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All over the map: Hibbs’ 11/7

Brian Hibbs

Comics, TV, and a movie, after the jump.

Comics, first? OK with me!


FUCK ALAN MOORE BEFORE WATCHMEN: MOLOCH #1: Much like MINUTEMEN, this would be one of the FAMBW books that I was at least curious about — we don’t really know a lot about Moloch, and he’s arguably a principal… well, “catalyst”, at least, if not “character”. And I was hopeful because, hell, Eduardo Risso is drawing it, and that cat can fuckin’ draw, y’know? Sadly, though, it has all the subtlety of any other comic that J. Michael Straczynski has written recently, that is: slim-to-none, and the result is just a cliched horrible mess — Moloch’s bad because he’s ugly (no explanation for the bat ears is given), and because all women are horrible predatory whores. Yay!

Even Better is how this was hastily solicited to fill in a massive scheduling hole, where, suddenly, they seem to have lost an entire month’s worth of FAMBW titles — going from weekly to skipping five week’s worth of issues is a kick in the gut on momentum on this series which was pretty strongly selling to a specific group of customers who are buying the entire project (not specific minis, like I thought in advance) — well, damn, it makes DC suddenly look like Marvel in terms of schedule.

Either way, I know this isn’t aimed at me, but we continue with “Exceptionally pretty, but emotionally bankrupt”, which the closest on the Critic scale is, I think, EH.


DEADPOOL #1:  Brian Posehn (!), Gerry Duggan, and Tony Moore do the Marvel NOW! relaunch of  “the Merc with the mouth”, and he’s pretty much a character that I’ve never really cared one teensy bit about ever — to the point where I don’t believe (from the tags) that we’ve ever once reviewed a straight Deadpool comic on the site ever! — and, hey, guess what, I thought it was reasonably entertaining! I can’t say I’d personally add it to my monthly reading stack, but there was some charm and wisecracking, and an imaginatively funny series of antagonists, and it’s almost certainly modestly GOOD.

What’s funny for me, as a retailer guy, is just how much better this is selling right now then the next book (about 250% of that figure), as well as outselling it’s previous incarnation, handily (for now at least) — I went long on this #1, chasing that fat 70% discount, and I’m confident they’ll eventually go (week 15, or 16, I’m guessing), while the next book I can already tell I’ll never ever sell them all. *sigh*


IRON MAN #1: is that next book, and, in many significant ways for this retailer, my real litmus test for the commercial viability of MarvelNOW! as a branding exercise for Marvel.

I’m sure that in a month or two I’ll write a post-mortum on the launches for TILTING AT WINDMILLS, but going into this my feeling was that Marvel comics are a significantly more popular “brand” than DC, and have a MUCH larger number of “lapsed” readers. The “New 52” launch succeeded by any dream of avarice I might have had, where even books where it was clear that they WOULD be cancelled within a year (HAWK & DOVE, anyone?) still sold 70-80% more copies than I ever thought they possibly could have, and the “big books” totally dominated fourth quarter sales charts.

Now, to me, IRON MAN is the modern quintessential Marvel comic — two hit movies, lead role in the AVENGERS film, can’t HELP but benefit from a big wide “push”. DC reboots sold like 500%+ their previous issues, I didn’t feel at all shaky going 300% of “current” IM sales, scored the extra discount on the first issue, at least (as I did with most, but not all, NOW! books)

So far? I’ve sold precisely one FEWER copy of #1 than I have of #522 in the same time period (day #6). Uh? What? The? Fuck? Again: I’m sure that will pick up eventually, but, damn, that’s the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen.

The big problem is that I can’t actually push the comic very hard on the strength of its contents — I’m no real fan of Greg Land’s stiff-and-lightboxed art, and Kieron Gillan’s script, despite being one of the “Yeah, that makes sense!” names attached to NOW!, gives us a story whose premise is essentially that of “Armor Wars”. I’ve read “Armor Wars”. God help me, I’ve even read “Armor Wars II”, this isn’t what I want to read as the Big Relaunch.

I mean, it isn’t terrible, or anything, but it’s also not much better than OK, and for a $4 asking price, am I really going to suggest people buy this over, say, STUMPTOWN or even the next book, this week? Yeah, didn’t think so.

This week is going to be the real test of it, I think (with 6 NOW! books), but I’m starting to feel like MarvelNOW! is going to be as big of a miss as New52 was a hit, and that’s truly terrifying if that’s playing out in the rest of the world the same way.


DIAL H #6: A beautiful, beautiful done-in-one story essentially ruminating on the stupidity and banality of some characters, and just how hard it is to “fight crime”, and the real selling point for me was that the issue was drawn by David Lapham, who, of course, isn’t even cover billed. Yeah, this was a truly great issue of this series — I thought it was VERY GOOD.


How about some TV? Sure, can do!


ARROW: much to my disconcertion and surprise, I thought this was kind of non-shitty.  I was expecting more “Smallville” (ew), but instead it’s kind of about as close to “Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters” (well, or more properly, the monthly book by Grell & Hannigan just AFTER that mini-series) as you’re likely to find — there’s a structured mystery, and plan, and it seems like it is playing out alright, and while it’s a version of Green Arrow from Earth-TV (Speedy is his sister, Deathstroke is some sort of army torturer, or something, the probably-some-day Black Canary is named “Laurel”, rather than “Dinah”, so on, so forth) it has an interesting continuing flashback structure — yeah, I don’t love it (I’d never have watched it if I didn’t own a comic book store), but I like it very fine. Marc Guggenheim has managed to make a very solid little weekly vigilante TV show.

Two notes: first: man, the budget on this thing seems loooooow, to me — they’re constantly setting scenes in “night clubs” which are fairly clearly a soundstage, with a curtain hanging in the background with colored lights playing against it, and like two silhouettes dancing behind it — yet they sell it pretty damn well.

Second: this Arrow (oddly called “hood” by most characters IN the show) is a STRAIGHT-UP killer. Some episodes the body counts top a score. And it’s all very kind of sub-rosa — I mean, yes, the cops are after him, but one gets the sense it’s more from being a vigilante, rather than being a KILLER vigilante. You’d think that “Laurel”, as written, would be appalled by Arrow’s actions, but, yeah, kind of not.  It is odd.

Anyway, I think this show is watchable, and surprisingly OK.


THE WALKING DEAD: So far, season 3 has been going swimmingly (I’m a week behind, I think?) — this has been going breakneck speed, and shock follows shock pretty much every week. What I’m liking the best is that all of the same pieces are in play from the comic, but things come in different order, at different times that you can’t really second guess it much. I mean, clearly, we have the prison, we have the Governor, but other than that, “anything can happen”. I’m finding this a real thrill this season, and some of the acting this go round is getting downright good — especially a recent reaction to something that happened involving Rick — that was some raw-ass human emotion there. This really has been VERY GOOD, with only memories of the first “half” of Season 2 keeping me from wholly embracing it.


What, and a film, too? Sure! (though this has to go faster than I thought, since I just got the call that the truck with this week’s comics will be here in a few minutes!)


SKYFALL: The latest James bond film was, I thought, one of the better ones — it’s actually ABOUT something, and when viewed with CASINO ROYALE (skip out on QUANTUM OF SOLACE, I think), it really projects a lot of new possibilities for the character — but the last act of the film, while emotionally connective, was almost terrifyingly “small” in scope and range for a Bond movie, where you expect it to get bigger and bigger and ludicrous.  There’s a crazy villain, however, and bi-sexual flirting (!), and a surprising denouement there at the end, and it even had what I thought were the best credit sequence of the entire series (seriously, it was almost entirely nude woman free, AND relevant to the actual movie, for once). You have to go far to beat MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN in my heart (and SPY WHO LOVED ME / MOONRAKER in my memory, though, watching those again with Ben, I didn’t care for either much), and this didn’t beat those heights, but, yeah, I thought it was terrific and thoughtful in most ways. It’s a very strong GOOD.


Whew! Gotta bounce! How about you? What did YOU think?



18 Responses to “ All over the map: Hibbs’ 11/7 ”

  1. So this has nothing to do with your post, but your digital webstore has two issue of Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose in the “top titles” section. Is this for your store specifically? Are you actually selling that much Tarot? (Or anything I guess.)

  2. @Brian Hibbs: If I may be so bold may I just say I think you should have called this one “Oh, Hibbs has a powerful weapon…!”

    Come on, son, everyone knows it’s GOLDFINGER then YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE which are the ones to beat! (Anyway, you can’t be showing THE SPY WHO LOVED ME to a child! It’s got Caroline Munro in it! It’s too much, too soon!!!)

    I will, however, say that THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN has the very best lyrics of any Bond song ever. Google it, comics chums, you’ll love it!

    Why isn’t POPEYE CLASSIC COMICS the Top Title at The Savage Critics Digital Store!? That’s ridikerlish! I can’t hardly stands it! Arf! Arf!

    Thanks for the reviews!

  3. “your digital webstore has two issue of Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose in the “top titles” section. Is this for your store specifically?”


    That bit is solely controlled by iVerse.

    *checks* We’ve never sold a single copy of TAROT through the webstore (and it’s a 2-copy subs-only in the store)


  4. @JohnK:

    GOLDFINGER *is* awesome, but Roger Moore is (sadly) “my” Bond, age-wise. Likewise, SPY WHO LOVED ME was the first Bond movie I ever saw, in those pre-video days.

    Hey, you might appreciate this (if, hrm, it works in the UK): http://www.kfog.com/programming/1010.aspx and listen to the 11/9 show (can’t link it directly)


  5. Totally agreed on DIAL H – that was a fantastic, and pretty funny read. A nice poke or two at Moore and O’Neill, I think, over their use of the Golliwog, and at ill-considered attempts to re-use outrageously offensive characters in general.

  6. I can only wish my local CGS would get Dial H regular like… Hopefully this week…

    The only title I got from past week that was kinda interesting was GReen Lantern. Though like lots of the new 52 it was a little light on story it gave me a little more Simon sans the slugfest I expected and that was nice… With two cross over stories I have little hope of getting to know the new GL before Hal comes back in the next 6 months. I hope I am so wrong about that but well time shall tell.

  7. A lot of Marvel comics I buy have all ended, and I’ve taken it as an opportunity to stop buying them, and maybe switch over to Graphic Novels (if it turns out I miss something good). I have no real enthusiasm about the mismash that was AvX, so I have no real care about all the new relaunches.

    I did pick up Iron Man, mainly because I loved Gillen’s work on Journey into Mystery, but it didn’t seem that good. The comics I buy nowadays are those that I can’t wait to read the next issue of.

  8. The thing about Marvel NOW! (apart from it having an incredibly stupid name) is that, despite their best marketing effort, it doesn’t feel like a New 52-style jumping on point. It feels like the same damn thing they’ve done after every crossover for the last however many years. Just giving a book a new creative team and a new #1 doesn’t fool anyone anymore. It’s business as usual.

    Also, if you’re going to charge $4 for a book, it better have a really big name irresistible creative team. I like Kieron Gillen. I’d have tried his Iron Man at $3. Not at $4. If you’re charging $4, you better have Grant Morrison doing Superman or something.

  9. I gotta stick up for JMS on this. His NITE OWL was as hilariously bad as everyone says, but on both DR. MANHATTAN and MOLOCH, he’s producing books that you can at least imagine future readers of WATCHMEN enjoying.


  10. DIAL H #6 had my favorite super-takedown of bad guys this year. It’s a moment that ranks with Tommy Monaghan’s barfing on Batman’s boots.

  11. Though superhero books aren’t normally my cup of tea, I will definitely try picking up this Dial H book. I love Lapham’s art and we get so little of it anymore.

  12. I’ve been watching Arrow on Hulu, and my reaction is fairly similar to your, Mr. Hibbs.

    Other than a really disappointing version of Deadshot, and now apparently they’re making Deathstroke way too easy to defeat just so they can explain why there was a Deathstroke mask on a stick in the pilot, this show doesn’t make my inner fanboy cringe as much as I expected. So, there’s that.

    I’m feeling sheepish now about how much I used to irrationally hate Paul Blackthorne for his portrayal of Harry Dresden in the SyFy Channel “Dresden Files” series. Blackthorne is a lot of fun to watch as cranky, and usually right, Detective Lance. To the point where I sometimes wish they had just made a cop show about his character and Laurel instead of rebooting Green Arrow.

    The show has a sometimes perplexing relationship with comic book continuity that may frustrate some viewers. They changed Star City to Starling City (presumably because someone thought the original name was dumb… but is Starling City really any better?), and Laurel Lance’s first name is actually Dinah (they have used it a few times to make sure people know this)… but she goes by her middle name. I’m not sure exactly why. For the alliteration? To keep people from figuring out she’s based on Black Canary right away? Somebody just didn’t like the name? And they throw out seemingly random references to places like Bludhaven or Markovia in a way that doesn’t really make sense unless you just accept that they’re casually setting this in some version of the DC Universe instead of the real world.

    As for “the hood”… They have done some interesting things to explain the whole “he’s kind of like a more plausible version of Batman, except that he killed about thirty guys in the first two episodes” premise. And apparently during the five years when he was stuck on an island, he learned a ton of useful things (Chinese and Russian, martial arts, how to make cool electronic gadgets, etc.) The character has a ton of potential. However, I don’t get why they bend over backwards to avoid calling him Green Arrow.

    There is even a point in the opening narration where he says, “I must become… someone else.” That would be a perfect time to call himself Green Arrow if they ever get around to giving him his superhero name on the show. But even in the opening credits, they wimp out on us. Would it be so wrong to at least call him Arrow instead of “the hood”?

    Also, I have really mixed feelings about the ongoing Queen family soap opera. Sometimes, it’s entertaining and sometimes I wish the bad guys Oliver’s mom is involved with would wipe out most of the supporting cast.

    Finally, Green Arrow needs more “trick” arrows. He occasionally uses a swing line arrow or something, but he needs some less lethal alternatives to those broadhead arrows he uses to kill some of the henchmen. Boxing gloves and handcuffs would be too silly, but how about some flashbang grenade arrows or pepper spray bomb arrows or things along those lines where he could keep the body counts down a little?

  13. I augured in pretty heavily on 52 and passed on the entirety of Marvel NOW because a) it seemed like a ‘me-too 52’ and b) the creative teams didn’t interest me and seemed like a reshuffling of the same deck chairs. I checked into Dial H, for instance, because it was employing an acclaimed fiction writer who’d never done comics before on a C-grade character. I was especially disappointed that Marvel couldn’t bring in better ideas or underemployed creators that had done very good work in the past (Richard K. Morgan on Black Widow? Warren Ellis on anything?) Whatever burnout I may have over yet another universe reboot, at least 52 was a true publishing event with a reasonably buzz-worthy roster of talent behind it.

  14. Mea culpa, correction and full disclosure: I realized I did put one Marvel NOW on my pull list after all (I just haven’t received it yet), Deadpool, which I’ve also never bought or had the slightest interest in before, but the creative team, especially Gerry Duggan (who does funny Tweets), would provide a fresh and interesting take. So I was glad to see it get a GOOD Hibbs review. If only the rest of Marvel NOW had been as interesting.

  15. Lol to “I’ve read “Armor Wars”. God help me, I’ve even read “Armor Wars II”, this isn’t what I want to read as the Big Relaunch.”

    You’re really funny Brian and I always enjoy the heck out of your reviews.

  16. Interesting take on Marvel NOW!, Brian. I also suspect that the rolling relaunches, rather then a straight reboot, will not have much of an effect beyond producing a few new core titles. Marvel has simply been “the company that cried relaunch” too often. Iron Man’s an interesting case; I wonder if public opinion has finally turned against Greg Land to the point that he’s more a detriment then a selling point, although editorial will never realize that (see: Liefeld, Rob).

  17. In the aftermath of the New 52 and this Marvel NOW! nonsense, could I request a little more attention to some of the genre work coming out of other publishers? I know Dynamite has earned some enmity from the variant cover garbage, but they’re doing a version of The Spider that I think deserves more attention than it’s getting.


  18. @Brian Hibbs: Thanks for the link, sir. I’ll check that out ASAP. I’ve not been able to do so for a bit as I and The MiracleKane Family have been down The Smoke (AKA That There Lahndahn Tahhn) for my (little) sister’s wedding.

    Right now you are wondering why I am telling you about my fantastic jet-set lifestyle and the reason is this: the meal was on a boat (yes, on The Thames!) and our fine dining was accompanied by some bloke tickling the ivories on a Joanna (,guv!), yeah, but, his entire repertoire for the evening consisted of James Bond themes. Yeah, how’s that for spooky!

    Even wierder; my sister is a massive fan of James Bond and “her” Bond is Roger Moore! She is clearly wrong but at least she is in good company with yourself.

    Thanks again for the link. And, yes, yes, that was super-self-indulgent of me wasn’t it! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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