Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All Points Bulletin: Have You Seen These Comics?

JMS very publicly declared that he was taking a sabbatical from monthly pamphlets and diverting all of his energies into writing Superman: Earth One hardcovers.  I think we were meant to be tearful about this.  I think we're meant to be grateful that he graces us with his simple presence, what with him writing that Changeling movie and all.  In Straczynski's mind, he crafted that press release imagining throngs of fans pleading him not to go.

After watching the wreckage that became of Rising Stars, Spider-Man, Supreme Power, Thor, Superman, and Wonder Woman (you know, just those few titles) I'm confident he'll be doing us a favor if he retires from monthlies for good.

DC did instant damage control, comforting everyone with the news that Phil Hester will take Straczynski's notes and continue with Superman walkabout, while Chris Roberson will do the same with Wonder Woman.  Absent from the spin piece was any mention of the best book he was writing at the time - Brave & The Bold.

You may recall that JMS intended to do something so profound with the title that it would instantly catapult into the top 10 of the sales charts.  After observing Peter David fail a similar attempt while writing the shit out of X-Factor, I was curious indeed to see if he could pull the stunt off.  Whatever it was, reports were that DC brass (at least as it then existed) had signed off on it.

Now it appears that we will never know what could have been, because the last issue of Brave & The Bold was # 35, and that came out in June.  Apparently, I'm the only one in America who cares about this, as DC failed to even acknowledge its existence in the recent JMS press releases.

It was a consistently damn fine book, which is rare and to be treasured.  You could throw whatever sales stunt he had in mind in the trash, I would have been plenty happy to simply receive more of what we were getting.  And now it's gone, with not even a whimper.  Sad.

Speaking of comics that have dropped off the face of the earth since June...let's talk about Ultimate X.  What a pleasant surprise gone horribly wrong.

I sometimes wonder if Marvel really understands its current predicament.  It's hard to launch a successful book in 2010.  If you do everything right, you might just catch 100,000 readers.  If you do everything right, you stand a chance of launching at numbers that would have signalled your cancellation 20 years ago.  It's a tough market.

Marvel launched this thing in the Ultimate universe, which hurts it.  They slapped a $3.99 price tag on it, which is gratuitous, gross, and hurts it.  Then they admit from the get-go that they have no faith in their creative team by announcing it as a bi-monthly title, which really hurts it.

And they can't even fulfill THAT schedule.  It's had a missing picture on milk cartons since June, and somebody or somebodies really ought to be ashamed of themselves.  Listen, I get that Jeph Loeb is now the emperor of television at Marvel, and has stuff to do.  Fine.  I get that not every artist can maintain a monthly schedule.  Fine.  My assumption is that the scripts are in and that we're waiting on Art Adams, because that's generally how these things go.  But to me it doesn't matter who specifically is at fault. 

You can't put out a 22 page comic book in 60 days?  Really?  You know, there was a time when you could print any old rat-faced thing on dog shit newspaper stock and it would go out to the mass market for a quarter and they'd eat it up by the millions.

Note to industry:  those days are gone.

We do not have the luxury of abiding unprofessional primadonnas any more.  Back when the book first came out, I was dug in to loathe this book and it instantly won my heart.  This could have been something, if the people involved actually gave a shit about it, or the people who read these things.  Where is the editorial leadership?  If the crew in place is not up to the task, and clearly they are not, time to either let the constituency know that the beast is dead or find somebody else that is capable of producing work like professionals.

When I first reviewed Ultimate X, I made the mistake of saying that if I had a new reader looking for inspiration to start comics, this is what I would hand them.  Or maybe it wasn't a mistake.  Because that reader would have quickly learned everything they need to know about comics in 2010 - the medium is ripe with creative potential, but there's little point in indulging in it because the norm is to fuck it up.

- Ryan

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