Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 10 Tuesdays - Ten Predictions For 2011 - Final Verdicts

At the end of 2010, I made my predictions for the coming year in comics. I had a few good shots, some wildly off the mark, and some close but not quite close enough. I looked at specific creators, linewide changes, and things I just hoped would happen. Hit the jump to see if I made the call about Frank Miller or Brian K Vaughan months in advance.

Predicition 1

Marvel To Make Comics At $3.99

DC announced a drop, line-wide, of all its titles to $2.99 and all we had to sacrifice was two pages an issue and any back up features. In a rush to catch up, Marvel announced something similar. It didn’t really explain how it was matching DC but it put it out there. A little while later, they said that some new minis would come in at $2.99, but nothing that had already been solicited at $3.99. Then a little later it said there would be 5 titles put out at $2.99 – if they were supported then they might follow suit with more titles at the lower price point. They have made no action to lower current titles like Avengers or X-Men. I doubt they will. Ever.

So, in the new year, I figure Marvel will make it official that all titles will be raised to the $3.99 price point. Everything, every time. But, to separate themselves from DC who is at $2.99 for 20 pages of comics, Marvel will announce that their $3.99 comics will have more pages, maybe just 22, maybe more, or maybe they will throw in back up features on top of the standard comic size. Some back ups might be comics and some might be text pieces like Brubaker used in Criminal and Bendis has been adding to the back of his Avengers titles. This is where the industry will split, DC one way and Marvel the other, and people will probably be forced to choose.

Verdict - I feel like I'm close on this one. Marvel put a hell of a lot of product out at $3.99 and they don't even justify exactly why anymore. Many of the Marvel titles run only 20 pages now, which they sneakily did without the honest and cheaper fanfare of DC, and some of these titles have even cut in under 20 pages. Didn't Moon Knight run 17 pages one month?

Anyway, Marvel have made no announcements and there's still plenty of $2.99 content available so I'm calling this one a fumble.

Prediction 2

Gødland Celestial Edition #3

I prayed for this last year and I was delivered unto its awesomeness. Like I’m not going to try and work that miracle again. Sure, the second one came out months after it was first solicited but it was worth the wait. My life will be complete once I get another one of these on my shelf. I admit that such a time frame might put the collection creation under a bit of a speedy time frame but surely they’re already working on it, right?

This comic is something I really dig on, and completely wish I had gotten in with the floppy vibe but now I’m dedicated to get a set of the Celestial HCs and so I want another one. I’ll even let them push back the publication until December if that helps them.

Verdict - Man, not a great start at all. The third Celestial Edition can only come about once the series ends. #35 only just recently shipped, so maybe 2012 is the year for this one...?

Prediction 3

Casanova Returns, For Reals

Yeah, it returned last year but only as reprints. They’re still awesome but I’ve already read them. Now I’m looking for some new content and 2011 is surely the year for it. Casanova is scheduled already and is a lock to appear (though Fraction’s work on Fear Itself for Marvel might take up more time than he will have) but I don’t just want the comic on the stands, I want the experience back in my life. What does that mean?

Casanova is a comic that I will expect, nay demand, a certain amount of quality on. For 14 issues, Casanova became a must read comic. Every issue was sublime, every page considered, and I won’t accept just another comic knocked off and dashed to the printers. This might sound incredibly entitled of me and it probably is so I will end by saying I cannot wait for more high concept adventures of the Quinn family. I just don’t know who I really want to see more, Casanova or Zephyr. I’m sure I’ll love it all anyway.

Verdict - Man, this one was a lock and still I kind of fumbled this one. Casanova did indeed return, with Avaritia, and yet I haven't dug completely on the title. All 2 issues of it that have shipped so far. It doesn't feel like the old book and while it's still good perhaps my expectations, or aged and changed creators, have meant this feels new. I will reserve final judgement until the arc is completed but for now I'm not giving myself the win on this call. That's 0 for 3 in real world terms.

Prediction 4

Remender On Daredevil

Surely, I can only say this so many times, and in so many venues, before it actually happens. Diggle has officially announced that he’s ending his Daredevil run with Reborn. After that, well, we don’t know what will be happening. One thing that will be certain is that Marvel will return Daredevil to the page. He’s, generally, a critical success and his sales perform well enough that he’s a lock to still have his own series. His sales would be even better if he relaunched with a number one and you know Marvel won’t go through all this without going through that motion as well. The only question is, who will bring Daredevil back?

Rick Remender is right now telling his last Punisher story, so that’s one place open in his dance card. He’s just launched Uncanny X-Force and he’s got a new Venom title coming down the pipeline. I think he has space to pick up Daredevil and I also think he has the ability to tell one hell of a run on the title. If you don’t believe that Remender can make water into wine then you need to read Franken-Castle. This is the man to bring Daredevil back, and he could probably continue some Mr. Fear business, too. And I wouldn’t mind Clay Mann being put on with him.

Verdict - And I wanted this one so badly. I mean, I've loved the Mark Waid run and I'd still sell it for a Remender shot at this title. I made my call, made it early, and stuck with it. And I never saw Mark Waid coming at all. I suck at this crystal ball gazing business.


Prediction 5

BKV Comics

Brian K Vaughan. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Maybe not, he’s been off the grid for a while, so maybe you’ve just completely forgotten him. He wrote a mini about Chamber, and some tales about Mystique, he also wrote the greatest ever comic published (you can decide which title to put alongside that statement, he’s got a few you might think fit). He also wrote on LOST, and he wrote on that show while it was still a titan of television. But lately, not so much. I want that to change in 2011.

BKV created the Runaways property at Marvel and that looks set to get a movie, and he’s shopping his own movie script called The Vault, and he might just have a show at FOX called Smokers. He’s generating a fair degree of buzz, but not in comics anymore. Not in the playground that built him. But he’s always said he loves comics and that he’s going to start up another creator owned comic once Ex Machina finishes. Well, that comic is finished so what better time to focus on a new title. BKV works best when in his own sandbox so he needs to drop a new title in this coming year. I don’t even care what it’s about, I’ll buy it, read it, write about it.

Verdict - Alright, give me some sugar. Now, technically, we haven't seen this book yet, but it was announced, and it is solicited for this coming March, and I just need a win so I'm giving myself this score. Everyone else had BKV written off as Hollywood fodder and my positive energy brought him back. You're welcome.

Prediction 6

Steve Back As Cap

Steve Rogers was Captain America. He died, became lost in time, and his sidekick, James ‘Bucky’ Barnes, became the new Captain America. Then Steve Rogers returned from the dead (it’s comics, no doubt) but he left Bucky as Cap and he became the head of the newly reformed S.H.I.E.L.D. and led his Secret Avengers. It’s a grand status quo change and kudos to Marvel for sticking to it. But we all know it won’t last.

In 2011, with a Captain America movie on the way, Steve Rogers will most certainly take up the shield again and become Cap once more. Bucky will be demoted in some way but he will get leadership of the Secret Avengers as a severance package. It might sound like a big cop out but tell me you won’t be happy. I have preferred Bucky as my Cap but I would really dig him being the leader of the Secret Avengers. Bring it on.

Verdict - I'll take the point on this one but it's not worth much on the street. Of course Steve was coming back behind the shield, the movie was coming out, this was always going to happen. It was an easy call to make and I needed the easy success. My main problem is that Bucky isn't slotting in as the leader of the Secret Avengers - that's an opportunity missed. Even more annoying, a commenter in the original post said Bucky would die and that was pretty well spot on.

Prediction 7

No More Ultimate Comics

The Ultimate Universe for Marvel has been a pretty big cash cow for over a decade now. It launched new reader friendly versions of the Marvel U stalwarts like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. It was a sales success that slowly dwindled and turned supernova with the Ultimatum crossover event that both sold well, got critically drubbed, and basically fizzled out any momentum the imprint might have had.

Now we have the Ultimate Comics imprint, mildly different but not really, and the only things of note coming from them are Spider-Man and some versions of the Avengers, as well as a fair few minis. Granted those titles usually sell well and do okay with fans, it seems that Ultimate Spidey is set to die and Millar only has so many arcs planned for his Avengers so I am making a guess that once these two things wrap themselves up the Ultimate Universe will just whither up and go away for a while. I don’t profess that it will go away forever but it will go away, and probably should.

Verdict - Man, I was proud of this call. It was a ballsy call and would have been crazy to have seen this coming. Instead, the exact opposite happened as the Ultimate line was relaunched (again!) and it looks to be gearing up for years of stories under Bendis/Hickman/Spencer. May those crazy diamonds shine on.

Prediction 8

Icon To Have One More

Marvel’s Icon imprint has been doing pretty well over the past year with Brubaker/Phillips’ Criminal and Incognito, Fraction/Ba/Moon’s Casanova, Bendis/Oeming’s Powers, Bendis/Maleev’s Scarlet, and Millar’s many titles. It feels about time for someone else to come into the Icon fold. It might not be a massive sales bonanza but it does give that creator the chance to scratch their more subversive, creator owned itch and still stay with the House of Ideas exclusively. Everything is in-house and everyone is happy.

There are a few creators currently working with Marvel in a major capacity that could come into the Icon fold. I would love for it to be Duane Swierczynski but it probably won’t happen so let’s just move on. Jason Aaron would be a good choice but I think while Scalped is still rocking over at Vertigo he might not want to do anything else. I could see Rick Remender being a guy tapped for this initiative because the man seems to be quite the idea farm and Fear Agent has just wrapped up. Maybe even Jeff Parker could get the opportunity to explore a creator owned idea within this safe bubble of Marvel. I’m not certain who it will be but I think someone will get the nod.

Verdict - This one didn't happen, did it? Dammit.

Prediction 9

Ba and Moon To Write A Superhero

Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon spent the better part of 2010 proving they are one of the best things to happen in comics for decades. Their art might be good, hell it’s great, but once they married it up with their own writing (instead of the hackery of Matt Fraction, Joss Whedon, and Gerard Way) things simply got phenomenal. Daytripper was one of the best things to come out of 2010 and it will be an erudite work that will definitely live on well beyond this decade or even the lives of the creators. It was a beautiful work and if it’s done nothing else then hopefully it will show one of the Big Two companies that these twin brothers know how to write, and that talent can surely be helpful within the four colour world.

So far, Ba and Moon have usually drawn more independent fare, and only written about the human condition, but imagine if they were given a year on a superhero to see what they could do. Ba and Moon’s Batman would be something to be seen to be believed. Give them an Avengers team and see what happens. Maybe they could relaunch Daredevil or finally make Aquaman the sales success many think he should be. I don’t think you have to write superheroes to be in comics, see Brian Wood, but it certainly would be fun and the Big Two need some smart titles for a change. These guys are the ones to do it so let’s see this happen.

Verdict - This one completely should have happened and someone dropped the ball in wasting a year and not making this happen. Shame on you, comics.


Prediction 10

Frank Miller To Return

All Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder needs to be finished, and it will be. And Xerxes needs to be conceived, created, published, lauded, panned, and forgotten quickly. 2011 will be the year for both to happen. Miller might have been working his magic on the silver screen but it seemed that most people could see the strings and didn’t like the ruse being attempted. I wouldn’t call it a return with his tail between his legs but more a welcoming home for a lost son. It’s been far too long.

We all know Miller is coming back with Xerxes but my call is that he will come back and actually be good, and people will recognize that. I have been one person who has appreciated Miller’s run on All Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder. It’s not perfect but what it sets out to be it completely is. I like that. I think Miller needs to throw himself completely into this, and maybe do one or two other things, and he might just kick start a renaissance in his career. Worse things could happen.

Verdict - Look at the heading and behold my might. Miller did return this year. Holy Terror made a splash, no doubt about it, and Miller's rant about the Occupy movement also put him into the spotlight. Miller was back and relevant again, even if it was because he showed how irrelevant he might be becoming. I'll call this one a half point, at best.

Conclusion

The year of 2011 was many things in comics. It was awesome, it was full of great comics, and it was fun, but it was also mostly full of things I did not see coming. Out of ten predictions last year, I nailed 1 from left field, I tapped in 2 sitters, maybe got a half on 2, and swung the bat into thin air on 5. That is not a magnificent strike rate. Perhaps I'll do better next time. Look out for my predictions for 2012 coming soon to TWC. Until then, what did you think of my prognostication? And what did you want to see in 2011 that did not happen?


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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks like I can ignore your predictions for 2012 ;)

Simon DelMonte's Escape Hatch said...

Marvel seems to be really fumbling the ball on Icon. Or maybe Disney does, since I suspect that a line of creator owned books contradicts Disney's approach to everything.

But there is just no reason that Brubaker and Phillips should be doing a book for Image. Bru should be able to say to Marvel, "Hi, I'm the man who made a star of Bucky and I want this in return." And Marvel should have said "Hey, Bru, name your terms and we'll do it."

brandon said...

Based on where Marvel is setting the bar for cancellations it would seem the Icon imprint isnt going to be around much longer. Perhaps that is why Brubaker's book is launching over to Image.

The sales of Incognito/Criminal would be well below the cut-off line that Marvel has set.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Anon 1 - no, seriously, I'll do better this year. I promise...oh, god, the pressure. Ha.

My predictions for 2012 will be up next Tuesday, I think they might be better...maybe...

Ryan K Lindsay said...

In regards to Icon - when it comes to creator owned, their sales are generally fantastic. And Marvel doesn't put their sales up against their superhero fare.

And I believe Brubaker went with Image just for a change. Not because he wasn't happy with Marvel/Icon, or because Marvel wouldn't greenlight it, but just because he wanted to work with Kirkman, etc.

I've never heard that Marvel doesn't let Bru do whatever he wants, and rightfully so.

brandon said...

@RKL

Sure, Icon sales are fantastic when stacked up against the Image books (except Walking Dead). But when lined up with even the MAX titles they are below them and even the MAX ones have been cancelled. I don't doubt that creator owned has different cancellation threshholds but it seems Marvel's general direction is a lot stingier and that may have played a part in Brubaker's decision to bring the book to Image.

Either way there seems to be enough in the sales figures to show concern for Icon as an imprint going forward. Hopefully not though.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@brandon - I believe Marvel is lenient on Icon books because they don't spend a dollar on the creators (all profit is back end) and they don't spend a dollar on advertising, that's all on the creators.

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