Monday, November 21, 2011

The Week in Review – Nov 16

The death of the monthly periodical is not only a foregone conclusion, in some ways it has already occurred. There are a few reasons I think this is true. This is not to say that the monthly periodical will totally die, but that it will never be anything more than a small niche market item along the lines of vinyl records. Yes, Molly/Con we did listen to a thing called a record that spun on a thing called a turntable.

First off DC touted their new line as the end of decompressed storytelling and nothing could be further from the truth. I have two books I want to talk about in detail this week from DC and Justice League #3 is the model of a decompressed story, but I’m jumping ahead. None of the books have told a complete story yet and only a few books have really had any sort of actual story point conclusions. This becomes so glaring because by starting over 52 titles at the same time all the books are in the middle of storylines. Normally, like with Marvel right now, some books are finishing an arc, some are in the middle and some are beginning new arcs. All DC books are now in the middle. It is fast becoming obvious that it is easier to read things as collected editions. You get a better read of the story when read in chunks that now always seem to have to be in more than 22 page bites. That and the stories of the massive amount of returns and the incredibly rapid decline in sales from the first issues to the third issues show that DC’s marketing gimmick was that, a gimmick whose true impact has yet to be gauged. To me this is evidence that you are never going to generate a true new readership by dishing out prologues or opening chapters in a longer story to an ADD audience that wants an espresso instead of a coffee and drinks a red bull over a coke. 

Second was my talking with Lee about the recent hard cover collection of 100 Bullets. He said that is was a great read and that he picked up on so much more of the story but reading so many issues back to back. The writer constructed a story that told smaller stories over a few issues but was building to a larger overall story. Reading this as a monthly periodical the story often fell apart for me as I read so many different books and can’t hold onto all the minuet details a writer maybe imparting. Heck, trying to remember all the damn character names is a stretch. I’m looking forward to the re-read of the book though, because I know it is more of a novel. 

I know people who now wait for various TV series to end their run and if they hear it was good will get the DVDs to watch the show. We have become accustomed to instant answers by typing a search inquiry into our smart phones. This market place is not very kind towards waiting months for the next chapter in a six month story. My prediction when all is said and done printed comic sales will be down in 2012 and outside of the marketing stunts and sales supported by publisher incentives the trend that has been ongoing will continue. As always the bottom line is strong stories with great art can continue to sell, but we need more one and done stories and a willingness to have real change and actual character growth to occur if you want to grow a fan base.

This week I have not had a chance to read everything, but three books stood out for me.

Wonder Woman #3 by Brian Azzarello (writer) and Cliff Chiang (artist) is a minor revelation. I like Wonder Woman and I’m actually remembering the characters and what is going on with the story. This issue is the “true” origin of Wonder Woman. Her mother finally reveals that she was not made of clay and brought to life by the gods, but was due to a sexual encounter between Hippolyta and Zeus.  This origin makes more comic book sense then the clay origin and gives a whole new texture to Wonder Woman. It also firmly puts Wonder Woman in the mythology aspect of the character like never before. In addition this was one of the rare DC books that managed to tell a story and bring it to a conclusion within the structure of the larger story of the battle between Zeus’ various half-breed children. Cliff Chiang’s beautiful clean line work does a masterful job of bringing Azzarello’s script to life. The story would not be anywhere near as effective without Cliff. The page design and flow of the story is great and right now this is the best super hero work Azzarello has ever done.

Next up is Severed #4 by Scott Snyder & Scott Tuft as writers and Attila Futaki on art. I’m sure someone has interviewed the two writers and I wish I was not so busy so I could read it, because I would love to understand the dynamic of this writing team. Snyder is the best writer in comics right now and this story proves my case, but I know Tuft must be adding a lot to the mix. Attila Futaki’s art is frankly amazing. He is generating all the atmosphere and mood that you could want in a psychological horror story and is brilliant in design and expressions of characters. Futaki is doing pencils and colors and Bill Nelson is the inker on the book. Nelson’s work is harder for me to determine, but I love that we have an inker because often books are being shot from pencils and it loses something. I have not even touched on the story because I want people to read it. Short synopsis, a young orphaned boy searches for his father in a depression era America and finds a friend and a horror of the human kind. What I loved about this chapter is the indication that one of the main characters has……., well read the book.

Last and least is Justice League #3 by Geoff Johns (writer), Jim Lee (pencils) and Scott Williams (inks).  Let’s be kind first, if you like Jim Lee’s art, then with Scott Williams on inks you will not be disappointed. This book screams to be in a deluxe format to showcase the art. Jim Lee has packed so much into each page that the reduction to a smaller size for comics is almost making each panel too busy. I cringe to think how this must look if your digital table size is even smaller. Bottom line, great art and cool fight scenes. The story, not so much, we have stilted dialogue as Johns tries to project these characters to a different time. We also get some incredibly stupid scenes with Wonder Woman and then the dramatic entrance of Aquaman at the end of this issue. All in all this is a “paint by numbers” book bringing together the JL. Worse the Cyborg origin being shoehorned into this story is just that, a shoe horned bit to make Cyborg part of the beginning of the JL. This is a book written to be a collected edition and published in multiple formats. DC obviously sees this is a perennial seller to introduce the new DCU. I’m guessing the new DCU will be in shambles within two years. Oh we will have a lot of good material by good creators, but the overall thing will fall apart like a house of cards.

For those of you keeping score, I’m now up to eight DCU titles dropped with Deathstroke and Blue Beetle not making the cut. Deathstoke was using the mystery of the briefcase way too much. If Slade knows what is in it, we the readers should know also, if it is interesting we will want to learn more. Trust your story. Also the armor he wears is overly complex and convoluted as to not make sense, the sword is beyond ridiculous. Blue Beetle started the character over and is marginally changing things; it is so close to what I read before it is like reading a rerun. I already saw Jamie grow into a hero, too soon for a rerun. Next week’s list is a killer due to hard covers, the list; Warlord Dejah Thoris, Comic Book Comics, Caligua, Parker Martini Edition, Milk & Cheese HC, BPRD Hell on Earth Russia, Invincible, Wolverine and the X-Men, Ultime Hawkeye, Secret Avengers, Fantastic Four, Cap and Bucky, Voodoo, Unwritten, Teen Titans, Superman, Shade, Scalped, Preacher HC Volume 5, Justice League Dark, I Vampire, Hellblazer, Green Lantern New Guardians, Flash, DMZ, Blackhawks, Batmanthe Dark Knight, Batman Black Mirror HC, Aquaman and All Star Western.

That’s it for this week, see ya next week.


  1. Don't give up on Blue Beetle just before the NEW stuff starts. Issue 4 has Silverback, a completely new villain and La Dama can actually use magic now. Plus we'll see an interesting relationship between Jaime and Khaji-Kai! There's so much happening but you're giving up too soon. Give it a little longer and you'll see!

  2. Jim,

    Your last sentence of the 2nd paragraph was priceless!

    Justice League is not the best book, but it sure is a lot of FUN (to me anyway). The reveal in WW is making me think about picking up the title. I'm currently shuffling out my new 52s and just dropped DC Comics Presents (good but to Angel-ly). I got 3 issues of Green Arrow, but that's enough, especially with the Perez inks gone. I'm surprised you're still getting Flash. Has it gotten better?

    I like waiting to watch stuff on DVD too (I don't have good cable and its difficult to catch stuff when it comes out), but I really like my weekly comic fix. I'd miss going to the store regularly.

    So far you haven't missed anything in Amazing Spider-man post Spider-Island.

  3. Eric - Who are you to know what is coming? I don't keep my comics after I read them I mail them on, so I can't check the credit box to see if you are DC editorial or not. Let me know how you know and maybe I will hang on a little longer as I like the character.

  4. Matthew - Thanks, I liked that line too.

    Flash is alright, but I like the character so I will hang on a little longer. Not really grabbing me yet.

    Let me know if or when ASM gets better. I'm not missing that or Venom.

  5. The real origin of the monthly is the plain simple fact that it takes most artists about a month to make 22 odd long as that doesn't change there will always be monthlies.

    That being said, I tradewait on Scalped, Criminal, Northlanders, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Wonder Woman, Justice League Dark, the-one-with-the-Demon-and-Xanadu. No denying if you can wait, most stories read better collected and look better on the shelf too.