- Posted by Johanna on May 9, 2010 at 4:45 pm
- Category: Shopping Guide
One of the biggest signs of how time-sensitive comics are these days — if I don’t manage to read Previews the weekend after it comes out, it’s very difficult to approach it afterwards, because everything seems like old information. I (along with plenty of others) have moved on to the next “news”, always seeking more current information to sate our jaded palates.
Also, it’s energy-sapping. It takes time to read through all this material — and to sort out a lot of items that are obnoxious, uninteresting, or insulting to me — just to figure out what I might want to buy in two months or more. None of these observations are new or original, of course. It’s just a reminder of how unusual the comic industry is, and how difficult it makes things for its customers. (Retailers have it even worse, since they have to multiply the problem by hundreds — if they’re lucky — of customers, plus they’re responsible for keeping up with tons of after-solicitation changes by publishers, Marvel being the worst example.)
I want to focus on the positive, things I’d recommend, and there are fewer of those this month, so instead, you’ll get some strong opinions from me. Maybe it’s seasonal doldrums, with folks already having solicited the items that will launch during the summer convention season.
I’m thrilled to see original Young Avengers creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung back on Avengers Children’s Crusade #1, and a bimonthly schedule is probably much more reasonable, given previous delays, but am I still going to be interested in this story in a year and a half, when the nine issues finish coming out? (That’s assuming the Previews-listed length of nine is correct, since Marvel’s press release says eight.) Seems it’ll be much more satisfying as an eventual book collection, although by then, will anyone care whether Wiccan finds the Scarlet Witch? This is the problem with pushing comics based on “find out what happens next!” and fake surprises, instead of quality storytelling. They age so quickly and become obsolete too soon.
I’ll also be planning to continue Heroic Age: Prince of Power with issue #3; Tails of Pet Avengers with the Dogs of Summer one-shot, because comic puppies are cute; and Young Allies with the second issue. Although I can’t say anything significant about the two series, since they haven’t been released yet, so I’m taking on faith that the quality will be consistent.
I’m really disappointed that the Brightest Day branding turned out to be so misleading. I was looking forward to more optimistic heroics. I know that DC backed off of that impression really fast, but I’m not the only one tired of never-ending stories and all-around depressing (and overly violent) events.
Why should I bother with their titles, anyway, when DC’s showing such bad faith to their readers? The latest example: canceling The Great Ten, a ten-issue miniseries focusing on a team of ten characters, as said right there in the title, at issue #9. It was one of their few books I could read without having to read anything else — which they hate, because they aren’t able to force me into spending more on their interchangeable products — and I enjoyed the alternate viewpoint — which contradicted their growing emphasis on old white guy heroes only. They couldn’t give the poor lame duck miniseries its final issue?
But you know, this is just more of the same from a company that doesn’t know what to sell if it’s not Batman, Superman, or maybe the Justice League. They’ve already killed the MLJ/Archie/Impact/Red Circle character titles they launched a few months ago — but that was a foregone conclusion, because no one cared. WildStorm could be an exciting imprint for doing some different things and truly adult takes on superheroes, but instead, it’s used mostly for video game tie-ins and other licensed books. Their superhero books are lame ducks, because the DCU can’t stand the competition. Milestone, well, DC’s always screwed that up, but once again, material with huge outreach potential has gone poof.
Why do I still care, when they aren’t putting out any books I’m interested in? Because there are so many points where DC could have become the #1 U.S. comic company — whether you’re counting based on title quality or diversity or retailer support or sales or whatever other factor — and every time, they’ve sabotaged themselves due to having the wrong decision-makers in place. They’ve gone from being too cautious, content with the status quo, to too old-fashioned, playing to markets that haven’t existed for a decade or two, to just plain obnoxious, uncaring of what partners they annoy out of their own incompetence and duplicitousness.
Short version: I don’t see anything from DC that interests me this month. And let’s note that they should have released the second omnibus edition of The Losers, Book Two, much before now. It’s due in August, when the movie will be long gone from the theaters and no one will much care any more. Although several fan reviews I’ve seen said that the comics were better than the film, that’s going to make interested parties want to read whatever they can now, not in three months.
I can’t believe it took Bongo Comics this long to put out a Comic Book Guy comic ($3.99, MAY10 0829). It’s perfectly suited to this audience, who like their fanboy in-jokes as long as they don’t get too uncomfortably close. And with so many bad comic shops going under in the past decade, there aren’t that many retailers of this type left. Ian Boothby writes funny comics, and this is only the first issue of five, so plenty more jokes on the subject are yet to come.
Boom! launches two projects this month that look to be entertaining and a little out of the ordinary. The first is another Toy Story ongoing series, this one titled Tales From the Toy Chest ($2.99, MAY10 0896). It’s by the same creative team, Jesse Blaze Snider and Nathan Wilson, so the characters should be captured just as well as they have previously. I’m guessing that this means that there’s plenty of interest in the regular Toy Story and an audience that hasn’t yet been satisfied with just one installment a month. Plus, in this one, we get to see Jessie and her pony Bullseye! Yay for active female characters.
The other Boom! title I found intriguing is CBGB ($3.99, MAY10 0867), the first of a four-issue miniseries in the Boom! Town indy line telling stories based around rock music and the legendary New York club. The creators listed — including Kieron Gillen (Phonogram), Rob G (Teenagers From Mars), and Marc Ellerby (Love the Way You Love) — know their stuff when it comes to music and heartbreak. Great idea for an anthology!
As if you didn’t get enough ranting from me above …
Hunh. DC gets to make the $200 statues and the $70 character busts and the $90 neon sign, but IDW gets the officially licensed True Blood comic? That’s an interesting way to divvy up the property. Was IDW’s bid better? Are their licensed works given more attention, either by property owners or retailers? Does DC’s merchandise department have more pull or determination than their editorial department in going after properties? Does HBO, the channel that airs the show, and DC both being part of Time Warner explain it? Or does IDW’s West Coast headquarters make them an easier choice for Hollywood decision-makers when it comes to approving story material?
Radical’s newly designed solicitation pages for their comics-that-want-to-be-movies are as murky and hard to read as I find the comics themselves. How appropriate.
Hogan’s Alley #17 (Magazines, $6.95, MAY10 1252) features a column by me on the DC and Marvel corporate organizational changes. It was written last October, so don’t expect it to include the latest effects — but since there haven’t been many visible, that shouldn’t be a hardship. Hopefully, it provides some historical perspective. Also in this issue: an oral history of SpongeBob SquarePants and thoughts on sons continuing their fathers’ comic strips.
Stay tuned for my posts on graphic novels and manga available for order.