Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comic Books - A Public Service Announcement

I have a sneaking suspicion that I am buying too many comics every month. I doubt this is an uncommon circumstance; as a matter of fact, I think the opposite. Anybody who has a pull service set up at a shop probably buys a lot of stuff out of habit as opposed to interest. Also, I think we tend to operate under the belief that things could get better any day now and we don’t want to miss it if (no, WHEN, dammit!) they do. As a wrestling fan I have been utilizing this system for almost ten years now, so believe me; I know what I’m talking about.
Therefore, as a public service I am going to lay bare my monthly pull list and cull the chaff. Or something. Hopefully, this will inspire some of you that share my hobby to take a look at your own lists and drop sub-par habit titles, try new stuff or maybe just save a few bucks every week. Lord knows with books coming in at three to four bucks a pop these days we could all stand to trim a little fat.


X-Factor – This one is the top of the stack every week, or at least near it. As long as Peter David is helming X-Factor, it stays. VERDICT - Keeper
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – This one is dangerously close to getting dropped. I will finally admit here, for the very first time, that I haven’t been thrilled with this book from the start. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of good writing, but I’ve never been a big fan of the whole Slayer Army concept. I also think they should have restrained themselves to a “issue per episode” format, by which I mean Season 8 should have had a planned ending for issue 22 and season 9 should have started with issue 23. They could have even broken it up and done some one-shots and then proceeded with ninth-season stories. As it is, I feel the Buffy comic has meandered badly. With the big reveal of who Season 8 Big Bad Twilight really is coming up (actually, I just read the issue. I'm not sold, but I'm intrigued.), I’m hoping they just kill off any Slayers not named Buffy or Faith and streamline the fuck out of things. If not, I’m out. VERDICT – On the fence


Hack/Slash – I love the concept of this comic more than anything else out there: hot frequently less-than-fully-clothed punker chick Cassie Hack fights analogs of Freddy, Jason and every other “Movie Maniac” you can think of. What could possibly go wrong? 1) The art is horribly unreliable. It ranges anywhere from very solid near-realism (think Batman) to poorly done cartoon (think white eight-year-olds trying to draw like Japanese people). 2) The stories are horribly unreliable. You might get a well-thought-out storyline that goes along with the over-arching continuity of the title or you might get a complete throwaway episode so poorly written you wish you hadn’t wasted your dollars and that, furthermore, you could have skipped and not even known it. I know most comics are like this to some extent, but some of the bad stories are really bad. 3) They have been promoting a movie adaptation for years with no apparent progress. I know this shouldn’t affect my enjoyment of the book, but it does hurt the product a little when it seems obvious that somebody, somewhere has lost faith in it. I hate to say it, but I really need to stop getting this one. VERDICT – Dropped it

*FOLLOW UP – After I wrote this, I read this. Maybe I'll start picking this one up again after everything settles out. I feel a little bad for abandoning it now, but I just couldn't keep going with such unevenness.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man –Despite the fact that Ultimate Spidey is always near the top of the stack, this one is nearing droppage. I really, really hate the new art. Bagley’s style was a little cartoony, but it was so competent and detailed that you couldn’t help but love it. His successor, Stuart Immonen, was even more cartoony; but not so much that the tone of the book felt changed. The newest artist (whose name I can’t remember right now - Takeshi something, an actual Japanese guy) is just going too far. It is straight-up Manga as far as I am concerned. I feel like I should be a fifteen-year-old girl every time I read it. Bendis’ writing has not degenerated in the least, but I just can’t fucking stand looking at this girlie new style of art. VERDICT – Dammit. I want to drop it, but just can’t bring myself to do it. I really can’t fucking stand this gay art. And to be clear, the above image is Immonen, so you can see how tolerant I can be towards cartoony...
Ultimate Comics Avengers – I don't know if there's more coming of this or not, but I think I'm dropping all of the Ultimate stuff except Spidey. It's just too much of a fucking mess. I don't mind the Red Skull arc, but where does the Ultimate Comics The Ultimates (yeah, I know) fit in with this one? I find that I don't care. Also, I'm starting to think Mark Millar is kind of an idiot, which shouldn't effect my enjoyment of his writing, but does. With this new Heroic Age coming up in the standard Marvel U, maybe I can just start fresh with some titles I lost track of years ago due to Crossover Burnout. VERDICT – Dropped it
Star Wars: Dark Times – Dark Times – like almost every Dark Horse comic I have ever read – is a fantastic, high-quality comic. I couldn’t explain to you why I don’t have every Dark Horse Star Wars comic ever produced. Oh, wait. Crimson Empire – there you go. I thought that one pretty much sucked, and it turned me off of DH Star Wars for a while. VERDICT – Keeper


Batman & Robin – Grant Morrison’s current Bat-title is on fire right now.

This book is so fucking good that I don’t want Bruce Wayne to come back and be Batman. That’s right. I said it. Dick and Damian are more entertaining than Bruce has been in ages. I’m actually hoping Bruce is going to come back as a White Lantern or something so he doesn’t fuck up our little party. VERDICT - Keeper
Streets of Gotham – Another super-awesome Bat-title. You get a main story about some minor aspect of Gotham crime – such as the real-estate broker who finds wacky hideouts for the various vile villains – and a backup story featuring Gotham’s new District Attorney. The backup story doesn’t sound all that exciting unless you know that the D.A.’s favorite pastime is decking herself out in spandex and beating the fuck out of criminals as her alter-ego, Manhunter. And she hangs out with Huntress. VERDICT - Keeper
Detective Comics – Probably the biggest surprise of 2009. I had no interest in the new lesbian Batwoman. I had (mistakenly) written her off as a gimmick destined to a grisly fate once the fad wore off. Thankfully, the crew over at ComicsAlliance.com set me straight (for lack of a better word) and I picked up an issue. To quote an Idiot: It blew my fucking mind. Greg Rucka’s story is well-written and meaningful, drawing you into this relatively new character in a way few narratives can or have. The art is some of the very best I have ever seen. J.H. Williams III’s art is nothing short of phenomenal. I honestly can’t see how this guy produces this stuff on a monthly basis, and it scares me to think he might not. If he continues this amazing output and –God forbid – goes on to other titles, Mr. Williams III will be right up there with Brereton and Jae Lee as one of my favorites. You also get a backup story in each issue featuring the new Question, Renee Montoya. These are very good, but I’ve gushed too much about the Batwoman stuff now to do the backups justice. (Note: I do believe Batwoman is getting her own self-titled book soon. I will follow as long as the creative team stays the same.) VERDICT – Keeper, unless I’m right about Batwoman. Then DC is going to have to do something pretty damned exciting to keep me buying this book.
Green Lantern – I’m separating this from the Blackest Night stuff because I have now read the entire Geoff Johns run since Rebirth and know that I will continue to buy as long as he is on it. Great title, and that is coming from somebody who is not usually into cosmic stuff at all. VERDICT - Keeper

Green Lantern Corps – I didn’t read this one from the start, but I have read further back than the start of Blackest Night. I’ve grown to really enjoy all of the other Green Lanterns to the point that I was pretty pissed when Sodam Yat died (or whatever). I was all like, “Dammit! I was really starting to like that guy!” and the comic was all like, “Too bad for you, fool!” I like the Corps, but I can’t promise I’ll keep getting it after Brightest Day is over. VERDICT – Wait and see
All the Blackest Night titles – I haven’t gotten so sucked into a crossover event since… ever. Even when I was the X-titles dirty little boy-whore in the early nineties (Don’t look at me like that. You know you were, too.) there were titles that I skipped in the seemingly monthly crossovers. Now, nearly twenty years later, I have bought every single stupid fucking book with Blackest Night on it. And you know what? The only ones I really feel like I could have skipped were the Doom Patrol issues. But then I wouldn’t have gotten the nifty power ring (Collect All Seven!) that probably cost DC half a nickel to make. Everything else has been at the least interesting and at best super-fucking-awesome. Even R.E.B.E.L.S. was pretty cool. Plus, you know, plastic rings. VERDICT – Probably hooked through Brightest Day at least
Flash: Rebirth – I don’t think I knew enough about the Scarlet Speedster to fully enjoy this one. I’m sticking around for the regular series, though, because my wife – the most jaded comics person you will ever meet – still like Flash’s Rogues the best. VERDICT – Wait and see
Oz titles – I love Skottie Young’s artwork. The wife and I both read these. VERDICT - Keeper
The Walking Dead – A very solid, very good, very consistent title that I rarely get excited about. I’m invested until it ends, Walking Dead just doesn’t have the same sizzle for me as a good superhero book. I am super-stoked about the AMC adaptation. VERDICT - Keeper
All the IDW GI Joe titles – I am surprisingly on the fence about these. I’m still a little irritated that IDW started a whole new continuity. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to follow DDP’s convoluted mess, either; but they could have picked up after the Marvel series or even just stuck with movie continuity. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t hated anything they’ve done. As a matter of fact, I think the Cobra Crimson Twins one-shot was the best single comic that came out last year; but it could have easily fit in with existing stories. The pace needs to pick up soon, though. And I am really excited about Operation: HISS. Also, I’d just like to mention Tom Feister’s awesome covers for the Origins series. They are easily my favorite covers from last year. VERDICT – They need to get it in gear. I’m not waiting forever to see some major land-battles.

Deadpool – I didn’t want to get caught up in the latest fad, but he’s just so fucking stupid. The Deadpool books serve as a nice palate-cleanser between The Walking Dead and the Joe books. VERDICT – As long as it still makes me laugh out loud



Deadpool Team-Up – The goofiest title I read. I don’t know what the deal is with the backwards numbering, but I hope they make it to #1 and it is a team-up with Howard the Duck. VERDICT – See above

New Mutants – This one is interesting in the same way that X-Factor is interesting. New Mutants is more an exploration of the characters and the team dynamic than a superhero book. Also, the last couple of issues have actually accomplished the remarkable feat of making Cyclops seem intriguing. He must be a clone or something. VERDICT – Sticking around for now

Stephen King’s Dark Tower – I want so badly to hear all of the stories being told here, but I want so badly for them to be more exciting than this. If you had told me a year ago that Peter David and Jae Lee would be involved with something that I would fall asleep while reading (no lie! This actually happened!) I would have punched you in the face and called you a dirty liar. VERDICT - I’m giving it one more arc to improve

Batgirl – I want to say something cute like, “Batgirl is DC’s answer to Spider-Man!”, so I will. Because it is pretty much true. I’ve always had kind of a soft spot for Stephanie Brown and was pretty pissed by how nonchalantly they killed her off (Black Mask? Really?), so I was pretty happy when I found out they’d brought her back. I still don’t quite get the specifics of it, but it doesn’t matter because her comic is fun and awesome. VERDICT – Keeper

Super Hero Squad– I buy the monthly adventures of the Squaddies just so Lil’ Troublemaker will have his own comic to look forward to. Plus, I’m hoping he might start using the potty more if we keep something in there he likes to read. VERDICT - Keeper

So, in closing, I am a giant pussy. After all of that I have only two definitive drops, since I think the Ultimate stuff is limited anyway. With twenty-two separate listings and at least thirty individual titles you’d think I would have done a little better. I guess that just proves my opening point, that we are creatures of habit who perpetually fear missing out on the “Next Big Thing”. Oh, well. I’ll keep you guys updated as long as you keep coming back!

Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

1 comment:

  1. Reading this I realized I dont even remember what my whole list is so I am going to try and remember:
    New Avengers
    Dark Avengers
    Avengers Initiative
    Thor
    Captain America
    Astonishing Xmen
    Walking Dead
    The Boys
    Batman And Robin
    Booster Gold
    JLA
    Green Lantern
    GLC
    Batgirl
    Batwoman
    All of Blackest Night
    All of Siege
    Nemisis
    Tiny Titans-in trade for Ian
    Superhero Squad-digests for Ian

    Wow its a lot more than I thought when you look at it. I need to drop JLA and Xmen, neither are very good. I recently dropped JSA. I dropped legacy at about 25 but kind of wished I had not.

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