MOVIE POSTERS OF THE DAY
“These people are like family to me. It has not been easy for anybody. Let me put it that way: It was like a death in the family. Only I was the dead guy. I felt like William Holden, face down in the swimming pool, narrating this thing.”– Frank Darabont on his departure from WALKING DEAD
Okay we’re wrapping this puppy up of the best Comic book covers of 2011. This covers the rest of the year not covered in the first part of this Article.
Okay onto the fun!
John Tyler Christopher for Annihilators: Earthfall #1
Steve McNiven for Captain America #1,3- Steven McNiven in addition to interior work, did several covers. These two were head and shoulders above all the rest of his covers for 2011. They differentiate themselves, particularly #1 by being very memorable. A great cover notable by distilling an entire issue into one image. A great cover is something iconic. CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 is a poster waiting to happen.
Sean Phillips for all four of the CRIMINAL LAST OF THE INNOCENT and select INCOGNITO covers. I didn’t care for some of his INCOGNITO covers in 2011, I think both as concept and covers INCOGNITO never quite gelled into having an identity. Whereas with CRIMINAL LAST OF THE INNOCENTS (as well as the other story-lines) the covers just scream creativity and read me. Great stuff.
JH Williams III knocks it out with his cover for BATWOMAN #1.
Kalman Andrasofszky for X-23 #14. I have no interest in this character or this book, but that is just a fun cover.
Esad Ribic did a lot of covers for 2011, but his covers tend to be too static for my liking. They fail to make me interested. Two exceptions, that made this list being X-FORCE #4 and #13.
Gabriele Dell’Otto gives a very intriguing cover to VENGEANCE #1. And Joe Casey seems to have an intriguing story to tell, but I couldn’t get past the very bland interior art by, to me, an unknown. But Dell’Otto’s cover did the job, it had me interested in buying the book. However the interior art quickly unsold me.
Sean Murphy for American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #1.
Gorgeous Terry & Rachel Dodson covers highlight UNCANNY X-MEN 537 & 535. For some reason they knock it out of the park when drawing Kitty Pride. however the other characters they do in other covers… Emma, Colossus, Wolverine… not so much. But with their Kitty Pride covers it’s like that’s when they get interested and inspired. I think they just love drawing brunettes. 🙂
David Yardin worked his way on this list with two covers that are very visceral, bordering on a rough, muscular moment of ugliness captured, frozen in that moment before the point of no-return. Namely:
Spider-Island: Heroes for Hire #1- A silly cover for a silly storyline, but Yardin’s cover (based on a Romita cover) makes it more compelling than it should be and X-Factor #219. The covers depict ugly moments, which are disturbing, but it’s drawn with sexiness and sensuality beneath the savagery so it makes for something of an uneasy and unsettling image that gets you to stop and take notice. And that’s what covers strive to do.
I like wrap around covers so thumbs up to New Mutants #25, looks a bit computer generated, but nice enough.
Jock for Daredevil Reborn #4
Birds of Prey #11 by Stanley Lau. Jae Lee’s cover looks more than a little like this one. I’ll leave that for others to ponder. Getting back to Lau, I dislike all of Lau’s covers for CAPTAIN ATOM, his earlier work on BIRDS OF PREY is much better. It’s like the work of two completely different artists.
Dan Brereton for Spider #1
That’s it kids. Let’s call it a wrap on the best Comic Book Covers of 2011!!!
Hope you enjoyed, and here’s hoping for even more great covers in 2012!!!
OLD MAN LOGAN- One of the reasons I’m just now getting around to reading this graphic novel has to do with Marvel Comic’s piss poor pricing. The individual issues of Marvel Comics I gave up reading/caring about years ago when most of them…
A/ reached $3.99 in price for less than a couple dozen pages of story and
B/filled the issues with ads that broke up the story (rather than the Independent comics way of placing ads, if any, at the back of the magazine) and
C/ did away with the letters pages/backmatter.
So generally speaking I take a wait and see approach to anything coming from this company. If the buzz/hype is positive I’ll check the book out in trade, providing even in trade format I’m not paying more than $3 per issue. The OLD MAN LOGAN hardcover at $35 retail, clocks in at nearly $4.50 per issue. I call shenanigans on that.
So I basically refused to buy the book until I could get it at a price point I was willing to pay, or rent it from the library. In this case the former scenario popped up, allowing me to purchase OLD MAN LOGAN for $14. At that price, the book is worth every penny.
Now getting beyond the politics of pricing, what did I think of the book itself? It’s AWESOME!!! I am not a Mark Millar fan, being not a fan of his previous ENEMY OF THE STATE Wolverine storyline, I find he can be a very hit and miss writer. Often sensationalism for sensationalism’s sake. but when he dials it back a bit, and stops trying to be the shock jock, and plays in a more mainstream pool, he can tell good stories.
And OLD MAN LOGAN is case in point. It is by no means anything deep, and at times goes too ludicrous, but overall he tells a big grandiose, absurd, post apocalyptic story, Superhero tale as a western of all things, and it just works. Particularly to someone like me who came up on the same stories that informs Millar’s work, his crazy quilt dystopian future hits all the right buttons to garner much ‘gosh’ and ‘oh gee’ enthusiasm. The art by Steve McNiven is rough, stocky, almost off-putting, but it serves the story.
It’s a loud boisterous unsubtle tale, that while nothing new under the sun, works because it gives us familiar characters in unfamiliar situations. Yet another variation of Star Trek’s MIRROR MIRROR or X-Men’s DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, and those variations, more often then not are enjoyable.
And OLD MAN LOGAN, flaws acknowledged is enjoyable.
And to speak on its flaws a bit, the biggest flaw with this book, is the big flaw most writers make, be it Millar or Jason Aaron, when writing Wolverine. They think character and cool translates into ever more egregious ways of showing Wolverine mutilated. All that type of ‘storytelling’ shows me is, the character of Wolverine is a piss poor soldier, that relies too much on the crutch of a healing factor.
What is cooler… a buffoon who gets shot in the face every other page, or a fast fluid killer who you can’t touch, and you don’t even know he has a healing factor, cause that’s how rarely he needs it? I’d vote for the latter. The latter seems the more formidable protagonist. A protagonist that… when on the rare occasions he does get tagged and comes back, it is a moment with real weight.
All these writers in trying to outdo each other in more, more, more, gives the character of Logan/Wolverine nowhere to go. And unfortunately Millar is as guilty of that as every writer since Claremont in trying to make the character of Wolverine into some unkillable badass, who can kill every other superhero. It’s a bit lazy, and bs.
Let’s put it in the perspective of the fictional conceit that has been setup, he’s a dude with claws, and a temper. An interesting character, a scrapper to be sure, but trying to define him as more than that, in a world of God’s and Giants doesn’t ring true (he’s a Spiderman or Daredevil level hero, not in the league of a Thor or Hulk or IronMan). When Claremont was writing him in his Miller and Paul Smith days, as a secret agent/ronin, is the Wolverine character at his best, and most relateable.
Millar’s take on the guy as someone who is by himself going to take out a room full of heroes or villains is bs. But that said, you go into the story accepting the conceit, go with the outlandish premise, just turn your higher brain functions off, and it’s an enjoyable enough romp as a standalone story.
All in all this tale of an older Wolverine in a world where the villains have won and he has hung up his claws. Is imaginative, if absurd entertainment. Grade: B+.
Favorite Movie Title Sequences/Credit Sequences
WOLVERINE- Director Gavin Hood’s X-MEN ORIGINS:WOLVERINE is a mediocre, relatively forgettable film that sports uneven direction and muddled writing/plot. However, the opening title sequence, done not by the director, is another matter entirely; being quite frankly brilliant. You’ll find yourself wanting to rewatch that title sequence constantly, while wanting to completely remove the rest of the film.
Peter Berg’s THE KINGDOM opening credits give in scant minutes a compelling, and brilliantly designed overview and background to the film he’s about to show you, and more to the conflict that has gripped the world since the latter half of the 20th century. It’s an amazing an ambitious credit sequence, if perhaps a bit heavy to really engender re-watchability, which a great title sequence should be… above all else.
LORD OF WAR- A great sequence follows the pov/life history of a bullet. Has been loudly applauded in many quarters and with good reason. It’s an instant classic.
SEVEN- A great movie and a great (and much copied) credit sequence. Perhaps the most influential of all the sequences on this list. Which is perhaps why it doesn’t seem as brilliant now, because so many people have stolen/borrowed this style. But the original is still the best.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE- Coming off the success of the first film, this one was subjected to all kinds of criticism, even before the film came out, including the title sequence. I quite like the film, it has flaws but I quite enjoy it. It falls apart at the end, but is still strong enough throughout most of it. And I LOVE the credit sequence. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth about Alicia Keys, but her amazing vocals along with songwriter Jack Black’s compulsive lyrics, above those sultry and sensual visuals just works, and is quintessential Bond. In fact I think it is my favorite Bond Credit sequence. A credit sequence I could watch on repeat darn near constantly.
SAHARA- By all reports an average film, it sports a fantastic floating tracking shot among the artifacts of a room. Seemingly simple, but brilliantly done.
Go to the members section of this blog for how to view any and all of these sequences (sign up and I’ll send details). However you view them, avoid crappy flash versions like you’ll find on Youtube. Just say no to Flash and its derivatives. 🙂
And Feel free to leave your comments about your favorite credit sequences. 🙂
Okay it’s that time again. My recommendation for comic books/graphic novels to preorder now for January 2011 arrival.
If while going though the below list you see any titles that you want to purchase current or backissues of go
But first, what is UNDER THE RADAR?
UNDER THE RADAR was an experiment I started a while ago that I was quite proud of. Basically a very cool PDF I launched out to comic book retailers and fans to highlight titles you would otherwise miss, or get lost in the deluge from bigger publishers flooding the market.
It was fun, and very intensive, and very time consuming, so when time became an issue it fell by the wayside.
But I notice my old UNDER THE RADAR posts get a lot of hits, and even though a lot of people are doing preview podcasts (audio/radio-like programs dedicated to recommending items to preorder), those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for is a quickly viewed list of recommended items they might otherwise miss.
So with that in mind, UNDER THE RADAR is back, but in a FAR simpler format. No PDF, no long diatribes. just a monthly listing of new titles to preorder or be on the lookout for.
Okay without further ado, this is a list of titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for January 2011 arrival.
No letters pages, no back matter, ads breaking up the story.
All these odd decisions from Marvel give no incentive to buy marvel issues monthly. Seemingly, they don’t care enough to give you a something beyond what you would get in the trade paperback, a real sense of a Stan Lee dialog, or sense of a monthly behind the scenes look at the creative process, so generally I say eff em. I’m talking about the publishing policies and policy makers of Marvel, not generally the creators, (as marvel has some great creators, but perhaps in service of not the greatest decision makers) but rather the lackluster way the creations are fed to you.
So even though Marvel floods the market with well over a hundred titles a month, their policies make it very easy to dismiss most of them from purchase consideration. The exceptions for this month?
$4.99 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500
Written by MATT FRACTION Art & 50/50 Covers by SALVADOR LARROCA Variant Covers by MARKO DJURDJEVIC, JOE QUESADA & JOHN ROMITA JR. GIANT-SIZED ANNIVERSARY ISSUE! Three generations of Starks face their ultimate foe, seventy-some years in the future while, in the present, Spider-Man joins Iron Man as he tries to fill in the blanks of his missing memory. What if amnesia was a weapon? What if the smartest man in the land had ten nightmares that all came true? Who is the son of Tony Stark? What’s inside of the rings? The future starts now, for the Marvel Universe’s favorite futurist. The Eisner-award-winning series makes a four-hundred-something-issue leap and raises a glass of non-alcoholic champale in salute to Ol’ Shell-head! By Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, CASANOVA) and Salvador Larroca (UNCANNY X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR), with special guests Howard X, Y and Z! 104 PGS./Rated A …$4.99
100 pgs for $5. Not great, but I do like what Matt Fraction is doing with this book. Hopefully it isn’t full of reprints to pad out the page count, but figure the odds of that. A lukewarm recommendation.
* Marvel had a couple interesting trades, but their pricing is outrageous. For 4 and 5 issues of content they are trying to charge $20 to $30 for a collected edition, trade, or hc. Which basically boils down to them trying to charge you between $4 and $6 per issue collected. To that I say, hell no. A trade should, with rare eceptions, be no more than $2 per issue collected. So if you are only collecting 4 issues you’re only going to get $8 from me. And if it costs more than that you get nothing from me.
So Marvel trades get nothing from me this month.
*I’m interested in Matt Fraction’s THOR but not interested enough to pay $4 an issue, they can keep it.
$1.95 (save $1.04) THUNDERBOLTS #152
Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND The T-Bolts leap into HULK’s “Scorched Earth”! At the request of Steve Rogers, Luke Cage must take his hardened team to deal with a doomsday scenario unleashed in the pages of HULK! And now that the squad is a man short, Cage finally uses his power to recruit another prisoner to duty–and his pick will shock you! Will the Thunderbolts accept this new member as a part of their force? Or will this heavy duty wild card destroy the balance of power? Find out in the series that Newsarama.com’s Best Shots calls “The Avengers title that not enough people are raving about…it’s one of the best of the bunch.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (preview artwork is available)
The reason I’m picking up this title is it has potential, it has Luke Cage:Power Man (They need to go back to calling him that), Jeff Parker is a good writer, storyline sounds like a good jumping on point, and the price is $2.99. So to keep me picking it up monthly they’ll need to add letterpages or backmatter, or I’ll be hopping off of it relatively soon.
Written by DAVID LISS Penciled by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI Luke Cage guest stars as T’Challa’s new adventure in NYC continues! The former King of Wakanda has sworn to protect the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and while battling the mob is one thing, how does he stop a killer targeting innocent people? It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, as T’Challa hunts ruthless new crime lord Vlad the Impaler, while Vlad concocts a desperate and bloody scheme to entrap the mysterious new vigilante that’s ruining his plans. T’Challa learns what it really means to be a man without fear, courtesy of award-winning thriller novelist David Liss and the pulp-tastic art of Francesco Francavilla! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
I think without argument Christopher Priest’s take on the Black Panther was the essential take, and Marvel’s use of this character since, has been in the shadow of that great run. And good writers not withstanding, Hudlin and Mayberry, I think it suffers from idiotic editorial decisions. Petty decisions intent, for whatever reason, on dismantling a great character. A female Black Panther? Really? That was someone’s stab at a good idea? Just indicative of the sabotaging type editorial decisions that have plagued this character.
The post-Priest series suffering from gimmics rather than gusto.
However with T’Challa back in the suit, if only in the DAREDEVIL title, I’m hoping this will be a good jumping on point. I’d love to see an entertaining, respectful run with this character. I’m unfamiliar with David Liss, but he has sense enough to toss Luke Cage:Power Man in here, and that means I’m willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, and willing to support, until they prove otherwise.
From Marvels ICON Line
Written by MATT FRACTION Art & Cover by FABIO MOON CASANOVA is back. Or is he? Actually Casanova is gone. Gone from space, gone from time. The burning question WHEN IS CASANOVA QUINN hangs over the entire world as E.M.P.I.R.E. and W.A.S.T.E. alike race toward the horrible, inevitable, answer…The second staggering volume of CASANOVA starts here by the Eisner-laden team of Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN) and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK) taking over art duties. Never before collected! Never before reprinted! Never before understood! In gorgeous full 4-D psychocolor! Worth a million in prizes! Change your shorts, change your life, change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy! Guaranteed!* *not actually guaranteed 40 PGS./Mature Content …$3.99
No ads breaking up the story, and loads of backmatter, and additional pages. So it’s me getting more bang for my buck, plus it’s Matt Fraction’s CASANOVA.
$14.99 CASANOVA TP LUXURIA VOL 1
Written by MATT FRACTION Penciled by FABIO MOON & GABRIEL BA Cover by GABRIEL BA Meet Casanova Quinn: prodigal son of a law-and-order family hell-bent on keeping the world safe and sound, now blackmailed into betraying his father and the international law enforcement organization he controls. LUXURIA collects the first volume of CASANOVA as its titular star transforms from devil-may-care thrill-seeker into the most dangerous man in the world. What happens when the ultimate player gets played? Find out in this genre-bending sci-spy epic. Gorgeously re-colored and re-lettered by hand, this staggering psychedelic spy-fi epic is collected for the first time as it was meant to be made. By the Eisner award-winning team of Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN), Gabriel Ba (UMBRELLA ACADEMY, BPRD: 1947), and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK). With all-new, all-different, never-before-seen bonus material! Collecting CASANOVA: LUXURIA #1-4112 PGS./Mature …$24.99 152 PGS./Mature …$14.99
And speaking of CASANOVA we also have the CASANOVA trade. At $15 and being a collection of bigger ICON issues, the price point is a doable exception.
BY ED BRUBAKER AND SEAN PHILIPS WITH COLORS BY VAL STAPLES Zack Overkill has plunged into the super-criminal underworld on a deadly mission that’s made him question everything. Now he’s come face-to-face with his target, and things just got a hell of a lot worse. And so with every issue, our Professor of Pulp Culture, Jess Nevines is back with another great essay on forgotten pulp history, available only in the single issues of INCOGNITO. INCOGNITO, BAD INFLUENCES #4 -32 PGS/Mature Content/Np Ads … $3.50
It’s always good to see the CRIMINAL team of Brubaker and Philips releasing another issue.
Uhh, yeah and that’s all for Marvel.
All the negatives I said for Marvel, goes for DC as well. Which makes it easy to disregard most of the 100 or so books they put out every month. It’s stupid, confusing, greedy, and ultimately just off-putting to have 20 different Bat Titles. You should have just 2. BATMAN, and one 100page anthology called BATMAN FAMILY. Boom, job done. And until they do this it makes it very easy for me to buy none of their titles. Thanks. :).
Written by JUDD WINICK Art and cover by SAMI BASRI Racing headlong into the adventure and turmoil of GENERATION LOST, Power Girl is hot on the trail of Max Lord – seeking answers and looking for payback. But a trip to Project Cadmus leaves her with a bit more than she can handle, and monstrously outnumbered. On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
The one big difference between Marvel and DC is in terms of art. For the most part Marvel has frigging kick ass artists and cover design, and no doubt this is due to two of the companies driving forces, Quesada and Bendis, being great artists in their own right. DC to be kind, with a few exceptions (such as the great and innovative art of Perez or Quietly), underwhelms. DC’s covers and interiors are typically a bland, uninteresting house style; and in a medium that lives and dies on art, that’s not a good thing.
And when they do get a decent artist, like Simone Bianchi, seemingly the suits are too inane or cheap to keep them, and Marvel ends up offering the artist a better deal.
Which brings us to Sam Basri.
I touched on this in the last UNDER THE RADAR, Sam Basri is one of the few absolutely amazing artists that DC has working for them. His sense of cover design on the POWER GIRL series has been blowing me away. They really are works of art by themselves, and is one of the main reasons I’m picking up this series in individual issues rather than waiting for the trade. He really is one of DCs best artists, and the company really needs to realize this and pay him accordingly, or they’ll find him working for their competition in no time. 🙂 .
Written by DAVID HINE Art by MORITAT Cover by LADRONN Roscoe Kalashnikov was sure he could get away with murder – and in a town as corrupt as Central City, maybe he could. But if that’s so, why do his victim’s words still haunt him? She said something about “the spirit of justice” and now, around every corner, Roscoe is seeing a flash of trench coat and the briefest glimpse of a masked man… On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
David Hine on a SPIRIT comic? I’m intrigued. David Hine is a really good writer.
$2.99 THUNDER AGENTS #3
Written by NICK SPENCER Art by CAFU & BIT and HOWARD CHAYKIN Cover by CHRIS SPROUSE The new hit series by Nick Spencer (ACTION COMICS, Morning Glories) and CAFU continues! Think the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are a messed-up team? Wait until you learn the secrets of the evil organization known as Spider! This issue promises twists, turns and a sequence illustrated by the legendary Howard Chaykin! On sale JANUARY 12 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US
I’m hearing good things about this Nick Spenser, so this issue may be worth a look.
$2.99 LOONEY TUNES #194
Written by BILL MATHENY Art by DAVID ALVAREZ Cover by SCOTT GROSS Beaky Buzzard is hungry. He thinks he’s found a nice meal in Daffy Duck, but the wacky bird has another suggestion: Bugs Bunny. So just who will be feeding the hungry buzzard family? A hint: It won’t be the ever-cool Bugs! Poor Beaky doesn’t stand a chance… On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
$2.99 TINY TITANS #36
Written by ART BALTAZAR & FRANCO Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR Titans to the center of the Earth! Terra uses her powers to take the “hot” Titans on the journey of a lifetime. And if Terra is involved, you know Beast Boy isn’t far behind! Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bottled water, and watch out for the Sea Trap of Doom! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
I’ve started looking for books that I can give to younger readers. The above seem to fit the bill.
Written by PAUL CORNELL Art by PETE WOODS Cover by DAVID FINCH & BATT The last place Lex Luthor expected his quest for the Black Lantern energy to take him was Arkham Asylum – specifically to the cell of The Joker! What clues about Lex’s quest could The Joker have to offer, and why on Earth would Lex trust him? Get ready for a one-of-a-kind confrontation between comics’ two greatest villains, as brought to you by the twisted minds of Paul Cornell and Pete Woods! On sale JANUARY 26 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US
$2.99 STEEL #1
Written by STEVE LYONS Art by SEAN CHEN Cover by ALEX GARNER John Henry Irons is a normal human being who managed to overcome all odds and become a hero who Superman considers a peer and colleague. What kind of determination drives a man to reach such heights? Find out here as a battered and bruised Steel defiantly stands as the only thing between Metallo and the destruction of Metropolis! Doctor Who novelist Steve Lyons and artist Sean Chen (ACTION COMICS, SALVATION RUN) deliver a story that shows why Steel is a true DC Universe icon! ONE-SHOT * On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Great solicitation. Plus I really like the character of Steel.
*I’ve heard good things about Lemire’s SUPERBOY, but I’ve seen the art, and it just doesn’t work for me. May try it later in trade.
$2.99 SUPERGIRL #60
Written by NICK SPENCER Art by BERNARD CHANG Cover by AMY REEDER & RICHARD FRIEND SUPERGIRL welcomes aboard writer Nick Spencer (JIMMY OLSEN, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, Morning Glories) and artist Bernard Chang (WONDER WOMAN, SUPERMAN) for a Girl of Steel story unlike any other! Someone is trying to kill the young heroes of the DC Universe! Who is this villain, and how can Supergirl stop him? Maybe her friends can help – namely, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Static and…Robin?! Buckle up, folks, because this one puts the pedal to the metal on page one and doesn’t let up for a second! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Two things are getting me to give this a try, Nick Spenser and Static.
Written by MATTHEW STURGES Art by WERTHER DELL’EDERA and DAVID LLOYD Cover by ESAO ANDREWS Since the Pair of the Conception first chased Fig Keele into the House of Mystery, Fig has never known who they were or what they wanted from her. Now, Fig solves a mystery that’s been lingering since the very beginning. Featuring a tale illustrated by David Lloyd (V FOR VENDETTA)! On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US MATURE READERS
Probably not the best place to jump in, but I’m intrigued, and have been meaning to pick this up.
Wow, I’m actually quite surprised how many DC comics I recommend this month. I guess their price drop has helped their titles to become more attractive, or at least most justifiable of the expense. Well that’s all for this installment. Catch me tomorrow for part 2 of this, and the remaining titles I recommend. Don’t miss it, as that’s where the good stuff is.
Marvel is a company I don’t do on a Monthly basis anymore (DC as well for that matter), primarily because it makes no real sense to buy individual comics compared to picking up the collected trades. The ads are way too obtrusive, the price per story-page ratio… is too high, and the third thing missing is something called… feedback.
The letters page in comics.
The letterspage, true to its name, was a place in comics where letters to the editor was asked or answered. Some books’ pages were just okay, some were great, but all were appreciated. The effort and time the publishers put into producing these one or two pages, now sacrificed to ads, were appreciated, and I think helped build an audience.
And it’s not comparable to online message boards, because this dialog between audience and creator was informed dialog. And that does come from it being written and moderated and chosen, with an eye to self promotion on the companies part surely, but I also got the sense they were balanced pages that presented well thought out opinions of various shades.
Go read some of the old MASTER OF KUNG FU letters pages, or the old DEFENDERS letters pages, they are signposts of the times as much as discussion of any particular issues, and as such are great pop-culture time capsules.
And editorial at the big two comic book companies, Marvel and DC, have done away with those time-capsules, and to their detriment I believe.
When done right, that slim, floppy thing people inaccurately call a comic book, can give you an entertainment value, that you’re not going to get from the trade.
It, when done right, will give you an experience unique to the serial format. That differentiates it, from the trade paperback, or the movie, or the anime.
When done right a slim, forget the term comic book… it’s a misnomer, we’ll for this article call it a slim. 🙂 . Please send all royalties to me. 🙂 .
Anyhow, when done right the Slim… works. It’s a dose, a quick fix, as Ellis likes to say. When done right, they are worth seeking out.
FELL by the Aforementioned Warren Ellis, bringing it back to Marvel CRIMINAL… they in scant pages not only give you an ad free story, but give you a dialog, this behind the scenes material, into the creator and the creative process.
And that’s something you don’t currently get from mainstream Marvel and DC comics.
I grew up in the 70s, so that letters page, I think for me and a generation of readers, and a generation before them; was this dialog about and into the creative process, the backmatter if you will of the stories.
And yes, I know now we have the internet, yada, yada, yada (I really hate that show 🙂 ) but that’s no replacement for a well moderated, and well edited Letterspage. But companies, want to cut costs and give you the lowest common denominator product for the highest cost.
And so today you who don’t know anything better, get the typical DC or Marvel monthly book. A book that is not worth picking up new (for me. For the rest of you buy 12 copies if you like, but for me… no).
My process typically is… if the book is getting really strong feedback, to wait a few months for the trade, avoid the ads, or pick up the back issues later for a fraction of cover price.
That said the only two Marvel Trades I’ve bought in the last year is Brubaker’s first DAREDEVIL trade, and Peter David’s first X-FACTOR trade. I’ve read quite a few at the library, and am just as glad I didn’t buy them. Now I do buy comics, I’ve spent over $1000 on books and trades last year, I just haven’t been buying Marvel.
That’s not to say they don’t have great stuff, and great creators.
But a great creator in service of soap opera drivel, is for me…a waste of a great creator.
Though I heard some of the books are really good. CAPTAIN AMERICA, WOLVERINE, GHOST RIDER, all with great creators… but I’m not piqued enough to deal with the Ads, the price, the crossovers, the lack of respect for the readers (you know what really sold Marvel Comics over DC in the 60s and 70s, it was the personality of Stan Lee. This concept of talking to, rather than at, your audience. This talk seen in his Soap Box articles (just collected), and in every letterspage. And there was something special about that particular odd brand of forum and dialog as practiced by the comics of yesterday. This arcane idea… of community.
You bring up the internet and I’m going to break your knees.)
The monthly books I do pick up, have either Letterspages (most Indies)or what Warren Ellis has coined “BackMatter”(CRIMINAL). It just shows the book isn’t just some assembly line piece of drivel, that editors are flooding the market with to try and bury books that are worth your time.
So yeah lacking all that can’t be bothered with new books from the big 2.
But as stated, I will pick up especially well reviewed book, that I find in the back issue bin for a $1 or less (the price all Marvel Comics should be 🙂 ).
And here are three old reviews I’m finally getting around to posting:
Trilogy of acclaimed Wolverine stories. They are:
Mark Millar spent a year on Wolverine, doing a story arc about Wolverine being turned by Hydra and killing heroes. While well received by fans and critics alike, I was rather underwhelmed. Finding it very much a one-trick pony of an idea, that stretched over 12 issues… felt very thin.
Millar’s last issue on the book however, in one self contained story, has more power and is plain better than his previous 12 issues combined.
And much of this issues success is owed to the dark, brooding, yet at the same time clean, crisp art of Kaare Andrews. Very much a David Mazzucheilli (sp) vibe.
WOLVERINE 32: PRISONER NUMBER ZERO is a very minimalist tale, of the dark days of the war, a concentration camp, a new commandant, and a little man… who will not die. Compelling and dangerous from first page to last. It’s the kind of issue that you can hand to people who don’t know comic-books and they will be… smitten. B+/A-.
Wolverine 56- It would be exactly two years after Millar’s story, before anyone did anything as good with the character. In this issue newcomer Jason Aaron pens his own one-shot…. about the man who cannot die.
This story THE MAN IN THE PIT much like the earlier PRISONER NUMBER ZERO finds our protagonist trapped and at the mercy of merciless men. MAN IN THE PIT is a good story. Jason Aaron clearly showing those writing chops that impressed me so much in THE OTHER SIDE. The art however is… is bad. Which it gives me pause to say, because I’m a Chaykin fan, like anyone else. Chaykin being an artist I liked very much in the late 80s, into the 90s with his BLACK KISS, AMERICAN FLAG, and POWER AND GLORY work.
However it is now 2008, and the rigors of a monthly schedule with few exceptions is a young man’s domain. Chaykin’s work here looking very phoned in. That last page is horrendously bad.
However while the look of the art itself is rushed and unfinished, you cannot fault Chaykin’s layouts. He still knows how to move your eye, and tell a story.
So even notching it for art. A strong issue: B.
However it does point out an issue, about making Wolverine a masochistic foil. The story points out the problem of Writers, not really knowing what to do with the character of Wolverine, falling back on just testing out their latest torture or “death of the day” on him.
Because a man is capable of receiving great punishment or to an extent rising from the dead, does not mean that every story trope has to revolve around this extreme. Or that he’s going to want to be put in a position every day to test that trope.
Because of tetnus shots, I can step on a rusty nail every day and not die. But just because I can doesn’t mean I’m going to. It’s unpleasant.
Wolverine/Logan is a world class spy and fighter and survivor. Yet nearly every issue, some writer has him getting shot in the head by a two bit punk, trapped in a pit, or otherwise the male equivalent of the bondage girls of the 40s and 50s.
I give Millar’s story a pass, because it’s a fable, in its own way a ghost story. However Aaron’s story while a good read, kinda asks you to believe that a character that can survive the Hulk: A/ is going to get trapped in a pit by losers and B/ having found himself trapped couldn’t just jump out the frigging pit.
Stories like this tend to dumb down and power down the character to put him in these inane situations where writers can go for the lowest common denominator. “Look I blew his jaw off”.
Wolverine/Logan is a hero and a dangerous fucking man not because he can heal from any wound, but because he doesn’t have to.
Read that last sentence again Marvel.
Unless you are Spiderman you’re not faster than Wolverine, and you’re not going to sneak up on him. You are not going to catch him by surprise. This dude is James Bond (albeit an uncouth James Bond) with Claws. And James Bond doesn’t stand around to get shot in the fing head.
Wolverine getting hurt, needing to use his healing factor, should be the exception not the rule.
It should happen so rarely villains don’t even know about it, and then when he does get shot, and rise from the dead so to speak, it’s this moment that has weight. Because in the previous year no one has even scratched this killing machine.
Claremount and Bryne, more than creators Dave Cockrum and Len Wein, defined this character. And arguably his finest hours were with Claremont and Miller in his first mini-series (still holds up), and with Claremont and Paul Smith in their 80s run in the UNCANNY X-MEN.
That said there are some new writers on the block who are doing some amazing work.
Possibly my favorite recent Wolverine story, even topping Millar’s PRISONER ZERO is Mike Carey’s one-shot FIREBREAK. It’s a wonderful story that uses a disintegrating marriage as the framework for this tale of an out of control wildfire and a blinded hero.
I was not a fan of mike Carey’s LUCIFER but I found this one-shot completely riveting. And the art by Scott Kollins is as frenetic and beautiful as ever (though you miss the tightness of an inker. The colorist probably doing inks and colors in photoshop, and you miss the strength of a real inker, finishing and interpreting the work). We accept the blindness aspect as one of the rare times the Hero gets hurt, but beyond that he gets mauled by a bear, shot down by Hydra goons. Hydra goons?! Comeon, blind or no, there’s no way they were going to shoot Peter Parker or James Bond point blank. So how are they going to take by surprise a man who can smell their adrenalin.
But that artistic license aside, a great issue. A-.
Well That’s all for this installment. Hope you’ve enjoyed me breaking up your favorite unbreakable mutant. Just in time for the movie no less. 🙂 .