Waited for the Trade: A Batch of Shorties

by Dan

With the craziness of my job the last several weeks (thanks stock markets!), I've been completely MIA from most things Internet. Yet, the comics and trades kept on coming. So, here's some shorty reviews of sixteen trades and graphic novels from nine different publishers. From the excellent Black Summer and Immortal Iron Fist to the complete opposite of excellent Black Diamond and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed plus plenty in between.

Army @ Love Vol. 2: Generation Pwned – More often than not, I love Rick Veitch’s writer/artist work. But after giving up on the critically acclaimed Can’t Get No, I was worried going into Army @ Love. Thankfully, this has been an awesome satire book with plenty of sex, drugs and war. A wonderfully crafted series that ended all too soon (there is a second “season” out now, but I’ve read that it goes in a very different, yet interesting, direction). B+

Authority: Prime – Authority fights StormWatch and it’s all Bendis’ fault. I always knew that guy was up to something! Wait, Bendix, not Bendis. Eh. Much less interesting now. An okay check in with the WildStorm universe, but after the excellent Authority Revolution it’s a clear step down in quality. C+

Black Diamond – For a story about a cross-country, raised superhighway they spend WAY too much time on anything but the cross-country, raised superhighway. Overall, this was really disappointing. The art at the beginning was just not my thing, but when it became more iconic and more graphic designer-y at the end, I really enjoyed it. D-

Black Summer – This was just an awesome Warren Ellis series. Mostly, I saw it to be Ellis' final word on The Authority and what a terrible path they would eventually have taken. Gory and violent with lots of commentary about the U.S. government. Great stuff. A

Classic Battlestar Galactica – I don’t know why, but I still dig the original Battlestar stuff more than the new. Granted, I lost track of the new show after the first season and Dynamite flooding the market with “New” Battlestar books has been too overwhelming to follow. Thankfully, Rick Remender (a fave writer thanks to Dark Horse’s Fear Agent) was let loose on the old characters and creates a fun episode of the classic show. B

Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby – I was regretting this purchase before I read it, as I couldn't really remember how I felt about the first two collections I read years ago (apparently there's been two more that I missed). That said, I completely dug this four-issue story. Niles has a lot of Ellis in his lead character, Cal McDonald. Lots of dark humor fun and I may have to figure out what the other two books are and grab those. B

Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 2: The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven – I’ve never been an Iron Fist or Heroes for Hire or Kung Fu fan. Ever. And yet, I completely and thoroughly enjoy this title and all its Iron Fist-tastic history. I did get a little confused with who was who, including the reveal at the end that references the annual included earlier in the collection. So, sometimes there is too much history and too many characters to keep straight, but that just makes me want to sit down and read Brubaker and Faction’s entire run once volume three comes out. Great art from Aja too. This is quality comics. A-

Maintenance Vols. 1 & 2 – This Oni series just makes me giggle. Thanks to Customer Appreciation Day (aka Free Comic Book Day) for finding this one. Reading these on the can is fun, but got surreal when our trusty janitors took an adventure into the can. B+

Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors – Turns out I've read a bunch of these shorts featuring the Bullpen Bits characters and, in all honesty, it's just not that funny the second time around. Some of the later stories that riff on Marvel events like Civil War and World War Hulk are amusing, but overall this just doesn't hold up to multiple reads. B-

New York Four – Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly do it again. Although I was frustrated by the fact that there could be a lot more story told and, more than likely, it won't happen. B+

Power Pack: Day One – A fun revamp of the kids' origin story. I've never read the original version, but I'm sure this has been updated to be, ya know, entertaining. Anyone that's been reading this series of mini-series will enjoy this about as much as the others. I'm really looking forward to the Skrulls digest though. B-

Star Trek: The Return of the Worthy – The last reprint Titan did of the old DC version of the original Trek. The main story about The Worthy was a completely predictable, 100% Trek message type of story. Not bad, but nothing new either. C+

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – When I preordered this, I was already dropping the last of the Dark Horse titles, Legacy, from my pull list. I figured this was a last shot at Dark Horse’s current Star Wars universe (although I am checking out the current Clone Wars mini). Even more concerning was the fact that this book was based on the video game of the same name and was serving as a way to fill in some of the back-story. Unfortunately, the book reads like a video game with all the paces and boss challenges included. This is definitely not for anyone but fans of the game, and even then I’m not sure it’s good on any level. D

Too Cool to be Forgotten – Very cool story that gets somewhat sidetracked/rushed at the end in order to wrap up the main ideas about father/son even though 90% of the book was just about the son. I get what Robinson was going for, and he succeeds for that 90%, but I wish the end had been drawn out or built up to better. A-

Wolverine: Death of Wolverine – This collection starts off interesting enough with Jason Aaron and Howard Chaykin’s “Man in the Pit” issue. Wolverine has been captured and put in a pit where he’s shot a few hundred times every 15 minutes to keep him subdued. The rest of the collection is Marc Guggenheim and Chaykin’s Logan Dies story, which rewrites Wolverine’s healing powers as a literal fight with Death every time he’s extremely injured. A bit odd, but, like the first story interesting. Unfortunately Chaykin’s art is incredibly distracting – sketchy and blocky with odd close ups. B-

Wolverine: Get Mystique – Hey, a Wolverine story that actually ties in to current continuity! Wolverine is chasing down Mystique after her betrayal during Messiah CompleX. Cool enough of an idea. Unfortunately, it gets a bit convoluted due to writer Jason Aaron throwing them into the middle of Iraq and Afghanistan for no real reason other than those are topically locations. C
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On November 4th -- DON'T VOTE!!!

by Chris

This is not comic book related, but I felt it was too important a message not to share.

So get out there and be heard! Read more!


BG Roundtable: $3.99 Comics?

by the General

Both Rich from Comic By Comic and other Rich from Lying in the Gutters have recently noted that Marvel is trending toward a $3.99 price tag for their comics. And, both acknowledged that, if it seems to work for Marvel, DC can't be far behind.

While all this is still speculation at this point, comic fans have always been fond of speculation; so I decided to sit our regular irregulars down for a little Roundtable and ask the question: How would a $3.99 price tag affect your comic buying habits?

Now, ignoring arguments about inflation, do you all think that this would affect your collecting habits? I generally roll with these sorts of punches, but honestly, I think it will affect mine. With the discount I get through Mail Order Comics, I still limit myself to $50 a month. And, if all comics increase by that much, that cuts the total number of titles I can buy by roughly a third.

Now, I know I will most likely always pick up a couple of monthly. But, at what point to I realize that I can get "more bang for my buck" by buying trades exclusively?

Chris: As it is, I think even $2.99 is probably too expensive for most books, but I've been buying them anyway because of the discount I get. That said, I made a promise to myself to start dropping monthly books as they begin to go over the $3 mark. Now we hear rumors of $3.99 monthlies? $4 for ten minutes of entertainment (and in some cases even less) is not worth it.

This seems to be a drastic increase in price. Before, we'd get 25 and 50 cent increases. Do publishers really think readers will accept a $1 jump in cover price? It will be interesting to see if such a jump will cause drastic changes in the purchasing habits of their readers. When that happens, I'll be switching to trades.

Yassir: Too expensive. Like Chris says, even 2.99 is too expensive. Trades are the only way to go. I'll probably still buy the odd monthlies but it's ridiculous the price of comics nowadays.

Dan: This jump is just as big percentage-wise, 33%, as the jump from 75c to $1, $1.50 to $1.99 and $2.25 to $2.99.

Personally, the jump to $3.99 has already impacted my buying. Marvel's recent rash of one-shots and now all their new mini-series and some new ongoings have made me consider each title. I'm no where near the carefree buyer I was just a few months ago. Asking $4 cover price for a 22 pages of comic that is supplemented with a dozen pages of ads definitely makes me consider the "entertainment value for my dollar" equation. And, honestly, there's not a lot of value in something that costs me $4 and I get 10-15 minutes use out of.

Looking at my most recent order, yeah, I bit on the $3.99 What If specials, but I LURVE What If. I wanted to get the Ennis/Dillon Punisher mini in single issues, but Marvel decided to make it a weekly six-issue mini. That means $16 upfront and $24 overall. Nope. Not going to happen. If I decide it's something I really need in trade, I'll wait for that. If it's something I just want to read, I'll hope it shows up at my local library.

So, yeah, $3.99 for Marvel and DC appears to be my breaking point. While it won't keep me from reading my mainstays (as long as my monthly order keeps around $150), it's already got me rethinking anything new.

The same standard doesn't apply to Image books and other small publishers though. That said, you get more bang for your buck from them. Savage Dragon recently went up to $3.50 an issue. But Larsen has always included back-up stories and letters pages and pin-ups. There's always more than just 22 pages of story and 10pages of ads. That's worth the little bit extra to me.

Rory: I rarely buy any new comics - I'm entrenched in my old books that I've been buying forever (i.e. Fables, 100 Bullets, Usagi Yojimbo). There is a lot of factors that have driven me away from comics, and this price increase may just be the Nail in the Coffin™.

Vince: I'm planning on cutting back my monthly comic buying if the price goes up to $3.99.

$3 was too much to spend for a comic and with the industry allowing more and more delays with big events that seem to go nowhere, I think it's getting to be time for me to bow out of monthly comics.

I'll probably still collect the occasional trade, but $4 is a lot of money for a decompressed story that takes forever to get to the point.

Dan: A follow up thought: One of the other factors in me spending $4 on a comic, more so than ever, is whether or not it's any good or maybe even great. Fables, Jack of Fables and DMZ are all stand-out reads every month. They aren't just great comics, but great stories, regardless of the medium. Those are books I'll continue to check out because I think the value is still there at $4.

On the other hand, anything that's been iffy is going to get a lot shorter stay of execution in a $4 a pop world. If something like Hulk, Young X-Men and the new War Machine better be knocking my socks off if they decide to go to $4.

Tim: Is the direct, monthly, market even viable anymore?

Most of the growth we see in comics comes from trades. Runaways, Sentinel, Fables, Preacher, Transmet - all series that found a market and profitability in the TPB format rather than monthlies. Rising costs are surely just another sign that people are actually buying less and less on a month-in, month-out basis (along with generally tougher times).

Is it really a coincidence that Marvel are outperforming DC so much these days? Look at DC's output - geared towards the collector who knows his history, with a spotty trading approach. Marvel, on the other hand, has been pushing arcs and TPB friendly stories as well as generally doing a good job of getting everything into that format anyhow.

My point is that, right now, if you're reading the monthlies in preference to trades you're part of a side that's heading towards extinction. Comics are healthy, monthlies aren't - and it's not just the price. The price is a reflection that the market these days doesn't really want a monthly throwaway, and certainly not new readers. If you do want the format, you're going to pay a premium, as with any minority interest.

Now, how the market looks as it shifts towards long-form and where the content comes from instead of repackaging the short form... that's another question altogether. But comics are slowly evolving away form them and we should let it happen.

Doug: I don't think I'll approach each issue on a price-point basis and say "4 bucks is too much", but I'll still end up having to drop a lot of titles since my total budget won't support them. I allot a certain amount each month for single issues, and a certain amount for trades and graphic novels. So, the number of series I buy in monthly format will decrease.

The bad thing is, I fear that the series that will be most affected by this will be those series that already reside in the lower half of the top 100. Marvel's had decent success with B-listers like Iron Fist, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel, but I suspect that if fans have to start dropping titles, those books will be hurt more than the long-running books like X-Men or Spider-Man.

One more thought: it's interesting that Marvel's experimenting with more original on-line content at the same time that their price points are heading upwards. How long before a low seller like NOVA becomes the first series to go from print to digital so that it can avoid cancellation? And will fans accept that new format?

The General: Thanks everyone for your time and thoughts! So, I think its safe to say that none of us are excited about the idea of $3.99 comics, if they ever become the norm. And, that in all likelihood, it would affect our collecting.

Also, I think this question helped raise some other questions that regularly plague the comic industry: Are monthlies still even viable? Are trades and original graphic novels the route of the future? Or online comics? And, if so, how does the industry get there? Interesting stuff.

So, intrepid reader, what do you think?
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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (Review)

by Jon Quixote

a.k.a. What If…? The Video Game.

“With great power comes great responsibility. But I didn’t know what power was..”

In 20 words or less: Playable mechanics plus a dark, interesting storyline help overcome this game's many other flaws. Many, many, many other flaws. (19)

Spider-Man video games have come a long way since they had us moving a blocky red wall-crawler up a yellow building to get at a blocky Green Goblin.

At least, they’ve come a long way graphically. That Atari 2600 entry’s legacy of repetition and annoyance lives on. From cheap blocky caveman video games to cheap movie tie-ins, when I pick up a Spider-Man video game I’m usually pretty certain of one thing – it’ll be cool for about 15 minutes, and then I’ll either get frustrated or bored. When the best entry in your franchise was back on the Sega Genesis, your franchise is nothing to write to mom about.

Web of Shadows therefore has a pretty low bar to clear to hit “average” status. It clears it, but its ass gives it a bump. This is a problematic game that falls into the same boring and repetitive action trap that characterize its recent predecessors. However, Shaba Games and Activision have managed to come up with a control system that really makes you feel like Spider-Man in motion without sacrificing knowledge of what the hell is going on. And the storyline is different and compelling enough that I was willing to slog through a number of “find bad guys, punch bad guys” missions just to find out what happens next, and what moral grey areas I could take my Spidey into.

The storyline behind Web of Shadows is 60% Spider-Man and 40% 28 Days Later. Venom has returned, New York is being invaded by symbiotes, the citizens are being transformed, and panic and chaos rule the day. Spider-Man is one of the infected, but because of his previous history with the black-suit, he’s able to control its influence and use its powers to fight the invasion. And throughout the game, with the touch of a button, you're able to switch between the symbiote and the classic red and blues in order to take advantage of different powers and techniques.

The cool conceit behind Web of Shadows is that exactly how well Spidey is able to control its influence is up to you. At regular story intervals, you’re able to choose one of two paths: the light or the dark. This is where the “What If…?” comes into play. Spider-Man can go to some pretty dark places here – alternate universe dark. The game doesn’t really hold back, and takes some creative chances that you don’t usually see in a family-friendly franchise video game.

I’ve played Web of Shadows once through now, consciously picking the dark option at just about every interval. And Spider-Man and I collaborated on some messed-up stuff. Let’s just say that MJ is going to need major counseling, I’m officially off Wolverine’s Christmas card list, and Venom? Let’s just say that when the brain-eating monster trying to destroy the city gets taken out by our hero, my predominant thought was “Wow Spidey, that was a real dick move.”

If you think Wolverine's grotesque now, wait 'til Dark Spidey gets through with him.

The “choose your path” feature is all the rage in video games, and I found it effective here, probably because I already had such a knowledge and affinity for the characters. Choosing to save a little zombie child or to harvest her for her powers isn’t really much of a choice – she’s just some creepy kid designed with that choice in mind. But choosing to blow off Mary Jane to shack up with the Black Cat is (Well, not for me. I’ve always had a thing for platinum blondes; thank you, Mark Holmes). The result was that I was very willing to slog through 20-30 minutes of “jump punch punch punch jump punch punch punch” to get to the next “choice.”

Some of the boss battles are also pretty creative, as far as these things go. Again, the developers make good use of the Spidey-universe. For example, when I was protecting a church from symbiote attack, I was reminded to make good use of the bell in the tower (at least, as long as I wasn’t in my black suit at the time.) And battles against Electro, the Vulture and Wolverine all felt distinct and “in character.”

Unfortunately, the repetition crept into there too. The first fight against the Vulture was a blast. The second fight against Symbiote-Vulture reeked of “this again?” Ditto Electro. Ditto Wolverine (except that Symbiote-Wolverine was pretty cool).

And while the game play managed to play into Spidey’s speed and agility without making me feel like I was just mashing buttons without knowing what was going on until the dust settled, it also could have been better. The idiotic camera A.I. almost sunk the game and meant that I avoided using walls and buildings in my battles whenever I could. And maybe it was just me, but I couldn’t figure out how to use my “allies” in battle. Not that I needed them – another knock on Web of Shadows is that it’s pretty easy. Or maybe I’m just awesome.

So for the most part, Web of Shadows doesn’t fix the problems that have plagued Spider-Man games since the first movie tie-in hit shelves. The simplified, intuitive controls help, but it’s still marked by repetitive, tiring gameplay.

But Web of Shadows pays enough attention to the characters and the plot, and take enough chances with those two things, that it makes the mediocre mechanics tolerable. The bottom line is that this is a playable game that does a pretty good job of putting Spidey in my hands, and once that novelty wore off, the storyline was imaginative enough to keep me playing through ‘til the end.

Grade: B. Rent It. It's no classic, but it delivers a decent and different Spider-Man fix.
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Shout Outs! and Scream Ats! Vol. II

by Matt

Welcome to my second “Shout Out/Scream At!” column! With this column I will be taking a look at what makes me a happy fanboy (Shout Outs!) and what frustrates me (Scream Ats!) within the comic industry. With this column I will be covering Omnibus’s, Nowhere Man, Final Crisis, Jim Valentino and the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dave Lapham’s Young Liars.

SHOUT OUT! Absolute Omnibus Fever!
Seems like every company is putting out large collections of classic material. Type in Absolute or Omnibus when you search at Amazon.com and you will find a ton of new collections. I am WAY excited for the newly announced Captain Britain Omnibus, Secret Wars II Omnibus and Joe Quesada even mentioned an Inferno Omnibus. Keep them coming! DC is finally catching up as well, with the collection of Starman in hardcover along with Absolute Sandman and the Complete Death. Dark Horse has done a terrific job in their collections. Their line of Omnibus's are in full color and are slightly smaller than average trades but they are packed to the gills with comics. I love that Dark Horse is collecting a lot of thier old material like Aliens, Predator, Indiana Jones, Terminator, Ghost, Barb Wire, X and hopefully more. Other companies are getting into this as well. IDW is putting out an Omnibus of Deperadoes and Fallen Angel. Top Cow has also put out full collections of Rising Stars and Midnight Nation. They are also putting out a complete collection of Cyberforce. Checker is putting out larger collections of old Crossgen book as well. And if you purchase your books online, you will usually save quite a bit and you can get your hands on some fantastic collections for pretty cheap.

SCREAM AT! Nowhere Man Canceled
This would have been my first Virgin comic and I was really looking forward to the book. The premise sounded very intriguing and I was certainly looking forward to some fantastic science fiction art by Paul Gulacy. I contacted Liquid Comics to see if they had any news and I will share it here once I get a response. According to Paul Gulacy, he completed issue #0 of Nowhere Man which will be a special 16 page preview of the series. Liquid Comics will be announcing shortly which comics will be published.

SHOUT OUT! Dave Lapham’s Young LiarsI knew I was going to get a book so freaking screwed up with Dave Lapham at the helm. And you would think that if you read his Stray Bullets you would be a little prepared for some messed up crap but I was still totally taken surprise! The story revolves around Sadie and Danny. Danny is in love with Sadie and tries to save her from herself. Sadie is the daughter of the owner of the Brown Bag Superstore and she runs away from her family. Her father sends a group of assassins called the Pinkertons to find her. Sadie was shot in the head before the first issue (we see what happens in flashbacks) and she has a bullet lodged in her brain, which causes her to become a major risk-taker and action junkie. She also suffers from delusions, she thinks she is on the run from "The Spiders from Mars" because they plan to rule Earth. Danny and Sadie have other friends that hang with them and are pursued by the Pinkertons. One thing that Lapham does extremely well in all of his comics is that he has the ability to create characters that have major flaws and problems but writes them in a way that makes you sympathize with them, no matter what dumb choice they make. This book is filled with violence (decapitations, castarations, naked fistfights), twists and you will never know what happens next. This is not a book for the squeamish! The latest issue proves once again that I have no idea what is going to happen next. This issue reveals that Sadie is from Mars and that the Spiders from Mars are real. The Spiders plan to use Sadie to lay millions of eggs on Earth and capture and conquer it. She runs away from her Spider family and comes to Earth and inhabits a young girl. Whether this is just her imagination or this is really what has happened is anyone’s guess. All I know is that I am in for the ride! One of my favorite books! If you are looking for a book that goes down a different street I highly recommend you try this out. A trade Daydream Believer will be released in December.

SCREAM AT! Final Crisis Crisis
The online solicitations for DC for January 2009 came out this week and it looks like there was another art change for the final issue of the delayed Final Crisis event. While I think it was good for Jones to man up and apologize for the delays, I still think DC really screwed the pooch on this event. I might have been a little more forgiving but this had already happened with Infinite Crisis. I was really excited as a fan about the direction DC was taking right before Infinite Crisis came out. Unfortunately DC almost killed all my enthusiasm by delays and art changes made on Infinite Crisis and the endless mini-events and weekly books to keep up. But I was willing to give Final Crisis a try for 2big reasons. I am a sucker for large events and secondly I like Grant Morrison. The first issue intrigued me and I knew that with Morrison it would all make sense down the road but apparently that road has been under construction. Like Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis is suffering from delays and art team changes as well. You would think that a company would learn from its mistakes the first time. More than likely, this will be my final DC event. At one point I was collecting a majority of the big titles DC was publishing, now I am down to just one or two. But unlike most comic fans, I will wait until I get the final issue and read them all at once before I fully quit DC. It just doesn't look good.

SHOUT OUT! Valentino returns to the Guardians of the Galaxy
Jim Valentino’s run on the Guardians of the Galaxy back in the 90’s was one of my favorite books. What I liked about his run was that there seemed to be a natural evolution with his characters. Unlike other Marvel characters like Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four, no matter what happens to the characters, they will ultimately revert back to their core roots. Since the Guardians of the Galaxy were not major Marvel characters, Jim was able to make changes to them and evolve them. Almost all the Guardians went through a major change and that is what made the book so enjoyable. Sadly, when Jim was going to join Image, Marvel fired him from the book. I was overjoyed to find out that Marvel offered Jim to draw an alternate cover to the new Guardians of the Galaxy series with issue #7. It is fantastic of Marvel to extend the olive branch to Jim and honor what fantastic contributions he made to the Guardians of the Galaxy. This makes me want to try out the new series even more!

That's all for this time. I will be back shortly with a new set of Shout Outs! and Scream Ats!. If you are interested, you can see my first column here.
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Panelology - Fanenomics

by Brandon

Yes, this is yet another depressing article on the economy. The economy has fallen like the sales of a new Quasar series. The economy hasn’t just affected those on Wall Street. Comic book fans are keenly aware of the impact a slow-moving economy has on their pastime. As the price for gas, food, and other cost of living items increase, our ability to support our favorite hobby decreases, or it is hampered at best. Try as they might, I haven’t heard Barack Obama or John McCain’s outline a plan for helping out the struggling comic book fan. Obama did mention Superman last weekend and McCain is more and more acting like a piss-poor Spider-Man villain plotting his petty revenge, but that does little for our ability to purchase funny books. So, fans are stuck in limbo, forced to choose between continuing to pick up Title A or Title B because their tightening budget won’t allow for both.

What can a struggling fan do? I offer up a few suggestions this week on how to handle hard economic times as a fan. The advice is free. Trust me, you won't find a better price anywhere!

Cut the Fat
Let’s face it; many of us collect some books out of a misguided sense of loyalty to a character, group of characters, concept, or creative team. While loyalty is one of the most admirable qualities of comic book fans, it doesn’t make sense from an economic perspective. Think about how much time and money is wasted in our hobby on titles people just don’t simply enjoy. Read any comic book message board and you will see misguided fans bemoaning the latest disappointing issue of a title they once, long ago, truly loved and admired.

It’s hard to dump a title you’ve been with for a while. Breaking up is hard to do, even if you don’t really like the title in question. For instance, take my long struggle with Jack of Fables,. Jack and I haven’t really spoken for a year now. The last issue I read of the title was back in New York in November of 2007. Ever since then, our relationship has grown cold. We barely even look at one another, let alone speak. Monthly, I glance his way and quickly stow him in a poly bag, moving onto another without a care as to his feelings. I love Fables, don’t get me wrong, but jack of Fables just seems to be hollow. I’ve read online that many people see something different in Jack that I don’t see, some even claim to love him. Maybe they do. I can’t be sure.

Two weeks ago, as I stared at my monthly order form for Mail Order Comics, I decided it was time to let Jack go. I dropped him from my pull list. As a collector, it’s tough to look at that empty spot in the long box where future issues would go. However, your wallet will thank you.

Quality *AND* Quantity
Quality of the books deeply impacts enjoyment, but so can the actual amount of books you buy monthly. The law of comic book quality states that the more books you buy in a month, the greater the chance is that you won’t enjoy some of them. If you’re like me, finding time to squeeze in all your reading is tough. I’ve learned the hard way that there is just no way to red as many books as I want in a month’s time.

Being choosy can be good for fans. Limiting the number of comic books you purchase in a month makes good monetary and quality control sense. If you tell yourself that you are only going to buy ten comic books a month, it tends to force you into selecting those books you want to have in your read pile as opposed to those you are buying out of habit. Each person has to decide on their limit and stick to it.

Go Team, Go!
When the going gets tough, the team books get going. Team books are an excellent way to enjoy a wide variety of superheroes for a minimum entry price. Superhero teams, especially long established ones, are populated by a broad range of characters, many of them staring in solo books or appearing as supporting cast members for other A-list team members. These books offer lots of character. Think about it as buying superhero books in bulk.

I watched a special feature recently on some comic book themed dvd (one of those animated Avengers features, perhaps) where Mark Millar offered up this reasoning as why he enjoyed the Avengers as a child. He was kid who didn’t have a lot of cash, so team books helped him get his fix. Team books could provide an opportunity to get your, say, Wolverine fix for the month without buying the two monthly Wolverine comics. Plus, you get to read far more interesting characters than the largely one-dimensional Wolverine in a team book. See? That’s got to be a positive for you.

Discounts Rock

This doesn’t just come down to me being cheap. It’s just practicality. Most shops do offer some type of discount for customers with established pull lists. Seeking out these shops can help soften the blow when they ring up all eighty-five monthly X-books you buy. Most online vendors also offer discounts. Some obviously offer better discounts than others, but I’ve found that online shops offer better discounts than actual local comic shops.

There is a hippie-dippy downside to shopping online as opposed to going to a local comic shop. By going to your local comic shop, you are helping out the local economy. Those shop owners are operating in the same sluggish economy you are. Times are tough everywhere and it comes down to the ethics of the customer as to whether or not they would rather save a nickel or support a local shop. Me? My local shop caters to the CCG crowd more than comic books fans. I don’t feel so bad about going online. However, you might have wonderful shops in your area that need and depend on your business.

Comic Fans Need a Bailout
Ultimately, as I talked about a few weeks ago in my Declaration of Independence from Event Comics, I think comic book publishers will start to slow on these admittedly splurge titles. I think we will begin to see a decrease in these events over the next year as the economy tries to balance itself out. The ability to buy tons of books with millions of tie-in issues is diminished now for most fans. Companies will naturally become more conservative with their titles, slinging less towards the wall to see what sticks.

This could be good in theory. With the fanbase less likely to overindulge in their purchasing, publishers may be forced to think in more qualitative terms rather than quantitative. We could see an increase in the quality of some products. And for our hard earned and well spent dollar, they better be good! If most fans are like me, fans have to carefully invest their hobby money now.

Let’s hope we all make it through this. Except for Jack of Fables. He can go.
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BG Roundtable: Trading Up

by Chris

Welcome to the second installment of Trading Up, where the expert dorks at the Bad Genious tell you what comic series are good enough to be put into trade paperback, but that publishers, in their ignorance, haven't gotten around to. We've changed the format a bit this time around to a more discussion oriented approach. Read on and be enlightened!

Let's start off with my recommendation this time around:

Chris: I'm actually going to combine two series for my entry this month since they're tied pretty closely together. I am recommending All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc.. With the popularity of Geoff Johns' JSA and Justice Society of America series these days, this would be the perfect time to trade both of these series. Johns' books, while new reader friendly, are, at the same time, very continuity heavy. They reference things that happened in both of these books, or I assume they do anyway...I've never read a single issue of either one. All-Star Squadron tells the stories of the JSA while Infinity, Inc. tells of the adventures of the JSA members' children. Many of the characters in these books are in the Justice Society today. Knowing the history of these characters would give me a much greater appreciation for the stories that Johns is telling.

I also have an ulterior motive for wanting reprints of Infinity, Inc.: I am a huge Todd McFarlane fan and he drew about 20 issues of that title early on in his career.

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, All-Star Squadron was canceled and replaced with Young All Stars, so I'd probably be interested in trades of this as well.

Doug: Actually, All Star Squadron is more than just the Golden Age Justice Society...it's pretty much EVERY Golden Age DC hero. The JSA members pretty quickly take a backseat to more obscure characters like Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, and Robotman. Characters like the Freedom Fighters also show up briefly. But that actually makes it an even better idea for the trade treatment, since so many of those characters did start to show up in modern DC books post-ASS. You had Johnny Quick in Flash, the Freedom Fighters have been rebooted and had a couple of recent minis, and of course Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick have a daughter in the current Justice Society. The Shining Knight was also an ASS member and he was given the Grant Morrison treatment in 7 Soldiers.

Young All-Stars isn't nearly as essential...I think the only character from that book who shows up now is Iron Monroe, who is in Manhunter these days.

Chris: I'd never even heard of it before, but I came across it reading the Wikipedia page on ASS and figured I'd mention it since Roy Thomas wrote it and it was essentially a continuation.

Tyler: I have to admit I'd have a passing interest in Infinity Inc., since I had a friend growing up who collected it. I'd never read his issues, because they didn't have an "X" on the cover, but he maintained they were really good.

Then Devin popped in and gave us his $0.02.

Devin: Hitman needs to be finished. I think they only got about half of the series collected in trade and that was a while ago. It's a solid series, back from Ennis' glory days (i.e., when Preacher was coming out) and was about a superpowered (though he, like most of Ennis' super powered characters, rarely used them) hitman working in Gotham City. Some really great characters, hilarious plays on DC superheroes, and also quite possibly one of the top ten Superman stories. Where's the love for Tommy Monaghan (no, not the Dominos Guy)?

Doug: And Nat the Hat! And Baytor!

Chris: I'm not a huge Ennis fan. I loved his Punisher run, but his other stuff seems so over the top (I have pretty much zero interest in Preacher). Hitman, however, intrigues me.

Doug: Well, Hitman was a DC Universe book, so it does have to stay within the limits of good taste for that line of books. Which it does. Even if just barely.

Matt: I am not a huge fan of Ennis, but I would buy Hitman.

Doug: Hitman really is a great book. Sure, some of it is over-the-top, but a lot of it is really heartfelt and excellent.

Matt, our resident Alan Davis whore, proceeded to shock us by recommending a series that Davis didn't draw!

Matt: A series that I would love to see collected is the first volume of the Marvel UK Knights of the Pendragon series.

Marvel's description of the series: Since the days of King Arthur, and possibly earlier, the mystical Green Knight has granted Pendragon spirit-power to certain individuals in times of great need. In recent times, the Pendragon of Sir Gawain possessed policeman Dai Thomas. Dai, Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) and journalist Kate McClellan encountered the Green Knight, who was weakening due to mankind's environmental abuse. Dai sacrificed his power to bolster the Knight's failing strength. Shortly after, a Pendragon possessed Kate McClellan's son Cam, who fell into the clutches of the Bane, the Pendragons' arch foes led by Grace. Cam's teacher, Peter Hunter, formerly the Merlin Pendragon-powered hero Albion, gathered several Pendragons to fight the Bane: Union Jack (Lancelot), Kate McClellan (Guinevere), and author Ben Gallagher (Percival). Aided by Captain Britain, Iron Man (Tony Stark), and the Green Knight, the Pendragons prevented an attempted resurrection of Bane demi-god, the Red Lord (Bodb Derg), saved the Spanish town of Joselito from toxic devastation, and seemingly defeated Grace. Peter took the spirit from Cam, regaining his former powers.

The Knights of Pendragon set up a base of operations at Camelaird farm in Wiltshire with assistance from Tony Stark. Union Jack, Kate, and Ben fought Bane ivory poachers in Wakanda with help from the Black Panther, Mister Fantastic, and the Invisible Woman. The Bane conspired to separate the team, and picked the Pendragons off one by one. With Ben and Union Jack dead, and the Black Panther hospitalized, Albion was then executed as part of a ceremony to resurrect the Red Lord. Adam Crown (King Arthur) sensed their deaths and traveled to Avalon. The Green Knight resurrected all the dead Pendragons, as Adam summoned every Pendragon past or present, including the Black Panther, Captain Britain, Dai Thomas, and Iron Man, in order to fight the Bane's army. Adam drove the Bane spirit out of Grace, forcing the enemy to withdraw. Ben Gallagher died in combat, prompting Kate to leave the team and finish Ben's book.

This series was written by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson with early art by Gary Erskine. Erskine's art is rough in some places but the writing is sharp throughout. There have been many King Arthur-type stories in comics but this one is tops.

Chris: This series, in fact, is on my list of stuff I'd like to see traded. I love fantasy and I love superheroes. This sounds like a perfect combination. Of course, since you picked it, Matt, I was expecting to see that Alan Davis had handled some of the art chores!

Matt: Most of Alan's stuff has been traded. He did do some of the covers however!

Once Matt had saved his reputation in the eyes of the BG, Patrick stopped by

Patrick: One run I would like to see is some more of Busiek's run on Thunderbolts. There has only been a collection of the first 6 issues or so. This was a good run, that would read good in trade. So why haven't they done it?

Matt: I agree. I would pick up those Thunderbolts trades.

Chris: There was such a smooth transition from Busiek to Nicieza on the first run that those should be collected as well. Plus, the series had some great artwork by Mark Bagley and Patrick Zircher (who is highly underrated).

Mr. O: That's a great series, and really does need trading. I think there are two Busiek trades out there, Justice like Lightning and then one other.

Patrick: I think the other trade is just the first 3 issues, which are also in Justice Like Lightning.

Mr. O: Ah ok, so not worth tracking down then.

We were then graced with the sage wisdom of Old Man Doug...

Doug: I'd like to see an Essential Inhumans trade paperback. With the Inhumans having such a high profile in the Marvel events of the past few years, it seems like a great time to catch people up on their Silver Age adventures, all of which could be collected in one Essential volume. You could include their key early appearances from Fantastic Four, their nine issues of Amazing Adventures, and the 12-issue Inhumans series from the mid-1970s. Maybe even include the pair of one-shots they had in the early '90s (pre-Marvel Knights Jenkins/Lee).

Chris: Personally, I don't have much interest in the Inhumans and I really don't like the Essential format (they were drawn with being colored in mind and, dammit, I want to see it colored!). However, I'm sure there are a number of fans out there that would snatch this up in a heartbeat.

The it was time to hear from our British contingent:

Yassir: Shade, the Changing Man really deserves to be traded. It was such a wacky, surreal series that also spoke about America. I think it would read great in trades as there were things set up early on that had a pay off much later.

Doug: Plus, the original artist on the book was Chris Bachalo, who has a pretty high profile now.

Yassir: Yup, although his art then is miles apart from how it is now.

Chris: There's one trade out already, The American Scream, that collects the first six issues, but yeah, this is another series I'd love to read.

Last, but not least, the other half of our British pair:

Mr. O: Deathlok, which was part of the Marvel Tech line that lasted less than a year, was a stand out book, with gritty art by Leonardo Manco and a great writing by Joe Casey. This was while Joe was still on the rise, and hadn't quite made the "A" list. He was an up and coming writer, writing with passion and mixing classic storytelling with new and interesting ideas.

The series only lasted 11 issues, but all where brilliant, well crafted, and beautifully drawn. It was the stand out book in this awful line. The story was grounded in the family of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who worked on the Deathlok project and his son who's body was telepathically possessed by the Deathlok cyborg "essence". I don't really remember the whole story and for this reason alone I'd love there to be a trade of this series out there.

He isn't the greatest character out there, he doesn't have a huge following, but books like this, little gems in the rough, always need to be brought to greater attention and more people should experience a job well done. Even Kurt Busiek at the time said he loved it, and couldn't wait to get the next issue, as it was such a well crafted tale.

Chris: Yup, I remember reading this when it came out and thinking it was intelligently written with gorgeous artwork. It was head and shoulders above the rest of the M Tech line. As I still have the singles, I might not buy the trade, but I'd recommend it highly to others.

Doug: Have they ever collected the original Deathlok stories from the 1970's? As many times as they've tried the revive the concept, you would think they'd reprint those stories.

Mr. O: I think there was a Deathlok Essential, at some point, but I'm not sure. This Casey run was really my introduction to the character.

After some investigation, Mr. O came back: Nope I must have been imagining it.

Well, that takes care of this installment of Trading Up. Check us out next time when we tell publishers what they should be putting into trade!
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From Top to Bottom #19: The End?

by Matt

Welcome to the return (or is it the end?) of the long running and Tony award winning "From Top to Bottom" column! Every column, I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

I was in the middle of writing my new Shout Outs! and Scream Ats! column and I was looking at my set of Premiere hardcovers and I noticed that I have two of Marvel's The End series in that format. I was thinking of some of the other ones that Marvel published and thought about making a new Top/Bottom column based on Marvel's The End series. Especially since Iron Man: The End should be hitting shelves next month and we still have Daredevil: End of Days on the horizon. Hopefully these new End series will be more like my Top 3 picks than the Bottom 3.

3) Fantastic Four: The End
There are a couple of reasons why I really liked this series. The biggest reason was the art by my favorite artist, Alan Davis. The second reason why I liked this series was because it actually had a happy ending. The third reason is that this felt like the Fantastic Four, this is what I would imagine them doing in the future. It begins with the FF battling Dr. Doom which results in the death of Franklin Richards and Valeria Richards. The FF 'disband', Reed loses himself in his work, Susan leaves for an archaeological expedition underwater and eventually runs into Namor. Johnny, is leader of the Avengers, who now police much of the universe and Ben lives with his wife Alicia on Mars with their three children. The Fantastic Four, Reed in particular has helped Earth become a force in the Universe and has invented many things to improve life on Earth especially after the "Mutant Wars". Eventually they reunite when Sue contacts the team and they battle Dr. Doom again and we find out that Franklin and Valeria are alive and they are reunited with their family. A lot more happens than this. The only thing I didn't like was the last page, where basically it tells us that this wasn't really the end but just the beginning. The premise of these types of series was that this was the "End" or final story of the Fantastic Four. I don't mind the happy ending at all but it should just have ended there.

2) Hulk: The End
This is the first 'The End' that Marvel published and I feel that it was one of the best ones. Peter David and Dale Keown crafted a tale where hundreds of years later, the Hulk and Bruce Banner are still fighting for control. The world has ended with a nuclear war and the Hulk is the only survivor. Banner is devastated and tries to end his life but the Hulk manages to keep him alive. Finally, the Hulk and Banner reach a conclusion that results in both getting what they want. Not the happiest of endings but one that did end happy.

1) Punisher: The End
When I first read this I hated it. But each time I read it, I started to really like it and I think it is the strongest "End". Nuclear war (must be a trend here) has ended all life and the Punisher is in prison. A year later, Frank and another survivor trek to New York City to find a bomb shelter, which is hidden deep beneath the former site of the World Trade Centers. There he finds other survivors but deems that these survivors are ones that he would not run the world. So he kills them and then he kills the other guy that came with him because he was a criminal. Then he gets out and walks towards Central Park where we all know is where his family was killed and where the Punisher was born. Then he is consumed by fire. Garth Ennis really nails the Punisher here in this MAX End.

Not all "The End" series were great. Some of them could have been good but either were too long, not creative, or felt familiar.

3) Marvel Universe: The End
This really was not a terrible series but it felt like I had read it before somewhere. There were a couple of things that I did like. I enjoyed Thanos retelling how the Marvel Universe ended and I also liked how heroes kept being resurrected to keep evil in check. And they all the heroes were resurrected during the course of the story as well. What I didn't like was that it felt like the Infinity Gauntlet all over again, or was that Infinity War? It might have been Infinity Crusade, which is my point. I had read this before, the heroes get slaughtered until the strongest ones are left and then they do battle. Can you name them all? Hulk? Check. Warlock? Check. Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Dr. Doom? Check. Out of all the Bottom Ends (pun totally intended) this was the most enjoyable and most accessible.

2) X-Men: The End
You would think that the Father of the X-Men would have been the best one to end that franchise but I was wrong. First, this series lasted WAY too long. Three 6-issue series was way too much for me. Claremont had some neat moments in the series but they were few and far between. The majority of the comics just pandered to Claremont's favorites (WarSkulls, Slavers, Brood, Vargas, etc). If you didn't enjoy Chris's second and third run on the X-Men I would stay far away from this series. Most of the X-Men were featured which was nice but this didn't really feel like an X-Men story. I was expecting something along the lines of God Loves, Man Kills but I got something more like New Excalibur.

1) Wolverine: The End
At least this one didn't go beyond 6 issues. This was supposed to tie into Origin but I had a hard time following what was going on. Why did this series take #1? Wolverine (whom was an old fart by this time) was being stalked by the White Ghost who claimed that he could have killed him 200 years ago. Then why he just didn't kill him then? The White Ghost turns out to be John Howlett III, his brother from Origin. The White Ghost has this grand plan to put mutants on top and Wolverine and him wrestle and they fall out of a window and the White Ghost is killed when he is impaled on Logan's claws. Then the White Ghost whispers that he is sorry. That makes little sense to me. Why would he apologize when he said he could have killed him anytime? This horrible story was not helped by the cluttered artwork as well. I expected something like Wolverine's first miniseries but I got something completely opposite. Ugh.

This concludes another "Top/Bottom" column. Is this the "End" of these columns as well? I might have another one in me, I did just recently re-read Secret Wars II (in anticipation of the Omnibus) and I could post my Top/Bottom moments if you readers would like more.
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An Open Letter to Jeph Loeb

by VM

Oh Jeph Loeb, where did it all go wrong?

You started off so well in my estimation. THE LONG HALLOWEEN caught my attention many years back as a sharp, well paced, smartly written, intelligent and engaging murder-mystery. The type of story that you don't actually see that much of in the mainstream comics world, and especially not where it felt well enough put together that the reader doesn't feel cheated at the end. Yes, on the basis of this read I made a note of your name and decided you were worth following.

And you, sir, have betrayed my trust.

Your next projects were a mixed bag. I read DARK VICTORY which was, frankly, a half-assed rewrite of THE LONG HALLOWEEN, but one that had less internal logic and said nothing new about the characters or situation. Still, I followed it up with A SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS which, whilst lightweight, had some really nice character moments and a general feel for the character of Superman that grounded the book. And of course in all these cases you were supported by the rarely-less-than-glorious Tim Sale.

At this point we probably could have gone either way. Sadly we hit your Marvel 'colour' book phase. None of which were terrible, but none of which were particularly good either. It was here that I learned your caption boxes were frequently more annoying than beneficial to a story. You appeared to have moved so heavily into spelling out exactly what a character thinks that you forgot one of the basic tenants of storytelling is not to tell a reader what a character is thinking, but rather show them. Good characterisation became, instead, long winded lecturing.

And then we have HUSH.

Now, frankly, I have to concede that HUSH was commercially successful. There are many people who loved the Jim Lee art, and the way it kept them guessing with all the twists and turns till the end. I concede this, and yet I must note that your story was complete and utter tosh.

There was no mystery, it was obvious from the start exactly who Hush was, the only surprise being that you actually went with the most obvious and cliched tact of making the killer the main character's never-before-mentioned childhood friend who has just mysteriously returned all of a sudden. Everything else was done for shock value and nothing else - from Poison Ivy getting her claws into Superman simply so that Batman can fight him (again) to Two face having reconstructive surgery. The whole thing was all style and zero substance. It was essentially the third version of THE LONG HALLOWEEN, except this time you had successfully removed all the remnants of a story that made sense.

You then followed this up with SUPERMAN/BATMAN which was yet more style over substance, only with even more over-the-top dialogue boxes that revealed just how much Superman and Batman like and admire each other. All the time. And it was a lot. They really, really like and admire each other. As you constantly reminded us. Of course, the plots were borderline nonsensical, but a veritable masterpiece compared to SUPERGIRL.

With Supergirl it seriously felt as though you no longer saw the need for a coherent plot or characters, and just felt it would be enough to string together a series of random events and moments. None of it made sense. If anything, I have to give you some credit: you successfully proved you could write something and sell it, even if it had only a passing resemblance to what would normally be considered a story. It read like bad fan-fiction.

And that's basically where you appear to have ended up. And are content to be. And that's what's sad. Because right now, your name appearing on a book is an instant sign that it is not worth spending my money on. You've gone from being a draw to a deficit in my buying patterns, and that's sad.

I don't question your success. I can certainly see why you'd feel that you had no reason to change - HULK and ULTIMATES 3 are the same brand of no-story-big-fight nonsense you devolved into selling by the time of SUPERMAN/BATMAN and they sell by all accounts like hotcakes. I do not question the monetary reward or popular success. And yet, I can't shake the feeling that you should be better than this. I think you're just stopped trying. LONG HALLOWEEN is still good. Very good. SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS showed you can have a light touch. Hell, I'm writing this because I really, really think you're better than the last five years have suggested to me. I can remember picking up DARK VICTORY and expecting greatness.

I remember thinking you were good. I still think you could be. I'd really like you to start trying again Jeph. Please?
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R.I.P. Manhunter -- We Hardly Knew You

by Chris

They say that the third time is the charm. Apparently, this isn't the case for Marc Andreyko's Manhunter from DC. He announced on his Facebook page earlier today that DC has pulled the plug on the title as of issue 38. This is the third time that the book has been cancelled and it's doubtful we'll ever see any more issues. This makes me very angry and not a little bit ashamed that comic fans won't support a book like this. Despite critical praise, a rabid fan base (they got the book un-cancelled twice), and support from none other than Dan Didio himself, the book never sold enough to stay in publication. Superhero comic fans seemed unwilling to take a chance on a book by a writer who really isn't a big name and a relatively unknown artist in Jesus Saiz and starring a brand new female character as a new incarnation of a B-level DC character. This book had numerous strikes against it to begin with, but it should have sold better than it did.

The book stars Kate Spencer, a federal prosecutor working in Los Angeles. After Copperhead goes free, she decides that enough is enough, breaks into an evidence locker, and takes various super villain paraphernelia in order to hunt him down, thus becoming Manhunter. What made this book so good wasn't the superhero action, it was the character drama. Not that the action wasn't good. It was very realistic in that we saw Kate stumbling through these fights since she didn't really know what she was doing. You were never sure if she was going to come out of an encounter safely and sometimes she didn't. The action was secondary to the book, however. Kate was a single working mom with a tense relationship with her ex-husband. So we see Kate trying to juggle her work and her family life as well as trying to justify her own actions as a vigilante when she's also working as a lawyer.

The book was tied into DC continuity, as well. Not tightly, mind you, but enough to make it interesting. She's recruited by Cameron Chase to work for the DEO. She discovers that her grandmother is Sandra Knight, the Phantom Lady, and that her grandfather is Iron Munro. She defends Wonder Woman in her trial for
murdering Maxwell Lord. Oracle recruits her for jobs with the Birds of Prey. Obisdian makes several appearances as the boyfriend of an ADA that works in Kate's office. Her costume consists of a Darkstar uniform and the guantlets worn by Azrael when he was Batman. Her staff is a Manhunter staff, tying in to previous Manhunter continuity. The continuity wasn't used as a crutch, but more as a tool to make the stories that much more firmly set in the DCU. You could read the stories without knowing who the other characters were, but the experience was enhanced if you did.

There is plenty of stuff here to make DC continuity buffs happy, enough superheroics to shake a stick at, and enough character drama to tie it all together and make for a very enjoyable book. Andreyko wrote the hell out of this book, making all of the characters three dimensional and causing the reader to become emotionally invested in them. This was one of the best superhero books on the stands, but, due to the unknowns (new character, relatively unknown writer and artist), though, fans just weren't
willing to take a chance on the book. DC has taken three chances now and it's probably gone for good. Good-bye, Manhunter. We loved you.
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Shout Outs! and Scream Ats!

by Matt

Welcome to my first “Shout Out/Scream At!” column! With this column I will be taking a look at what makes me a happy fanboy (Shout Outs!) and what frustrates me (Scream Ats!) within the comic industry. With this column I will be covering being a Negative Nelly, Marvel’s Premiere Hardcover line and recent news involving the ClanDestine and Quasar.

SCREAM AT! Fan Negativity
As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Banshee (which is why I named the column the way I did) and this leads directly into my first Scream At! Generally, I am a happy comic fan, very rarely does something make me so mad that I lash out in a blog or some random message board. But there are some things that I don’t agree with or something that frustrates me. And what does this have to do with Banshee you ask? I love Banshee and I am proud and happy to admit it. What frustrates me, and especially in the ‘Internet’ world is the vast amount of negativity. I understand teasing but I cannot wrap my head around people just being outright jerks because I love Banshee.

Awhile ago, on the old X-Fan boards, there was a thread that asked who our favorite X-Man was and of course I listed Banshee. People poked fun and that was quite alright but there were one or two that called me an idiot for liking that character. I remember being lambasted on the old Joe Quesada boards because I said I liked a storyline running in X-Treme X-Men and the Earth X trilogy. I like those books; does bashing it make me change my mind? A couple of years ago or so, someone joined my Alan Davis message board (shameless plug) JUST so they can ask Alan why does he take assignments on books he reads. Cause now he has to quit X-Men because Alan is on it. I can appreciate that people have different tastes and I don’t mind discussing it but what makes me scream is when people come straight out and tell you that you are a fool for liking something. That is what makes me “me”. When you bag on something I like, you are really bagging on me. I am sure some of you are thinking, “Boy, this idiot sure needs to have a thicker skin.” But why should I be the one that has to change how I feel?

The Internet is a fantastic tool, if it was not for the Internet, I would not have tried a TON of books. I would have missed out on Love Fights, Blankets, X-Force/X-Statix, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing to just name a few. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. I am not saying that we should only be positive, all I am asking is that everyone should be respectful when expressing their thoughts. In fact, I encourage people to celebrate the ‘guilty pleasures’ we all have. Instead of trying to be cool and hip (what I really mean here is fake) we should just be ourselves. You don’t have to dislike and bag on everything that everyone likes to be cool. We can all see through it anyway. Be proud of who you are and take opportunities to say something positive about something you like. I’ll start, I admit that I like Quasar. (Which provides the perfect segway to my ‘Shout Out!’)

SHOUT OUT! Quasar!
Speaking of Quasar, I was in the middle of writing a different Scream At! directed at Marvel and DC for killing characters that I liked. I felt like they were totally picking on me. But then I heard that one of my favorite characters was coming back.
I would like to give Marvel a great Shout Out! for bringing back Quasar! I didn’t collect the Annihilation crossover when it came out and I was saddened to hear that Wendell was killed. I was sad because Wendell felt like a real person to me, he made mistakes and I admit that he was a weenie at times but I liked him. Now I am going to have to start picking up Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. And while I am on the subject of Guardians of the Galaxy, I would also like to give a small Shout Out! for bringing in StarHawk. I loved Valentino’s run on the first Guardians series and StarHawk was my favorite character so now I HAVE to pick up the new Guardians series, the Nova series and I will probably start picking up the Annihilation trades as well.

SCREAM AT! Marvel's Premiere Hardcover Line
Speaking of trades, Marvel’s recent addition of the Premiere Hardcover line has been a little aggravating at times. Marvel recently solicited the first collection of the new Guardians of the Galaxy but it was in the Premiere line and I doubt that I will now pick it up. If it came out in trade, I would have picked it up immediately. I usually prefer trades to hardcovers anyway so I guess I will have to wait until they put out a softcover of the book. I guess I should be happy, Marvel is collecting a ton of their old stuff but with it going to the Premiere line first, I am missing out on a ton of material because I don’t want to pay extra just to get it in hardcover. I would have bought the Kitty Pryde/Wolverine series, Longshot and the Magik miniseries if they were in softcover trades. I am hoping that Marvel will eventually put out what they do in the Premiere line into trade. They did it with the new Cable book so I am hopeful. I guess I shouldn’t complain, I did get the ClanDestine series in hardcover.

SHOUT OUT! More ClanDestine!
Speaking of ClanDestine, I would like to give Marvel another Shout Out! for giving Alan Davis’s ClanDestine series another try. First they published a short miniseries and recently Alan announced that he will be writing and drawing three of Marvel Comics' 2009 annuals. ClanDestine will be supporting characters in the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Wolverine annuals and Alan's upcoming Thor: Truth of History will "sort of leak" into the stories as well. This will give ClanDestine its first major exposure in hopes of capturing new fans. I highly recommend this series, Alan has created some interesting characters that while they are family, and they certainly do not get along.

That's all for this time. I will be back shortly with a new set of Shout Outs! and Scream Ats!.
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