Archive for the ‘Editorial Not’ Category

Batman Inc. has been Grant Morrison’s big Bat-Epic story for the last few years. It’s been great but it’s nearing the end.

So, did anyone peek at the Grant Morrison interview in the NY Post today? I’m sad to say I did. It spoils a major point in Batman Inc. 8. I hate spoilers in the news because unlike leaks or forums, I just can’t seem to resist reading them. I want spoil it for you guys but if you read Newsarama at all then chances are you figured it out thanks to their half dozen articles on it today. I have mixed feelings on the actual story development but I’m reserving final judgment for when I actually read the issue. Either way at least we know that this was probably Morrison’s plan all along.

So check this out: http://365supers.blogspot.com/

Everett Downing, an artist at Disney Pixar has created 291 of 365 superheros over at his blog.There are some great concepts hidden in here. I particularly like the Gentleman Pugilist, Detective Atom, Re-Pete and The Caped Cadaver. This is a fun project to keep your eye on if you like costume designs and punny names for superheroes.

By Alex Headley

Both Marvel and DC relaunched their brand in big ways in 2012. Mostly that involved heroes flying/running at you.

There is no denying that 2012 has been a big year for comics. The New 52 ( yes it started in 2011 but the meat of it was this year) hit its stride, giving DC its biggest numbers in years. Marvel NOW! Is just getting started but we’ve already seen an impact from it. November was a huge month for the comics. But more than finances, the last year has been good for creators. Marvel and DC seem, to me at least, to be far friendlier to writers and artists than in a long while. Marvel NOW! seems to be all about the creative side of things. Think of the way it was marketed: Mark Waid and Leniel Yu, Rick Remender and John Cassady, Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena. The creators are just as important to those books as the characters involved. It was the same with DC. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. All these guys got to leave their mark on some of the biggest names in comics.
It’s a model that seems to be working for both publishers and one that spins directly out of Image’s recent success with new iPs from specific creators like Hickman, Robert Kirkman and Brian K. Vaughn. The New 52 has thrived off of series that let the creators run wild. Look at Demon Knights, Animal Man, and Wonder Woman. Those books brought new ideas to those characters, taking the titles in new directions and exploring new sides of the core cast or where almost entirely new. Marvel NOW! is taking big risks too, bringing back the original X-Men, combining mutants and Avengers and taking Peter Parker out of the mask.
There finally seems to be a real effort on both companies’ part to expand the diversity of their line as well. Both companies offer more genres in their books as well as a more landscape in the titles that better reflect the diversity of the real world. DC has 9 ongoing titles starring female characters in the lead role. Marvel has only 4 but there are several ladies on each team book, Marvel’s hallmark. It’s a big leap forward. Minorities are better represented as well, even if some of the books that could have best reflected that change were canned for one reason or another (I’m looking at you Static Shock and Mr. Terrific) and some obviously deserving characters still don’t have their own series ( Cyborg!). The industry is still dominated mostly by white guys writing white guys but progress is being made, however slowly.

This is now the most popular superhero team in the world. Crazy, huh?
Property of Marvel Comics (Also Disney)

On top of the Marvel and DC comics, the publisher’s have done well in other media. DC continues to put out high quality animation in the form of DVDs and television series. Cartoon Network’s DC Nation, though its had a rough patch as of late, is a big deal. Likewise, Marvel has seen success with Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes( yeah it was cancelled but only so that Marvel could move forward with a Avengers toon of their own). That’s not to mention the two wildly successful films The Dark Knight Rises and Marvel’s The Avengers. The Avengers is the third highest grossing movie of all time. Not bad for a team of formerly B-list heroes directed by a guy with more failed TV series than fingers. Sony released The Amazing Spider-Man and while it wasn’t as big as the other two, it did give us Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, so it was worth it. All three films were undisputed hits this year and 2013 only seems like it will continue the trend of comic book films dominating the box office. Man of Steel, Thor:The Dark World and Iron Man 3 all promise to be big hits. We can also look forward to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers 2 and a potential Justice League film in 2014. Joss Whedon is also working on a SHIELD live action series. Whedon back on TV working Marvel properties can only be a good thing. For DC, Arrow has been well-received and there seems to be a Wonder Woman series titled Amazon in the works.
Outside of the big two, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead has truly become a powerhouse property. The long running series has always receive critical praise and been a fan favorite series but AMC’s television adaptation has turned it into a blockbuster franchise. Telltale Game’s adaptation of the zombie epic recently won game of the year at Spike Video Game awards. And a FPS title is coming from Activision in 2013 starring the AMC original characters Darryl and Merle. The series is one of Image’s top selling titles right alongside Kirkman’s other project, Invincible both of which hit the landmark 100 issues in 2012.
I think that non-superhero stuff is the best it’s ever been in comics. The Walking Dead is part of that. As is the excellent Manhattan Projects, BKV’s Saga and the eminent return of Sandman.

One of the most popular comic book franchises. Not a superhero in sight.

In addition to the overall higher quality of work being put out at the moment, there are more ways than ever to get what we want. Digital distribution has been embraced by all the big names in the industry, meaning that we don’t even have to leave the house to get our fix. While I still prefer to get my comics from my local comic shop, the digital option is nice to have. Comixology offers weekly sales and that let’s readers pick up books they might otherwise ignore or miss. Trades are still a big part of the industry as well, giving readers a way to catch up or enjoy a series without having to wait a month to get our fix.

Despite all the good stuff going on, there are still issues. Most recently, the retirement of Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger is troubling for the line and maybe says some negative things about how that imprint has been treated since the New 52. Berger was responsible for bringing us pretty much every one of the awesome Vertigo series we have loves over the years, like Sandman. Gail Simone was recently fired in a very public way that sours some of my praise on DC’s diversity in their creative teams. On the Marvel side of things, its hard not to notice that comics are more expensive than ever. Marvel is the brunt of the problem here for me. Lots of books are bi-weekly now and even more have a $4 price point. Couple that with the reduction in page counts throughout the industry and you have an increasingly expensive hobby. At least the 3.99 DC books give you a second story to enjoy, sometimes putting the spotlight on interesting characters or new creators. Double shipping is a big problem. Another worrying trend is the return of variant covers. DC is releasing 52 for the first issue of JLA, one for each state, Washington DC and Puerto Rico. Marvel isn’t better about it. They have been been absolutely in love with variants this year. Variants can be fun but upwards of $12 is a lot to ask for a picture of Deadpool dancing to Gangnam style on the cover of Avengers 1. Its just overkill. On the bright side all those baby variants are giving Skottie Young a lot of work.

At least the cover is awesome. A great way to celebrate a milestone. Property of Marvel Comics.

By Alex Headley
So, Amazing Spider-Man #700 has been leaked online. Presumably by someone involved in the printing process. Marvel and writer Dan Slott are understandably upset about the whole thing. Though I don’t care about Marvel’s feelings as much when they plaster spoilers all over any news outlet that will let them; it hasn’t happened in a while but it seemed like, for a time, we were getting big news from USA Today instead of the comic shop. I do feel for Slott though, as a creator this is his lifeblood and while I don’t particularly like Spider-Man or the direction he is taking the story anyway, the leak puts a negative spin on the whole thing from the beginning. Now instead of waiting for feedback on a story he obviously cares a great deal about, he’s receiving death threats (WARNING: there are numerous spoilers in that article) before its even been published. That’s a real downer for a guy that makes his living off of pleasing fans; not to mention its freaking crazy. I know fans are passionate but death threats are just ridiculous. Not exactly good PR for comics nerds like me.

I’ll keep this spoiler free, mentioning only what we know from solicits and interviews. This story sets up the new ongoing title Superior Spider-Man which sets an edgier tone for Spidey and takes Peter Parker out of the mask (which seems like odd timing what with the new movie franchise). We’ve known this before but the question has only been of who might take up the mantle, 700 sets that up. The idea of a new guy taking over for a classic hero has been done so many times it’s a trope. And using that in an attempt to make the character edgier and unpredictable is a particularly tired trend in comics.  Jean Paul Valley, Bucky Barnes, Guy Gardner (or any of the Earth GLs), Eradicator, Scarlet Spider, etc; the list goes on but the status quo always bounces back. It’s the nature of comics. Plenty of heroes have been replaced with edgier versions over the years, Spider-Man included, and like all of those examples, this will blow over. That said, I’m sure some good stories can come out of it. A writer like Slott doesn’t just decide on something like this overnight. He’s been planning and he has a story that he wants to tell and Marvel has decided it is worth telling. It seems like this was Slott’s plan all along, which is interesting and makes it a little more fun. Why did he want to do this, why in this particular fashion? Since its, supposedly, an editorial mandate by the head honchos at Marvel I think we might be in for an enjoyable ride with Superior Spider-Man. It’s not on my pull list anyway, as I said I’ve never been a Spidey fan, but I hope fans are willing to give it a shot and find it enjoyable.

The cover to Superior Spider-Man #1. Notice how edgy it is. Property of Marvel Comics.

But the real issue, to me, is how people learn about big changes like this. The Internet has changed the way entertainment operates and not always for the better. This has affected movies in an obvious way, rumors and set leaks are a dime a dozen these days. Cracks, hacks, torrents and other illegal downloads have plagued video games for years now. What makes it particularly rough for comics though is that it’s mostly in suspense of what’s to come that people but the books every week. The serialized format is full of cliffhangers and what-if moments that keep people coming back. Take away that suspense and your weekly pull is much less exciting. Now, I’m sure some people download comics just to scratch that itch and then still pay for the book at their local store but many more read their books completely free of charge and ahead of schedule. Thanks to Disney, Marvel isn’t exactly hurting these days and Warner Bros. can support DC but where leaks and scans really hurt is at the smaller publishers. Image can’t fall back on a multi-million dollar movie if no one buys their stuff. Neither can IDW or Boom! or Valiant. But I think most of the damage is to the retailers. Comic shops are a rare breed. They typically sell one thing and cater to one type if customer. Most are independent, especially in the rural parts of the country. And in a recession, even chains can be hurting. Now say what you will about the future of the industry as a whole but I still believe that brick and mortar stores are important if for no other reason than for the water cooler affect. The interwebs just don’t provide the same sense of community or the real chance to get out of the house and meet other people with the same hobbies. Many shops embrace games like Heroclix and Magic as well, giving gamers a valuable gathering point. Without the local comic store, the hobby becomes much less interesting and fun. So, while I’m not going to state that torrents and downloads are unequivocally wrong I will say that it spoils the fun a bit. It kills that buzz we get off of not knowing, takes away that anticipation each week. The Internet gave us the information age, but when it comes to storytelling sometimes it’s better to let yourself be surprised.

Recommended Reading: You Decide!

Posted: December 15, 2012 in Editorial Not

Alright guys, here’s the deal. I have $25 of iTunes credit to spend on comics as a graduation present from the folks. So I’m leaving the fate of that credit to the Comic Critique readers. Tell me what to buy and ill review it here on the site.
Here are some titles I’m considering but feel free to suggest something else.
1. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction
2. Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue Deconnick
3. Saucer Country by Paul Cornell
4. A run of Hellblazer
5. 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello

Share your thoughts here in the comments, on Facebook @ComicCritiqueBlog or you can e-mail us at ComicCritiqueBlog@gmail.com. Cast your votes for any of the above or make your own suggestions for consideration. Keep in mind I want to get a complete story if at all possible. Collections are ideal but single issues could work too.
Thanks guys!

Big thanks to Tim Brannon at The Other Side blog for a shout out in his Best Blogs You Are Not Reading feature. If you haven’t visited his site yet, go check it out http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/.
Brannon covers all kinds of tabletop gaming and RPG systems, including insights into systems he helped design and build. I’ve been playing games like D&D and Pathfinder for as long as I can remember so his stuff is very interesting. Plus, he likes Buffy. Good stuff all around. Return the favor he did for us and go check it out.

 

Thanksgiving Break

Posted: November 21, 2012 in Editorial Not

No post today, taking time off for the holidays. Sorry guys. I’ll be back Monday with reviews from this week’s comics. Until then, feel free to listen to the first Comic Critique Blog Podcast here. You can also download it on iTunes by following the link. We’ve built a bit of an archive for you to read through as well so if you missed our earlier posts, please check them out.
Thanks for reading!

This site will serve as a hub for pod-casts, reviews and general musings on all things comic books. Check back often to read our thoughts on the latest and greatest-and lamest- comic books on the market. Feel free to give us feedback in the comments section or e-mail us at comiccritiqueblog@gmail.com.