Monday, April 04, 2011

Some quick thoughts on some WonderCon announcements that caught my eye

There’s probably some really easy jokes to make about what DC’s upcoming “Retro-Active” specials say about the audience they’re pursuing and where they’re priorities might lie, but I’m not going to make any of them—this actually sounds really cool to me, and I only have any personal affection for or experience with one of those three decades the specials will be recalling.

And the logos look like a lot of fun! That's the 1980s one above). The Source ran them, along with the writers and the franchises and decades they will be involved with in this blog post.

I’ll have to wait to hear who the artists on each of these are before I get too excited about any of these individual books. The CBR story mentions a few of the artists on a few of the projects, and they’re the ideal choices—Jon Bogdanove working on the ‘90s Superman story with Louise Simonson, Kevin Maguire working with Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis on the 90’s Justice League comic.

I hope those choices are indicative of the others; I can’t imagine the Alan Grant-written ‘90s Batman story without Norm Breyfogle art, for example, although I’ve long been curious about why we don’t see Breyfogle Batman art anymore, and assumed it was because there was some sort of weird blood between DC and the artist. There are a lot of great Batman artists from the ‘90s I’d love to see more from—Mike Manley, Bret Blevins, Graham Nolan, Mark Buckingham, Kelley Jones—but none of them are as associated with Grant’s scripting as Breyfogle.

I do hope this gives some exposure to some of the great talents who worked on these characters in the past few decades, and maybe serves as a springboard for more work for them (I can’t help wondering how much better that Steel vs. Doomsday one-shot that Ed Benes drew a few months back woulda been if Bogdanove drew it, for example).

Warren Ellis and Marvel’s Secret Avengers sound like a really good fit. It’s been an awful long time since I’ve read anything by Ellis, particularly on a regular basis, in large part because of the cost of his recent Marvel work and the issues with delays that have plagued much of it.

I’ve yet to read any Secret Avengers, but I wouldn’t mind reading Ellis take at all. I would normally wait for the trade for this sort of thing, but it sounds like Ellis is going to be doing an all done-in-one run, and working with different artists on each. The first of those artists is apparently going to be Jamie McKelvie, so if they can keep that caliber of creators working with Ellis, then this could quite easily become the most interesting of the, what, 62 Avengers books…?

Doesn’t this exact thing happen in every single X-Men story in which both Cyclops and Wolverine appear?

Also, this is probably an appropriate point to mention that every time I see a Jason Aaron comic now, I have a hard time not thinking, “Hey, it’s the that guy who told Alan Moore to go fuck himself.” (Actually, I guess Aaron is more “the guy who wrote ‘Go fuck yourself, Alan Moore,” in an article Alan Moore will never read on a website that Alan Moore has probably never visited).

I like a lot of the Jason Aaron comics I’ve read (just some early volumes of Scalped, a few Wolverine stories at t his point, and I’m trying to read his Ghost Rider right now), and I sort of understand where Aaron was coming from, since Moore often sounds ignorant of comics when he dismisses comics as a whole, but, on the other hand, I also know Moore sounds ignorant of comics when he dismisses them, and is either genuinely disconnected, or exaggerating for effect, or using “comics” to narrowly mean “superhero shit, like I used to write.”

Still, as good as Aaron is—that is, from what I can determine thus far, he writes better Wolverine comics than most of his peers—I don’t think he’s quite in the position to say, “Go fuck yourself, Alan Moore” and not sound silly doing it.

Maybe you don’t have to have written a Watchmen before you can tell the guy who did to go fuck himself, but you should at least turn out a League of Extraordinary Gentleman or Swamp Thing first. Or at the very, very, very least, not devote yourself to telling the story of Cyclops vs. Wolverine.

—In general, a comic entitled Hulk Vs. Dracula seems like something I’d be pretty excited to read, but Marvel’s just-announced Fear Itself: Hulk Vs. Dracula will be a story within the Fear Itself story, and so the Hulk fighting Dracula won’t be the one I know and like, but the one with his own ur-Thor hammer and a Tron-like, glowy redesign. Putting aside my uncertainty about Fear Itself (that is, how do I know I want to read spin-offs of it until I know if I want to read Fear Itself itself?), I'm not all that excited about this version of the Hulk meeting Dracula.

If half of the characters named in a ______ Vs. ______ comic are going to be off-model, what’s the point?

Also, where’s Marvel Dracula’s mustache…?

—Some day I’m going to see something pertaining to the upcoming live-action Green Lantern movie that is going to get me mildly excited and make me actually look forward to watching it, but I’ve yet to see that something. This isn’t it. And neither is this.

At this point, I think I’d settle for seeing something pertaining to Green Lantern that doesn’t make me actively dread the film.

“TMNT at IDW” was the most interesting collection of letters I read this past weekend. It wasn’t all that long ago that Mirage quit publishing their latest volume of a regular, ongoing Turtles book, but when they did call it quits and the rights were sold to…Disney, wasn’t it? Or Nickelodeon?…I assumed we wouldn’t be seeing any new Ninja Turtle comics for a while.

I have an enormous amount of affection for the original volume of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; it was one of the comics that first got young Caleb into a comic shop, and excited about the medium.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years, however, is that as much as I love Turtles comics, I’ve never really been able to get into one of the ongoings and stay into it for very long. I’m trying really hard not to go off on a 2,000-word tangent or anything, but a large part of what I liked about the original volume of the comic was the anthology feel of it.

After the first 11 issues or so of the series, the creators, settings and even the premise of the books started to vary quite widely from story arc to story arc and issues to issue. There was something enormously exciting to go from Eastman and Laird to Michael Dooney to Eric Talbot to Mark Bode to Eastman, Laird, Talbot and Jim Lawson to Mark Martin to Rick Veitch; from Michael Zulli to Bode again to Richard Corben to Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney. And Matt Howarth!

Even during those first 11 issues, when it was mostly just Eastman and Laird and there was a greater deal of continuity, with stories and a status quo stretching between issues, the time between issues, the changes in the artists’ styles and the genres they were riffing on made almost every issue seem different from the one before it.

That might be why I had trouble getting into almost any of the more continuity-conscious stories to follow. I read and dug the big “City at War” storyline that started in 1993, but I couldn’t really get into the color series, or the Image series, or the most recent Mirage series. (I wouldn’t mind trying again via cheap trades though, IDW!)

So I have some reservations about another new Turtles ongoing series. Especially when IDW hasn’t announced anything regarding the creators yet.

I’ll be keeping a very interested eye on the series though.

Oh, as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, I saw Comics Alliance's post about it mentions that IDW will not only be collecting the early Mirage material, but also the Archie comics. That's great news. There are still a few of the Mirage comics I haven't found in back-issue bins yet (#12, #14-16, #44-#48), and I've been hoping for a collection of the Archie comics for pretty much ever (I thought the word was that the original comics disappeared at some point though, and a collection was impossible...? Am I misremembering? I think one of you guys told me that).

IDW’s other big announcement of the weekend just sounds insane to me. I seriously don’t understand IDW publishing Marvel comics at all, especially since this particular Marvel comic isn’t a lapsed license (like the Marvel Star Wars, G.I. Joe or Robert E. Howard comics that Dark Horse and IDW have been publishing) or something with a relatively minor, cult appeal.

The $100 price tag might be a clue, in that this is perhaps going to be a rather small print run, and perhaps something that was too small or too unprofitable for Disney-owned Marvel to screw around with, but more in line with IDW’s niche in the market. But then, Marvel pretty regularly publishes $50 or more masterworks editions of obscure Golden Age and Atlas-era comics, so I don’t know. Huh and Weird is really all I have to say about this announcement, I guess.

That’s a pretty swell Batgirl costume, although I see the right ear is drooping a bit in that picture of it. Drooping bat-ears are usually an indication of either a sad Bat-person or a battle-damaged Bat-person.

—Hey, check out this post on Andy Kubert’s design for the Flashpoint Aquaman; Kubert gave his Aquaman a collapsing trident, like several of the artists who redesigned Aquaman for Project: Rooftop’s “Sea Change” contest. (Also, I can’t help but notice that Kubert’s Aquaman isn’t quite as cool as a whole bunch of those P:R redesigns).

—In other superhero fashion news, check out Nate Bellegarde’s great Jubilee design, and Alan Kistler’s Agent of STYLE column devoted to “The 7 Worst-Dressed Batman Enemies.” Kistler includes my second favorite Bat-villain costume (after The Scarecrow’s), Calendar Man’s, and the awesome, original Killer Moth costume, and the also awesome original Signal Man costume.

The premise of the column is rogues who “would need some serious redesign if they were ever translated into live-action media, so I guess I can’t really argue with that (Although I have a feeling it’s not just the costumes that will keep the likes of Kite-Man, Crazy Quilt or The Ten-Eyed Man out of the next Batman movie).


Khairul H. said...

Are you sure the "Simonson Thor via IDW" book isn't an April Fool's joke?

Eyz said...

The Retro-Active concept sounds really cool.
A very smart move on DC's part I'd say, specially after the gigantic House of M..I mean Flashpoint, to find some familiarity back will be a good thing.

matthew. said...

I remember the Archie TMNT comics being a lot more complicated than I had expected from an Archie comic. There was a giant cow's head that function as a interdimensional portal and stuff like that? The whole thing was just the right level of insane

Anthony Strand said...

JLI and Messner-Loebs's Flash are two of my favorite comics ever, so I'll certainly buy those one-shots. And probably the Alan Grant Batman.

Here's the thing though - why will DC only hire those great writers when it's a Retro Event? If Alan Grant and William Messner-Loebs are willing to work with DC, why are J.T. Krul and Tony Daniel writing ongoing series instead of them?!

Anyway, it's sad that DC's most exciting announcement in a long time is "Hey gang, we're pretending it's 1988!"

"O" the Humanatee! said...

I wish we didn't have to pay $4.99 for only 22 pages of new story. On the other hand, I'm extremely pleased to see _any_ employment for Bill Messner-Loebs (writer/author of Journey, one of my top 3 comics of all time), who's been battling serious poverty for years.

Matt D said...

I'd be hell of a lot more impressed by someone making "Wolverine vs Cyclops" as good as Swamp Thing v2 than a lot of things.

can you even imagine how difficult that would be? In the midst of a big cross-over EVENT? like X-Men Schism?

Nataniel Costard said...

I feel exactly the same everytime I read about Jason Aaron. I can`t help going: "Jason who?" His "defenders" said he was an amazing writer, and I`ve never read anything from him, but in a silly way I hope I never do, because if it`s not Watchmen 2 then I`ll be really dissapointed.

mordicai said...

TO be fair, I think LOTS of people should really tell Alan Moore to go to hell.

Also, isn't current Marvel Dracula all like, a dude with a white ponytail & like, a Gwar costume? Didn't they make him EXXXTREME?

& I say it whenever I can: TEAM CASSANDRA CAIN.