Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Readers of superhero comics have long debated the merits of “decompression” and “waiting for the trade.” You can either read a serialized story as it comes out, or you can wait until it’s collected. With two issues to go, it looks like Forever Evil wants it both ways. It is structured for the Wednesday crowd but written for the trade; and so far, the result is a grim, vignette-driven affair. Writer Geoff Johns and artists David Finch and Ivan Reis (and their various collaborators) have set up an apocalyptic scenario and teased a handful of elements pointing toward its resolution; but they haven’t otherwise done much, issue to issue, to move the story closer to that resolution. Indeed, the deeper I get into Forever Evil, the more I suspect that it — like its prologue, “Trinity War” — may be only the latest chapter in an ever-expanding saga.
By itself that would be unsatisfying enough. However, Forever Evil was supposed to show off DC’s shared universe (New 52 edition). To be fair, its Justice League crossover issues have presented New 52 versions of Plastic Man, the Doom Patrol and the Metal Men, and alluded to past battles with old-school villains like Ultivac and the Construct. Still, except for the Metal Men, none seems directly related to FE’s eventual outcome; and each seems intended instead as an Easter egg or the seed of a future series. Indeed, while the “Blight” crossover has shown what happened to the magic-based superheroes, FE itself hasn’t delved too far into the whereabouts of DC-Earth’s non-Leaguer super-folk. For those of us wanting each issue to go somewhere new, or at least somewhere different, month in and month out Forever Evil has felt fairly repetitive. Moreover, in sidelining the Justice League itself, it’s removed a potentially productive narrative thread.
Inasmuch as these choices relate to the changing comics marketplace, Forever Evil could be one of the last big events structured this way, or it could be the shape of things to come.
Who’s your Green Lantern writer?
If you started reading the series in the ‘60s, odds are it was John Broome. He didn’t write every Green Lantern story of Hal Jordan’s first decade, but he was there for the character’s introduction (in September-October 1959’s Showcase #22), and he lasted until March 1970’s Green Lantern #75.
If you joined the Corps in the the ‘70s, your Green Lantern writer was Denny O’Neil, who had already written a few GL stories before getting the regular gig with the landmark Issue 76. He guided the feature through some rocky patches — including the book’s cancellation, its time as a backup feature in The Flash and its 1976 relaunch — before finally taking a bow with June 1980’s Issue 129.
The ‘80s saw a parade of writers, including Marv Wolfman, Mike Barr, Len Wein and Steve Englehart (and in GL’s time as an Action Comics Weekly feature, Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest and Peter David). Each made his own contribution, be it Hal’s exile from Earth, John Stewart’s star turn, the Guardians’ sabbatical, or the enigmatic Lord Malvolio. The early ‘90s belonged to the neo-Silver Age stylings of Gerard Jones, and the balance of the decade was all Ron Marz and Kyle Rayner. Starting in 2000, Judd Winick took on Kyle for three years, then Ben Raab wrote a few issues, and Marz came back for one last crack at his creation.
And since then, it’s been all Geoff Johns.
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Why fight the crowds today when you can take advantage of Black Friday savings on print and digital comics from the comfort of your own home? Here’s a roundup of online sales kicking off this morning, with discounts on everything from The Walking Dead and The Incredible Hulk to Star Wars and Adventure Time. If you know of any other, please let us know in the comments.
• Dark Horse’s web store is promoting a “Star Wars Black Friday MegaBundle,” with digital editions of 153 Star Wars comics — they include such titles as The Clone Wars, The Old Republic, Crimson Empire, Dawn of the Jedi and Agent of the Empire, 3,772 pages in all — for $100. The sale ends Sunday.
This post is about world-building. Ideally (and at the risk of being too cute), world-building would be what you made of it. The notion of a shared superhero universe implies a certain level of consistency, which at best offers a rich, textured backdrop and at worst becomes a tangled thicket of details. Naturally, each reader’s level of involvement will vary, and these days readers have quite a few options. Today I’m trying to sketch a general picture of how those options affect the stories themselves, and vice versa.
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Over the years — over the decades, really — it has been suggested that I read too many comic books. These concerns are not insignificant, and over the decades I have tried to deal with them appropriately.
However, while talking about DC’s Big Events with a friend on the way to the movies, I got a new perspective on the way these stories are received. Basically, my friend had seen Identity Crisis on a list of all-time worst comics and wanted my thoughts, because he had enjoyed it. Similarly, he liked Blackest Night not so much for the nonstop carnage, but for the sense that there were consequences.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we detail what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Our special guest today is David Harper, associate editor over at the recently redesigned Multiversity Comics.
To see what David and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
If you’re like me, instead of heading out to the mall to face the hectic Black Friday crowds (some of whom are apparently armed with pepper spray), you’re sitting at home nursing a turkey hangover and looking for good deals on the internet. Here are a few places you may want to check out for your gift-giving or personal shopping needs, and if you’re up for adventuring outdoors, Bleeding Cool has a great roundup of shops holding sales today.
ComiXology has a bunch of digital comics for 99 cents today. DC Comics is holding a Blackest Friday sale, allowing you to buy each issue of the Blackest Night crossover for 99 cents each. Marvel has Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four issues on sale for 99 cents, while IDW has their Star Trek comics on sale.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Ryan Cody, creator of Icarus and illustrator of Villains and Jesus Christ: In the Name of the Gun. You’ll be seeing more of Icarus around these parts starting very soon …
To see what Ryan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
The first two parts of this little exploration looked at DC’s attempts to launch ongoing series in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when line-wide events became regular occurrences in the superhero line. However, as those surveys made abundantly clear, said events didn’t seem to relate much either to concurrently-launched ongoing series or to the relative success of said series.
Instead, the number of new ongoing series debuting in a particular calendar year looks somewhat cyclical. There were five new ongoings in 1985 (the year of Crisis On Infinite Earths), up to 14 in 1988 and 17 in 1992, then easing down to 15 in 1994, 13 in 1996, and 10 in 1997. In 1998 and 2000, DC launched only four new ongoing series; in 1999, six; and in 2001, seven. At the risk of exciting you too quickly with more numbers, a later year will have sixteen.
For now, though, we pick up in 2002, at the beginning of a quieter time.
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With the Green Lantern movie coming out in the middle of the month, June looms big for DC’s superhero line. Since writer/executive Geoff Johns has become so identified with GL, you’d expect it would be a big month for him too — and indeed, between GL-related items and the Flashpoint event, Johns’ influence is felt all around the June solicitations.
Away we go –!
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MORE LIKE “CASHPOINT,” AMIRITE?
Sometimes I think Flashpoint should completely interrupt DC’s superhero line for three to five months. After all, if all of DC history is changed (again), but the ongoing books can still tell current, normal-timeline stories, aren’t readers just waiting for the reset button to be pushed? Still, whatever suspense might be gained from such a setup is probably outweighed by the aggravation it would cause; not just to readers who’d have to wait out those months, but to DC’s professionals themselves, who’d either have to arrange things logistically to avoid disruptions, or risk leaving an ongoing arc hanging. In any case, obviously none of the regular DC books are going on a break to accommodate and/or reflect Flashpoint — except for The Flash, which is eminently appropriate.
From last summer’s “I Am An Avenger” campaign rolling out the “Heroic Age” era members of the flagship team to DC’s recent Flashpoint teasers with simply a logo and some text. Image Comics has even taken part in this trend, with not-so-subtle jabs at it in the parody “I am A Guardian” with characters like Gary Popper, and the month-long string of teasers hyping the upcoming Butcher Baker series.
They’ve become a well-worn tool in every comic publisher’s marketing toolkit — and with good reason. A well-crafted teaser sparks the minds of the comic-buying public’s imagination, much in the same way as a good cliffhanger at the end of an issue would. And better yet, they don’t really have to spend anything to circulate these promos; comic websites large and small, including ours, snap them up and readers seem to follow suit. You could call them advertisements, but “advertisement” means a paid announcement, and these are more like flyers solicited through the comics sites.
But why are they so popular? We asked the experts — the people that are using them — to find out.
“The 26 best-selling DC single issues were all written or co-written by either Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison.”
–Techland’s Douglas Wolk makes a startling observation about Diamond’s 2010 sales charts. I mean, I knew Johns and Morrison were DC’s two bestselling authors by a long shot, and since I enjoy their work a great deal I’m pretty happy about that, but that level of dominance is really stunning to me. Moreover, Wolk goes on to note that “The best-selling DC single issue that was neither a Batman comic nor a tie-in to Blackest Night/Brightest Day was Superman #700, at position #109.” In other words, DC’s dominant writers have made the properties on which they work — predominantly Batman and Green Lantern — DC’s dominant franchises as well. Even superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski’s much-ballyhooed Superman debut failed to gain much traction relative to the Johns/Morrison juggernaut.
I think it’s safe to assume that Johns is being pulled in more and more directions by his Chief Creative Officer duties — the same position, keep in mind, that Joe Quesada recently relinquished his Editor-in-Chief gig to focus on over at Marvel. Meanwhile, Morrison is a writer whose work meets with frequent delays at the best of times, and who has a full slate of creator-owned work and various media projects (Hollywood screenplays and adaptations, the indie flick Sinatoro, My Chemical Romance videos, etc). Finally, there’s no way to tell how the Green Lantern movie will affect fan interest in the franchise. That’s a lot of eggs to have in relatively few baskets.
DC Comics’ Blackest Night and Oni Press’ Scott Pilgrim continue their domination, claiming a combined 11 spots on July’s BookScan chart and 12 spots on this week’s New York Times graphic books bestseller list. The books were so formidable that just six manga cracked BookScan’s Top 20.
Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, the sixth and final volume of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series, topped both the BookScan and New York Times paperback lists. In fact, O’Malley’s books took the top six spots on the latter chart.
Blackest Night titles filled out six of the 10 slots on the Times’ hardcover graphic books list, led by Rise of the Black Lanterns at No. 2.
Dark Horse’s Troublemaker, by Janet Evanovich, Alex Evanovich and Joelle Jones, continued its strong performance, leading the Times’ hardcover list for the second week while debuting at No. 2 on the BookScan chart.
It’s a classic case of “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Marvel made waves earlier this year with a swap offer in which they’d send retailers a rare Deadpool variant of Siege #3 for every 50 stripped covers of DC’s “ring books” — Blackest Night tie-ins retailers had to order in bulk to qualify for promotional plastic power rings for the various Lantern corps — they received in return.
Then earlier this month, Marvel flipped the script, offering a rare Deadpool variant of the upcoming Wolverine #1 relaunch in exchange for every 50 covers they receive from Marvel event tie-ins, specifically books from the X-Men: Second Coming and Siege events.
An update on our current Marvel book-swap. With one week to go till cut-off, we’ve gotten less than 15% as many books as we did ring-books. In other words, for every 3 Marvel books returned, we’d previously gotten 20 ring-books. Could be that people wanted the SIEGE variant more.
… or, as one could infer, it could be that the Siege and Second Coming tie-ins eligible for this trade genuinely sold through to readers better than the Blackest Night tie-in “ring books” did, so retailers have fewer unwanted leftovers to unload. But far be it for Tom Brevoort to tweak the competition!
Happy Comic-Con week, and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest contributors are Jim Demonakos and Kyle Stevens from the Seattle nerd rock band Kirby Krackle. The band, whose newest video features Wolverine, is currently in Florida for Nerdapalooza, and will be in San Diego later this week at booth #1803. So stop by and say hi if you’re going.
See what the boys from Kirby Krackle, as well as the rest of the Robot 6 crew, have been reading lately after the jump …
“What is October’s RETURN OF THE BLACK LANTERNS?” asks DC’s The Source blog, and frankly, your guess is as good as ours. All we’ve got to go on is the accompanying David Finch image, featuring undead Black Lantern versions of Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, and Deadman — six of the twelve characters who were granted full-fledged resurrections by the White Light at the end of Blackest Night and who are currently the protagonists of Brightest Day. Halloween’s as good an excuse as any to let their black light shine again…