company behind the making of the living metal who send various assassins and maniacs after her. The black and white art by Moore is detailed yet simple and elegant and the characterisation as one would expect is top notch. What I didn’t expect is the constant tension because you feel none of these characters is safe.
Superman: Last Stand on New Krypton #1
The New Krypton arc that’s dominated the Superman books for over a year is coming to an end, but this is a bit of a confusing mess. Brainiac invades New Krypton in a stupid looking gigantic robot head, cue thousands of killer robots invading New Krypton and we get page after page of Kryptonians fighting robots….yada yada yada. The art from Pete Woods looks rushed, some of the writing just makes no sense like Zod arresting the Legion of Superheroes who are trying to help, perhaps this is a double bluff by Zod but it just seems like brain-numbingly stupid writing to me. This book isn’t terrible but I wouldn’t heartily recommend it either.
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1
Lets end the reviews on a high note, the Pet Avengers was one of the best unexpected surprise hits of last year and I’m happy to say that this first issue of the new mini series carries on the charm of last years series. The Hairball/Ms. Lion duo is hilarious again and the art by Ig Guara and the colours by Sotomayor and Roberts is beautiful, really great work. This issue sets up the series when the rest of the Pet Avengers discover that Frog Thor is missing from Central Park.
BACK ISSUE BIN
Vlad the Impaler #1-3 (Topps comics, 1993)
This is a 3 issue mini-series from Topps short-lived foray into comics. Topps were more known for baseball cards but decided to get in on the act during the comics boom of the early 90’s. Unfortunately for them they got their strategy wrong, they decided to put out well written and drawn comics when what the market was looking for was badly written and appallingly drawn crap like Youngblood. Vlad the Impaler was an excellent little 3 issue mini-series detailing the savage life of Prince Vlad Tepes of Transylvania and his eventual turning into Vlad Dracula.
Roy Thomas wrote it and did a great job worthy of his best Savage Sword of Conan work, and the art by Esteban Maroto is truly stunning. Even after 17 years this is a comic that I still cherish, it just reeks of quality. The lettering by John Costanza adds greatly to the atmosphere and the colouring by Paul Mounts is sumptuous adding to the sense of baroque horror. I’ve checked online and these issues can be found for $2 each, an incredible bargain and certainly better than most comics out now.
Dark Roasted Blend
This is a blog that I’ve been visiting for years, there is always something there to occupy the mind or the eyes whether it is hallucinatory architecture or sperm-racing. It also feeds my love for retro-futurism.
This is another blog I visit heavily. Post Rock is a form of instrumental rock music that generally doesn’t conform to the normal rock music song structures. In general its more mellow but it can’t be incredibly intense also. This blog has LOTS of great music, some of my current favourites are Mooncake and 65daysofstatic.
It was Christina Hendricks’ birthday this week so what better way to celebrate than with a video in honour of her!