Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kirk's Soapbox - A Collection of Random Thoughts, Vol 5

Welcome to another edition of my personal soapbox where you get to put up with my random musings and thoughts on comics from recent announcements to anything I can think of.  This week I'm tackling more DC's shake up of their co-features, more Earth One release date talk, the cancellation of the Marvel Adventures line and more.  Hit the jump for my collection of random thoughts.

DC Shuffles It's Co-Features - New Books, Price Drops & Cancellations

Earlier this year, DC Comics announced they were going to add back-ups, which they were calling co-features, to select titles.  These co-features would be an additional eight pages of content in light of a price increase on these select titles from $2.99 to $3.99.  Noteworthy titles included Detective Comics, where The Question took up residence in a back-up to Batwoman's starring role, Booster Gold, which gave Blue Beetle a new home, and Streets of Gotham, another refugee for a cancelled title with a Manhunter back-up.

Yesterday, Dan DiDio made it known they'd be making some sweeping changes to their co-features.  Several co-features will end, such as the Metal Men (as see in Doom Patrol) and Blue Beetle (as seein in Booster Gold) back-ups, while other titles will receive new co-features in their place, such as JLA, JSA All-Stars, while others still will simply swap out their co-features for new characters, such as with Manhunter and Captain Atom.  The team books gaining a co-feature will be spotlighting random team members and may use the extra pages for additional main story content on some months. 

What really impressed me with this move by DC was that they are actually dropping the prices on the titles losing their co-featuers.  Yes, I am cynical enough to have believed they were merely testing the waters and were going to pull the rug out on us and leave the prices at $3.99 once the co-features were removed.  Props to DC for this move.

Green Lantern Corps Co-Feature

Of note, the same co-feature talk mentioned Green Lantern Corps will be receiving a new back-up post-Blackest Night.  Maybe Guy Gardner stays a Red Lantern and takes over that corps and we follow him for 8-pages each month?  Or a random 'Tales of the Corps' short giving basic origin or backstory for the numerous new corps and their members?  Move one of the Earth Green Lanterns to the back-up so they don't get lost in the shuffle?  This is one of the few co-features that actually has me interested in finding out more.  I'd be willing to pay $3.99 for GLC even if they didn't add the co-feature, so I'm actually quite curious to see what we'll be getting from this one.

Marvel's Greatest Comics

No, this isn't a list of what I think are Marvel's greatest comics.  I'm talking about the upcoming "After Watchmen"-like $1 comics from Marvel.  They were announced last week, but are showing up in the solicits for March 2010 and I wanted to talk about them a bit.

For those out of the loop, the first wave of $1 samplers include the JMS written Thor #1, Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man #1, Garth Ennis's Punisher MAX #1, Ed Brubaker's Captain America #1 and Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1.

It's an interesting selection that covers all of Marvel's major movie projects.  Well, except for Wizard of Oz.  I loved it, but not sure why it's included since it's not a Marvel property or anything they can make a movie of.  I actually expected a Hulk, X-Men, Avengers or even a Spider-Man issue of some kind to be included.  Spider-Man, in particular, is rather conspicuous by his absence.  Maybe everyone knows about Spidey already and Marvel decided not to include him?

Daredevil is another title I'm shocked didn't make it. It actually qualifies as one of Marvel's Greatest Comics of the past decade.  Brian Bendis's first issue would be a great issue to hand people and get them hooked on the book.  Brian K. Vaughan's Runaways would have been another great addition to the line-up.  It lacks an ongoing at this point, though, so I suspect that puts it at a disadvantage.

It's a nice cross section of books though, so I can't really complain too much about their choices.  It's also quite obvious it's aimed at the movie audiances, too.  What do you think?  Any comics you think should have made the cut that didn't?

End of the Marvel Adventures Line?

The March 2010 solicits for Marvel listed all of their Marvel Adventures titles as "FINAL ISSUE".  I hadn't heard anything on the line ending, so was shocked to see this.  I've read several trades of MA: Spider-Man and Avengers and enjoyed each of them.  They were perfect all ages reads, too.  I've heard some people mention the recent issues have been more continuity heavy, even featuring recap pages for each issue, and that they were moving more and more away from the done-in-one, easily accessible reads, but it's still discouraging to see this happen.  Is Marvel replacing it with a new line?  Reluanching with new number ones?  Letting the Marvel Super Hero Squad be their lone all ages brand? 

Earth One Titles Dated

Amazon was our source for tentative dates of Superman Earth One last week, but Dan DiDio confirmed dates for September and November 2010 in the 20 Answers with Dan DiDio over at Newsarama.  Based on simple process of elimination, if Superman was listed as the September release date, that means Batman Earth One will be set for November. Was really hoping for a spring release date for one of these.  Shame we'll have to wait so long for them.

Flash is Saint Barry PERIOD

Wondering about what the future holds for Flash?  Kelson, of SpeedForce.Org, asked DiDio about the Flash situation in the 20 Answers with Dan DiDio and the answer was...well, unexpected.  The new Flash title will be Barry Allen's title.  The tentative co-feature with Wally West by Johns and Kolins?  That's gone.  Kid Flash title by Sterling Gates?  Not happening.  Don't like Barry or how they've forced him upon you, even at the expense of the other Flash's you've been reading for the past decade or more?  Tough luck.

While I'm hardly the biggest Flash fan, I'm not a fan of what they've done with Barry.  He was great in Final Crisis.  I loved the interactions between him and Wally.  Flash Rebirth has been, well, I dropped the book mid-miniseries, so you can draw your conclusions about how I feel about that one on your own.  However, when someone like Kelson is seriously considering calling it quits on following the Flash, you know DC's done something wrong. 

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Eric Rupe said...

I'm surprised by how well DC does seem to be handling their back-up features as well. They seem to be pretty on the ball, which is incredibly strange, because, if we take the last few years as example, any good or successful comics that DC, or Marvel for that matter, put out are a happy accident. And this isn't a Didio or Quesada suck thing, it seems like it's an endemic problem with ALL of their editors. Sad, really.

Marvel's Greatest Comics list makes sense. They are mostly recent series with low trade counts, aside from Cap and Punisher. Of course, whether it will work or not is another thing and I don't suspect it will. They seem to be aimed at LCSs so they will be preaching to the choir or at people who don't care.

As for the Flash "franchise," DC made the right move in holding off on the Kid Flash book for sure. DC has definitely been expanding too many "franchises" recently,even some that shouldn't have more than one book, so it's nice to seem them go slowly with the Flash. Now, the lack of a Wally West back-up is definitely a mistake. Maybe DC was afraid people wouldn't pick up a $4 Flash book? Or they wanted to firmly reestablish Barry before highlighting Wally again? Who knows. I'm not sure even DC does.

Anonymous said...

Good on DC for keeping their word

Not reading anything GL so I cant comment

Marvel's Greatest Comics:
Seems questionable as a way to get people into their ongoing series. Might work as a way to sell trades though :/

End of Marvel Adventures Line:
Its pretty obvious that Marvel only intends to sell comics to the existing die-hard fanbase with their constant giant crossover. End of Marvel Adventures Line comes as no suprise.

Earth One titles in Sep/Oct:
Would be nice to have them earlier but I say that about everything.
Can't help but think they should have come out together to raise a little more attention.

Saint Barry forever:
I think Flash fans should be happy to get a Flash ongoing with a great artist rather than bitching about who is under the spandex. It could be a whole lot worse guys

Andrenn said...

So Manhunter is leaving Streets of Gotham? Damn shame, the back up was just getting real good. I wonder what the next back up will be.

DC is really screwing themselves over by making the new Flash all about Barry and no one else.

I've been debating picking up the new series or not but this really turns me off to it if Wally is nowhere to be seen.

Flip The Page said...

my experience of flash characters is pretty limited to post-barry's return, so I don't know if I'm bothered. Certainly less confused than I assumed I'd be.

Primewax said...

I don't care much about the Flash, never really have. That said, Wally seems to have a pretty big fan base. If you want that fan base to accept Barry, a good way to do it is by featuring Wally in a back up. I think this is a pretty bone-headed move by DC.

I'm excited about the GLC backup, unless its about John Stewart. I'll still buy the book, of course, but he's so boring I may just not even read it. Red Lantern Guy, on the other hand...

Anonymous said...

Axing the "Metal Men" backup? I wonder if this is really the result of Kevin Maguire's recent hospitalization. While "Doom Patrol" is not bad, "Metal Men" made it an absolute must-buy. Without that, I'm more likely to drop the title altogether.

Eric Rupe said...

Anonymous - I believe Didio said Maguire is moving onto another project and he didn't want to have another artist work on the Metal Men strip.

Matt Ampersand said...

The weirdest thing about Marvel Adventures is that there is going to be another Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers series, which was a Marvel Adventure title (although not explicitly named so. Will the next one be market as non-MA?

Daryll B. said...

Matt I read somewhere that someone said that Lock and P.A were going to be made partial continuity a la Spider-Ham. Nevertheless, what is Marvel thinking??? Unless they are clearing the way for a Disney line of titles???

Come on...who DIDN'T see the Flash thing coming??? And I applaud the Flash fans that are outraged. I look at it this way, DC has essentially told you that the time Barry was away didn't matter to ANYONE. A La what they did with the Legion teams in 3 worlds or any of the prior Supergirls before the "new" Kara.

With all my bitching kudos to DC on the 2.99 thing..although this last team up in Booster makes me want to have Jaime become a regular in that cast as soon as possible.

Kirk I give you kudos on noticing the omissions of Spidey and Hulk on Marvel's 1.00 books. Frankly I don't care but what you say makes sense...These moves baffle me.

Guy Gardner leading the Red Lanterns....whoa...

Marc said...

There's no way Marvel isn't re-launching its Marvel Adventures line. They've said a number of times that it's their most-subscribed-to title, although I've never actually seen the numbers to attest to that.

Dennis said...

Actually, I think Pet Avengers is continuity, because they round up the gems and give them to Reed Richards, and he uses them or mentions having them in a later, in continuity book. I'm trying to remember where, though.

I for one, am upset about Saint Barry. I don't dislike him, but they just spent 2 decades having Wally prove himself. I was worried about his demotion and new costume, but then I was very relieved to see it was still very much a Flash costume. Do we know what Wally is going to be doing? Taking time off to be with the family, being Flash with the Titans, being on the JLA?

Matt Ampersand said...


Marvel Adventures Spider-Man used to outsell Amazing Spider-Man on a two (sometimes three) to-one basis. I wrote about it here


And the original article here


Jer said...

Meh. DC is in "retrench" mode - the current crop of writers at DC are looking back at their personal golden age of comics and are trying to recapture it. Unfortunately for some of us, the personal golden age of the guy at the top of the heap (Geoff Johns) appears to be the 70's era. Which was a great era for Batman at DC ... and not much of anyone else on the superhero side really IMO. Marvel were the ones who really shined in the 70s - and not coincidentally they're undergoing a similar and somewhat more successful retrenching with their writers whose personal golden ages were also in the 70s.

Unfortunately this retrenching has a more literal bent than the one that went on in the 90s. The guys in the 90s were looking back at the late 60s early 70s for their inspirations for the most part, but they weren't obsessed with putting the characters back to the way they were during their personal golden ages. Flash in particular was heavily influenced by Silver Age sensibilities filtered through modern writing techniques (with the hat tip mostly going to Mark Waid for that, though I think Bill Messner-Loebs setup a decent foundation for him to work from).

The current direction at DC, OTOH, is to put the characters back to the way they were during the creators' personal golden age as much as possible, rather than using that era as an influence on style. Which means getting them back the way they were in the 70s. Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, the LSH, the JLA - all turned back to how they were back in the day. I find it kind of boring, to tell the truth, and have mostly dropped out of superhero comics because of it - the DC stuff from the 70s wasn't all that good IMO. And the Marvel stuff was better the first time around.

My hope is that the comics market is able to continue on without destroying itself until the next cycle - where the direction is mostly being set by writers whose personal golden age was in the 80s. The 80s were a good era for DC (though compared to the 70s not so good for Marvel outside of the X-men). Then it's a coin toss - do we get the writers who glom onto the superficial elements of 80s era comics - which means we'll get more garbage - or do we get the writers who synthesize what made 80s comics good with new ideas. If we get the latter the cycle will turn interesting for DC again. So I remain hopeful.

PMMJ said...

Man, the Marvel Adventures line is a personal fave. My favorite version of the Avengers, hands down. And I'm a Marvel fan for decades now. Here's hoping it's just a change, and not a cancellation.

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