Sunday, December 11, 2011


Sorry I haven't updated since Thursday, but I was so deeply upset to learn that The Backyardigans were trying to coax children into suicide by telling them that it's great to be a ghost that I've been unable to do anything at all but sit in a chair, shake my head slowly side to side and cluck "What is the world coming to...?" again and again.

Okay, fine, not really. I was just preoccupied doing things that didn't involve thinking about X-Force or Batman for an hour straight. And I'm sure The Backyardigans' agenda isn't as sinister as that DVD cover makes me think it is. I'm sure they are all very nice...bugs...? Why is that bug as big as the hippo and moose? And why is its overalls the same color as its skin? Why do these Backyard-i-things confuse and frighten me so?

Anyway, it's Sunday night, so I'm going to keep holy the Sabbath by reviewing the week in comics news and/or links I saw on comics news sites that I thought worth sharing with you, my surprisingly few readers.


Yeah, what is up with behemoth international entertainment and licensing-driven corporate entity Disney and its radical anti-corporate propoganda...?


Marvel released details of their next big event/story: a twelve-issue Avengers Vs. X-Men series. Twelve issues! That's a lot of issues.

I like the plan, with Marvel's biggest writers (their so-called "Architects") taking turns on scripting duty (which seems like a more honest and equitable way of apportioning credit/blame for these sorts of things, which are apparently co-plotted to a certain extent at creative retreats anyway), a few of their more popular artists taking turns drawing "acts" of the story and, most especially, the biweekly format, which I think is an almost ideal schedule for a big event/story like this.

The only thing better would be a weekly schedule. I seem to recall in a vague, unable-to-link-to-way, Keith Giffen talking about the weekly format of 52 on Newsarama or Comic Book Resources and saying how exciting it would be if events started coming out on such a schedule, using the example of Marvel's Civil War coming out over the course of seven consecutive weeks, instead of seven (or was it eight, with the delay?) months. I also recall agreeing.

Seriously, imagine that (If you read it). Boom! Stamford blows up, Captain America goes rogue! Boom! Everyone fights and Goliath is murdered by a clone Thor that his pals Reed Richards and Tony Stark built. Boom! Spider-Man unmasks on live television. Boom! The Punisher joins force with Captain America! And on and on. Fans' heads would be reeling, and they wouldn't have time to nitpick the many, many, many leaps in logic that occurred during the story, as just as they were about through digesting the events of an issue, the next one would be released, with bigger events and higher stakes.

Two things immediately worth noting about the premise, which involves the two teams-turned-multi-book-franchises apparently coming to blows over something to do with The Phoenix Force that turned Jean Grey evil for a while in the 1970s. First, it's another iteration of Marvel heroes fighting one another, which has been the premise for every crossover/event they've published since House of M on some level. And, second, the X-Men and Avengers locked in conflict over what to do with an all-powerful mutant was at least part of the premise of House of M.


I already got my needlessly cynical reaction to Brian Michael Bendis' announcement that he was stepping down from The Avengers family of books out of the way earlier in the week, but I have more to say.


I don't suppose we'll ever know-know, but I do wonder if Bendis no-longer writing at least two Avengers titles l is part of the recent Disney/Marvel cost-cutting that lead to a seemingly healthy books being canceled and previously announced miniseries being canceled right before they began publication and some editors and others losing their jobs. Did someone at Disney finally realize that people read Avengers comics for the Avengers, not Bendis (at least at this point; in 2004, when Bendis began his better-part-of-a-decade-run, it might have been a different story), and that they could move the same number of units if they hired a hobo and paid him in canned goods (Provided of course that the hobo they hired was also a writer, and these days, chances are, he is.)


So where does Bendis go now? In addition to writing one or two Avengers titles every month since 2004 and the majority of the Marvel Universe line's big crossover event/stories (House of M, Secret Invasion and Siege), Bendis has essentially been show-running the direction of the Marvel Universe for years. Right now, he's sitting on top of the top franchise. When he leaves Avengers, there's not really anywhere for him to go at Marvel except down, in terms of prestige books.

My only thoughts at this point are that maybe he'd take over the X-Men franchise, trying to build it back up into the sales juggernaut it was at the turn of the century (During Bendis' tenure, The Avengers franchise sort of overtook the X-Men franchise's place in Marvel's publishing strategy), or perhaps the Spider-Man franchise. (Bendis obviously loves Spidey, having put him on both of his Avengers teams, and Bendis has written Utlimate Spider-Man since the early 1950s, although since Ultimate Peter Parker was killed off and replaced by Miles Morales, Bendis isn't currently writing a Peter Parker Spider-Man in USM and he could, perhaps, be going through a type of withdrawal that can only be cured by writing Amazing Spider-Man.

Those are the only two Marvel books/brands I could see Bendis taking over that wouldn't be huge steps back for him, professionally. In fact, both of those are still steps back from the chart-topping Avengers books, which are just now starting to lose heat from Bendis-fatigue and the insurgent, re-booted DCU, but the X-Men and Spider-Man have room to grow again.

And, you know, with a movie entitled Amazing Spider-Man about to see release, if I had to bet what was next for Bendis at Marvel, I would be it would be a bi-weekly Amazing Spider-Man series.


Of course, in the bi-polar world of Big Two super-comics, if news came that Bendis was leaving Marvel's top franchise after years there, one almost-immediate thought would be that perhaps he's about to sign and exclusive with DC Comics. Given the company's push for doing more audacious things and at least talking about seeking out new talent, it's not inconceivable that someone at DC has been spending part of the last year attempting to headhunt Bendis, right?

I don't think Bendis fits in with the "New 52" DCU—he's too '00s, and not enough '90s—and, honestly, when I consider the DC properties and titles and characters, the only one that really jumps out as a good fit for Brian Michae Bendis would be something like n DC would be something like DC's long-since canecled Gotham Central book, which would allow him to write about crime and engage in the sort of Aaron Sorkin/cable drama type of writing he's so fond of.

I know Bendis also pitched a Daredevil/Batman event at some point in the recent-ish past too, so I bet a lot of folks would think he'd do well on that franchise as well. I don't know though. Bendis wrote Daredevil in the Frank Miller, grim-and-gritty vein for like 50 years, and he's also been writing Moon Knight, who was, at one point, little more than a Batman knock-off. How much could Bendis really have to say about Batman?

And if DC resurrected Gotham Central for him? Well, Bendis would be writing cops in the world of superheroes, as he did on his Sam and Twitch stories from waaaaay back before Marvel, or his still-going Powers series. Does Bendis have all that much left to say in that particular capes-and-cops flavor of superhero comics?

Bendis was at his worst at Marvel when he was writing bigger, cosmic stories with fantastical superpowers, aliens and time-travel. The DC Universe is, in general, bigger and more cosmic than the more grounded, realistic Marvel Universe, with more god-like supeheroes and a more complicated cosmology and multiverse of settings (Although DC seems to be trying their damnedest to Marvelize their setting and characters as much as possible this year).


Forgot to mention in last week's post: I hope part of DC's probably-no-even-actually-happening-exploit-Watchman plans is a Watchmen Vs. V For Vendetta crossover. I have no idea what that would entail, but it would be awesome.

Bonus: Free viral advertising at every Occupy gathering/every large protest of pretty much anything.


Wow, Paul Cornell is off Stormwatch already? Well, there's one less trade from my Buy In Trade list that I'll be buying. I like Martian Manhunter, and I like Cornell but wasn't sure about artist or new continuity, so this was one of the several New 52 books I was planning on reading in trade (Along with Demon Knights, Batman, Animal Man and Swamp Thing...Oh, and Action and Batwoman, but I already knew I'd like those ones. The others were more of a Buy In Trade If They Don't Suck Horribly sort of group).

But if Paul Cornell's Stormwatch only a six-issue miniseries, written without the narrative structure of a mini-series, then, eh, why bother?

The rate of musical chairs on the New 52 titles is pretty astounding, and its becoming clearer and clearer that this was a list of 52 titles that a group of DC editors came up with, and then creating the New 52 DCU was more a matter of matching creative teams to the titles than writers and artists giving a whole lot of thought to reinventing the DCU.


Wow, Jim Steranko's Indiana Jones looks like he could beat the living hell out of Harrison Ford's, doesn't he? One of the things I liked about Indiana Jones though, particularly in Temple, is he gets the living hell beat out of him pretty regularly, but keeps on fighting till he gets a win. Perseverence is as admirable a heroic quality as fighting prowess or strength in my book. (Via Comics Reporter)


I like these dwarves. (Also via Comics Reporter)


Iconic schmiconic, I think Batgirl should have hair like this, instead of long and red. (Via Sean T. Collins)


Wowee zowee. Go read this (Via


Mory Buckman said...

"And, second, the X-Men and Avengers locked in conflict over what to do with an all-powerful mutant was at least part of the premise of House of M."

That was just the first issue of House of M, because in the time they spent calmly debating the issue the world changed, making their arguments a moot point. The conflict now is actually going to drive the plot, and I think it's quite compelling.

The Avengers aren't going to hesitate to pull the trigger this time, after having seen what happened in House of M. A teenage girl with access to all mutant powers and the Phoenix Force? With Wanda the Avengers kept pushing to wait and try to find other options (over the X-Men's objections), and it makes perfect sense that they won't act like that anymore. Meanwhile, the X-Men see Hope as the savior of their species from the whole "No more mutants." business. (Religiously so, as established in Second Coming.)

So I think it's unfair to paint this crossover as a rehash of House of M. Actually this is the natural pay-off to a bunch of things that were only set up in House of M, and have been developing ever since.

Kevin Tam said...

I entered high school in 2004 and I'm about graduate college in the coming year, so, for the majority of my academic upbringing I was witness to a Bendis-era avengers. I don't think I really got to read a proper, contemporary, Avengers story, because every time I looked at a preview, I would drown in dialogue bubbles. Mark Millar's Ultimates was the closest for me.

So, I'm a little glad that Bendis will be leaving. I think he'll be focusing more on his Icon stuff, right? With Bagley on "Brilliant," and with some other guy on some other thing.

Caleb said...


Good point and well said. I don't think it will necessarily be a rehash, but it seems like the Bendis-era of Avengers/Marvel events will be ending where it started. Hopefully, as you say, a natural payoff to something suggested way back when.


Yikes, when you put it like that...that is a VERY long time.

In discussing a recent issue of Avengers, I think Tom Spurgeon correctly diagnosed what's unusual about Bendis' Avengers comics:

Me, I think I will prefer something more tethered, although I can't wait to see who follows Bendis and how.