Friday, February 06, 2009

More of the same?

It's been a bit of a slow week in comicdom, but I thought I would post a short blurb on some of the comic shop talk I've been hearing for awhile now concerning Amazing Spider-man. It all started when I was being my usual geeky self while reading a TPB containing the Death of Captain Stacy arc. I just happened to notice because I had just read ASM #585 how strikingly similar it is to ASM #89. For anyone who hasn't read ASM #89 just read ASM #585 and replace Menace with 'ol Doc Ock and you are pretty much good to go. And so after further investigation (which required reading extensive Spidey back issues, man my job is tough!) I can see a lot of similarities between current ASM and the ASM of the early '70's. A couple of older fans have also told me this but I didn't really notice it until I just happened to be reading the two aforementioned books one after the other, after all I wasn't born when ASM #89 hit the stands. Still I found the similarities striking! The older guys don't seem to mind because the nostalgia kicks in and they love it, and for me I wasn't alive yet so it's all new to me, and of course if you are a One More Day/Brand New Day irrational hater who still isn't buying the book then you don't know what's going on anyway!
What do you guys think? Is it ok for Amazing Spider-man to give a fresh face to old ideas? Or do you not find it fresh at all, merely a rehashed idea?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Why the story telling philosophy of DC comics is giving Marvel the edge in quality and ultimately sales.

Why does Marvel have seven titles in the top ten best selling comics list? Because Grant Morrison's "vision" is to make the DCU "drained of all meaning." Grant Morrison has revealed in an interview at NewsArama that he doesn't think readers want linear story telling, characters with meaning and importance, or a universe with anything that is familiar (interview here). Instead, with Final Crisis he has dismantled the DCU of what little continuity it had left to make it meaningless and unfamiliar. The funny part of this interview is that Grant Morrison claims that Final Crisis is "more coherent" than his original idea which never happened, Hyper Crisis. Final Crisis is more coherent? What was Hypercrisis? A million monkeys on LSD with typewriters? So, apparently, a universe with no familiar characters, linear storytelling, or coherency is suppose to draw in readers.

The DCU still has a few great books though, Green Lantern has been excellent and gaining steam toward some big events and the Superman books with the "new" triangles (remember the 90's, same thing) allow the books to gel well together and tell bigger and better stories that include the whole Superman family. And although I had problems with Batman R.I.P., Battle for the Cowl looks like it will be an entertaining read that brings some attention to the Batman family. But even before Final Crisis the DCU was not really all that cohesive of a universe. The Sinestro Corp. War was an enormous event that never really bled into other books, in other words there was little acknowledgement of it in other big titles ie. Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, or the Justice League of America.

Marvel has taken a different approach with their events. Secret Invasion, the last big event in the Marvel Universe, was felt in all the other books. While some felt that this was a bit of a marketing ploy to get readers to buy Secret Invasion I felt it was necessary for maintaining cohesiveness in the Marvel Universe. If you didn't buy Secret Invasion you probably would be a bit out of the loop, but at least we know that when the sh*t hits the fan in New York Daredevil and Spider-man are going to know about it and do whatever makes sense for that character. And to me that makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't call myself a continuity freak, trolling message boards to say "HEY! how com Robbie Robertson be at Frontline AND coverng eventz in Secrat Inversion at te same time? Its a slap in ta fac of marvel fans! i will never buy a marvel comic eva agaen becuz of yur sh*ty riting!" I realize that the decisions they make are in the service of trying to tell the best stories they can, and sometimes that means putting a character in two places near the same time, or doing some ret-con work to make a story work. Does that mean I think One More Day was totally fine? No. But I've really enjoyed the weekly Spidey comics since OMD, and really it wasn't nearly as invasive a ret-con as the three or five DC has pulled out over the past few years.

So at the end of the day if you are a Marvel fan don't worry, the grass isn't greener on the other side. If you are a DC fan, looks like things will be getting worse before they get better if they are adhering to a Grant Morrison philosophy on continuity writing. But I would still advise that you read Green Lantern, pick up the Superman books, and give a glance to Battle for the Cowl no matter what bizarre material follows Final Crisis. But don't expect the DCU to come together to form a cohesive universe, at least not yet. Grant Morrison is unfortuanately only part of the problem, I don't even think it's all his fault. Where was the editing? A good editorial team knows it's not enough to have big talent (the DCU big three being Johns, Rucka, and Morrison) but you have to know how to take the best of each vision and put it together in a cohesive way to ensure people investing in multiple books get rewarded. When they can figure that out they are in the money, because the characters and talent are there just not the editing.