Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Week of September 29 In Review

Dear Bob Harras and Joe Quesada, please contact me via this blog and we can discuss the terms of what I will need financially to be an editor and overall line consultant. I’m sure in the span of a couple of years we can resolve the various issues facing your company with unsuccessful launches of new titles as well as the problem with rotating creative teams.

Sincerely Jim Martin.

All sarcasm aside I think I could be an asset to either company. Looking at just a few books this week we have Atlas already folding with issue #5, Gotham City Sirens with a rotating creative cast that is bigger than the X-Men, Wonder Woman on its third issue of the new run with two fill in artists helping to make the deadline, First Wave which is on its fourth issue in about 7 months or so. The Return of Bruce Wayne still waiting for issue #5 as the rest of the Bat line closes in on starting the Bat line wide Return specials.

It is not rocket science that says when you launch (or re-launch as with Atlas) a new series you make it as reader friendly as possible. You are trying to get new readers interested in a character or group of characters. Atlas was all about 3-D Man, this not only did not allow any new readers to find out who the book is about it also turned off an old reader like myself who had been following the group.

Next, all the creative team shifts, let’s start with the writers. When you are starting an unlimited series have the writer prepare a proposed outline of where the series is going for the next 2 to 5 years. It doesn’t have to be set in stone but you know a good writer has plans for more than the first story arc. Black Widow already has a new writer on the book, why? Finally every artist has to have some sort of idea how many pages they can produce a month. If it is not enough for a monthly book schedule it out so artist “B” gets the script for every third issue and try to get artist that are compatible in styles.

I see the companies trying, but how many times have we seen after a new launch, new creative team come on they are canned or we get fill in artists/writers after two issues. The companies need to work harder to earn my loyalty; otherwise I will skip the fill in issues and may just forget to continue getting the series.

Marvel’s Atlas #5 is the last of the series. Given the nature of the series I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. It went from a mini-series to its own series during Dark Reign, doing some turns with mini-series, a backup series and then getting its own series again. I got the feeling by doing Atlas vs X-Men and Atlas vs Avengers it was all about trying to build up more of a fan base for this series, which is why the new series was such a mystery. It was more about 3-D Man then the Agents of Atlas. If you are going to go through all the trouble to build up to a new #1 how can you be so dense as to let a series launch steeped in own continuity be about 3-D Man? You chase away your own fans as well as not welcoming in new ones. The actual story was great and interesting as all get out as Jeff Parker used this last issue to cram the entirety of his story. I get the feeling this arc was 12 issues long or something absurd. The chance to do a new #1 comes rarely and this was wasted. I have to give Marvel credit they don’t fool around on unlimited series and will pull the plug fast as hell as they did here with issue #5. I hate to see this series go because it was a favorite of mine, but I’m happy with how long it lasted (in its totality). Now if only Marvel will do a Venus Masterworks with Bill Everett’s art.

Green Arrow #4 is probably my second to last of this issue. After the disappointment of the series Lost I’m tired of everything being a mystery and answers always being teased. We have at least six mysteries running around in this book and frankly I’m tired of it and tired of Ollie being Green Arrow. If you have a story to tell let me know what it is, the anticipation is getting old and I want to know some answers, you can tease a mystery or two but this book is pushing to extremes.

GI Joe Cobra Special was good, but what is with the prose short story being the backup. When I want a prose only book I will buy it. I skipped the whole thing and just read the comic which cost $5 so I can get a tease / advertisement for a book they are trying to sell, I wish they would have kissed me after, well you know. All in all the origin of Chameleon was a well written story but Fuso’s art was very, very sparse. Maybe he is being paid a lousy page rate, so he turns in bare bones work or something, but it flowed well and told the story.

First Wave #4 (of 6) – The concept is great. I love that we have a modern pulp fiction world peopled with non-super powered heroes. We have Doc Savage, The Spirit, Batman, The Blackhawks, Rima the Jungle Girl and more coming. It is a very cool idea and one that adds a touch of realism to the unreal world of comic books. I love the artwork. Rags Morales is one of the top ten artists in the business. When he is on the top of his game his work is awesome. It is a cross between Alan Davis and Neal Adams that is all Rags’ work. Azzarello’s stories are decent and sometimes he challenges the reader more than most writers, which is usually a good thing but in following his stories in a periodic fashion I sometimes forget what is going on. Azz has a ton of moving parts in this story. That brings me to the problem and that is the publishing schedule has been delayed, for whatever reasons. The delay makes the story harder to remember from issue to issue and given we have a new concept the longer between issues the easier it is for fans to forget. I think done right this could be a winning concept, with the way it has been done I worry how long the First Wave will last before crashing on the beach.

Gotham City Sirens #16 – This book is on my possible cancel list. It started as a replacement for Birds of Prey with a thin premise of why these three characters were together and has suffered from rotating writers and no real direction. I often wonder how any editorial department can allow a book to lack direction for such a long time. A new writer Peter Calloway is on the book so here is hoping he is the new writer for awhile.

Captain American #610 – On one hand this is an interesting story as the son of Zemo is trying to put the screws to Bucky Cap. On the other hand it feels like Bucky never gets a chance to actually take over the role. He is not only still in the shadow of Steve Rogers, but the Falcon and Black Widow are around to pull him out of the fire half the time. Another issue I have is the production values on so many Marvel books is very slicked and polished, but often I don’t think it plays to the strength of certain artists. Butch Guice work looks at time like Paul Gulacy and other times looks like generic work and Guice’s abilities are better then what we are seeing. I’m guessing changing colorists or even paper stock may favor some artists or they need to change to adapt to the process.

Valkyrie One Shot – Not worth the $4 price tag, but all in all it did a decent job of letting us know just who the heck she is anymore. For myself I had lost track and had no clue what her back story was, so this was a good book to put things into place.

Wonder Woman #603 – At least I’m interested in what is going with this story. So far the story of Wonder Woman’s world being destroyed and throwing her into an alternative timeline has been a good one. I’m curious as to who is behind the attacks, why she was able to walk out of hell with ease and I like that she is actually having adventures. I’m concerned as writer JMS was ill for a couple of months and I worry as to how slow the story will unfold because of that, Another concern is that we are only on issue #3 of the new run and artist Don Kramer needed two other pencil artists to be able to complete this issue. As I said in my opening this stuff is nuts.

That’s a wrap for this week, not the most exciting week but some decent reads.


  1. We've said for years the Conversations panel should be co-EIC of DC.

    James can get all of the obscure titles. Booster Gold. Manhunter. the kind he can tell whose everyone's second cousin is in it.

    I'm giving the Bat-spinoff titles to Greg. He has more of a mad-on for Nightwing than I do and that's saying something.

    Jim, you and I can split the rest, but we're totally teaming up to fix the LEGION.


  2. Totally agree with you about Green Arrow, Jim.

    Issue was mostly about what happened in BRIGHTEST DAY, and that was resolved in a few pages. Didn't need Ollie's exposition on it, and certainly didn't need to pay 3 bucks again for it.