Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Week of June 3 In Review


It is a theme that I harp on a lot, but the digital revolution is coming sooner rather than later to comics. Three events have brought home what I have been talking about for some time. First the iPAD is selling well and slowly becoming something that more and more people want. I saw someone with one on a plane recently and I have heard of other companies trying to go after the iPAD market place like Droid has sought the iPhone market. Second IDW has announced they will release the digital version of their comics one month after the printed version. Third Marvel is testing releasing an Iron Man Annual on the same day as the published version. Long time comic fans like myself and most of our readers may prefer the printed page, but the reader on the iPAD is suppose to be user friendly and the size is close to what we are used to seeing. This all spells the death of the comic specialty store in the long run.

The reason is that the publisher can make more money on a $2 digital copy then they can on a $4 printed copy. At $4, the publisher might see $1.25. The retailer, distributor and publisher get the rest of the money. At $2 for a digital version the publisher can probably yield $1.75 at worse with the distributor and server companies being the middle men in processing and handling the transactions. The corporate giants are going to want to go down this road. As fans at $4 a crack, 25 books is a $100 at $2 per book it is $50. You can justify the expense of an iPad pretty fast at those rates. After you pay for the iPAD on a budget you can now increase what you read. I know you love the printed page, but how do you listen to music, watch TV shows, watch movies, read the news, has any of those changed for you? This may change too.

BEST

The Killer Modus Vivendi #2 (of 6) – Writer Matz, Art Luc Jacamon. This book goes into the category of illustrated fiction for me. It is in the Echo, Scalped, American Vampire class. When I read it I feel like I’m reading a novel, but instead of having all the descriptive terms telling me the setting the art does that work and the dialogue does the rest. I know this is a translated piece and the chapter breaks may not be exactly how it was originally presented but the book is so engrossing that I immediately pick up from where I was with the last issue. The story this issue has the Killer completing the assassination he started to question and then reconnecting with his family and now starting to look for a way out of his life. The artwork is perfect for this story with great layout and design. The pages flow and it reads with never a question of where we go from panel to panel. Jacamon has a smooth line that fits the story very well. The writing is superb and the noir type of feel to the internal dialogue is great. A quick sample of the dialogue is from a scene where he is deciding that he better complete the assassination he had stopped working on. He decides the nun would be killed by someone else if not him and he would be next if he didn’t do the job. He thinks to himself “So basically I had two choices: Either I could do the job, or I could start counting my days, or take preventative measures. It always came down to the same thing eat or be eaten. And my position on that question hadn’t changed. If someone had to go, best if it wasn’t me.” It is cold, logical and in the setting we are in makes perfect sense.

Invincible #72 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inker Cliff Rathburn. – This is why I love this book. I know some people had said we just saw the Invincible versus Conquest fight but this was different. Invincible goes after Conquest in the midst of the battle in space with his half brother, father and others tooth and nail. It is a no holds barred battle that ends with Mark killing Conquest, possible at the cost of his own life. No one else would start a long story line with the central character being taken out in the first issue other than Kirkman. Will Invincible die? No, of course not, but that does not mean there will be long term repercussions or even short term problems that will have to be dealt with by Invincible for the rest of the story and or series. Creator owned books have the ability, especially if the writer is willing, to be unpredictable and have things happen that actually change the character. The art of course has to be good and Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn continue to just do a slam bang job on the book. This series is simply one of the best super hero series on the stands.

OTHER BOOKS OF NOTE

Avengers Prime #1 (of 5) – I can’t in good conscious continuing getting this book. A part of me wants to as Alan Davis’ art was great as always, but another part says no because it is a $4 book and I’m trying very hard to draw the line on $4 books, especially when you are not getting anything extra other than a short reprint of an old story thrown in as filler. Most of the book was good, although some of Bendis dialogue was horrible. One time Iron Man is talking to Thor and Steve and says “wait till you see my new stuff” talking about his armor. It came across in context as a very childish thing to say. Finally it is a bi-monthly book, which means it will be eight more months before it is completed, which also means it has no impact on current continuity. I’ll either get the trade, which are now over priced, or more likely skip it all together. It was not a failure of a start of the series it is just not worth that price point for what it was.

Brightest Day #3 – This book has clearly broken down into segments, which works and at times is a little annoying as I often want more of each story. Deadman is fighting with the Anti-Monitor and it appears the white ring is trying to teach him about how to be a White Lantern. It is an interesting concept having the former Deadman as an avatar for life. Firestorm is split apart and it is dangerous for them to try and come together. Each goes their separate ways and the animosity between Jason and Ronnie is high. This story is not that interesting to me at this moment and bringing Ronnie back is another boring move on DC’s constant need lately to return to the base character. The Aquaman and Mera story is the best, but we never got a chance to see Black Manta and the hugging scene when Mera tried to comfort Aquaman over his powers being screwed up was very clich├ęd as she showed her own worry behind his back. In real life we would not open our eyes in worry we may just think it. It could have been left unsaid. The Martian Manhunter got short shrift with only two pages, but it appears he has now started to see a brewing storm of danger that is started to begin. Finally the Hawkman segment was cool as we see that the bones of their former lives helped form a portal that Hath-Set has gone through to a different world. All in all this series is moving along very well and is enjoyable. The complaint of wanting more with each character is more of a complement in that I want to see more.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird #1 – I like seeing couple in comic books. I guess the fact that I’m happily married makes seeing super hero couples more fun, plus they are rare. This series assumes that we know a lot of history and highlights what the accumulated years of continuity can do to a character. The back story is so complex that the book needs eight pages to just skim the surface of the history of these two characters. Marvel says they have a sliding scale of 10 years, but the histories of these characters carry the weight of over 40 years for Hawkeye. My concern is that without reading the back story the comic provides I’m not sure the front of the book stands 100% on its own. That being said the price of this book drops to $3 going forward and I will be continuing to read their adventures as the first issue was fun and had a great surprise reveal at the end of the book.

Irredeemable #14 – I’m starting to lose interest in this series. First off the art by Diego Barreto is inferior to Peter Krause. Krause’s art has more gravitas and a stronger realism to it that appeals to me for this type of story. Second the Orian is the bad guy helping the heroes and he looks like a second rate demon from Hell. Plus he almost came out of nowhere to be added into the mix of the story. Finally this issue hardly even had the Plutonian in it. This story as an unlimited series is never going to work in my opinion because it has to have an ending. The Plutonian has gone nuts and destroyed parts of the world and killed millions, he has to be destroyed in return or he has to win. Over a year into the story and we still have no idea of where he came from or how he got his powers and the story has already started to focus on the other characters. I want the story of the Plutonian and not the supporting cast. I’m still on this book, just not sure for how long.

Justice Society of America #39 – This story has heated up this issue as Mr. Terrific’s gambit to reset the timeline appears to have failed. This issue turned the corner on this storyline and made the previous issues make more sense, but the story is too long.

Mouse Guard – Legends of the Guard #1 (of 4) – Any excuse to have more Mouse Guard is fine by me. This book contained some framing pages by David Petersen and three short stories by other artists. I enjoyed Alex Sheikman’s more than the others as I’m a big fan of his art and love his Roboticka stuff and was very impressed by this work. Alex has the ability to work in more than one genre and that isn’t true of all artists.

Nemesis the Imposters #4 (of 4) – This was a very strong ending where Tom Tresser ends up in jail for killing a Senator who was killed by Tom Tresser (but not him). I hope that DC plans to publish the next mini-series because Tom’s story has gotten very interesting and I’m enjoying this book even though I still have a million questions about what is going on.

Red Hood #1 (of 6) - The beginning of this story was good as we find out Talia has a lot to do with Jason Todd being brought back to life. It is a little odd as we see Jason as a very young and smaller version of himself which denotes that a great deal of time pasts from his rising from the grave to his return as Red Hood. I never got that sense from the original story, but my memory could be off or time is being played fast and loose. All in all this has the potential to be a good story and it is a $3 comic, at $4 I might have dropped it.

Thanos Imperative #1 (of 6) – DnA have been doing a great jump with stories in the cosmic side of the MU. I can even handle the blotchy overly dark artwork that is at times hurting the book. My biggest gripe is the $4 price tag for 22 pages of story and art. This is a series I will continue to get but the edge is taken off my enjoyment for this level of art for this price.

BOOKS THAT MISSED AND WHY

Adventure Comics #12 – This book was the worst kind of sentimentality masquerading as a story. The plot is Superboy goes into the future with a list of things he wants to do and a simple adventure ensures. He goes home and of course his memory block kicks in and he can’t remember his trip to see the LOSH, but he feels better, gosh darn it. I expect a lot better for my $4 and with 30 pages to tell a story this was simple and trite. Levitz is now 0-2 and the man who solidified my die hard LOSH status is making me want to drop both this and the LOSH book. First off this list stuff has to go. It was an okay story device for Connor Kent, but Paul is now just copying Johns with this story (and it was used in Red Robin #13). I never remember having a check list as a teen-ager and have yet to write a bucket list either. This book was written down to a pre-teen audience with simplistic artwork and a ham handed story that made anyone with an IQ over room temperature want to go into a sugar coma. One more issue of this sappy stuff and I will drop Adventure Comics. I know Levitz was the publisher, but if he wants to write again he needs to have an editor tell him the target audience is no longer 12 year olds, who would be insulted by this also.

I will continue to harp on $4 and $3 price points. If you are going to charge $4 it better be a premier product or have extra pages or else I will look to drop the book fast. I have spoken about this stuff before but with my viewpoint of the world is that we are fast headed for a true depression or being taxed so high it will feel like a depression. I’m looking for value in what I buy. Therefore story, art and price point all play a role in whether I buy your product. Why fans have been so complacent to a 33% price increase is beyond me.

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