YouTube CHANNEL of the Day: PROFESSOR THORGI & Why Marvel and DC Comics are not selling!

Stop by Professor Thorgi’s channel and check out his review of new series JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK. As someone who with rare exceptions no longer gets monthly comics from the major comic publishers, me being interesred in anything new from DC or MARVEL comics… is rare.

The excellent coverage YouTube channel Professor Thorgi provided today on series JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK has me interested.

I really want to rush out and buy this series from DC Comics, however… I will not.

DC has recently followed Marvel in pricing their comics at S4 a book. The cost of hiring Bendis perhaps. Whatever the reason, for me that translates into both companies charging more for new comics than they are worth. $4 cover price at a minimum, with many of the books being even more expensive at $5 and up. 

I can spend that money to buy bronze age back issues that will hold their value as opposed to new issues, that 99% of them will be in the surplus dollar bins in a couple months. WHY ON GOD’S EARTH WOULD YOU PAY $4 for A NEW COMIC , when you can get a classic fantastic four or kubert comic for the same price?

Our Army at War #254

Fantastic Four #104

Fantastic Four #133

Buy Back issues here:

https://www.mycomicshop.com?&AffID=200301P01

That pricing for new comic books is just pure greed, from two companies that are backed by billion dollar parent companies. Unlike smaller publishers, these companies have the infrastructure and scale to support bringing in these books at $2.50  or at least hold the line at $2.99.

I feel the companies inability to do so, and in the case of Marvel, unwillingness to do so comes down to greed, short sightedness, and mismanagement.They would rather try and price gouge the same aging customer base of about 70000 readers to buy multiple copies of overpriced issues, than price the issues at an attractive $2ish price point, to try to sell to millions rather than just thousands.

Contrary to the minority of loud but wrong right wing nuts, comic fan pretenders, screaming against creators and against diversity, as the failing of comics, comics are, in terms of creativity,  in a golden age.

Comics as someone who has been reading these books longer than most of the vocal minority have been alive, comics across the board have never been better in terms of writing, art, stories, creativity, diversity of genres, etc.(with minor exceptions such as Nick Spencer’s racist Nick Fury Jr idea. Really?? That is your idea? I don’t think so. :). Just have the Black Nick Fury be the black Nick Fury. Don’t hamstring him with some insulting, denigrating  and moronic story about him being the ‘son’ of the White Nick Fury. Just stupid and insulting on so many levels. An example of the movie division just being better and  smarter and less racist than the comic book division. And who would have thought that? 🙂 )

But that one caveat aside, the reason the comics are not selling is they are overpriced. Bottom line. And the big two publishers are over saturating the market to try to get their few readers to buy a lot, everything, to keep up.

Newsflash… people can not afford to get a lot, much less everything, especially at $4 a book.

So they choose, like I choose, to either severely limit their consumption or get nothing at all ( I get from DC only one $4 book, Christopher Priest’s DEATHSTROKE, and their few remaining $2.99 books.  However with DC poised to ruin the good work Priest has done on DEATHSTROKE, by putting the character in the JLA, hampering Priest’s ability to write for the comics unhindered, I see me dropping even that title. And according to the rumor mill the $2.99 books are going away. As far as Marvel, I  get nothing at all.)

The fact that Marvel is not legitimately selling millions of copies of Ta-na hesi Coates or Donny Cates or Al Ewing or Mark Waid or David Walker has nothing to do with those creators, those creators are doing their job;  but marketing and management and editorial mandates are failing these books.

I will definitely be reading Coates Captain America run, or the latest Moon Knight. But not monthly, Marvel and DC have taught me that they are not good or affordable publishers of periodical material and to rather wait for the collected edition and read it for free at the library, and the ones worth buying, to purchase in collected form, at a substantial discount over the individual issues. That is just smart shopping in this day and age, and for periodicals to not adjust their price point and marketing plan to make their product more attractive to an audience with a glut of choices and demands for their time… is to be bad at your job.

Marvel and DC’s periodical publishing arms… are bad at their jobs. People in charge of getting these numbers up and selling these books, should be given a deadline to turn things around and make improvements. And if they don’t  maybe what Marvel Upper Management needs is to sweep out the old under-performing and stagnant comic selling paradigm that has taken root at Marvel and DC and replace it with fresh faces, with fresh, innovative ideas for moving product, and winning readers. Do mail order subscriptions at a discount through Amazon, like Entertainment Weekly and other magazines do. Even selling the books as a loss leader, by increasing your subscriber base to millions rather than tens of thousands, you dramatically  increase what you can charge for ad space. But it takes change to make positive changes.

 

Now on the other hand, companies that are worth supporting in periodical form are ALTERNA, CHAPTER HOUSE, they provide inflation friendly comics, that allow you to pick up great books at a sub $3 price.

Also IMAGE, DARK HORSE, IDW, even though they are in the $3 and $4 range, they give you a lot more for your money than DC and Marvel do,  The smaller companies offer you a better periodical experience, they give you more pages, less ads, on better paper, and with additional content such as letters pages and special features.

All that creates a very simple take away for where and how I buy comics in the 21st century:

  • These days when I buy comics, I buy them via pre-order courtesy of MY COMIC SHOP. COM, at a sizable discount off of cover price. I am an affiliate for My Comic Shop, so when you use these links you earn a few pennies for this blog.
  • But the reason I am an affiliate, is because i use and love the service, so it becomes easy for me to hawk them. I have tried other mail order services, and have been pretty disappointed and felt pretty ripped off by them.
  • My experience with MCS has really kept me from quitting the hobby all together. They have been that good for me, and you may find them similarly for you, an easy on-road to a medium, comics, that seemingly has more off-roads.
  • They let you read synopsis of the many, many companies out there.
  • And I get these great books mailed directly to me in great condition.
  • And generally speaking…  I am not buying Marvel and DC. And I have to tell you my reading experience has never been better, and my wallet thanks me.

Use the link below, and your wallet can start thanking you as well:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/subscriptionservice?&AffID=200301P01

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Best & Favorite of 2017!!!

This is a bit belated but I think you will find a nice overview to 2017 and pointers to 2018 in the ramblings below.

Favorite movies seen in the Theater in 2017:

KONG:SKULL ISLAND

LOGAN

 

I only saw two movies in the theater in 2017, so looking to improve on that in 2018. Nothing in January had me jazzed to pay theater prices for, however I am looking forward to the following in 2018:

click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable)

EQUALIZER 2

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FAVORITE TV SHOWS IN 2017:

  • LEGION
  • TAKEN
  • POWER
  • AMERICAN NINJA
  • CHOPPED
  • AMERICAN PICKERS
  • LOVE IT OR LIST IT
  • LETHAL WEAPON
  • THE GRAND TOUR
  • GODLESS
  • RUNAWAYS

FAVORITE STREAMING TV CHANNEL IN 2017

The one two punch of AMAZON PRIME and HULU gets this award. NETFLIX that was riding high in 2016 with LUKE CAGE and other shows, had a disappointing 2017. With a non user friendly interface compared to Amazon Prime and a selection of shows and movies that weren’t as interesting or well curated as either HULU or AMAZON PRIME, I cancelled my membership at the end of 2017. The last straw being the overhyped and ultimately lackluster PUNISHER series, as well as news of the studios pulling their content from Netflix.

In 2018 the TV shows that I am or will be watching are:

CASTLE ROCK

GRAND TOUR

TAKEN (I think the new showrunner made a mistake getting rid of most of the cast from season 1, but hopefully he can course correct and fix it)

STRIKE BACK and ELEMENTARY return after long hiatuses

LONGMEYER went out with a bit of a whimper, so looking forward to YELLOWSTONE

JACK RYAN

LETHAL WEAPON

CHOPPED

IZOMBIE

BLACK LIGHTNING

AMERICANS

And lastly looking forward to Season 2 of what, without question, was the best, most inventive TV show of 2017, Noah Hawley’s LEGION.

And for those keeping score… LUKE CAGE tied with FARGO Season 2 (Also by Noah Hawley) were the best TV shows of 2015, and DAREDEVIL Season 1 was the best TV show of 2014.

 

BEST MUSIC OF 2017

I loved everything binaural in 2017, adding many great CDs to my collection. THE HEAVY and GREGORY PORTER remained in heavy rotation. Gregory Porter being my favorite live performance of 2017. And I added new interests RAG N BONE MAN, Andra day and Brian Ferneyhough. With Spotify to allow me to try before I buy, I’m looking forward in 2018 to discovering more great music, both old and new.

BEST READS OF 2017

I didn’t read as many novels, or listen to as many audio books in 2017 as I did in previous years, so I definitely hope to turn that around in 2018.

I did do substantially better with Art Books, Graphic Novels, Reference Books, and comics in 2017. Some of the standouts:

 

MATT BAKER THE ART OF GLAMOUR

CREEPING DEATH FROM NEPTUNE

THE WOLVERTON BIBLE

ARTIST EDITION BASIL WOLVERTON (This and the other two previous books having to do with Basil Wolverton, I went all in on him in 2017. Still absorbing these three books here in 2018)

JACKIE ORMES

THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIANSTELFREEZE

SEX AND HORROR THE ART OF ALESSANDRO BIFFIGNANDI

In 2018 writers I intend to go all in on are Percival Everett, Victor Lavalle, Colin Whitehead and Walter Mosley, as well as revisiting work by Ligotti, Lebbon, Ellison, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Bennett.

 

In 2017 Marvel had a great POWER MAN AND IRON FIST series I was reading, the only thing I was buying monthly from Marvel Comics. And Marvel letting greed get in the way of common sense, killed a series everyone was loving, with a creative team everyone was loving, David Walker and Brian Stelfreeze, to instead both dilute audience attention and oversaturate the market with multiple books, almost all of which are ready to be canceled. So going into 2018, with Marvel sticking to their insane $3.99 price point per book, there are no titles I pick up from Marvel Comics.

 

In 2017 DEATHSTROKE by Christopher Priest was the only DC Comic I was getting on a monthly base. It’s arguably the one series that you can just pick up and enjoy without having to read any other title, or care about any other title. Priest has been able to just do… what he does best, create a fantastic read; month in and month out. So it is the only DC book I’m reading in 2018. However, greed rears its ugly heads and the idiots who get paid to make stupid decisions have decided to add DEATHSTROKE to their floundering team book… JLA,  basically gutting the standalone nature of the comic that allows Priest, to do his magic. Basically the same poor decision making that happened last year with POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.

 

I figure the conversation went like this… ‘man everyone is talking about this book, let’s put the characters in multiple other books, and then they will be talking about all those other books too.’ No, you EFFING morons! The reason people are enjoying POWER MAN AND INRON FIST or DEATHSTROKE is because it is well drawn and well written and not part of your insipid crossover infested universe. Your very attempts to duplicate that success, without understanding it, will kill the character in the new book, and kill interest in the character in the original book.

So yeah here’s hoping someone with brains over at DC, vetoes the horrible idea to put DEATHSTROKE in the JLA, because I’m not going to read the JLA, and you’re editorial interference will create a character that no longer works in his solo book. You have therefore killed the golden goose and have nothing to show for it.

 

The good news is when you get sick of the stupid decisions and overpriced ad laden product at DC and MARVEL, you have great content from other publishers to enjoy. Publishers that give you more for your money. Publishers such as IMAGE, AFTERSHOCK, DARK HORSE and many more.

As far as where to buy new comics from, a lot of people will steer you to DCBS. I personally in terms of pure customer service and ease or ordering prefer LONE STAR COMICS. You can order comics in advance from the at http://www.mycomicshop.com at a discount.

 

They are highly recommended, and I use them myself, and this is an unpaid recommendation. Tell them Heroic Times sent you.

 

And wrapping this up, favorite podcasts of 2017:

 

11OCLOCK COMICS

COMIC GEEK SPEAK

WTF with Marc Maron

BLACK TAPES

GEEK SYNDICATE

 

To name a few. Okay that is it for my 2017 Pop Culture overview. Thanks for bearing with it and if you enjoy, spread the word. Enjoy WEEK #6 of 2018!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4 of 2018! Best Unboxing and Graphic Novel Videos!

I like Youtube courtesy of Roku because you can browse without comments. I don’t mind comments if they are moderated, but unmoderated comments is just like sewage, something I prefer not to wade thru. 🙂

So Roku allows me to actually be able to use Youtube and find it useful rather than nauseating. Case in point, unboxing videos. I am a HUGE graphic novel and Art Book fan, and I’ve become quite enamored of these videos where people show off their artbook or graphic novel or comic. It has given me so many great ideas regarding items to purchase, as well as helping me decide ites to pass on.

Though, unfortunate for my wallet, more of the former than the latter.

Here are some recent great ones as well as some of the best channels to visit.

 

THE CHINEST has great segments where you get to see the interior of the comic and decide if it is for you or not.

https://m.youtube.com/user/TheChinest

MARKET WATCH has a recent fantastic series of videos where he shows some of the great items he found in a recent collection purchase.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz_gop-AM3fa6NGhSs_J_0w

GEM MINT COLLECTIBLES does a phenomenal end of 2017 Room Tour. Really impressive man-cave even if you are not into figurines. I really want those GOON and FEAR AGENT Hardcovers/Omnibuses.  And I love the idea of his desk in the middle of the room as well as his bookstand. I’m completely going to do that.  Really interesting and informative videos on his channel. Check out his TOP TEN ABSOLUTE EDITION WHALES video as well.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC31fEeAOTnfRgvGFwYJsFUA

Kudos to OMNIBUDS CAFE I really enjoyed his 2018 Omnibus collection overview. His bound and signed editions are great.

 

I have more of these shout outs coming, as well as a list of my favorite collections of 2017!  So come back for more next time!

Gary Johnson Romney Obama Ron Paul Stewart Alexander and the Lesser of Evils

“I’m an old lefty. I believe the government must do for people, what people cannot do for themselves.”
— Green Arrow courtesy of Dwayne McDuffie’s excellent JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED

I’ve been watching classic episodes of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, a show that remains animated television at its best, and for most of its run the love letter of producer/lead writer Dwayne McDuffie. The recently departed Dwayne McDuffie who followed up his stellar work at Warner Brothers Animation, with unfortunately editorially sabotaged work at both DC COMICS and MARVEL COMICS.

With the 2012 US Presidential election nearly upon us, the take away from my watching of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED is that line, and the idea that only in a country as monumentally effed up and corrupt and mismanaged as America, could anyone consider either of the television approved candidates, Obama or Romney, steeped as they both are in the blood and oil and pus and complicity of big business, as viable people’s candidates.

You are a fool if you believe Obama is, and has been, in his tenure anything more than Bush-lite. He has rubber-stamped policies, in the past four years, that have destroyed civil and economic liberties domestically and expanded the endless war abroad.

And to make his conservatism seem liberal, he is contrasted with a malicious madman in Romney, though both candidates are more alike than they are different, taking money as they are from the same masters. But this illusion of conflict is played up in the media, to give the American people once more… the illusion of choice; a choice between the lesser of two evils, the choice between big business crafted puppets, between Mussolini or Hitler if you like, which is to say… no choice at all.

I voted for the ‘lesser of two evils’ four years ago, and I’ve regretted it since, with every bill or shredding of civil liberties that Obama has signed into law.

In many ways I think we would be in a better place if the obvious madman Mccain, had come to power 4 years ago, because people would have rallied against his obvious butchering of civil liberties, rather than this death by inches thing that has occurred under the cult of personality, which is the presidency of Obama.

He has been as ‘republican’ a president as you could hope, with all the negative connotations of that word, but his every action has been defended (or ignored) by people who see his labels (Democrat, Black, Liberal) rather than his actions (Republican, Conservative). And Republicans, conservatives become more conservative/republican to keep/enforce this artificial feud (which serves no one but big business), this artificial division of them and us.

So I’m not inclined to be backed into a corner again this year, this year I’m voting for a candidate whose views intrigue me, and whose background and history gives me reason to feel… justified.

Candidates on the ballot or write in candidates not sanctified by big business are few and far between, here are a few such candidates:

GARY JOHNSON– The former republican, and two time Governor of New Mexico, now running under the Libertarian ticket, has me very intrigued for his anti-big business stance, and his history of not raising taxes,

STEWART ALEXANDER
http://stewartalexanderforpresident2012.org/- I’m also intrigued by the ticket of Alexander and Mendoza that is running for the Socialist Party. Their stances on the issues is the about face from the “give big business our first born” dance the American people have been on, though their lack of any documented political experience and lack of endorsements is a bit of a concern. As is the general sub-par nature of their web-site and presentation. But at this point in America’s history, I’ll take the well meaning amateur, over the slick big business approved trained seal… any day.

RON PAUL– I can’t really figure out from day to day if Ron Paul is running or not running for the Presidency, however it’s an impressive site the 75 year old has, and the stances he pays lip service to, you can really get behind. Give it a read, and should his name show up on a ballot, I don’t think anyone would have an argument picking him over Romney or Obama.

So where is the candidate who will do for the people, rather than for big business? Well he may be one of those above, take a look for yourself and decide.

You only have one vote, and despite what any one tells you, it is not wasted if you go against the majority or the ‘sure thing’, it is only wasted if you go against your conscience.

When the record shows that 99.99999999% of the population voted for the lesser of evils or established evils, be not afraid to stand alone as that man or woman who voted out of hope… rather than fear. One of the votes I’m proudest to have cast, was a ‘losing’ vote, was for Ralph Nader. And I’d cast it the same way today, given those same candidates and situations.

I’d cast it for the attempt to make things better, rather than the certainty and fear of keeping them the same.

Here endeth the Lesson

Justice League: The Complete Series DVD! Buy your copy here and earn some pennies for this blog post. Easiest way to show your appreciation for a post. Thanks!

DCs RELAUNCH! 52 Books coming in September! Tips on ones to get & ones to avoid!

DC has announced its lineup of 52 new titles starting September. As stated in my previous post DC is doing a lot of things right, with this publishing revamp of their comic-book line; namely pushing digital distribution, and creating new jumping on points to coincide with that distribution.

But the major thing I see DC Publishing (owned by Time Warner)is doing wrong is ignoring the root reason they were not selling books in the first place, which is that there books were not that good.

Their esteemed major competitor, MARVEL COMICS GROUP, has the better writers, and without question the superior artists. And I see very little in this revamp that addresses that quality problem.

You can see the full list of the 52 titles to be released in September here, and for the most part they look uninteresting at best, and 90s retread crap fodder at worst.

Uninteresting writers with very dated looking artists. And often artists, untried as writers, writing major characters?!! WTF?? Nice way DC to sabotage your own facelift/revamp.

You want to do a revamp and make it count then pay the money, and get the name writers, and the hot artists. Get the best. Liefield? Really??? God bless him, but really? That’s who you choose to launch a new book geared to galvanize and attract new readers? This is not the 90s.

SAVAGE HAWKMAN, good artist, but needs a name writer to get my money. Tony Daniels? Sorry, just don’t care. STATIC SHOCK, great character, no interest in that creative team… at all. NIGHTWING, TEEN TITANS, LEGIONS LOST, JUSTICE LEAGUE, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN books, most of the BATMAN books, most of the SUPERMAN books (Grant Morrison is too hit and miss for me to trust him monthly, I wait till his stories are collected and listen to the general feedback to see if he’s the good Morrison, or the hodgepodge one), all look like the poorly written, poorly drawn tripe no one was buying before.

Now the ones I think are (or could be)exceptions to DC’s general trend of mediocrity and lack of quality are as follows:

SUPERGIRL #1
Written by MICHAEL GREEN and MIKE JOHNSON
Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Meet Supergirl. She’s got the unpredictable behavior of a teenager, the same powers as Superman – and none of his affection for the people of Earth. So don’t piss her off!

The writers did good work on Batman/Superman, and I like the art.

VOODOO #1
Written by RON MARZ
Art and cover by SAMI BASRI
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Who is Voodoo? Is she hero, villain – or both? Learn the truth about Priscilla Kitaen as she leaves a trail of violence across America. Discover the new DCU through her eyes, because the things she sees are not always what they seem

Ron Marz doesn’t do anything for me, but Sam Basri I consider one of the few great artists DC has (that Marvel hasn’t stolen away from them yet) and this book is worth getting for his art alone.

BATMAN #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art by GREG CAPULLO and JONATHAN GLAPION
Cover by GREG CAPULLO
Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Be here for the start of a new era for The Dark Knight from writer Scott Snyder (AMERICAN VAMPIRE, BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and artist Greg Capullo (Spawn)! A series of brutal killings hints at an ancient conspiracy, and Batman learns that Gotham City is deadlier than he knew.

Only Batman book that has me really interested, and it is because of the writer, Scott Snyder.

BATWOMAN #1
Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III and W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art and cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
At last! Batwoman’s new series begins, from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman!
In “Hydrology,” part 1 of 5, Batwoman faces deadly new challenges in her war against Gotham City’s underworld – and new trials in her life as Kate Kane.
Who or what is stealing children from the barrio, and for what vile purpose? Will Kate train her cousin, Bette Kane (a.k.a. Flamebird), as her new sidekick? How will she handle unsettling revelations about her father, Colonel Jacob Kane? And why is a certain government

I had mentioned Sam Basri being one of DC’s great artist, here’s the other, the brilliant JH Williams III. Now whether he can write is another story, but I’ll definitely check this one out to see.

MISTER TERRIFIC #1
Written by ERIC WALLACE
Art by ROGER ROBINSON
Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The world’s third-smartest man – and one of its most eligible bachelors – uses his brains and fists against science gone mad in this new series from Eric Wallace (TITANS) and Roger Robinson!
Michael Holt is the head of a successful high-tech corporation and an institute that recruits and encourages the finest minds of the next generation to excel. As Mister Terrific he inhabits a world of amazement few others know exists, let alone can comprehend.

Premise sounds interesting, and I really like the character, but once again we have an unknown writer, and generally unknown, serviceable (but not awesome) interior artist. I’ll give it a try but have serious doubts.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by MIKEL JANIN
Cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The witch known as The Enchantress has gone mad, unleashing forces that not even the combined powers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg can stop. And if those heroes can’t handle the job, who will stand against this mystical madness?
Shade the Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Zatanna and John Constantine may be our only hope – but how can we put our trust in beings whose very presence makes ordinary people break out in a cold sweat?

– I was going to pass on this book, but the artwork by Mikel Janin looks great, my only concern is a gaudy colorist could ruin his beautiful gray-scale washes/artwork. If they were smart they would use spot coloring and leave it mostly gray-scale.

SWAMP THING #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
One of the world’s most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth!
Alec Holland has his life back…but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!

ANIMAL MAN #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by TRAVEL FOREMAN and DAN GREEN
Cover by TRAVEL FOREMAN
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Buddy Baker has gone from “super” man to family man – but is he strong enough to hold his family together when Maxine, his young daughter, starts to manifest her own dangerous powers? Find out in this dramatic new series from writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Travel Foreman (The Immortal Iron Fist).

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI
Cover by J.G. JONES
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s Frankenstein as you’ve never seen him before, in a dark new series from acclaimed writer Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and artist Alberto Ponticelli (UNKNOWN SOLDIER)!
Frankenstein is part of a network of strange beings who work for an even stranger government organization: The Super Human Advanced Defense Executive! But can he protect the world from threats even more horrifying than himself? And since he’s vilified for who and what he is, will he even want to take on this mission?

—Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, interesting premises, and decent artists, what is not to like.

DEMON KNIGHTS #1
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by DIOGENES NEVES and OCLAIR ALBERT
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Set in the Dark Ages of the DC Universe, a barbarian horde is massing to crush civilization. It’s fallen to Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood, the man with a monster inside him, to stand in their way – though the demon Etrigan has no interest in protecting anyone or anything other than himself! It’ll take more than their own power to stop an army fueled by bloodlust and dark sorcery, and some very surprising heroes – and villains – will have no choice but to join the fray!

STORMWATCH #1
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art and cover by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
They are Stormwatch, a dangerous super human police force whose existence is kept secret from the world Directly following the ominous events of SUPERMAN #1, Adam One leads half the Stormwatch team to recover the [INFORMATION REDACTED] from deep in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the Stormwatch crew look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet: Midnighter and Apollo! And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian Manhunter can change their minds…

— Both of these by Paul Cornell sound interesting

ALL-STAR WESTERN #1
Written by JUSTIN GRAY and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art and cover by MORITAT
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+
Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Find out in this new series from HEX writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with lush artwork by Moritat (THE SPIRIT)!

-This is a great and proven creative team.

MEN OF WAR #1
Written by IVAN BRANDON
Art by TOM DERENICK
Cover by VIKTOR KALVACHEV
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+
On the ground and on the front lines, a young, headstrong soldier known as Joe Rock assumes command of Easy Company – a team of ex-military men turned contractors. Will they survive the battle-scarred landscape carved by the DCU’s Super-Villains? Find out in this explosive new series from Ivan Brandon (Viking, DOC SAVAGE) and Tom Derenick (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

-Premise has me interested, and Derenick is a good artist.

SUICIDE SQUAD #1
Written by ADAM GLASS
Art by MARCO RUDY
Cover by RYAN BENJAMIN
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
They’re a team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous – they’re sheer suicide!
Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! Defeated and imprisoned, they’re being interrogated about their mission – and about who’s pulling the strings behind this illegal operation. Who will be the first to crack under the pressure?

-Not familiar with the writer but Marco Rudy’s work an ACTION COMICS was stellar

DEATHSTROKE #1
Written by KYLE HIGGINS
Art by JOE BENNETT and ART THIBERT
Cover by SIMON BISLEY
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
“Friends die, family disappoints, but a legacy… That lives forever.”
Slade Wilson is the best mercenary in the DCU, and he’s been doing this a long time. Some might say too long. But they’ll learn: Never turn your back on Deathstroke the Terminator. He won’t quit, no matter how high the stakes. Kyle Higgins (BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM) and Joe Bennett (TEEN TITANS) team up to bring you the finest in mayhem and gore.


-An unknown writer, and the premise doesn’t fill me with confidence, anything that uses gore as a selling point is usually braindead, lowest common denominator tripe, but Joe Bennett (THE CREW) is a great artist, and I would like to be proven wrong on this one

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA
Cover by KARL KERSCHL
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
The Legion of Super-Heroes has been decimated by the worst disaster in its history. Now, the students of the Legion Academy must rise to the challenge of helping the team rebuild – but a threat of almost unstoppable power is rising at the edge of Dominator space, and if the new recruits fail, the Legion Espionage Squad may be the first casualties in a war that could split worlds in half!

-solid creative team, so worth a look.

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1
Written by ETHAN VAN SCIVER and GAIL SIMONE
Art by YILDIRAY CINAR
Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond. These two high school students are worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super-science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control. The dark secrets of the murderous Dog Team and its Firestorm Protocol force them to put aside their differences to confront a threat so terrifying that it may lead to a new Cold War! Welcome to a major new vision of nuclear terror from writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone with astonishing art by Yildiray Cinar!

– I’ve seen some sample art by Cinar, and Gail Simone is a good writer and should keep Ethan’s ideas from imploding. Though from this premise sounds like this is a miniseries rather than an ongoing. Worth a look.

The Following are MAYBEs:

BATWING #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by BEN OLIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Africa, a land of beauty – and of great horror. A land of creation and conflict. It is in desperate need of a defender, and from the ranks of Batman Incorporated comes a soldier to carry on the legacy of The Dark Knight in the most tumultuous region on Earth. Meet Batwing, the Batman of Africa!

I’m intrigued by this one, the premise sounds like a Bat take on Unknown Soldier, but I’m not sold on the art, and that costume is horrible. This one is a wait for the trade.

BATGIRL #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by ARDIAN SYAF and VICENTE CIFUENTES
Cover by ADAM HUGHES
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Yes, it’s really happening!
Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl – and she’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as the dark secrets from her past. You won’t want to miss this stunning debut issue from fan-favorite BIRDS OF PREY writer Gail Simone!

Gail Simone has me interested, but not interested in the artists. I’ll wait for the trade.

CATWOMAN #1
Written by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in this new series from writer Judd Winick (BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD) and artist Guillem March (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS)!

I do like the art on this one but not interested in the character. It’s a weak maybe.

Well those are the titles I think are worth a try, and you may agree. Try them and let me know.

Change comes to one of Comics’ Biggest Publishers! Does it spell DC New or DC Eww??? or DC vs Marvel

Change comes to one of Comics’ Biggest Publishers! Does it spell DC New or DC Eww???

by
Heroic Times
Copyright Heroic Times Jun 2011
All Rights Reserved

Okay most of you comic fans reading this know the gist of the big news that has recently been released. Specifically the recent announcement by Top 2 Comic Book Publisher DC Comics, a subsidy of Time Warner, to in essence revamp their entire publishing line, and their publishing model in September of this year.

Comics being very much serialized entertainment, like soap operas or television shows they build up a history. Overtime, some view that history as a resource and some as baggage. In the face of dwindling sales DC is taking the latter approach and cleaning house, restarting their whole line of books, from number one.

Come September, 52 titles will be kicked out by DC, starting at # 1, with the characters and stories supposedly streamlined to allow easy adoption, by new readers. On top of this they will offer the books via digital distribution, as well as through the traditional dwindling markets of the comic book store.

It is an unprecedented and bold move, in an age where all print media, from newspapers to books, is losing readers. And specifically a necessary move for DC, that has seen its place in the market continue to slip, as its major competitor MARVEL COMICS GROUP owned by Disney, continues to trounce them in sales/market share.

So all in all, I think this bold move by DC, while unexpected, is overall a good one, as obviously they needed to do something.

It’s a hail-Mary pass, and I see it working for them in the short term, generating interest in their books through the line wide shake-up, and the day and date (digital publication that coincides with print publication) digital distribution option, opening them up to a world of new potential readers/consumers. If they capture just a fraction of the digital market, they could potentially move very quickly from servicing tens of thousands of people to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people per issue.

There are some potential roadblocks, most remarked on being the pricing of the digital comic, as most agree the 99 cent or $1.99 cent model is the better price-point for easy mass adoption. However I have no doubt the pricing structure will work itself out in time.

So in short term I see this being a success for the company, however potentially not as great a success as it could be, and potentially not a lasting success as their competitors invariably jump into Digital distribution to compete.

No, I see DC’s biggest drawback to this line-wide overhaul, is the appearance (now this is only going by the miniscule data so far released on the books to come out in September, this is speculation not fact) that the streamlined books suffer the same problem as the pre-streamlined books, which is basically… they are not that good or interesting.

That’s harsh to say, but that is the current problem with DC comics that they seem to, with well meaning overtures to price and distribution and character’s costumes, overlook.

The main problem DC overlooks, to why their sales are dwindling… is the fact that their books themselves, particularly when compared to their main competition Marvel Comics, are not that interesting, they are in fact… lacking.

And it pains me to say this as someone who is not a fan of much of what Marvel does, and infact actively does not purchase Marvel Comics’ individual issues. Generally because of ads breaking up the story, and lack of back-matter or letters pages, failing these things I’ll just wait for the trade, and monthly buy Indie books, such as CHEW or WALKING DEAD that do offer these extras, that for me make the individual issues… worth their price.

If there is a story from Marvel that is getting particular buzz I’ll wait for the trade and pick it up at my local library or on Ebay or not.

On the other hand, DC comics stories are not particularly interesting, I listen to a number of podcasts and read reviews and articles to stay abreast of what’s drawing the buzz in this niche market of comics, and DC seldom… draws the buzz, in any meaningful way. The ones that do I’ll pick up via Ebay or Library, and am generally underwhelmed.

Particularly glaring is the fact that DC’s artwork is bland to subpar. For a medium defined by its art.. that’s not good. In general (in general, not across the board) the writers and artist of DC are not setting the world on fire.

There are exceptions such as Irving Frazier, Basri, Jock, J.H. Williams III (to name ones that spring to mind) in the art camp, and Scott Snyder, Morrison (when he’s the good Morrison) and Rucka (who DC has lost) in the writing camp; but in general the rule applies.

And having looked at some of the talent launching their 52 new books (again not privy to all of them, just going by the early news released as of this date), I see the rule of bland storytellers and bland art and bland takes on characters… continuing.

Where is the talented, amazing writers that are blowing the roof off the place, and everyone is talking about for their Indie work? Where are the Remenders and Aarons and Hickmans and Van Lente’s and Spurrier’s?

With very few exceptions all the exciting writers in comics are working for Marvel. Add to that the fact that Marvel blows DC away in terms of art, and it is a powerful combination.

DC’s art style is largely still stuck in the 90s Image era, and with DC co-headed by Jim Lee, perhaps that’s no wonder, but it is a mistake.

This is the age of the Simone Bianchis and Copiels and Djurdevics and Eptings and Braithwaites and Molinas, guys who offer a level of detail and beauty and storytelling that makes you want to turn pages. And all those guys are Marvel artists.

Now it’s true none of those names, either writer or artist, is known to this new potential readership, that digital distribution offers the opportunity to tap, however my point is… quality will out.

Which means people may be introduced to comics through DCs digital books, but just as in the paper books… they will quickly transition to more sophisticated art and story; which means Independents and Marvel. And they will gravitate to the artists and writers that are steering, capably, the ship.

Now, best of luck to DC’s policy of giving artists they are trying to keep (they tend to lose creators to Marvel), writing assignments of popular characters… to entice them not to jump ship. However, It is a suspect policy.

Not every artist is a Frank Miller (who before being Hollywood Frank Miller, started out as an artist, than became an iconic writer, DARK KNIGHT, 300 etc) and even Frank Miller took a while to be THE Frank Miller.

I am saying it is idiotic to give your flagship titles/characters to unproven writers. No disrespect, beyond the truth, intended to David Finch and Tony Daniels (two popular DC artists and now Writer/Atists), but I’ve never been a huge fan of their art, and by all reports their writing isn’t setting the world on fire. Now it is quite possible with practice they could become kick-ass writers, but you don’t let them practice on your flagship characters such as Batman. It’s thinking like this from DC, again that 90s Image model, mantra of “art is all”, that has been hurting their market share.

Art is important, desperately important. But the writing is also desperately important. And when you can bring top writers AND top artists to a title (which is what Marvel does), then you have a title to hype and to generate sales. And DC fails with both aspects, the writing… and the art.

Nearly every single book Marvel puts out, looks great. That’s how deep their pool of artists is; as opposed to DC that has probably less than a handful of artists I consider great, and the rest, are a “grin and get through it” bunch.

Add to this Marvel Comics are better art designed, and you point out another major failing of DC. The first thing you see of a comic is its cover, and Marvel’s covers are not just better in terms of the actual cover art, they are better in terms of typography and design.

They are, as a whole, as a gestalt, the more interesting covers (exceptions to this being Sam Basri’s phenomenal covers for POWER GIRL).

And fault Marvel for what you will, I think a lot of this has to do with artists such as Quesada and Bendis, who have strong visual instincts, being in editorial control of Marvel and knowing what a compelling cover should look like.

These are the reasons Marvel is # 1. And this whole DC overhaul of their universe and digital delivery announcement while groundbreaking and exciting, will be less effective than it can be if it does not also look at improving quality.

For DC’s announcement to really have had teeth in it, and pit-bull like hang on staying power, they needed to release these 52 titles with a substantial number of amazing creative teams, and from the early solicits, I don’t see this happening.

The most high profile announcement of the new books is Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on the JLA.

Jim Lee’s style was interesting to me in the 90s, but I find it less so in the 2010s. I think part of that is… he’s not the artist he was 20 years ago, looking more like Lee acolyte Ed Benes… than himself, and paradoxically he’s enough of the old Jim Lee for his style to seem very dated. Of course that’s to me, there are huge fans of his, so no doubt the relaunched JLA will garner huge numbers. I just don’t think I’ll be among them.

Along with the art, another thing that raises early flags regarding this new JLA title… is the makeup of this new team. DC makes lip service to diversity, but tokenism is not diversity. First you remove John Stewart as the Green lantern, which is this generation’s Green Lantern (thanks to the JLA cartoon), and you fill it with a boring 70s lineup, and add Cyborg as a concession to tokenism?

I would prefer people not use any characters of color, then drag out just one Black character on a team. I hate seeing just one Black character on a team, give me at least two Black characters, or don’t do it at all. Because without exception that one Black character will be poorly and stupidly written.

And I dislike Cyborg in particular as a character. What is it with Black male characters in comics having to be missing limbs or in someway physically or psychologically damaged? What is that? for the writers to feel comfortable writing him? Be it Cyborg or War-machine over at the esteemed competition. Which is why if you’re going to do diversity, the mass media familiar John Stewart makes more sense than Cyborg, and toss in Vixen and/or Firestorm to go with him. Both characters offering a lot more to work with than the neutered Cyborg. Or don’t do it at all, because (say it with me) tokenism is not diversity.

And while we’re on the subject of Firestorm, what the eff is it with Black characters having to wear yellow? What is that about? You see all these sly little digs they get in? Even as a kid reading Power Man in the day, I was like…”he’s cool and all, but what the f–k is he wearing a big yellow shirt for?!” Even at age 7, I knew that just wasn’t kosher. I mean really? WTF?

Seriously, Mix non-people of color, writing people of color, and typically this is the kind of almost subconscious bs you get. Sad isn’t it? 🙂

Beyond the JLA, everything else mentioned suffers a bit from that underwhelming writer/artist syndrome that DC has.

Now I am interested in the MR. TERRIFIC comic announced, though I’m not familiar with the writer, and while the cover art is good, the interior art… not making me do handstands.

So yeah, it’s great that DC is doing this massive overhaul, and particularly pushing the digital distribution issue, but ultimately how ever you distribute the books… they have to be good, and if DC’s books, can’t currently compete with Marvel traditionally, digital delivery won’t change that.

DC will have the upper-hand for the time it takes Marvel to get a digital presence, but once the playing field is even again, DC loses again… unless they address the underlying problems with their comics. Those being: 1/ that they are still written for a white 1950s audience, rather than a multicultural 2011 audience, and 2/that they actively need to court the hot writers and artists, ala Marvel.

That’s the bottom line. There ain’t no more. I do wish DC well, and here’s hoping they evolve sooner rather than later.

What I’m Reading: FABLES, Cornell Woolrich, GOON, JLA, ESSEX COUNTY, KRIGSTEIN

Well currently have a bunch of books either in rotation, either just finished, on their way to being finished or about to start.

Among them:

NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES by Cornell Woolrich. I’m coming in on the home stretch of this one. I own just about everything Woolrich has written. Made a big dent in his short story collections, and now working my way into his various novels.

A prolific writer, getting through all his novels will probably require more leisure time than I have, but I’m giving it the good old college try. He is easily one of my top ten writers, possibly the top 5, I consider him, along with Chester Himes, one of the most important and influential American writers of the 20th century. He is as Francis Nevins Jr coined him… “A Master of Bleak Poetic Vision”.

NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES is not his best novel, (FRIGHT, THE BLACK PATH OF FEAR and RENDEVOUS IN BLACK, the three of his novels I’ve completed so far, are all better) but Woolrich in neutral is more compelling, addictive and just plain mesmerizing than just about any other writer at full speed.

More for how he says things than what he says.

He constructs, paints a picture unlike any other writer that I know of, living or dead. There’s a sense of discovery in his writing, he builds the world in fragments around you, sets the scene, like a picture slowly developing itself, so when finally his description coalesces into something familiar, he has given you this rare gift of seeing something known, be for a while… magical and unknown.

“And so- every night he walked along the river, going home. Every night about one, a little after.

Anything you keep doing like that, if you keep doing it long enough, suddenly one time something happens. Something that counts, something that matters, something that changes the whole rest of your life. And you forget all the other times that went before it, and just remember that once.”

And that ability is in effect in NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES, about a man trying to save a woman, from the irresistable pull of stars. However, I recommend newbies to the world of Woolrich to start with the novels I previously named, or with his short stories. Go to my page on recommended Short Stories (in the column to your right)and you’ll see some recommendations.

****

B.KRIGSTEIN is an oversized, very hefty tome by Greg Sadowski on the artist Bernard Krigstein. Perhaps most well known by those reading this, for his work on EC comics in the 50s. But Krigstien went on to have a more commercial career, followed by a fine arts career. I just browsed this one and didn’t quite captivate me, no sleight against Krigstein I’m perhaps not the audience for his art. So worth a look if you’re a Krigstein fan, others may want to give it a pass.

****


THE COLLECTED ESSEX COUNTY- By Jeff Lemire, this was spoken of with quite a bit of acclaim, so picked it up from my local library. It’s a very thick and nicely designed trade by the publishers, TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS. A wonderfully evocative graphic novel, collecting three distinct but intermingled stories. With an eye toward minimalism, Lemire with cartoony but deft lines, unfolds tales of a small Canadian town and the lives that grow up and out of it. I’ve read the first two stories, and it’s good, though it doesn’t for me live up to the hefty accolades. But it is impressive story telling, and a heartfelt tale of common lives, that are never really common. I think if you can get the collected edition for a good price, it’s something, in line with Matt Kindts’ THREE STORY, both forlorn memoirs, that you’re going to want on your bookshelf, to browse through from time to time. A recommended buy. Grade B.

DARK HORSE BOOK OF THE DEAD- Yet the latest in this Dark Horse series of Anthologies, each covering a specific topic in Horror. This zombie one being the weakest and least satisfying of the reads so far. None of the stories leaving much of an impression. Worth a look if its in front you, but not worth hunting down.

JLA AMERICAN DREAMS- Not enjoyable Howard Porter Art, and not interesting Grant Morrison stories.

FABLES # 1-5, This is my second time trying to give this heartily praised series by Bill Willingham a try. Like anyone will tell you the first trade, not particularly interesting. Trades 2 and 3 are better, I would call them good. Trade #4 is the first one that I would go so far as to say I really liked. mainly for the opening story, which was great. But Trade #5 descends back into just feeling like spinning wheels, I’m slogging my way just to get through it. So by the end of trade #5 you’re talking 33 issues, over 3 years of story. So clearly fables isn’t my cup of tea. 33 issues and I really find none of the extensive cast particularly interesting, likeable or compelling. I even have trades 6 thru 9 sitting here, but just can’t work up any interest in reading them). So I think I’ll call it a day on this series, as I have tons of other things to read. I’m just glad I got to read these trades for free at the library rather than purchasing them. Your mileage may vary, but for me and this series it’s game over.

****

GOON- Now a series that is working for me, and is living up to the hype is Eric Powell’s loony and lunatic THE GOON. I’ve read three trades back to back, VOL 2 MY MURDEROUS CHILDHOOD, VOL 3 HEAPS OF RUINATION, and CHINATOWN AND THE MYSTERY MR. WICKER. I’ll avoid the play by play, except to say they are fantastic. Fun, frenetic, with every crazy assortment of monstrosity and menace, and at the heart of it, a life hardened palooka, who in the best YOUNG GUNS tradition, understands the meaning of pals. Best praise I can give this series is after reading these trades for free I’m going to buy a nice collected hardcover of them. Nuff said.

All for this installment. Check back later for more.