Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Collection of Random Thoughts, Vol 9

For this edition of A Collection of Random Thoughts, I will be talking about Old Man Logan, Marvel's new Golden Age fetish, various musings about Civil War, X-Men and DC continuity, shared universe, some Cup O' Joe follow-up plus a new reader challenge. You can find all these and more after the jump.

There Is Exaggeration and Then There Is This
(click for a larger image)

Marvel's Golden Age

Marvel seems to be dredging up a lot of their Golden Age material for their 70th Anniversary books and are even including some of their Golden Age characters and history in their in-continuity books. There's the upcoming Marvels Project, The Torch and even the recently finished Avengers/Invaders maxiseries. It seems odd for a company that generally ignores its past to a large degree in favour of telling 'new' stories to be bombarding us with so many Golden Age stories. I wonder how long it will be before we start hearing people complaining about Marvel's "Golden Age fetish", similar to how they always bring up DC's Silver Age fetish?

Maybe I'm Over Thinking This But...

Can Wolverine "regrow" his teeth if they get knocked out?

The Ultimate "Evil" - Bureaucrats!

It occurs to me that two of the biggest villains or, rather, antagonists in the Marvel Universe recently have basically been glorified bureaucrats - Tony Stark and Norman Osborn. I know that Osborn is actually a villain, but what really villainous stuff has he done of late? I don't think consolidating his power really counts as being truly evil. And Tony Stark was basically the bad guy because he decided to enforce the law. That's just so...boring. Where's the fun in that? Marvel's insistence that their shared universe has to closely mirror the real world is starting to lead toward some uninspired stories.

Speaking of The Superhuman Registration Act

Tony was right, Steve was wrong. End of story. There is no way to spin it so Steve is right in the end. Training and registering heroes is a good thing and the only problem with Tony's side is some of the stupid things they did that were unrelated to the actual SHRA.

You Know There Is Something Wrong When...

Spider-Man spends half of the first Brand New Day trade complaining about the benefits of registering under the SHRA.

You Never Really Have Haters Until You Write An Event

By haters, I mean the foaming at the mouth insane kind. The crazy kind for who, no matter what you do right, the slightest mess up is grounds for being immediately fired from Marvel or DC. It's going to be a sad day when there are Ed Brubaker or Dan Slott haters. A sad day indeed.

Miniseries vs. Ongoings

When Mark Millar's and Steve McNiven's Old Man Logan arc delays caused Marvel to release issue #73 of Wolverine before issue #72, people started wondering whether or not Old Man Logan should have been done as a miniseries instead of in Wolverine's ongoing series. The answer is no, it should not have been a miniseries.

The point of doing something like Old Man Logan is draw people to your ongoing series to possibly increase sales on the book afterward. Plus, there is the argument that a character's biggest stories should be in their ongoing titles, not a spin off miniseries. You could counter with the idea Old Man Logan isn't in continuity, so it shouldn't be in Wolverine's main title either, but it is in continuity and tangentially connects to Millar's Fantastic Four run.

The X-Men vs. DC

It occurs to me that if DC had tried to publish a book like X-Men: Legacy people would have been up in arms about stuff like "inaccessibility" and "continuity porn" yet, there was no such outrage about X-Men: Legacy. If you actually stop and think about it, the X-Men alone are a continuity nightmare, more so than the entirety of DC, yet it receives nowhere near the amount of complaining that is leveled at DC. I wonder why?

My Review of The Incredible Hercules: Love and War

Shared Universes

Why is it that publishers are so eager to set up shared universes? I read on Wikipedia that CrossGen had one even though their books didn't really have that much in common and Dynamite is now looking to start one with their Project Superpowers stuff. What's the point? Most of these fail to catch on and there's no real benefit to a shared universe other than limiting stories being told, so I'm always confused when a publisher attempts to build up a new shared universe.

Preferred Formats

A lot of people in the comics industry, both insiders and fans, dogmatically cling to the 32 page floppy/pamphlet/single issue as the primary, or only, form comics should take. I have nothing against people who enjoy single issues, but I find this attitude incredibly misguided. 1) It takes away options from the consumer, always a bad thing, and 2) there is plenty of proof that comics that fail as single issues can survive in other formats.

Over at Marvel, both Spider-Girl and Runaways sold well enough in digest form for the single issues to stick around. At Vertigo many of the series survive on the strength of their trade sales alone while Avatar is serializing Warren Ellis's FreakAngels as a webcomic and then releasing the material in collections.

These are just a few examples of comic books that find success outside of the traditional single issue format, yet comic publishers continue to treat it as the only way to release comics while the industry continues to decline. Maybe, instead of trying to force to customers to buy a specific format, they should start offering more options to attract a greater number of consumers.

Cup O' Joe Redux

I've read a couple more of Joe Quesada's new columns at CBR, but, as before, the art is the only thing of value to be found. It is still filled to the brim with corporate double speak and non-answers. There is also is this gem of an answer that illustrates my point...

Kiel Phegley: Personamanx also asked, "Joe, are there any plans on releasing The 'What if the Runaways became the Young Avengers?' as a one-shot? Because I had virtually zero interest in all of the main stories in those 'What Ifs,' and I think that I’m not the only one.

Joe Quesada: While there are no plans for releasing it as a one-shot at the moment, the story has been compiled and can be found in the “What If?: Secret Wars” TPB. Pick up a copy and C.B. Cebulski will personally send you an email of thanks.

Best. Red Lantern. Ever.

Reader Challenge - Try Something New

Variety is the spice of life, or so the saying goes. So, if you only read Marvel, try some DC books and visa-versa. If you read only Marvel and DC, try some Dark Horse and Image. If you only read American comics, try some manga or European comics. Just try something new, you may find something you really enjoy.

Related Posts


btownlegend said...

This was on point.

Kevin T. said...

Wow! I've never even heard the Red Lantern Oath before, but I like how he even quackled at the end! That rocks!

Matt Ampersand said...

The video is not working for me, giving me a "An error occurred, please try again later" message. Anyone else getting the same problem?

Kirk Warren said...

Works for me now, but I did get an error a moment ago. Youtube wouldnt connect either, so maybe there was a hiccup in the ISP.

Flip The Page said...

It's funny you mention trying DC if you read marvel. that's been my aim lately and I've actually found stuff other than Green Lantern/Corps that I like!

Also X-Men seems to do okay with it's iffy continuity because most fans are long term (like me... well, on and off)

Also now Dan Slott writes the best avengers comic I can't imagine anyone hating on him.

Matt Ampersand said...

Yeah, it's working now. Guess Youtube was hiccuping.

Zdenko said...

I've always wondered how well European Comics fare in USA? And I'm not jsut talking about French Albums like the classic Asterix or Lucky Luke or Smrufs or the new popular series like Metabarons and such, but also the Italian Bonelli Comics like Tex or Dylan Dog or Zagor and such... Any answers? :)

Matt Ampersand said...

In my experience, most people have never of those, not even the really popular ones like Asterix or Tintin.

Sebastian said...

Challenge met! I read my first Lone Wolf and Cub last week (definitely tracking the rest down) and I'm pouring through three volumes of Love & Rockets as soon as finals are over.

I love Tintin! As for other French books, I know none, though I am looking forward to those Jacques Tardi collections coming out this year.

Klep said...

Man I loved Asterix and Tintin when I was a kid. I actually own the small, hardcover compilation volumes of Tintin that were put out a number of years ago. Is there anything similar for Asterix I can buy?

Zdenko said...

@ Matt- Yeah, that's the sad part. A hard thing to do for me is to accept the page count in American Comics. For example:
A normal regular series comic of Bonelli Comics: 96 pgs.
Marvel/DC: 22.
A Special (or Annual, doesn't matter) of Bonelli Comics: 130-160, but mostly 160 pgs.
Marvel/DC: 48.
A Almanac edition of Bonelli Comics 96-120 pgs of comic + around 40-60 pgs of extras like articles and such.
A Maxi Edition of Bonelli Comics: 280-360 pgs, but mostly around 300 pgs.
A Gigant Edition (A4 format) of Bonelli Comics: 240-300 pgs, mostly around 260 pgs.

The only difference is Bonelli Comics are black and white. Except the 10 year comics (10,20,30 and so...) and the 100-th comic (100,200,300,400,500...). Those are colored.

That's why it's hard for me to accept that I need to pay 4$ for a 22 pgs. comic when I can get a regular or a Special or a Almanac or even a Maxi Comic...

Thomas said...

Well Zdenko since I am from Germany and I am a reader of both, your ComicArtForms, and the Comics from Europe, I think our European Comics don´t fare well in the USA, as you can see over how often Humanoides has tried to get a foot in the market. And since European Comics are supposed to be 48 Pages and twice as big as the American Comics, I think it is a problem with the format. For americans a comic has to have 24 pages, point taken, everything else will not work. And the funniest thing, I can´t understand, even after way much thinking about it is, that even if you have the biggest market of written fantasy books in the world, fantasy comics don´t seem to work in the industry, and most times the artwork of a Fantasy comic just looks like a Superhero comic, only with it´s Protagonists wearing coats, hoods and leather clothing, but underneath they are build like Superheroes!
I don´t know, how well Marvel is doing with their Soleil Line, wich they are publishing right now, from wich Scrouge Of The Gods and Ythaq are really great and fun to read.
And the other thing is, european artists usually do everything by themselves, they pencil, ink, color and letter the whole 48 pages alone, without any help, so it usually takes from 9 to 24 months, to see the next part of the story, and here with us it bothers nobody to wait this long, because that is like it always was.
And you americans with your monthly shipping list, you get nervous and upset when a book is only two weeks late, I don´t think you could ever live with waiting this long! ;())

Eric Rupe said...

I haven't personally read a lot of European comics, its on my increasing long list of stuff to read though, though I am keeping an eye on Marvel's Soleil stuff. I've read Sky Doll so far and plan on getting Samurai, Ythaq and Scourge of The Gods. They haven't done too well in the Direct Market, they don't make the Top 100, though I'm guessing the collections are what is selling.

As for the DM, if it's not your standard 22 page superhero comic, it rarely sells, unfortunately. I think that's why manga made the right move and sell mainly through book stores. I think European publishers might do good if they sold collections aimed at the bookstore market.

Thomas said...

That might do, but I think that another problem is the format, I have seen european comics that where reduced in format to fit the american market, and it does the art no good, it actually kills it, because there seems to be not much left, after you reduce it by half.
And I own John Cassadays - I am Legion in it´s original format, and I have the Nr. 1 from the american market, and I prefer the big one, trust me, I really do! ;())

Bill said...

My issue with continuity nightmares in X-Men vs DC is that I can happily ignore the X-Men and it basically doesn't matter. At least as far as I can tell the X-books kinda exist in their own world and almost never impact what's going on in the books I'm reading (Daredevil, Cap).

Over in DC, I'm happily reading Batman-family books when suddenly Jason Todd is alive, or it's a year later for no reason, or people from an alternate Earth show up, or the whole storyline I'm reading about Batman's death actually ends in some other series I haven't been reading.

Quantum said...

Challenge obliterated!

I already read pretty much everything you mentioned. Mainstream, indie, manga, I read anything as long as it's good. And sometimes when it's not. I have read Loeb's Hulk so far. My soul is irrevocably damaged. It itches something fierce sometimes. Gets stiff in the cold weather, too. Hmm, too much information?

In regards to manga I am in fact just now finishing up 20th/21st Century Boys (I highly recommend this to the staff of The Weekly Crisis) and I'm gonna catch up on One Piece, Bleach, and Hellsing. Anyone know any good Seinen manga for me to read?

I'm gonna go get Marvel's Soleil books so I don't feel as if I cheated at this challenge.

brandon said...

Regarding X-Men Legacy. I hadnt picked up an X-Men comic prior to Messiah Complex in two decades and I didnt find Legacy inaccessible at all. They had a solid story and they used flashbacks to recaps to help along the newer readers.

Whereas with DC you get no recap and in some cases no mention of character names in the entire comic. Look through an issue of GLC and you'll find characters floating in and out without having their names even mentioned. That's not at all reader friendly.

Neither are great but DC seems much much worse IMO.

Kirk Warren said...

@brandon - I hate GLC for that. A simple name tag when they first show up would make that already great book a million times better. I always have to bust out wikipedia or scan the entire book looking for the one instance that they call someone by their name to get the spelling of some of the odder alien names for a review or if I forget if its Salaak or Saarek or Soranik or Syphillus or whatever for someone.

I don't mind not knowing some of the random GL's names since its a huge corps and I dont mind them weaving in and out. Now, if its important to the story, ya, tell me their name, but otherwise if a bunch of GL's are on screen, I dont need to know GLC #2039's name every single time either.

Eric Rupe said...

Quantum - Love 20th Century Boys. It's my second favorite manga right behind Black Lagoon which you should check out. I also recommend Eden: It's an Endless World and Gantz.

brandon - When I read GLC, they actually named all of the characters you need to know so I didn't find it a problem.

I do agree that DC could start using recaps though.

brandon said...


one thing i've done for GL/GLC is keep the Secret Files issue out from a couple of years ago and the Blackest Night #0. I usually get the names from the pictures. Whereas with wiki I need to scan and struggle to find the name to match with the face.


GLC definitely has cases where characters arent referenced by name but have roles in an issue. To their defense they have a HUGE cast to deal with. But I can see how folks who dropped the title after the Sinestro War but are coming back now might struggle a little bit. It just feels like DC assumes everyone is reading up when that might be the case. Recaps would definitely help readers with GL/GLC.

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