Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The state of comics lately ...

Let me just say in this preamble, that one of the worst parts of being unemployed was the day I told my local comic shop to cancel my subscription.

Figured I'd take a quick zip around the comics scene - news sites, shops, rumors sites, et al. - since I haven't set foot in a shop in about six months.

DC Comics:

- They're bringing Bruce Wayne back?!! The hell for? Dick Grayson is doing a just fine job of carrying the cowl, from what I've seen in the books I've flipped through at Books-a-Million. Apparently, he's immortal, and he's trekking his way through prehistory, the age of pirates, and so forth, on his way to our present day. And may he be driven mad by his millennia-long quest, only to emerge as the DC Universe's greatest threat. If that happens, you heard it here first. If it doesn't, fuck you DC.

- So we're following "Blackest Night," the Green Lantern zombie tale, with "Brightest Day." All the previously dead characters return to the DC Universe and apparently act like nothing happened. Sounds about what I'd expect of comics nowadays. Because all those meaningful deaths - J'onn J'onnz and Maxwell Lord, in particular - must now be rendered irrelevant so we can push forward with yet another year-long storyline. You know who they missed out on, with the "Blackest Night" storyline? Jonah Hex. Imagine ... a zombie gunfighter in modern DCU; you could have gotten at least a good twenty-five issues out of that before reader disinterest set in.

- "The Rise of Arsenal" is apparently the worst comic series of all time. Seriously, look for the reviews on that thing. It is apparently just ... just terrible.

- Superman hit issue #700. I never cared for Superman, but that's a hell of an achievement. I had a little project where I was compiling a list of all the Superman analogues that exist in other comic companies. Might have to finish that sometime ...

- JSA has been terrible since they split the team (and the titles) in two.

- The Secret Six has been fun to follow; I've managed to get my hands on the trades, and Gail Simone has written herself a tidy little anti-hero epic there.

Marvel Comics:

- Didn't take long for Marvel to undo all that they were attempting to do with "One More Day," since it seems that they're sticking Mary Jane back with Peter Parker again. Spider-Man really became the drizzling shits, huh? First the Clone Saga, then he gets ret-conned to have biophysio web glands in his wrist instead of the web-shooters of yore (to be more in line with the movies, don't'cha know?), and then he reveals his identity to the world in "Civil War" (only for it to be erased from people's memory), he sells his marriage to Mary Jane to Mephisto to save fucking Aunt May's life (even though she's died and come back once already!), and now, they're wasting no time in undoing that! No one can stick to their guns on anything about Spider-Man, can they? And that's why, I remember reading somewhere, readership on that title is in the crapper. It's like WCW 2000.

- And how many fucking times are they going to restart "The Avengers?" Here's an idea of how many times "Avengers" has been restarted, and a hint at how many times over that Brian Bendis has raped Marvel Comics out of money money money money .... MO-NEY!!!:

Avengers vol. 1 #1-402 (September 1963 - September 1996)
Avengers vol. 2 #1-13 (Marvel Comics/Extreme Studios/Wildstorm; November 1996 - November 1997)
Avengers vol. 3 #1-84, #500-503 (February 1998 - December 2004)
Avengers vol. 4 #1- (May 2010–present)
New Avengers vol. 1 #1-64 (January 2005 - April 2010)
New Avengers vol. 2 #1- (June 2010–present)

And, since Bendis stuck his big beak into the line:

Avengers: The Initiative #1-35 (2007 - April 2010)
Mighty Avengers #1-36 (May 2007 - April 2010)
Dark Avengers #1-16 (January 2009 - April 2010)
Secret Avengers #1- (May 2010–present)

It really doesn't pay to be a fan of nothing that Brian Michael Bendis is writing. He's a hack. It's almost as bad as having Kevin fucking Smith write comics.

- Ah, Hulk. Thank God I can trust you for my comic entertainment. The Red Hulk stuff has entertained me to no end. Critics and fans are all irritated by the storylines, since they say that some of the Red Hulk's powers and actions border on the unrealistic, like stealing the Silver Surfer's board, knocking out one of the Watchers, and finding a way to wield Thor's hammer. These are people that want order and realism from a title starring a scientist who turns into a green, musclebound behemoth. Fans r teh stoopid.

- Punisher: Frankencastle?? They follow up the Punisher: MAX series with this?

- Marvel sure is doing their part to rape you out of your money. First "Civil War" (the Superhero Registration storyline), then "Secret Invasion" (a/k/a Shitloads of Skrulls), then "Dark Reign" (Lex Luthor becomes president ... I mean, Norman Osbourne becomes director of S.H.I.E.L.D.*, which was already renamed S.W.O.R.D., and renames it H.A.M.M.E.R. ... color me B.O.R.E.D.), then "Siege" (Asgard as Isreal), then ... what's the new thing they're doing now? Oh, a quick zip reveals that the new direction is called "The Heroic Age," following the "up with people" vibe started by "Brightest Day." The direction behind this one is pretty ambiguous.

- We're in our fourth (or fifth) installment of the "Marvel Zombie" franchise ...

- And STILL no "Essential West Coast Avengers!" Seriously, what the fuck??!

* Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division.

Image Comics:

- "Spawn" is still being published?! Good gravy, that shit was getting old after issue 10. I wonder if the previews for each subsequent issue still include something about "secrets will be revealed," or some such. It seemed like every issue had that tag, back in the day.

- "Savage Dragon" is still being published?! Well, good for Erik Larsen; I remember liking that comic when it first came out, but it got off to such a slow start back then ... now, it's this freaking epic title, where characters die and it means something, and continuity is crucial. You know, like the good, old days when comics were fun. As opposed to now, when they kinda aren't so much.

- At least they have "Walking Dead" going for them. That's a great "after the dead have risen" ongoing zombie apocalypse tale, soon to be a TV series on AMC, helmed by Frank Darabont.

IDW/Dynamite/Dark Horse/ BOOM! Studios:

- I lumped these together because, apparently, they're both just placeholder companies for licensed books:

• Dark Horse is home to the "Predators" movie adaptation, Conan the ________, Buffy the Vampire universe, and Star Wars ad infinitum. Oh, and Hellboy. Okay, okay, so they also publish the ongoing adventures of Usagi Yojimbo and, every so often in a blue moon, Sin City.

• IDW plays host to Transformers, GI Joe, Doctor Who, and Star Trek. IDW actually started as a showcase for the "30 Days of Night" series.

• BOOM! Studios publishes Farscape titles, Disney titles like Darkwing Duck and the Incredibles, film adaptations to 28 Days/Weeks Later and Jennifer's Body (heh, good luck selling that one), and titles in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft. Granted, they also put out Mark Waid's tremendous "Irredeemable." Seems pretty redundant that they publish Disney titles, though, since Disney bought Marvel; we'll probably see a shift there sooner or later.

• And, Dynamite Comics has Green Hornet (by Kevin Smith, whoopedy shit), Army of Darkness (yep, the Bruce Campbell film), and Battlestar Galactica. But, they also publish the incredible "The Boys," as well as the once-promising "Project: Superpowers."

- Of course, all four publishers have their own zombie titles:

• Dark Horse: Zombie World
• IDW: Zombies; Zombies vs. ...
• BOOM!: Zombie Tales (actually, not a bad read)
• Dynamite Comics: Super Zombies

In summary:

Dead shit is where it's at.

I thought the speculation bubble of the 1990s burst, and in its wake we were left with the corpses of many an upstart comic line ... Blackball, Caliber, Malibu, Awesome (ha!), Chaos!, Claypool (not Les), Valiant (twice!), Defiant, Topps, NOW, Continuity, Innovation, and, lately, CrossGen and Dreamwave.

So, Slave Labor Graphics, Oni Press, Avatar and three of those four latter companies (I don't think Dark Horse is going anywhere, any time soon), among so many others ... you're On Notice!


Ron said...

I tried to comment on this last week but the blackberry doesn't get the "visual verification" anymore. Anyway, I've been following The Walking Dead through the trade versions at the bookstores. Vol. 12 comes out tomorrow.

The way the writer handles the characterization of those books is outstanding. The trauma on the children, Rick talking to his dead wife on a telephone receiver, and the sickness that was the Governor have all impressed me a great deal. Still trying to figure out if Eugene is real or a phony (my money thus far is on a phony).

Nate said...

Yeah, the whole "Rick talking to his dead wife" was a total, and brillian out-of-nowhere mindfork. I have faith that Darabont will really do wonders with that AMC "Walking Dead" series; his work on "The Mist" was quite remarkable, especially that heartbreaker of an ending.

Will has turned my head in the direction of a book called "Chew," featuring a forensic detective who solves crimes by feasting on body parts of the deceased. I'm eager to get my hands on that.