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What I bought – 5 December 2012

It came to me that he meant something different by “smile” than I did; that the irony, the humourlessness, the ruthlessness I had always noticed in his smiling was a quality he deliberately inserted; that for him the smile was something essentially cruel, because freedom is cruel, because the freedom that makes us at least partly responsible for what we are is cruel. So that the smile was not so much an attitude to be taken to life as the nature of the cruelty of life, a cruelty we cannot even choose to avoid, since it is human existence. (John Fowles, from The Magus)

Move aside, citizen, or I will pee on you! I wouldn't mind living there - it looks pretty cool There is a sad lack of Checkers in this issue Man, do I HATE this cover/mask scheme for this crossover! Oh dear Oh good.  I was worried that DC wasn't publishing enough comics with the Joker in them. Dex Parrios - NASCAR champion! That small child they're all attacking is FUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKED Maybe her boobs will scare him off! KIRBY!!!! Volume One of Two?  Dang. I guess sales were't great? And so my nuValiant reading begins!

Avengers #1 (“Avengers World”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Jerome Opeña (artist), Dean White (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $3.99, 21 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

The latest Marvel NOW! book is a relaunch of Avengers, with Jonathan Hickman deciding that the famous line from The Incredibles – “If everyone’s special, then no one is”* – doesn’t fucking apply to the Avengers, because he’s decided that if you’ve ever even worn a costume for Halloween in the Marvel Universe, you’re an Avenger! There’s nothing wrong with this prospect, of course – Hickman thinks MOTHERFUCKING BIG! when it comes to comics, so if he wants to put some random costumed dude who appeared in one panel of Web of Spider-Man in 1987 in the Avengers, BY GOD HE WILL!!!!

* Paraphrased, of course, but work with me!

His first issue has been getting some love all over the Internets, but you know me – I enjoy being contrary, so while I will say that it’s an enjoyable first issue beautifully drawn by Opeña and colored … the way Dean White colors comics (I don’t like White combined with Opeña, because I think White bludgeons Opeña’s finely etched lines a bit too much), it’s pretty much a standard superhero comic. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and if every superhero comic were as well done as this one, it would be a pretty good world, but Hickman doesn’t raise the bar on superhero comics in any way. There’s a new villain who takes apart the Avengers pretty easily but commits the idiotic Bondian fallacies we all know so well – he doesn’t want to kill the Avengers, he wants to transform them, so he leaves them alive, plus he sends Captain America back to Earth (he’s terraforming Mars) to send a message to humanity that their champion has been defeated. Instead of delivering that message, Cap just assembles a bunch of other Avengers to go kick some tail. I love it when villains use defeated heroes to send a message. Dude, send a mass e-mail or text. Update your Facebook status with a picture of you saying “I will destroy humanity!!!!” Don’t let the hero go to deliver the message. You would think a smart villain would have, I don’t know, studied other defeated villains or at least listened to Seth Green.

Still, it’s a nice looking book. The first two pages, honestly, are the best ones, because they promise giant, grand adventures for our heroes, and Hickman likes that sort of thing. I’ve said this before – Hickman doesn’t write for the trade, he writes for the Omnibus, so I don’t see any reason to spend 8 bucks a month for 40 pages of comics when you can sit back, wait five years, and get a nice giant book to put on your shelf collecting this entire epic, probably at a much more competitive price. But that’s just me.

Anyway, Avengers #1: Not bad, but not great. Bad guys punching things and trying to justify their actions. Heroes getting defeated but REFUSING TO GIVE UP!!!! You know, like most superhero comics.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, at least they care about what's important

Colder #2 (of 5) by Paul Tobin (writer), Juan Ferreyra (artist/colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

In this issue, we get some answers about Declan’s condition, but the mystery of Jack deepens a bit. At the end of the first issue, Declan started talking after decades of silence, which is freaking his nurse, Reece, out a bit. Declan, you’ll recall, is “colder” than most people – his body temperature started dropping in 1941 and hasn’t stopped, even though it’s doing so very slowly. So he doesn’t age, and for years he didn’t move much, because he was hiding from Jack. Now, it seems he needs to be more active. So he shows Reece what he can do – he can enter the minds of the insane and heal them, while Jack, it seems, makes them worse so he can steal that energy and grow stronger (I told you the mystery of Jack got deeper). Obviously, Tobin is setting up a confrontation between those two, but he also seems to have some other stuff in mind, so it will be interesting to see where he goes with it. He gives us glimpses into the minds of two different people with different issues, and Declan also somehow shows Reece some of what happened to him in 1941. There’s a lot going on, in other words.

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Ferreyra, obviously, continues to do an amazing job with the artwork. The brightness of Boston in the spring is contrasted very well with the strangeness of the minds we enter, one of which shows a nightmarish cityscape full of impossible buildings and pollution, the other of which shows a girl on a stage surrounded by people with only one large eye in the middle of their faces. Ferreyra also colors the asylum in 1941 with an eerie glow, making the proceedings there even more disturbing. His line work is beautiful, but he can also draw horror wonderfully, and there’s a traumatic event at the end of the book that we know is coming, but is still terribly shocking. He also designs really fascinating and horrifying creatures to populate the mindscapes, which makes those pages even more unsettling.

I don’t know where Tobin is going with Colder, but two issues in, it’s a really good comic. I can’t wait to read more!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Clean up the air a little, and that looks like a cool place to live

Deadpool #3 (“Dr. Strange Lives (Or How I Learned Deadpool Was Da Bomb)”) by Brian Posehn (writer), Gerry Duggan (writer), Tony Moore (artist), Val Staples (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Posehn, Duggan, Moore, and Staples continue to knock Deadpool right out of the park, as Doctor Strange shows up for an issue to check out the scene because he initially thinks Deadpool and Agent Preston are full of it, but he quickly realizes it’s a bit more serious than he thought. So he gives Deadpool a magic sword he can use to smite the undead, whispers something to him that Deadpool doesn’t like (we don’t know what it is, but I assume we’ll find out soon enough), and zips away. He deadpans a lot, too, which goes well with Deadpool’s over-the-top humor. Plus, he still holds a grudge against Ben Franklin, and a footnote tells us that Posehn and Duggan are referencing an actual comic, which is awesome. Posehn and Duggan keep on coming up with funny stuff, like the fate of Undead Gerald Ford (a joke I hope everyone gets) and the “How-on-earth-did-that-get-past-the-censors” Joke of the Week (see below). Moore, of course, is phenomenal, and Staples always does high quality work.

As I mentioned last issue, I never thought I’d be enjoying a Deadpool comic this much. It is an absolute blast to read, and I’m really glad that Marvel is letting the creative team go a bit nuts with it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Marvel censors - asleep at the wheel?

Detective #15 (“The Dirt Nap”/”Love in Bloom”) by John Layman (writer), Jason Fabok (artist, “Nap”), Andy Clarke (artist, “Love”), Jeromy Cox (colorist, “Nap”), Blond (colorist, “Love”), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer, “Nap”), and Taylor Esposito (letterer, “Love”). $3.99, 28 pgs, FC, DC.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen in issues #16 and 17 of ‘Tec, because they’re also part of the latest decades-spanning Batman crossover (were there any issues between “The Court of Owls” and “Death of the Family”?), but I do enjoy that Layman basically ignores it in this issue – he’s telling his own damned story, man, and Scott Snyder can SUCK IT! The Penguin leaves the stage because of the crossover, but this is still a story about Ogilvy, who wants to take the Penguin’s place, and how he’s trying to build an alliance to do so. So instead of killing Poison Ivy, he makes Oswald think she’s dead, then recruits her. Meanwhile, Batman defeats Clayface. What, you thought he might not?

Layman’s grand plan for this initial story is coming more into focus – Ogilvy has been making himself extremely useful, and presumably he was going to get rid of the Penguin whether this crossover happened or not, and Layman just uses it as a nice excuse. I always enjoy it when writers do villains in different ways – “Crooked Businessman Penguin” has been fascinating for years – and I also like it when people challenge those villains, so I’m on board with “Emperor Penguin” … okay, maybe not the name, but I can live with it, I guess. As dark as Fabok’s art is – and it is, although he continues to be impressive – these first three issues feel like very “classic” Batman, which is nice. I mentioned after the first issue that Layman told me he’s writing it as “all-ages,” and that continues to hold – there’s no horrific violence or sex in this book, which I think helps create that “classic” feel – Batman is just figuring out what the bad guys are doing and stopping them. Who knew that could work?

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I do have a few questions about both the main story and the back-up story. In the back-up story, why does Ivy go to the motel? This is, I believe, after Ogilvy has recruited her, and presumably she doesn’t need Clayface anymore. So why does she do it? I imagine Layman will revisit the cliffhanger soon enough, but it seems like that was a dumb move by Ms. Isley. Oh well. Finally, in the main story, is the Joker actually standing next to the desk? I thought it was just the Penguin thinking about him, but then it seems like Ogilvy can see him. Or maybe Ogilvy is just pondering his next move. It was strange. I should probably ask Layman.

So, Detective. I don’t know – I like it. Take what you want from that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batman needs different colored outfits for EVERY occasion!

Hawkeye #5 (“The Tape Part 2 of 2″) by Matt Fraction (writer), Javier Pulido (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Okay, before I discuss the writing and the art on this comic, I just want to say that the editing was fan-fucking-tastic. Seriously, this comic was EDITED LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER! If this doesn’t win the Eisner for Best Editing, I will cut someone!

Wait, there’s no Eisner Award for Best Editing? MOTHERFUCKER! This OUTRAGE WILL NOT STAND! This is what’s wrong with the world, people – the person who edited this comic will toil away, sans accolades, while bastards like Matt Fraction and Javier Pulido and Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos will REAP the benefits of someone else’s hard work. Fuck. I’m pissed. Fucking comics.

I was not too impressed with Hawkeye #4, but issue #5 is a bit better … and a bit worse, strangely enough. Pulido does a better job, which is strange, because it’s not like he got a lot better in the interim – he’s been a good artist for years, and I guess issue #4 was just somehow … off. The book doesn’t have quite the gorgeous look as when Aja draws it, but Pulido manages to lay out the pages much better than he did in issue #4 so that he can pack a lot of information into not a lot of space, and it seems to work. There are some seriously well-designed pages in this issue, so that’s nice.

I mentioned last time what an idiotic plot this was, but I did say that because it was part 1 of 2, I was willing to see if Fraction had something up his sleeve to pull it out of the fire. Well, he does, but I’m not sure his “reveal” makes the story any better. It makes more sense, sure, but I still don’t see why a tape of an Avenger killing someone, especially a terrorist, would be such a big deal. In fact, it might have been better if the tape had made it out, because Clint can take the theoretical heat that would have come down on him. Plus, Maria Hill and Not Nick Fury talk about this terrorist as if he was some big shot, but we don’t know that. Would the minions of Du Ke Feng really have come after Clint if the tape had been released? I imagine whoever replaced him would have sent a nice bouquet to Clint with the note “Thanks for taking out the competition!” I just don’t get the big deal about the tape getting out. Kate’s an idiot if she thinks Clint hasn’t killed anyone – Fraction can claim in the letters page that the bad guys in earlier issues were just blinded, but come on – and again, why would the public care? Not Nick Fury’s plan could still have worked if the tape got out, and people wouldn’t have almost died. But what the hell do I know?

But, hey, props to Clint cutting his feet on glass. I love when reality intrudes on superheroing, and let’s face it – people in comics and movies are always crashing through glass without getting a scratch (Clint himself does so in this issue, although he does lead with a chair), which is silly, so it’s nice that Clint lost a shoe and then had to stand on glass. I appreciate that.

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“Eucritta” is Greek for “true creature.” No, I don’t know why the operation is named that. I’m sure there’s a reason.

Man, the editing on this comic. It’s breathtaking.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Damn, Madame Masque

Legends of the Dark Knight #3 (“Letters to Batman”) by Steve Niles (writer), Trevor Hairsine (artist), Antonio Fabela (colorist), and Saida Temofonte (letterer). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

Another kind of Batman story I dig is when Batman is reminded how much people dig having him around, so it’s nice that Niles gives us one. Batman captures the Joker at the beginning of the issue, and it seems that before he can even walk through the doors of Arkham, he escapes again. Batman is a tiny bit pissed off (it seems Niles is satirizing the fact that DC can’t just kill the Joker, even though that would be the smart thing to do, but maybe I’m wrong), but before he can start looking for the Joker again, Gordon gives him a bunch of sacks full of mail addressed to him that the GCPD has accumulated over the years (yes, Batman is EXACTLY like Santa). Alfred tells Batman to stop being a whiny bitch and maybe read some letters, so Batman does. Of course, they’re all about how great Batman is because he saved some woman from a mugging or worse, he helped a bar owner take down some punks, and he set a good example for a felon who is trying to turn his life around. Batman not only reads them, he uses one to help him find the Joker, leading to a pretty funny final page.

This kind of “the people respond to Batman” story goes back at least to the 1970s, if not further (Greg Hatcher or, of course, Our Dread Lord and Master would know), but I still like them. It seems that the regular folk of Gotham are often reduced to random victims, so it’s nice to see when they get a voice, and Niles, while not giving us too complex characters (it’s a 30-page story, after all), does a good job showing different kinds of people and how they might have been affected by Batman. Like this week’s issue of Detective, there’s no gore (the threat of violence is a bit more real than in ‘Tec, but there’s still not much of it), even with the Joker in the book, and it’s nice that we have two Batman books in the same week that show Batman using his brain rather than his fists to solve things. There’s room for all kinds of Batman stories, and it’s keen that we get two different kinds in the same week.

I like Hairsine’s art. I kind of wish he worked more often, or at least worked on comics that I want to read more often. I love that he gave the Joker a new outfit. The Joker needs different clothes, man!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Dude, don't question, just get in the car!

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #4 by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (artist/colorist), and Rico Renzi (colorist). $3.99, 27 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

As Rucka has been writing this kind of homage to gritty 1970s detective shows, it’s probably appropriate that he throw in a car chase, and so he does in this issue, and it’s one of the more exciting car chases you’re ever going to see in comics, which is not a terribly good medium for car chases. But Southworth is amazing at getting across the speed and the curves and the sheer terror of racing cars around a city. Last issue ended with the bad guys confronting Dex in her office, so after four pages of that, in which they manage to grab the guitar, we’re off! Southworth turns the issue on its side (so it’s “landscape” rather than “portrait”) and gives us six pages of speeding around Portland, then, after a cop manages to stop them for a moment, we get 11 more pages of racing around. If I were a big jerk, I might point out the big double-page spread in the middle of the book that seems to waste space, but I won’t, because unlike a lot of double-page spreads in comics, Southworth really earns this one, leading up to it nicely and nailing it with a minimalistic approach to the drawing. Southworth does a fantastic job keeping the action moving along quickly, flashing inside the car with Dex and Mim so that Rucka can write some snarky Dex dialogue (she’s pissed that Mim is in the car with her) and doing a very good job with laying out the page – if this were film, I imagine it would be in “shaky-cam,” which would be annoying, but because the comic is static, Southworth can use small panels overlaid on a larger backdrop to keep the scene moving while still giving us a sense of where everything is in relation to each other. I’m still having some issues with the coloring on the book, but it works better in this issue because Southworth and Renzi can use special effects to mimic the speed at which the cars are driving and the method they’re using looks better on inanimate objects than people, and there’s a lot of scenery in this issue. In two panels, it appears a pick-up truck has a Confederate flag painted on the back window of the cab, but it’s not there in any other view of the truck. I assume that’s a mistake.

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The chase, in case you’re wondering, seems like it would work in Portland, although Rucka skips some places. The cars reach the St. Johns Bridge pretty quickly, and then they really zip through North Portland. The curve where Dex almost drives off a cliff is North Willamette Boulevard, on the other side of the University of Portland, and that’s close but not too close to Cathedral Park, where the cop pulls them over. It appears they go back across the river on the Broadway Bridge – you can see the Steel Bridge in the background to Dex’s left – because that bridge would take them back to Union Station, but I have no idea which drawbridge they head toward after that. I’m going to assume it’s the Burnside and leave it at that. Yes, I’m being far too geeky, but I love that Rucka sets this in a real city and tries to make Dex’s movements in the city correspond to reality. Like all car chases, we have to assume that there are absolutely no other cars on the road as Dex and the bad guys zip around (I know Southworth draws them, but they would have to be completely stopped so that Dex and the other car don’t crash into them), but where she drives makes sense.

I’m glad that Rucka waited to get this out until Southworth could finish the art, because it really does help that the issues are coming out so close together. No, it’s not the most complex story, but Rucka does just assume we’re going to keep up, so it’s nice that it hasn’t been six months since the most recent issue has come out! I’m curious to see how this sucker resolves!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

She totally would, too

Thunderbolts #1 (“Enlisted”) by Daniel Way (writer), Steve Dillon (artist), Guru eFX (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

It’s another new #1, and it’s one title that I wasn’t even the smallest bit interested in. I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Way, I like Dillon’s art but don’t think it’s all that well-suited to cape comics, and the characters on the team don’t interest me. So it would take a lot for me to like this comic.

Unfortunately, I don’t. It’s not a very good comic at all. It’s a very bland “gathering-the-team” issue, beginning with Thaddeus Ross somehow trapping Frank Castle in a warehouse (did he have to Hulk out to do so?) and then texting a photograph of him to every bad guy who might want to kill the Punisher. So he has a few minutes to convince Frank to join his team before all the bad guys in creation arrive and kill him. Intercut with this is Ross recruiting the rest of the team. It’s remarkably boring – Venom, Deadpool, and Elektra are all killing people when Ross gets them, and Dillon makes sure it’s all very bloody (this is a remarkably gory book for a regular Marvel comic), but we already know they’re all good killers, so who cares? Yes, Deadpool killing mimes is humorous, but who cares? We already know they’re all on the team, so Way could have started with a bigger bang and then showed how Ross recruited them later, after we’re already into the story. The way he chooses makes this first issue a snoozer, even with all the blood.

And then there’s Mercy. Mercy is the “secret” member of the team, in case you’re wondering. I checked, and it appears that Mercy hasn’t been around since Peter David – who created her – was writing The Incredible Hulk. She appeared a handful of times in that run, and in a mini-series in 2005, but not since. I guess Way is trying to do what so many other writers have done before him – resurrect a minor character that a few readers will know, but who’s enough of a mystery that it will be surprising to see said character – and that’s fine, but the way he writes the scene, it seems like we should know more about what’s going on. Plus, Dillon draws the scene poorly – it’s very unclear what the Hulk does to Mercy, and Way doesn’t explain it. I know Way is trying to keep things mysterious, but it’s more boring than intriguing. We don’t know what Mercy does solely from this issue, and that makes her appearance far less interesting than it might otherwise be. Again, if Way had begun this in media res, we could have seen what Mercy does and it might have made us think, “Hey … who is that? She’s intersting!” But in this issue, she’s fighting the Hulk, she’s in a cell, she’s doing … something, and there’s blood spatter behind her. To me, that’s not terribly interesting.

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Dillon is fine, I guess, although he doesn’t do anything to make me think he can do cape comics, and I’ve never liked his artwork combined with digital effects, which is what we get here. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Dillon comic that worked only based on his artwork – he does very good work when he’s paired with a good writer, but his art can’t save a crappy script. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time he’s had to draw a crappy script by Daniel Way, and the results are the same.

This is a pretty boring and surprisingly bland comic with almost nothing to recommend it. I mean, the only reason to read it is if you’re so obsessed with these characters that you’ll read anything they’re in. If that’s the case, nothing I say will change your mind. For everyone else, though, I can tell you that while other Marvel NOW! books have pissed me off more, none of them have been as dull as this. Yes, even with the mimes.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mimes make everything better, but they can't save this comic!

X-Factor #248 (“Being Monet St. Croix”) by Peter David (writer), Paul Davidson (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

After what seems like years of David Yardin covers (I don’t know how long it’s been because of Marvel’s shipping policy – this is the 19th issue of X-Factor that has been published this year), it’s a bit stunning to see a different cover artist. I don’t like David Williams and Jay David Ramos’ cover as much as Yardin’s, but that’s neither here nor there – it’s just surprising to see such a different style on the cover. Oh well – I don’t buy comics based on the covers, so let’s move on!

After last issue’s detour to Las Vegas (which ties into the whole “Fall of X-Factor” that David has begun, but still), we’re back in New York, with the team trying to figure out why Pip, who was shot in the head, is still breathing. Meanwhile, Pip’s soul is still around, and he jumps into the nearest psychically-tuned body … which happens to be Monet (hence the title). It’s juvenile but in character that the first thing Pip does is try to check out Monet’s rack, but she’s also still in there, and she puts a stop to that. Pip can’t get back into his own body, but he also can’t get a reading on the bullet to find the person who shot him, so Longshot does it. Meanwhile, Jamie and Layla return from Vegas, and they’re picked up by a creepy taxi driver who takes them to the same place the rest of team ends up at – the Botanical Garden. That’s where they find the woman who shot Pip, as well as other bad things. Oh dear.

David, of course, set this story up quite a while ago (in whatever issue it was), and he’s done a good job pulling it all together. As usual, there’s not a lot to say – David is a really good comic book writer, so this is a really good comic book. I don’t think Davidson does as good a job on this issue as he’s done on some the issues in the past couple of years, and I can’t really put my finger on it. This issue seems to rely more on comic timing and characterization, and that doesn’t seem to be Davidson’s strong suit. There are a lot of people standing around in this issue, and while some artists can do a lot with that limitation, Davidson doesn’t seem to be one of them. Oh well. I don’t like that the book’s artistic carousel seems to be spinning a bit faster and we’re getting a new artist each issue instead sticking with one for an arc and then getting a new one, so I hope that changes. I think Leonard Kirk is doing the big upcoming story arc, and that’s fine, but until that fires up, I wish we could get an artist to stick here for 3-4 issues. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, is it?

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Never trust shrubbery!

Fourth World Omnibus volume 4 by the King of Comics (writer/artist), plus a bunch of people who should be happy they got to work with him! $29.99, 424 pgs, FC, DC.

Now I can sit down and plow through all four of these volumes. I can’t wait!

Fury MAX: My War Gone By volume 1 by Garth Ennis (writer), Goran Parlov (artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Rob Steen (letterer). $19.99, 132 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I ordered this when I thought it was a six-issue mini-series. Now that I know it’s a 12-issue mini-series, I’m a bit bummed, because I imagine Marvel will release a big complete version at some point. Oh well – I’m sure it’s still fun to read!

Valen the Outcast volume 2: Death Eternal by Michael Alan Nelson (writer), Matteo Scalera (artist), Archie van Buren (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $14.99, 88 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

This series only lasted eight issues, but the first trade was quite good, so I’m looking forward to the second one. I don’t know if Nelson planned it as eight issues – the concept couldn’t last too long, I don’t think – or if sales were so bad it got the ax, but whatever it was, two trades are out, and that ain’t bad.

X-O Manowar volume 1: By the Sword by Robert Venditti (writer), Cary Nord (penciler), Stefano Gaudiano (inker), Moose Baumann (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $9.99, 95 pgs, FC, Valiant.

Ten dollars for four issues is pretty good, I reckon. And people have been asking me why I haven’t dived into nuValiant, so here I go!


I know I make jokes about my own laziness because I don’t have a job and my kids are in school most of the day and I sit on my ass and blog a lot, but let me tell you, I don’t have anything on my lazy motherfucking pets:

Fetch me some Scotch, you bastards!

Must be nice. The cat in the foreground is our bully, by the way, and she often picks on the one in the background. Of course, when there’s napping to catch up on, everyone can get along!

Mike Sterling has been blogging for NINE years. I’ve been reading it for almost as long – Progressive Ruin was one of the reasons I started blogging, in fact – and I’m impressed that he’s been keeping it up for so long. This blog is a few days away from turning 8, so there is that, but Mike’s all by himself, and he keeps trucking along! Congratulations, Mr. Sterling!

I was reading this post, which linked to this Kickstarter project. Like the post in which I saw the link, I really can’t decide if this is sarcastic or not. I really believe this is serious, which makes me shake my head in wonderment. The world is a wacky place, full of wacky people, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I enjoy these homoerotic towel advertisements starring World War II soldiers quite a lot, but not as much as I enjoy these phallic adverts. You must read the copy for the clothing one, because it’s … man, it’s something. The Seventies RULED, man!

I’d like to rant about something one of my fellow bloggers wrote on this here site yesterday – Sonia’s latest Committed column. I was going to leave a comment, but then I thought I might get a tad verbose (I know, shocking), so I decided to write about it here. I don’t always agree with everything everyone writes on this blog or on the Internet or in published works, which isn’t surprising because that would be weird if I did. But I can’t recall ever disagreeing with Sonia more about a topic. Now, it doesn’t matter if I disagree with her or not – she’s not setting forth a public governmental policy that affects lives, she’s just writing about enjoying comics without worrying about the behind-the-scenes shit, and I can respect that. She did slip in something important about Karen Berger leaving Vertigo – “everyone tip toes around the fact that this coincides with [DC’s] decision to publish more and more books aimed at little boys” – and about the lack of diversity from, I assume, DC – “Are we ignoring the fact that a major publisher doesn’t publish a single book that I can get on board with because they’ve been clear about not wanting money from the adult female demographic?” – but her rant is more about ignoring the stupid shit and enjoying comics. But I disagree.

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I was never all that interested in the way comics got made or the opinions of the creators. That was because I wasn’t writing about comics. As I write more about comics, I’ve gotten much more interested in that aspect, and I think it’s fascinating to read about how decisions are made, why decisions are made (even though the shills at Marvel and DC will never give a straight answer), and other issues about making comics. People have called me cynical in the past, but you know what? Knowing all this shit about comics and their creators doesn’t change my opinion of the actual comics one iota. I will stop buying Hawkeye if it starts to suck, not because Stephen Wacker decided to pick a fight with me. I will not skip The Whistling Skull just because Tony Harris wrote something stupid on Facebook. I might enjoy fewer comics these days than I used to (I don’t think I do, but I might), but that’s because I used to read them far less critically than I do now, but that’s okay. All that means is that I think I put up with less bullshit masked as “AWESOME” and the stuff I do like, I appreciate a lot more for the craft that goes into it. The process of making comics helps me appreciate them MORE, I think. Sonia also mentions that we should “keep talking about the parts we love, and the comic books which inspire us” and “talk about and propagate the good comic books, ignoring the bad.” This has been Chad Nevett’s bête noire for years – he thinks we should call out the bad – and I agree with him, even though I don’t do it that often. I tend to write about the good because I spend money on comics, and I’m not going to buy something that I think is shit. However, if I do get comics for free and they suck, I’m going to have some fun with them (see: the #1 DCnU issues and the first Marvel NOW! books).

Now, Sonia does point out that we shouldn’t obsess over the shit, and I agree with her. I tend to ignore writing about comics-related news – I have nothing to say about Karen Berger, for instance, because other people have said it better and, more importantly, I don’t really care all that much – but that doesn’t mean I don’t notice it. But again, it doesn’t affect my love of comics in the least. Does it suck that Hellblazer is ending? Sure. Will I miss it? Eh, probably not. Does it suck that most of DC’s DCnU output is crap? Absolutely. But it doesn’t bother me all that much. None of the shitty stuff surrounding comics ever stops me from loving comics. But that’s just me.

Sonia does make a scathing oblique reference to The Hawkeye Initiative, however. That’s too bad, because The Hawkeye Initiative is awesome.

By the way – my offer to Stephen Wacker still stands. No holds barred interview. The Comics Blogaxy would shatter!!!!

Let’s move on to The Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):

1. “How Come”Pogues (1996) “What kind of bread are you gonna bake with that hemlock in your spice rack?”1
2. “Laura”Scissor Sisters (2004) “Won’t you just tell Baby Daddy I’m gonna need his love”
3. “She’s a Star”James (1997) “She’s been in disguise forever; she’s tried to disguise her stellar views”
4. “Whores”Jane’s Addiction (1987) “They cast that pearl and it don’t upset ‘em, they take their chances if they get ‘em”2
5. “Get Up (Before the Night Is Over)” – Technotronic (1989) “We got to take a stand now that we’re in demand”3
6. “Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive” – Men At Work (1983) “He loves the world except for all the people”4
7. “Need You Tonight”INXS (1987) “You can care all you want – everybody does, yeah, that’s okay”
8. “Believe”Lenny Kravitz (1993) “‘Cause being free is a state of mind, we’ll one day leave this all behind”5
9. “Our Generation (The Hope of the World)”John Legend and the Roots featuring CL Smooth (2010) “Our leaders make us fight, and we don’t know what for, if they want people killed, let them fight the war”
10. “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If Ya Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”AC/DC (1975) “Gettin’ robbed, gettin’ stoned, gettin’ beat up, broken boned”6

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1 One reason I love the Pogues: This song is about a guy who suspects his girlfriend (?) is a witch. How many other bands write songs about such pressing matters????

2 Is this song controversial because Ferrell uses the “n-word”? I don’t know. It’s an awesome song, though, one of my favorites by the band. Even then, it was clear that while Ferrell was interesting, Navarro drove the band. I listen to Strays these days solely for the guitar work on it, which is amazing.

3 And that stand is … DANCE, MOTHERFUCKERS!

4 Hey! This was the song from which I got the Totally Random Lyrics last week! How about that?

5 Is this the last great Lenny Kravitz song? The rest of the album is okay, and Circus is just okay, and then I stopped buying his albums. So I don’t know. I do know that the guitar solo that ends this song is the motherfucking bomb!

6 As I always point out when this song comes up on my iPod: BAGPIPE SOLO, BITCHES!!!! Also: My 7-year-old daughter likes to sing along to this song. We’re indoctrinating her so well!

Totally Random Lyrics? But of course!

“Up on the hilltop where the vultures perch,
That’s where I’m gonna build my church,
Ain’t gonna be no priest, ain’t gonna be no boss;
Just Charles Nelson Reilly nailed to a cross”

And wouldn’t that just be swell? I hope everyone has a great weekend! Not much time left for Christmas shopping! What are you going to get me?


You’re right about Hickman writing for the trade/omnibus. Also interesting to note is that at one of the panels at the recent Las Vegas MorrisonCon, Hickman stated that not only does he do that, but Marvel allows him to design the production and layout of the collections, so he’s actually writing it knowing which side of which page of the future collection everything will fall on, and not just your standard twenty-two page script, or whatever. I don’t know, I thought it was fascinating. I was drunk at the time and pretty much found the whole event fascinating.

Like you, I was surprisingly a bit underwhelmed by Avengers #1. But, you know, Wagner started out the Ring with 136 bars of E Flat, and look what he came up with. I’m certain Hickman has got another Marvel Masterwork in him.

Deadpool was good and all, but I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get Zombie Checkers inside the book as well.

Reading your review of Thunderbolts….I’m curious, Greg.

Can you rank Marvel NOW titles that pissed you off in order of pissiness?

Dave: That is pretty interesting. It makes my decision to wait for the omnibus much easier!

Michael: I know! What’s up with that?

Alex: All-New X-Men and Fantastic Four have pissed me off the most. They were just so stupid. I hated A + X, so that’s probably next, but I didn’t expect much from it, so it didn’t piss me off as much as those two. I didn’t love some of the others, but they didn’t piss me off!

Holy crap, how did I not know that Ferreyra was doing the art on Colder? I need to check this out.

Because my new job has me out of sorts schedule-wise I’ve only read Avengers this week and therefore only one of your reviews. I agree for the most part but Hickman always wows me and I’m impatient so I will be reading along. The upside is I didn’t misread anything written by Eddie B this week.

Hope you enjoy X-O, the new Valiant is very solid with A&A as the best so far.

The most important question of the week though is: Where did Jason Aaron watch the Bama/UGA game, and how much Jack Daniels was consumed?

I’m glad you liked the EDITING so much, but there is one thing you missed this week…

Where are all the INDIE comics? I mean, you like INDIE comics right? RIGHT?!

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 6, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Haven’t read any of the Hawkeye books.

There, you PISSED now, mo-fo!?! Maybe someday in another lifetime. Hoo-yah!

Think that FURY MAX is a 13-issue run. Maybe the legendary TP will know.

“Man, the editing on this comic. It’s breathtaking”, really, Greg?! :-)
I was thinking about checking out Avengers but now I’m not so sure. Mm, I canalways “Byrne-steal” it I suppose. Yes, reading comics in the store is the wat to go for your wallet! I’m picking up the Treasury Edition-sized Back Issue! this week so I’m looking forward to that. Oddly, I intend to get Cable and X-Force when it comes out for unfathomable reasons!
Ack, the treatment of Karen Berger sticks in my craw, as does DC’s earlier altrrations to Vertigo contrscts for reasons of greed. It seems a shame that they’d harm their artistic diversity for venality tho’ I’m not surprised. Still, it’s Image and Co.’s gain. As for Ms Berger, I wish her well; one of the great comic book editors who was part-responsible for many great successes, that DC did not appear to appreciate her while honouring mediocrities is pretty pathetic simply in human terms. Of course the fact that Bob Harras is back on top makes me think I’ve fallen into a fucked-upversion of the Twilight Zone anyway! Ha! It’s silly I know bit it just feels indecent and pisses me off…
I finally watched Amazing Spider-Man this week and found it pretty good; the Lizard plot was wispy but Mr Garfield and Miss Stone were very good, the Spidey effects excellent, and Martin Sheen and Sally Field welcome presences. Surprisingly entertaining and compelling stuff. And now I embark pn reading The Silmarillion, David Thomson’s new book, and continue with Peter Ackroyd’s The Tudors! And watch an Italian British-shot exploitation pic called Super Bitch (Stephanie Beachum!) and a classic BBC SF series Quatermass. Engaging. Oh, what is the fatevof Gerry Ford?! All I cqn think of is Chevy Chase’s clumsy SNL version. Uneducsted me! :-;-)

I hate both Daniel Way’s writing and Steve Dillon’s art, so it’s good that they’re ghettoised together in a book that I don’t have to read. It’s not like – say – when they continually team up Kieron Gillen and Greg Land.

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

@ Drancron: Read Preacher. That might get the taste of Way and Dillon out of your mouth, when you get a load of Ennis and Dillon. Now they’re quite a pair! ;-)

I heard if you say “Wacker” thrice in a blog post, nothing interesting happens.

I dropped ‘Tec shortly before Layman came on board. I was collecting 6 different Bat books (not counting Batwoman and Catwoman (for my wife, honestly!)) and deriving little enjoyment from any of them. I may have to give Layman a go. I love Chew (THANKS GREG!), but I wasn’t sure if I trusted Layman to be able to change tone between books.

Deadpool is really surprising me. I liked Way’s take on the character, where there was more method to the madness, but if Posehn, et al can keep up this level of energy, I’ll stick with them for a while.

I’m conflicted on your opinion of Sonia’s latest piece. I don’t necessarily want to know what my favourite writers and artists (and editors) think about this, that and the other thing, but if they’re plainly unapologetic stinkers, I do become less interested in their product. For that matter, I don’t want to buy a “average” quality book just because the creators tithe and drive a Prius without being smug shits about it.

“It’s a Long Way to the Top (If Ya Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” – AC/DC – Best use of rock n’ roll bag pipes? Discuss. Also, that song is fucking older than I am. Kind of makes up for most of my coworkers being 20 years younger than me.

Roberto: It’s really, really good art, too!

jjc: I imagine there was a great deal of Jack Daniels consumed. Probably not as much as would have been if the outcome had been different, but probably a lot!

Oz: Well, there’s a Dark Horse comic. And an Oni comic! I mean, I just can’t stop buying the indie books!!!!!

Hal: Yeah, I don’t like how Berger and Vertigo have been treated recently, but I can’t really get too pissed off about it. Shit happens, unfortunately. And the Gerald Ford thing is what you’re thinking of … but as this is undead Gerald Ford, something much worse happens to him!

Drancron: Thanks for reminding me of Iron Man. That was another Marvel NOW! book that pissed me off, mainly because I want to read Gillen comics but cannot support Land comics!

joshschr: Layman’s ‘Tec is far less insane than Chew, and it’s only three issues in, but I’ve been impressed with what he’s done so far. I’ve spoken to him a bit about his long-term plans on the book, which might make me a bit more interested, but the actual issues so far have been good.

I think It’s a Long Way to the Top is BY FAR the best use of bagpipes in a rock song!!!!

Important question: do you remember the Aussie lyrics to “It’s a long way to the top”?

No Atomic Robo? She-Devils 5 was out digitally this week.

Is there another Stumptown coming out? I thought it was a four issue arc for some reason. I thought it was quite an abrupt ending to an arc (I liked that actually).

Oz: I don’t think so. What are they?

Rolacka: I don’t read stuff digitally if I know it’s going to be out in print very soon, and Atomic Robo comes out next week, so I can wait!

Stumptown is five issues long. That would have been a rather abrupt ending, I agree!

I’ve said this before – Hickman doesn’t write for the trade, he writes for the Omnibus

Wait, I thought I said that. I don’t know who I am anymore!

I have to say, you’re tempting me to check out this Deadpool series, even though I’ve never felt the need to own anything Deadpool ever. (I’ve read some stories with him that I’ve liked–he’s just not my thing.)

The Hawkeye writeup is just gold, by the way.

The only book(s) Dillon ever did that I thought was amazing was his run on PREACHER. I hate his cape comics. Wish he would go back to Vertigo.

Yeah, it’s totally Buttler that’s been saying Hickman writes for the Omni. You totally stole that!

Buttler, Deadpool is damn funny. And I loved that I’ve read on this here blog about that Dr Strange/Ben Franklin bit, so I totally got the joke!

Ah, Hawkeye. Yeah, I agree, this reveal didn’t make things a whole lot better. (What, I bought it when I got banned from buying it? WTF!)

Speaking of our favorite editor, I bought Punisher War Zone 1 and 2. Same guy editing. And in 2 there’s a bit about how the lady that was helping Punisher when he killed some dudes (including cops) is facing the death penalty in NYS. And not just a bit in the “newspaper article” recap page. It’s a plot point because a character that visits the lady in prison claims she’s from a group to abolish the death penalty.

So I ask, why is the Marvel Universe different from the real world, because NYS no longer has the death penalty? I thought this was the case, and in about 2 minutes on the wikipedia, I confirmed that this was true. They don’t have it in NJ either, so it’s not a case of jurisdiction.

I’m guessing that since Rucka is a west coast guy, he maybe wasn’t sure, although he should have checked. But ultimately, doesn’t a plot point (relatively minor, but still significant) like that have to be double checked by the editor?

Ah, me.

Anyway, new issue of Fury Max was pretty good. I’ll be interested to see how well you like the first 6 issues. It started off a little slow for me, but by the 5th and 6th issues it got quite good. I don’t know how long the series is, but I’m liking it.

Other Marvels I bought: All New XMen 3 is ok (although I had to learn about Cyclops from Brian….), I liked the General Hospital name check in the Deadpool recap (that WAS in everybody’s, right? It wasn’t just for me?), and… I guess that’s all the Marvels I got.

DC — LDK was decent. Dick Batman is fun. Action 15 — Morrison’s run has been disappointing, but I think it’ll end well, which isn’t usually the case with him, is it? Detective — I like that Batman is actually DETECTING! Phantom Stranger 3, Earth 2 7, and Worlds’ Finest 7 were all meh (despite Damian in WF).

Indie news — sad to hear that Creator Owned Heroes ends with the next issue, as 7 was a damn good package. Guess I should have talked it up more here.

Hypernaturals 6 was so confusing, even a character in the book said so.

Cyberforce 2 is neat, especially for free.

Fashion Beast 4 is weird but neat.

I Love Trouble 1 has neat paper and an ok story.

Blackacre 1 was ok, kinda typical post apocalyptic story.

Haunted Horror 2 — if you like pre Code horror, this is the book for you.

Last week the Crow series by Kevin Colden wrapped up, ok but not fantastic.

Prophecy 5 from Dynamite is just kinda there.

Masks 1 — get this in trade if you can’t find 1. Shadow, Green Hornet, Spider. And art by Alex Ross this ish. So cool.

More crap later, maybe.

I’m confused. What’s Legends of the Dark Knight? Is it the same premise as the old Legends of the Dark Knight? Does it take place in Nu52 continuity, post-Crisis continuity, or is it not tied to any specific continuity?

I’m not a stickler for these types of continuity questions, I’m just interested from a business standpoint. Even though I’m not a fan of the nu52, I thought a big goal of it was to make a clean break from the old continuities for a short while both to reduce confusion for mythical new readers who may be attracted to the reboot and to allow the new continuity to stand on its own for a while. So it seems strange to me that they would have an alternate continuity bat-title in the mix so early.

LotDK is a digital-first series that tells batman stories, not tied to any specific continuity. If you want to consider it pre or post New52, you’re free to do so, there’s no tie in to any other stories. Personally, I consider them to take place directly after that issue where Batman had the rainbow colored Batsuit!

Legends of the Dark Knight tells good, self contained stories about Batman that aren’t completely filled with death and dismemberment.

So totally separate from nu52 continuity.

I should add, Layman’s Detective fits that description too, so don’t mind my snark.

X-O Manowar for the win! I think its pretty cool, but you will probably dig Archer & Armstrong much more. Cant wait to here your thoughts.

Hey Greg, if you don’t want to spend $8 a month, why not subscribe by mail?
I see that complaint so often on the web – Comics are too expensive at $3 or $4 a pop. But by mail you can trim that back to, what, 1990s prices? 2000s prices?
I guess maybe that would make your reviews less timely, though, so it might not be practical for folks like yourself.
But I needed to tighten finances recently. Instead of dropping books I decided to subscribe to four Marvel books – Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, New Avengers and Cap – and saved around $80 bucks over weekly purchases.
Yeah, it sucks that I’ll likely not have the issues in my hands for several days after they are out in my local store, but I’ll feel better knowing I’m saving the cash.

buttler: If you coined that, I do apologize. I’ve thought it before, so I thought I might have mentioned it first, but I bow to your coinage! Please forgive me!

Travis: Man, I forgot about the Ben Franklin bit being featured here. I would have linked to it. Now I have to find it.

I hate that there are dumb mistakes like the death penalty thing in Punisher, because I really do want comics to be professional. But you’re right – that needs to be caught or explained somehow. Sheesh.

Yes, the General Hospital thing was in Deadpool’s recap. You weren’t seeing things!

I’m planning on getting the trade of Masks. It looks very neat.

Valiant Flash: I’ll be getting Archer and Armstrong as well, but as a history guy, I think I’ll dig the whole “Visigoth in the modern world” twist of X-O! :)

Brian: That’s a good point, but I will probably never get my comics by mail. First of all, I like supporting my local retailer. Second, he gives people 20% off every purchase, so for me, it’s never cover price. I don’t know how it is for everyone (some get discounts, some pay taxes on comics), so I figured 8 bucks was a good price to use. Third, I’m too impatient. I like having them RIGHT AWAY!

And I don’t mind 4 dollars for comics. I pay that for a lot of indie books and even Detective, but the indie stuff I want to support and ‘Tec has a back-up story that, unlike some of the back-ups in DC’s comics, actually ties into the main story, so I don’t mind spending the extra dollar. Marvel is charging 4 dollars for 21 pages, which seems a bit excessive.

I’ve thought about getting comics by mail, but as the price wouldn’t be that much better, I fall on the side of I WANT THEM NOW! and continue patronizing my store.

Yeah, it’s hard to get over that “I WANT THEM NOW!” hurdle, believe me. I’m still waiting for my subscriptions to start. They said give it six to eight weeks, so I’m still buying the issues in store, like Avengers 1.
But then it’s going to be a tough wait…

About the death penalty thing, they do have an easy out for that, because they can just say on Earth-616 New York has a death penalty. Same with all my quibbles about San Francisco looking not much like it does in X-Men. Now, will Marvel be internally consistent about how exactly these things are different from our world? Of course not. Otherwise you wouldn’t have Artie Maddicks speaking at least once in every trade of Hickman’s FF. But with more editorial diligence about what’s going on in the books (as opposed to editorial diligence about what’s being said about them on the Internet), at least they could be.

In happier news, I am so freaking excited about Masks, it’s not even funny. It’s like they made it just for me! Well, for me and Greg Hatcher, anyway.

And just to clariify, I have read the first issue of Masks, and so far it’s pretty keen. It’s like what First Wave might have been had it not been terrible.


Glad to see you picked up the X-O Manowar trade. I’m a huge Valiant fan from back in the day. I’m curious to read your final verdict on one of my monthly faves. :)

Finally read Deadpool, the Arrested Development reference was well played.

When Marvel first announced Thunderbolts with that absolutely gorgeous cover art I got excited for a moment, until I saw Steve Dillon was the artist.
Never liked his art. I was looking at one of those fancy Preacher hardcovers the other day, and as much as I’ve always been intrigued by it, I just can’t get past the terrible Dillon art. It’s so tedious and boring.

And yeah, excellent Hawkeye review. never been a fan of the character but surprisingly I’m enjoying the series very much.

You seem to mention on here on a weekly basis your reluctance to purchase single issues of any ongoing series preferring to wait until the inevitable trade arrives. It seems to me that if the majority of fans resorted to this tactic, the big publishers would cease to be in a matter of months. Without people purchasing the single issues. what’s the incentive to produce them? They certainly can’t make a profit off of the trades alone. It seems like you’re cutting the publishers off at the legs in an effort to save a few bucks.

To each his own, but I can’t see the rational of writing for a website devoted to comics and covering the industry on a daily and weekly basis only to be so willingly out of the loop as you’re waiting for the trades of any particular title to materialize. It’s akin to Roger Ebert waiting for the dvd release of any film before he reviews it.

Mike: Well, I still buy a lot of single issues, so I’m not sure what your point is. I will probably always buy single issues of various independent comics, because I like to support them. As for DC and Marvel books – well, that’s where we disagree, I guess. I don’t “cover the industry,” I review comics, and I shop according to my budget. I will bet Roger Ebert hasn’t paid to see a movie in decades, so your comparison doesn’t work for me. If I were writing for CBR and got to read various comics for free, I’d do that. But when I have to decide whether I want to spend 4 bucks for 20 pages of content or wait a year for a nice trade or five years for a big omnibus that would be cheaper than each single issue … there’s really no struggle in my mind at all. I have no interest in being in the loop just so I can know what Captain America happens to be doing this month. If the trade never arrives because of my choice to skip the single issues, well, that sucks, but oh well. Marvel and DC need to do a better job making sure the single issues are worth my while, and far too often, they don’t.

I’ve never understood the argument that trade-waiting is harmful to comics as a whole. If the majority of fans trade-waited instead of buying single issues pulishers will need to sell fewer issues of a monthly comic because they know the trade will sell more. They would then make enough profit from the trades if the majority of comics readers bought trades instead of floppies.

If it beomes unviable at some point to sell floppies and the medium shifts to trade/graphic novels only, the medium would survive. There would be changes, such as a greater level of risk involved in publishing a series, but from the big publishers how often does a series get cancelled before an arc is done?

Here is the link I think you’re looking for re: Dr. Strange and a certain Founding Father:


Has the very first Abandoned ‘n’ Forsaked now been voided?

Becca: Yeah, that’s the one. I don’t know if Posehn and Duggan are saying it’s back in continuity – maybe Strange just holds a grudge because he knows Franklin WOULD have put the moves on Clea, as he’s Ben Franklin, noted ladies’ man!

This is all a sneaky plot to make me buy a Deadpool book, isn’t it?

If that’s what it takes! It is REALLY funny, however, even without references to 1970s comics!

I wasn’t aware that you were merely a blogger on this site and not affiliated with the other reviewers who receive the preview copies. I honestly don’t know how CBR works when it comes to correspondents and their roles within the framework of the site itself. Are some paid and others aren’t? How do these blogs/columns even function under the umbrella of CBR? If it’s the case that you’re simply a blogger on here with a semi-regular column that is produced solely by you without any insight by the hierarchy, then your buying habits make sense in terms of spending money on trades versus the single issue. Basically, you have a budget you need to work with, like most comic buying fans, and that’s how you make your decisions. Fair enough. However, I think the argument stands that monthly single issues are the life blood of the industry and not the trades they produce thereafter.

Neither you nor Rolacka seem to grasp the concept that without the single issues, there wouldn’t be a trade. There would’t be an industry. I just don’t see how you can be so naive to think that Marvel and DC could eventually forego the release of monthly issues and still turn a profit. The entire logistics of that type of enterprise just don’t make sense when you consider the reality of an idustry. You have writers and artists who can’t keep deadlines for monthly books, which are, on average, 22 pages. Do you really expect Marvel and DC to sit on their hands waiting months for a slow artist to complete six issues worth before putting out a one volume, story length trade? Do you really see this industry adopting that type of model? I just don’t see Marvel waiting until they have twelve, or even six, issues of a mini series like AvX before releasing a trade. That’s not going to happen.

As for profits, Greg, you’ve pointed out on many occasions that the trades are cheaper on average than purchasing the single issues. Selling trades, especially when they’re more than likely discounted, will never match the profits produced by the single issue.

Mike: Oh, yeah – I’m not an “official” reviewer for the site. Brian started the blog before it was on CBR, and I joined before we were on CBR, and when we started here, it just meant we were “hosted” by the site so that we attract more visitors. The “official” reviewers are paid (I don’t know how much) and get to read preview copies. I get paid a tiny, tiny amount, but it’s not enough to cover my costs. I buy what I like, except in some cases where I have credit with my retailer – I trade in old trades and issues, and he gives me credit. That’s why I’m able to read all the Marvel NOW! books – I would probably have checked out a few, but not every single one of them. I’m getting those for free, but it’s because I have credit at my store.

I totally understand what you’re saying and I even agree with you, but I think that Marvel and DC should think about different business models. That’s why I like buying original graphic novels from them, because it shows that I appreciate that kind of package. I very much doubt it will ever change, but it’s more because they don’t want it to change, not because it couldn’t. I think trades have a much better shelf life than single issues, too – I would bet that the trade of Watchmen (to choose the most famous example) has made far more money for DC than the initial sales of the single issues (which is the only place DC makes money on them) did. Again, the sales on trades are far smaller than single issues (not in every case, but in most cases), but there’s no reason that Marvel and DC couldn’t survive without single issues. They just don’t want to.

But I don’t think I’m switching completely to trade anytime soon, so this is kind of a moot point. But it’s a fun paradigm shift to consider!

Drancron beat me to the punch regarding Way and Dillon. I wouldn’t read this comic if it was free! And this is from someone who normally loves the Thunderbolts. Thank god I still have Parker on Dark Avengers…. for now.

Loving Layman on Detective. Moreso than Snyder on Batman even. Its just more fun and with alot happening. Its also made me pick up the first trade of Chew. And it was a great read. Hope to see him writing more around the DC universe.

@Mike I simply don’t agree that ‘without the single issues, there wouldn’t be a trade’ is true. Your argument was if the majority of people bought trades only, the publishers would cease to be. That just doesn’t follow because there would still be a demand for the stories, so publishers would still be incentivised to produce those longer stories. The only way that isn’t true is if publishers were somehow unaware that there was this demand for trades (which isn’t realistic if people shift to trades more and more over the next few years).

Yes the risks would be higher for any particular comic and there would likely be fewer series published, but the industry would survive. So yes, I can absolutely see Marvel/DC sitting on their hands to allow trade length stories to be produced, if those trades are expected to sell well enough; they both already release the occasional ‘graphic novel’. Independent comics would struggle to adapt a LOT more than Marvel/DC.

I don’t think it is likely to happen anytime soon, beause I don’t think the majority of readers will shift to trades (I enjoy the monthly comics myself for example). But if the majority of readers did shift to trades, then the big publishers at least would adapt and trades would still be produced. I don’t accept the argument that trade waiting is somehow the death of the industry.

@Greg – I wasn’t suggesting you go digital for Atomic Robo. I know you like your physical comics. I just thought your retailer might have missed it and you would not be ale to get ahold of it. I specified I got it digitally just in case it was out different weeks digitally and physically. which it sounds like is the case.

The fourth issue of Stumptown ended (minor spoilers) with the bad guys – and ‘baby’ – captured; what more do you need? To know what the whole thing was about? – bah I say! Seriously, I don’t really know why I thought it was the last issue beyond reading years ago that Rucka was intending four issue arcs for Stumptown, and a kind of meta last sentence from Dex ‘So, was it good for you?’.

James: It’s very cool that Layman on Detective led you to Chew. I always like when that happens, because it’s happened to me, and it’s fun.

Rolacka: Oh, I get it. I know my retailer is getting Atomic Robo next week, so that’s why I didn’t even consider going digital on it.

Yeah, I don’t think I would have been too put out if this issue of Stumptown was the final one of the arc, but they did solicit a fifth issue, so I guess Rucka still has something to write about!

Man, I hope Dean White sticks around for Hickman’s entire run on Avengers. Without him, the switch from Opena to Adam Kubert is going to be jarring.

That X-Factor cover caught me off guard as well. Did the shipping schedule finally get the better of Yardin? It’s a shame that Williams cover is so bland. If you’re going to fill in, at least make it count, y’know?

I don’t know if there are plans for more Valen the Outcast, but I do know Matteo Scalera’s art is fantastic. I fully expect he’ll land somewhere in the Marvel Now landscape soon.

Huh. HeavyInk got its shipment of Atomic Robo this week. Maybe there were regional shipping delays?

As to singles vs trades, indies are ALREADY struggling because the industry is switching over to trades (to a certain degree). Or I should say, the buying public is switching to the trade. Hell, back in the day, mid-80s, Dave Sim said in the back of Cerebus (which was probably one of the biggest indies) that if he was only making money off single issues he wouldn’t have been able to keep going/even get to #100. IIRC, it was the sales from the Swords collections (and later the direct sales/bypassing the distributors sale of the first “phone book”, High Society) that kept A-V in business for YEARS. Since the big 2 are mostly IP farms, they’ll be ok for the near future (and be REALLY ok if digital takes off), but new indie stuff? Buy the singles, folks. Like Greg does.

Greg said: “I would bet that the trade of Watchmen (to choose the most famous example) has made far more money for DC than the initial sales of the single issues (which is the only place DC makes money on them) did.” Say what? I’m a little unclear on what you mean here. Just that DC only made money on the individual Watchmen issues on their first sale (to retailers in the DM)? I would wager that just about any series that’s been traded has made more for the company putting it out than the individual issues did.

buttler said: “But with more editorial diligence about what’s going on in the books (as opposed to editorial diligence about what’s being said about them on the Internet), at least they could be.”

Ah ha ha. After I laughed, I said oh how true.

But as for the death penalty thing, while it is something that can be hand waved away with “that’s how it is in the 616, bitches!”, it does raise an interesting philosophical question. Why is the world with superheroes “tougher” on crime than the real world? Shouldn’t, in theory, 616 be safer because of all the heroes? Or is it an offshoot of the Civil War type stuff, where these powered people cause so much damage, it actually makes the world less safe?

It’s amusing that Lady Punisher (no, she’s not called that, but that’s totally what she is) faces the death penalty, but certain bad guys in the MU don’t.

Oh, and finding out that Greg gets paid ANYTHING for this crap is disheartening. WTH, Brian? Is it because Greg’s actually gullible enough to do the goat sacrifices? ;)

Travis: I’m not sure I understand you, unless I’m misreading something. The first thing you write is “indies are ALREADY struggling because the industry is switching over to trades (to a certain degree).” Then, you mention that Sim could only stay in business BECAUSE of the trades of Cerebus. So single issue sales weren’t enough. So are independent comics suffering because of the shift to trades, or will they survive because of the shift to trades? I’m not sure what you mean.

As for my point, that it’s exactly. If the companies keep trades in print, eventually they will make more money than individual sales. I might be wrong (a retailer would know this better), because some trades don’t sell well at all and go out of print, but I don’t think it’s true that a company will always make more money on the single issues. As always, it’s a question of short-term versus long-term. I don’t blame companies for thinking of the short term, but I wish they would consider the long term a bit more. Does that make more sense?

But as for the death penalty thing, while it is something that can be hand waved away with “that’s how it is in the 616, bitches!”, it does raise an interesting philosophical question. Why is the world with superheroes “tougher” on crime than the real world? Shouldn’t, in theory, 616 be safer because of all the heroes? Or is it an offshoot of the Civil War type stuff, where these powered people cause so much damage, it actually makes the world less safe?

Well, in the superhero genre, there’s really no such thing as rehabilitation. It’s not so much that people make bad mistakes in life as that there are good guys and there are bad guys; the good guys usually stay good, and the bad guys almost always stay bad. You can put the bad guys in jail, but they’re always going to break out, put on the same stupid costume (or worse) and commit the same crimes (or worse). There are isolated exceptions, sure, but even those exceptions usually fall back into crime, even if it’s years later, because the tropes of the genre demand it. In that kind of world, the only way to break the cycle is to kill the bad guys–and all too often, even that doesn’t work, because they just wind up coming back from the dead sooner or later. The Punishers of the world (of that world, because it certainly is an overly simplistic mentality) are not just psychotic, as they would be in the real world, but simply realists.

I’m glad you finally understand the editor’s role in comics, and can appreciate an excellent editing job.

First let me say that I think in my last comment, I went a little too nasty — I wanted to give a nudge to the ribs, not a shiv to the back. My apologies, Greg.

Anyway, my babbling was aimed more at the other commenters rather than what you’re saying, Greg. I agree with your philosophy that big 2 comics that you’re interested in will probably be traded eventually, and that not buying those single issues won’t hurt the big 2’s bottom line.

I was presenting the notion that you also subscribe to, that the indies that one is interested in should be bought in singles because one doesn’t know if the trade will ever happen. I did it in my own clumsy way, which shows why I’m not writing for the blog. Duhhhh me!

So what I was referring to with my first bit was that trade waiting in general is hurting indies because people aren’t picking up individual issues across the board, so indies are getting hurt hardest (being the smaller sellers in the first place). If you’re in the habit of not going to the comic shop on a regular basis, you’re not going to be picking up singles as much, and might not see an interesting book that’s out. This year, for instance, I’ve been getting to the comics shops (nearly) weekly for the first time…ever, actually, and I’ve snagged some things that I wouldn’t have necessarily seen (or had pulled). Scam is an example of a book where all I went by was the title and a quick flip through the book, and now those first 2 issues are high up on my own top 10 of the year.


We see indies in singles not doing well — Creator Owned Heroes is (soon to be was) a great book that had neat comics, interesting interviews, and other neat tidbits in it, but apparently couldn’t find a market. I don’t know if trade waiting played a role in COH’s demise, but it’s possible.

I mentioned Cerebus because it’s in my contract ;) but Cerebus was one of the first books that regularly issued collections (starting with the Swords 4 issue collections and eventually moving to the “phone books”), and my point was more that the single issues were published with Dave either losing money or just breaking even, and if he hadn’t been young and stubborn (he was 21 when he started the book), he probably wouldn’t have been able to continue. But he kept on and built up a mass of material to issue and re-issue, and eventually was making some money.

Babbling again….

I think with your Watchmen example I was confused about the way you worded the bit about the single issues — “(which is the only place DC makes money on them)” made it sound like DC wasn’t making money off the trades, so I did a bit of a double take there.

So yeah, indies are suffering in single issue form due to the rise in trade waiting. Until a viable “go straight to the trade” model is in effect (which it is, in the early stages), indies will be struggling. However, I’m not a complete gloom and doomer — I think the medium has gone through enough changes and survived that this won’t kill it either. Words and pictures in combination are powerful.

As to Buttler’s response to my philomosophical question, he am smart. That’s all I can come up with at this point. Head hurt from thinky stuff.

The Hawkeye Initiative was awesome at first, but it started losing me quickly. When they take on the broken spines and ridiculous costumes, they’re pretty great. But then they take on some panels that don’t bother me at all. Poses that are indeed feminine but not demeaningly so, or someone dressed sexy in a perfectly appropriate situation because they’re about to have sex. And when you put Hawkeye in the same feminine pose or ladies’ sexy outfit, it can be funny looking because that’s not who Hawkeye is. But not only does it end up mocking comic art that doesn’t deserve being mocked, it ends up coming off as sex-negative, homophobic, or transphobic. Eschergirls linked to a post someone made that captured lots of my problems with it perfectly:


Rob: My eyes have been opened!!!!

Travis: I don’t think you were being snotty, I just wasn’t sure what your argument was! :) Thanks for explaining it better, and I think you’re right. I do hope that we can move past the model we have now, but I don’t know how that will affect independent books.

I should point out that not everything from the Big Two gets a trade, or at least not a softcover. I’ve been wanting to get Joe Casey’s Vengeance for a year, and only the hardcover has come out. I guess I’ll have to go to Amazon!

Mecha-Shiva: That’s the case with most Internet memes, though, isn’t it? I’m glad you linked to that, because I agree – it’s ridiculous to put Hawkeye in some of those poses. Too bad. When it gets to that point, I do agree with Sonia and the person you linked to. Oh well – there’s always another meme!

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