Sunday, October 16, 2011

This week's link post, now fortified with NYCC announcement reactions

The full Avengers trailer has debuted. Weirdly, I found myself more excited about that teaser trailer that featured nothing other than Sam Jackson reading that bit about there coming a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes blah blah blah...than I was by this one, although I imagine any truly show-stopping stuff will be saved for a while, and the object of this particular trailer was just to show us the characters from different movies in the same scenes (This is going to be the first super-team movie to really be the film equivalent of a super-team comic, in that the characters all have their own movies, in the same way that the characters in the Avengers comics all had their own comics first too).

Still, this looks pretty good, and my only concern at this very early point are that Robert Downey Jr.'s going to blow everyone else out of every scene he shares, and that the movie could use a Wasp or Black Panther to de-whiteguyify the line-up a bit. Maybe for the sequel.

The only villain I noticed was Loki, but presumably the Cosmic Cube and Red Skull will play a part as well...? Or will those plot points show up in Captain America 2: Batroc Begins...?

Well I'm also slightly concerned about how terrible that song playing over the trailer is, but hopefully that won't be in the movie itself.

Somewhat surprisingly, I find myself just as excited about this Disney/Marvel-related movie. Perhaps because it's even more imminent...?

Archie Comics is one again reviving their old "Red Circle" superhero characters, most recently seen in a badly bumbled attempt to integrate them into the DC Universe spearheaded by writer J. Michael Straczynski.

I'd be much, much, much more likely to read the new Archie versions than those recent DC versions, based simply on the single image Archie has released so far, which shows the characters with infinitely better costume designs than the recent DC ones (Check out the new Archie Web, for example, and compare it to DC's Web). Also, the Archie superheroes are much less likely to be as depraved and decadent as the heroes of the DCU.

That said, it looks like Archie's version will be digital-only, which means I won't ever actually read them, because I am old and like to read comics printed on paper. Perhaps if there's enough online interest, print copies or trades will eventually come along.

Here is Marc-Oliver Frisch's monthly analysis of DC's comics sales for The Beat, updated for August, the month that included the release of Justice League #1, the first book of DC's "New 52" reboot-a-launch, by the publisher's chief creative officer (and most popular writer) and co-publisher (and most popular artist).

When looking at that number, there are a whole lot of caveats to keep in mind, including the number of reprints and re-orders and, most especially, that these are all estimates since the big publishers don't ever really release the real numbers, presumably because doing so would just make everyone sad, by reminding them that there's not a whole lot of difference between the North American comic book industry and the North American poetry industry, save for the former having many more lucrative licensing opportunities.

Even still, my first thought when seeing the number (185,766) and noting that it is substantially less than that associated with 2006's Justice League of America #1 by writer Brad Meltzer and a guy who can't even draw (212,581) was...wait, I think I took a note at the time....yes, here it is: "HOLY SHIT, the relaunch was LESS a big deal than Meltzer's launch, despite having JIM FUCKING LEE and an UNPRECEDENTED PR push associated with it?!"

I can't remember the last time DC got more mainstream press (the death of Superman story, probably), and I don't think they've ever gotten more mainstream press as a result of their own actively courting it, so the fact that retailers only ordered about 190,000 copies of JL #1, as opposed to how many they ordered of that awful Brad Meltzer #1? Wow.

Now, the difference may have somethng to do with the way the market is now, but, if that's the case, it shows the current market being pretty well fucked, as far as I can tell (Even if that's not the full and final number, shouldn't Geoff Johns + Jim Lee + Justice League + historical reboot/relaunch + huge PR push equal a number at least two times as big as the one for The Novelist Who Wrote The Rape Comic + The Artist Who Only Draws Butts + The Justice League? If not three or four times as big?)

That number also doesn't reflect digital sales, although I think it's safe to assume that the numbers aren't that big, beause if they were—like, if they had doubled or tripled or quadrupled the number of print sales, surely DC would crow about that. Until DC releases numbers, logic dictates they must be so small as to be insignificant.

Here's Frisch on the relatively disappointing nature of the initial numbers on the initial book: "The farther you go back beyond the last two years, however — and you don’t actually have to go back that far — the clearer it becomes that this isn’t remotely close to being game-changer territory. Bluntly, these are not numbers that suggest that the comic-book direct market is suddenly going to be brimming again with all-new customers eager to spend money."

Of course, on the other hand, when you add 'em all up, that number looks a bit more impressive...

Slate took the opportunity of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's religion briefly becoming an issue in the Republican primary again to check in with Mike Allred on the progress of his adaptation of The Book of Mormon, The Golden Plates. I was very excited about the project when it initially began, not only because it was a new project from one of my favorite artists, but also because I had tried reading the The Book of Mormonitself a few years earlier during college, but found it too difficult a slog, and I had to give up.

Nevertheless, I apparently lost track of Allred's series, because I bought and read the first volume, but forgot about much so that I hadn't even realized he had to abandon it before completion.

The interview makes for a pretty interesting read:
Slate: You did a lot of historical and geographical research before beginning The Golden Plates. Were you at all worried about disproving what you believed to be true?

Allred: No. My beliefs are mostly hopes. Anyone can argue the truth of anything and be unswayable, given the strength of their convictions or degree of stubbornness. Beyond that, the Book of Mormon is fascinating on any level, fact or fiction. If true, we know that God exists, there is life after death, and life has an eternal meaning. If fiction, it’s a phenomenal story.
Wow. That's an extremely succinct and eloquent distillation of the essence of faith. It reminded me of Pascal's Wager, to a certain extent.

But wait, if Allred is Mormon, does that mean he will automatically support Romney should Romney earn the nomination (and, personally, I'd be shocked if anyone could beat him to it). Slate asks for Allred's opinion on whether a Mormon like Romney is electable, and he answers thusly:

It looks like he has a pretty good shot, even though I won’t be voting for him...In any case, it’s unlikely that anyone will keep me from voting for Barack Obama again. I’ve yet to see any politician in my lifetime show more dignity and have a greater desire to truly bring people together. A true Christian. It’s been stunning to hear the recent debates on what is Christian and who is Christian. Simple math in my book: Christ is love. If you study his teachings and try to live them, who is to judge?

—Speaking of Slate, this Michael Agger article entitled "Use the force, Daddy!": A guide to the Clone Wars for parents of inquisitive children" was pretty fun. I pretty much permanently checked out of the Star Wars universe after that fucking terrible CGI Star Wars: Clone Wars movie that dropped in August of 2008 and set-up the current Clone Wars TV show. The Slate piece is an attempt to give readers an at least conversational familiarity with that period of the Star Wars saga, set after Episode II and the excellent Star Wars: Clone Wars traditionally animated "micro-series", but before Episode III. It does its job admirably, and is kind of funny to boot.

—Lots of interesting points in Tom Spurgeon's post-September "Nine Thoughts On Advantages DC Comics May Have Moving Forward" post, particularly regarding DC having a swell opportunity to lure creators from Marvel (Like, if you're laboring on that publisher's lower-tier titles, you're probably never gonna get to write an issue of Bendisvengers until Brian Michael Bendis retires, but Justice League is going to need some fill-in issues in the can for when Lee inevitably falls behind). That, and the mildly depressing thought that DC may publish pure garbage no one who writes about comics will actually like, and that that's not necessarily a bad thing for the company, business-wise. In fact, that may quite probably lead to better comics coverage—Spurgeon's not super-passionate about things like Supermans' marriage or the "best" version of Wonder Woman (aside from his oft-expressed love of Wonder Tot, I guess) or whether Aquaman is better off cleanshaven or with a beard, and yet he covers the company super-well. If more writers-about-comics become alienated from the characters by their awful, awful stories, than those writers might cover the industry and business of comics in a less-biased fashion.

Check out this NSFW Vice story! Why? Hellen Jo art! Girls! Masturbation! Three of my favorite things! (Via Sean T. Collins, that degenerate pervert)

—Reminder: Hellen Jo's Jin & Jam is awesome.

Chris Sims is still funny (That Batman image always cracks me up, no matter what he happens to be furiously writing on that parchment while dripping sweat)

—NYCC was this weekend, and I did not attend, as NYCC took place in New York City again, rather than in my living room, and I have a much easier time making it to events that occur in the latter locale than the former. Tom Spurgeon has his usual accrual of links to posts and articles on the con here, which makes for a good one-stop shopping place for con news, and Spurgeon also has a post breaking down ten of what he considered the biggest announcements/stories coming out of the convention.

This report on a Superman panel in which details of the next Superman: Earth One graphic novel were revealed made me wonder a bit about what the point of the Earth One graphic novels are now. When the first one was launched, the idea was to present a new audience with a younger, more modern, more easy-to-relate-to version of Superman. Now that DC relaunched their whole superhero line, however, they're publishing two monthly comic books (Superman and Action) featuring a younger, more modern, more easy-to-relate-to version of Superman. In fact, there is no older, less modern, um, harder-to-relate-to version of Superman anymore.

The main distinction between these two version of Superman now seems to be the format in which they're being delivered—a series of original graphic novels vs. a series of monthly comic books.

Is it worth noting that the Earth-One new Superman costume is much closer to the original "old" Superman costume than "The New 52" new Superman costume (the one no one likes)...?

Is it worth noting that the next JSA book is apparently going to be set on Earth-2, which would presumably make the setting of "The New 52" Earth-1 again...which would mean that "New 52" Superman (the, um, "real" Superman) and Earth-One Superman (an alternate, "Imaginary Story"/Elseworlds version of Superman), both exist on different Earth-1s...?

Urrgh. Comics are hard.

I liked the idea of IDW's Infestation crossover series, in which zombies attacked various toys I used to play with as a kid, although I've yet to read it (Was there a trade of the whole shebang yet?). I like the idea of Infestation 2 in which H.P. Lovecraft's public domain space god-monsters attack various toylines I used to play with as a kid, even more. And look, now it included Ninja Turtles!

Oh how I wish IDW priced their comics at $3 a pop...they'd probably have a lock on all my comics-spending money if they did...

I'm excited to hear about one of my favorite writers working on a character who could use his touch, but I have to admit Morrison's discussion of the sexual content in the Golden Age Wonder Woman comics here and in his prose book Supergods seems odd to me.

Yeah, that stuff is all there if you want to see it, but the comics are also completely innocent if you want to see them that way. I think the original Wonder Woman comics were more like fairytales than self-conscious explorations of sexual politics and prurient content.

It's easy to see how the comics could be interpreted as being filled with weird fetishes decades later from a post-Wertham, post-post-modern, ironic point of view, once you know the details of creator William Moulton Marston's professional and personal ife, but taken at face value, on its own terms, in the context of a kids comic from the early 1940's...? I think it basically just reads like a bunch of craziness, that can be seen as deviant sexuality to adults when pulled out of context...but I personally don't find it anything weirder or sexually- or psychologically-concerned in the Golden Age Wonder Woman comics than what one finds in the first 40 years of Batman comics or Silver Age Superman comics.

I do look forward to reading Morrison's take on the character though, if only to see what he comes up with. I like the idea of writers—especially writers of Morrison's stature in the current industry—deciding to tackle characters he finds challenging or didn't really get or like before making an attempt. The industry needs more of that sort of thing...and I imagine more comics writers' own work would benefit from that kind of workout for their creative and craft muscles, instead of simply staying in their comfort zone and writing their imaginary friends, which so often leads to that fan-fiction feeling emanating from the results (Something that is probably inevitable, to a degree, when a writer happens to be a huge fan of the star of the fiction they are writing).

I hope these comics feature the Justice League fighting/teaming up with various General Mills cereal mascots. Like, Batman catching Sonny the Cocoa Puffss cuckoo and putting him in Arkham Asylum, Felix Faust trying to get Lucky the Leprechaun's lucky charms for a spell and so on.

Do note the 1960s line-up of five white guys and a token white girl (without even the token green "person of color"!), and the classic costumes that people recognize, rather than the new ones which people recognize as ugly.

Ann Nocenti writing Green Arrow sure sounds like good news—I especially liked her description of writing single issues as part of a whole in the linked-to article—but it is unfortunate she's starting on issue Green Arrow #7 instead of having started with September's Green Arrow #1. She's the third announced writer for a series that will, by the time her first issue debuts, be just a little over half a year old. Additionally, it would have been nice if Anne Nocenti were the one involved at the beginning and thus the one who decided the what the new Green Arrow for the 21st century might be like, instead of this new version of the character apparently having been created by committee. (Ditto Marc Bernardin coming on to write the just-relaunched Static Shock book; I'm not familiar with most of his work, but I did really like Monster Attack Network).

WIth Nocenti joining DC, that doubles their number of female creators involved with re-creating the entire DCU and its stable of characters for a new generation of new readers from one (1) to two (2).

Hey, there's going to be a Captain Marvel back-up in Justice League...?

Well, you can't argue with the placement...there's no better place for it than the back of a Justice League comic by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, and it oughta therefore get Cap infront of more readers than anywhere else DC could put the story (I thought it strange that there wasn't a Captain Marvel/Shazam series launched as part of "The New 52," give that character's iconic stature and high recognizability factor, and the fact that he could use some reinvention.

I wonder what Earth it will be set on? If DC is bringing back an old version of the Multiverse, with the JSA on their own parallel world, does that mean the Fawcett characters will go back to their own Earth-S too, or will they stay part of the the "New 52"-iverse in the same way that the Earth-4 Charlton characters and some of the Earth-X Quality characters seem to be doing?

I'm pretty confident in the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank team's abilities. Johns doesn't automatically seem like someone who won't screw up the character, but at his worst, Johns is mediocre, and I'm sure he won't try to reinvent the wheel too drastically a la Judd Winick's rather recent fucking up of the franhise (John's reboot strategy in general seems to be to picking a more-or-less classic or "straight" version of the character, and working his way back to it via streamlining, only with a little more—sometimes too much—bad-ass-itude added. He did pretty well by the character during his JSA run, though, and obviously loves his evil opposite Black Adam.

On the subject of rebooting DC characters, check out this thoughtful piece on Green Lantern John Stewart and how he's changed from his first appearance in the "old" DCU to his first appearance in the new New 52-iverse by Colin Smith.

I always liked pink shirt and green scarf and vest wearing John Stewart better than the retconned Marine sniper John Stewart, but I haven't read the new GL Corps #1.

Marvel is launching a yet another new Avengers series, once again by Brian Michael Bendis, who has launched so many new Avengers series in the past five years that I can't imagine the announcement was met with all that much excitement by fans: New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Dark Avengers, New Avengers again, Avengers...dimishing returns have got to be setting in at this point, to the extent that announcing anyone other than Bendis on an Avengers title will probably sound more fresh and exciting. Even pairing him with his Ultimate Spider-Man co-creator Mark Bagley brings with it a sesne of been-there, seen-that, as they worked on a few Mighty Avengers arcs together already.

I'm curious if Bendis will be leaving Avengers or New Avengers to make room for this title, or if he'll be writing three different Avengers titles at the same time, which seems kind of insane.


JohnF said...

"Batroc Begins"


Brian J said...

Yeah Jin and Jam!

matthew. said...

For me, as a consumer, Bendis has become a convenient shorthand for "avoid at all costs" thanks to his ubiquity and constant self-plagiarism. Not to mention his penchant for writing the same six characters in the same singular voice. Luckily, there is a wealth of fantastic Avengers comics from before Disassembled to read.

tomorrowboy 2.9 said...

The market is considerably smaller now than a few years ago.
The ICV2 numbers for September (the big DC relaunch) has six titles selling over 100,000 copies. In the month of the biggest relaunch in the history of comics.

A few years ago you could have 10-15 titles selling that much in any month.

Aki Alaraatikka said...

Wow. Jack Black in a Muppets-movie.

Yes. Bemdis will be writing 3 different Avengers-titles. I`m sure of it.