Saturday, November 30, 2013

Infinity by Hickman vs Uncanny Avengers #14 by Remender

Marvel has become the king of the epic story telling. No longer are they content with decompressed six part stories and writing for the trade, Hickman now writes stories for the Omnibus. The Game of Thrones success has probably emboldened writers to go for the epic. The Odyssey is now the standard for short stories. The difference is that as I read Game of Thrones (on book 4 at this point) characters die and they are not coming back in the next issue. Once Ned Stark is beheaded his story is over. In comic books a death is just something to mark the occasion as it were. It can be a big climax scene, a precursor to future stories, but we know in a year or three when the character is needed they will be revived in some way shape or form.

This week Hickman’s Infinity mini-series came to a close, bringing to a conclusion parts of some story lines and in the same week in Uncanny Avengers #14 three old time Marvel characters bit the dust. In my view the single issue of Uncanny Avengers #14 was a lot better then Hickman magus opus.

Infinity ends and the Avengers and many others beat back the Builders who were destroying the Universe. They then come home to Earth and are being beaten by Thanos. That is of course until his son beats him and then flies off to be the next generation of Thanos; his son Thane. Thane (sound like saying Shane with a lisp) apparently will be worse then his Dad. After 10 issues or more of Avengers, about 6 issues of New Avengers and six issues of the actual mini-series what exactly happened. Well the characters Hickman introduced when he took over Avengers are now defeated and some are back to work rebuilding all the worlds destroyed. All the former Empires in the Galaxy are back up and running and Earth is saved. Except in New Avengers Earth is still in danger of being wiped out as Black Swan laughs off what the Avengers accomplished as next to nothing. And wait, the Inhumans have loosed the Terrigen Mist on earth.

Okay so for about $100 retail, essentially nothing happened and it is all setting up the Inhumans. Apparenty they are the next set of mutants because Marvel does not own the X-Men for the movies and need a franchise to use as surrogate X-Men for the movies. No explanation that I picked up (and granted I’m reading a ton of stuff and do not follow the Avengers in great detail) made sense for why all of a sudden we have branches of Inhumans all over the Earth or why Black Bolt decided to loose the mists worldwide. Also the entire battle against the builders is already been shown to be a thing of the past and no repercussions even in comic book terms happened. Worse the real menace is still building as Hickman drones on and on in New Avengers. I can’t follow this guy anymore at Marvel. I was unable to hang on to Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four and now have to kick Avengers to the curb. Hickman has some great ideas, some very cool moments and is now being blessed with top tier artists, but the books are a mile wide and an inch deep. What happened that changed anything? All stories do not have to have some game changing moment, but a $100 epic should.

On the other hand Remender, who is guilty of the long long story form also, manages to make a single issue in his epic stand out as a great stand alone issue. Oh the deaths are not super important as they will be fixed down the road or next issue, but it was about Wanda, Wonder Man and Rouge. The characters and the way they feel were front and center in the midst of telling a greater story. Hickman never builds his characters as it is about the ideas and not the people. All stories have to be about the people and Remender made me feel like he actually cared about the characters.

A small side bar to end this column, back Remender with Black Science and Hickman with East of West are doing their best stuff with creator owned books at Image. I get that the Marvel check is important and a great job for these guys, but for my money these books are more fun. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why DC Has Killed The Love of Comic Books

I asked both Gwen and Jamie to give me their thoughts on what has happened in general to their love of comic books as both of my daughters are now grown and have started families of their own. I waited and waited but Gwen’s schedule never allowed her to be able to give any input to me. Jamie managed to squeeze out the time to give me her feedback.

My continual rants about how the new DCU has pushed me over the edge with super hero books may sound like a one note complaint, except for the fact that both of my daughters have lost interest also. So the fifty plus crowd losing interest maybe one thing the 24-34 year old market is another. With further ado or prelude Jamie’s thoughts on the matter.

The first book I ever remember reading was a comic book. I don’t remember what issue, but I do remember some of the details. It was a Detective Comics book and Joker (surprisingly) was attacking Batman. I found the issue in our basement and I remember being delighted that I could figure out the basic words on my own. It must have been familiar to me, as my father regularly read us Batman comics as bedtime stories. The pictures were exciting and the voices he used to reflect the various characters compelling captured my sister and my intent interest. Is it any wonder we both grew nostalgically attached to the DC Universe.
            Yet, this wasn’t the only reason for the attachment. I was born in 1986, and for those that remember DC universe history this was a huge period for character development and epic story arcs. I was born the same year the Crisis story arc came to completion. I worked in my father’s store during the build-up and fall-out of Zero hour. I worked in my father’s store during the Death of Superman. I worked in my father’s store when Batman’s back was broken. I saw the story of the speed force completely revamp the nature of DC’s speedsters and change them from individuals to a family. I fell in love with the golden age heroes as they returned from the parallel world they had been sent to and were given a mini-series that still reigns as an all-time favorite.  I even wrote my first letter to DC at the age of seven after being devastated by the death of Doctor Midnight. I am the avid fan, I am the loyal reader; so how is that I now dread opening a DC comic.
            If I was going to mark the beginning of this dramatic shift in DC’s stories, I would have to focus on the death of Elongated Man’s wife (Identity Crisis) and then his death (52 Series). I believe DC was concerned about the rising interest in edgier realistic comics. They wanted to show the dark side of the heroes, the realty that may couple this extreme power and intense lifestyle. DC missed the mark. Sure, many readers were interested in this arc, at first; after all it was different, new and it explored the characters we knew so well in a fresh light. But in the aftermath, the whole adventure tainted the images we had. Wonder Woman a murderer, Batman a traitor to his friends, and another Robin an orphan. When it dawned on DC that its readers went to vertigo and independent comics for the darkness and came to them for the hope; they scrambled to get back the former glory of “wonder years.”
            The return and replacement of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen was intended to reignite the love of fans with their former heroes; however, the loyal fans who had continued to read the series through the next incarnation of these heroes were left wondering why. Why did we commit ourselves to embracing the alterations in the story arcs and the growth of the next generation if they are so easily replaced? Why did we become interested and involved in storylines that will simple be erased when the death of a hero is no longer convenient? How can we trust the people in charge of our favorite stories when they have no respect for continuity?
            And it didn’t end there. The age of rebirth and convoluted story arcs that crippled Marvel in the late 80s and early 90s has found its next victim. The twenty seven years I have spent devoted to characters in the DC universe has meant nothing, we are supposed to just accept that beautiful stories will be corrupted by the hands of the now artless DC creators. When people used to ask me why I read DC over Marvel, I never hesitated… I said, “DC focuses on the character development and story arcs; whereas Marvel, is all about the action and the quick buck.”
Now I say nothing, and wondering where poor Wally West went.
And so it goes as the DCU now is a place that any pre NEW DCU fan feels alienated from. Now none of us eagerly anticipate any of the stories as the characters we know are not who we know. They have the same names, but with their history changed the characters are just names and not characters we care about.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Handle with White Gloves!

How do you like this variant cover?  Check out the ultra-rare one-of-a-kind thumb print!  How did I get such a special issue.  I made it myself!  Accidentally of course.  My hands were not wet in the least -- this simply happened from body heat and I've got a lite touch!  It's a good thing I liked the issue so much, because I would never be able to resell it now.  The other problem is that the digital code sticker stuck.  For a big time outfit like Marvel, they sure do skimp on the printing!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Books I Looking Forward To Getting

Posting only on rare occasions and on a blog I never pushed or developed means this is going out to only a few parties. Of course I never worried about audience as it is not like I’m running for political office (yet).  Plus it gives me a list of what I’m looking for every month.

I plan to have another write up on what the new DCU has done for many fans. I hope to have both of my daughters’ views as young adults who have also been turned off comics in general and DC in particular.  I feel that despite the current sales success that house of cards that is the new DC is primed to collapse.

Alright on to the list, the first company I want to check out is Image.

A new book by Rick Remender is coming out called Black Science. I love most of Rick’s work but it often falls apart as he gets too convoluted in some of his story telling. I loved Fear Agent, X-Force and have enjoyed Uncanny Avengers so this book is a definite yes.

32 PAGES / FC / M
Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: He has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos. Now Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long-forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms. The only way is forward. The only question is how far are they willing to go, and how much can they endure, to get home again?
Join writer RICK REMENDER and the superstar art team of MATTEO SCALERA & DEAN WHITE for this face-melting science fiction epic spanning the lifetimes of a cast of dimensional castaways lead by the man who caused it all.

With this type of story I’m starting to think that I want about 3 issues in hand before I start reading it.

Next up is a book called Alex & Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn. I have enjoyed some stories by Luna and have no clue about Sarah Vaughn. The big selling point is the premise.

art / cover JONATHAN LUNA
32 PAGES / FC / T+
From JONATHAN LUNA (GIRLS, THE SWORD, Spider-Woman, ULTRA) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But when Ada is dropped into his life, will Alex keep her?
This will be JONATHAN LUNA’s return to comics after three years off since the end of THE SWORD!

I liked the Sword. I like the science fiction theme and it reminds me of the movie coming called “Her” with Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. It is a movie where a guy falls in love with a “Siri” type operating system. How humans attach to objects is interesting and when you make the object more human it becomes even more interesting. I’m onboard for an issue or two.

Now this book is something very different so I’m gambling on unknown creators 100% based on the premise.

32 PAGES / FC / T+
In 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the uncharted American frontier. This is the story of what they discovered lurking in the wilds…
Skybound’s newest original series unveils the monsters of the western frontier in the adventure of a lifetime by writer CHRIS DINGESS (Being Human) and up-and-coming artist MATTHEW ROBERTS.

Lewis and Clark as monster hunters is an oddball item. Half historical and half “Proof”, a series I enjoyed about all the monsters of myth. It is something that will have to be a very good first issue or I could be tearing it up and causing a minor stir on the internet (see Pretty Deadly reviews).

Next up is the newest JMS comic; Mr. Straczynski is a prolific writer. He has written a ton of comics over the years, Babylon 5, movie scripts and more. He is the definition of a professional writer. I’m always willing to try out a book by JMS.

32 PAGES / FC / M
Protectors, Inc.: Heroes in a world without super-powered bad guys. Heroes with corporate sponsors and far too polite rivalries and sporting franchises. Heroes without anything or anyone to fight...until one of them is murdered in ways that could only have been accomplished by someone with equal powers.
Solving the mystery falls to Lieutenant Detective John Riley, an ordinary man whose investigation takes him into a strange and dangerous world light years beyond his abilities to understand and very likely far beyond his capacity to survive. The trail leads to a fifty-year-old secret that could threaten the very existence of Protectors, Inc., an impossible love affair, and a serial killer whose work is not yet finished.

The detailed premise is almost turning me off the book. The last line saved it for me.

Image has one more new series I’m going to be checking out, Drumhellar #1 by Alex Link and Riley Rossmo. I’m getting it based on Rossmo’s art whose work I have enjoyed on Proof, Cowboy Ninja Viking and other books.

32 PAGES / FC / M
When shock-induced visions drive a detective specializing in the paranormal to a small town in South Dakota, he finds himself up against flesh-hungry bog-men, his ex-girlfriend, their mutual ex-girlfriend (did we mention she’s a werewolf?), and a demon that’s stolen his arsenal of psychedelics. Then things start to get weird. We live in strange times. They call for strange ways!

Now the title was originally Stangeways and has been changed to Drumhellar, I’m guessing Strangeways was a copyright infringement or something as Drumhellar sucks as a title.

So Image has a great line up of new material coming out in November, time to check in on Dark Horse.

Ghost #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Chris Sebla as writers with Ryan Sook on art is a winner for me. I enjoyed the mini-series and why I was not blown away with it, I did enjoy it. Adding Ryan Sook as the artist is a huge plus, count me in.

Kelly Sue DeConnick (W), Chris Sebela (W), Ryan Sook (A), On sale Nov 6
FC, 32 pages
Ghost, the hero trapped between two worlds, fights to protect Chicago from extradimensional demons disguised as humans. When a familiar stranger destroys an el train, Ghost makes a deal with a devil for the chance to uncover her own mysterious past. The perfect issue to join this action-packed superhero title!
• Ryan Sook on interiors!
• Cover artist Terry Dodson!
• Chris Sebela (High Crimes) joins the fray!
• Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel) continues her hit run on the Dark Horse hero.
"DeConnick has a strong sense of dialogue and the rhythms that sound right; the end result is a script that isn't just natural but hard to pull yourself away from."–Comic Book Resources

That’s it for Dark Horse for me, they have a couple other books launching, but nothing that was making me want to try it out. I really want to keep getting the Creepy and Eerie collected editions but I have almost 30 volumes and have yet to re-read one of them in its entirety.

Ok time to move on to IDW and see what, if anything they have for November. IDW strikes out this month. I like the quality of IDW products but they are more into the licensing side of comic books.

Okay next up is to check in on Dynamite Entertainment.

Okay they have a three number one issues and one I was thinking about, but I have burnt out on Shadow and other similar stuff from Dynamite and need to pass on Noir #1. That means Dynamite is another bust for November.

Okay time to check on DC, only for the Vertigo material to see if anything new and exciting is coming out. Once again we have a clean miss. I think that Vertigo needs to have one new book a month coming out. The line up is sparse enough and with the recent announcement that Fables has only a year left I’m worried that Vertigo has no strong series holding it together anymore.

Next I will check in on Marvel, which only has Marvel Knights and Icon as anything I would consider for this column.

Finally we have another book to talk about, Marvel Knight X-Men #1 by Brahm Revel. I’m a huge Brahm Revel fan, have interviewed him, backed a Kickstarter, own some artwork of his, huge fan. This is a no brainer even if it is X-Men.

Brahm Revel (W) • Brahm Revel (A/C)
Marvel Knights presents Brahm Revel’s thrilling and dark X-Men adventure that asks: what happens when your past comes back to kill you?
Wolverine, Kitty & Rogue set out on the road to rescue new mutants from being murdered. But their help may not be welcome in this backwoods town--and the murderer may be closer to them than they think.
A gritty murder mystery told by the talented and new to Marvel creator, Brahm Revel (Guerillas).
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Okay so the big two got one book onto my list. For the most part I’m done with Marvel and DC, but that doesn’t mean I will pass on a book because it is from them, just means they are not my main source of entertainment with comics anymore.

I have to check on a few more publishers for new books, next up is Avatar, which is a miss for anything new. Uber is the book that made me start re-looking at Avatar. As a publisher it seemed to be a company whose philosophy was the more gore and shocking the better. Between God is Dead, Absolution and Uber the content of the story is improving.

Boom is interesting as it has been a company in search of an identity for a long time. I still think they are looking, but with the purchase of Archaia they now have some cool projects under their banner. 

I may try out Protocol #1 by Michael Alan Nelson and Mariano Navarro. Nelson has written some good stories and I have no clue about the artist Navarro but the premise has some promise.

Price: $3.99
Author(s): Michael Alan Nelson
Artist(s): Mariano Navarro
WHY WE LOVE IT: Written by Michael Alan Nelson (SUPERGIRL, HEXED) and drawn by newcomer Mariano Navarro, PROTOCOL is an action-packed espionage series with a compelling cast of young characters struggling with their transition into adulthood.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT:PROTOCOL is a tense thriller perfect for fans of fun spy fiction like TV’s Alias or Mission: Impossible.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Grabbed up by the United States government and thrown into training camps, orphans around the country have been raised to become America’s next generation of superspies. Now, as adults, they live amongst us, ready for ‘the family’ to call them back into action.

The solicitation is actually annoying, just tell me the premise and let me decide. Not 100% sold I will be picking this up, but included as a maybe.

Last up in my search is Valiant Comics. I recently dropped Quantum and Woody with Archer and Armstrong probably to follow. If it wasn’t for Peter Milligan coming in Shadowman I would have bid failure to that book also. So curious to see how Unity shakes out.

Written by MATT KINDT
To kill a king, he has created an army.
The world's most dangerous man, Toyo Harada, has been struck by the one thing he never thought possible – fear. Halfway across the globe, a new power threatens to topple modern civilization and, to preempt the cataclysm that is to come, Harada will unite the most lethal, most volatile, most unforgiving team the world has ever known – UNITY. Their mission: defeat the warrior king armed with the universe's most powerful weapon. Kill X-O Manowar!
Be here when New York Times best-selling

writer Matt Kindt (Justice League of America, Mind MGMT) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (Justice, Journey into Mystery) launch Valiant's first-ever superteam into the landmark comic book event of the year with an all-new ongoing series in UNITY #1.
You've heard the buzz, you've seen the reviews. If you still haven't jumped onto Valiant Comics, the time is now! This November, UNITY is the perfect entry point for new readers.
$3.99/T+/32 pgs.

I dropped the text about the 14 billion covers that are having for the book. I hate that sales gimmick, but no one is going to stop doing it until it does not pay off. Still that is a lot of money to spend to get artist like Neal Adams and Bryan Hitch to do a cover. It is also a little surprising that this is an all new ongoing series. I had to laugh seeing Matt Kindt as the writer. I love his work, so it is a plus but talk about busy, this guy is writing for Dark Horse, Marvel, DC and Valiant.

That is a wrap for this month. One final comment I have a goal for 2014 to be almost comic book free by the end of next year. One reason why, I have tons of stuff to read that is sitting on my bookshelves. Another reason is that I’m constantly behind on my new comic reading with over 50 books waiting for me to read. I have started to purge series. I have targeted DC and Marvel. This week I’m only getting one Marvel book, the Marvel Knights Spider-Man. Actual DCU stuff is way down also. I’m playing out Infinity and Forever Evil and will then probably cut even more.  One thing I did this year is ignore the ancillary series attached to the events and that has helped and not impacted the story at all. I have cut back on Valiant, Dynamite and have gotten more discriminating on other companies. Still to really get down to brass tacks I have to make harder and harder choices. I don’t want to abandon comics but just look for what I find to be excellent work and corporate comics offer very little in that category. I’m enjoying looking for newer voices and artists. Which all leads back to why this list is important for me. It is time to say goodbye to Avengers and Justice League and look for books with a more singular approach and story line.