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And, lo, there shall come a sell-out! Hibbsing 4/25

Brian Hibbs

I have reviews, yes, under the jump.

ARCHIE #632: In the “just because I can sell you one digitally” category, let’s start off with this one. This is the third in the “Archie Gets Married” comics — this time it’s to… Valerie of Josie & The Pussycats? Uhm, OK? I must be horrible backwards on my Archie-ana lore, but I didn’t even have the slightest idea that they’d ever even dated before? Did they? Oh, huh, wikipedia says that they first dated in ARCHIE #608 (2010) (“making her Archie’s first black girlfriend; previously, Archie Comics has been very hesitant to depict interracial romantic relationships.”) which sounds about par for the course for the modern Archie.

The thing of it is, in 2012 (or even 2010), the idea of a mixed race couple isn’t much of a big deal… well, at least here it isn’t; I’d say at least 20% of the families at Ben’s school are mixed in one fashion or another… and if you opened that up to religions as well, it might be as much as half — so it is really hard to find a dramatic hook in this; though that’s clearly why Archie tried this as another “stunt” book.

What I found somewhat interesting here is that Archie’s path in all of these “memory lane” stories is largely dictated by Archie’s choices before he proposes — for example in the “….marries Veronica” story, he’s working for Mr. Lodge, while here he’s a full-time musician with “The Archies” band. Implying that his choice of romance is dictated by his job.

I also find it a little weird that there’s a little subplot about the paparazzi are very interested in this marriage, but most of it focuses on the Pussycats side. Why is that weird? Well, I don’t know, it’s kind of because Valerie is the “…& the Pussycats” portion, and the real world would seem to suggest that only the “front man” is considered famous — what portion of the world could name a single member of “….& the New Bohemians” or “…& the Blackhearts”? Unless, in earth-Archie, the Pussycats are on par with the E. Street Band?  Yet, conversely, Mr. Andrews band is *called* “The Archies” (which is actually weird, when you think about it, it’s almost like, say, The Talking Heads being called “The Davids”), but it really doesn’t read in the comic that he’s the “star” of the band. Weird.

There’s also this really weird 3 panel interlude where some chick with a white streak in her hair schemes to take Val’s place in the Pussycats, but I have absolutely no clue whatsoever who she is supposed to be, since she’s not named, and I don’t have a degree in Pussycat-ology.

So, yah, cute, if house-style art, sloppy writing (both by Dan Parent), and low-stakes drama… yeah, it’s an Archie comic, and it’s certainly no worse than many I’ve read, and better than a few (like the Kiss crossover) — it’s perfectly competent and OK.

AVX VS #1: I’ll say that the “this has no plot!” introduction page removed much of the weight that might follow here, and, yup, just punching. I pretty much disagree with the results of BOTH of the fights, as shown, especially since they were both X-Men losers, AND they were “worthy antagonists for an entire team of characters” characters, but it was still fun enough for the brainlessness of the work (I also liked the running “fun fact”s), but CHRIST ON A BIKE, $4? Are you nuts? Damn, that’s just crazy brutal, takes it down at least two grades, relative to the depth of the content, and means all I can say is EH.

Also? I think it’s kind of insane that the Parent book, titled “Avengers Vs. X-Men” looks like it’s called “AvX” on the rack, while this one, which IS called “AvX” looks like it’s actual title is “Avengers Vs X-Men” — I don’t think we can quite call that “bait and switch”, but it’s some dumb planning, if you ask me.

BATTLE SCARS #6: Seriously?

I mean, it’s stupid enough that they’re trying to align Marvel comics continuity with movie continuity (seriously, anytime the answer to “wait, who is that?” has to be answered with a paragraph long description, you’ve just fucked up your continuity), but to have a nearly last page reveal that “Marcus Johnson’s” name WAS ALWAYS “Nick Fury”, so that’s what everyone is calling him now, is just kind of insanely dumb. There’s also nothing in the text of the comic that would suggest that this kid is even vaguely competent enough to be made head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and, in fact, since his pal “Cheese”… er, I mean “Agent Coulson” (Gr!) bugged him in order to have the Avengers rescue his ass, I’d say the text suggest quite the contrary. At the least, the OLD Nick shoulda died… but he’s still bouncing around in the background, so it’s probably just a year or three before this gets reversed.

This might not suck if people actually cared, or bought it, but I’ve sold ZERO rack copies of #4 & 5 of this series, and #6 survived Wednesday without anyone showing any interest whatsoever. What if you threw an origin and nobody came?

Really the only positive thing I can say is that, as a $2.99 book, which Marvel has made self-cover, and removed 4 pages of ads, there’s a significantly better reading experience by not having those ads. On the negative side, with the reduced cover stock and the one less signature, these $2.99 books have AWFUL “hand” — they feel flimsy and cheap and terrible. I’d strongly recommend they pump the cover stock back up to compensate.

This was a badly told comic, for an unreasonable and unwanted goal, and that really makes it AWFUL.

MOON KNIGHT #12: I didn’t write them up, but I really liked the twists of the last two issues, and of how Moonie’s mental illness was being expressed, and I thought the book was finally actually going somewhere, but this issue just has the Avengers come in all Ex Machin-y, and makes the whole thing kind of pointless. Can Marvel now admit that Moon Knight can’t carry a solo book? Even with Bendis and Maleev? Sadly, this last issue was very EH.

POPEYE #1: Another we’ll-sell-it-to-you digitally book, and this one at least, I can thoroughly and unreservedly recommend. No, it isn’t E.C. Segar, but it’s done with so much respect for that original work, that it wouldn’t feel out of place with Thimble Theatre. Roger Landgridge’s script has the voices Just So, and the art by Bruce Ozella is astonishing — absolutely in line with Segar, but it doesn’t feel “old fashioned” or slavish for that. You couldn’t really ask for a better first issue, though I was surprised to not see a single can of spinach on display. I thought it was VERY GOOD.

RICH JOHNSTONS CAPTAIN AMERICAN IDOL #1
RICH JOHNSTONS SCIENTHORLOGY #1: I think I can review this as a pair?  Honestly, if Rich’s name wasn’t on these, I wouldn’t have ordered a single copy; and even with is name on it, it’s really only down to the audience that reads Bleeding Cool. These kind of look hacked out to my eye, or cashed-in, your choice, and while each has an amusing moment or two in them (Thor punching someone in a Guy Fawkes mask, saying “thou art Anonymous!” is the height of the wit here), the best thing they have going for them is David Hasslehoff cast as Curtis Joh… er, I mean, Nick Fury. If you’re looking for CRACKED-level parody, without the Severin art, as you build up to Avengers, then this might be the comics for you! Me, I thought they were both EH (with Thor being marginally better, mostly due to Michael Netzer’s art)

Yeah, so that’s me; as always, what did YOU think?

-B

9 Responses to “ And, lo, there shall come a sell-out! Hibbsing 4/25 ”

  1. This may be a silly question, but regarding books like Battle Scars which have already had previous issues sell no copies, why do you choose to order future issues?

  2. I bought the Popeye issue in physical form yesterday. Sorry, Mr. Hibbs! I’m just a huge fanboy of Langridge’s work and buy anything he puts out the very second I see it.

  3. Ralf: It’s a hazard of the job of being a comics retailer. He had to order those issues months in advance, so by the time #4 sold dick, he’d already placed orders for #6.

    About the issue itself: OK, the “His name was always Nick Fury” is stupid, and the importing of Agent Coulson to 616 continuity, while a good idea, somehow successfully lost the character’s appeal in translation… but Ultimate/Movie Nick Fury’s more appealing to me than the established Fury anyway, so I’m happy with the end result… even if, with any realism whatsoever, everyone would just start calling him “Junior”.

    If the movie/alternate universe guys show you a better way forward, I say go for it. As far as I’m concerned, Tony Stark should have his film personality from now on.

  4. Chris: DUDE. You never ever EVER EVER!!!!! have to apologize (to me, or anyone else) for buying print. I’d rather not have the $1.32 (less paypal fees) under that circumstance!

    BUY MORE PRINT!!!!

    Ralf: With BATTLE SCARS specifically, it was an issue of Marvel saying “this is majorly important” and me thinking that, maybe, someone would come along and buy them “after the fact”

    AKA: retailer gullibility.

    Here’s the thing, though: Todd Allen just wrote an article for PW that complained that stores in SF didn’t stock deeply enough on 2nd-tier books, so there’s a market expectation that we have [thing]

    Scylla meet Charybdis!

    -B

  5. Adam:

    OUr posts cross-posts I think…

    “It’s a hazard of the job of being a comics retailer. He had to order those issues months in advance, so by the time #4 sold dick, he’d already placed orders for #6.”

    That’s sorta false — we have FOC now, Final Order Cutoff, which is roughly 3 weeks between an issue shipping.

    When my FINAL orders for BATTLE SCARS #6 were due, #5 had been on my shelf through the first weekend (six days total) — it was clear to me that I was selling 0 rack copies, but I made a *conscious decision* to rack 1 copy on 2 copies preordered.

    That decision erased ALL of the profit on BATTLE SCARS, as a series for me, but that’s where the residuals of Goodwill for Marvel still lies.

    -B

  6. “but that’s where the residuals of Goodwill for Marvel still lies.”

    jesus christ! just burn the goddamn money instead.

  7. I may not be a fair judge in this case but I thought the Avengfuls series wove a clever and witty parody that made a few compelling statements about society at large, and the comics and film industries.

    As an example, more interesting than the “anonymous” punch line itself, was the lead into it that criticizes the Scientology institute while being more gracious to the common people among its membership…which also seemed like a fitting metaphor on religious institutions in general.

    The “anonymous” line, btw, was not directed at just anyone in a Guy Fawkes mask but rather at the actress who wore it, who also continues to struggle with her aspirations for stardom in real life. This among many other such characterizations and juxtapositioning of various roles between comics and film mediums, seemed to be well worked out for an admittedly throw-away satirical series.

    Though I wouldn’t fervently disagree with the general sentiment of “hacked-out/cashed in”, I’m not sure how much more can be expected from a project like this. I earned about twice as much pay, per hour’s work, arranging fruits and vegetables at a local market stand a few years ago, than I did drawing this issue. Still, it seems like a fun read, sprinkled with some insightful commentary, and well able to whet the appetite for the much awaited film. I’d be curious to hear how they’re selling at your shop once you’re able to gauge it.

  8. @Brian

    I’m really impressed how you’re putting your money where your mouth is. Very admirable.

    About the Todd Allen article, please don’t take his criticism to heart too much. I used to live inside the Loop in Chicago and the comic stores there are just insanely well stocked on non-Big 2 books. Their market expects that, but that market is an outlier. Manhattan stores can be well stocked on things or totally miss the boat; I’ve had both experiences. (Don’t expect comic store employees to recognize Tales Designed to Thrizzle. If they do, it’s a bonus.)

    I think you’re right when you say each market has to be viewed in context of the customers in that market. It doesn’t excuse bad stores that adamantly refuse to break from what they’re comfortable selling, but you’ve never run that kind of store. If someone walks in off the street and asks why you don’t stock a certain book and you say it’s because the previous issues didn’t sell, I think a reasonable customer would understand they expected more than what was reasonable there.

  9. Battle Scars #6 says to me that Marvel doesn’t care anymore if we know that they think we’re idiots.

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