$5.99 is an awful lot to charge for a new comic book (see also), given that not too long ago six bucks got you a squarebound “prestige format” funnybook that was 48 pages, no ads, and this here annual is 48 pages with ads and a staplebound spine and why, I can remember when comics only cost a dime and you could buy a car with a five dollar bill and have change left over for a down payment on a house, ah yes.
This Batman/Superman annual, written by Greg Pak, is very good, however, with some interestingly appealing art from Jae Lee, Kenneth Rocafort and Philip Tan…in particular, I was discussing with a customer of mine the other day about how Lee seems to be leaps and bounds beyond what he was doing back in the ’90s, when it was all jagged edges and silhouettes.
And for a six buck comic, you do get a fairly dense reading experience…plenty of dialogue and action and several panels per page, but never feeling cramped for space. Batman/Superman is one of the better Superman-related books, at a time when the Superman books across the board seem to be improving, and this annual is a solid, if pricy, example of the “New 52″ Superman revamp actually working.
Not sure what I can say about this book that old chum Kevin didn’t already say. Nothing in this issue should come as a surprise to anybody who’s ever read, well, anything, but it’s all competently written and very pretty to look at, and I have to admit, the idea of “what if Flash Gordon came back to Earth to tell of his adventures and everyone thought he was nuts” is an interesting one. I suspect the relative simplicity of this initial installment will go away as Mark Millar delves more deeply into the “here’s a modern perspective/twist on 1930s space opera!” themes in future issues, but hey, maybe I’m wrong. I’m willing to be surprised. I very much expect Goran Parlov’s art will continue to look nice, regardless.
I was finally called out by a customer on my racking this comic in the general area of the other Archie comics, which I kind of wondered about doing myself, but kept them there anyway because that’s where I thought people were probably going to look for them. Hadn’t had any trouble yet, and we’re not selling them to kids, and even this customer wasn’t like angry or upset or anything…just mostly bemused.
This issue especially I can’t sell to kids, given the remarkably upsetting circumstances Archie finds himself in, and that subtext I’d mentioned before basically becoming straight up “text.”
Still very well done, however, and especially affecting given the characters starring in it. And Harvey? The jalopy makes an appearance.
This comic from the fringes of Mike Mignola’s “Hellboyverse” remains pulpy good fun as always, but I’ve noticed an upward bump on sales on this title (and Baltimore as well). After always selling the same amount of copies month in and month out, we’re suddenly experiencing sellouts and requests for back issues. I think readers generally like Mignola’s storytelling but are gravitating toward these series that are more episodic and easier to follow, versus the B.P.R.D. books that have mostly plateaued.
Speaking of sales, not long ago I had a brief interchange with Richard Neal, co-owner of Zeus Comics way out there in the far-flung wilds of Texas, regarding post-Geoff Johns Green Lantern sales. My comment, that sales were “withering away,” may have been overstating things slightly, which is unusual given the Twitter platform’s capacity for nuance, I realize. It was Johns’s strong direction for the franchise that kept the four titles selling as well as they did for as long as they did, and with DC’s huge emphasis on his departure, that was a pretty strong cue for readers to depart as well. The main GL title still does…okay, but not nearly as well as it did before, and the other titles, rather than withering away, have already withered away to much lower numbers and are now basically staying there. There’s the odd bump or two with cross-title tie-ins like the “Lights Out” storyline, but that’s about it.
The real test will be the new Sinestro title debuting soon. Comic fans like Sinestro…heck, I like Sinestro, but we’ll see if they’ll like him as the star of yet another monthly Green Lantern franchise book instead of just appearing in already existing series.