Does "Hellboy in Hell" Finale Signal the End of Mike Mignola's Time With the Character?
When Marvel VP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort answered the following question on his Formspring account this weekend, he answered a question I’ve had for a long time as well:
what are Marvel’s most popular selling comics in bookstores?
As a group, the Ultimate titles.
Veteran chart watchers have no doubt tracked the slow decline of the Ultimate line — or Ultimate Comics, as they’re currently called on their covers, if not their indicia — for years now, something the Ultimatum event and subsequent title revamps and relaunches didn’t really stop. Moreover, several of the big selling points for the line when it was created — a lack of years of convoluted continuity, more timely cultural references — necessarily get diluted as the books age. Marvel has long justified the continuation of the Ultimate Universe by referring to it as a place where the “rules” for the mainline Marvel books do not apply, a place where some of the company’s biggest writers (Bendis, Millar, Loeb) can run wild. But if Brevoort’s right and comics branded with the “Ultimate” moniker have a leg up in the bookstore market, that’s probably reason no. 1 why Marvel still has the books’ back.
I hate Spider-Man costume changes. Yep, even the symbiote suit.
Let me amend that just slightly: I hate Spider-Man costume changes that this era’s Peter Parker makes, seemingly on a whim. Spider-Man 2099 and others of his ilk look just fine in their respective duds, it’s just when I get a splash page shot of a leaping lower-half in a crazy new outfit that I’m taken completely out of the story. It’s not the minor changes (under-arm webs, angles on the arms of the spider symbol, etc.), it’s the big ones where all I can think of is, “Man, someone’s trying to sell a new toy.” Then it’s whether they sell the toy through the direct market, what kind of packaging this new toy will have, any accessories, price point and then boom! Spidey’s saved the day and learned a new lesson about life and putting on his old costume anyways because we always prefer the original.
Now I know that fans do love the symbiote suit and yeah, it is pretty nifty with its simple design in slimming black and lower jaw distention, but it’s more nostalgia nifty than a desire for anything permanent. The storyline of how he got the suit, what it became and what it did to Peter Parker changed the style of Spidey stories for a whole decade. The costume was so popular, it got a new guy to wear him and then made a sort of ‘spinoff’ with Carnage. My sweaters do not do anything that cool when I donate them to the Salvation Army.
This success with the black suit has drilled a tiny hole in the House of Ideas so deep, it’s like they think every costume change they go with for Peter Parker is going to dress to impress. Scarlet Spider costume? No. Iron Spider costume? Used in Avengers: the Initiative for a few clones and promptly forgotten in the Heroic Age. There’s obviously more I could count but really, let’s not be the costume change that everyone is looking back on in a few years going, “Ha ha! He had glow-in-the-dark bits in his costume! How 2010!”
But do not fret! Now is not the time to panic! Now is the time to plan because, believe it or not, we only have 92 shopping days left until Christmas. Good thing Marvel sent us advance warning so that we can not only budget how much we spend on others so that we can also spend on our comics.
And that’s what Christmas is all about. Join me in looking over the December solicitations for Marvel Comics, won’t you?
The summer is ending, and we’re not so bad off, are we? There’s a cosmic war, Spider-Man’s re-reinventing himself again, there’s an event book with an oncoming slew of tie-in titles, but it all doesn’t feel like the years of yore. There’s no pressure to keep up with any of this; instead of seeing a Broadway production, we’ve got tickets off Broadway, so it’s a little experimental, a lot less expensive and not the main stage. But, in a way, just as important.
This is indeed the week we look at the future and what Marvel has in store for us, but it’s nice to know that from where we are now, the holidays look to be rather pleasant. There’s no great drop to be looking at as the year ends, just more changes and more stories and for some reason, that’s a lot less pressure.
Unless you’re a Thor fan, then you’ve got eight titles to sort through. Yeesh.
Let’s take a look at November and see what’s ahead for the House of Ideas, shall we?
The news and announcements flowed freely on the first day of the brand new C2E2 convention, as well as at the Diamond retailer’s summit on Thursday. Here’s a quick summary, in case you missed anything …
So you’ve seen the X-Men teaser images Marvel’s been putting out featuring (among other strange character choices like Elektra and She-Hulk II) Blade and what sure looks like Vampire Jubilee, right? So has Ultimate Comics Avengers writer — and current toast of Hollywood thanks to Kick-Ass — Mark Millar.
Apparently the “X-Men vs. vampire mutants” storyline people have deduced from the teaser images is awfully similar to an upcoming Ultimate Avengers storyline Millar’s been talking about for years…and he’s very, very upset about this. Like, to the point where if I were Marvel, I’d worry that he might show up at the office in a green-and-yellow jumpsuit with a crowbar or two.
Here’s the rundown of Millar’s furious posts on his message board, in a thread titled “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS X-MEN/ BLADE THING” (all-caps in original):
Very busy writer Brian Michael Bendis became an even busier writer this weekend. With little fanfare — it “happened by accident” — Bendis spent over an hour on Saturday answering reader questions via his Twitter account.
The 125-message micro-interview cost him some followers, irritated Warren Ellis (not really), and was eventually cut off by Twitter, but by the time all was said and done some interesting info had hit the Internet courtesy of his tweets.
First up, Bendis spilled the beans on a trio of upcoming projects with familiar collaborators:
* Bendis and his Daredevil: Wake Up partner David Mack will reunite for a new Hornhead project, Daredevil: End of Days, next summer. The project was first announced in February 2007, with Bendis and Mack as co-writers and art from Alex Maleev, Bill Sienkewicz, and Klaus Janson. (Daredevil will also appear in New Avengers #60.)
* Look for a creator-owned crime project from Bendis and his Daredevil and Spider-Woman collaborator Alex Maleev next summer.
This week on Totally Biased Opinion with No Real Numbers Backing up a Gut Feeling Theater, I’ll put on my comic shop clerk hat and say that, as a retailer, there was a drop off of customers reading Ultimatum as the issues chugged along.
Keep in mind, this is not me as a comic fan or as a critic (as laughable as the term is in my case), but for awhile the comic shop I work for sold Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimates like gangbusters. That is, with a loud and explosive beginning; I can recall barely getting my copy of Ultimate X-Men #1 as Marvel’s newest set of titles did remarkably well and the speculator market turned its Saruman-like eye on the brand. Years went by and we continued to put our stock in the Ultimate titles, through the rocky road that was Ultimate Fantastic Four, through the non-existent road that was Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine. Yes sir’ee, if it had word ‘Ultimate’ on the cover, you could practically call it the ‘Gold Standard’ by which Marvel Comics could be judged by!
Man, remember those days?
Oh no — apparently someone left the gate open, and foil covers and hologram covers have bred to produced something far more sinister: Foilogram covers.
“This is Marvel doing the nineties right,” explained David Gabriel, Marvel Comics Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation. “We’re taking two of the most popular cover treatments of all time–foil and holograms–to create an all new kind of cover, as a ‘thank-you’ to fans who’ve been demanding this kind of variant! Retailers and fans don’t need to worry. We’re only doing this on a limited basis. You won’t see one on Ms Marvel #46 or Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #4. We’re using them to mark very special occasions…such as the launch of Ultimate Comics line.””
No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
Okay guys, this is September. Time to get serious. The summer blockbusters are either put to rest or coming to an end, and we have 11 different #1 issues to sort through, not to mention the other 11 #2 issues that are kicking it into high gear from last month. And what about the eight issues we know NOTHING about?? Pencils down, kids. The Marvel U just got real.
Or kind of ridiculous in regards to the ongoing narrative. But don’t be afraid, not everything is all new and different. Let’s take a gander at the September solicitations for the House of Ideas and see what we can look forward to hearing about when we’re darn good and ready.
Okay, no joke, there are indeed 11 #1 issues coming out, from the benign Thor and Punisher Annuals (I actually find myself missing when they used to number annuals by the year they came out) to the long-awaited Spider-Woman #1 and Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size #1. There’s even the ridiculous, but I’ll get to that later. Point is, this is just as much a month for starts of things to come as August, which tips the scales at 14 #1 issues. Marvel may tout their 600th Captain America, Spider-Man or Incredible Hulk, but let’s face it: #1 on a cover gives the book that delectable little collector’s spice.