Author Archives: robpatey
A college student looking for thesis quotes recently tapped into my comic knowledge and over opinionated word salad with these comic book conundrums:
- Do you believe the current influx of comic movies or superhero genre films is a fad or something that will continue for the unseeable future. If you think it will continue, do you believe the films continue to adapt over time, fitting the culture and evolving?
- Why do you think comic properties are suddenly becoming so popular and profitable?
Great Questions Little Fella,
The superhero has already become passé as we see from the struggle in the big two comic companies to support ongoing continuity of story and character. The Bible never reached issue 900, because as we saw from modern day Jesus, Superman, when a comic becomes that long in tooth the character must change. For the uninformed, Action comics 900 was bemoaned because Superman essentially said America could no longer be his chief interest when the world is so connected.
While logical, this does break the very foundation of a character who was inspired to give us hope in the face of a great oppressor. In a world where terror reigns supreme, and our greatest fears are the unexpected, a mind reader serves as amore soothing balm than some man in his underwear willy-nilly scouting the skies for danger.
Even the Marvel characters, the baby-boomer contribution to Americana’s new titans, are feeling the buckle of age with their first reboot of time (after many undeclared ones over the years). What was once the hip and cool comic choice with; super-keen Spider-Man, groovy X-men and happening Hell’s Kitchen characters, and awesome Avengers are no longer needed when Nerds are now cool, different is now the norm and the powerful are the object of envy as opposed to inspiration.
Superheroes are like zombies, vampires and every other blip on the radar of our existence, a coping mechanism. The cape arose as religion waned throughout the 20th century, to supplant our saviors and inspire the now watered-down term, “hope.”
These super legends will wane, because if you transform too much, the metamorphosis births them anew regardless of branding.
As for delivery to the masses and a superhero summer movie schedule in the foreseeable future, what do you consider that time period to be? The marvel machine is scheduled into the 2020’s. When the X-Wing flies into a portal and crashes eon Graymalkin lane. hell they could go into the 2030’s. Then Warner Brothers needs to do their half-hearted competitive attempt at thwarting that revenue stream. They will throw at least a trilogy into the fray and given their slow dev times, those movies will chug past the teen years of this new millennium.
On question two, Superhero movies have taken over the cinema, simply because of technology. For years I have tried to make others see a comic book come alive as I did when I was four and bought my first Richie Rich. Panels, words, images flow seamlessly and scream alive in the minds of comic readers; those of us who also read books and see the world come alive.
As a being who lives in imagination more than Jackie Paper’s friend Puff; words, images and movies are all the same experience for me. My mind is so jacked, I literally have a movie screen playing all day in my head. Some, actually many people, can not take the same figurative leaps of imbuing life into story. For the spoon-fed of this world, the stories we have read for years needed computer graphics for the telling. Look at early CG, like the 90s Fantastic Four movies, and tell me if it was at all believable (even in the context of the time). Then look at the Fox attempt a decade later, with better graphics and you tell me which is more immersive and plausible.
Fantasy is a hard aesthetic distance for many to cross, they keep it at arm’s length because it can never be. For those individuals, superhero movies are new and finally of interest. They are a crutch into a genre that would have been impenetrable when the stories were first coming alive on the page.
I love the smartphone. I am a writer, so that means I am also a voyeur who dissects the language of the human condition by almost creepy levels of staring. And then being a judgmental prick. The smartphone has gotten me 200% less yelled at and threatened as long as I observe with eyes slightly down.
My wife has been voraciously sick with Mexiflu acquired on our recent vacation to the Swiss alps. Just kidding…we went to Mexico. Anyway, to find good variety for dinner and to satiate the cravings of the sick, I am stuck waiting for take out at a tex mex happy hour.
HOW THE HELL IS THIS OVAL TROUGH OF DESPERATION AND REGRET HAPPY?
But beyond that, it’s desperation leaning upon liquored-up desperation. Two negatives ALWAYS equal a positive kids…no…not with people. That’s a formula for simply a hot mess.
Desperate Hour’s Most Dangerous Predator! Charlie Air Hustle
My target for dissection and further scrutiny in some piece later, is Charlie Air Hustle. This Air Jordan wearing Lathario of a personality as silky as his breathable shorts, is honed in on two YaYa sisters looking for their Stella. But they are white ladies and not that attractive or interesting – so Stella without the sex, and more money laundering.
I’ve seen Charlie’s action before. He is a fascinating creature of side buzzed cut hair delicately placed wispy upon his lip.
First move is most fascinating. Facts that aren’t facts, like Michael J Fox filming all of MASK before anyone realized he was too short to work with Cher. Wait. He wasn’t even that clever. He said some shit about stereo equipment and smoky the fact he was a man and could speak was all that was necessary for these lonely vessels of recent divorce.
Next move – pics. Being tall as fuck, I could see. Now I can’t unsee this tool with whip cream in his naval trailing off out of frame.
My food arrives, like a smarmy clockwork Air Hustle enters into his C zone (closing, get your head out of the gutter). He slides away the scumbag sundae pics to begin hostage negotiations. If these ladies can invest in his…whatever the hell…I couldn’t follow and clearly I was the only one trying. It was something like Amway, but with more layers. One lady took out a check book, one passed…I know who I think the winner is, but I don’t want to judge. Well, I will judge eventually, but not today.
Ladies, we men are simple. Charm. Intelligence. Attractiveness. Big big motivators for us. If you ever think that this guy is too good looking for the level of interest he’s giving, and the little you two have in common, trust your gut. If you want to pay for love and attention, cool, but just skip the theatrics and start with a price.
Writers: Dan Jurgens & Tom King
Artist: Ethan VanSciver
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News)
Thank you DC. I show my appreciation to creative teams constantly for melting the cockles of my heart, but I can’t think of any time I was truly moved by the simple inception of a series from a publisher. For the impatient the plot is thankfully simple, Superman of Earth prime is in the hands of Brainiac. Brainiac is an urban kleptomaniac. He’s also more addicted to puzzles than mental wards, and what a grand puzzle Superman’s infinite deaths and infinite triumphs across time and quantum strings would be to unlock for a creature always seeing the most logical patterns as its purpose.
Like the New Gods and Apokolips are constructs capable of navigating the cytoplasmic bleed between universes (see GODHEAD in GREEN LANTERN), Brainiac plays the same tricks, but ups the ante against their Godly travel beams and hover chairs to add time into his malicious of city abduction: “What’s the plan Brain?” “Not to just capture cities in a bottle, but to capture the zenith of all cities in all universes in…all…time…periods to examine what makes the idea of Superman so unyieldingly pervasive he is always spared the final fate before being born anew.
“Sounds Meta Optimous, didn’t you bitch slap ULTRA comics and every other issue of MULTIVERSITY for such 4th wall faux pas?’ Indeed, and CONVERGENCE made me realize that my disdain for the Morrison Meta versus Jurgens doesn’t stem from too far of an aesthetic distance, but frankly one that is too close. I love story. I know real life never seems to allow the story world in. From mermaids to UFOs, most of the mystical in this world stems from myopia and booze. The meta here is not breaking my 4th wall that I know can’t be, it’s breaking the 4th wall for my favorite characters. Which makes sense since SUPERMAN not Rob Patey can and has done everything. It’s a story about deconstruction, not a fucking pamphlet chiding me for seeing through the complete fucking deconstruction of heroics and then getting pissed at me for complaining the rebuild looks like the same shit from before. CONVERGENCE is apologizing in a sense for the New 52 forgetting to change for the sake of comics, instead of in fear response to Marvel studios.
MULTIVERSITY is ambitious, especially for one man. The scope of CONVERGENCE with 3D universe movement and 4D time travel would be career suicide for only writer. And I’m not talking the whole series; I mean Jurgens was wise to get King at his side for the extra pages sans any ads in just this issue.
So that’s it, in glorious and intimately character rich, but also epic in scope storytelling. A compendium in the back shows where Brainiac the mainframe has been telling his green screen dummy terminal clients of cunning to swipe cities from, but most of us have seen the checklists already to suss out the timeframes of occupying the new universe of Pax Brainiac.
Now let’s get meta ourselves for a second to see what could be next.It says the worlds are in a contest to see which survive, I buy it for the 3 as yet unannounced titles adding to the already announced Fanciful 49. I’ll take it, and honestly no longer complain about a chunk of the shelf being prostituted to new media and parent company interest. The fight is futile, and as much as I want a DC Universe brimming with a ton of Elseworlds, I will satisfy myself with restitution over a satisfying end to my comic youth. It’s infinitely healthier than petulantly pining because my desire can not bend the will of billion dollar companies. It’s in part also really really delusional.
Part of my peace is from seeing Jurgens, THE writer of my youth, a man who could so subtly weave together wisps of continuity from tale-to-tale to reward the OCD, but never deliver references so obtuse that new readers would get a real nosebleed from the metaphorical cross-sell. This unique talent of Dan’s has been wasted in the New 52 until now. You don’t give a man who used to Check Mate great stories on a three tier Star Trek chess board one flat fucking checkerboard from CVS. And if you do erroneously put Dan on just one book, you make sure it is an exploration of every quintessential moment in DC history like CONVERGENCE.
CONVERGENCE is also the first book in ages truly for comic fans with cosmic consequence. We need stories ripping apart and past the linear. Comic reader imagination is more acute than the average bear who only sees comic movies. This curse to bend the boundaries of danger, has put us to a point where the stories of city, state and even nation are simply too myopic in scope to really affect us. We have seen our own cities under fire at this point, which means comics, to meet their thrill schill of brand, frankly need to raze fucking everything from the God particle flashing until the final Kelvin of entropy hits zero across all stars.
Before I bid adieu, I must take a moment of art awe. Beauty bleeds off every page from the grandiose all knowing Brainiac mainframe belittling a much oddly older looking Superman Prime (how do I know earth designate for taunt Superman, high collar and doll part articulation points is how I know), to the moments of sincere reaching out Superman delivers to an ever changing by comic epoch Vril Dox. Another part of the Van Sciver allure for me is that I believe he’s the hardest working man drawing comics right now. Anyone who professes a desire to paint comic pictures for a living needs to hit a con and witness the exhaustive pace VS performs at to be granted A-list titles. It takes more than talent folks to turn a job into a career, dependability and desire can sometimes help balance a less deft hand’s chances. I have stood afar more than once over the years on show floors watching Ethan multitask like a 12 year old who lost their Adderall, graciously greet an fan who walks up to the table and never relent from producing new pages or commissions. I stand at a distance because I swear a lot and his kids are usually with him. I’m not a stalker, just a guy who marvels at that which he can’t do and will never ever taint kids if I can help it. The magic of youth, like the magic of comics seems to fade with each passing year as commercialization makes cynicism a core attribute.
I care about Jurgens (though he is ironically one of the last comic writers I have yet to personally kibitz with), I care about VS, I care about DC and I God dam right care about comics breaking the boundaries of convention as much as opening day blockbuster projections. CONVERGENCE is the first series in so long who also seems to give a shit about me. Thank you again Dan, truly.
The news isn’t all bad today, it’s merely all pervasive.
We choose to imbibe the streams of tragedy with each page we like, share or follow.
This world has always sucked we simply have more cameras to cover it, and more people we are willing to pay to dispense it.
It is our leisure time That remains the enemy of our true happiness above all else. An exponential monster of pleasure and pain that devours as it satiates our hunger for more of nothing.
Dating apps can be as dirty as the real tricks of dating, but they tell us more about people than a silly Sharepoint portal. How can dating app info be leveraged for awesome IT efficiency? Dr. Sleuth EastHammer has the answer…ish.
BATGIRL ENDGAME is like the lighter side backstory to DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Well to me at least. As Babs silently (nary a talky bubble in this issue, nor or are they needed), moves her way through the Joker Virus infected Gotham, to herd her Grinners as Rick Grimes does Walkers, my mind couldn’t let go of a Mutant overrun Gotham from my youth that was protected and cherished by another young woman also of indomitable spirit, Carrie Kelly.
The lack of words in this issue leaves this artistic troglodyte at a loss for a lengthy review. The plot, as with most comics, is straightforward. Joker virus extras bleeding off of Snyder and Cappulo’s soundstage in BATMAN are making their way off the little island that Satan built towards the wilds of Kane County and beyond. Thankfully, Babs is ready to use her New 52 giddy-up sticks to make the bridge go boom before Joker and Amazo viruses collide (drops the continuity mike)
Where you get your per minute entertainment value in ENDGAME (outside of giving a deep naval gaze into the penultimate pages of Snyder’s ending omnibus Batrun) is basking in Bengal’s ability to articulate grander and granular in a deft dance between panels. Also, as I mentioned earlier, fangeezers can see what Miller’s work would have looked like with clean lines.
I don’t know which of the three family bridges blew up (as identified in GATES OF GOTHAM) and I don’t care. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the other side glance offerings yet to come in ENDGAME. I don’t care about any of the things we usually bitch about, because I am already so blinded by the incoming flares of CONVERGENCE’S continuity supernova that I am eminently satisfied with solitary sub-universe seamless…hmmm…lets say geling.
Batman, Superman, Justice League, Dark, Young and Didio: The myriad of nation states that make up the DC super power have kept tight storytelling even if they were always slightly one step ahead of their respective partners over the past three year dance. Number ones appeared and appeared again, but they were merely accounting exercises more than story catalysts. Except for Batgirl.
Babs’ recent reset to a Twitter tastic younger teen is honestly a bit more offensive than her truncating of Wheelchair time after the New 52 accordion scrunch. We didn’t het a number one, nor an explanation on Babs’ sudden selfie obsession when her Dad is thelittle spoon with Bane in the bowls of Blackgate. Change is good, but change is hard. I was fine walking away with this title with Ms. Simone, but I feel deeply for those Batgirl zealots who may have thought they were picking up the next issue of the media devolved Just from MULTIVERSITY. New art and new tone, should have been anointed a new number one without question and at least a drop of Omega Beam to explain why she started to age like Benjamin Button. Change, but for God’s sake DC, show us how you came to the conclusion. You did it a bit in this issue, Batgirl finally used Twitter for a purpose to communicate with a school bus full of kids. She used social media to not only contain a plague, but also be a hero in the purest sense of the word.
Barbara Gordon is more than a gimmick. She earned her elevation beyond the pastiche light purple pastel that birthed her a generation ago. Smarts, sass, moxy and courage made her a hero, the events of the KILLING JOKE then made her an icon. She birthed the information age back when it took a knowledge of computers to use computers. She has never quit…and neither have her creators.
Time to back off Fangeezers, there’s great shit going on here and if you don’t like it, I really really believe your daughters will. I recently defended Albuquerque on Twitter for his decision to pull his BATGIRL 41 “KILLING JOKE” homage cover. I could care less about good taste, I simply hate bad business. BATGIRL is no longer ours, and that creepy creepy moment that fell Barbara and led to years of triumphant climbing back are also gone. New 52 time, Barbara’s back was better after 3 months in the cave. The brunt of recovery was for the 3 weeks when Harold the hunchback moved in. Ohhhh those good ole’ weeks. See what I mean, new Joker getting weird with new Babs…it’s just weird. Buy a print oldie fans, I know I’ll try. And buy BATGIRL ENDGAME. Enjoy the craftsmanship and then pay it forward so these kids are writing for us as we prepare to die in our moon retirement homes.
For fast feasters who want the slugline before their lunchtime grab and quick gab store run, this quips for you:
“While the loss of Shane Davis for the more “grounded” (ZING) Syaf pencil of realism over hyper realism, it’s an exact match of tonality for the plot of Straczynski’s third foray into the hardbound full-arc world of Earth One.
About a year after the close of Volume 2 (comic time), Clark is still;
- Career setting with the shit hours and anemic salary of a cub reporte
- Juggling the jealousy of the twenty-something love triangle with Lois and himself in underarmor
- Desperately seeking to dull his Kryptonian awesome so humanity isn’t a foreign species…
- The object of affliction for Team Luthor (now man and wife instead of traditional bro and sis). These were the good villains this time, the ones driving sense, reason and pragmatic world mechanics I need to make the entire landscape worth of abandoning my aesthetic distance. Their love is hawt, their genius total science-fiction bullshit plausible (only Neil Tyson would get assed up) and motivation for going after Supes appropriately new age sociopath induced. Shame we end the book with only one left alive. Pretty baller though it was the one I wanted for fun in Volume 4. After all the female of the species is more deadly than the male. Said Rudyard Kipling, lead singer of the one hit wonder group “Space.” (little lesson how the class of 2030 will actually search engine cull answers with that joke).
New threats come with:
- Zod. Not a fan here. I will admit I am suffering from Wilfred Brimley levels of home delivery insulin for Zodabetes thanks to all the damn resets over the past decade. He’s bad, he always will be bad, for fucks’ sake why Zod why are you a boomerang. Outside of Terrence Stamp chewing the scenery in pleather parachute pants I have always been tepid to the oneness of him. JMS sweetens the well to deliver my #2 favorite rendition of this 2-D staple by making him an active participant in the E1 deliberate destruction of Krypton versus the standard natural disaster. Zod was in bed with Tyrel. Joe wrapped it in pretty prose, but given my girlish squeals towards other Zod can basically go fuck himself, glad he’s gone too.
- World government cabal. Good call on taking a tip from New 52 Earth 2 on the inception of this pragmatic approach to governance with a populace that can cross borders literally by jumping. From the bible to Star Trek global unity will present itself when there is a sentient species different from us beyond skin color or proclivity towards hummus, weed, absinthe, communion wine or abstinence. A species gots to hate and Superman is a realistic target. Their use of the Luthors to devise a Superman stopper used the confrontation from volume one in well played comic continuity fashion (also Joe threw in some suggestive swinger ideas that were lady lady guy hawt). Only their acceptance of Zod when he offers a team-up made me lose respect. I really think he was an editorial force with the way the IQ points plummeted at the blind acceptance of an offer to side with a devil you don’t know versus a clearly powerful but innocent fresh doe. Yeah, Supes trashed Metropolis in Vol 1, but he was also grabbing kittens from trees and other good deeds soon after.
- I like Lisa, I really do. Awesome Clark found the Pretty Woman who is more attractive and less grating than Julia Roberts in ever way. I can live with the slow burn Lois build. I totally dig Rumspringa, ask my parents about me taking the 90s to ‘matriculate” college. I…swear I am not a prude. I am also not a complete romantic like Clark and I have had my heart properly weathered by the sharper sex. He and Lisa cross past the friend zone, a task made much easier when Lisa discovers Clark’s work clothes. Sorry, I just can’t imagine a world where I could sit there and hear my significant other blowing a guy for rent and not feel inadequate over I may not be tipping as much as he does.
Notice my ordering there? My narcissism always puts random orders in the control of what resonates and affects me most. I played slapsies above and bitch “slapsies” with my actual review of “grounded” in SUPERMAN, but faults with that series were editorial and timing – not execution. Editorial knew the end was nigh so “rock out with your cock out” trumped a planned out schedule. SUPERMAN EARTH ONE has all of those great elements of Clark exploring his feelings for Lois without the editorial dive bombs of, “Hey Joe, can you have Supes skip over to Max Lord’s secret lair pick up Ted Cord’s brain and then do a vertical lift up to the Tower for a very special bedtime story about how Sue Dibney was whacked because Dr. Light perpetrated a crime of unspeakable assault on the soul.” All my words, not Joe’s in any interviews we’ve done.
I meander because I know JMS cares about this craft, and really any fan of Superman has all they need with the concept of EARTH ONE: A-Listers running free. Quality is assured and if you have a modicum of fandom for the creators, the characters and/or faithful and clever refreshing of nostalgia any EARTH ONE title is a no brainer on a solitary read level. Light commitment so that the friend or co-worker who always goes, “wellll, I loved comics, but there’s so many, I don’t know where to start, my co-worker sits next to me and mumbles all day about mobile security and how his email box keeps flooding with poorly formatted emails every Tuesday at 4PM heralding marginal comic news for the next day…” Fine, parts of that are the poor data dude who sits near me, but any casual naysaying on commitment or confusion of continuity can be bludgeoned with EARTH ONES’ thick binding. SUPERMAN like BATMAN and TEEN TITANS also pays no lip service to its universal counterparts, so grab a Bat, Cape or Titan and don’t worry about missing any vital beats cause or cross sell performance objectives to feed larger KPIs.
Now let’s talk about EARTH ONE and CONVERGENCE
If you didn’t read MULTIVERSITY GUIDE BOOK go now. Convergence I believe will bring forth a world of 52 comics wherein the New 52 merely exists as the larger whole. EARTH ONE for the correlation challenged will be another sliver. Insert etc here for likewise on Capt. Carrot, tiny robot corpse toons, Batman Beyond and the Nazis triumphant universes.
We have all been led to believe a “sort of” lie in that the New 52’s mentally handicapped heroes were supposed to be granted the closest parking spot as main continuity because they are what being reborn a hero is all about. I can now appreciate its existence as the guidebook describes it for heroes in their prime, but not beyond the definition of puberty. Sorry, but there are no fine lines between inexperience and incompetence. Awakening does not absolve being an asshole. Danger from within is sometimes more palpable than from galactic Giants. Also, get your upsells to trades, cartoons, movies and paying the salaries for unimaginative minds in WB Frog Tux’s to gobble market demographic reporting out of my comic universe damn it.
I’ve known these “truths” for awhile now because I read a
Fuckton of comics and I work in marketing (The devil’s second favorite profession behind my second career choice of lawyer). Your lexicons to this revelation have been laid before you. There has been a multi demographic play at multiple wallets since Batman Beyond told kids to come back, we have a world where BATMAN’s back got better and Superman is not in an extended coma. Yay, some more revenue until Superman wakes up and the rest of the world thinks we don’t know the definition of dead…kind of like a child…kind of like rest of 90s world sees comic books.
I don’t hate the New 52, but it is an arid play at introducing super-heroics when held against the weightiness afforded Earth One titles because of instant arc gratification and being able to deliver whenever your artistic big guns damn well say it has reached perfection (and puny editors actually can cower in fear without loss of share holder value). SUPERMAN, BATMAN and TEEN TITANS are all true awakenings and we can grow with them in real time as I once did with Kevin Arnold on the Wonder Years. Earth One can pace slow burn because it is not the testing ground for the best selling monthly<Trade<Cartoon<TV Show<Movie Fodder formula or da cheddar as douche bags would call the ultimate goal of money. Ultron went from comic to movie fast, go look at sales charts of comics than my fellow fools of non-paid focus grouping to see why so much expedience up the revenue chain. Good businessmen, even businessmice always double down.
Finally, with CONVERGENCE and now Marvel awakening to the continuity conundrum of forever people, we are blatantly being told instead of absolute certainty of pivotal numbered issue consequence, “just go pick a fucking continuity and we’ll fill it with titles based on eeny-meenie-miney-mo of gun shy retail preview picks based on zero information unless you buy into a value-add marketing program with the distributor (I’ll write a separate post on that cardboard news-stand revenue tie to premium order placement and ultimate sales, let me know if you want to hear it).
Well, maybe Marvel will be safe since this is their first time letting the universe asshole completely prolapse before trying to shove it back in. The first repack is usually factory seal fresh like CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. It gets loser with each repack though and slips out more quickly and more often when abused. See how quickly we needed to have a CONVERGENCE tuck after the FLASHPOINT PROLAPSE. In
20 years Marvel too will just tell you to go read this new Earth 617 where X-Men now wheel chair race at the Xavier 55+ Community for Broke Ass Mutants.
Sorry for the rambling, but please see we are not only seeing story shifts we are seeing a dynamic sales shift affecting stories. The EARTH ONE in description in the guidebook is some nebulas shit about a newly forming earth that will cool with heroes who are new. In my mind this means they are amoebas waiting to become a multicellular organism…excuse me…a SUPER multicellular organism…or it’s a world every time Superman evolves Vandal Savage has already evolved and merely urinates in the life pool and keeps it all FOREVS EVIL by issue after issue of drinking and then eviling with his golden weapon of PH level off-setting.
See folks, when I can write that sort of off putting mental imagery about a story vehicle I adore at 3:00 AM in the morning when I have a 7:00 AM with APAC and I am still ready to hit the story in a zombie caffeinated fugue state, we and the companies have taken the demand for universal cross continuity beyond reality. Kennedy woke up America from la-la-land and WATCHMEN was our book repository of decloaking the tropes with too much clever irony to back to being able to ever believe in golden age ideals. Let’s remember simpler times in this new a la carte world before us instead of wishing for something we really can’t ever have again and probably wouldn’t want anyway. You know the shit would be polybagged with a cover where the artist can’t draw feet.
FOILED AGAIN #ASKSROB
What’s your take on all the gimmicks coming out of DC Comics now? You seem to be a fan of DC but their constant stunts are killing me, especially as I feel they are distracting from the core of what makes comics – good story. First a New 52. Then 3d comic covers. Then Selfie comic covers (!) and now a scratch and sniff comic (Harley Quinn). How about writing some good stories? Wonder Woman and Batman (Maybe Aquaman) are the only characters that have managed to stay afloat in this new era of gimmicks. Is there hope for change?
Great Question Foiled,
I’m taking this into two parts, because cover clusterfucks are a different situation than story!
On covers, c’ the fuck’ mon dude, you’re a fellow marketing wonk. Surely you know as well as I do that blurring the lines between quality of product, and presentation of that product are utterly independent factors. We know this because we do it every day for our masters. We don’t lie, but anyone wearing a marketing hat is most certainly an illusionist. Were this the 1970’s, one of us would have a pornstache and be wiggling our fingers like Doug Henning while the other one was picking audience pockets (or we could both have a pornstache, I didn’t mean to limit us).
Are we really going to begrudge our fellow marketing wonks at not just DC, but Marvel, Valiant and a million indies looking to scalp the same success? We get assed up because we love this hobby, but on the same token the marketer in me applauds each of these companies as kids and noobies come stare at these seemingly magic pages that move as you walk past. I’ll also admit, the comic collector in me becomes a bit less jaded as well because if this is the bait to widen our dwindling club, than so be it.
Now, I will says the chance of sustainable interest in the medium varies by cover:
- Valiant 8-Bit cover reminded them of Pitfall, will remember a time when people had to read for fun.
- DC Pin-Up, Monster, Lego, Insert theme month here the person has a modicum of appreciation for art
- Marvel Wolverine holo-foil will probably keep coming back every time a new Avengers trailer is released.
- Looking to scratch and then subsequently sniff Harley Quinn’s beaver is the dude who walked in with his friend and will be blind from either alcohol poisoning or excessive masturbation shortly. Seriously those 4th wall breaking Harley Quinn one shots revel in awful…
So while the purist in me longs for a time back when covers were:
- Indicative of the story inside
- Not afraid to use a fucking word balloon
- And were not a cacophony of color and needless posturing poses.
The marketer in me, the grown up, the suit, the man will not deny the numbers. Scott Snyder’s WYTCHES recently sold 90,000 copies with Image. JUSTICE LEAGUE 1 sold 350,000 copies. “Wytch” was the better story? It doesn’t matter. When you are battling icon to icon, noise and not substance is the key to swift movement.
Comics are no longer printed for comics’ sake folks. When Gen X and before were kids, the sustainability of our favorite stories lived and died by how many floppies were sold. Today, floppies are R&D for the widening of dissemination into more lucrative revenue streams.
The fall of story for profit started with BATMAN BEYOND and trade pacing. If you look at today’s current universes and pacing of titles, the patterns are eminently obvious. We feel anemia in some issues because they are made purposely anemic to stretch out the page count. An editor must look at how these things will be collected for sale on Amazon since so few spinner racks exist anymore. It is the more portable and profitable means to an end. It is also a way to gauge the worthiness of content for animated cartoon, video game or the ultimate score of a movie.
If we look at MULTIVERSITY coming out of DC right now, it is truly the perfect follow-up to the decimation of the universe we saw in play four to five years ago around the time of FINAL CRISIS. The Monitors birthed 52 new worlds, which then instantly disappeared and turned into 52 titles about one earth.
Huh? Makes no fucking sense from a universal story perspective does it?
However, it makes perfect sense for a scared shitless Warner Brothers’ suit who got an M shaped pineapple shoved up their ass when the audiences didn’t give a rat’s taint about any of the 27 plot lines shoved into the GREEN LANTERN movie.
The New 52 was a lifeboat, not a rocket ship kids. As Mickey launches the Marvel brand into the billions of people served mark, DC needed to “youth”anise quickly or be euthanized by the WB corporate den of doom. Look at what changed and what didn’t. GREEN LANTERN and BATMAN were allowed to ignore FLASHPOINT because they were selling well and had movies in play. Look at the deluge of TV series that have come out from CONSTANTINE to GOTHAM. Each of these s steeped in the “freshness” of the New 52 to reach across the aisle at those who need imagination spoon fed to them.
This spoon feeding not only stymied the real DC New U of MULTIVERSITY, but has also obliterated an oft debated subject of tight universal continuity. With BATMAN BEYOND and the idea of series that live outside canon, publishers could ensure saturation into every demographic. Dark shit was going down in BATMAN during the late 80s and early 90s, and BATMAN BEYOND served up a younger dude who was way less morose and “deathy” than the days of broken backs and hunchbacks in the cave.
From that sincere broadening, we have the tainted “choose your own adventure” continuity we see today. Honestly, I truly believe I am a fool sometimes for reading as much of each universe as I do. Outside of Valiant, no one is doing a flawless cross. Now, DC takes the most hits because they made the most noise with their reboots. I look at Marvel as we close out 2014 though, and they are in just a bad of state as DC was pre September 2011. AXIS was a train wreck in a long string of who gives a fuck events this year that never interwove and now characters are being killed off for the sake of cutting off revenue streams from other studios. Wolverine is dead so that when Fox tries to do a movie in 2022, no 8 year old will know what the shit a Wolverine is.
I applaud the examples you used above for your vested DC interest. They are all great titles and if you look at each of them you will see they remained away from the taffy pulls of bringing the universe back to some semblance of good comic booking versus being a cross-media tentpole.
As for my coverage of books my formula is simple; “Review for those who care about what you say!” When I started reviewing comics for Ain’t It Cool seven years ago, DC showed an earnest interest in promoting my words and interacting with me on the then fetal social media channels. Geoff Johns would drop me a thanks for a review. Dan Didio accepted my friend request on FaceBook and I gathered some true fans for my work in their PR department at the time.
Despite my reviews being an equal 33% DC, 33% Marvel and 33% Indie, it was always DC giving me feedback and asking for further reviews and forwarding .PDF comps. Marvel from creators to back office have never given two shits about my thoughts so I stopped trying. I’m not needy for affection, I am needy to effect change in comics. That only happens when the right people are listening.
The record will show, I have never pandered because of comps or favoritism. However, I will ALWAYS give you priority publishing the more time and money you spend in trying to get my attention. I may shit all over the book, which I have done from my beloved DC all the way to the ignore me Marvel, but I will cover it with keyword rich text for SEO awesomemsauce.
You say you want good stories, well then go write them my friend. I will never be arrogant enough to believe my views have directly affected the choices made in the industry over the past flew years, but I believe I helped trumpet a public zeitgeist of disdain for choices that helped all of our feelings be heard.
Find your story solace where you need. I recommend EARTH 1 for true impact and full Fryetag’s Pyramid for your money. You simply must wait forever between volumes. In the meantime go to Image. DC’s CONVERGENCE in April will be interesting. If MULTIVERSITY is to be taken literally, we could have a serialized version of EARTH 1 like titles in floppy form. Personally, that will be the end of my time with New 52 or Universe Prime as I believe it is now designated.
Marvel, I can’t tell you. They don’t want to talk to me. So…
Do you want to #ASKROB? Submit your questions in the comments or via email – because this is the face of caring!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
THE GIFTED is simply not for every comic fan. As much as I enjoyed this journey through the first animal’s awakening of sentience, THE GIFTED triggered my inate emotions and beliefs rather than spoon-fed what my reaction should be. There are no words in THE GIFTED, which makes sense. When we first realized our existence outside ourselves, we didn’t say, “Oh, fuck I could die one day? And there’s a thing called the future? Fuck, I can die one day!” Instead, we like the creatures of THE GIFTED, reflected in our eyes the obligations and horror that come with even our limited understanding of this universe.
This is all me. What I saw as I looked at each panel of Gooden’s gifted charcoal landscape were my own beliefs that animals, especially dogs, have already made their first four-legged steps to understanding the abstract as well as the concrete. My long time fan will know that my spirit animal, my guide, my patronus to get into fantasy terms, is the Golden Retriever. My Politically Incorrect Golden stream on Instagram is proof that I consider my good boy Fergus, my son. Again, these are my beliefs that I would never be so brazen as to present as fact for all. I don’t shun any naysayers who look at me and go, “He can’t love you, it’s an illusion based on food and creature comforts.” I will however laugh in their faces when their spouse saunters up a minute later to snuggle in for warmth and then their kid comes up to ask for money for dinner. Ahhhh, amore indeed.
I have to dabble in thoughts and feelings for this review because to look at the plot, this would be a one-sentence wrap-up. “Wolf looks over horizon, wolf goes over horizon, wolf meets man, man is an asshole, and wolf finds other enlightened animals to get some payback.” THE GIFTED deserves more than this, perhaps not the animal rights debate I’m sparking above, but certainly more than a cursory sum of the experience. In all comics, each panel can and should tell a story. However in an age of grand events, universal collapses due to bad business decisions of the past, and the pursuit to squeeze every last dollar out of creativity by creating comics for cross media viability we have essentially lost the desire to innovate. Much like the modern societal norm towards everything, we gorge instead of taste and appreciate.
One cannot gorge on THE GIFTED. This review took me so damn long to complete from UPS drop off to publish, because I saw care and craftsmanship from all parties. I was not going to sully this hard work with a dial-in write up. I carefully looked in each panel for the spark of life to appear: The transition from animal tracker looking to fill its gullet, to tracker seeking a guide to the larger world. The transcendence of knowing that man is both friend and foe. Hell, simply the recognition of transcendence to ruling the world as opposed to simply being part of it and sharing that forbidden fruit of knowledge with others who are close to seeing the spark themselves.
This is my Rorschach interpretation of THE GIFTED, see what yours will be in December (or sooner, I don’t know. I can barely keep track of my own schedule, just go to the website).