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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 21 May 2008

So this week, I got Casanova, which I should have gotten last week, but I didn’t get Gødland, because the same thing that happened last week happened this week – the distributor sent four copies of a completely different comic instead of Gødland! Sheesh. This make Burgas angry. Grrrr.

The Boy Who Made Silence #3 (of 12) by Joshua Hagler (writer/artist/letterer) and Thomas Mauer (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Markosia.

Hagler’s odd and gorgeous comic continues, as we learn more about the town and the principals and get even less about the eponymous boy. But that’s okay, because it’s clear that this book is about the people Nestor affects as much (if not more) than it is about him. So we get insight into two couples who were affected by Nestor’s “scream,” if we can call it that, and we begin to discover a little bit about what he has done. The second person narration that Hagler has been using throughout the book feels a bit less effected here, as Jim, one of the townspeople, flashes back to when he learned his father had been killed in Kuwait and starts to realize what freedom really means. Perhaps it’s because we know the characters a bit better, but the second person is very effective in this issue, as it wasn’t in the first one. Something profound is happening in the town, and the way Hagler narrates it helps draw us in while still keeping us aloof. It’s a handy trick, and we’ll see if he can keep it up.

A good deal of the book is in flashback, first to a horrifying sexual encounter (not graphically horrifying, but emotionally) and then to the knock on the door that leads to the news of Jim’s father’s death. In both scenes, Hagler purposely makes the characters grotesquely disproportionate, with their heads bulbously perched on tiny bodies. It’s a disconcerting effect, made worse by the fact that Trish, who in the present is Jim’s wife, is normal-looking, and she has to endure the advances of a monstrously misshapen boy. This makes what is happening, which is terrifying enough, even worse, because we’re viewing it as Trish must have, and her feeling of helplessness is uncomfortable (which is the point, after all). In the present, the art is more normal, but I’m not even getting into the freaky cat that seems to talk to Nestor. That’s just wacky

I’ve liked each issue of this comic, but it’s getting better, and that’s always good. It’s a book that really makes you slow down and check out each panel, and it’s amazing to look at. I’m going to keep telling you to find it until you do!

Casanova #14 by Matt Fraction (writer), Fábio Moon (artist), and Sean Konot (letterer). $1.99, 29 pgs, BWB, Image.

Yeah. Well, through every fault of my own, I knew what the big reveal in this issue was, and I’m a bit grumpy about it. But not too much, because it’s done in such a dazzling way that it becomes less of a reveal and more of just a part of the story. Great stories are like that – they don’t rely on a big shocker, and Casanova is a great story.

I just can’t really process it right now. The only thing that bugs me is how what happened happened, but I’m sure if I go back and re-read the 14 issues I’ll figure it out. This is a brilliant comic. It’s kind of like (yes, I’m going here) early Morrison. You know, the God of All Comics we all fell in love with? These days, Mr. Deity seems far too content to play in the sandbox without really stepping out of it. Sure, he builds lovely castles, but he mastered that skill a long time ago, and how many times can we see him build another one? There was a time when Morrison seemed to push himself beyond what was even credible in comics – I don’t really like The Filth, for instance, but it pushed the envelope quite a bit. Plus, he seems far too concerned with plot rather than characterization these days, and although his characterization has always seemed to be a weakness in his work, at least he tried. With this comic, however, Fraction takes not only the craziness of what is possible in the comics medium and really, no where else, and infuses it with a humanity that is lacking in much of Morrison’s work these days (and, to be honest, even some of Fraction’s Marvel work). Casanova is a love story as much as it is anything, and a brilliant one at that. I’m certainly not saying our Bald Beacon of Brilliance has jumped the shark (far from it), but I do wish he’d get out of the sandbox once in a while.

Of course, Fraction is now the bigwig in Joey Q’s sandbox, so who the hell knows what he’s going to do with this magnificent comic. We’ll see. Damn. I miss this already.

Catwoman #79 by Will Pfeifer (writer), David López (penciller), Álvaro López (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

I love crossed sevens. I use them myself, from my days in Germany. Nice to see one showing up on this cover.

I guess I don’t have to say anything about this. It’s dead in a few months, so if I haven’t convinced you to buy it by now, it no longer matters. That’s cool, though. Pfeifer will end up writing almost 40 issues of this, and that’s a pretty good run. This is a fairly typical issue, as it features excellent art, a gripping story, some twists and turns, and yes, Pfeifer’s over-reliance on stressed words (a complaint someone brought up here a while ago). It’s interesting that Selina never realized how intimidating Batman is, but maybe she just never saw him in action before.

This is the kind of comic I’ll re-read a lot. It’s never been flashy, but it got better and better as it hemorrhaged readers (presumably, although I don’t know how many it had to begin with), and it’s too bad that it’s getting the axe. But not too bad. Pfeifer, it seems, is getting to wrap things up somewhat neatly, it seems, which is more than you can say for some books.

Checkmate #26 by Bruce Jones (writer), Manuel Garcia (artist), Travis Lanham (letterer), and Santiago Arcas (colorist). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Remember the first two story arcs of Bruce Jones’ run on The Incredible Hulk? Before it started to go in the toilet? That’s why I’m not dumping Checkmate just yet, despite his track record since then. I want to see if he can create an atmosphere like that without, you know, dragging the damned thing out for years. And with this first issue, he does a pretty good job.

This is a solid spy story with a touch of real-world gravitas, as it begins in Iraq before Checkmate steps in. They turn a critically wounded soldier into a super-soldier, one who can take on the aspect of any animal but with superior strength and with basic human intelligence. Well, that’s handy. Meanwhile, strange things are happening in various parts of the world, wreaking sufficient havoc for our heroes to get involved. Jones does a very nice job with the set-up – we get to see the family the soldier left behind (he’s “dead” in a cover story), and of course, his fiancée realizes he’s alive, which will probably not be good for anyone. The threat is teased nicely, with things striking from off-panel and finally, something shadowy and big and carrying a sickle trashes Beijing. There’s remarkably little of the Checkmate crew in the book, which might help new readers who wouldn’t be familiar with the large cast. Who knows?

Garcia’s art is quite nice, too. Joe Bennett, who had been as regular a penciller on this book recently as anyone, isn’t bad, but his lines are a bit too slick for an espionage book, even one with superpowered beings. Garcia gives the book a grittier feel, and it works well. I don’t have any issues with the art.

As for Jones … he’s done this before. I had such high hopes for his Hulk, but it just went nowhere. Maybe he’s learned his lesson and will stick to short arcs that don’t meander and lose our interest. I’d like that, but I’m still wary about this comic. Rucka (and Trautmann, later on in the run) set the bar pretty high.

The Damned: Prodigal Sons #2 (of 3) by Cullen Bunn (story/writer) and Brian Hurtt (story/artist). $3.50, 23 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

There are two narrative threads in this issue. In one, Eddie wanders the land of the dead looking for his mother and finds out that he probably should have sought out Dr. Strange or some other Sorceror Supreme to get a road map, because he’s way out of his element. It’s interesting and contains some portentous statements by his guide, but it’s basically Eddie wandering around. The fun part of the book is in the “real” world, as Morgan and Darcy (the girl who was about to touch Eddie at the end of last issue) try to keep Eddie’s body away from the demon gangsters. This is basically a chase scene, as Morgan drags Eddie’s body around, trying not to touch it (which will kill him and bring Eddie back) and shoving it toward the demons, who naturally don’t want to touch it either. Finally, the demons get the body, but Darcy has a car, so the chase continues … next issue, natch. It’s a wildly exciting and wickedly humorous chase, because Eddie, as a corpse, can be used to block knives and hatchets and all sorts of weapons, and Morgan has no compunction about using him that way. Hurtt, as is perhaps not surprising, draws the heck out of it, with a wonderful helter-skelter style that ramps up the tension with each panel. We don’t think anyone is going to touch Eddie, but you never know, and the various attempts to avoid it are funny yet tense.

I do have one question. Darcy doesn’t know about the demon gangsters. At one point she asks Morgan if they’re wearing masks. I thought this was a pretty established status quo around town. She works in a club frequented by shady characters, after all. Do “regular” folk not know about the demons? I wonder about things like this.

Anyway, this is another fine issue of a very enjoyable comic book. If you don’t believe me, believe Chris Sims, who gets quoted on the front. If you can’t trust Chris Sims, who can you trust? (Well, unless he’s a Skrull, which is entirely possible.)

Dynamo 5 #13 by Jay Faerber (writer), Mahmud A. Asrar (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

I felt a bit guilty about getting a quote on the back of the Dynamo 5 Annual from a couple of weeks ago, because I didn’t really think the book was that great (it was decent but overpriced). However, the same quote is on the back of this regular issue of the title, and I’m happy it’s on an issue that I can support. This issue is a breather issue after the high-octane action of the past two, and in wonderfully typical superhero fashion, we get some nice revelations about the characters and their situation. At the end of last issue, Myriad was unconscious and looking rather alien-like. So the kids want to know what’s up with that, and Spencer tells them: he’s an alien. But still a kid of Captain Dynamo, who wasn’t above getting some alien tail when it presented itself! So we get Spencer’s “secret origin,” plus the Nobles guest-star, as Doc Noble takes Maddie to their headquarters so he can figure out how to wake her up from her coma. And, again in fine superhero fashion, the book ends with a threat … but what if no one notices it?!?!?!?

This is a solid issue, as it focuses on the characters and how little they really know about each other. Whenever we start to think they’re working well as a team, Faerber lets us know that they really are being manipulated by Maddie, who hasn’t told them everything. It will be neat to see how long Maddie remains in a coma and what the kids learn about each other and their mission. Faerber, meanwhile, continues to remind us that they’re kids, as they don’t act like adults in this issue (they’re mature kids, to be sure, but still kids). Plus, Mrs. Chang’s crush on Doc Noble is humorous.

I keep hearing that sales on this and Noble Causes are pretty poor. That’s too bad, because for pure superhero action, you can’t find much better than these two books. I do hope they both continue, because they’re the kind of books that make people fall in love with superheroes in the first place.

Ghost Rider #23 by Jason Aaron (writer), Roland Boschi (artist), Dan Brown (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Aaron’s first arc comes to … well, an inconclusive end, but a pretty good one. This issue, which needs to tie some things up, isn’t quite as balls-to-the-wall as the previous three, but it still sets up Aaron’s long-term story very well, and features a splash page that shows what happens when four motor-powered vehicles all arrive at a crossroads intersection at pretty much the same time. Yeah, it’s not pretty. Boschi’s art is very nice throughout the arc, but he really nails a few pages in this one, and that’s one of them.

As for the way things resolve … it’s a bit of a weird feeling reading this book. It’s really horribly depressing, if you think about what actually happens to the principals, but Aaron manages to distract us with cannibal jokes (really) and just desserts for some bad guys and a shocking reveal on the last page. Yes, it’s shocking! So shocking I have a question about it, so I’m going to SPOIL it just below!

But before we get there, I’ll say that these four issues of Ghost Rider have been extremely fun. Aaron has taken what could be a lame idea (GR is really working for a rogue angel!) and, while not redeeming it completely, shows us how it could be workable. It’s enough to make me curious about where he’s going with it. Yay! Another book to buy!

Okay, first, about Aaron: you’ll recall that he wrote The Other Side, an acclaimed mini-series. Then he wrote (and still writes) Scalped, which is apparently selling like used underwear but is also critically acclaimed (and pretty damned good, to boot). Now he’s working on Ghost Rider, which might not be that big a deal, but at least he was in a movie and is a long-time character in the Marvel U. My question is: why does DC let these guys go? I don’t know if Aaron has a dreaded “exclusive” with Marvel, but why does it seem like, with few exceptions, a bunch of good writers cut their teeth with DC, write critical successes but commercial flops, and instead of DC allowing them to work into a position where their books sell, allow them to go to Marvel, where they kick all kinds of ass? It’s weird.

Finally, let’s look at the SPOILER at the end of the issue. In case you don’t care, on the final page, Danny Ketch shows up. Well, actually, he shows up earlier, but this is the first time we see him. In the letters page, Aaron himself tells us Ketch’s history. What I find interesting about this is this statement: “[Danny] first took the reins of the Spirit of Vengeance in 1990’s GHOST RIDER #1 and headlined that series for 93 issues, taking the character to the greatest heights of popularity he’s yet seen.” My question is: why is Danny Ketch no longer Ghost Rider, if he was far more popular than Johnny Blaze? Marvel isn’t going to revert back to a character who couldn’t carry a title when they have one who could. Is it like the Kyle Rayner situation, where the book sold very well but a small, whiny minority kept bugging DC for the “real” Green Lantern? I don’t know. It just seems weird that a successful character would be shelved just so the “original” can come back and not sell. What’s the answer? Is there an answer????

Grendel: Behold the Devil #7 (of eight) by Matt Wagner (writer/artist) and Tom Orzechowski (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, BWR, Dark Horse.

I want to make this clear: I like this comic and don’t mind paying $3.50 for it. But let’s consider those people who object to paying that much for it. Are they crazy?

Well, no. Let’s take this issue, for instance. Last issue, Hunter Rose had captured the little demon who has been following him. The demon taunts him and gets Hunter to break the circle in which he, the demon, is trapped, and that allows the demon to get inside Hunter’s head and show him … well, the future of Grendel, as shown by the ongoing series and the Grendel Tales mini-series (mini-serieses?). For 11 pages, we get a recap of stuff we already know, but Wagner’s magnificent art entrances us, because we’ve never seen his renditions of much of it. It’s a beautiful work, but it dominates the single issue. Then, we get one page of Lucas and Liz fucking, and Lucas has something on his mind, and the Hunter writes what he has seen in his journal and then destroys it because it’s so crazy. That’s it.

Now, in terms of a long-range psychological profile of Hunter Rose, it’s a fascinating issue. This is the first time in the rather brief publishing history of Rose himself that we see his veneer crack. He’s been “beaten” before, in some fights with Argent and, most notably, in his confrontation with Batman, but never before have we seen him so wounded. Just the knowledge that he is neither unique nor actually seminal is enough to shake him to the core. It’s fascinating what Wagner has done with Rose, who has always, to a certain extent, been an enigma.

On the other hand, as we have found out, this was supposed to be a big graphic novel, so the fact that a great deal of this issue is taken up with double-paged spreads recapping the future history of Grendel would be more forgivable. As part of a single issue, I can see why consumers would be a bit peeved. It’s frustrating, because as a whole, this is an excellent story that doesn’t necessarily require knowledge of the entire Grendel lore. It’s helpful, sure, but it’s a very good story with or without that knowledge. I wonder how many people just aren’t buying it because of its pace. That would be sad. But I’m still looking forward to the final issue. Much blood, presumably, will be spilt.

Hawaiian Dick: Screaming Black Thunder #4 by B. Clay Moore (writer), Scott Chantler (artist), and Steven Griffin (colorist/letterer). Back-up story by Griffin. $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

It’s been three months since the last issue of this came out, and I fear for the schedule coming up. It’s an entertaining book, but it comes out so haphazardly that I don’t know how it can survive. I have no idea what the holdup is. Is it Moore, or Chantler? Beats me.

Anyway, this is the penultimate issue of the arc, so things are coming together nicely. Byrd and the daredevils have an idea to help the ghost of the Japanese pilot, but it doesn’t go as smoothly as they hoped. Meanwhile, the FBI is still investigating Byrd, and we learn a little more about his brother and what happened on the mainland. It’s nice to see Moore bringing in a little of the current events of the time, as a Communist connection is hinted at with regard to Byrd. Making World War II references is easy, to a certain extent, because it’s such a big event. Many people forget the grip Communism had on the imagination of Americans in the late 1940s and ’50s, and it’s interesting that Moore is bringing it up. As the series progresses (if it does), it will be neat to see how Moore peels back the layers of Byrd’s life.

I recently re-read the first two mini-series, and it would be nice if the title could be a bit more regular. It’s a nifty little comic with a lot of potential. For some reason, it’s really slow. I guess that’s the way it is!

The Incredible Hercules #117 by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Rafa Sandoval (penciler), Roger Bonet (inker), Martegod Gracia (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Meanwhile, over at one of Marvel’s funnest comics, Athena assembles a team of deities to fight the Skrull pantheon with Hercules as leader (and just the fact that I can write a statement like that is another reason why comics are awesome). It’s basically an issue in which we get introduced to all the players, and they bicker over particulars before Atum the God-Eater flies in and tells them all they’re a bunch of babies. This settles it, and Hercules takes over the leadership of the “God Squad” (as Amadeus naturally christens them) and they head off. But have they been deceived the entire time??????

This book is just a shitload of fun. It’s packed with exposition, but Pak and van Lente, along with Sandoval’s fantastic pencils, keep everything zipping along. I’m fairly certain all of these characters are pre-established (I’m just going to assume they are, because I don’t feel like checking), and it’s impressive how the writers fit them all into the issue. Plus, the fact that the Japanese god of evil speaks in haiku is pretty damned awesome.

This comic is sheer entertainment. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

The Programme #11 (of 12) by Peter Milligan (writer), C. P. Smith (artist), and Pat Brosseau (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/WildStorm.

I’m extremely curious to see how this epic will end. It’s been weirdly compelling, of uneven quality, but in recent issues Milligan has ratcheted up the tension and the book has gotten much better. It’s still weird, but it’s also fascinating. There’s a horrific scene in this issue that lets us know that Milligan is really upping the ante, and it’s the kind of scene that makes him such a great writer. I have been fearing Smith’s art when it came time for action, because from the earlier issues, it seemed as if he wouldn’t be too good at it. I was right to a degree, as the action scenes look pretty stiff, but Smith does a nice job with showing the emotion on the characters’ faces that comes with the fighting. It’s a brutal fight, and although it could be better, it was more powerful than I thought it would be.

So the scene is set for the big showdown. From what’s been happening to Max over the past few issues, I wonder which way Milligan will go with it. You really can’t predict with him, which is why he’s so interesting.

X-Factor #31 by Peter David (writer), Pablo Raimondi (artist), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

The Arcade story in X-Factor comes to a nice conclusion, as David, like he does, gives us a finale that makes sense but isn’t terribly obvious. Arcade, after all, fled the scene last issue, leaving behind a Purifier whose death will trigger a bunch of bombs. Well, the Purifier dies, and the bombs go off, and what’s interesting is that the gang spends the issue pretty much rescuing people. It’s not too often that we get to see heroes actually, you know, rescuing people (oh, Superman does it occasionally, but still), and it’s nice to see. Madrox makes a point about heroism which is something we don’t often hear, and although nothing of huge import happens, it’s a solid issue that keeps David’s bigger storyline going. And Arcade’s clever way to escape is … well, clever.

Like many David titles, it’s tough to judge this on the merits of one issue. David does this with every book he writes – he does a slow burn, with entertaining but maybe not great single issues, until everything comes together and he hits you with a staggering issue or two. X-Factor is a fun read, and it’s always nice to see a good writer doing his thing for a long while on a comic.

And hey! that’s all we have for this week! Yes, Burgas still grumpy about missing Gødland, but that’s okay – I know the awesome will be there next week! I’m sure you’ll have plenty to say even without it!

Today’s totally random lyric:

“Now, something meets Boy, and something meets Girl;
They both look the same,
They’re overjoyed in this world;
Same hair – revolution
Unisex – evolution
Tomorrow, who’s gonna fuss?”

Last week’s answer, by the way, was “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” by ABBA. Is ABBA the greatest pop group ever? Discuss.


The Replacements – “Androgynous” off of their album Let It Be. Also covered by Crash Test Dummies on their debut album.

P.S. “The Incredible Hercules” rules my butt!

I’ve also only just managed to track down a copy of Casanova #14. I’m still wrapping my head around it. Man. I love this comic. It completes me. Must reread the whole run.

Johnny Blaze came back because… because the previous series ended so ambiguously and abruptly that no one knew what to do with the character (he became considerably less popular post-1993 or whenever and spiraled into cancellation, remember).

I should get the Herc trades.

More and more, it seems like Marvel and DC are aiming their comics at forty-year-olds. That seems like a strange plan to me. Then I think about my last few trips to the comic book store, and the customers I saw there, and it doesn’t seem strange at all.

The thing about the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider was that while it was a huge success for awhile, it also fell really hard at the end..to the point they didnt even publish his last couple of scheduled issues. The character went into limbo for a couple of years and the next attempted relauch was that mini written by Devin Grayson. She just defaulted the character back to Johnny. Maybe Marvel wanted to get away from the character of Danny after such bad numbers at the end.

Damn, I thought those lyrics were more obscure than they actually were. Oh well.

I never read the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider, so I wasn’t going to speculate on how much the series was a product of the early ’90s boom, but it seems like that’s the consensus. That makes sense.

The Danny Ketch GR is irreparably tainted by 90s grim n’ grittiness. I’m sure Liefeld’s X-Force sold better numbers than most anything on the stands today, but that doesn’t mean reuniting him with the title is anyone’s notion of a good idea.
Johnny Blaze, even when done wankishly “dark” still has periods of campy silliness in his history to balance him, as opposed to the relentlessly pseudo-“mature” angst & gore that dominated the entire existence of the Ketch version.

“pseudo-”mature” angst & gore”

That’s the best description of the last decade of comics I’ve ever heard.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 23, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Burgas grumpy.
Burgas angry.
Burgas SMASH!

Burgas sad.

Andrew Collins

May 23, 2008 at 8:54 pm

That reminds me, I need to go pick up the re-mastered version of the Mats’ “Let It Be” that just came out…

I’m a big fan of the Hawaiian Dick series, but I only buy it in trades, so the wait has been even harder than if I was buying the slowly released individual issues.

I was also sadly underwhelmed with the Arcade finale in X-Factor. Arcade’s stunt was cute but you’re telling me none of them could have realized it was just a mask under a mask? Not even the telepath? Plus the rescue scenes were nice but something about the overall frantic, manic pace of the “Middle East Side burning” scenes just came across as more confusing to me than dramatic. Oh well, still a damn fine comic overall…

I’m trying not to spoil this for those who are waiting for the collected edition, but what just absolutely fucking blew me away about this issue of Grendel was that after 20 years of mystery we finally have an answer to what the Grendel-force really is. And as I read it and realized THIS is the root of everything that is Grendel, I honestly had no idea how to react. I don’t know whether I should be awed or disappointed by how little I expected Wagner to ever do something like this, and I suspect that I’ll never be able to really resolve how this makes me feel.

Still, if nothing else, this issue was absolutely gorgeous, and I’m definitely going to be buying the collected edition of it as well to accompany the singles, as I’m sure it will flow even better in collected form.

It just seems weird that a successful character would be shelved just so the “original” can come back and not sell. What’s the answer? Is there an answer????

All the complaints about the Ketch version are artistically valid. But I doubt artistic integrity has anything to do with the editorial policy. I suspect the real answer’s a lot simpler — the Blaze version was the guy in the movie. So the Blaze version is what is currently in print.

Whether or not this strategy is actually selling Marvel any Ghost Rider books? Dunno. But I am assuming that’s where the basis for the decision lies. The idea of “the movie lures them to the store and then that’s when we get ‘em!” has never worked that well since the direct market took over the industry, and I don’t know that it’s worked at ALL since the 1989 Batman. But Marvel and DC keep thinking that the comics should match up.

The Programme is just great book. But ı’m bad about not so much people read this book. Maybe trade getting fame but as always, when Milligan good, we are close our eyes. I think, Peter Milligan’s the best writer and the best trajedy in comics…

Rohan Williams

May 24, 2008 at 4:58 am

Yeah, Casanova #14 was great. I sat down and re-read the whole run, and my god, are there a lot of clues leading up to the reveal. And I’m talking, like, blindingly obvious clues, but done so well that they didn’t seem obvious at the time.

All the stuff about Morrison and the corporate sandbox, though… considering Fraction is the guy who criticised Morrison for writing X-Men and proceeded to discuss his own plans for the title IN THE SAME INTERVIEW, I doubt they’re that different in that regard. And as long as they keep making sandcastles like All-Star Superman and Invincible Iron Man, I’m all for that.

Greg Hatcher said…
“The idea of “the movie lures them to the store and then that’s when we get ‘em!” has never worked that well since the direct market took over the industry, and I don’t know that it’s worked at ALL since the 1989 Batman. But Marvel and DC keep thinking that the comics should match up.”

Yeah, because if they didn’t, the same people would complain that they weren’t making an effort to make the books accessible to new readers. That’s a double sided coin you’re flipping, there.

The Blaze version reapeared before the movie…Back in the Grayson mini -series..I dont think it sold too well, but thats technically where Johnny became ghost rider again

Yeah, because if they didn’t, the same people would complain that they weren’t making an effort to make the books accessible to new readers. That’s a double sided coin you’re flipping, there.

Pfft. It would be if the books actually WERE accessible. We’ve been over this before.

I hate giving it away in a comment reply when it should be a column, so I’ll keep it brief. But my definition of ‘accessible’ and yours clearly have never matched up, because you disagree with me every time the subject comes up. But when I say accessible, I mean a book should be:

In a place where new readers can find it. Not COMICS readers — just people who WANT TO READ SOMETHING. Most comics retailers don’t meet this standard, in my experience.
Relatively cheap. The going rate of 2.99 for a single monthly issue is bad enough but a lot of smaller companies charge 3.99 which is even more ludicrous for a new title you want people to sample.
A reasonable jumping-on point. You shouldn’t have to have read a dozen other comics to figure out what’s going on in the one you just bought. Either provide a recap page or find a way to get the information across quickly enough that your new reader doesn’t give up.
There should be an actual story. It astonishes me how many new books launch with a bunch of characters talking about stuff that’s ABOUT to happen, for twentry pages or so, then the last two pages are some sort of token it’s-starting-to-happen moment. Enough should happen in your book that people won’t get bored and walk away. ‘Action’ is not necessarily a fight, but jeez, give readers the sense that there’s some kind of forward motion.

To me this seems reasonable. Meet those standards and it really won’t matter if your comic matches the version licensed to the movies or not. My students loved the Titans cartoon, but it bothered them not a whit that the Wolfman/Perez version didn’t match when I brought the Terra trade collections to class, they still liked it. It was ACCESSIBLE to them. That’s what I’m talking about.

Rohan Williams

May 24, 2008 at 6:48 pm

I agree with all four of those standards, Greg, but the editorial and creative teams really only have control over two of them, and making the comics “match up” with the movies is the quickest way of achieving one of them. It shows they’re making an effort to appeal to a new audience, at the very least.

If we look at ‘Invincible Iron Man’- because Blaze had already been Ghost Rider again for a fair while before the movie, so it’s not really a fair example- we see how matching up with the movie can work out really well. Even over in ‘Batman’, Morrison seems to be making an effort to match up his Joker with the one from the new movie, and it’s made for a pretty great take on the character so far. So, hey, it’s not all bad, right?

Andrew Collins – I’m currently listening to the newly re-released LET IT BE and it’s as classic as ever. Great stuff.

Greg – Nice choice for the lyrics challenge. Now let’s see some late 70’s and early 80’s Brit-punk. I’ve been heavy into the Buzzcocks and Siousxie and the Banshees lately. Then again, it wouldn’t be much of a game if you took requests…

If DYNAMO 5 isn’t selling well, then the internet is populated entirely by big, fat liars. Every fan of superhero comics claims to want stories that are action-packed yet down-to-earth and character oriented, interesting yet not as draining as the Big Two’s epic crossover blockbusters and a good, fun read while still retaining drama. Well, guess what? DYNAMO 5 fits the bill perfectly. To anyone complaining about SI or FC: go get the good stuff.

Speaking of awesome comics that need more support, please talk about ATOMIC ROBO from Red 5 comics. If you haven’t read it, please read it and then talk about it. It is a big stack of awesome that the comic community at large NEEDS as much as it WANTS. I just hope people find out about and latch on in the numbers it deserves.

Read The Programme!

Was the character of Danny Ketch really that popular? I always figured the popularity of the 90s book had to do with slicker art and giving the Ghost Rider a chain to hit people with. Besides, Johnny Blaze is a much cooler name.

Um, I have been reading The Programme. Unless that’s for the public at large!

sleeper – I read a few issues of Atomic Robo, but I couldn’t find the first one (which apparently sold out relatively quickly), so I decided to wait for the trade. I’m looking forward to it, because the couple issues I did read were very fun. I hope there are more series in the pipeline.

>> I’ve been heavy into the Buzzcocks and Siousxie and the Banshees lately.

Be very careful of your hearing, young man. When the ringing in my ears after the Buzzcocks’ 12/93 show in Dallas hadn’t subsided within a week, I realized something was up. Some 14 1/2 years later, I think it’s safe to say I’ve got a nice case of tinnitus. “Harmony in My Head,” indeed.

(I’ve met the guys in the band a couple of times since then, & they don’t seem sympathetic at all!)

Dan Bailey – Ha! You officially win a thousand awesome points. I am humbled by your coolness. :)

Incidentally, that’s one band I would gladly go deaf listening to.

sleeper —

Well, yeah, I also got kicked in the head by a stage-diving Jello Biafra during the Dead Kennedys’ first-ever Phoenix show back in 8/82 … (And if one allows for the time difference between England & the U.S. Central Time Zone, I figure I was getting married for the first time about the time Joy Division’s Ian Curtis hanged himself.)

Obvioulsy, though, the impact of that Buzzcocks show has lasted lots longer as far as my everyday life is concerned.

BTW, I should note that I can’t comment on any of the comics mentioned above — about half of which I’ll buy, assuming they’re at my LCS like they’re supposed to be — because I’m sidelined with what shows every sign of symptom of being food poisoning. *sigh*


May 25, 2008 at 7:37 pm

This book is just a shitload of fun.

If Marvel doesn’t put that on the trade, their marketing dept. should be shot!

I’m glad Incredible Herc seems to be getting so much praise. I’m using Ennis’s departure from The Punisher (as well as the end of AS Superman, though it’s not quuite monthly) as an opportunity to cull from my pull list. Incredible Hercules and X-Factor are two books that look to be safe.

I’d also like to suggest that anybody who hasn’t been reading Wolverine Origins give it a shot. The Deadpool issues have been a ton of fun.

I may pick up The Programme in trade. I definitely need to buy the Casanova trades asap.

Man, somebody should’ve mentioned (unless they did, & I missed it) the quartet of send-offs to Steve Gerber in COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #8. The first one, in particular, brought just a hint of a tear to my eye. No spoilers or anything, except to say that you should try to make sure you don’t read it in a public place, unlike me. Oddly (Gerberishly?) enough, it’s by the one writer, Adam Beechen, whom I wouldn’t know from … well, Adam, unlike the other 3 (Mark Waid, Mark Evanier & Gail Simone).

Still haven’t read THE PROGRAMME #10 yet, much less the new one. I lost track long ago of who was doing what, so I figure I’ll just wait till the next issue & read ‘em all in one sitting.

I haven no doubt that the “Pilot Season” (or whatever it’s called … my copy seems to be hiding from me at the moment) tryout issue of Image’s TWILIGHT AVENGER is as far as the strip will go, but I found it very nicely done — sort of what KICKASS would be, maybe, if Millar’s ego wasn’t out to take over the world one distasteul comic at a time.

Nice to see Terry Moore’s ECHO picking up a bit of steam with the 3rd issue. Things are starting to get interesting.

IDW’s DEAD, SHE SAID, is off to an intriguing start, though I’m pretty sure it’s not $3.99 worth of intriguing (at least not compared to the same imprint’s LOCKE & KEY). I guess at this late date it’s long past time for me to resign myself to the fact that while he’s still a perfectly competent craftsman, we’re just not going to get the old Ghastly-Graham-Ingles-esque Berni(e) Wrightson back. The rest of you have had decades to deal with that fact, but as I’ve mentioned before I was otherwise engaged from ’79-’04 or so. (Is the dilution of style a consquence of that allergy he developed to the metal in his pens, or whatever it was, or did he just decide not to be particularly interesting anymore?)

And I continue to like DARK IVORY, but then again I guess I was goth (see earlier note about the timing of Ian Curtis’ suicide & my first wedding) before goth was cool.

>>I’d also like to suggest that anybody who hasn’t been reading Wolverine Origins give it a shot. The Deadpool issues have been a ton of fun.

Yes, they have.

Crap — I forgot this was out.

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