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“‘Fear Itself’? More like ‘Fuck Yourself’!” (wokka-wokka-wokka)

Brian Hibbs

Hey, look, reviews!

 

STAR TREK/LSH #1: Awwwwww…. I really really wanted to like this more than I actually did. The idea of a “Mirror/Mirror”-ed LSH 31st century is a cute one, but at the end of issue #1, the two groups aren’t even together yet! I’d have preferred that the cause of things was much clearer than it was — like an episode of the show. Ah well, I still have incredibly high hopes for the next one. EH.

 

WALKING DEAD: THE RISE OF THE GOVERNOR HC: Sadly, as a piece of prose, I thought this kind of stank — it’s told in an odd voice (my English classes are decades behind me, is “They do this, they do that”…. third person, present, is it? Awful awful choice in any case), and it relies way way too much on a last-minute twist that really doesn’t make a lot of sense for what we see in the comic. It spends far too much of its length in stuff I really didn’t care about (maybe the last 30 pages are in Woodsbury, making this kinda more “the road to the rise of the Governor”, and, again, that “twist”, ugh, cheaty-mccheaterpants.

As a marketing exercise, I understand this even less, as it is a tie-in to the COMIC BOOK (The TV show can’t have the Governor until at least season 3, if that), yet the cover design just screams “TV show” in aesthetic. Yet anyone watching the show would likely be baffled by this novel, since there’s not a single character they know in it. At the least, you’d expect that maybe there’d be a page of “now read the comics for more” or something. But, there’s not — Ugh!

Also: I couldn’t really hear Kirkman’s voice anywhere here. I rather get the feeling that he just plotted it, or something.

Sorry to say, this was pretty AWFUL.

 

FEAR ITSELF #7: Um, wow. this has not exactly been a stellar comic all the way along, but I think this issue is a special kind of low. Virtually nothing made sense to me (like WHY is Thor dead? I don’t get it?), and it suffers greatly from the Lord of the Rings movie problem, where there’s just epilogue after epilogue after epilogue, all designed to funnel you into other comic books. It also doesn’t help there also was a brand new 12-issue (!) mini (the Fearless) spinning out the same day, nor that there also seems to be a new branding trade dress (“Shattered Heroes”), or, that they seemingly forgot about a few characters along the way (please see Graeme’s AMAZING missing scene from the issue), or that they have the temerity to extend the mini by three more “issues” (7.1, 7.2, and 7.3? OY!), or that we’re already ramping up for the next set of events and crossovers (“point one” ships in like 3 weeks), and it’s all just too much.

It’s a big giant “fuck you” to all of Marvel’s readers.

The biggest sin, of course, is that it is just plain dull — but the calculatedness on top of that? Fuck Marvel here, is what I say — this was AWFUL.

 

WOLVERINE #17: I thought the “Schism” stuff was all kind of mediocre, generally, but at least it had a point and a purpose.

I go kind of crazy sometimes, when I read comics set in San Francisco, that gets basic stuff about The City 100% completely wrong. Like look at this cover:

There’s no possible place in San Francisco this should could be from (remember, SF is surrounded on three sides by water — the only place it isn’t is SOUTH, so, no, you can’t “walk off into the sunset”), and even putting that aside, well, I can find 8 different “no, not in SF things” here — seriously, gang, I’m available cheap as a San Francisco fact checker!

This story here is fairly throw away, but I have to give it one big ups — it has my new favorite line of dialogue of 2011.

So there’s like a bunch of reporters standing around a crime scene, shouting questions at the harried detectives, just like what you’ve seen in a hundred movies, but has never happened in real life, and one shouts out something very close to:

“Captain, Captain, can you confirm that this murder puts kung-fu related deaths up by 200%?”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

The only rational response to a question like that would probably be “Yes, they’re now at 200% of ZERO, dumbass”, but this is comics, so that actually rules, and I’m going to give it a capricious-ass GOOD just for that line that made me giggle like a little school girl.

 

And, with that, I bid you anon, until next week…

 

As always, what did YOU think?

 

-B

 

85 Responses to “ “‘Fear Itself’? More like ‘Fuck Yourself’!” (wokka-wokka-wokka) ”

  1. Axel: I say we give them the bad version of Fear Itself rather than the good one.

    Tom: But Axel, you know comic readers are weak and overly sensitive, and we should really be considerate to only give them good stories. Come on, since we can pick and choose the quality of Fear Itself, let’s go with the good version.

    Axel: No, this time I intend to give a big “fuck you” to all the readers who buy our comics, just because.

  2. I’ll be honest, I stayed in there to see how bad it got.
    It exceeded my expectations, but yeah, I knew what I was in for.
    Is it really wrong of me to have fun complaining about how bad it was? People paid their money, let them have a whine! Isn’t making fun of bad movies half the point of watching them in the first place?
    Besides, it’s always funnier if you’ve read the books Jeff and Graeme make fun of on the podcast. I can’t wait for their discussion on this one!

  3. Ben, it’s perfectly fine to criticism the book for its flaws.

    But the difference is you have the reasonable attitude of “I knew what I was in for.” That’s a lot different than the people who act as if Marvel betrayed them and murdered their cat.

  4. *criticize

  5. “like the one suggesting that comics are “a cheap substitute for real literature,” reek of elitist condescension”

    You’re right about the condescension but wrong about the target. It’s a shot at comic readers who are too lazy and either intellectually or emotionally immature to leave behind juvenile power fantasies featuring costumed people who call each other ridiculous names while punching other costumed, ridiculously named people in the mouth when those fantasies no longer satisfy them. Instead, they demand that concepts and characters and continuities intended and designed for juvenile adventure tales be tortured and twisted to support more adult drama.

    One of the things that most limits the appeal of today’s super-hero comics is how they arbitrarily smush together elements of juvenile fantasy with adult reality without regard for any internal or external logic.

    Mike

  6. “Nope, it’s about stupid and smart.”

    1. I hate to break this to you, but you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

    2. You still haven’t explained why it’s wrong for the strong to abuse the weak.

    Mike

  7. “Axel: No, this time I intend to give a big “fuck you” to all the readers who buy our comics, just because.”

    I recall when that Spider-crossover “The Other” came out, I and others complained about how the story said that Peter Parker was dying from something but didn’t explain or define what that something was. We were told by no less than Peter David to get over it because the specific reason why Peter was dying didn’t matter. I would submit that why a character is dying and what they’re dying of is fairly important to the dramatic integrity of the story. How many times have you ever read or heard or seen another book, play, movie or TV show where someone was terminally ill and the nature of the illness wasn’t even referenced? And what would it take to explain why Peter was dying? A few panels and a half dozen lines of dialog? Yet that was apparently too much to expect from the fine folks creating “The Other”.

    So, while I seriously doubt anyone at Marvel ever asks out loud “How can we fuck the fans today?”, I look at the slew of disappointing and outright disasterous comic events they’ve churned out in the past several years and I am fairly confident they’re not entirely focused on giving their audience the best stories they possible can.

    Mike

  8. Another example of why details matter:

    In a Newsarama interview — http://www.newsarama.com/comics/facing-fear-fear-itself-7-111025.html — Fraction talks about Thor’s successor, Tanarus. The name was derived from Taranis, who, Fraction said, he found while researching Norse myths. But Taranis is the Celtic god of thunder, Google informed me. Etymologically, Thor and Taranis are both derived from a word meaning “thunder.” Perhaps Fraction took the references to etymology to mean that Taranis was related to Thor?

    Anyway, creatively, Tanarus is dead before he’s even been shown alive.

    SRS

  9. “1. I hate to break this to you, but you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.”

    I’ll take that as a compliment, since I never made that claim.

    “2. You still haven’t explained why it’s wrong for the strong to abuse the weak.”

    And I’ll ignore that, since I never made a claim for or against that.

    “I look at the slew of disappointing and outright disasterous comic events they’ve churned out in the past several years and I am fairly confident they’re not entirely focused on giving their audience the best stories they possible can.”

    Which suggests you would have gone into Fear Itself expecting that it would turn out to be crap, which is a reasonable attitude, rather than the shock and horror that Marvel would dare release a crap ending to a crap series.

  10. I’m starting to think that the worst part of books like this being so bad are all the fawning, softball interviews at places like Newsarama. “Matt, some people seem to dislike Fear Itself for no discernible reason. Does that make you sad?” “Hey, if they’re talking about it, you’ve done your job.” The straw men that are raised up and torched never have anything to do with any of the actual criticisms leveled at the books. The interviews on Fear Itself haven’t reached Identity Crisis levels of avoidance-to-maintain-access, but they’ve been pretty embarrassing.

  11. Was there ever a time Newsarama was a pillar of journalistic integrity?

  12. Talking for a sec ONLY about the subject of superhero comics as juvenile power fantasies:
    1) Comyx (I have coined this spelling, I’m pretty sure, and it is the MOST politically correct variatiion possible. It’s pronounced ‘ka-DAH-fee’) w/superheroes themselves need not be juvenile, nor power fantasies. They DO require suspension of disbelief, but that’s entertainment for ya.
    2) Any artwork can take you by surprise. It was NOT unreasonable to hope that Matt Fraction, who has made some VERY good works in his recent years, could redeem the whole series in #7 with something unexpected and new and amazing.
    The odds were LOW, yes, but why deride people for irrational exuberance?
    3) I deduce that Matt Fraction is FULLY aware – and is crushed and remorseful – that F.I, is out-and-out REVILED. For proof, you’d have to follow the link to that article I wrote (comment #41, represent!) and read the comments section THERE.
    4)It is AWESOME when the strong abuse the weak, but only in the streets where a city’s heart beats, and only in October when it’s Bert beating Grover.

  13. Also, I totally ditched line one’s premise by number 2. I lack discipline!

  14. Wow, John Pontoon, those two entire comments on your blog post are really rocking the comics world.

  15. Hey Pete, it’s not like I called it “the enormous comments section” or something. I’m just too lazy to go there, copy my “here’s why I think Fraction is sad” spiel, and paste it here. (Yeah, BTW, one of the two comments is BY ME; why must I rub it in? Stupid! Stupid!)

    OTOH, I am 99.9% certain that the comment I RESPONDED to there is NOT by a bot, which is a first for me. Little wonder I would be proud!

    Now stop trying to derail the conversation happening here by placing attention upon me, Pete – IF THAT IS YOUR NAME!

  16. “And I’ll ignore that, since I never made a claim for or against that.”

    If you think it’s okay to abuse the stupid, the logical extension of that morally bankrupt logic is that it is also okay to abuse the weak. Not understanding that is sort of what I meant by you’re not as smart as you think you are.

    “rather than the shock and horror that Marvel would dare release a crap ending to a crap series.”

    But that gets back to the idea that Marvel and its characters have a built-in audience that’s emotionally invested in them, something which is not unique to comics. I personally know some LOST fans who thought the later years of the show sucked but kept watching because they felt invested in seeing how it turned out. I’d suggest that Marvel has been repeatedly guilty of taking their invested reader for granted and just doing whatever the fuck the “Marvel architects” wanted.

    Over on Jim Shooter’s blog, he gave a negative review of the new ULITMATE SPIDER-MAN #1. A commentor (not me!) chimed in with this, which I think is applicable to the whole “house style” at Marvel.

    “Tight writing requires a fast set-up, establishing characters, plot, and premise ASAP to hook the reader and keep them compelled to read to the last page. Moreover a good writer knows that storytelling is about endings and beginnings and to end on just enough of a cliffhanger to hook the reader into buying the next issue.
    But today’s comic writers don’t get that. They pad a story with expository sequences trying to apply literary devices to the comic book medium in attempt to look smart. Unfortunately all they do is turn off the new reader who has dozens of cheaper entertainment options at their fingertips that are easier to access.

    Instead of following that simple three-act paradigm which has worked for close to 60 years, today we have writers trying to be novelists and trying to turn comic books into high literature. They fail miserably because their approach to storytelling is all wrong.”

    Mike

  17. “Marvel has been repeatedly guilty of taking their invested reader for granted”

    Golly gosh, let me cry over those poor fanboys who don’t have enough willpower to stop reading things they know they don’t like.

    You make me laugh, bungee.

  18. hhahah. losers.

  19. hey, Pete, seriously?

    Go fuck yourself.

  20. Seriously, Dan?

  21. I turn my head for a few minutes, and we’ve descended to this? Really, people?

    -B

  22. Embrace your audience, Hibbs. Embrace us!!

    Mike

  23. Golly gosh, let me cry over those poor fanboys who don’t have enough willpower to stop reading things they know they don’t like.

    A nice example of attacking a critic instead of responding to the criticism. What’s a poor critic to do? If he stops reading a book partway through because of storytelling problems, he’s told he can’t criticize what he hasn’t read. If he finishes the book and then criticizes the story, he’s labeled a fool for reading something he didn’t like. He should have stopped reading — and if he ever buys another book from the same author or publisher and finds it unsatisfactory, then he should have known better.

    Criticism that goes into detail addresses identifiable problems that could have and should have been avoided. If a customer spends money on a product, he expects it to be of professional quality and worth the price paid. If a company’s products are so shoddy that a sensible person should avoid them, the company has obvious problems.

    Attacking the critic is much more common than engaging the criticism and always raises the same suspicion: The attacker can’t deal with the criticism on its merits.

    SRS

  24. Steven, if you haven’t been following the discussion (and I don’t blame you if you haven’t), my problem isn’t with criticism, or continuing to read something that the reader knows is bad, but rather continuing to read something the reader knows is bad and then being offended at the end that they had read something bad, as if the publisher was taking advantage of them or flipping them off. That’s just pathetic.

    I’ve also criticized the idea that comic readers are overly sensitive, weak, and helpless to stop buying books they know they don’t like, and that publishers should be more considerate not to exploit them. That’s just silly.

  25. “rather continuing to read something the reader knows is bad and then being offended at the end that they had read something bad, as if the publisher was taking advantage of them or flipping them off. That’s just pathetic.”

    Let’s try this another way. If you’re a fan of Sports Team X and that team goes through a stretch where it finishes last in its division for 4 straight years, should you simply stop being a fan of that team until it starts winning again? Should you just switch your affection to whatever team happens to be winning at the moment? Does that sound like a worthwhile or meaningful fan experience?

    Or how about this. You’ve had a friend your whole life. That friend suddenly gets into trouble with drugs or alcohol or gambling or a toxic relationship and starts to be less fun to be around. Do you instantaneously cut that person out of your life like a cancerous tumor without a second thought or a pang of regret?

    Is the Pete approach to life to not care about anything deeply enough that you’ll be bothered if that thing starts to suck? I doubt it. There’s probably at least one thing in your life that your care about as much as some people care about Marvel and would be just as frustrated and pissed off if it went to shit. So this is really just Pete being a jagoff and mocking people who care about something Pete doesn’t care about.

    Mike

  26. “If you’re a fan of Sports Team X and that team goes through a stretch where it finishes last in its division for 4 straight years, should you simply stop being a fan of that team until it starts winning again? Should you just switch your affection to whatever team happens to be winning at the moment? Does that sound like a worthwhile or meaningful fan experience?”

    Goddamn, my team’s been losing all season, but I can’t believe they lost again. They must have lost on purpose as a FUCK YOU to their fans!

    “You’ve had a friend your whole life. That friend suddenly gets into trouble with drugs or alcohol or gambling or a toxic relationship and starts to be less fun to be around. Do you instantaneously cut that person out of your life like a cancerous tumor without a second thought or a pang of regret?”

    My friend’s been a druggie all his life, but now he’s shooting up again, I can’t believe it! He must be doing it on purpose as a FUCK YOU to me for being his friend!

    Sorry bungee, your analogies are shit.

  27. Look at it from the perspective of a comics reader who wants, say, good Combat Man stories to read. The current stories are terrible, filled with obvious storytelling errors and filler. He’s read as many old Combat Man issues as he cares to.

    Buying Combat Man issues and pointing out the errors does more, on an individual basis, to improve the product than not buying it and remaining silent will. If the errors are obvious and easily preventable, then it’s possible, at least in theory, to shame the publisher and its creators into producing a better product by publicizing the shoddiness of the product.

    If the errors he sees aren’t real, then that should be explained to him; he shouldn’t be attacked simply for criticizing the product. Unfortunately, in most (?) cases, the defenders of the series can’t refute the critic’s complaints, so they try to silence him.

    The worst thing that can happen, from the critic’s perspective, is to have the series’ editor dismiss the complaints as not “liking” the product. Brevoort does that so routinely that it appears to be a programmed response. If he’s not capable of dealing with a detailed complaint, why is he an editor?

    SRS

  28. Interpreting how terrible FI was as a personal affront has to assume the peddlers of FI knew that they were working toward such terrible results. It attributes such mastery of craft that they can choose between serving quality or dreck. That is all. It is, in some fashion, a compliment that belies a naivete and simple trust in a company/writer/producer’s ability to deliver the goods…but just didn’t want to this time.

    In lieu of this highly subjective assessment, one must simply understand that FI was, at least, a horrible misstep or, at most, somebody’s idea of a top notch product. It does happen quite often, no?

    Of course, the winners write history so the point may be moot.

    As someone who hasn’t bought a comic in years, it’s disheartening to see the level of compromise and subsequent frustration by the audience that marks what I assume was a blockbuster storyline of the contemporary superhero genre. All I can add, in all sincerity, is good luck with that. :)

  29. “Sorry bungee, your analogies are shit.”

    The only excrement is between your ears. I mean, I know you’re invested in your self-image of being smarter than those other guys, but if you’re going to willfully mischaracterize my arguments, you’ve obviously given up on even trying to appear rational.

    Ask any sports fan whose team has been struggling and he or she will talk your ears off with how the team owner cares more about making money than winning, how the coach cares more about proving he’s right about something than winning, how the star player cares about about endorsement deals or dating a celebrity than winning. And the suggestion that a drug addict doesn’t treat his friends like shit and those friends don’t get angry about it is…well, I don’t even know how to respond to something that stupid.

    Mike

  30. “Brevoort does that so routinely that it appears to be a programmed response. If he’s not capable of dealing with a detailed complaint, why is he an editor?”

    It’s pretty clear that at Marvel, “editor” has really come to mean “talent facilitator”.

    Mike

  31. Comic fans continue to be funny!

    Newsflash: comic books are created to make money. (Especially those from big companies with high overhead) No-one sets out to make crap, it just ends up as crap sometimes. Luckily for Marvel (and DC and Image and and and) they have a built-in audience that (at times) will blindly buy anything they call “important” or “collectible”.

    Keep up the good work super-fans – keep it real and personal!!!!

  32. Bungee, you’re equating investment in comic books to investment in real people. That’s either really sad or really sick, and I don’t want to find out which one applies to you.

    Get well soon.

  33. “Bungee, you’re equating investment in comic books to investment in real people.”

    I’m also equating it to investment in sports teams. Seriously, Pete, we’ve now reached the point where even YOU know you’ve lost the argument. Stop flailing around and just let it go.

    Mike

  34. Last I checked, sports teams are composed of real people.

    Get a life, sicko.

  35. […] Two words: Stuart Immonen. Immonen is coming off the recent event book Fear Itself. That book was much maligned in some quarters (I generally just found it boring and baffling in its story decisions) but even […]

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