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So I was going to write about…

§ June 23rd, 2016 § Filed under star wars, this week's comics § 2 Comments

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…the fact that the Force Awakens comic book adaptation is coming out now, long after the theatrical release and the home video release, theorizing as to why, etc., but it turns out the answer is apparently just “hey, it happened when it happened.”

On the Twittererers, @bensonmic let me know that Jordan D. White, one of the folks behind Marvel’s Star Wars funnybooks, indicated on his own Twitter and/or Tumblr that it just wasn’t something they were prioritizing. I went on the endless scroll through Mr. White’s Tumblr, not finding that particular post but certainly appreciating the man’s nearly endless patience for some of the fan interactions he was…enjoying. But anyway, the aforementioned @bensonmic later sent me the link to the actual post in question, put up last Christmas:

“The comic book adaptations of movies have not been as big of a thing since the advent of home video. Back when, getting a comic was one of the only ways to reexperience the story of the film when it was out of theatres. Now, you can own the film relatively soon after, so it’s less imperative to get the adaptation out right away. If we do one, we can take the time to do the comic as accurately and awesomely as we can.”

Which of course makes complete sense. I even said the same thing on this site…guh, eleven years ago, which is a mindset I’m still in, and that’s why I’m always surprised when a new movie adaptation comes out. Mostly, it’s just Marvel adapting previous installments of their superhero films before the next film comes out (like the Captain America: Civil War Prelude from late 2015/early 2016, which adapted 2013’s Iron Man 3 and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

But still, the Force Awakens comic feels like bit of an anomaly, but hey, what do I know, it came out this Wednesday and it sold just fine, so clearly there’s an audience for it. And, um, I got it too, since I’m pretty much in the bag for all things Star Warsian (at least as it pertains to the characters I grew up with, and not, say, novels set 10,000 years before A New Hope and featuring Jedi Master Tu Ma’nee Apos’troph’ez versus Darth Menacingname). And even though I know it’s a five-parter, it felt like the film’s story was so compressed in the opening pages I briefly wondered if this adaptation was a one-shot.

I mean, yeah, it’s probably an entirely unnecessary comic, given that most of us interested enough in actually buying it almost certainly owns the film itself in the format of one’s choice. But there are some nice illustrative moments, and the adaptation of the script is fine, and let’s face it, if there wasn’t a comic book version of Episode VII, it would certainly be noticeable by its absence. “Star Wars movie comic” is just one of those constants of the industry, present whether you want it or not.

So now there are two different comics called Flash: Rebirth to go with the two different Flashpoint series.

§ June 8th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments

SPOILERS AHEAD

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So this is the first Flash comic I’ve bought in…six years, I guess? Since the previous Flash: Rebirth and a couple of issues of the follow-up regular series, at least. I just decided, at that point, that I’ve read enough Flash comics, and was a bit put off that franchise anyway due to starting/relaunching/returning to the old numbering at about that time. Plus, having discarded Wally West (the previous Kid Flash, who had taken over his mentor’s mantle) and going back to Barry Allen as the Flash seemed very…retrograde, particularly after a couple of decades of Wally as the Flash and the then-deceased Barry as the ideal Wally always tried to live up to – a scenario that worked very well, I thought. Of course, all those botched re-relaunches killed whatever sales momentum the Flash franchise had, necessitating some desperate measures…in this case, bringing back the character who was one of the two big deaths from Crisis on Infinite Earths.

That said, there were a couple things here that at least got me to try out this new Flash: Rebirth #1. First, there was DC Universe: Rebirth, which brought back the old, pre-New 52 Wally West, stuck in the Speed Force and trying to find some touchstone to bring him back to Earth. The touching scene between him and his uncle Barry was quite effective, I thought, and I wanted to see more of that relationship, as well as where things were going to lead with the larger metaplot of “Just What Is The Deal with This New 52 Universe, Anyway?” And yes, we do get a little bit of both, though it doesn’t go much farther than what we’ve already seen in that Rebirth one-shot from a couple of weeks ago, but it is, at least partially, from Barry’s perspective. I don’t know if we’ll see much of said metaplot when the Flash series proper starts up, but it looks like it might continue over in a Teen Titans, based on what happens here.

Now I don’t know if my interest in the series will continue outside of this larger picture subplot stuff, but it at least got me to pick up an issue of The Flash again for the first time in forever. I see that the book, at least in part, reflects the TV show (or perhaps the other way around…again, haven’t read it in a while) in that Barry’s father is present in an advisory/support position, and that his situation (framed for the death of Barry’s mom) is also similar. Now, some of the groundwork for this way be in the original 2010 Rebirth mini, but man, I don’t remember now. Regardless, it’s a nice familiar touchstone for anyone coming to this title new who may only know the TV show, especially given the larger DC Universe Event hoohar that’s also thrown in.

Other new books:

Action Comics #957 – the old numbering is back, which is nice. But speaking of DC Universe Event Hoohar, the background to everything going on in this Superman book is a lot to take in. The New 52 Superman died, with the Superman from the pre-New 52 universe, who has been hiding out in the New 52 universe for years raising his son Jonathan with his wife Lois, taking his place, and I’m assuming the eventual payoff to this, once the other shoe from this Rebirth event drops, is some kind of “streamlining” of the DC Universe reality so that there’s always been just one Superman. In the meantime, as odd a set-up as that sounds, it actually all works in context, and it’s quite the interesting hook for Superman adventures, at least for the time being. It helps that Dan Jurgens, one of the main contributors to Superman over the last couple of decades, is on board as the writer. It feels like the old Superman (well, okay, the post-1986 John Byrne reboot Superman) versus the New 52 Universe, which is going to be the recurring theme as this all plays out, I guess.

Popeye #47 – still reprinting Bud Sagendorf comics from the 1950s. No idea how this reprint project has lasted so long, but I’m so glad it did.

Daredevil #8 – okay, I’m no Daredevil historian, but I’m pretty sure this issue does things (or rather, doesn’t do things) with his powers that haven’t been seen in a Daredevil comic before. Very clever.

Wacky Raceland #1 – you got me, I haven’t read this yet, but I’ve enjoyed the Hanna Barbera revamps so far, so I’m willing to give this one a shot. A quick glance through the book shows a somewhat more extreme take than either Future Quest or Scooby Apocalypse, so I’m not entirely sure how this is going to go, but you certainly can’t fault that terrific Tommy Lee Edwards “Penelope Pitstop” cover, which the variant I decided to take:

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Anyway, I have a feeling this comic is going to be the hardest sell of the new HB lot, but we’ll see.

In which I complain about spoilers before getting into spoilers.

§ May 25th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, this week's comics § 10 Comments

In regards to my previous post, pal Andrew had his own take on the decline of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and makes a cogent argument that it wasn’t necessarily Zero Hour what done the deed.

And hey, blogging brother Tim has also opened the floor to questions, so while you’re waiting for me to finish answering what you’ve asked me, why not pick Tim’s brain?

BIG SPOILERS FOLLOWING for DC Universe Rebirth #1 (like you don’t know ’em already) and…well, I don’t really spoil Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

So anyway, about this:

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First, I’m not thrilled about full spoilers for this comic getting spread all over the place days before it’s even available for sale. Comics can be a hard enough sell already, without removing yet one more incentive for buying. “What shocking surprises await within? Well, read this website and find out…save yourself buying the comic.” Gee, thanks guys, not like I didn’t order a pile of these for my shelves.

There are a couple of things that keep this from being entirely disastrous, saleswise. It could be that said spoilers might encourage people to pick up the comic, in a “I gotta see this” kind of way. Not to mention, actually reading the comic is an entirely different experience from reading a list of plot points. And there’s the fact that it’s 80 pages of comics for $2.99, which is a swell deal, though I suppose the more critically-minded may be of the “the food was terrible, but such great portions!” opinion on the matter.

Plus, there’s the fact that, believe it or not (and as I’ve mentioned on my site before) some people going to comic shops aren’t plugged into every social network and comic website, and their engagement with comic news begins and ends with walking into the comic shop, looking at the rack and picking out their books, and walking out again. Oh, and reading them eventually, too, I guess.

Anyway, I enjoyed the comic, and hopefully my customers will, too. Oddly enough, it’s actually strangely touching at one point, when a character who’s returned from the pre-New 52 universe finally connects with one of the rebooted characters. It’s probably as emotionally affecting as it is because it’s not just that we’re seeing these two characters reuniting, but that the fictional universe we readers thought was washed away forever may have a chance at coming back. Yes, that’s a silly thing to get emotional over, but I’m not made of stone.

I know DC has tried to walk back, or at least refurbish, revamps/reboots before…Kingdom and “Hypertime” being the most notable line-wide attempt at doing so. That the New 52/Flashpoint reboot was so obviously a last-minute decision, with the cracks showing almost immediately, the overall story premise of “Rebirth” being a pushback against a timeline purposefully inflicted by unknown parties upon the DCU certainly brings all these shenanigans to an almost metatextual level. That these parties appear to be the characters from Watchmen, one of the sources of the “grim/realistic” superhero trend that “Rebirth” appears to be rebuffing…well, no danger of subtlety of theme here, I suppose.

And speaking of which…holy crap, they’re using the Watchmen characters in a DC Universe thing. And not in a dream sequence, either. My guess is the same as when “Before Watchmen” was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world — Watchmen TP sales are moribund, and this is a way of spurring interest in the book again. Or maybe someone figured, hey, what the hell, this will get everyone’s attention, and lo, they were right.

Yes, yes, I suppose I should be angry about the violation of the sanctity of a classic work, but I have to tell you, I laughed and laughed. Partially because I’m amused by the idea of, I don’t know, Batman vs. Rorschach or something, and partially because I love seeing everyone else’s reaction to it. Anyway, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m sure I’m a bad person for thinking so.

Seriously, though, this whole “New 52 was an attack on the DCU” thing is a weird but interesting way of dealing with continuity issues, and would be quite clever if it were the planned outcome of the New 52 way back when, and not just a way to directly address a rushed reboot that didn’t quite take. This Rebirth one-shot is still an entertaining read for the continuity-minded superhero fan, a snapshot of where the DCU is now, what brought us here, what problems need to be resolved, and the sheer hilarious gall of bringing Watchmen into it. That’s gotta be worth your $2.99.

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And you guys had to go and try to spoil this story for everyone, too! CAN WE NOT HAVE NICE THINGS

In which I admire Marvel’s restraint.

§ February 18th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments

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The transition from self-contained gag-oriented issues to ongoing occasionally humorous soap opera seems to have been generally a successful one as far as sales go, at least at my shop. However, the comic now sells almost exclusively to adults, whereas the classic version…well, also sold almost exclusively to adults, just in lesser numbers. One thing I’ve noticed over the decades is, despite having dedicated sections of children’s comics with plenty of younger clientele in two different stores, the regular monthly (or so) Archie comics have gradually become harder sells to actual kids. That’s not to say I never had any younger customers for Archie, but they were few and far between. I think I first realized there was a problem during one of my regular bulk comic sales to a local library, when my contact person at said library requested I send them no Archie comics. “They just don’t circulate,” she lamented. Quite the change from my long-ago librarian days, when we had subscriptions to multiple Archie titles.

None of this applies to the Archie digests, which I can still sell to kids just fine. And I certainly don’t mean to criticize these New Look Archie comics, which I think are pretty good. Just…well, like Marvel and DC, Archie had to age with its audience in order to keep up their sales. It’s a tough market, and with decades-old characters as your primary product, you’ve got to do what you can to keep them viable.

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I know the writer on this comic takes a lot grief and inspires some significant eye-rolling, usually for good reason, and I can’t say there wasn’t any of that going on in just this series alone. But, there were some interesting takes on Young Clark Kent here and there that you certainly wouldn’t find in the classic Silver Age Superboy stories, and I think this functions just fine as an alternate version of Superman’s younger years. No idea if this is intended as “canon” or not, which hardly matters nowadays since superhero canon lifespans are generally measured in the months between reboots/relaunches.

This particular issue has Journalism Student Clark meeting several future friends and enemies in the context of “exclusive interviews,” showing Clark different takes on growing into a hero, as well as what he will face when he finally does become one himself…leading into a final confrontation that, while in hindsight certainly should have seen coming, genuinely caught me off guard with its intensity. That’s hard to do to a guy who’s read about a million Superman comics. And it’s all beautifully illustrated with Jae Lee’s strong but delicate linework…boy, Lee’s work just continues to impress me. This issue was probably the best of the run so far.

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The Star Wars line continues to do well, even as the new movie nears the end of its theatrical run. It’s nice that there hasn’t been an oversaturation just yet…three ongoing series and a rotating fourth spot for minis seems to be working out just fine. Given their sales, I’m honestly surprised Marvel hasn’t canned its lower-selling superhero titles and filled their slots with Ugnaught Adventures and Lobot, P.I. and another dozen-or-so titles any of which I would happily write, but I am glad that Marvel…Marvel…for once let the goose live to continue laying golden eggs. …Okay, none of this specifically addresses the book pictured above, which kicks off a new storyline based around a Rebel prison, which at least gives us a new location in the Star Warsian universe, unlike some sequels I could name. Leinil Yu joins up as penciller, continuing the current tradition of swell artists on this series. It all looks and feels like good old fashioned Star Wars adventure, which may not be cutting edge groundbreaking comics, but it’s entertaining all the same.

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C’mon, it’s a new Love and Rockets. You don’t need me to sell you on this. Just get it already. (And yeah, it’s not technically “this week’s comics,” since it came out last week. It’s my site, I’ll do what I want.)

Seriously. Just call him “Captain Shazam.” That would be okay.

§ November 12th, 2015 § Filed under this week's comics § 6 Comments

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This was fun while it lasted…Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier and pals using the “Justice League” concept to pull together whatever characters they felt like for a couple of issues of wild adventure, before moving on to the next grouping of heroes. This last storyline, mixing up DC’s WWI and WWII characters with modern superheroes, was a hoot, and totally summed up by a line of dialogue on the two-page spread featuring all the characters charging into action: “This is pretty freaking cool.” Unfortunately the series is a victim of Too Many Justice Leagues, and something had to go. Too bad, this book had really turned around and was beginning to pick up readers again.

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Speaking of Justice Leagues, the premiere New 52 title is in the midst of its Darkseid storyline, and here are a whole bunch of one-shots featuring our heroes in the midst of having become “New Gods” themselves. Actually more fun than it sounds, and these one-shots are probably better at presenting the changes in these characters than the main JL comic itself. This one in particular, featuring Shazam, is completely bonkers, as Shazam has been cut off from the gods that originally provided his powers and is introduced to the new pantheon of beings supplying his current abilities. It’s a bunch of craziness, and while the abrasive personality of this New 52 version of Billy Batson certainly grates, the story just powers along from god to god, each of whom are just kind of jerky to Billy, and it’s pretty amazing. Also, I still hate that he’s called “Shazam” now…I understand why, but I don’t have to like it.

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Yeah, I know who wrote it. It was still…not too bad. The story of young Clark Kent adjusting to his powers is a good idea, though the true horror of a super-powered child has been explored in alarming fashion already. If you liked that bit in Man of Steel with Clark’s burgeoning powers overwhelming him at school, here comes seven issues of it. The frequent “anime faces” take some getting used to, and some of the plot contrivances are a tad eye-rolling (Clark’s flight in front of witnesses explained away as a “gas pocket” exploding), but overall it’s a pleasant enough read. I do like the introduction of the concept that some other citizens of Smallville just by necessity know about Clark’s abilities, and hopefully we’ll see how that plays out over future issues.

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I meant to say something about the first volume of The Bus from some time back, reprinting that most enigmatic and surreal of strips about an older gentleman, a bus, and the occasional confluence of the two, that I primarily remember from old Heavy Metal mags. Well, here’s volume two, with new strips about those very same things, still done with the most exacting linework, and the most bizarre circumstances therein. I haven’t done more than flip through it yet, but it looks like The Bus hasn’t lost any bit of what made it so special since it originally ceased running in the ’80s.

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This cover is perfection. I would read the comic this cover is presenting, but of course it’s just a variant. Too bad.

Eventually we’ll get a one-shot starring the three-eyed fish, and I will read that like my life depended on it.

§ September 7th, 2015 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, this week's comics § 3 Comments


So I put out my bafflement on the Twitters yesterday afternoon, wondering why this comic was still being polybagged enough though the content was hardly warranting it. Yes, previously there was the childbirth issue, and the all-violence issue, but to the best of my recollection there’s nothing in issues yet to be reprinted that require that plastic protection from prying eyes.

As I discussed this with pals, it occurred to me that Miracleman is still branded under the Marvel imprint, and still has a “MATURE READERS” slug on the cover. That’s probably “why the polybag,” as opposed to Marvel’s other much more adult-y type titles like Powers, which are published under separate imprints like “Icon.” Like I said, I don’t think there’s anything particularly parent-shocking coming up, unless Gaiman and Buckingham have an “ALL-NUDE SPECIAL!” planned once they start doing new stories again.

And speaking of which, I’m sure somebody’s glad they can start crediting the actual writer now, since Alan Moore didn’t want his name attached to the previous reprints. Should make it easier to market once those new stories do start showing up. …Man, new Miracleman stories. Hard to believe they’re so close now. Big news for those of us who’ve been waiting decades for this to continue.


The thing I keep hearing is “the new creative team of Daredevil is going to have a hard time following that,” and yes, the Waid/Samnee/etc. run was a good’un. It got me to read Daredevil for the first time in a long time, probably since…the Kevin Smith run, I think? I know, I know, everyone’s all “ACK! KEVIN SMITH!” now but those were pretty good, too. But back to my original point…yes, the new creative team is going to have a rough go winning folks over, but this is Charles Soule writing the new series. Soule, who seems to impress with nearly everything he writes. Who is also a lawyer. Who excels at writing lawyerin’-type stories, as seen in She-Hulk. And seeing as how Daredevil’s day job is “lawyer,” I think everything’s going to be just fine.


I could have sworn this was a four-issue series, but nope, there’s a number 5 on that cover, so I guess I read all five issues and, um, it was fine, I guess. It’s the only Secret Wars tie-in I followed, what with it following up on Peter David’s plotlines from his initial run on Incredible Hulk (and the previous Future Imperfect mini with George Perez). Even if the book felt stretched a little thin (hence my surprise that it was a five-issue series), it was still fun to revisit the characters. There were a couple of clever twists along the way, but even if the ending was of a type we’ve seen often enough before, it did manage to strongly underscore the inherent tragedy and, well, patheticness (shut up, it’s a word) of the Hulk character, especially in this series’s role as the Maestro.


Just wanted to mention again that I love these character-specific Simpsons one-shots. Bongo could almost literally do these forever, what with The Simpsons having one of the most amazing supporting casts in television history. (Maybe they could…NAH.)

These one-shots usually have some kind of gimmick insert, like stickers and such. I hope the eventual Ned Flanders one-shot has a Jack Chick-esque tract stapled inside.

You’d think my face would be used to egg by now.

§ June 25th, 2015 § Filed under superman, this week's comics § 8 Comments

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So it occurred to me a few days ago, in regards to all my griping about the order in which this “Truth” storyline in the Superman books is playing out, that what we’re getting in the forthcoming Superman #41 (the issue readers were referred to in Action #41, the actual first part of “Truth” to hit the stands) is backstory intentionally deferred until after the in media res chapters we’ve already seen. And now that I’ve seen the issue, that’s more or less what happened, though, well…here’s what the original solicitation says for Superman #41:

“The epic new storyline ‘TRUTH’ continues with the debut of the amazing new creative team of new writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and continuing artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson! What will happen when the big secret is revealed?”

Okay, the storyline continues, so I was wrong about this issue being delayed and thus “the first chapter” of this storyline being skipped with following chapters being released. The egg is in my face, as the saying goes. “The big secret is revealed” in a way, though not how we expected, in that someone knows, but it’s not the big “here’s how the world found out!” reveal everyone was assuming would happen in this issue. And you know what they say about assuming…it makes an “ass” out of “you,” and, um, somebody else, I think…slips my mind at the moment.

The editorial aside to Superman’s reference in Action #41 to having a couple of “crazy weeks,” asking readers to see the then-forthcoming Superman #41 for details, certainly gave me the impression that this would be the issue where the secret I.D. hits the fan, but I was wrong again. Instead, it looks like this will be the book where it catches us up on what happened, while the other Super-books give us the “current” adventures. Don’t know if my previous assumptions were from misdirection or outright being misled, but I’ve been enjoying this particular direction of the franchise so far, so I guess I’ll just have to deal with it.

I am curious, plotwise, how they’re going to get this particular genie back in the bottle without “magic” or “Brainiac wipes everyone’s memory” or some other similarly cheaty fashion. I know the general meandering direction of the genre has been kinda/sorta away from the secret identity concept, but it still holds firm in some parts. I doubt Superman, the archetypal example of this particular trope, will be left without his Clark Kent for long, but it’s interesting in the meantime.

Maybe not more than Archie’s R/C Racers.

§ June 17th, 2015 § Filed under this week's comics § 6 Comments


It’s a weird thing when you have a second title start up that essentially duplicates the first title, which probably seems like an outdated commentary in an industry that throws a half-dozen Avengers or Batman titles on the new comics shelves at regular intervals. It just seems a little stranger here with a new Justice League title that’s featuring the same team that’s in the already-existing Justice League title, as part of a franchise that, historically, would at least present different casts across the various series. The promise of “massive widescreen action” almost implies a mild criticism of the other title, which doesn’t give you said “massive widescreen action.” The other novelty is that it’s tied to the vision of a particular creator, though as soon as that creator leaves that novelty is gone, leaving the title either to cancellation (i.e. Superman Unchained) or focusing on the vision of Another Big Name Creator, or just becoming a second regular monthly Justice League book, indistinguishable from the other.

Again, probably a dumb complaint in this brave new-ish comics world of Every Character or Team Stars in Two Titles or More, but there it is. This first issue was pretty good, however. It certainly delivers on the “widescreen action,” as promised.
 
 


This is almost even more…perverse (but not in a bad way…lemme ‘splain) than its line-crossing cousin Afterlife with Archie, in that it straight-up looks like an Archie comic. Afterlife at least is visually distinct from the rest of the Archie line, both covers and contents. Archie Versus Predator, at first glance, looks just like other Archies, at least inside (the cover pictured above is just one of the several variants available, and the only one that resembles traditional Archie). I do like that Archie is fully willing to do peculiar things with their bread-and-butter properties, probably inspired by the need to more firmly establish themselves in the direct market…hence Afterlife, the Sharknado crossover, another attempt at New Look Archie, and this very series I’m talkin’ about here. The comic is a hoot, though given that this comic contains a significantly larger amount of blood and exposed spines than most Archie titles, I’d definitely keep it out of the hands of young’uns. And for God’s sake, if you’re a store, keep it off the kids rack! Assuming you have a kids rack.
 
 

Hard to believe this series is just about done…only two volumes to go, and it was just announced that the final book will include Schulz’s early pre-Peanuts “Li’l Folks” strips! Of note is the introduction for this current volume pictured here, written by a couple of fellas from Rifftrax, which includes a few riffed strips from the founders of Rifftrax, former Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast members Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy. A brief sample:


It reminds me of that long-ago missed opportunity when the MST3K gang were to delve into the world of comics, but cutbacks at Acclaim canned the book. (And I see the name of a certain stuffed bull‘s pal mentioned in that long-ago Usenet posting!)
 
 

Yet another installment in the ongoing saga of Superman’s No Longer Secret Identity that has yet to see the publication of the first part. A little annoying, yes, but I’ve been actually enjoying the story thus far…it’s a direction that the New 52 Superman needed, one where the character could be explored on its own merits rather than sloppily slapped together as something New and Different and Exciting!
 
 

I’m totally in the bag for the Minions, those cute little critters from the Despicable Me films (and their own movie, coming soon to a theater near you), so I thought I’d take a look at this little ol’ funnybook here. And surprise, it’s beautifully illustrated, with one-page mostly pantomime gag strips and a surprisingly detailed and hard-on-my-aging-eyes two-page spread of their secret underground lair. A couple of the gags are on the hokey side (oh no, the Minions are painting the floor and they ended up trapping themselves in the center of the room!) but I’m sure there’s a kid out there somewhere for whom those jokes are completely new. And it all looks so nice it’s hard to hold that against it.

Bit late to the whole “Shazam” name-change thing.

§ June 5th, 2015 § Filed under retailing, this week's comics § 6 Comments

A couple of questions popped up in the comments to my last post:

From Thelonious_Nick:

“Here’s something I’ve long wondered: Why are so many variant covers so much more awesome than the regular covers for that issue? If the company really wants to sell more comics, shouldn’t they make the variant cover into the actual cover, and make the boring one the variant?”

I’ve wondered about that myself once or twice over the course of this here weblog — on one occasion wondering why some Star Trek comic decided to use the amazing Gorn photo cover for the limited variant instead of slapping that sucker on the regular edition and selling a ton of copies. The answer is almost certainly aimed at enticing retailers into ordering more copies, which for some publishers may be a safer bet than hoping enough readers will be attracted by the better cover. A retailer orders a certain number of a book, sees a cool-looking variant cover that s/he could get for the shop if orders were raised just a smidgen to a particular sales plateau, and bumps orders up accordingly.

Same goes for those comics that have five, six, a dozen different covers, that are all equally available for order by retailers. They’re not necessarily there in the hopes that customers will buy one of each cover (though that does happen, of course). They’re there to get higher initial order numbers from retailers. Instead of ordering 10 copies of one available cover of Mistress Bikini-Armor #1, a retailer might instead order two each of all six variants for Mistress Bikini-Armor #1, just to make sure there’s enough available of each variant to meet theoretical demand. It’s not much of a bump, probably, but in this marketplace every little bit helps.

From d:

“So how did Convergence and its various tie-ins sell, now that it’s all over? How do you think it will compare with Secret Wars?”

Overall, it did…okay, I think. Some tie-ins did especially well (like the Shazam! one) and some just didn’t do anything for me (many of the Justice League-related titles sold far less than expected). The actual Convergence series itself actually sold very well, surprisingly for a weekly series. In the end, maybe a shorter main series and fewer tie-ins while not putting everything else on hold may have been preferable, but I didn’t seem to experience any kind of decline in revenue while the event proceeded (despite some sky-is-falling scaremongering by certain online gossips).

Compared to Secret Wars, Convergence seemed to lack some measure of cohesion and direction, beyond “here are a bunch of cities from parallel Earths crammed together on one planet, and they have to fight each other to see who survives.” The upshot of the series is that it…undoes Crisis on Infinite Earths which had already been undone, I think, or otherwise just ignored, and, well…maybe if the series had been a more focused 4-part mini instead of a bloated repeating-the-points 9-parter, we might have been better off. In addition, I think Marvel managed to push Secret Wars as something Marvel fans had to read, explicitly tied to the Marvel Universe’s overall continuity, whereas Convergence never really felt like more than “here’s something you might want to read for a couple of months, we hope.” However, I do appreciate that the creators of the series managed to trick DC fans into reading what was essentially a Warlord comic for an issue.

Speaking of Shazam, as I was just a couple of paragraphs back (go ahead, check, I’ll wait) here’s one thing I had noted on the Twitterers the other day:


I’d love to see more only slightly-tangentially related to the wider DC Universe Captain Marvel adventures like in Convergence and Multiversity (and both series showed how the Shazam Family can play nice with other superhero milieus without losing the ol’ Shazam charm), instead of seeing the Big Red Cheese squeezed into the grittier ‘n’ darker comics where he never quite fits in. I know the temptation is to contrast Cap’s innocence with the “real world” of the regular DCU (like in this week’s Justice League, where Cap is distraught at having seen a dead body for the first time…hey, kids, comics!) but it would be nice to have him star in, and be the hero of, his own series, instead of the odd-man-out that he almost always is everywhere else.

I suspect once the always-forthcoming Shazam movie finally does come, and if it’s successful, it’ll establish which tone the comics will follow. Probably more “New 52” and less “C.C. Beck,” if I were to hazard a guess.

And yeah, I keep calling him “Cap” or “Captain Marvel,” the name he retains in the retro-style Convergence and Multiversity comics, but as since been discarded in favor of being called “Shazam!” for ease-of-licensing-and-market-exploitation-that-doesn’t-conflict-with-Marvel-Comics purposes. I mean, I can understand why DC would want that change, and it looks like they wrote around the old Marvel Family issue of characters who can’t say their own names without switching back to normal humans. But “Shazam” as a name just by itself seems nonsensical…”hey man, why are you called ‘Shazam’?” “Well, it’s the magic word I use to turn into a superhero! The ‘S’ is for ‘Solomon,’ the ‘H’ is for Herc…hey, where are you going?” Personally, I would have gone with “Captain Shazam,” so at least you could still call the character “Cap” or “The Captain” and retain some connection to the Captain Marvel of old. That wouldn’t be any more ridiculous a name than, say, “Batman.” But nobody asked me. Nobody ever asks me. (sigh)

• • •

In completely unrelated news, I was convinced to read the new Airboy #1 from Image that came out this week, in which creators James Robinson and Greg Hinkle tell a story of themselves trying to come up with an angle on an Airboy reboot. SPOILERS AHEAD: Horrible things are done over the course of the story, with drink, drugs, sex, and more drugs, while the creators, Robinson especially, uncomfortably assess their comic-creating careers. It’s probably the last thing you’d expect in an Airboy comic, and probably some 80-year-old somewhere is really pissed off that this was done in a comic named after his favorite comic book character, but it really is a compelling read. And, if you’ve read ahead to solicitations for future issues, you already know that by the end of the comic, somehow Airboy himself appears to Robinson and Hinkle, disgusted by their debauchery.

And what that reminded me of was this comic:


Airboy and Mr. Monster (1987), another comic where an apparent apparition of Airboy appears to help a comic creator through a time of trouble. In this case, it’s the fictional Everett Coleman, whose failed career and torment by some of the evil characters he’s drawn over the years eventually leads to other characters he’s drawn coming his assistance…including Airboy. Now, Airboy is just one of an army of characters who pop up in this book, making the implied team-up of the characters in the title only just technically correct. It’s still amusing that Airboy, of all characters, has now been used twice in these mildly similar fashions.

Special “Retailer Trying to Figure How Many to Order of Each Cover” Variant Cover Month!

§ June 3rd, 2015 § Filed under retailing, this week's comics § 6 Comments


And here comes another month of people seeing the variant covers and thinking one thing and requiring me to explain “no, no, it’s just a variant…the cover image doesn’t reflect the contents.” So, sorry, kids, no Superman versus Joker, no Joker wearing Green Lantern’s ring, no Joker pierced with Green Arrow’s arrows, etc. etc. Also, despite the actual story in this comic taking place after the events in Superman #41, despite Superman #41 being referenced in a footnote in this story, you didn’t miss Superman #41 since it’s not coming out ’til the 24th of this month. Just for your information. …The comic does do a very good job of making you curious about just what did…er, will happen in Superman #41, however. It’s a weird mix of the story being very outside the typical Superman formula, but feeling like it builds on the Superman we know, rather than the “let’s do Superman, but different!” throwing-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks that characterized most of Superman’s New 52 existence.
 
 

We’re getting three Star Wars comics this week…the regular series, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia. That’s a bit much, almost Avengers-esque in its scheduling, but I do have an awful lot of customers who are interested in just the Star Wars books, so getting all three at once won’t be that much of a burden. I don’t know if I’ve said it on my site already, but the timing and success of the Star Wars books vis-a-vis the opening of my own shop was very fortuitous: the release of the new titles driving new customers into shops, causing them to seek out and find my store, was a strong financial influx just when my young store needed it. In fact, at one point I had double-reordered the first Darth Vader by accident, to which I reacted with “I’m never going to sell all of these.” Of course, they sold out and now I wish I’d triple-reordered them.
 
 

I don’t have a dog in the Secret Wars race, and while I appreciate the strong sales on this series and most of its tie-ins, but I don’t have any particular interest in it (but I’m still getting this). Which is fine…nobody can be a fan of everything, and I’m certainly not against it by any means. Between this and Convergence, though, that did leave me trying to figure out order numbers on a bunch of oddball titles at about the same time I’m still trying to suss out the buying habits of my new customer base, and believe you me, my friends, that took all of my comic book retailer super-powers to tackle that particular task. But I’m mostly managing, with a couple of hiccups (who knew people would want that Ultimate End comic, after years of Ultimate comics just not selling). But anyway, I did buy that Future Imperfect tie-in, because it’s Peter David revisiting that old mini-series of his that I enjoyed so much. I guess the Maestro (the evil future Hulk, for those of you who don’t know) has also popped up in David’s recent Spider-Man 2099 run, so I guess I’ll have to look into those, too.

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