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“Hell erupts and Heaven can only CRY.” Comics? Bad for your soul, but I read ‘em anyway!

John Kane

I read some comics. Did a little dance. Wrote some words. So I guess this me asking, “Something for the weekend, sir?”

THE MIGHTY THOR #3 by Matt Fraction(w), Olivier Coipel/Mark Morales(a), Laura Martin(c) and VC’s Joe Sabino(l) (Marvel, $3.99)

“The Galactus Seed 3: Stranger”
Galactus lolls about on the moon as Asgard engages in pointless fights and wonky dialogue and all the while the people of Broxton become ever more tedious! Also: Sif’s bongos revealed!

This month The Priest With The Least is having problems with the concept of tolerance. Boy Howdy, those Theological issues are getting a real seeing to and no mistake. Priesty and his cronies are also now drawn with a somewhat demonic aspect. Hopefully this is foreshadowing their true natures rather than just ham handed caricaturing. Hey, a boy can hope even though the lack of subtlety or nuance in this thing is pretty substantial. There’s just a total lack of attention to anything beyond the surface dazzle and bluster, both of which exist purely thanks to the efforts of Olivier Coipel. Rather than being an actual Thor comic the whole lifeless exercise comes across as a bad cover version of a Thor comic. It’s dispiriting is what it is and that makes it EH!

IRON MAN 2.0 #4 by Nick Spencer(w), Ariel Olivetti(a) and VC’s Joe Caramanga(l) (Marvel, $2.99)

“Palmer Addley Is Dead Part 4″
The notionally moving tale of a talented boy who fell through the cracks is eviscerated by a total disregard for the comics medium! ‘Nuff said!

Oh boy, this thing right here. There are no less than 8 pages of talking heads and this follows 6 pages of a woman in a library simply gaining access to a file, reading it and being a bit upset by the contents. There are 4 double page splashes intended to be emotionally affecting but, alas, each totally fails in this due to the inept execution. Respectively these resemble: an outtake from Commodore64 version of Toy Story, an illustration to a magazine article on predatory sex pests, a scene from a fumetti entitled “When Bins Attack!” and an  advert for Lego City: Urban Shooting Playset. This is a horrible comic because it isn’t a comic it’s an (ineptly) illustrated TV script. One that relies for any impact on the fact that you too have seen the same generic scenes and that you will bring the emotion you felt when seeing these scenes in a, hopefully, better realised context, to bear on this pallid vacuum and give it some semblance of interest or verve. This is not a comic and so it is AWFUL!

SCALPED #49 by Jason Aaron(w), R.M. Guera(a), Giulia Brusco(c) and Sal Cipriano(l) (Vertigo/DC, $2.99)

“You Gotta Sin To Get Saved: Ain’t No God.”
Paths are crossed.Secrets are revealed. Scores are settled. A decison is made.

When a character does something that’s totally out of character? That’s bad writing. But when a character does something out of character and then you realize they haven’t, instead it was you who you had the character wrong? That’s pretty good writing. If you’ve read this issue you already know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t read it you best be waiting for the trade, lovehandles, because otherwise you’re missing out on some damn fine comics. Golly, it was beautiful. I was thinking, “Of course. How convenient!”, and then I ended up with cake on my face. The cake of fools. 49 issues in and these characters are still growing and still developing in ways which, while never predictable, are entirely consistent. It’s easy to lose sight of the subtleties of SCALPED embedded as they are in the lurid and sensational aspects which surround them but they always rear up into view at precisely the right point. And the art, well, let’s just say that R. M. Guera is often close to Moebius, and that’s pretty much like being close to God. In a good way.

I may be a fool but not to the extent that I’d doubt for one second that Aaron and Guera would be totally okay with this being a TV show. Yet in the first instance they created a comic which worked as a comic. And worked very well as a comic at that. Ambitions towards other media shouldn’t result in a lack of ambition in the source material. Yeah, the bit with the phone alone was EXCELLENT!

DEADPOOLMAX #9 by David Lapham(w), Shawn Crystal(a), John Rauch(c) and VC’s Clayton Cowles(l) (Marvel, $3.99)

“Bachelor Party For Bachelors”
Bob’s not getting married in the morning but is that going to stop his zany scarred assassin pal from giving him a night he’ll never forget? You can bet your sweet caboose it’s not!

I’m not proud of this but I should probably tell you that the last couple of weeks I’ve been pulling a “Bobby Shaftoe” and amusing myself by substituting the word “sh*t” for the words “Fear” and “Flash” in everything I read about Marvel and DC’s annual sales spike stunt comics. See, and it’s dead clever this, you get stuff like “Sh*t Itself” and Sh*tpoint” right off the bat and then the tag lines become “Do You Sh*t…Tomorrow!” and “Everything Changes – in a Sh*t!” and there’s now a “Sh*t wave” covering the earth and, this is my favourite this one, Professor Zoom – The Reverse Sh*t!

So, y’know, I have childish aspects to my personality is what I’m getting at. So maybe the fact I don’t find DEADPOOLMAX very funny is actually a good thing? You’ll notice Kyle Baker hasn’t drawn any of this issue which is better than him not finishing drawing some of the previous issues, which has been happening quite a lot. So I make a noise like EH!


DC COMICS PRESENTS NIGHT FORCE #1 by Marv Wolfman(w), Gene Colan/Bob Smith(a), Michele Wolfman(c) and John Constanza(l)(DC Comics, $7.99)

NIGHT FORCE – they force the night to surrender its secrets! If the night needs forcing that means it’s time for NIGHT FORCE! When the NIGHT FORCE…my lonely heart calls! Oh, I wanna dance with somebody!

Ah, sweet Gene Colan.  Gene “The Dean” Colan.  Truly a unique and delightful force in mainstream genre comic art. Beyond the oft-commented upon use of shadows and light I always found his work very similar to that of Gil Kane but less rarefied and more grounded. Where Kane’s work had an operatic fluidity Colan’s was more workaday hustle. While Kane’s characters soared and thrust, Colan’s figures stumbled and lurched within a POV that was more hectic than roving. His work had life bursting out of every panel but it was the life of a bloke rather than that of a demi-god.  You could aspire to be a Kane character given enough genetic engineering and a high tolerance for pain but you probably already were a Colan character.  And although Colan seamlessly grafted his style onto all manner of genres his art possessed an intrinsic familiarity to draw the reader in no matter how fantastic the four colour shenanigans. He was The Dean. He will always be The Dean.

This package collects NIGHT FORCE #1-4 from 1982 A.D.  The issues show Baron Winters recruiting a motley group of people with sad pasts in order to prevent supernatural evil elements from ensuring the world itself has a very sad future. Baron Winters is one of those oh-so-spooky chaps that appears never to age, has a different garden every time he opens his patio doors and owns a leopard called Schnorbitz. Sorry, I meant Merlin. (Obscure reference? Check and mate.) He’s also under some kind of supernatural house arrest, hence his need for human agents who can move freely in the world abroad! So we have Jack Gold (bitter smoker with a poor employment record), Donovan Caine (a professor of parapsychology who has a wife and child who, let’s face it, shouldn’t be starting in on any DVD box sets) and Vanessa Van Helsing (a kind of psychic nuclear attack in the form of a lady). The three are manipulated into close contact via the Baron and the government’s interest in Caine’s experiments. Taking place on campus these seem to involve trying to open the Gates of Hell by stimulating Ms Van Helsing’s nascent powers via the repeated application of orgies. Which is eerily similar to my experiences of not-studying at Coventry Polytechnic. Anyway stuff goes wrong and all kind of bad hoodoo gets a-cooking!

It’s fast pulpy fun which is either enhanced or undermined, your call, by its attempts to try and inject some maturity into the whole exercise. There are references to “open marriages”, “alimony” and, while the “orgy” word isn’t ever used, it’s clear that quite a lot of people are having quite a lot of fun in a confined space via the medium of physical interaction. Sure it’s clumsy and unconvincing but kind of endearing. Of course it was all for naught as in 1984 Howard Victor Chaykin would demonstrate how to graft a more mature sensibility onto genre comics. But this was 1982 and Wolfman and Colan have a pop at it and it doesn’t really work  but, hey, they sure snuck a lot of stuff past the Comics Code.

There are many things wrong with this comic but pretty much all the worst of them are due to sloppy (re)presentation rather than the creative types involved. The last page in particular is a right horrorshow. I guess no one could find a copy of this page so they asked someone who had read it when it came out to describe it over a faulty phone line to someone with a cheap pen and the delerium tremens and then everyone just crossed their fingers. It’s bad.

And, I really don’t want to sound like Andy Anal here but, the paper stock is all wrong. Mr. Colan has gone to some effort use some exciting techniques, mostly with craft tint (is that right? That dotty stuff.), but these depend on a layering effect to succeed and they fail totally because the image just sits right on top of the glossy paper with exactly and precisely no differentiation between the layered elements. The paper also works against the inking which is too sharp for the necessary haziness of Colan’s pencils. Okay, that was probably the case in the original but the old timey soft paper would have mitigated this while the new timey , oh, look even I can’t believe I’m talking about paper stock, but that’s just how much it doesn’t work. It makes it look like Gene Colan doesn’t know what he’s doing. Gene Colan knew what he was doing but the people who assembled this didn’t. Or did but didn’t care, which is worse.

Still, it was The Dean so it was GOOD!

So, yeah, COMICS!!! Buy ‘em from your LCS – I do!

26 Responses to “ “Hell erupts and Heaven can only CRY.” Comics? Bad for your soul, but I read ‘em anyway! ”

  1. Iron Man 2.0 4 Decompressed Filing Is Not Dead Part 1

  2. too much superheroes crap reviewed on this site.

    try to muscle up some taste. Like read the newest GOON.

  3. @mckracken

    Tell us how you really feel, dude.

    That crackling commentary got me juuuust interested enough to check out some goon previews on dark horse digital. Opened Goon #8. First three pages covered character Peaches Valentine grunting (muscling up some taste perhaps?) ahem a load of excrement into a diaper and then rubbing it over his own head. Then narrator shot character through the head while proclaiming it all a joke. At least it was a 6 panel page? No file cabinets were involved?

    Well played Eric Powell. Well played. Cover trumpets Eisner Award winning status.

    There’s my preview review. Based on that preview it will be the only Goon I ever read in my entire life. Guaranteed.

  4. John, you are the king of the comic blogosphere. Absolutely phenomenal reviews that made me laugh and made me think.

  5. Spot-on description of both Gene Colan’s character work and the perils of glossy paper. Seriously; Captain America 601 looked good but having to tilt the paper to get around the light reflecting off the art and seeing a loss of depth in the art was annoying. It’s like better newsprint-type paper was vinyl and the glossy stuff is c.d. or mp3.

    I’ll take an old failure like Night Force over the current crosssover sh*t.

  6. Some really sharp reviews here, and especially the take on Night Force. I haven’t read those issues in years, but your assessment of Colan is fantastic. I could write thousands of words about how great an artist Gentleman Gene was, and they’d all be my struggle to say something as eloquent and concise as this:

    “His work had life bursting out of every panel but it was the life of a bloke rather than that of a demi-god. You could aspire to be a Kane character given enough genetic engineering and a high tolerance for pain but you probably already were a Colan character.”

    You’re raising the game ’round here, mister.

  7. I have never read any Scalped before. But now I want to. You have intrigued me.

    I too love the Dean yet never read this Night Force. I’m aware of its existence, especially of Baron Winters. His art is delicious to look at in all those Marvel Essentials, so I’m looking forward to finding a copy of this. Also, hinted-at orgies, haha :) Did Gene Colan do any other relatively more obscure stuff like Night Force?

    So Matt Fraction kind of failed on Uncanny, and he’s apparently failing on Thor as well as on Fear Itself. I find it interesting, considering how much people seemed to love him when he was just doing Casanova? Is Casanova really that good, or is the phenomenal artists working on it that elevate that series? Or is it Marvel sucking the good out of him?

    Tried the Goon once, didn’t like it very much. I’m assuming, mckracken, that you read Dungeon, if you look broader than superheroes? That’s the one series I think every person on the planet should read. It’s hilarious and awesome and they get some of the grooviest art on it.

    And I like newsprint, so much better than current stock. Old comics feel and look right. Even 1998 comics feel better than today’s. When you get a perfect storm of blacks actually looking black while at the same time the paper feels a bit old, then it’s bliss.

    I was just thinking about series I’d give to others as recommended reading, and it’s almost always something more self-contained, not part of a larger universe. Yet the larger superhero universe is what first attracted me to both Marvel and DC. Does that indicate that both publishers have squandered the potential of their concept by ignoring the shared universe while at the same time having everything hinge on continuity?

    And one can’t say continuity doesn’t/shouldn’t matter because any great series I can think of (Lucifer, Preacher, Sandman, Swamp Thing, Y the Last Man…) hinges on its own continuity. Or maybe it’s that Marvel and DC have a tendency to leave their stories unfinished/suddenly changed, whereas all the previously mentioned books don’t tend to do that, they reach a proper conclusion and so everything that went on during it, served a purpose.
    I dunno, just ruminating here. Got nothing to do with the awesomeness of the reviews. Thanks for the Sunday morning entertainment! :D

  8. @Peter

    I think you hit it on the head with your comments on continuity. Those titles you mentioned were largely contained to one (or a small series of) author(s). Or, failing that, they were a series with a definite endpoint.

    With all the sharp turns and quick changes continuity on a 20 – 30 year old book is like a terrifying game of telephone.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP_pDXBOSBI

    On the newsprint thing I’ve seen it put forward by tptb as a situation where the talent demands their work be presented to the highest possible degree of quality re: the paper and printing used (Wait, What?) Like these guys they’re scooping off of DeviantArt and on foreign talent searches are gonna walk if it’s not super glossy? Whatever. I think it’s a chicken / egg deal because they can get more using glossy costs to justify the price.

    Nobody cuts a dollar off a 3.99 product if they absolutely have to get it to cover costs. No way.

  9. @Peter Adriaenssens

    Gene Colan pencilled 8 issues of 2 4 issue mini-series of Nathaniel Dusk, a wonderful 1930s’ detective series written by Don McGregor for DC in the mid-80s. The pencils were then coloured without inking, the whole effect is gorgeous. There is a good Gene Colan article at TCJ (see the link below) which shows the original art for the front cover. A Google image search reveals several scans of various pages from the series.

    http://www.tcj.com/gene-colan-1926-2011-%E2%80%9Cfor-me-it%E2%80%99s-a-ride-that-didn%E2%80%99t-enter-my-mind-would-ever-happen-%E2%80%9D/

    kiwijohn

  10. @Peter Adriaenssens: “So Matt Fraction kind of failed… Is Casanova really that good… Or is it Marvel sucking the good out of him?”

    CASANOVA’s pretty damn good, and I’d say this is yet another example of mainstream comics’ own version of the Peter Principle — to quote Wikipedia, “‘in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence’, meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently.”

    Fraction’s failings are the latest example of the problem with DC and Marvel using indie and Vertigo titles as the farm teams for the superhero big leagues… and, unfortunately, what makes for excellent writing in crime / horror / humor /avant-garde-post-mo whatever comix doesn’t always translate into spandex. Especially when part of the remit is to hammer one’s square peg of talent into a round hole of Editor Mandated Event Plot Points.

    So this isn’t just a problem with Fraction — it’s also with writers like Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Jason Aaron who clearly thrive on and prefer writing crime comics though the market forces them to write superheroes. And guys like Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis, who openly hate superheroes. And offbeat writers like Peter Milligan who have to check their eccentricities at the door. Or indie darlings like Judd Winick, who discover that their sins against superhero-dom quickly wipe out all the good will earned from their B&W underground hits. Don’t get me started on Bendis.

    Fraction showed off his chops in CASANOVA, a wild blender of a story that satirically pissed all over spy-fi conventions, with particularly skewering pokes at beloved Marvel concepts like SHIELD and MODOK. Now that he’s forced to play with others and color inside the lines, and it’s nowhere near as fun.

  11. @Steve_D:

    Some have suggested Fraction’s IRON MAN annual featuring the Mandarin can be read as a complaint by Fraction about just what you describe.

  12. Thanks everybody for the generous feedback (I think you are all nutty but in a nice way)and a whole bunch of comments which have given me some stuff to roll around the inside of my mind.

    @kiwijohn is right that NATHANIEL DUSK is awesome ( so I should replace the copies I used to have) and that TCJ picture of Cap and a gorilla falling to the center of the earth is pretty much the best thing that happened to me all weekend. For the gorilla, maybe not so much.

    I think DC are releasing a h/b of NIGHT FORCE soon so they’ll probably print that on newsprinty stuff like the Kirby Omnibooks. Or maybe they won’t. I’m glad everyone got that the whole paperstock thing isn’t just an old man failing to move with the times (although I am certainly doing that too!) and more an aesthetic thingy. Anyway it’ll all be null and void when we are cyber-eyeing comics in mindspace. Which is a week next Tuesday by my reckoning.

    I shall now carry on thinking about the thoughts you have all raised in my head. Cheers, and I thank you all for your continued, yet inexplicable, interest.

  13. “Now that he’s forced to play with others and color inside the lines, and it’s nowhere near as fun.”

    That’s as much a criticism of the creators as the state of the industry. John Buscema may not have prefered super-heroes, but I don’t think you could ever say his work with them suffered in comparison to other genres.

    Mike

  14. @Adam: I gave up on Fraction’s IRON MAN a long time before that Annual came out, but I’m intrigued enough to check it out.

    @Mbunge: You’ve got a point… but I can’t help but wonder how much is the Industry (and editorial mandates) vs. the Creators. I mean, it appears the general motive is to revive / reanimate / reimagine existing characters and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of impulse to create anything NEW. (I mean, I find it dispiriting that, with the keys to the whole Marvel U, Bendis has added virtually no major new characters to the mix — sure, he’s infused some intriguing supporting characters (Jessica Jones, Maria Hill, Victoria Hand)… but mainly he’s just been shifting the chess pieces: reviving Bronze Age characters and working in characters like Noh-Varr, The Sentry and The Hood from the last era (a decade ago?) where anyone was trying to add anything NEW to the Marvel U.)

  15. “there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of impulse to create anything NEW.”

    When Marvel was in the comic book publishing business, they were interested in selling as many comics as possible. That’s how we wound up with stuff like WEREWOLF BY NIGHT in the 70s and THE PUNISHER in the 80s. It’s why the company used to do licensed comics because while most of them would be like STARRIORS or NFL SUPERPRO, every so often they’d get lucky with a STAR WARS, ROM, G.I. JOE or TRANSFORMERS.

    Marvel today, even more so than DC, isn’t in the comic book publishing business. It’s in the intellectual property warehouse business.

    Mike

  16. “Bendis has added virtually no major new characters to the mix — sure, he’s infused some intriguing supporting characters (Jessica Jones, Maria Hill, Victoria Hand)… but mainly he’s just been shifting the chess pieces: reviving Bronze Age characters and working in characters like Noh-Varr, The Sentry and The Hood from the last era”

    Oh, that’s funny– I think of that as one of his strengths, actually, the way he’s put characters like the Hood and Sentry out front. I’ve never liked anything I’ve ever read with the Sentry in it, and I don’t know if he’s done a great job on all of them– the stuff I’ve seen with Marvel Boy… seemed like he didn’t have much of a take there.

    But I think if you look how other people write those books– those characters would have languished otherwise, and he’s not only kept them around but there’s something at least a little gutsy about putting them in the pole position. And I think it’s smart for everybody– it rewards the people who read that stuff to begin with, it advertises the older stuff for the new people, it maintains the illusion of the “universe” concept, etc.

    Plus: say what you will but you at least can’t lay the “he’s only writing what he liked when he was 14″ charge at his feet.

    Where everyone’s weakest to me is villains. Revitalizing old villains– I mean, it’s obviously been done, but, power them up, power them down, whatever you do, the Wrecking Crew is going to be incredibly lame. Any villain that’s been around a while isn’t going to be scary– they’re going to be the “get beat up a lot club.” And having them comment on that isn’t going to help either. (But then they’re stuck fixing villains who are already too perfect to “fix”– old Red Skull >>>>> annoying lady Red Skull; old Red Skull is crazy perfect– he’s a guy with a red skull, the end).

    On the other hand, look at all the hoops they’re jumping through to impress people with the new guy, Moustache Pete from Fear Itself, and maybe people are going for it, and going “Oh no, Moustache Pete is going to get me” or whatever but… I don’t know– tricky job, that job…

  17. “I think of that as one of his strengths, actually, the way he’s put characters like the Hood and Sentry out front…”

    I completely agree, for exactly the reasons you cite (even though Bendis’s take on the characters makes me wonder if he actually *read* GM’s MARVEL BOY or Vaughan’s HOOD, or if he just skimmed their wikis).

    But in looking back at his extended run in the Marvel U, I’m kinda stunned by Bendis’s lack of ambition in actually CREATING new stuff. During Vaughan’s brief run at Marvel, he gifted them with not only The Hood but the whole Runaways mythology, replete with the Gibborim, the Pride, etc. During Joss Whedon’s brief stint in the Marvel U, he cooked up whole planets, Agent Brand & SWORD, a couple of X-rookies, and a whole waiting-to-be-mined Gilded Age superhero mythology with the Street Arabs and Sinners.

    Bendis has been practically running the show over there and we’ve got, what… Maria Hill, and Luke Cage’s baby and baby mama thereof. And Ronin, the superhero that can be any other pre-existing character.

    Not a problem with just Bendis — it’s a general symptom of the Big Two’s malaise. @MBunge is right, it’s now “the intellectual property warehouse business.”

  18. Why should they create NEW stuff? So they can sue in 20 years when obscure supporting character X gets the movie treatment or whatever? Even if today they get a better deal then Kirby or Wolfman they would be pretty stupid to invent the next Wolverine. They wouldn´t have ownership.

    I fondly remember how exciting it was when the Wolfman/Colan series was announced after the exodus of all those writers and artists from Marvel to DC, and how this was a big disappointment.

  19. “Why should they create NEW stuff?”

    Uh, because they’re getting paid?

    Mike

  20. I had not heard the old IMAGE argument for sooooo long. One remembers how Liefeld, McFarlane et al asserted now that they owned the propoerties, they could “quit holding back.”

    The slap at professionalism – both to their mainstream colleagues and at readers – was truly shocking.

    I wonder if Rob Liefeld advised DC that he will have to hold back on DCnU Hawk and Dove. I’m guessing Jim Lee will be holding back on Justice League too.

  21. I’m actually sympathetic to the Creators’ Rights arguments…

    (And @AndyD / Corey (Ottawa) — that “Image” argue is not an unfair one… for DECADES, freelance writers in TV & film have gotten screen credit and money when their characters were recycled by the studio. (Hence, the “created by” credits you see on films & TV shows.) Unfortunately, in the comics industry, writers’ unions and Creators’ Rights never really got off the ground.)

    However, with Bendis, who obviously has a special relationship with Marvel’s editorial staff, the equation feels a little different… part of the ongoing multimedia trend where the Corporate Masters are more interested in reviving / reimagining / reanimating old properties instead of taking a risk on anything new.

  22. @Steve D and the rest of the threead since about #13 – I am totally sympathetic to creator’s rights, having been in fandom long enough to have watched it with the Siegel/Shushter showdown in the 70s, Marvel vs Kirby in the 80s, the Swamp Thing/Jesus crisis, and the TCJ, Frank Miller and Dave Sim led fights of the 90s.

    Two things I was trying to get across: I don’t agree with the argument that its morally defensible to do sub-par work simply because you work for a corporation. You are a creator – please create to the best of your ability.

    And my second point was that I’m not sure I see corporate malfeasance behind Bendis, with the suggestion he’s being told to re-use properties in lieu of being creative. Could it not be he actually LIKES to use old characters, and give them the ole’ Bendis twist? He’s certainly doing that in Moon Knight. Hell, he did it with Night Nurse in DD. But there is new IP also, like POWERS and SCARLET. I think he has, like Fraction and others, more than once creative itch to scratch.

    Certainly Morrison isn’t being a stooge for the WB in bringing back Lord Death Man to avoid paying royalties, so why do we assume BMB is? (and I say this without any particular attachment to his work, which I currently don’t follow)

    So while (and I may be reading you wrong Steve D) I think you are saying that companies are trying to stifle creativity, I believe rather that it is because they haven’t a clue about the marketplace. The old, “Kids don’t want that, they want THIS!” line of reasoning, which gets the DCnU looking like its 1993, and gets Chris Samnee’s THOR cancelled and his Superman stillborn, and gets 20 Bat/Spider/Wolver/ books. Kids love that stuff.

    You may think (and you may be right) that nobody has an incentive to create the “next Wolverine” (Wolverine created by Len Wein and Herb Trimpe, who criminally, can’t seem to get work).

    Well, I think rather people are too afraid to create much of ANYTHING. As compared to the 70s, the line editorial cabal (not the exec editors, the working crew) are not former creators, but rather, now seem to be project managers. I think THAT is a very telling point. The market is now brutally critical and unforgiving, and nobody sticks with a book for a ‘few years’ hoping it turns around. Which is why, I suspect, we get re-hashed material and anodyne ‘characters’.

    Reusing old characters (Freedom Fighters or the Champions, as an example) I think is done not because people don’t want to create new super teams, but becsuse it’s felt to be safer as some segment of the market likely has an emotional identification with a property, and will try it, even if only for nostalgia reasons. I personally liked both of those.

    IDW and Dynamite and Dark Horse and Moonstone and, and, and….pay big bucks for franchise licenses, because its seen as a safe way to get material out. Would Richardson rather have creator-owned Concrete, 300, and other books available as monthlies? Probably. But Star Wars, Buffy and Conan pay the bills. Do we need five GI Joe comics? I dunno, but how else will a “war” comic from a small publisher get published? Red Sonja, Phantom, Honey West, Dark Shadows, Galactica, Green Hornet, hell, even Doc Savage. “Safe.” “Proven.”

    This all takes us rather farther afield than we started. Which was really on how great Gene Colan is and how missed he will be; how crushingly witty John K(UK) is; and how – yeah – the 80s were a pretty creative time, even at the Big Two. I just thought I was being seen as opposing creator rights or somehow opposing Image. I support the former quite strongly, and think the market is better for having the latter in it, whether or not I read their books.

    Comics: I like em.

  23. @Corey: Hey, didn’t mean to cast aspersions… though I do object, a little, to the idea that it’s a “slap in the face” or utterly unprofessional for a creator to suggest that he’s reserving his best original ideas for materials he owns/controls.

    Frankly, what editorial and many fans seem to want is simply clever rearrangement of the existing chess-pieces. (e.g., OMG, Bullseye is Hawkeye! Iron Fist is Daredevil! Thomas Wayne is Batman! etc., etc.) Frankly, a freelance writer hired for those gigs are basically being paid to move units and Protect the Franchise. Great storytelling and original ideas are, frankly, secondary concerns — at best.

    Maybe Bendis is wise to this, which is why he saves his original material for the creator-controlled ICON imprint. I can’t help but think it’s also what the Lords of Marvel want — and arguably, what the fanbase, voting with their dollars, have demanded. As you point out, the existing properties are safer bets for publishers — as they are with movie studios, TV, gaming companies, etc.

    But this isn’t just about the conservatism of the audience — it’s the conservatism of the corporate shepherds who don’t trust any idea that isn’t already a Property that can be exploited and owned. Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for the original screenplay THE USUAL SUSPECTS recently commented that in the current Hollywood market, “I wouldn’t even pitch an original idea anymore.”

    Which is a roundabout lament for Gene Colan, whose work really shined in the most eccentric creations of early 1970s — he gave an underpinning of reality to the wild, free-ranging, groovy-gothic pulp of TOMB OF DRACULA and made the angst of HOWARD THE DUCK feel all too real.

  24. And with that Steve D, we should close this thread.

    For we are truly, all of us, trapped in a world we never made.

  25. To be fair, hasn’t Avengers always been about using characters who were created elsewhere? How many successful characters were actually created for that book – Vision, Mantis, and that’s about it, surely?

  26. [...] filler. The inner illustrations are rife with splash pages that have no reason to exist at all. This guy with the first name that defines a real man tells is just like it is. The art tricycle has been [...]

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