Thursday, September 11, 2008

The grotesquely wacky world of event comics

-Here's my pick for quote of the week, from Dan Nadel re: the awesome Rory Hayes collection he edited, Where Demented Wented:

I'm not interested in laudatory essays or bullshit celebrity endorsements. I don't like wacky design or people doing their own drawings on top of it. I just want serious attention to it. All we've got is the work, why fuck with it?

-Okay, I just read (most of) this article about Mark Millar taking over writing the Ultimates, or Ultimate Avengers as it will now be called. Wasn't Jeph Loeb supposed to be writing Ultimates 4 at the same time he was writing Ultimates 3? And Ed McGuiness was going to draw it? Am I imagining this? Or am I so out of touch with Marvel publishing news that I missed a months-old announcement that this project was canceled?

FWIW, I'll probably read the first couple of issues of Millar's Ultimate Avengers. What the hell, it's only money, right?

-I was thinking about Abhay Khosla's very funny recap of fans' questions at a Marvel panel during the San Diego con, and it hit me: is there any other reason to read Secret Invasion beyond the desire to know what happened? I mean, I understand that as of right now, right this minute, there's more money to be made on these you-won't-belive-what-happens-next, thank-god-nobody-cares-about-craft-anymore event-type comics than anything else going, except maybe 23 year old comics by Alan Moore. But here's the thing: if people are only reading it for knowledge of what happens, and there's a general acknowledgment that the actual product is no damned good, and these things don't appreciate in value anymore, then what's to stop people from saving money and just reading online spoilers to learn what's happening? (Or, if my understanding of Secret Invasion is correct, reading online spoilers to learn what didn't happen.)

I would take this opportunity to say that those who do choose to skip plot-driven event comics should consider buying [insert name of blogger's pet comic of the moment], but (a) I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir, and (b) you might have better things to buy with that $3 (or is it $4?) you're saving, like the better part of a gallon of gas, or maybe a bottle of malt liquor and Moon Pie.

-Speaking of Secret Invasion, just how incomprehensible is it? I haven't tried to follow it or anything, but what I've read about it seems pretty much impenetrable. I'm assuming, however, that Secret Invasion compares unbelievably well to the various Countdown related miniseries, if for no other reason than continuity discrepancies with Final Crisis rob them of whatever meager value they might have possessed. But what about the Final Crisis tie-ins?

I've read a couple of issues here and there, and I haven't been very impressed. I didn't actually read the first issue of Revelations, mostly because I was fairly sure that the book wasn't for me, and couldn't be any less for me even if it contained pirate gorillas or robot ninjas or something. Requiem seemed even less essential, kind of like if there had been a toy for the GI Joe staff dentist or something (codenamed CHOMPERS or FLOSSY maybe). I mean really, Martian Manhunter's funeral? Even if you love irregularly-used second-tier characters, surely you must believe that the dude's going to come back to life, possibly within the pages of Final Crisis. This is Grant "superheroes are gods, and I may not mean that in a completely literary sense" Morrison we're talking about here.

Okay, what else have we got? Rogues' Revenge (is there an actual apostrophe there? Cause if not, DC is worse than Hitler): Not bad. I never much cared for most supervillain-oriented comics I've read, just because they seemed to tone things down too much in order to make the protagonist(s) likable. Not really an issue here. Plus Geoff Johns' prediliction for mayhem (in a literal sense) actually seems appropriate for the reason stated above. I've been up and down on Scott Kollins' art over the years, but it's pretty effective here. Maybe it's no coincidence that Kollins' best previous work was with Johns on the Flash? Haven't read the second issue yet, though.

Superman Beyond: Haven't read it yet cause the local store didn't have a copy; reviews aren't really encouraging me to seek it out at Borders, either. Legion of Three Worlds: Man, I thought this was really not good, and I'm a little suprsised at how positive the reviews have been. Bear in mind that I like the Legion of Superheroes and George Perez enough to offset any dislike of Geoff Johns. If ever there was a Johns-written comic that made me agree with Alan David Doane's criticism of Johns' writing as playing with superhero toys in the bathtub, this was it. The plot, which partly involves the United Planets shutting down the Legion, closely resembles that of the Mark Waid/Barry Kitson run on LSH, except Johns' version is much shoddier in that it transparently seems to be setting up the triumphant rebirth of the Legion after saving the future from Superboy Prime. Speaking of which--ugh, Superboy Prime again? Aside from that, you have a lot of fan service (in the non-sexual sense, at least so far), with lots more to come, I'm sure. Are you ready for three Brainiacs getting together to come up with an impossibly brilliant solution sometime around the fourth issue? I'm not. I won't be bothering with future issues of this comic.

-And to end on a much more positive note: a new Graham Annable cartoon (via):

10 comments:

Nick! said...

I read part of that Mark Millar interview, and what it did for me was reinforce the understanding that I came to a while back - that though Mark Millar has written some pretty solid, fun comics, it almost always happens by accident, in his run up to his main, mediocre intentions.

Kick-Ass is showing that the pleasing uniqueness of the book was just while he settled into it - it's pretty typical Frank Miller riffing now.

And from what he's saying, that vaguely exciting summer blockbuster brand-new (if you never read The Authority) take on the Avengers concept that the first Ultimates book had was just preamble to... a really straightforward gloss of paint on the original idea, "Now With Extra Shallow".

Loved that Abhay post, too... Thankyou for posting!

Tucker Stone said...

The positive response to Legion of 3 Worlds mystifies me, even though I had expected (before reading it) that a certain group of people would enjoy it. But it's just terribly dull stuff, and the idea that Superboy Prime is some sort of actual character worth all these various issues--it's just incomprehensible to me what's so entertaining to anyone. Even reading the positive stuff, some of which aren't completely terrible reviews doesn't explain to me what it is that I'm missing. It looks, and reads, like it was constructed out of scissors and back issues of Who's Who in the DC universe.

You should definitely take a look at the second issue of Revelations though--not because it's any good, because, wow, it's totally not, but because it actually defines the Anti-Life Equation. With math symbols and words. It's really fucking classy.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I thought (hoped?) for a minute you were saying that Final Crisis: Revelations was itself the Anti-Life Equation.

Dave said...

To be fair, the use of the actual anti-life equation in Revelations isn't exactly new. Morrison established the full anti-life equation when he wrote it out in the Seven Soldiers: Mr. Miracle series.

Matthew J. Brady said...

You're not crazy, Dick, because I also was sure I had read about Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness doing Ultimates 4. It even sounded like McGuiness was working on it and maybe even finished it before Ultimates 3 had been published, so they were just waiting for Joe Maduriera to finish his art so they could finally get to it. Weird. I guess Millar takes precedence over them, especially with the poor reception Loeb's version has received, but it is odd to seem them not even mention McGuinness's work.

And god, Millar is insufferable, isn't he? I hate reading any of those interviews with him. Still, it might be some fun comics; even with all his idiocy, he can write some damn good superhero action, and I dug the hell out of Ultimates 1 and 2. I didn't buy them though, and I doubt I'll buy this new series, but I'm still interested in checking it out.

Caleb said...

Yes, Loeb WAS writing two volumes of The Ultimates, and I believe they were originally supposed to be longer (12 issues, like vols. 1 and 2). Now all we got is five or six Loeb issues.

And the main reason to read Secret Invasion is because it makes Abhay's reviews funnier if you know exactly what he's reacting to.

It's not actually hard to follow, although it definitely isn't very good, either.

JD said...

I think they announced Ed McGuiness would not be doing Ultimates 4 around the time they announced him on the Hulk relaunch... And given the delays there, one wonders what he's been doing all this time.

I think they announced a replacement artist (Frank Cho ? though he's doing Hulk fill-ins now, so I guess that's out of the window too).

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