Incoming // New Releases Shipping December 10th, 2014

The following titles are scheduled to ship on December 10th, 2014. As always, not all books will get into all stores, and depending on the region you’re in, certain books might have come in a week earlier, or will come in a week later. For reasons, I guess.

This list is pulled from the good folks at Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles – as such, it only features the books they ordered. Head over there where you can see me telling people what to do and how before my last day on December 31st. Also, you can buy comics there, I guess.

Best of the Week // A Fear of Penises

The Best

by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey and Jordie Bellaire
by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey and Jordie Bellaire

The presence of a penis in a comic will tell you a lot about a man’s maturity level. For some, it’s just another image, another fact of life. For others, the reaction varies from the shocked to the slightly uncomfortable to the blatantly homophobic and beyond. What I’m saying is, a lot of men react to cartoon penises differently, and that’s a strange thing to know. Such is the life of a comic shop manager.

Best of the Week // Pulling the Trigger

Award 02

Men of Wrath #3
by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney

While Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips diligently populate the industry with crime comics influenced by pulp novels and old Hollywood, Jason Aaron’s been putting together a solid string of tales himself in a slightly different arena. When you hear Aaron talk about his influences, you can sense a certain amount of cowboy in them. I’m not just talking southern influence (though clearly, that is there), I’m talking about tough-as-nails stoic protagonists and tension ratcheting silent stand-offs.

Men of Wrath approaches this type of crime from a decidedly wrong side of the law. It concerns the Rath family, and the seeming fact that the family has just gotten meaner over the years. Aaron and series co-creator Ron Garney take great pains to depict a generational souring that culminates in a confrontation between Ira Rath and his son, who put himself in a bad position by making the right choice at the wrong time. The tension in the comic not only comes from the situation that’s currently unfolding, but from the history of shocking actions the various generations of Raths. You’ve already been shown depictions of men doing the unthinkable, and so you’re left waiting for that trigger to get pulled. In equal measure, you’re wondering what this inherent meanness means for Ira’s son, and if that part of his family history will take root in him in order to survive. A hard crime story about being caught between a choice to be good vs. a history of evil. This series has earned itself our Crime Me A River Award for this week, as I eagerly await the final two parts to get into my hands.

Soon.

Best of the Week // Your Weekly Batmans

Award 01

by James Tynion IV and Fernando Blanco w/ Scott Snyder, Raw Fawkes, Jyle Higgins & Tim Seeley
by James Tynion IV and Fernando Blanco w/ Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley

We stopped doing Best of the Week posts right around the time that Batman: Eternal started hitting the shelves. In hindsight, that was probably for the best, as I’d probably be talking about it every week (in some capacity), and I would have lost steam at this point.

Batman: Eternal is one of DC’s best books right now. While it remains mired in an aesthetic that doesn’t suit me personally, the storytelling has been incredible, and resembles something close to my platonic ideal for a weekly comic series. Over the past 35 issues, the writing team (and the ever-rotating series of artists) have taken the monthly serial and optimized for a swifter pace of release. What you get isn’t a typical monthly comic – it’s a story that lets plots bubble for issues at a time without having to wait six months for payoff. It lets different plots come to a boil at different moments, ramping pressure as each week offers progression and payoff. As a result, you get something like this issue, where a perceived victory mingles with some of the book’s slower moving plots in order to produce a bit of a nightmare for the titular character. So far, Batman’s been winning, but it’s cost him each time, and the price is starting to strip everything away from him. It’s gotten to the point where I am deliriously happy to read the Batman stories to come after this book concludes, as I’m sure the paradigm will have shifted. With the amount that’s happened in here, things can’t help but be different – and even though we all know things will go back to an equilibrium at some point in the future, for now (and the very near future), we’ll be getting some pretty strange and wonderful tales.

This is great. This is what superhero comics should be doing, experimenting with the form and building something interesting. A great job by the whole team, who has earned their Crazy Like A Fox award.

They know why.

Incoming // New Releases for December 3rd, 2014

The following titles are scheduled to ship on December 3rd, 2014. As always, not all books will get into all stores, and depending on the region you’re in, certain books might have come in a week earlier, or will come in a week later. For reasons, I guess.

This list is pulled from the good folks at Wizard’s Comics and Collectables. Head over there where you can see telling people what to do and how to do them before my last day on December 31st.

 

Recommendation: Batman – The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga

by Jiro Kuwata
by Jiro Kuwata

The Pitch: Batman ’66 by way of Japanese pop influence

What It Is: This series of Batman stories ran for just over a year across the Pacific from April 1966 to May of 1967 in an attempt to capitalize on the big Batman craze that had hit during that time. While the series didn’t last long, it’s filled to the brim with crazy Batman stories that are quite unlike those we are used to today. Hearkening back to the period they were created, these stories reflect the crazy style of silver age comics (and the Batman ’66 TV show) while retaining the clear influences of a different style of comics entirely.

Recommended if you like: Fun Batman stories, B-movies, and absurd humour.

Currently Available:

  • This series is being serialized on ComiXology in single issues (the first issue is just 99 cents!)
  • Three collections are currently planned, with the first on the stands right now for just $14.99

More Information:

(If you’ve read Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga and would like to give your personal recommendation or help populate our “Recommended If You Like” section, please comment below!)

It’s Hard to Rock A Crime To Rock A Crime On Time

Catwoman #36 full coverCatwoman #36
by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, Lee Loughridge, Sal Cipriano and Taylor Esposito

Synopsis: As Selina attempts to find sure footing as the new queen of organized crime in Gotham, many plot against her.

01. My kingdom for a time machine, and some form of editorial control over at DC Comics. Actually, scratch that last part. I’m not one for politics, and the environment seems a bit poisonous with it these days. Just give me the time machine, please. And a basket of kittens. My wife would be very pleased if we could do the whole time and/or space thing with a basket of kittens. What was I supposed to be talking about?

02. The second issue of this new status quo is quite stellar. For the longest time, Catwoman hasn’t been the book for me. I would check up on it every now and then to get the shape of what was happening, but would always fall away and let the customers who enjoyed it read in peace. As always, I decided to drop in again when the new creative team hit, and I’m very glad I did. The book seem is a completely different animal from what it was when it began. Selina has relinquished her costume, and has traded in her life of disorganized crime for the organized variety, and has risen to the top of the Gotham underground. As is natural in these kinds of stories, enemies abound from within and without. Good guys think she’s gone bad. Bad guys think she’s no good. The balancing act is quite precarious, but Selina takes everything in stride, making moves and countermoves in turn, all in service of her own goals. While new to the medium, Genevieve Valentine has hit the ground running with a story that doesn’t feel like prose or a teleplay mashed into the form of a comic. The medium is utilized beautifully with a steady pace, and I’m left wanting more – which should always be the goal of serialized storytelling.

03. The contributions of Garry Brown can not be overstated. As always, comics are the result of words and pictures working together to form narrative. Brown does exceedingly well here, bringing in shades of Tommy Lee Edwards’ sure hand and staging. Colourist Lee Loughridge compliments this with a muted palette that runs through different prevailing shades as lighting and locale change. Action scenes break out into a kinetic pace and layout while the more conversational set pieces remain compelling, camera angles and scene panel breaks building a tension that holds just below the surface.

04. This is an incredibly strong book that has been lost among the twelve different books DC launched or relaunched last month. With the marketing budget stretched a little thin, many of the books were left to sink or swim on their own accord. The teams behind Batgirl and Gotham Academy did some Herculean self-promotion to really put their book on the map, but Catwoman was stymied by the fact that cards had to be kept close to the chest, as the inciting events had yet to be revealed elsewhere in the line of comics. It’s a shame, because this book could have done a whole lot more if it had disappeared for a couple of months and returned with a brand new number one. (Time machine, please!) As it stands, it should hold its own with this level of quality. People will surely come in as those who enjoyed the previous iteration of the character find themselves reading something new that might not be for them. I hope this team gets a lot of room to move, and gets to play this story out to a conclusion. I’m itching to see where this goes.

Elsewhere // A Confluence of Events

A few of you were wondering about my thoughts on DC’s upcoming Confluence event, so I went ahead and wrote ‘em all down for Comics Beat last week.

Of the two, Convergence is being built as a necessity, more than something extravagant. Even if the concept was born out of creative decisions, the execution is all business, marrying the need for DC to pump out enough books to fill out their budgets while simultaneously alleviating editorial and creative pressures during the big move. As such, it’s already on the back foot, appearing as though it’s a fill-in event, something that is decidedly not their main line of books in any way, shape or form. If they don’t tackle this perception in the marketing, April and May might be a couple of DC’s worst months as many opt out of the two months of content.

The article goes pretty deep into what the company would need to do to make the event as successful as possible. Unfortunately, I think they’ve already screwed a few points up. You can read the whole article here – and when you’re done that, you can run straight into my thoughts on Marvel’s big multiversal event, Secret Wars.

While Convergence is an event being built out of near necessity, Secret Wars is an event that’s emerging from years of planning on the part of Marvel and writer Jonathan Hickman. Both approaches have their pros and cons. While I’m really enjoying Hickman’s work on the Avengers line, it was never anything I would be able to hand to a new reader easily – and his work on the title has only gotten more complex. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this approach, especially when you have several titles on the stands that new readers can easily gravitate to like Black WidowMs. Marvel, and Hawkeye – but when it comes to the big event, you want to try and make that thing as accessible as possible. DC can theoretically do this with Convergence by structuring their event as a low-threshold buy-in, featuring two part stories that exist without too much connective tissue. Marvel could theoretically do this, but there’s very little known about the actual structure of Secret Warsbeyond the fact that it will be impossible to escape if you’re interested in their line.

You can read that full article here.

Sometimes I think I go a little easier on Marvel because… well, because I’m enjoying more of their line right now, but I think I stayed pretty even-handed with presenting the potential problems and positives that both events could have. As always, your thoughts are appreciated, so comment below, or on the articles themselves!

 

Elsewhere // Degree of Variants

Because I love puns, you guys. I love them so much.

This week, I returned to providing weekly final order cut-off commentary at Comics Beat with a little ditty about some of the splashier variants coming down the pike.

I’m not a big fan of variants in general (a longer column for another day), but I can at least get behind variants that you can order without qualification. That says you’re offering another variety for a reader to sample, letting them choose what cover they’d like. That, I understand. Qualified variants, on the other hand, are the dirt worst. They’re a dirty manipulation of the whole “supply and demand” market designed for cheap, easy money, both for publishers and retailers alike. If a retailer wants a bigger supply, they will have to order more copies. In order to cover the cost of those copies (many of which won’t sell), they will charge a premium for that cover. And hey, even if they don’t need to charge a premium to cover the costs of extra copies, they’ll probably mark it up because of the low supply, and the high demand.

You can read the full article over at Comics Beat where you’ll also see a quote from the publisher of one of the industry’s biggest companies talking shit about variants. You probably know who already.

 

 

Elsewhere: Scheduling Issues

Over at Comics Beat, I’ve got an article talking about shipping delays, and the long tail of perception – and how those can hinder a series before it even begins.

As much as I liked (and like) Stephenson as a writer, my internal notes were telling me that this was a series that probably wouldn’t ship on time. I was basing this purely on the track record of his most recent series, Nowhere Men, which started off with a strong opening (both critically and sales-wise) before petering off into obscurity as the book slid further and further off schedule. By the time the sixth issue shipped, my sales were but a fraction of what I had started with for all of the usual reasons. Some took the waiting period as a sign that they should give up on the singles and wait for the collections. Others forgot about the book’s existence and plot and decided to leave it on the shelf when it finally arrived. Still more pulled it out of their budgeting calculations as other books moved in to fill the gap. The result had clearly left a bad taste in my mouth, one that led to my ordering dilemma.

You can read the whole thing over there now.

Little known fact: I chopped up a column about Archie Comics that got pulled for reasons (more on that another day) and this is what came out. Basically, while talking about the company’s scheduling issues (among other things) I voiced concern about what the Afterlife with Archie schedule would do to the book. At the time it was shipping on a schedule that resembled bi-monthly shipping, despite being solicited as a monthly ongoing. At this point, the series’ seventh issue – originally solicited for May/June release before being resolicted for September – is scheduled to come out in late November. Maybe. This… is a big problem. But again, more on that another day…