Monday, January 28, 2008

Everybody run, Captain America Has-Got-A-Gun!

That old Julie Brown 80's song is going through my head this afternoon. Why? Because this Wednesday, Captain America returns to Marvel comics and he's packing heat!

As reported in the New York Daily News (that paragon of journalistic integrity), Bucky will take over the cowl of the deceased Star Spangled Avenger. And he's going to have a gun.

The escalation in firepower is explained thusly:

"It's a little jarring for some people to see that," said the book's writer, Ed Brubaker. "[But] people forget that Captain America carried a gun a lot in World War II. Every three covers there was a shot of Captain America with a machine gun or a flamethrower - or an atom bomb."

Ok. Yes, Cap carried a gun and other weapons in the 1940s but there's one little difference between then and now... HE WAS FIGHTING A FRICKING WAR!!!!!!!!!! So unless Cap is going to invade Iraq, the new pistol packing Cap doesn't appeal to me.

The page that Marvel had the NYDN (that News bastion that it is) use to illustrate this shows Cap shooting three AIM agents in the leg. Is it just me or is the sight of Cap shooting a gun just WRONG on so many levels??

First the real Cap, then Spider-Man and now this fake Cap. When will Quesada be stopped? Remember that this is the same editor who thought that a gay Rawhide Kid was a good idea. Which, as far as Marvel and Q are concerned, it was because it sold books and made the news.

Too bad as much attention isn't given to just writing good stories and having the characters act the way that 40 years of continuity says that they should.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Be a TRUE Friend to a Comic Fan!

It's not easy being a comic fan these days and it's even harder to be a friend of one. There's so many bad comics out there that it's hard to avoid them. This is where you can help your friend. Keep them from making a mistake and buying a bad comic.

Keep them from buying AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

Not only will you save your friend from a fate worse than death (reading a comic that doesn't respect them) but you will help send the only message that comic companies understand today: a financial one. It's been said on other blogs that the only thing that comic companies like Marvel and DC care about is $ale$ and, sadly, that is true. They really don't care about fans and what they want. All they care about is moving the most 'product' out the door every week. They know from past events that many comic fans may express outrage over a ret-con or stupid storyline (like Gwen Stacy's twins) but most of those fans will keep on buying the comic and that's the only thing that's important.

So, be a friend to your friend and save them from themselves. Show Joe Quesada and Marvel that, despite the hype and news, you don't like this new direction and refuse to have it shoved down your throat. Show your friend how buying an AMAZING SPIDER-MAN merely justifies the story to Q and Marvel. Explain to them how the only way to exact any lasting change at Marvel or DC is through their profit margins.

Remember, friends don't let friends buy AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Comic's TRUE super-villains!

When I stop to consider what is wrong with today's comics (and there are many things wrong), I keep coming back to two reasons: Joe Quesada and Dan Didio.

Now, to be fair, I'm sure that they are both very nice fellows. I'm sure that they love their families, give to charities and always stop to pet stray dogs. I don't know either of them and wouldn't recognize them if we passed on the street (nor would they recognize me either). I'm also sure that neither one of them really cares all that much about anything I say. I can't imagine Joe Q sitting in his office, screaming "damn that Gafford! Everyone would have loved 'One More Day' if it hadn't been for his blog!"

But when I think about what is wrong with comics today, it always ends up with these two men and the concept they represent. Basically, they are the figureheads for the new way of making comics by which I mean 'event over story'. In both cases, events are planned out by them and their editorial teams and they look for the right creators who are willing to tell those stories. Once upon a time, the main goal of comic creators was to tell a good story (not that they always achieved that but they tried). Now the goal is to feed the never-ending 'event' machine that must churn on even over the broken, bloody bodies of those who created it.

We hear about editorial summits or creative meetings where an entire year's worth of comics are plotted out and this is my overwhelming problem with that: editors should not be dictating stories. Editors are there to help make the creators make the best story that they can but, somewhere along the line, the Editors were put in charge of the creating. It's almost like the Editors are ordering their stories the same way they might order Chinese food! "I'll take one from Column 'A' (murders and disfigurements) and one from Column 'B' (useless retcons)..." Somehow, the cart got put in front of the horse and now the horse is just happy to still have a job so can't dare complain that he's got this huge, crappy cart in his face.

Let's face it. There would never have been a "One More Day" without Joe Quesada pushing it through. Likewise, no IDENTITY CRISIS without Didio at the helm. If these men were not in charge of Marvel and DC, we wouldn't have had to suffer through CIVIL WAR or HOUSE OF M or INFINITE CRISIS or COUNTDOWN. Would we have had better comics without them? I can't say for sure but I believe so. In the very least we would have been spared the indignity of Sue Dibny being raped and murdered, Blue Beetle's head being shot off, Wonder Woman snapping Max Lord's neck, Superboy-Prime beating the Golden Age Superman to death, "Avengers Dissembled", Iron Man becoming a fascist, Captain America being assassinated, and Spider-Man telling MJ to f**k off cuz Joe Q says he should be young and single.

Rather than letting the market dictate what the readers want, Q & D are determined to make them want what THEY are willing to sell. We hear a lot of wordplay giving to how Q & D "listen to the readers and care about what they think." If Q had really cared what the fans thought, he would have listened to them at convention after convention when they begged him to leave Peter and MJ alone.

As far as Q is concerned, "One More Day" accomplished exactly what he wanted it to: broke up a plot he didn't care for, got media press and lots of sales. The fact that it was a stupid story has no effect at all. Sounds suspiciously like "Death of Superman", doesn't it?

Q is on the fan hot seat right now but he's not worried. It'll pass over and people will either forget or accept what cannot (i.e. WILL not) be changed. Slowly, the attention will turn to another target. Whether that will be Q again or D depends on who dictates the worst story first.


Cranky Dr. Strange!

As part of an assignment for Jim Main's COMIC FAN magazine, I had to read the first two volumes of Marvel's ESSENTIAL DR. STRANGE back to back. Besides getting a massive, mystical headache, I noticed the following:

-- no one talks like Dr. Strange does in real life...

-- everyone dresses like they're escaping from a road company
production of "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves"

-- The Ancient One is a big, wimpy girly-man! "my son, I am too
weary to help!"

-- Dr. Strange is contractually obligated to begin EVERY sentence with
"By the 'something something' of 'something'"... it's in his contract...

-- Dr. Strange was a really creepy Clea stalker...

-- pretty much anyone can beat up Baron Mordo...

-- Dr. Strange really hates Wong...

-- there's no money in being a Sorcerer Supreme...

-- the Ancient One and Aunt May are the same person...

-- Stan Lee got the names for all the bad guys from listening to
babies babble... "ZOM! KALUU! UMAR!"

Thursday, January 3, 2008

One More Bad Idea!

Much has been said lately of Joe Quesada's "One More Day" storyline which ended in last week's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 544. Basically, Peter Parker and Mary Jane agreed to have their marraige wiped out of existence so that Mephisto would save Aunt May.

Many readers have reacted with outrage in the blogosphere and in the comic stores I frequent.

What's my take on this? Not surprisingly...


I'm against retconning characters and histories for the most part but this one annoys me even more than the rest.

In an exclusive 5 part interview with Comic Book Resources website, Joe Quesada explains some of the reasoning behind the story and why Peter should not be married.

Although I found myself shaking my head in disbelief many times, this section stood out to me:

While the marriage is absolutely the logical progression for a character like Peter Parker, so is having kids, having grandkids, growing old and dying. Would we -- better yet, should we -- go that far? Of course not. So why isn’t getting married too far? Simple: Because a lot of people have grown accustomed to it, indeed, attached to it -- and that is understandable. But it wasn’t the healthiest long-term scenario for the character. Each one of those life progressions (marriage, child, grandkids, etc.) cuts Peter Parker and the Spider-Man books off from the story-trappings that have been the bedrock of great Spider-Man stories.

The truth of the matter is that if the fans truly want a married Peter and MJ with kids, then we have an incredible book called “Spider-Girl.” If this is truly what fandom wants, to see Peter go through the natural progressions of life, then I expect orders on “Spider-Girl” to go through the roof in the next month.

Peter Parker getting married is not the "healthiest of long-term goals"?? Only in Quesada's mind. To me, and many readers, Parker's marriage was a thing of celebration! The one-time nebbish not only grows up but ends up marrying an amazingly beautiful woman! It was the greatest validation of geekdom since Julia Roberts said "Yes" to marrying Lyle Lovett! We had won!

Which, I'm sure, Quesada would say proved his point that the comic could not progress from there which is a foolish thing to say. If bad stories occurred after Peter and MJ married, it was the result of bad and unimaginative writers, not their marriage.

The end result is that Marvel has seen fit to revert Spider-Man back to the comfortable 'nebbish' status-quo. Back to worrying about web-shooters and covering Aunt May's medical bills and keeping his identity secret. Haven't we seen all this before? How is any of that new and interesting?

Elsewhere in the interview, Quesada states how the success of a single Spider-Man in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN proved to him that the character belonged single. But he contradicts himself in that last paragraph. If people want a married Spider-Man, they can read SPIDER-GIRL. But, Joe, if they wanted a single Spider-Man, they could read ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. There was room for a married Spider-Man except that he wasn't what Quesada considered 'hip and happening' for the twentysomething set.

The fact that ONE man has been able to push his personal agenda down the throats of his creators and readers is utterly and morally wrong! I have to wonder if the E-I-C of both Marvel and DC are going out of their way to alienate and offend their older readers.

I wonder what Stan Lee and John Romita have to say about all this.

If you should want to read the interview with Quesada, follow the link:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

Well, it's a new year finally. 2007 saw a LOT of comic stuff happen... some good, some not so good. We lost some good creators during that year and our cultural heritage suffers from that. Overall, in terms of comics, I think we can call 2007 a fairly mediocre year. There were some great things that appeared and some things, one in particular, that really stunk up the joint. We'll be talking about that one a bit later.

For now, though, let's all hope for a brighter, better, and more peaceful New Year!