Sunday, February 19, 2012


Tom Spurgeon waited almost two weeks for the "DC does more Watchmen!" announcement dust to settle, amusingly refusing to even use the words on his site when linking to various coverage, calling it "DC's new publishing initiative" and suchlike instead, before offering any of his own thoughts on the rather troubling matter, which he finally did with last week's "Twenty-One Not Exactly Original Note on More Watchmen, Written At A Slight Remove".

It's a pretty great piece and, despite giving the rest of the commentariat a good, long head start, he still got to use a great pun at the conclusion, which I don't think anyone else managed to beat him to. Here's a pretty great one-sentence distillation from earlier in the piece: "Ten days or so past the official announcement, I'm thinking More Watchmen may be best understood as a blow to comics' dignity."


I would now like to take a moment to apologize to Sam Henderson, Tom Spurgeon and Doctor Manhattan for the image above.


Talk about weird timing.

Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley recently told Comic Book Resources that they don't really do crossover events, "which is when you make a reader buy four or more different titles in a specific order to get the whole story." David Brothers was a little bewildered by that, and spent a few minutes googling to come up with one billion examples of Marvel doing the same sort of crossover events Buckley said they didn't do (I discussed this in last week's links round-up, when I wondered what Marvel's audience might consider worse: the idea that Buckley was purposely lying to them, or the idea that Buckley was so unfamiliar with Marvel's comics that he honestly didn't realize that Marvel did that very type of crossover on various scales more or less constantly).

This week Marvel announced the "Exiled" crossover event, that will launch in a one-shot and then continue with four more chapters, appearing in alternating issues of Journey Into Mystery and New Mutants. They did so pretty publicly, as part of their "New Big Thing" announcement program.


God, I love Golden Age superheroes...


Last week Brian Hibbs kinda sorta reported on his rather foggy memories of DC's presentation to the ComicsPRO retailer organization, regarding the results of the market research they did in conjunction with their "New 52" initiative.

Wrote Hibbs:
DC is actually going to release the full results of the Nielsen data, generally. Next week or something — they showed us slides, and some of that has been reported anecdotally, but we were assured of a FULL release of ALL data to ALL retailers, not just ComicsPRO.

Which means everyone in the world is going to see it soon.

This is AWESOME on DC’s part; and when it happens, all you internet pundits should try really hard to NOT be assholes about the data points, and, y’know, maybe THANK THEM for sharing something very very expensive, instead of complaining about things you don’t like about it.

Too late! Sorry, DC, and thanks for letting us know that the initiative failed to find new readers in new demographics (even though it totally depressed the hell out of me).

No, seriously, I think that, given the expense and the once-in-a-life-time elements of the relaunch, DC only got one shot at this—it was their hail Mary—and if it wasn't a thunderous, long-term success that brought waves of new readers crashing into the direct market, then it was a failure, despite how successful it looks/is/was in the short term.


A new, heavily-scripted sounding reality show entitled Comic Book Men apparently debuted within the last seven days or so in the plum, right-after-Walking Dead time-slot on AMC. As it was the product of Kevin Smith, a member of the comic book community that tends to evoke strong, mixed emotions and reactions from his fellow comics fans, it was probably always going to be somewhat controversial among comics people—and, by "controversial" I of course mean that those who are still die-hard Kevin Smith fans were going to love it, everyone else was going to hate it and "civilian" audiences were going to look at it with their heads cocked and then move on, as with most of Kevin Smith's works.

Reading The Beat's review, I get the sense that the show was about as interesting as it sounded.

Maybe it would have been better if it followed Mike Sterling around instead of the guy that manages Smith's shop...? I like Sterling's occasional retailing stories, which are usually pretty funny.

Of course, they are occasional. Retail interaction in any place of business is occasionally funny and entertaining...but only occasionally. Otherwise, it's like being at work, right? (So, for example, the scenes in which the clerks in Clerks interacted with their customers were funny, but, whether they were based on real interactions or not, they were heavily concentrated into a film-length narrative—working at a convenience or video store isn't actually all that fun, and watching other people do it is even less so).

I didn't say anything about the series at all when it was announced, as I didn't really care, nor did I say anything about it when the title was announced, which brought about a bit of negative reaction from quarters of the comics blogosphere (due to its girl-less-ness and the fact that it seemed to be reinforcing stereotypes about comics as a boys-only clubhouse.

That was because I honestly don't care all that much about reality shows that don't involve stars dancing, or cable television in general, or Kevin Smith brand extension. But after reading The Beat piece and thinking about what I'd heard in the past, all of the really popular reality shows tend to have attractive girls (and/or boys) in them, don't they?

And by "popular" i mean shows I've heard of...and hear family members and co-workers talk about with some regularity (Jersey Shore, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, The about toddlers, maybe? And isn't there one about cakes or something...?)

The only reality show I watch—well, watched, I don't have a television anymore—was Dancing With the Stars, and that was/is full of attractive ladies (and guys) in fancy dresses (and other outfits).


Well, no need to give The Beat the last word in the discussion of whether or not Comic Book Men is an entertaining television show or not, as ComicsAlliance's Chris Sims has since penned "Kevin Smith's 'Comic Book Men' Is a Compelling Argument Against Comic Book Stores."

Yes, but based on the images of the show I've seen on the Internet, it is a compelling case for beards.


One of the guys in the show, the one with the beard, apparently didn't care for Sims' review, and wrote CA to let them know. You can read his message in its entirety here.

It's pretty awesome, as Bryan Johnson belittles Sims and/or CA for being beneath his notice, in a message he composed and sent to CA after reading Sims' story on it, splits hairs over whether or not he called a girl mentally ill or not (he didn't use the words "mentally ill," he only said she should be scooped up in a butterfly net and hauled off, the way men in white coats treat the mentally ill in old 1940s cartoon shorts, challenges Sims to a fight and asks him to "hook a bother up" with CA's editor in chief, because she has a nice smile.

If Sims and The Beat's reviews weren't enough of an argument to avoid the show, Johnson's missive oughta do it. The very best part is where he says to Sims, "You know how the show SHOULD have been made but shockingly no one approached YOU to make one. Nor did you have the juice to get in a room to pitch one."

Every single story I've read about Comic Book Men since it was first announced, before it even had that title, mentioned its origin thusly: AMC knew Kevin Smith was into comics and makes movies, so they approached him for some sort of comics-related content to follow up based-on-a-comic show Walking Dead. Johnson is friend with Smith and runs the show Smith owns for him. So it's not like Hollywood knocked down Johnson's door and asked him to do a show, or that he had "the juice" to get in "a room" and pitch it either, is it? (Please note: "the juice" and "a room" are Hollywood lingo for...I don't know what. I'm not Hollywood enough to even know).


Abhay's response, in which he notes that Johnson and the elements of his missive makes him seem like, as Abhay says, "everyone in comics...anymore...I feel like I should be wishing him luck on Avengers Vs. X-Men."

I bet Kevin Smith's tweet-stream has more followers than Abhay's Tum-blar has tumblers though, so Johnson's letter is automatically funnier than Abhay's jokes, according to mathematics.


I posted this link back in November, but it seems relevant to revisit, given the reaction to criticism by one of Smith's inner circle this week, so here, again, is Sam Adams' "Kevin Smith's Army: How his loyal fans prop up a stunningly mediocre career" from Slate magazine. In the article, Adams noted that Smith's incredible popularity with single, loyal demographic allows him to media empire-build, with new ventures supported by enough of that group that even his worst failures generally have soft landings. In a way, that's good for Smith as a person. As an artist, it's probably terrible for Smith and his body of work (and, eventually, his legacy), as it makes him so comfortable, he has little to challenge him save his own ambitious and initiative, and he's not the worlds most ambitious writer or director or comedian or...whatever he is now. (Mogul? Celebrity? Brand?)


By the way, Slate didn't like Comic Book Men either. TV critic Troy Patterson writes:
In recent years, because of novelists like Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem, because of the mainstream success of innumerable movies featuring caped crusaders, and because of the excellent work of the heirs of Art Spiegelman, comic-book culture has become respectable. Comic Book Men sometimes proceeds as if its mission is to restore that culture's bad name.
Sure, but how many people listen to Patterson's podcast...?


Wanna read about The Owl? Sure you do. In fact, here's a whole Owl adventure.


So when I first read the headline "Jonathan Hickman and Sam Humphries to Co-Write 'Ultimate Comics Ultimates'", I thought it said "Sam Henderson" instead of "Sam Humphries, and I got really excited, because how cool would Sam Henderson's Avengers be...?


Well, I was surprised to learn tonight that the new Ghost Rider movie opened a few days ago, which just goes to show how plugged in to movies I am these days. I also just found out—or maybe I knew before, and then forgot, only to learn it again as if it was new information—that not only was the film to star Nic Cage again, it was directed by the guys who made Crank and Crank 2, two of the best American action movies I have seen in the last few years.

So this new movie starred Nicolas Cage, was from the people who brought us the Crank movies and was about a stunt motorcycle rider with the superpower to turn into a skeleton on fire—it was pretty much the greatest movie of all time, right?

This piece in The Atlantic (The Atlantic!) lays out why there was/is reason to hope: "There's no promise that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will be a good movie," writes Scott Meslow, "but if it's bad, it will almost certainly be bad in a more interesting way than its by-the-numbers predecessor."

I haven't seen it, but early reviews seem to indicate that it is bad after all, and not necessarily in very interesting ways. The source of film criticism I trust and consult the most these days is The Onion's AV Club, and there film critic Nathan Rabin notes that "The 2011 sequel is even more promising in the abstract...Yet instead of elevating the franchise, Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance ends up squandering even more potential."

And I didn't even read past the headline of this review, but man, look at that headline.


Try to wrap your head around this fact: Not only did they make a Ghost Rider movie before they made a Wonder Woman movie, they made two Ghost Rider movies before they made a Wonder Woman movie.


Anonymous said...

That Comment is confusing...

I was a die hard DC fan. I stopped picking up 90% of what I was picking up before the reboot and only picked up a handful of the new ones. Most of what is coming out now from DC fails to catch my eye. My buddy dropped everything. From that perspective, this thing is fail. Of course we are only two guys.

KentL said...

Try to wrap your head around this fact: Not only did they make a Ghost Rider movie before they made a Wonder Woman movie, they made two Ghost Rider movies before they made a Wonder Woman movie.

How about wrapping your head around the fact that they made THREE Blade movies before the Superman and Batman relaunches. DC is so behind the curve in the movie department it's more sad than funny. I still haven't watched GL, because I've heard it was pretty bad.

Aki Alaraatikka said...

What a great Owl-comic.