Posted by: Brian Hibbs on March 4, 2011
Comic sales are down, as we all know; people are reading less of the periodicals, and, in many cases, walking away from the hobby altogether.
It is my belief that, in almost all cases, this is the very fault of the publishers. Here, for me, are four examples of why, in the form of four “reviews”:
BRIGHTEST DAY #21: There’s just three issues left of this, and we still don’t have any real idea of what the end of BLACKEST NIGHT actually meant, what is driving the white lantern, how the seemingly unconnected resurrected heroes are connected to anything whatsoever, or really what any of it means.
In the last few issues we’ve seen: the Hawks seemingly get immolated and die again, Aquaman lose his hand (again) and seemingly die again, and now in this issue Martian Manhunter seemingly die again (though, ugh, the symbology, along with Firestorm, is the classic elements: Fire, Air, Water and now Earth, which sort of makes me think that they’re going to make these character the new Elementals, and I WAY hope that’s wrong)
But I’m just tired of all the torture and the agony, and the just general level of unpleasentness that’s been grafted upon the four “leads” here — and grafted it is: the four antagonists (“Deathstorm”, Hawkgirl’s mom, Mera’s people’s war leader, and D’Kay) (see, I can’t even remember the names of half of them, which shows you just how memorable they were) NEVER EVEN EXISTED before the start of this storyline, and these “epic struggles” therefore have just no weight or meaning to me as an individual reader, as they don’t actually flow from CHARACTER, but from artificially induced INCIDENT.
So, yeah, this is the “tentpole” of the DCU right now, and, once again, it’s looking like an excuse for, shall we say, Torture Porn of these characters, and that based upon FALSE INCIDENT. Jeez, no thanks!
The sole saving grace of this issue was that J’onn went down with equanimity, but if I was paying cash money for these comics, I am certain I would have dropped it last issue after “cut off Arthur’s hand, and rekill him” happened.
Breaking faith with your audience, EVEN IF YOU ARE PLANNING A THIRD ACT REVERSAL, is seldom a good idea because that audience may not even be there to SEE that reversal.
I’m thinking this is kinda AWFUL, sorry.
FIRST WAVE #6: This is where the scare quotes really come in, because I can’t “review” what I haven’t read, and I stopped reading this like with issue #3 because the delays between issues made me stop caring.
I’ve said it before: in this busy busy world with 900+ TV channels, and all fiction of all kinds being ETEWAF, and more words being published on blogs than any thousand humans could even HOPE to consume, the real commodity is ATTENTION.
Bi-monthly (or worse) series that don’t not only kick your ass, but then makes a fluffy pillow from the remains, snuggles you tight, then rekicks that ass, can NOT hold the audience’s attention.
The entire “First Wave” concept was brutally beaten to death in it’s crib because:
1) The core series didn’t come out in a six-month time frame
2) Spin-off books weren’t held until AFTER THE COMPLETION of the core relaunch series TO SEE IF ANYONE CARED
3) And the spin-offs were both too expensive for the content, AND didn’t launch with the “right” creative teams from day one.
“First Wave” is a MASTER CLASS in how you DO NOT launch and market a “line” of comics. It also, I think, shows why you CAN’T launch a “line” of interconnected comics in the first place — it’s insincere and managed, and the audience can see that coming a mile away, and wish to have nothing to do with your cynical ploy to take money from them.
GREEN LANTERN #63 (WAR OF GL): You’re going to be hard pressed to find a bigger GL fan than me, and, even more specifically, a bigger Hal fan. “Who is your favorite character?” would always get an unflinching “Hal Jordan!” from me, even before he was cool… and even when it was the darkest days of Parallax and all that shit. Magic wishing rings are just cool.
I’d really like to read a comic book about Hal Jordan. Not “one he appears in”, but a comic ABOUT Hal Jordan, where his character and motivations dictate the actions, not outside incident and plothammering.
Geoff Johns had it right for a really long time — something like the first three years of the book it was actually about Hal. But around “Sinestro Corps War” he let his love of incident take over. Now, we were all cool with that, because it was fun and clever, and big and ‘splodey, and at least the root of the idea was rooted in Sinestro’s character.
And then came “Blackest Night”, and same thing, kind of — I mean, he HAD been building to this at least from the “Rebirth” mini-series, and “dead superheroes walk the earth” and the entire “Rainbow Corps” is a funnish High Concept, and, what the hell, we can let it go because, at least, it appeared he always wanted to get HERE.
But now that the “here” of BN is done and gone, I at least, get the sense that we’re totally into “making it up as we go along” territory, and the book called “Green Lantern” really barely has “Green Lantern” in it, and even if it does, it doesn’t matter that it is Hal — this could have interchangeably been Kyle, or John, or, hell, Nadroj Lah of sector 4182 for all of the practical difference it would make to the story — Green Lantern hasn’t been the protagonist of his own story in something like 3-4 years?
I’m still reading GL — and this issue was OK — but I stopped buying the collections (Blackest Night was my last… and I didn’t bother with “BN: GL” even). I gave up on “GL Corps” even earlier, and I’ve only read a single issue of the third GL spin-off (mostly because Guy is AWESOME as a FOIL, but really painfully dull as a LEAD) — and it’s all because it really has nothing to do with that cool-ass Hal Jordan fighting the Tattooed Man or something with a giant green boxing glove.
And, see that (parentheses) in the title? “(War of GL)”? Yeah, this is the launch of another multi-month, multi-book storyline, which means we’re going to be even more multi-months where the book isn’t even about it’s lead. *sigh*
I’d like Green Lantern to be the actual protagonist and motivating spark of the comic called “Green Lantern”, please.
WOLVERINE BEST THERE IS #4: There’s a certain amount of sense to give an inherently violence-driven character like Wolverine (His powers are metal claws, and the ability to heal from any wound!) a “Mature Readers” comic. A certain amount of sense.
And, if I’m going to do that, yeah Ryp is probably the artist I want to try and get to draw that — I love the cat’s style, and I’ve always thought he should be a super-star artist.
Here’s what you DON’T do however, from a marketing perspective:
1) Flood out the market with ongoing series and “the one shot of the month” so that when you try and consolidate and relaunch a monthly no one even knows that you’re doing that.
2) Create a “family” of books to surround it (Daken, X-23, also monthlies!)
Those are bad enough and an uphill climb for titles, but then they make the two specific-to-this-book dumb ass moves:
3) take a “dirty” artist like Ryp, but give the books COVERS by a “clean” artist like Bryan Hitch. I understand that Hitch is “hot”, but you can’t put work that SO stylistically different from the interiors and expect that ever to work in any universe. The customers think “Oooh, clean Hitch!” when they pick it up and go “Ugh, NOT!” when they put it down
4) Make a book “Mature readers”, ESPECIALLY with putting that huge ugly PMMC-style “warning” label on the cover, AND THEN BLACK OUT THE SWEARING. Are you fucking kidding me? Or, as the book would have it: “Are you ####### kidding me?”
Obviously, it doesn’t help that you’ve got a story that is, at best, a two parter and its stretched out over what I imagine is going to be six issues, filled with a whole lot of pretty uninteresting antagonists who get page after page after page of their backstories and motivations and techniques which the protagonist just passively sits there and takes it.
Sadly, this is AWFUL stuff, but the marketing behind it is even worse.
What do YOU think?