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So just the other day I was reminded of Image United, Image Comics’ big crossover event featuring the company’s founders and their characters all doin’ something or other. The most recent issue of the series, #3, was released August 18, 2010. As of right now, Image United‘s gap in publication exceeds even Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk‘s delay between its second and third issues by about three months.
According to our distributor, Image United #4 has a supposed release date of 12/25/13, which is, well, Christmas, but it does fall on a Wednesday this year, so I guess it’s theoretically possible it could be on sale that day, assuming your local comic dealer isn’t all sauced up on whatever else he’s put into the eggnog. Also, it’s the last on-sale date of the year, which means that’s likely just a placeholder date, sometimes used by Diamond on items with…indefinite arrival times.
A quick Googling shows a comment on the subject from our pal Rob Liefeld back in June, who gives us 2014 as The Year Image United Would Continue. …Anyway, show of hands from folks surprised by this publishing development? …Anyone?
In fairness, and spurred on by Employee Timmy who suggested this, I looked into the dates ‘n’ fates of the single greatest Batman series ever published, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, by Arthur Miller and Jason Lee. I think. It’s been a while.
Anyhoo, the last issue published was #10, solicited February ’08 and released 9/24/08, well over five years ago, back when the sun shone more brightly, and I still had a good strong grip on my hopes and dreams. Orders for issue #11 were originally solicited April ’08, and then resolicited in September of that year. Issue #12 was solicited in June ’08, then again in October. Needless to say, #11 and #12 never came out, and both listings on the distributor site have a big fat red “CANCELLED” on them. They also both have FOC (“Final Order Cut-off”) dates of 12/31/19, so, you know, I have a long time to think about that. The series was supposed to wrap up in a separate mini-series, but nothin’ doin’ just yet. (Related: it’s a damned shame I’m not in that Wiki article as one of series’ defenders. I mean, who loved that comic more than me?)
I guess, kinda sorta, that makes All Star Batman a strong entry in the Longest Funnybook Publication Delay in The Middle of A Storyline That Still Possibly Will Get Completed Someday, since I’m not sure it’s entirely off the table. Another quick Googling shows comments from a 2012 interview with Jim Lee on a site not to be linked to or named here that he’s not given up on continuing the series. So who knows. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see it someday.
And then there’s that gap in Miracleman‘s publication, but let’s not get me started on that topic again.
image from Image United #2 (December 2009)
So relatively recently, apparently, we’ve been selling back issues of the Morbius series from the early 1990s. Now I knew we’d at least sold the issues crossing over with the Siege of Darkness storyline, since we’d had folks specifically seeking those issues out. However, when I finally stuck my nose into the box to see what issues I had to pull out of the backroom to restock, lo and behold, the section was nearly empty.
Basically what I’m telling you is that it’s been a while since I’ve done the full restock on the Morbius books. I’ve dipped into the backstock boxes to pull out more copies of the Siege of Darkness issues, and the first issue Rise of the Midnight Sons crossover tie-in, but that’s about it. I haven’t really given that old, cobwebbed Morbius box — underlit, mysterious shades roaming about it in the darkness, the quiet sound of a slow drip of water into a shallow pool — in the backroom a good going-through. And what I found whilst digging through said box was a small stack of these:
…the shocking second printing of 1971′s Amazing Spider-Man
#101, republished in September 1992, the same month as the debut
of the Morbius
series, and featuring…well, I’ll let the corner cover blurb tell you:
This comic also has that metallic-ish silver ink on the cover, which may not come through very well in the scan. But you know the kind of thing I mean, especially if you collected comics in the ’90s, the gimmick cover’s prime time.
Anyway, I’d completely forgotten that this particular reprint even existed. I knew Marvel did stuff like this, like reprinting the first Silver Sable appearance when she received her own series. But nope, this thing totally slipped my mind, as did the Morbius Revisted reprint series that briefly ran concurrently with the main series, during that crazy time in this industry when the market could support two series starring the Living Vampire. (As, you know, opposed to now, where it can’t even support one.)
Of course, the annoying thing about a reprint like this is the fact that the story totally ends on a cliffhanger, with Morbius teaming up with the Lizard to take on ol’ Webhead, leaving it up to you to find the then 20-year-old #102 to wrap up the story. (Or, um, Marvel Tales #253 from 1991, reprinting #102.)
Just thought this was an interesting artifact of its time, created to support the launch of a series starring one of Marvel’s third-stringers, now primarily only of import because it’s a reprint of a pricy Amazing Spider-Man back issue. Plus, it’s, like, the middle chapter of the Amazing Spider-Man’s Six Arms Saga, and where’s our trade paperback and / or live action film adaptation of that?• • •
In other news: Miracleman is coming back
. How ’bout that.
Trying to get a read on Batman’s expression on the cover, there. Bemusement? Concern? Anger? Bewilderment? Who can say.
Anyway, this is a freebie book that should be available at your local funnybook slinger emporium, spotlighting DC’s back catalog of trade collections divided up by character, imprint, panicked line-wide relaunch, kid-friendly reading, et cetera. There’s even a section spotlighting graphic novels by Alan Moore, which probably thrills him to pieces.
Of note is a section devoted to “suggested reading order” for books featuring some of their major superhero characters, which is useful since I kinda lose the thread of the Batman continuity after Final Crisis. The Superman section appears to give up on continuity order about halfway through its list, placing New 52 reprints before, like, all the pre-New 52 Superman/Batman reprints, among other things, and lumping all the non-continuity-ish books like Red Son and All-Star Superman and Birthright at the end. Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali is also near the end of the suggested reading order, when in fact it should be first in line. Heck, it should be the only Superman comic you need to read.
At the end of this book are three “blank” pages with a “NOTES” heading, in case you need to jot down your thoughts and feelings about Superman: Earth One being placed in the “25 Essential Graphic Novels” section of this freebie. The notes pages are designed to look like original art boards, which is a little strange…make sure your notes don’t result in more than about nine panels per page; you’re not George Perez.
In conclusion…I like the cover. Ryan Sook did a good job. Even Superman’s new costume is almost bearable. But surely the Justice League has better things to do than waste their time reading comic books.
Also out this week:
Okay, I figure if they make at least two
more Smurfs movies, that should give us enough time, and the publisher enough incentive, to keep reprinting the Smurfs comics in U.S. editions ’til they’re caught up.
…I have big dreams.
AAAAAUGH! It’s terrifying! Demon! Sorcerer
Well, okay, Charles Schulz just gave Snoopy a speech balloon instead of a word balloon, which he did once or twice over the years. I think we can cut the man some slack. But still, this is the sort of thing that always stops me dead with its…wrongness, somehow. There’s a measure of communication between human and animal characters in Peanuts, of course, but never do the animals explicitly “speak” to any of the children (unless there’s something I missed).
However, there is a strip later in the volume where I spotted the above panel (The Complete Peanuts: 1985-1986) in which Marcie calls Snoopy by the name of “The Lone Beagle,” a sobriquet Snoopy used to refer to himself during one of his flights of fancy in the previous days’ strips. At first I believed it could only have been communicated to Marcie via direct speech. Then again, perhaps Marcie was able to infer the name by observing Snoopy’s acting-out of his fantasy, which opens up yet more questions regarding Snoopy’s undoglike behavior and its general acceptance in the Peanuts universe, but perhaps that’s far enough down that rabbit hole.
In other news:
- There’s some interesting stuff going on between Fantagraphics and Dave Sim regarding the possibility of new packaging of Cerebus material being covered by the Moment of Cerebus site. No idea if it’ll ever happen, but it sure is fascinating reading the back-and-forth of what would be required to make such a project materialize.
This is all in response to Sim’s statement in the last issue of Glamourpuss that he’s pretty much done with comics, and how some folks responding with the desire for him to be able to continue producing work. One of my readers asked for my thoughts on the matter, particularly from the retail end, and…well, heck, let’s just do it here instead of putting it off for another day.
Now, I liked Glamourpuss. Its weird combination of fashion parody and comic strip history was a little mindboggling, but it worked, somehow, and kept me entertained through its entire run. It started off with having me wonder what Dave was up to, and as time went on, I realized the only real answer to that was “Dave was doing something I find entertaining and informative” and that was good enough for me.
It started off relatively well as far as sales go, too…I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but if memory serves it was selling at respectable indie title levels. But, as time wore on, sales did drop, until we had just a couple of holdouts still hanging on and reading the book ’til the end. I don’t know if those readers who dropped the book were expecting Cerebus II and didn’t get it, were looking forward to new Sim material and just didn’t care for it, or just stopped buying comics entirely (a sadly realistic possibility). It’s just the simple fact that Not Everything Catches On, and I’m sorry this didn’t go as well as it did for Dave, and I certainly don’t want him to leave the industry (though I couldn’t blame him if he did).
I think he a good job promoting Glamourpuss, sending out promotional copies (I still treasure my signed copy of #1), calling stores personally (alas, he got our answering machine…when I called him back, I got his voice mail, answered by “Glamourpuss” herself!), his crazy variant covers (“zombie” variants, and variants featuring his Zatanna parody), and free overships of issues (which sometimes sold for us!). This certainly ensured good sales early on, but obviously their effectiveness wore off as time passed.
Now, did I do enough to promote Glamourpuss at the shop? As a funnybook seller, it’s my job to be an advocate for every comic for, you know, the customers I think would enjoy said comic. I can’t shout out across the shop “I think everyone will enjoy this issue of Swamp Thing!” as much as I’d like to, simply because I know it’s not for everybody. And Glamourpuss was always bit of a hard sell. I mean, it was easy (if a little nutty) to describe to people, but hard to find the people who might be interested in such a thing. And given the number of comics we carry and the number of customers with differing tastes that we have and simply given the number of hours in the day, sometimes the most advocacy I can give a comic is just making sure it’s visible on the rack, and occasionally pointing it out to people I think would like it.
I mean, I did what I could. I bought it, I enjoyed it, we carried it at the shop, I occasionally discussed it with folks, but if I could save every comic I liked from cancellation singlehandedly, Jupiter would still be on the stands.
- Pal Jim is still blogging Hellblazer comics in his extremely intelligent and captivating way over at The Laughing Magician. He’s up to issue #3…only 292 issues (at press time), plus all those annuals and tie-ins, to go, Jim!
- Well, well, well…look who’s back. …It’s Adam at Comics Make No Sense! The People have demanded that he revive his fun-filled weblog, and lo, it has come to pass. Go make the man feel welcome!
- Bully, Schrodinger’s Bull Who Is Simultaneously Little and Stuffed, brings us a Ten of a Kind featuring really, really angry folks on comic book covers…which ends in the only way it can, with comics’ greatest symbol of unrestrained rage.
- Look at what was in our pog haul. JUST LOOK AT IT.
THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO: Somehow completely forget that the comic order is due, like, THAT EVENING, and you completely drop freakin’ everything to get that bastard typed into the computer and then suddenly there’s like a thousand different Uncanny Avengers #1 variants you have to figure out and you’re all “Uncanny Avengers, oh dammit Marvel” and you’re trying to balance out order plateaus and ratios and what have you to get the right amounts of everything and oh Lordy I was actually feeling nostalgic for the time when we were only dealing with pre-bagged copies of X-Force #1, each with a different card.
Anyway, the order’s in. Hopefully I didn’t have a slip of the finger while speedily entering the order and accidentally got 5,000 copies of the Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan statue. I mean, I only need a thousand.
Also, there are some Avengers Vs. X-Men follow-up series, which hopefully won’t go the way of the Fear Itself follow-ups, where we went from the main series selling pretty well to the series that followed having us think “hmmm, well, maybe we can glue these back together into trees.” My general feeling is that once the main event is over (whether it’s Avengers Vs X-Men or Fear Itself or whatever) then the readers are pretty much done with that particular idea, too, and don’t need these supporting series after the fact. It’s like “yeah, okay, we did that, what else you got?” I mean, nothing against the comics themselves…maybe they’re fantastic. But it’s better to move on before the diminishing returns set in, which is something that goes against everything that’s ever happened in the comics industry ever, but still, c’mon.
In other news, a lot of hay has been made about Superman and Wonder Woman hooking up in Justice League, which, yeah, I don’t know. Hasn’t the point of nearly every previous story featuring an attempted Superman/Wonder Woman romance been “Superman and Wonder Woman really shouldn’t be romantically involved?” Well, okay, maybe not Kingdom Come, and I’m sure there’s another story somewhere I’m forgetting. But, hell, why not, so long as DC’s new publishing policy is “throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks,” this isn’t any better or worse than other decisions they’ve made. And I’ll link to this news story about it because the headline is kind of amazingly crass. This is showing up in real world news sources too, which is even more amazing.
I get some folks at DC want to try new things, which is cool, and I’m sure the attention doesn’t hurt, but DC Comics only has itself to blame for teaching me over the years, among other important life lessons, that Supes and Wondy aren’t meant for each other. Besides, I prefer the Batman/Wonder Woman romance that they sorta danced around in JLA.
Also at DC, Rob Liefeld is outta there, apparently unhappy with how things were going behind the scenes. I honestly figured he’d be done and gone three issues into Hawk & Dove, but he worked on ‘em all, I believe, and went on to do even more titles, at least for a bit. Ah, well. …I was thinking “maybe Marvel can get him back again” and then I was wondering what the absolute last title would be that he would do, and Howard the Duck was the first thing that popped into my head. I would break my “no non-Gerber Howard the Duck ever” rule for a Liefeld Howard.
For some reason, I was reminded of Image United…if you don’t remember this as yet uncompleted mini-series, ask your grandpa if he recalls buying it off the stands. Anyway, checking with the distributor, issues #4 and #5 are in the system, with “scheduled” shipdates for the end of the year. I put “scheduled” in quotes because they both have the same date, the last shipping day of 2012, which makes me think they’re placeholder dates and not the real thing. I guess we’ll see. We’re not quite up to Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk levels yet, but soon. Soon.
Pal Jim just started up The Laughing Magician: A Reader’s Guide to Hellblazer, a blog documenting his thoughts and analyses as he reads through the adventures of John Constantine. As a Constantine fan since Swamp Thing #37 (June 1985), I mightily approve of this endeavor.
…Speaking of Hellblazer, there’s been some discussion among pals of mine about what’s going to happen when the series hits #300. I’m not sure what sales are like on the book…it does okay for us, moving low-ish but consistent numbers. Jim says his shop orders only 3 copies a month. I suspect this series, now DC’s highest numbered series being published, is getting a little long in the tooth in this era of digital sales and reboots and people wanting to be able to get the “whole” story right away rather than just jumping in and hanging on. The recent retooling of the Hellblazer trade paperback line, reprinting all the issues in consecutive order in books with actual volume numbers on the spine, is a start in rebuilding some readership, I suppose, but I think a restart after 300 is within the realm of possibility.
I mean, I have no idea. Maybe DC has a great new jumping-on point planned with issue #301 with a wonderful creative team that’s sure to get a whole bunch of new readers. This Hellblazer message board is listing fan nominations for dream creative teams for a post-300 series, including several names I’d love to see on the series myself. And when I search on the Googles for more info, the first result I find for Hellblazer #300 is, well, me. Well, specifically, reader Jeff R.’s prediction for what will happen regarding the series this year. My gut feeling is that Jeff is right…#300 will wrap up the Vertigo run, and we’ll get a New 52 version of ol’ Johnny in his own series. (I mean, aside from Justice League Dark, which he also appears in…and has been a fun read, in case you haven’t been following it.)
Like I said, I don’t know, and I haven’t been keeping up with the comic news sites lately, so it’s very possible I missed any news on this topic. And if I did, I’m sure I’ll hear about it in the comments. But I hope Hellblazer does continue its numbering past 300…when everyone else is starting over with new first issues, it feels right that Constantine would continue to be his old contrary self and buck the trends.
Michael G. suggests:
“How about a comic where crucial story-event panels are hidden behind a scratch-off coating like that used on lottery tickets? In fact I can’t believe they didn’t already try that in the early 90′s.”
You know, this idea sounds so probable, especially in the gimmick-laden comics industry of the 1990s, that I think my brain actually tricked itself into believing such a thing actually happened. …It didn’t, at least not that I’m aware of, though if I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will correct and / or remind me. But I swear, I’m sitting here thinking “I know I scratched off something in a comic book…but what? WHAT?” and I’m hoping the answer isn’t “eyes from every character’s face” because that would be a bit weird. But…I don’t know. Was there maybe some kind of contest insert that needed scratching? I have no idea, but Michael G. bringing that up really triggered a very vague sense that such a thing has happened within recent memory.
Anyway, such a coating would have to be on a thicker paper to resist tearing, like maybe on a stiff paper centerfold or, perhaps, on the inside back cover, given that the cover was sturdy enough. How much more awesome, would, say, Wild Dog (already an awesome comic) have been, had the reveal been concealed by scratchable coating? “WHO IS…WILD DOG? Scratch here with a coin or key to find out!”
It did remind me of a particular…adult entertainment card set that we carried, way back in the wild ‘n’ wooly days of the trading card boom, and well out of the reach of young’uns, in which some of the special randomly-packed insert cards did indeed feature this scratch-off technology. I Googled shameful things to bring you hyperlinked, certainly Not-Safe-for-Work proof of these cards’ existence, and here you go. …It’s about as classy as you’re expecting.
And before you mention it, no, I’m not confusing scratching off these cards for my vague memory of scratching off something comic-related. I never once applied coin-to-cardboard on those trading cards, NOT ONCE well maybe once NO I DIDN’T SHUT UP
But anyway, if DC Comics is looking for a way to make that cover for Catwoman #0 even sexier…well, you folks there can have this idea for free.
EDIT 6/15/12: Corey (Ottawa) reminds us of this G.I. Joe cover from late last year!
I suppose I should probably get around to discussing your responses to my inquiry about how folks feel regarding DC’s New 52 initiative. …Especially since, thanks to Jim, we’re up to 52 comments! Coincidence? …Nah.
I’m probably going to go through over the next day or so and respond more thoroughly to specific comments, but the first thing that I noticed was that a few people are not entirely thrilled with Action Comics thus far, citing plot or art concerns. And, I can understand that….
A PROGRESSIVE RUIN ACTION ALERT! Okay, I just deleted several rambling paragraphs about changes to the Superman franchise and how this new status quo may be interfering with Morrison’s storytelling, or at least reader interaction with same, and blah blah blah you can read what I already wrote about some of my disconnect with this New 52 Superman here. In essence, I think Morrison may have been better served picking up from where the previous Superman creative teams left off, and just telling crazy new stories with the franchise’s toys (like he did with his New X-Men run) without having to deal with these editorially-mandated alterations. Of course, “Superman’s New Costumes!” gets more real world media attention than “Mad Scottish Writer Takes Over Superman, Vows Revenge” so that probably wasn’t going to happen.
Anyway, a lot of what I wrote felt awfully dismissive of people’s reactions to the actual plotting and pacing of the stories, which I totally wasn’t intending to do, so out all that went. I do think there’d be less of a disconnect if it were stories about the Superman we knew and not the post-Flashpoint version, but that wouldn’t necessarily address any storytelling concerns folks might have. I mean, I like Morrison’s Action quite a bit, and it’s selling very well for us, but I can see where people might not be so into it. “‘Your mileage may vary,’ he clichéd.”
I do admit that I’m not sure I like how Jimmy Olsen is being drawn in Action. I prefer the “Representational Archie Andrews” version of the character.
Urgh. My struggling over even that bit of incoherent weblogging took up all my ProgRuin time tonight, and then some, so I’ll get to your specific comments and such tomorrow. Especially those terrible, terrible things being said about Swamp Thing.
…Yes, today’s post was bit of a carwreck. Please enjoy its flaming glory, and I’ll see you tomorrow.
Someday, DC Comics…
image generated at 3d-pack.com, as I was too lazy to do it myself
So we’re three issues deep on the New 52 DC titles (and onto the fourth issue for the first-weekers), and we’ve now seen how sales are shaking out for the various series. Justice League, Action Comics, Batman and Detective seem to be the big winners, at least at our shop. Animal Man and Swamp Thing were the surprise hits…and not just at our shop, so you can’t blame the Sterling Factor for the Swampy sales. (“Hey, did you get the new Swamp Thing?” “Nah, wasn’t interested.” “You should really buy it.” “I said I wasn’t….” “I’m putting it in your bag…you’re BUYING IT.”)
But now that we’re a little over three months in…how are you, as readers, liking the titles? Did some start strong for you, then sort of peter out? Or did some grab you right away and then just sort of meander their way out of your hearts and pull lists? Or did some just plain hit the spot right out of the gate, and continue to satisfy month in and month out?
In my case, I thought Justice League started weakly, but improved a bit with subsequent installments. Granted, I don’t know that we needed a “watch the team slowly assemble over several months” storyline, but it’s been enjoyable, and Wonder Woman’s introduction in #3 was a hoot.
Fury of Firestorm didn’t do anything for me at first, which may have more to do with my reaction as a longtime fan to the drastic rearranging of the character’s premise than any particular “flaw” in the book. As more issues have come out, I’m come to appreciate and enjoy the series, though my fanboy jury is still out in regards to the All-New, All-Different Cliff Carmichael.
The other book I didn’t much care for at first is Superman, which, as I noted at the time, was more exposition-dump than story, and more interesting than, you know, entertaining. And that interest stemmed from curiosity about how the New 52-version of Superman differed from the Supes we knew before…I mean, aside from the terrible costume. Again, as more issues have come out, things have improved slightly and the direction of the story is a little more clear. However, I still can’t shake the feeling that we’re not reading stories about the real Superman, but rather some Elseworlds/parallel universe version, which, I suppose, we are, in a way. (And perhaps it seems even more removed to those folks who think the mid-’80s reboot Superman is an imposter.)
Swamp Thing I am still enjoying, naturally, though I do wish a bit that they’d swamp or get off the pot already and get Alec Holland back into Swamp Thing-form. Yes, I know, they’re leading up to it…I’m just being impatient.
That was probably the worst thing I had to say about the New 52 books I’m following…the ones I didn’t care for I dropped right away (Mister Terrific – just didn’t like the writing or art; Justice League International – nothing about it really grabbed me). So, overall, aside from those two, the New 52 titles I started with in September I’ve either continued to enjoy or have moved from “eh” to “okay, I’m enjoying it now” – in the latter case either the books actually have improved or my taste is declining, and there are solid arguments for both possibilities.
Just for the record, here are the New 52 titles I’m reading: Action, Animal Man, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Justice League, Justice League Dark, O.M.A.C., Red Lanterns, Superman, and Swamp Thing. …Gee, looks like a lot when I write ‘em out like that. Also, for someone who sure complains about multiple titles for the same franchise, I sure do read a lot of Green Lantern series.
Anyway, please let me know in the comments…how are you feeling about the new DC books you’re reading thus far? Have they improved? Have you dropped any? Have any surprised you? Isn’t O.M.A.C. the greatest? GIVE ME INPUT.
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