Monday, May 30, 2005
More news as it pops. Happy Memorial Day!
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Readers looking to catch up on "Gotham Central" stories they missed will get a chance. "The 'Half a Life' trade is coming out in a month or so," Rucka explained. "That's actually kind of cool. What they're doing is taking the first Montoya/Two-Face story I did way back in 'Batman Chronicles' and they're taking 'Detective Comics' #747, which was another Harvey/Renee story, the birthday story, and those are going to be in the same collection. So, you see sort of the progression into 'Half a Life.' Then the collection for 'Unresolved' and 'Soft Targets' is being assembled as well. So there are two more trades in the works. The first trade sold very well. So the hope is that the second and third will and that will lead to a fourth and fifth because Ed, Michael, and I have been going, 'Trade these! Trade these! People will read them in trades.'"So there you go. Two more Gotham Central trades in the works. Yay! You heard it here first, unless you heard it somewhere else.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
*** This has been a public service message from Collected Editions, keeping you safe to keep waiting for the trade. ***
UPDATED: Then again, I just went to my local comic book shop and found that the cover of Outsiders #24 pretty darn well spoils the story, too. So beware on all fronts.
Chuck Austen's Clark Kent is a man having a bad day. He's been demoted in his job, his wife lies to him and then leaves town, and a villain who killed him is on the loose. Initially, Clark's reaction is pretty fun--every time life gets him down, he ducks out to save the world. Chuck Austen's Superman is a man who enjoys his work, tossing out mre than the occasional one-liner, like critiquing a teenage robber's bad grammar. It's not holier than though, really, so much as a breath of fresh air.
In this way, Chuck Austen's title has what Greg Rucka's lacks--a brash, bright, powerful Superman, which, I think, is something the audience wants. At the same time, especially when reading Wrath of Gog without Unconventional Warfare, Chuck Austen lacks Greg Rucka's Clark Kent-with-a-purpose. We get Clark's demotion, but we don't get any of the new cast that comes along with it. Because of this, Clark look all the more impotent, and Superman--well, I can see why Superman would break Weapon Master's hands, since, you know, that's Weapon Master's powers after all, but as Superman is taunting Gog ("God love a cliche. What's next, 'Mindless cretin?," shortly before Gog smacks him in the head while he's running his mouth off) it begins to feel less like Superman. He's making fun of the bad guys. Superman, in my mind, might say "How dare you?" but he wouldn't call a defeated villain "some loser who cries like a little girl when things get a tad hairy."
As many have noted already, where this story completely goes off the rails is the completely nonsensical apprance of a STAR Labs doctor who looks exactly like Jack Black and proceeds to spout inanities for ten pages. It seems to have nothing to do with the story, let alone confusing the reader when Superman already seems to know this person. It would be one thing, even, if this were a character that Black had played elsewhere, but I can't even find reference to that. Who's idea was this? Chuck Austen? Ivan Reis? And yet, at the sme tme, the writing of Superman in these sequences is fine. Strangely, it doesn't seem to be bad Superman writing, just bad judgement in general.
I'm of two minds of the last, and perhaps most controversial part of Wrath of Gog. Superman is laid up sick, and Lana comes to take care of him. When I heard Lana would be featured in Action Comics, I thought it was perhaps in answer to Smallville; we'd see Lana portrayed as something as a homage to the TV show. Instead, what we get is ultimately a very difficult convesation that's quite moving (whether you agree with it or not), where Lana suggests that Lois doesn't really care that much for Clark anyway, which is why she's gone while Lana is still around. And let me reiterate that Chuck Austen has a flair for dialogue; the conversation between Clark and Lana rates up there with some of his heaviest dialogue from JLA: Pain of the Gods. But what's frightening here is that, even though you would assume that the hero of the book, discussing his own wife, would be in the right in the conversation, I get the feeling that Chuck Austen believes that what Lana says is true; that Lois just loves Superman, not Clark. And it is a compelling arument, if only because the writers have made it that way with Lois away overseas, but frankly, that is just not the Superman story that I want to read (or, at least, read again, because I feel that writers have been down this path before). For more than sixty years we had the Lois who chased Superman and denied Clark Kent, and now they're married and it's a different time. Personally, I don't like writers who can't find anything creative to do with married couples, and so give them marital strife--it suggests that marriage is boring, or stagnant, and I don't think it is.
So I do honestly hope that there's a second Chuck Austen Action Comics trade paperback, because I'm curious to see where this goes, especially in light of what happens to Lois at the end of Unconventional Warfare. On the other hand, over at Yet Another Comics Blog, Dave says that the second trade will contain the worst Superman comic ever, so we'll see. What I'd like to see in Austen's is a scene where Lois shines--where Clark Kent's life isn't so bad, despite all the set up to the contrary. So keep all this in mind, and I'll weigh in if/when there's a second trade.
I'm going to finish the Majestic trade paperback now, and then I'll have a slew of new trades coming in this week. Thanks!
Friday, May 27, 2005
Recalling my response to Brian Hibb's Tilting at Windmills column--where he decried how early some publishers released trade paperback solicitations and how that can hurt monthly sales--I did notice that Marvel has released their trade solicitation for the rest of the year, including a House of M trade paperback. Though I like the idea of hearing about trades this early, certainly it would be ridiculous for DC to solicit an Infinite Crisis trade paperback before the first issue has even come out yet. It guess it would be equally inappropriate to list an OMAC Project trade paperback, as well; then again, does anyone really doubt that there will be one eventually, just the same as with House of M? I recognize that the solicitation makes it a little more concrete, but ultimately, is there really that much difference?
Thursday, May 26, 2005
DC announced the Green Lantern: Rebirth hardcover today, with a scan of the cover sent to Newsarama. The book, long solicited on Amazon, is due out on October. I, for one, am glad to see it out after Identity Crisis, giving a nod to DC's internal continuity (though it may just as easily be because some of the issues shipped late). Regardless, here's a link to the cover--no word yet on whether the offset Green Lantern symbol will actually be foil stamped or etc.
I'm working on a review of Superman: Wrath of Gog, to be followed by Majestic: Strange New Visitor.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Despite the fact that the "end" of the story is generally public knowledge, Judd Winick's Pedro and Me is not only emotional, but surprisingly emotional--more moving than I had expected. Winick shows great understanding and aftersight in his narration of the end of Pedro Zamora's life, showing how a rare medical complication affected not only Pedro's body, but in cruel irony silenced the best parts of Pedro's personality. The result is that the reader suffers along with Pedro, his friends, and his family, hoping against hope not for life, but for just a few more words.
As would be expected, however, there are moments of humor, too. Those who might come for the Real World and stay for Pedro's story will find much to like. There's discussion of Judd's tryout period and the beginning of his time infront of the camera; I found especially interesting the fact that, toward the end, he and now-fiance Pam would hide their suspicions about Pedro's conditions from the Real World cameras, a bit of stories within stories within stories.
I did want to hear more about the gang ejecting Puck from the house; not, perhaps, for prurient information, but for the suggestion that the stress of the arguments helped exacerbate Pedro's conditions--arguments that we never actually get in detail. But that could be because, ultimately, Pedro and Me isn't about the arguments--it's about the jokes and the learning, and ultimately about loss. And it was good, and I recommend it.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Back here I mentioned that MailOrderComics and for the life of me, I couldn't find their shipping prices. Well, I found it today, in the shopping cart system just before check out, and can you believe it--their lowest shipping price is $6.50, and that's for media mail! I say, I understand that the world has to make a living, but between $6.50 there and $5.95-$7.95 at DCBS (though I hear that may change--stay tuned), it's going to start getting cheaper and cheaper to buy on Amazon or at your local comic book store. We'll see.
I've been thinking over a review of Judd Winick's Pedro and Me all week ... more soon, and then regular reviews will resume.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Adam Strange: Planet Heist - well, one can't help but see what Brian Hibbs was saying last week, when the Adam Strange trade paperback is solicited just a week after the final issue comes out. I still maintain that the trade and monthly audiences are two separate animals, but I can see how this would be troubling. Then again, if someone's got issues one through seven already, are they really not going to buy issue eight just because the trade's coming out? Either way, I'm looking forward to it; when this trade comes out, it'll be the farthest reaching (the closest to "real time") that was have right now.
JSA: Lost - This is cool, ranking another Identity Crisis tie-in trade paperback. But I can't believe we've got three JSA trade paperbacks in one year, and we've yet to see even one Outsiders trade. Again, cool, but three in a year? DC better look out or we're going to get spoiled.
Catwoman: Wild Ride - Well, after Relentless (and No Easy Way Down), I'm certainly looking forward to this trade (not in the least for the Opal City cameo), but is it really just issues twenty through twenty-four? Five issues? For $14.99? That comes out to $2.99 per issue - more than the cost of Catwoman monthly! Here's hoping that the paper's good, or there's an extra-sized issue, or something -- I know this'll be sold at a discount, but still, that's ridiculous.
Justice League Elite Volume 1 - And speaking of ridiculous. Justice League Elite volume one? Volume one? We can't even get a twelve-issue miniseries in one volume. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled as punch to see this coming out, but it does bug me a little to see Action Comics #775 collected in yet another trade paperback. Even so, we've also got JLA #100 and the JLA Secret Files lead story, so maybe all's well that ends well. Here's hoping Volume 2 comes out before the end of the year.
Identity Crisis - And speaking of bugs up my rear end -- two editions of Identity Crisis? Two editions? (For some reason, I feel the need to repeat myself tonight.) As if four printings of almost every issue wasn't enough, we now need two different covers for the collection? Not to mention, it's nearly impossible to tell which is which in all the pictures we've seen. I hope one of the comics news sites explains to us the difference between the book market and direct market versions? Because judging from the pictures, I don't get it, and the whole thing is kind of annoying.
(At the same time, dude! Can you believe how September is going to rock? Absolute Batman: Hush and Identity Crisis! And do note, both of these have been advanced solicited, meaning that there might yet be something else of note in September. Can we say the Green Lantern: Rebirth hardcover, and really go for the trifecta? Could be, could be.)
Last but not least, Absolute Watchmen clocks in at $75. Better start saving your pennies, kids.
To summarize, then: A trade too early (if there is such a thing), a trade too small and too expensive, a trade split into unnecessary volumes, three trades of one title, and a hardcover with a variant cover. There's a lot of good here, but the presentation, I think, is kind of bad. So it's a glass half empty kind of night, but I'm looking forward to August nonetheless.
What do you think?
OLD POST: Not much time to write right now, so let me just throw it all out there at once, and I'll be back here later tonight for commentary:
Adam Strange TPB
Catwoman: Wild Ride TPB
Batman: Journey into Knight TPB (?)
JSA: Lost (another new JSA TPB? That's three this year!)
Justice League Elite TPB (yay!)
and ... the Identity Crisis hardcover! Advance solicited! Woo-hoo!
Sunday, May 15, 2005
To wit, regarding multiple covers, he writes:
On a practical level, I’ve been selling comic books long enough to know that the long term impact is to cause a percentage of our customers to start thinking more about being completeists, rather than buying material because they get pleasure from the contents. This is an insidious trap, because the net effect, in most cases, is that we drive readers from the hobby when they miss a variant and get frustrated their complete collection is that no longer.
He goes on to say that he doesn't begrudge multiple covers in and of themselves, only the ways retailers are forced to sell them. But I can relate to what's saying quite well, because I'm more often than not one of those completeists, and, indeed, I got frustrated. And trades are an excellent alternative, because in the case of trades, you get the whole story and all the various covers, for no extra money (see Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Superman/Batman: Supergirl, Superman: Godfall, and Teen Titans: A Kid's Game all as prime examples). And when I've seen that Green Lantern: Rebirth, Identity Crisis, Countdown to Infinite Crisis and all the miniseries have sold out, I've cheered--because I know that'll be more to look at in the trade. But I don't envy the monthly buyers, missing out on another cover.
Hibbs also takes to task the inserts that comics companies, and DC in specific, place in their comics. His difficulty is in how the inserts change the shipping weight of the comics; my problem is that they're just darn distracting! Here I am, trying to read a pefectly good comic, and there's this plastic wrapped trading card sticking into the middle of the comic, interrupting a perfectly good spash page. That, and the seemingly increasing number of advertisements in monthly comics these days, seemed a good reason to me to give up monthlies.
At the same time, Hibbs worries that companies soliciting trades of series before the work collected in the trade comes out lowers sales of those issues. Well, I can understand that. (Though I can't think of a DC example of this right now. Maybe this is a Marvel-thing. If anyone has a handy example, let me know. I'm curious.)
My feeling, however, is that what this does do is let the trade paperback contingent know they still have a place with their comic book companies--and I think that's important, as comics are only of the last mediums where, thought the Internet and etc., there is this sense of the company and the fans being "together." And comics companies should be showing some shine to the trade contingent--after all, mostly comics fans go to comics stores, but the public goes to bookstores, and what we need is the public expecting to pick up trades at the bookstores every month like comics fans do at bookstores. And if that means that (oh, here's an example) my best friend, who doesn't read monthly issues but does read trades of Y: The Last Man, can know to expect Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth at his bookstore, even though that storyline isn't over in the monthlies, that's a good thing--because increasingly, the monthly and trade audiences are two separate audiences, and we need to super-cater to both. This is undoubtedly a debatable point, and I welcome comments.
That's my two cents. Visit Comix Experience when you're in San Francisco, kids--they're professionals, and this and other local comic book stores deserve it.
August solicits? Anyone? Bueller?
Ladies and gents of the "DC August Solicits" thread ... I feel your pain.
UPDATED: A thread that quickly denegrated into something of an argument ... I tell you, this is like reading a Beckett play. Godot is the August solicitations, as a few select posters (not all of them, mind you) slowly eat each other alive. Fun stuff!
At the same time, J. D. Lombardi of Simply JD gives a fascinating explanation of how the whole "posting solicitations" system works. Thanks, J. D.; that was very cool!
Thursday, May 12, 2005
That said, it is somewhat disconcerting to go from Meltzer's Archer's Quest to Winick's Straight Shooter and City Walls (the missing Ben Raab Green Lantern crossover issues not withstanding), in that Meltzer portrays Ollie as just back from the dead, not quite in touch with his surroundings, and showing the inklings of turning over a new leaf to go with his new life, whereas Winick's Ollie seems very in touch (at the beginning of Straight Shooter, he's talking about crooks getting "beat like a boy band at a Metallica concert"), and blunders head-first into trouble with Black Lightning's niece. It's interesting, sure, but much of that has been done before.
One of the good things, if I may, about the death of the Silver Age's big three -- Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Flash -- is that it paved the way for Modern Age characters with more relevant stories. Wally West, of course, is the big success story, and Kyle Rayner had his time in the sun (less time, frankly, than I think he deserved, but we can look at that more when Green Lantern: Rebirth comes around), but for whatever reason, Connor Hawke just didn't take. And that's fine. But if DC's going to justify to me bringing back Oliver Queen to headline Green Arrow, I don't want to still be reading the adventures of the Green Arrow from the 1970s. I want to see a Green Arrow that's conscious of being an anachronism, with stories that play off of that. Meltzer did this beautifully for a time. Winick, as I've said, writes a fascinating Green Arrow, but the characterization doesn't completely jibe with me with what Kevin Smith and Meltzer set up before.
While good, City Walls suffers from a marked similarity to plot-events in Batman: War Games and character-events in Catwoman (it came before War Games, actually, though after Catwoman, but the City Walls trade follows both). Without giving away the last page, City Walls seems set up to bring the characters to a certain point, and while it accomplishes that, the demons-take-over-the-city-and-we-need-an-army bit didn't stand out as remarkable to me (not bad, just unremarkable). What I did like, and would perhaps have liked to see more of, were the little bits that played Ollie's trademark antipathy for fascism against the demons cracking down on crime in the city—this plays an established character theme in a new way, and that might've been the spark I was looking for.
One area where I do think Winick excels is in his writing of Ollie and Dinah's relationship. With seemingly very little difficulty, Winick makes absolutely clear how well these characters know one another. In Straight Shooter, Dinah understands full well that Oliver saying he's fine doesn't truly mean he's fine ("I need you to tell me not to come back [to help,]" she says. "I need to hear the words.") In City Walls, it's nearly palpable that Dinah suspects Oliver's infidelities, and not only gives him the chance to come clean, but lets him know she's doing it ("Is there anything else you want to tell me?" she says. "I'm asking. I won't ask again."). It's good, good stuff, done swiftly and well.
So certainly I'm game for Green Arrow: New Blood (my guess at the next Green Arrow trade, hopefully this year), where I think plots with both Dinah and Mia will come to the forefront. And, since I've been reading Judd Winick here, I'm actually now to start Pedro and Me to read some of his other works.
Did you read Green Arrow: City Walls? What did you think?
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
At the same time, MailOrder Comics seems to have some pretty low trade prices (Absolute Batman: Hush aside), but they've just re-done their site and for the life of me, I can't find their shipping prices, so it's kind of hard to tell.
Meanwhile, Dreamland has posted Prelude to Infinite Crisis for $3.59, while DCBS has it for $3.89. No sign of it at MailOrder Comics.
And while we're here, I'd like to give a shout-out to Grasshopper Comics. Their prices aren't very competetive, but they do post photos and transcripts of both the front and backs of their trade paperbacks, which is pretty cool if you want to browse or check out a new release. So thanks!
Found a deal on trade paperbacks on the 'Net? Let me know!
Monday, May 09, 2005
And can you believe everyone who was in the know kept it secret this long? That's impressive, too.
Of course, now we must ask, what'll be the first trade paperback with the new DC logo? Looks like Batman: War Games Act Two comes out the first week in June, and also New Teen Titans: Who is Donna Troy. One? Both? We'll see.
In other news, Newsarama has a late-night list of some of the comics that will cameo in Prelude to Infinite Crisis. For your reading pleasure, let me take a look at this and see what appears in what trades:
Action Comics #826 - unreleased (probably will appear in a trade of the three Superman/Captain Marvel/Eclipso issues)
Superman #216 - unreleased (ditto)
Adventures of Superman #630 - Superman: Unconventional Warfare
Adventures of Superman #638 - Superman: That Healing Touch
Superman/Batman #6 - Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Green Lantern: Rebirth #4 - unreleased (will appear in Green Lantern: Rebirth hardcover)
Titans/Young Justice Graduation Day - collected in trade
Teen Titans #18 - unreleased (undoubtedly in a future Teen Titans trade)
Teen Titans #19 - unreleased (ditto)
Teen Titans #21 - unreleased (ditto)
Teen Titans #23 - unreleased (ditto)
JSA #58 - JSA: Black Reign (forthcoming)
JSA #70 - unreleased (undoubtedly in a future JSA trade)
JSA #72 - unreleased (undoubtedly in a future JSA trade)
Robin #135 - unreleased (hopefully will appear in a trade after Batman: War Games)
Outsiders #21 - unreleased (most likely in a future Outsiders trade)
Outsiders #22 - unreleased (most likely in a future Outsiders trade)
Manhunter #6 - Manhunter: Street Justice (forthcoming)
Aquaman #29 - unreleased (will we ever see another Aquaman trade?)
Birds of Prey #80 - unreleased (most likely in a future Birds of Prey trade)
Adam Strange #8 - unreleased (most likely in a future Adam Strange trade)
A couple of these I think are definite, some I think are only "most likely." I'm excited either way ... what do you think? (And hey, feel free to link to this list on any message boards you might frequent if you're feeling generous!)
Sunday, May 08, 2005
So DC has announced the Prelude to Infinite Crisis collection, and I, for one, am super-excited, because I'm eager to see the new text pages/captions that tie the whole thing together. It's kind of like the "what went before" episodes of The Apprentice, only, well, good. (And may I just say, go Tana!)
At the same time, I'm not sure Prelude is good for the "wait-for-traders," if you will; it's a whole lot of comics that I haven't read the issues leading up to yet, so I'll probably be buying Prelude and then storing it until the right time to read. Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen doesn't come out until July, and that seems to lead right up to the Flash issues that's in Prelude, though it does make one wonder which trade the Flash/Wonder Woman crossover will end up in (though crossover trades seem to be all the rage these days, between Batman: War Games and JSA: Black Reign. So long as they don't reprint the issues in both Flash and Wonder Woman trades. That's just annoying. On the other hand, maybe Prelude is the solution, and that's the only place those two issues will appear. Who knows?) Personally, I might've been happier with a "Prelude to Infinite Crisis trade paperback month" ... hey, a blogger can dream, no?
The other item of note is the lead story from the Superman 2004 Secret Files. You all picked that up when it first came out, didn't you? Because it seems now like there was a whole bunch of Infinite Crisis stuff going on in all that political intrigue, and we'll see that story both in Prelude and in Superman: That Healing Touch coming out in July.
As for what else is in there ... I was a bit disappointed to see that the cover looks like yet another Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries advertisement, a la, well, Countdown itself. Yep, all four miniseries are represented. Hopefully Prelude will read a bit more fluidly.
And I wonder, are we looking at a floppy spine, or a trade spine? For 96 pages, I imagine the latter. In fact, this could closely resemble the Young Justice/Titans: Graduation Day trade from a while back, that quickly-printed thing that actually had an advertisement on the back. I'm actually not so opposed to this, if it would mean that trades would come out faster, though Marvel seems to be able to accomplish quick trades with wrap-around art. But we'll see; I'd love to know what's in Prelude ahead of time if that's ever revealed.
Which does beg the question: has anyone found an online store that's selling Prelude? Because so far, I haven't, and I'd like to order it with my August comics.
So that's my take. Unfortunately, it looks like DC August 2005 solicitations are not coming out tomorrow, despite the fact that it's the second Monday of the month; I guess it's the second Monday on or after the 15th of the month instead. Eh, well. Look for a Green Arrow: City Walls review soon, as well as some May price comparisons.
Friday, May 06, 2005
UPDATED: Newsarama's interview with George Perez confirms that not only is Perez drawing the cover for Absoulute Crisis on Infinite Earths, to be released in December, but he is also drawing the cover for the fourth Wonder Woman trade. Let's see ... there's Wonder Woman: Down to Earth, and Wonder Woman: Bitter Rivals ... that's only two. Could we see another Wonder Woman trade solicited Monday?
Bob Greenberger, head of the DC collections department (sorry, Bob, I'm blanking on your official title right now), expands on the announcement here.
Oh, and happy Free Comic Book Day!
UPDATED AGAIN: Oh, duh. When George Perez is talking about drawing the cover of a Wonder Woman trade, he's talking about the trades of the Perez-era Wonder Woman issues (currently Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals and Challenge of the Gods). Not as cool as a new Wonder Woman trade, but I am glad to hear there will be more of these, too.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
And JLA: Pain of the Gods is a good story. People who don't like so-called "decompressed storytelling" (I'm not sure there is such a beast, but) are advised to steer clear -- there's plenty of gratuitous splash pages and panels upon panels of word-less fighting. Which can be iritating. But this is probably one of the most forthright, honest, and realistic JLA stories I've ever read, and that is solely to Chuck Austen's credit.
To wit: first of all, I was somewhat concerned that this trade contained six stand-alone tales, only thematically connected, which would have probably read better as single issues. Not so. Don't be fooled by other reviews -- there is a definite, and suprising, plot here that spans the entire trade. This is not just a JLA story, but a JLA adventure, one that ultimately requires the entire JLA to solve. I was not expecting this, and I was thrilled to find it.
Second of all, Chuck Austen doesn't seem afraid to pull punches, and moreover, to let his characters sin, something Identity Crisis tried to do as well, except Pain of the Gods accomplishes it much more naturally. Toward the middle of the book, it seems that the issue is resolved ... except the Flash is still uncomfortable with it. At another point, Superman doles out sage advice ... and then in the next panel, is shown not to be following it. Batman defends his arrogant attitude toward his teammates, Wonder Woman speaks of the League as a place where heroes "will not be judged" for their pain, and in the end ... everything is not resolved neatly. This is a wise JLA story, and this is a grown-up JLA story. It may read quick, but I firmly believe that in that sitting, Pain of the Gods can stand as a benchmark for other JLA tales to come.
Given that response to JLA: Pain of the Gods was so varied, I'm curious to hear what others thought of it. Please take a moment and post your comments below.
On now to Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest, heading toward Green Arrow: City Walls ...