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I liked WHAT?!? — Hibbs on 10/6/10

Before I get into talking about this week’s books, let me say I am fairly happy about Marvel and DC’s announcements on pricing – DC is moving their entire line to $2.99, while Marvel will (at least, it isn’t that clear) not be debuting any new books at $3.99 – that’s a step in the right direction.

However (and there’s always a “however”, isn’t there), I’m slightly unconvinced that, in and of itself, this will directly increase sales revenue (and, in fact, in the short term at least this will lower it) because I do tend to suspect that the Big Two have succeeded in Breaking The Habit for a large number of customers unless and until the two publishers fix the other two problems facing the periodicals of their respective universes at the same time. To whit:

1) Cutting back on the unviable line extensions

2) Increasing the density and importance of the books they publish.

The crisis isn’t one solely of “price” – it is really more of “value” – and in order to lure back the lapsed there needs to be a marked increase in the perceived value of the books they publish.

I almost wish they hadn’t decided that January was the month to do this because the first quarter is traditionally a weak one to begin with, and when we couple decreases there with the product-weak fourth quarter I’m still expecting a large number of store closings this winter. We’ll have to see if this is a “too late” move or not…

Meanwhile, big congrats on Bob Wayne being named Senior VP of Sales at DC – Bob is the best friend the DM has, and I count this as a smart and solid move for the marketplace. Yay, Bob!

With that out of the way…

ALAN MOORE NEONOMICON #2 (OF 4) :Yeowch, that’s pretty hardcore, isn’t it? I can’t say I enjoyed it, though the Craft is fine; I was just as disturbed that the comic seemed to just abruptly stop in the middle of a scene. OK, I guess.

BOYS #47: the scene I guess many of us have been waiting for for several years now (well, I was – this bit is more interesting to me than most of the Vought stuff, really), and, man does Hughie take it badly. This comic made me feel worse than even the horrific rapes in NEONOMICON, though this was certainly an honest, human reaction. VERY GOOD, if horrible.

CBLDF LIBERTY ANNUAL 2010: What a swell package of comics! And for a good cause, too – BUBBADUBBADUBBADUBBA, indeed! VERY GOOD.

CHAOS WAR #1 (OF 5): I’ve pretty consistently liked Hercules, but this really struck me as too self-indulgent and plothammery. It’s like “Not enough people are buying the comic about a character I love, so I’ll make him like the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe for a few minutes, and that will show everyone!” Nice art, and it zipped along just fine, but ugh, don’t be so in love with your babies. EH

DC COMICS PRESENTS JACK CROSS #1: I don’t get who or what market niche these DCCP things are meant to fill – are they somehow getting away with reprinting these with no or low royalties because they’re not “trade paperbacks” per se? I dunno. But what I DO know is it is really really stupid to release Warren Ellis work in a “permanent” format, and to not put his name on the cover anywhere, nor to print anything whatsoever on the spine of the book. AWFUL, from a marketing perspective; the comics inside are OK

KLAWS OF PANTHER #1 (OF 4): “Seriously, would someone please buy Black Panther comics? Pretty please?” The dialogue was annoyingly… well, poppy, maybe? Modern? I dunno, but that’s not how a Wakanda Princess should be talking I don’t think, and the weird nature of the “supporting cast” is oddly off putting as well. I liked the art, though I kept thinking it was a mutated Shawn McManus as I was reading it. But this is kind of symptomatic of what I was saying above about too many (& Inessential) books above – literally zero preorders for this, and, so far, zero rack sales too. I’ve FOCed #2 down to zero because of that – there’s (roughly) $2 a copy I’ll never get back, sigh. If a character/take doesn’t work, you really need to give it a year or two break off of the market (EG: ATLAS) before trying again. Also: surely one can write a BP book without resorting to stupid old Klaw as the antagonist? Ugh. Severely EH.

METALOCALYPSE DETHKLOK #1 (OF 3): It loses a certain something by not being animated (and with a soundtrack – the song sequence failed, utterly), but not epically. I do think the Milestone-Scratch-Out would have been better for the profanity (and like the “Metal sound” they use on the show) than the @#$% stuff, but ah well. OK.

ULTIMATE COMICS THOR #1 (OF 4): I was pretty much digging the contemporary scenes, but then it wandered off to Nazi Germany and I got bored. Nazis are pretty passé – especially because Ultimate-Universe Nazis are meant to be pawns of the Skrull… I don’t know, for some reason I pulled ULTIMATES v1 off my bookshelf last week and was reminded just how shockingly powerful those books were, and the current direction of the line seems so lame and tame in comparison. Still, I liked those first 10 or whatever pages… OK

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1: My big shock of the week was just how much I liked this, especially given that I don’t care that much for any of the individual character. Pretty much the first time I’ve EVER liked Deadpool, and the Wolvie/Fantomex scene is nearly worth the price of admission by itself. Nice job, folks – VERY GOOD.

WOLVERINE #2: And a second surprise here – I thought #1 was alright, but I quite liked the second installment here. I don’t think people who like Wolverine are going to like it all that much, for a variety of reasons, and I especially think it’s the wrong direction for a Relaunch, and the Start of a Line of Wolverine Family Titles (ugh), but it is certainly sincere and trying for something different. GOOD.

I’ll have another post if I ever finish BEST AMERICAN COMICS; plus I still haven’t gotten to the new PARKER book yet – too busy with Ben’s bday, re-racking the store and a few other projects, but soon, soon…

As always, what did YOU think?

-B

13 Responses to “ I liked WHAT?!? — Hibbs on 10/6/10 ”

  1. I went down to my LCS today and added the 2 new Batman titles(Dark Knight and Inc.) that start next month to my pull list. At 3.99 they were a pass, but at 2.99 I’ll buy.
    I was waiting for one more Green Lantern title to become 3.99 and dropping them all, now that’s no longer the case.

  2. “DC COMICS PRESENTS JACK CROSS #1: I don’t get who or what market niche these DCCP things are meant to fill – are they somehow getting away with reprinting these with no or low royalties because they’re not “trade paperbacks” per se? I dunno.”

    I don’t get what’s brought it about, but I grabbed both and am looking forward to more from DCU, as well as the Vertigo one’s.
    Just seems a good way to sample an old comic you missed – even one you weren’t looking out for, the price is good to take a chance – or check out something you always wanted to check out, like this one, but didn’t hear about until too late.

    I thought it was really odd neither of them had creator credits, especially Jack Cross (GL was tying into recent events), but with JC, I got the last rack copy there, and people were asking about it, so it seems there’s still demand for it.
    Though it is odd if the plan is to keep it in print.

  3. “I can’t say I enjoyed it, though the Craft is fine”

    The craft is “fine”? Seriously? I’ve never seen worse dialogue in an Alan Moore comic before; I’ve never seen such heavy reliance on the Idiot Plot either (“Y’know, Agent Man, I’m worried that something bad might happen to us when we walk naked into that naked orgy place, without any clear idea if who these people are or what they do there or why we’re going there or what to do once we get there.” “Don’t worry, Agent Woman, we’ll be wearing our guns right on us, in that naked orgy place, while we’re naked.”).

    Throughout this issue and the preceding one, one gets the impression Moore has come to believe his readers are idiots and must be spoonfed every single piece of relevant information: the man who once trusted you to pick up on stray details in odd panels of Watchmen is now spending half the dialogue on exposition (and much of it redundant exposition – how many times are we told that the dungeon is an orgone accumulator, and that “they” like orgone, and that – in case you couldn’t put this together! – they are attracted to this dungeon because of its orgone?) and the other half is spent on foreshadowing as subtle as a freight train (“This character is a recovering sex addict. She is surrounded by dildos in the shape of Cthulhu penises. She is talking about how H. P. Lovecraft was terribly asexual, but a subtext of “unnameable couplings” exists within his work. But in case you couldn’t tell she’s about to be gang-raped by monsters, here’s half a dozen pages of her rapists patiently explaining to you the mechanics of luring monsters into their rape dungeon with the power of gang-rape”).

    That isn’t even touching on the art. Jacen Burrows doesn’t draw people, he draws mannequins that have been awkwardly propped into positions people are meant to occupy. Everything feels stiff and lifeless; even the rape-monster at the end of the comic is surprisingly banal, looking less like a Lovecraftian horror and more like a rejected Youngblood villain who’s lost his pants.

    If anyone else’s name was on this book – other than maybe Grant Morrison’s – no one would notice this. It’s sad to see Alan Moore join the ranks of burnt out A-list writers who go to Avatar to team up with D-list artists to dress up Z-list plots with blood and penises, but that’s the march of time for you, I guess.

  4. Not to make excuses for someone I don’t know personally or intimately but if you were having your book illustrated by Jacen Burrows – knowing full well that any semblance of nuance was going to be lost – wouldn’t YOU go a little heavy on the exposition?

  5. I went down to my LCS today and added the 2 new Batman titles(Dark Knight and Inc.) that start next month to my pull list. At 3.99 they were a pass, but at 2.99 I’ll buy.

    Hmm…is Batman Inc. still launching at $3.99, and then just going down to $2.99 in a few months time? Or did they retroactively lower the prices of the first few issues.

    I’m confused. I like the idea of cheaper comics, but I do wish DC woulda just decided to stay at $3 instead of announce a bunch of $4 book and then, a few months later, say “nevermind.”

  6. if you were having your book illustrated by Jacen Burrows – knowing full well that any semblance of nuance was going to be lost – wouldn’t YOU go a little heavy on the exposition?

    Burrows’s work may be lifeless and flat, but it’s never muddy – when he’s drawing a dildo or a penis or a bored-looking bureaucrat, you know you’re looking at a dildo or a penis or a bored-looking bureaucrat. Moore’s tooth-pullingly overbearing exposition isn’t there to make up for Burrows’s shoddy storytelling (which is shoddy, but shoddy in an entirely different way – everything he draws just lays there dead on the page, whether he’s drawing a board meeting or an orgy). In fact, Moore’s approach to character and dialogue is possibly the worst possible match to Burrows’s art: a bored, workmanlike, expository slog that perfectly compliments the dull, miserable, get-it-done hackwork of the art.

  7. Yeah it will be for 2 issues at 3.99, so I met DC half way on this. And now I can read the story from the beginning

  8. “The craft is “fine”? Seriously? I’ve never seen worse dialogue in an Alan Moore comic before;”

    I think it worked fine, not great, but fine- which fits with The Courtyard’s style – but it’s far from being the worst dialogue he’s ever written.
    Go read some of his early works, and if that’s not enough, go read his Image work from the 90’s.
    People will tell you his Wildcats is fine, but it’s horrific.
    This stuff blows it away.

    “the man who once trusted you to pick up on stray details in odd panels of Watchmen is now spending half the dialogue on exposition”

    To be fair, none of the details you could notice in Watchmen were necessary to the story – the information came from other places as well.

    As for the repetition in the pool, I thought it did great to build up the horror.
    Watching the agent go into denial and then into realising what was happening, with the whole in/out of focus panels going on.
    When I first read it it seemed to go for ages, and worked brilliantly, and I was shocked to flick back through and see it was only a few pages.

    “It’s sad to see Alan Moore join the ranks of burnt out A-list writers who go to Avatar to team up with D-list artists to dress up Z-list plots with blood and penises, but that’s the march of time for you, I guess.”

    Who else does that?
    Ennis has done great stuff at Avatar, and any of Ellis’ Apparat work and that online one have been fine – his superhero work there not so much, but it’s been that way since he finished Stormwatch/Authority) – but Ellis is the only one who seems to throw out half formed ideas at Avatar.
    Although this isn’t Moore at his best, I still found it quite enjoyable, and more entertaining that recent LoEG efforts.

  9. 1. I think the density issue is absolutely key to comic sales, especially given the monthly issue format. Too many comic writers today utilize screenwriting techniques in their work and almost refuse to use the tools available in the comic medium to their fullest extent.

    2. As for THE ULTIMATES, isn’t it fair to say that it would have been impossible for that kind of work to be continued over an extended period of time? I’m not sure you can write super-hero comics like that and not eventually burn out the audience or render the characters you’re writing about unusable.

    Mike

  10. What the hell is with the recurring foes of the Black Panther remaining a bunch of dated idiots? They fixed this for everyone else, didn’t they? Batman isn’t constantly duking it out with Joe Chill. Spider-Man doesn’t fight fucking Dude Who Shot Uncle Ben every time they start a new series. Who the hell died and made Klaw matter to anyone at all?

  11. Uncanny X-Force had some effed up art in places, though. I mean, it would be fine if we were talking Mike Sekowsky trying to draw a hundred books by hand at once, but in this day and age I can’t take it when perspective on a moving person makes them look like fat demented dwarfs as so often happens in this issue. Or Deadpool’s twiggy little arms when he’s tied up. This is a LIEFELD CHARACTER who SPOOFS HIMSELF. It’s like if Cyclops was drawn as noticeably fat. What? Exactly.

    Also: I like Remender more than a lot of people and the best way to write a character is the fun-to-read way, which Remender has really blatantly proven to skeptics with Frankencastle. But something still just rings false about Wolverine making a casual bet with a super-crook over a speed run into the vault for the Crown Jewels. I mean, really? That’s pretty spunky for Wolverine, who is well-defined and no longer belongs to comics. Wouldn’t Wolverine just tell Fantomex to shut the fuck up and then smoke a cigar while leaning against a motorcycle?

  12. I’m with Ben Lipman. I thought it was a great comic. I kinda knew what was coming; it was telegraphed, as you guys say, often and way in advance – hell, *everyone* knows Lovecraft characters come to a sticky end – but when it happened I was actually horrified. I like also how they dragged it out for just long enough and… cut.

  13. Brian – thanks for the recommendation on Uncanny X-Force. Didn’t even think about picking this up before I read your recommendation.

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