Robot 6

The Middle Ground #45 | Wherein common sense goes out the window

So, I’m a complete snob when it comes to comics. I shouldn’t be, I know this; comics are comics, and there’s no such thing as a bad idea, only ideas badly executed (Case in point: DC’s Animal Man shouldn’t have been the wonder it was under Grant Morrison’s pen, if judged purely on the “man with the animal powers discovers animal rights” high concept behind it). And yet, there are comics that I just can’t quite bring myself to read.

It’s the front page of CBR that brought this to mind, I should admit: I was looking this afternoon at what stories were on the site today, saw the link to Ron Marz talking about his plans for Top Cow’s books and had a response that was pretty much the definition of turning my metaphorical nose up in something approaching disgust. It’s an entirely unfair response, of course. For one thing, I’ve liked some of Marz’ work in the past, and for the much more important and pertinent other thing, I can’t think of a Top Cow book that I’ve even read since the first issue of Paul Dini’s Madame Mirage back in… what, 2007? So that’s four years of uninformed prejudice guiding my nose turning, instead of just reading the article.

Weirdly, it’s ridiculously unearned prejudice. I’ve read Marz talk about what he’s doing with Witchblade and Artifacts and everything before, and thought that it sounded ambitious and potentially entertaining, if somewhat offputtingly filled with backstory and mythology that I’ve never read. In other words, what he’s doing is something that I might actually enjoy reading, if only this random, mysterious prejudice wasn’t in my way. So where does it come from?

I’m tempted to say that it’s all to do with the art – The T&A aspect, sure (There’s a time and a place for good cheesecake, but the Top Cow cliche girls aren’t my idea of good cheesecake, all anger and artificiality where I want something smarter, more coy), but more than that, the idea of a line filled on the aesthetics and lessons of Marc Silvestri, an artist whose style overwhelmed his substance back when I was a kid and who hasn’t fully recovered even yet. This is where my true comics snobbery lies; there are artists, and art movements, that I just can’t read – I try, but it defeats me every time (See: 1990s X-Men comics) – and a lot of the early Image books fall into that camp. Even more than mythologies so large I could never learn them if I read everything for a year are less frightening to me than struggling through art filled with lines like static and impossible anatomy.

Thing is, I don’t know that the books today really look like that any more. I could, of course, just pick up a couple of issues and see, but… Well. I’m a comic snob, even if I wish I wasn’t. I wish I wasn’t, but nonetheless: There are comics I can’t quite bring myself to read.

Update: Thanks to the power of Twitter, I shall be receiving a package of Top Cow books from Ron Marz himself, and reading them. Will my prejudice be revealed to be as ridiculous as I tried to point out above? Will I find some new favorite comics? Stay tuned for the next column…



I really enjoyed Madame Mirage. It wasn’t what I thought it would be from just reading the first issue and I’m glad i stuck with it. It was a neat science fiction adventure and the story of a brilliant young woman who would do anything to set things right and get the bad guys. And no, I’m not talking about the “bimbo with the boobs.” The story is really about her sister. I’ve learned over the decades to look past the boobs and see what the story is doing. I try to be patient before deciding something sucks. ;)

They should just throw a curveball and have the most un-imagelike indie creator they can find do a miniseries or something.

I liked Madame Mirage too… It’s the only Top Cow book I’ve ever read. I remember Marz saying there would be another MM series at some point, but that was at least a year or two ago. As far as I know, it never happened. Too bad. I

Agreed, Madame Mirage was my only Top Cow book, but I loved it. Partly, because of the way it ends so well. I agree, I have some holding my nose high issues with some comics. Lately, Geoff Johns, I love the guy, he brought me back, but has also pushed me away.

That’s likely because Paul Dini’s been busy doing Zatanna and Gotham City Sirens over at DC right now. I’d love to see a Madame Mirage follow-up, though. It was a great read.

Well, at least you’re honest about your ignorance. What a waste of an article.

Well, that was a fun, inaccurate read.

Go read Witchblade. Read it, and forget about your 15 year old stereotypes.

You really are missing out with Witchblade. I’m not buying Artifacts since it has Whilce Portacio on art, but Witchblade has been pretty awesome ever since Ron Marz came on. Its toned down the T&A fanservice and the art is about as far as you can get from Marc Silvestri. You should pick up some of the recent back issues and give it a shot. I think they’re available for cheap online.

Why is having doubts about buying certain comics “snobbery?” That makes it sound as we, the fans, were supposed to buy EVERYTHING that comes out, and our not doing so for any reason is our fault. I wasn’t aware our function was to keep titles afloat rather than just buying what WE liked that particular week. Nor are we a single mass with the same exact tastes. True, we can misjudge what we will like and miss on things, but we have to base our buying habits on something, and if the sales gimmick doesn’t work for us, that’s the publisher’s fault, not ours.

Besides, even if you change your mind later, you can always buy the (inevitable) reprints.

I don’t think some people quite get the idea of a “blog”…it isn’t really an article…it is randomness from someone’s brain put into words. Pure opinion…and frankly, opinions that I somewhat share in this case. I was reading The Darkness from day 1 and it pretty quickly devolved into a T&A comic. Most of the Image books back then were. I just can’t get back into the Top Cow stuff after that…and I’ve tried. Meh. I can handle just reading Invincible and Walking Dead as my “Image” books.

Some things just aren’t for some people. Simple as that.

Wow. You are a complete tool. Having not read any of this stuff but writing an article essentially bashing it? I want the 5 minutes of my life back I lost reading your trite garbage.

@dnwilliams, do you mean something like Echoes, which has indie darling Joshua Hale Fialkov (Tumor) writing it. It’s being put out by TopCow, though through their Minotaur imprint. It’s all black and white, (even the ads in the back), and its a fabulous and creepy story.

“They should just throw a curveball and have the most un-imagelike indie creator they can find do a miniseries or something.”

Have you heard about ECHOES?

Or you can read the first issue right here on Robot 6 fo’ free:

Published by Top Cow, and frankly wouldn’t exist without their support.

They make great comics, take risks the rest of the industry doesn’t, and, are great people to boot. Check out Echoes, check out the discount priced trades of Witchblade, Darkness, or Artifacts. You’re missing out on some of the best superhero books on the stands.

I’m not quite sure what the point of this was. Yes, you hold old prejudices and haven’t bothered to see if they still hold true. So… read the comics before you write an article like this? This puts anger into the air and can negatively influence those who haven’t had the chance to experience Top Cow.

Top Cow is fantastic, and Witchblade has evolved to the point where it is MUCH more than just T&A. Back in the beginning it was just T&A, but the writers and artists have worked diligently to move it past that.

As a big fan of both the publisher and the title, I highly suggest you check it out before commenting.

Also, I recently wrote an article (For the Love of Witchblade) which examines it from a woman’s perspective and discusses the evolution over time. You might benefit from reading it.

I could understand being prejudiced against the books based on the art looking like Marc Silvestri if it actually, y’know, looked like Marc Silvestri’s AT ALL. Sorry, Graeme, but Stjepan Sejic’s artwork on Witchblade today is pretty much the exact polar opposite of Silvestri….it’s digitally painted (no cross-hatching!), with a weirdly unique blend of realism and manga-style cartoonyness (not overly serious and square-jawed!) with little to no gratuitous T&A.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the point of this blog post was. It would have been much more interesting if you would have at least taken the 10 seconds to type “Witchblade preview” into the search engine at the top of this very page and look at any of the hundreds of pages of recent Witchblade art hosted ON THIS VERY SITE. Then you could have actually confronted your preconceived notions of what a Top Cow comic is rather than just stating them and shrugging your shoulders. That’s just boring.

Top Cow publishes some great comics, and I say this as someone who is a casual Top Cow fan at best. Kenneth Rocafort consistently surprises me with his stunning artwork on Velocity, and the Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer crossover he drew that Mark Waid wrote was basically a perfect 5-issue example of how to do a crossover right and how the last several DC/Marvel crossovers have done it so very, very wrong. Any publisher in the business is capable of publishing a great comic….assuming Top Cow isn’t because of what they were doing 15 years ago is absurd. You may as well say you won’t read a Dark Horse comic because you thought Boris The Bear sucked back in 1987 so why bother.


I had a similar response to the comic in question, just for the simple fact of the characters involved and their history. But as with many of Image’s characters, they have progressed from their nineties versions into something quite interesting, much of this under the pen of Ron.

I follow Ron’s twitter feed, and his enthusiasm about the project, and his ability to defend it from articles like this is what got me to pick up the first five issues of this series. Portacio is not the original artist on the series, it was Filip Sablik, and his interiors are pretty as hell. Portacio is filling in for two issues and then you get another artist in Jeremy Huan, who has an interesting and definitely not typical Image style.

I would suggest that you add a little bit of curiosity into your Wednesday shopping Graeme, not just snobbery that includes a Grant Morrison fetish (who has been hit and miss), and pick up the first couple of issues and give Top Cow’s first crossover a try. It is worth it. Take it from the converted.

You’re right, but it’s an old trend that’s not likely to end, especially in a fiscally-dying industry. The good news is that shitty comics don’t erase the good ones; they’re just harder to find.

“Thanks to the power of Twitter, I shall be receiving a package of Top Cow books from Ron Marz himself, and reading them. Will my prejudice be revealed to be as ridiculous as I tried to point out above? Will I find some new favorite comics? Stay tuned for the next column…”

So you write a rambling wordy equivalent of a “Meh” post and get a shitload of free comics. I mean you could have just went to or Top Cow website and read some of their free comics and write a better and more thoughtful article but I guess that would require actual work. And a second draft.

Another win for lazy bloggers of the world.

Also speaking as someone who also wasn’t all that hot on Top Cow for a while and dismissed them as T&A I have to say I’m really enjoying Artifacts which is surprisingly reader friendly.

But then again I was willing to pay 3.99 to give the first issue a shot.

Oh Graeme!, you deceitful trickster… you should be ashame. What scheme to get free comics, I should have thought about it first!

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