Sunday, December 15, 2013

Marvel's March previews reviewed

Fun (?) fact: In March, Marvel will have only eight titles in their main, Marvel Universe-set line left that they're selling at the $2.99 price point. They are Deadpool (which double-ships in March), Avengers Undercover (Dennis Hopeless' I'm-not-really-sure-how follow-up to his Young Avengers/Battle Royale mash-up), Ms. Marvel, Loki: Agent of Asgard, She-Hulk, Avengers A.I., Thunderbolts and Hawkeye (The two Marvel kids books set outside the Marvel Universe, but entitled Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble and Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man regardless, will also go for $2.99).

The rest will all be selling at the $3.99 price point, regardless of how obscure and unlikely to support such an expensive book the characters, how relatively unpopular the creators or that Marvel failed to sell books featuring the same characters at the cheaper price point recently. They've even raised the price of some ongoing books, including my favorite non-Hawkeye book, which, before these solicitations were released, was in danger of cancellation. Now? It  seems destined for it.

If you'd liket o see Marvel's full socicits, click here. If you've no interest in hearing me complaing about how expensive comics are over and over, click away now while you still can.

Oh, and do read Carla Hoffman's monthly look at Marvel's solicits over at Robot 6—in addition to being smarter and more knowledgeable on retailing and Marvel Comics in general, I think like the "zombie #1" term she coins, I think she distills the problem of trying to read Marvel in trade I myself experience pretty much constantly (confusion and frustration have kept me from following up on sooo many of the books I waited for the trade on) and she beat me to the punch on the furry joke regarding the new Captain Marvel #1's "animal variant" cover, which, unlike most of the cutesy, cartoony ones looks created for a specific fetishist's kink.


A+X #18
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS & GERRY DUGGAN (W)
KEVIN NOWLAN & DAVID YARDIN (A)
Cover by KEVIN NOWLAN
A+X GOES OUT IN STYLE!
• Superstar BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS and comics legend KEVIN NOWLAN tell a scintillating tale of KITTY PRYDE + VISION!
• Gerry Duggan (DEADPOOL) and David Yardin (X-FACTOR) finish their rip-roaring CAPTAIN AMERICA+CYCLOPS story!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

Kitty Pryde? Vision? Scintillating? Gross.

I assume "goes out in style" is another way of saying "FINAL ISSUE"... it's actually surprising it's lasted this long, given the conceit of random, continuity-lite mini team-ups featuring one Avenger and one X-Person. There have been some neat characters combinations and neat creators involved, but, for some reason, I haven't been able to work up any interest in this book at all. And I mean in the trades. Which I can get at the library. And read for free.


I really like how stupid looking Mike Deodato's cover for Avengers #27 is.


DAREDEVIL #1
MARK WAID (W) • CHRIS SAMNEE (A/C)
...
ANIMAL VARIANT BY CHRIS SAMNEE
...
BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT!
Join Marvel’s fearless hero as he begins his most awe-inspiring adventure yet in the sunny city of San Francisco! Gifted with an imperceptible radar sense and a passion for justice, blind lawyer Matt Murdock—a.k.a. DAREDEVIL—protects the Golden City’s streets from all manner of evil. But big changes are in store for Matt Murdock as old haunts and familiar faces rise to give the devil his due. Hold on tight, because here comes Daredevil…the Man Without Fear!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Please note that the new direction apparently prompting the reboot is not as drastic as Daredevil being turned into a mouse; that's just Samnee's "Animal Variant" cover for the book. The actual new direction is that Daredevil is moving back to San Francisco. And Marvel is using the occasion to present a new #1 issue, despite the fact that this is the same creative team as the last issue, and likely to continue in the same general vein. Oh, and that they raised the price $1.

Not sure which of those changes are "Because [We] Demanded It!" I haven't heard a whole lot of people saying, "I wish Daredevil would move," or "I wish  Marvel would arbitrarily relaunch this book with a new #1" or "I wish Marvel would charge me more money for this comic I enjoy reading."

Given how remarkably consistent sales on the book have been over such a long period of time, it will be interesting to see if and how that consistency is challenged or changed by the new #1, which might induce new readers to try it, or the price increase, which will likely induce old readers to treat this jumping-on point as a jumping-off point (Like me, for example. I'll likely check out this part of the Waid run in trade someday, provided I can figure out the trade numbering...will that start over with a new volume 1, so there are two Daredevil By Mark Waid Vol. 1s, or will it continue the volume numbering of the extant trades, or what...?


ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1
FELIPE SMITH (W) • TRADD MOORE (A/C)
...
“ENGINES OF VENGEANCE” PART 1
A street race leads a young man on the FAST and FURIOUS road of destiny. Amid an East Los Angeles neighborhood running wild with gang violence and drug trafficking, a war brews in the criminal underworld! With four on the floor, Marvel’s newest GHOST RIDER puts vengeance in overdrive!!!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I can see a Marvel executive sitting in a theater, watching The Fast and the Furious 6 and thinking, This  is what we should do with Ghost Rider. Wait, no I can't. I can see a Marvel executive sitting on the toilet in Marvel's only bathroom, reading a brief article in the newspaper about FF6's opening week box office and thinking, This is what we should do with Ghost Rider.

Now, putting Ghost Rider in a car seems to violate the central core of the character's identity—a guy with a flaming skull on a motorcycle—but the Ghost Rider's ability to Ghost Ride other vehicles has been well established in some of the crazier comics and the crazier Nicolas Cage movies (plus, Drive Angry, in which Cage drove a car on a mission of vengeance, was better than either of the Ghost Rider movies, where he rode motorcycles on missions of vengeance).

I just hope it's a convertible, as Ghosty's head-fire could be hell on the interior.

At any rate, it's a pretty clear way of noting that this All-New Ghost Rider is indeed All-New (although he's more of a Ghost Driver than a Ghost Rider now, right?), and Tradd Moore's a great artist, so I'm actually surprised to find myself really rather looking forward to reading a—What?! $3.99? For a Ghost Rider comic?

Fuck that.

It's weird though. Marvel keeps trying to sell new comics starring the same characters that had trouble selling comics very recently, and while often effort is put into trying new things—creators, new directions—inevitably one of their changes seems to be, "Hey, we couldn't sell these Ghost Rider comics all that well last time. What should you try next? Oh, I know, let's charge a lot more money for them! Maybe that will help us sell more of them!'


MOON KNIGHT #1
WARREN ELLIS (W)
DECLAN SHALVEY (A/C)
...
ANIMAL VARIANT BY KATIE COOK
...
Marc Spector is Moon Knight!...Or is he? It’s hard to tell these days, especially when New York’s wildest vigilante protects the street with two-fisted justice and three—that’s right, count ‘em—different personalities! But even with the mystical force of Khonshu fueling his crusade, how does the night’s greatest detective save a city that’s as twisted as he is? The road to victory is going to hurt. A lot. Marvel’s most mind-bending adventure begins NOW as Moon Knight sleuths his way to the rotten core of New York’s most bizarre mysteries!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

More than any other animal variant cover I've seen, this one makes me wonder about how the particular species of animal is chosen. Why is Moon Knight a hippo, exactly? It seems completely random, instead of making him, I don't know, a calf or a lunar moth or a wolf or an owl or a bat (although that last one might have been a bit too much on the nose, huh?)

Anyway, charging $4 for a Moon Knight series seems like daring the audience to cancel this bool within a year—the one written by Brian Michael Bendis, in which Moon Knight's multiple personalities included Wolverine, Spider-Man and Captain America didn't last long—but then, it's written by Ellis, so I imagine they need more scratch to pay Ellis then they would, like, someone else, and even if only lasts long enough to generate a trade or three, that's a trade or three more Ellis-written Moon Knight trades then they had before.

I'm glad to see Shalvey on this too. I like his art, and hopefully his sharing credits with Ellis will bring it to the attention of a whole lot of folks who might not be aware of it yet.

Me, I'll wait for the trade. Four dollars my grumble grumble grumble mumble grumble...


NEW AVENGERS #16.NOW
JONATHAN HICKMAN (W)
Rags Morales (A)
Cover by Mike Deodato
VARIANT COVER by Rags Morales
“THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WORLD ENDED”
No more bloodshed. To save their nations, the proud Black Panther and the arrogant Namor have sued for peace. As members of the Illuminati, the secret organization made up of the Marvel Universe’s most powerful heroes, they must work together to stop the extinction of the entire universe! But are their amends too little too late? There’s no turning back for the Illuminati after this issue – and they’ll pay the price for their sins.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Rags Morales? What are you doing over here? I really liked the first volume of Hickman's New Avengers, but gave up on the book heading into Infinity, as it seemed I'd also need to catch up on Hickman's adjectiveless Avengers before proceeding. I do hope to read the whole series someday, and Morales' involvement is only a further motivator.

Man, did that crazy Evil Duplicate version of Dr. Strange...



SILVER SURFER #1
DAN SLOTT (W)
MICHAEL ALLRED (A/C)
VARIANT COVER BY FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA
ANIMAL VARIANT BY CHRIS SAMNEE
...
“NEW DAWN”
The universe is big. Bigger than you could ever imagine. And the SILVER SURFER, the lone sentinel of the skyways, is about to discover that the best way to see it... is with someone else.
Meet the Earth Girl who’s challenged the Surfer to go beyond the boundaries of the known Marvel U-- into the strange, the new, and the utterly fantastic!
Anywhere and Everywhere... Hang On! THE SILVER SURFER
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I don't generally post the variant covers, especially when the regular one is by the great Mike Allred, but these are both cool. The Francavilla one is gorgeous, and I'm intrigued as to why Samnee made the Silver Surfer a sloth, of all animals. No offense, sloths, but you guys are, like, the least likely animals to be action heroes. Is Marvel gonna do something with this Marvel Animal Variant Universe? I wouldn't mind a comic book featuring all these characters...

Anyway, the variant's, like the book itself, look great! I can't wait to read—WHAT?! This is four dollars, too? A $4 Silver Surfer series? By Allred, the artist whose FF just sold so incredibly poorly, and Dan Slott? You guys can barely keep a Defenders book around for a 12 straight issues, and you expect a Silver Surfer solo series to last at $4 a pop!? Madness! Madness, I say!


THE SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN #11
NICK SPENCER (W)
STEVE LIEBER (A)
Cover by JOE QUINONES
• They don’t get NOW-er than the Superior Foes of Spider-Man!
• Is there a rat in the Sinister Six?* *=there’s still only five members.
• Spencer & Lieber continue the sleeper hit of the NOW-lenium!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Oh come on...! Relaunch books at a 33% high price point if you must, but don't suddenly raise the price of books that haven't been relaunched! Especially one of my two favorite Marvel books! And especially not one that's sales are dropping low enough to put it on cancellation watch!

Sigh...

Well, I think cancellation just got that much more inevitable. I'll see you in trade paperback form some day, Superior Foes #11...


Okay, I give up. Why is Robocop on the cover of Uncanny Avengers#18.NOW! [sic]...? And why is he a she...?

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #1 & 2
Jason Latour (W) • Mahmud Asrar (A/C)
...
WELCOME TO THE JEAN GREY SCHOOL OF HIGHER LEARNING! The ALL NEW MARVEL NOW smash hit series schools with Jason Latour (WINTER SOLDIER) and Mahmud Asrar (X-MEN) leading the charge with drama, action and homework(?)! World-famous X-Men Wolverine, Storm, and a star-studded faculty must educate the next generation all-powerful, but inexperienced mutants! But with their own lives steeped in deadly enemies and personal crises, how can the X-Men guide and educate—let alone defend—the school? At the Jean Grey School, you never know who will enroll…or who will lead the class! And what mysterious organization waits in the shadows to destroy Wolverine’s mutant sanctuary? These questions and more are answered in the All-New Marvel Now sure-to-be-smash, WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #1!
32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T+ …$3.99 (EACH)

Weird. When they announced this book's cancellation, I was certain it wasn't being rebooted, as its writer Jason Aaron had just launched a new X-Men title prominently featuringWolverine, Amazing X-Men. I guess they are relaunching, but with a different (and less likely to sell at even the dwindling levels Aaron's version did) creative team and...the exact same direction?

Huh.

Marvel, sometimes I just don't get you. Like, every time I read your solicitations. So every month. Marvel, I just don't get you every month.

7 comments:

Akilles said...

And here I thought that others got the same idea as you. That a few small animals were turned super by isotopes, in one of the previous DD-issues (which was, of course, a gag). That there`d be an awesome one shot. I really did. Maybe the idea should be told to DDs creative team. Maybe not.

Speaking of the cover with the robocop, bearded Magneto looks good.

The thing is...they DON`T want the series starring obscure characters succeed. The company is EEEEVIIIILLLL...

SallyP said...

So...basically, rebooted, and more of the same...but more expensive.

Oooookay.

Eric Lee said...

My favorite part was u questioning what part of Daredevil's new status quo was demanded by readers.

esteban138 said...

Personally, I'd favor the $4 price point across the board for Marvel. The $4 books include digital copies via Comixology, and I'm much more likely to re-read a book digitally then dig it out of a longbox or a stack … and I've got no desire to purchase the same $3 book digitally and physically, so it's a much better deal in terms of re-readability.
I'd definitely be happier if they were cheaper, of course, but there have definitely been $3 books in the last few months that I didn't pick up that I would have otherwise.

"O" the Humanatee! said...

Just FYI: Mike Deodato's "stupid looking" cover to Avengers #27 is an homage to John Buscema and Vince Colletta's cover to Avengers (vol. 1) #45: http://www.comics.org/issue/21362/cover/4/.

Caleb said...

Huh. But Buscemea's cover doesn't look nearly as stupid...I suppose it's the fact that his style makes something so silly-looking seem more natural in its environment and sharing space with those characters, as opposed to Deodato's (The style of both the drawing and the coloring, actually).

Or maybe it's the difference in the faces of the giant composite robot monster creatures.

Caleb said...

Oh, and Esteban, that's actually an interesting point. As someone with no experience or interest in digital comics, that didn't even register to me.