Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
I hate to start it out this way, but we have to talk.
Despite fan apathy, despite the louder bolder act from the Distinguished Competitor, Fear Itself is a mighty fine event book. It has a very easy premise that people unfamiliar with comics can get into (hey, you know Thor? It’s like all the bad guys are that strong now), it’s got that “Versus” style atmosphere where people can debate all day long on who should have really been the first down or defeated in the Worthy vs. Heroes, it’s got a super-powered upgrade coming up for us by Iron Man, there’s been some tragedy and some triumph, and coming up in October, we’ll have closure with an ending that multiple comics can build up or down from.
Or maybe not.
Remember in the last Lord of the Rings movie when they just kept having to tie up so many loose ends or add so much finality to the main story that it just felt like the audience just didn’t know where to applaud in a well-made film? Or even worse, you drank a really big soda during a three-hour+ movie and really wanted it to have a firm sense of a finish so you could escape? Yeah.
So, thanks to some New Math numbering by Marvel, it looks like #7 of Fear Itself really doesn’t end so much for our heroes because come November, we’re getting a Captain America ending, an Iron Man ending and a Thor ending (Depending on how well you do playing through the game, does this unlock any achievements?) If your mini-series is seven issues long, you should be able to tell me a complete story between issues #1 and #7. Afterwards, if there is a banner theme running around the books as they’ve done historically since Avengers: Disassembled and even further with some of the old annual arcs, so be it. I think, as comic readers, we’re more familiar with picking up what looks good coming out of a major event and deciding for ourselves that hey, let’s see the prologue with a certain character after the book is finished. Even a Fear Itself: Thor #1 one-shot would be more preferable, because at least with some distance from the main series, it feels like we’re moving on and not buying a very sneaky issues #8, 9 and 10.
Yeah, it’s probably too much of a sour note to play against the backdrop of a very solid set of storytelling, but man. What a way to start November.
Let’s see what else is coming from the House of Ideas in November 2011, shall we?
Oh hey look, everybody! Another Point One book! Only it’s called POINT ONE point blankly and it seems to be an… anthology one-shot? From the solicitation: “Here are SEVEN all -new stories that set the stage for everything coming your way in 2012 from the biggest names in the comics industry. You CANNOT miss this. Catch a tease of the biggest change to the Marvel Universe in over 35 years!” Is this like a preview of upcoming books coming out next year, written by prospective creators and sold as a Whitman’s Sampler? Wow. Brevoort is even calling this “our Rosetta Stone to the future” for Marvel Comics at large. “It will harken back to what I think the Annuals used to be when everybody remembers them as being so great – the big special issue that would come out and blow your mind with all the craziness in it. That’s our goal with Point One. It is literally the first point in the next year or 18 months of Marvel publishing.”
All at 64 pages at $5.99. Oh. That’s… actually not a bad idea. Maybe the idea of an ongoing anthology series is not as sustainable as an annual look across the board at what everyone else is doing that will tell both old and new readers just what the heck is going on and maybe, just maybe, lure them into a book or an idea they might not have gone for when the Prelude to Such and Such starts. Huh. I am honestly pleased by this and am kind of excited to see how it goes. Sure, the price point is a little high, but considering the content, it’s (hopefully) going to be worth the money.
Can we just get rid of this “Point One” nonsense though? Decimals are not that much marketing gold, I’m just saying…
Anyhoo, back to now … or maybe then. Either way, despite compartmentalized, “buzzword” numbering, there’s a whole big wide universe to talk about that’s still ever present and ever changing. Over in Avengers-ville, we have three all-new teams to sort out, with AVENGERS #19 debuting a roster of Captain America, Vision (I’m 98% sure he’s from the Young Avengers series), Spider-Man, the Protector, Black Panther, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and Iron Man. A little of column A and B from both ‘Adjectiveless’ and ‘New’ books. Over in NEW AVENGERS #18, Norman Osborn is back and in charge with his new probably evil team, looking to include himself, Skaar, the Swordsman …. gosh, a woman with long hair? A guy in a half mask tied in the back, Iron Fist style? Is that Tarantula, maybe?
Over at THE INCREDIBLE HULK #2, it looks like Jason Aaron is taking the John Byrne approach and splitting Bruce and the Hulk for a time, only instead of Bruce Banner forming the Hulkbusters and setting out to contain/destroy his former alter ego, we’ll be doing the reverse this time and the Hulk will be trying to take down Banner. Hey, why not? Aaron’s been pretty genius in a wide variety of books about terrible people and maybe now, sans family and kingships, we’ll return to more books about the monster. Also, this makes the Defenders pretty useful as a way for Banner to ‘defend’ himself against old Jade Jaws so… yeah. Another pretty solid and intriguing little storyline to follow! I am truly excited to a see a Hulk book for the first time in a while so hooray Team Marvel! As long is it’s not issue #2.1 next month, we are OK!
Anyone else notice a small proliferation of semimonthly titles this month? There’s 12 of them in November and I don’t seem to recall when it got to be so many. This wasn’t a sudden thing, Marvel has put out plenty of books like Amazing Spider-Man with a couple more issues a month, but 12 just seems like a new style that no one’s mentioned yet. Or I simply didn’t catch on to…
Avengers Academy, Fear Itself: the Fearless, Ghost Rider, the new Six Guns western book by Andy Diggle, not to mention the Thunderbolts and Amazing Spider-Man, are all two issues a month for your comic fan. This is a topic in and of itself, weighing the merits of extra books on the shelves and meeting a demand for a popular book with simply more like it than a piñata of mini-series and tie-in books, but here’s the real kicker: the other half of semi-monthly titles are just X-Books.
Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Men: Legacy, New Mutants, Wolverine and X-23 are all serving up two issues a month realness in November and, unless Wolverine and the X-Men get top billing due to the fact that they have Wolverine right in the name, that means the Uncanny X-Men, traditional herald of the Mutant titles, is now twice a month with new numbering. Make of this what you will.
Of course, looking over the X-Books it’s kind of hard to see what exactly we should be considering the main story of Marvel’s merry mutants and what title simply gets Miss Congeniality. We have the Regenesis angle, where the X-Men have split into two camps with two respective guys in charge of said groups. Wolverine’s crew of ‘We hate Broccoli’ are heading back to Westchester to face off against more Hellfire Club guys and “the villain of the most important X-Story ever” going at them as well. Uncanny X-Men starts with XXXXX and Scott Summers (who may make it out of this intact) on the “We Think You Need More Vegetables in Your Diet” side figuring out what’s to becoming of them and oh yes, “the resurrected Mister Sinister” is also back as well. Either way, while nebulous as what this is all going to be about is, it make some sense that there will be a change of philosophies or betrayals, etc that will give you two camps of X-Men to follow each month.
And oh yeah, X-MEN #20 & #21. The Adjectiveless book that will guest star Iron Man 2.0 to fight Sentinels with him. See, I just don’t get how this book fits into all that plot mentioned above. Is this an out of continuity book? Kind of Marvel Adventures style where you like the X-Men, you just don’t want to devote a collection to them? I’d buy that but then Iron Man 2.0 is there, telling me that now, this has to be all in continuity or that means everything else happening in the two main X-titles has nothing to do with the regular Marvel universe! Who are these X-Men anyway? What team is this? THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL HOUSE!
I suppose it doesn’t matter, or maybe it shouldn’t? Not to geek reference even harder than I have thus far, maybe I should think to myself it’s just a comic book, I should really just relax. At the end of the day, we’re all just reading stories and the amount of “importance” a book has or how much you should read in order to understand anything should really just come from the 28 pages of story contained behind the cover.
And on that philosophical note, I leave you to peruse for yourself the rest of Marvel’s Solicitations for November 2011. What are you looking forward to? What sort of numbering do you want to see? Tell all below and hey, let’s give a hand to everyone who had a hand in the KAPOW! GUINNESS WORLD RECORD SPECIAL #1, a pretty special feat on its own. “In April 2011, Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, Dave Gibbons, John Romita Jr, Leinil Yu, Paul Cornell, Andy Diggle, Jock, Duncan Fegrado, Sean Phillips and over fifty other comic-book creators joined forces with Kapow to break not one but TWO Guinness World Records – the fastest comic-book ever produced and the biggest number of creators working on a single comic. The Kapow Special stars Superior and was written, penciled, inked and lettered in less than 12 hours.” Hey, I may not dig Superior but I love Guinness World Records and the Yorkhill Sick Children’s Hospital, where all the proceeds for the book will be going to. Great work, guys.