For decades thousands of voices have cried out, and Marvel has felt the imbalance in the force.
Congratulations are due for DC Entertainment on account of them fully embracing the future. It was announced a couple of weeks ago that DC is now offering their new releases (and some back library) through Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble. Not only that, but it was announced recently that starting this week DC is also releasing digital content to these outlets on the same day as print. Amazingly enough, they are the first publisher to do so.
Even though print sales are up 12%, it is obvious that we live in the digital age. Between January and September of 2011, digital sales were up 197%. That is not a typo. Digital sales rose almost TWO HUNDRED percent in nine months. When DC launched the New 52, it was met with resistance, as is to be expected, but combined with their digital outlook, it has been wildly successful. Whether you agree with their move or not, you can’t deny that it has worked.
So why isn’t everyone else jumping on this bandwagon? Mainly, what is Marvel’s deal? They have a subscription service already, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, that at first blush seems like a great idea. All the comics you can read for $50 a year? Yes please. As the saying goes, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. That “Unlimited” part of the title? Not so unlimited. In order to read the comics, you have to be on a computer, on the internet. There is no way you can download to your computer to read at a later date, and if you happen to not have internet service? You are screwed. Surely they are watching DC’s numbers surpass their own, for the first time in quite a long time, and have to be asking themselves where they are going wrong.
Perhaps they should take a look at the music industry as a cautionary tale. People don’t buy CD’s any more. It is rare that the average consumer purchases an entire album (I’m an album girl but I realize that I’m in the minority) anymore, choosing instead to pick and choose single tracks to build their music libraries. The music industry refused to recognize this in time and as a result, is hurting. Had they been a little less cocky and had a bit of forward thinking, they could have introduced digital platforms of their own instead letting piracy take over and then having iTunes pick up their fumble and run it in for a touchdown. Unless Marvel realizes the path they have chosen is not the most fitting to the times, they will find themselves in the same situation.
But what about the local comic shop? What about it? Look, I love a print comic just as much as the next girl. There’s something about going in and having that human connection (as awkward as it might be- let’s be honest, we geeks aren’t really the most socially suave people out there) and feeling the actual paper in your hands. Seeing the stack of books to be read on your desk and the collection of carefully preserved editions in boxes lining your dining room walls. I get it. If nothing else, it provides a link to our childhood and past that we are reluctant to give up. Think about it this way though, I am 34 years old and vividly remember going to a record shop and searching through the stacks of CD’s looking for that one that a friend of mine mentioned was good. I’ve spent countless hours with a pair of headphones worn by countless others before me on my head as I sampled whatever the store had on tap that day. People who are even just a few years younger than I, have absolutely no idea what that experience even looks like. Does that make me sad? Of course it does. Much like I imagine people older than I miss the times where you’d go into a soda shop and sit at the counter and the ordering a malted. Does anyone even know what a malted is anymore? Not I. It is the nature of the beast and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
Nostalgia aside, there simply are not that many comic shops around anymore. I live in south Georgia and there is one shop in town. That’s it and there is never anyone else in there when I go in so sadly, I’m not sure how much longer they’ll be around. There are plenty of people who might read comics but have zero outlet to them. Until now. The digital age has opened up the world of comics to such a wider population and surely that’s a good thing right? I think so. The more the merrier and all that. No, I don’t want anyone to go out of business. I want everyone to be able to man a comic shop if they so desire and do so until their dying day, or until they retire, whichever comes first. Frankly, that isn’t a reality anymore. DC recognizes that the print stores still (for however long) have a place in the world though and they have set up a digital storefront that enables those brick and mortar places to place that on their site and then receive 30% of the sales. Better than a sharp stick in the eye I guess.
Another good thing to the digital revolution in the comics world? It has allowed smaller publishers to find success. Even on Comixology you can find small publishers but it’s the small vendors that are finding a small bit of success as well. Sites likes Dark Horse, an outfit that pulls double duty of publishing and sales, are becoming more popular. Dark Horse has a variety of comics, including a personal favorite of mine- The Guild, and has in the last week announced that they too are going to be offering their graphic novels (Hellboy for example) through Amazon. Not only that, but individual artists have set out their own shingles.
Mark Waid, of The Flash fame (at least that’s where I know him most from), has set up a site of his own called Thrillbent and it is comprised solely of digital content. He even makes a point of saying that it isn’t his intent to bury print media but rather that he believes that print and digital can coexist in peace. If someone of his caliber and experience believes so, then who are we to doubt? Want to hear more of his thoughts on the matter? Head on over to GEEK for an exclusive Q&A where he discusses his new site and his current work on Daredevil.
As with so many things today, we find ourselves in a situation where the “future” has collided with the present time. Now if only those hoverboards were to come to fruition, I’d be a happy woman. For now I’ll just have to settle for reading Batman on my iPad.
Welcome to Comic Rack! My pick of the top five comic news stories in no particular order…
Jonathan Hickman’s Plans for The Avengers
One of the most distressing things about this new Marvel NOW! thing is the dichotomy of feelings it gives me about Jonathan Hickman. On one hand, I love the idea of a man as brilliant as him writing Avengers stories, that will undoubtedly be amazing. On the other hand, I can’t afford to buy all the books Marvel prints, with their 50 tie ins and side stories and everything. It really seems like If I wanted to buy Hickman’s Avengers, I’d at least have to buy 3 other books to get the full story. And being a total completist nerd, I either go whole hog and get everything, or none at all. In my case, it’s currently none at all, because following DC in this fashion is making my wallet look at me every Wednesday like I’m slowly skinning it in a laboratory. However, reading ABOUT Hickman’s Avengers is still fascinating, and the news of what he’s doing with them piques my interest.
“The conversation shifted to the mysterious “New Avengers” team, which Jonathan revealed consists of the Illuminati, which was introduced in Brian Bendis’ “New Avengers.”“It’s about the guys that very quietly and secretly run the world,” he said. “It’s thematically much different than what’s going on in ‘Avengers.’ The plan that I’ve worked up is that the Avengers are the utopian Avengers. They’re the ideal Avengers, whereas the New Avengers are real-world. They live in the world as it is, which is dark and apocalyptic. It’s very old-school. We’re pretty excited about it. The books will work together, in tandem. You don’t have to read both of them, but if you do, there will be things that echo across the books.”
This is a classic example of something comics writers say, but never do. “Oh you don’t have to read them both/all/whatever, but there will be bonus story connections between…” blah blah blah. I know this game. I’m not falling for it mister. My wallet shrieks in pain every time I open it now from the trauma of Civil War, and that was YEARS ago.
Cable & X-Force Bring Back The 90’s
I know, I know, we’ve talked about this Cable series before, but sometimes a book is so interesting you just gotta follow up on it when you hear more about it. Especially if it involves Cable. In the 90’s Cable was a pretty big deal. I remember seeing lots of comics with him holding big guns, doing stuff, and having lots of pouches. I know it’s very hip to hate on 90’s pouches, but you know…. It’s fun. I always imagined he had ammo of course, but also just an entire spectrum of things in each pouch. Sort of like an Uber-Bat-Utility Belt. Regardless of pouches though, the thought of a comic being printed today with that ultra macho, pouch-tastic sensibility appeals to what very little bit of nostalgia there is in me to appeal to. Hopeless seems to be taking that idea and running with it.
“Newsarama: Dennis, the first thing I wanted to ask about stemming from your first couple interviews on Cable and X-Force is the idea of not shying away from the inherent ’90sness of the characters and concept. Why is it important for you to embrace that, and not run from it? And though obviously the point is to present those things in a modern context, but what kinds of ’90s motifs and practices do you find still work today?
Dennis Hopeless: I think there’s something about badass for badass sake. I was a kid when those early X-Force issues were coming out. My friends and I loved them because they were badass. Everything was high-octane and over the top. It’s the same reason we all loved Schwarzenegger and Stallone and Robocop.”
So I’ll avoid the easy joke of a guy named Hopeless writing a comic about Cable who has a daughter named Hope, and instead just mention how this book actually seems pretty interesting. I’ve never read anything by Dennis Hopeless, but he seems to be doing good work, and I love his name. The fact that he mentions Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Robocop just seals the deal for me. He seems like he gets it, and will actually produce the kind of book Liefeld was always going for, but ended up failing at. It’s the difference between a delicious, fluffy croissant and a rice cake. They’re both mostly air, but one is way better than the other.
Garth Ennis Assembles A New ‘Red Team’
After wrapping up his long running series The Boys, Ennis doesn’t look like he’s taking any breaks. The man certainly is full of ideas, and this new mini-series he’s developing sounds like one of the more tame ones, compared to the usual shock tactics he’s famous for.
“In Red Team, Garth Ennis and Dynamite described “up-and-coming artist” Craig Cermak team for this new seven issue limited series that features a Major Crimes task force in the NYPD who make a bad call that leads to lots of drama. The team decides to murder a suspect, and things don’t go well after that. Dynamite described the series as “in the tradition of The Wire and The Shield” in a press release.”
Aside from Preacher, I’ve always thought that Garth Ennis worked better with his mini-series. The Boys trailed off around issue 23 in my opinion, and never really recovered for me since. His mini-series have always appealed to me. I like the idea of him returning to another reality themed book, and think tackling a concept like a task force in the real world could work well for him. The guy has the chops to do more down to earth, gripping stuff in him. He did it really well for his Punisher run way back when, and Battlefields is the only modern example I can think of. I’ll be looking forward to this one because I know it’ll be done in 7 issues, and for a guy like me that’s comforting from a monetary standpoint, but disappointing if I end up REALLY liking it. Everything’s a catch-22 for me. Shit.
Mark Waid Is Taking On The Green Hornet
Now that Mark Waid has made himself a bigger deal with the success of Irredeemable, it seems his name has some clout to it that will bring more attention to what he’s doing. Specifically, Green Hornet. A character who is pretty famously non-popular. Not that he’s UN-popular, which means people hate him ala Aquaman. He’s just non-popular. Like… Red Tornado. Most people haven’t heard of him, but those who have probably don’t have any strong feelings about him. You’d have a hard time being pressed to list a seminal Green Hornet story the way you would with nearly any other superhero. That being said, perhaps Mark Waid will give Green Hornet his.
“It should come as little surprise that I have an affinity for all costumed crimefighters no matter if their adventures are ‘period pieces’ or not–heroism is heroism regardless of whatever year’s on the calendar,” said writer Mark Waid in a press release. “With this Green Hornet project, which I’ve been percolating on for more than ten years, I’m able to meld my love of the Hornet’s legacy with a little bit of Citizen Kane and a lot of Lawrence of Arabia to tell a story never before told–the dark years of the Hornet’s later career and the one mistake he makes that nearly costs him everything.”
So… Green Hornet will make newspapers in the desert while freeing slaves? And go sledding? Or something? Okay so I’ve never actually seen Citizen Kane (I know), but still. The man at least knows what he’s trying to accomplish. They even made that Green Hornet movie a year ago didn’t they? Then there was Kevin Smith’s comic, right? So maybe this whole thing has been building to this. Perhaps The Green Hornet will finally get his due? Being unfamiliar with his character in almost every dimension makes it hard for me to feel anything about this other than bemused indifference. I really loved Irredeemable though, so maybe it’ll be good. It’s weird, it’s almost like I have to try to purposely make an effort to like Green Hornet. I’m hoping soon I’ll be able to change my mind about him. Or not. Whatever.
Frank Cho Brings Us Savage Wolverine
Frank Cho is one of those names that’s known in particular for one thing. Cheesecake. No, not the delicious dessert, but rather the term for gratuitous shots of gorgeous, lusty, busty women posing seductively in some manner. Personally I have no problem with this. Who doesn’t like beautiful, busty, buxom, bouncing babes busting out of their brassieres? (+5 Alliteration skill)You know what else everyone loves? Wolverine. Now thanks to Frank Cho, we’ll get a book with BOTH!
The new series will start off, appropriately enough, in the Savage Land. Shanna the She-Devil, who Cho previously worked on in the Shanna the She-Devil limited series, will guest star in the series’ opening story arc, which features a stranded Wolverine waking up in the Savage Land with no memory of how he arrived. “The story takes place in the forbidden area of the Savage Land where an evil ancient god slumbers,” said Cho. “Wolverine and others accidentally unleash it, while trying to get home.”
I know this might rile up some weird Wolverine fanboys who don’t want their cheesecake mixing with their Wolverine…salad. Or whatever. All I can say is why not? Why not make a book with Wolverine fighting dinosaurs in the Savage Land, assisted by a busty, scantily clad sidekick who stabs dudes with her spear? Must everything be so dark all the time? The book sounds like it’ll be a hoot, and most importantly, actually interesting. A lot of writers get so caught up with making Wolverine such a gritty, broody, dark mother f-er they lose sight of the potential to just make him a badass awesome character who gets shit done. Best he is at what he does and all that. Plus boobs! Boobs! If you can’t get behind that, man… I dunno how to help you.
That’s it for this week! Be sure to check out more Comic Rack here!
I’m a little torn on Daredevil joining up with the New Avengers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the red son-of-a-gun and the idea of the Avengers having as many prominent heroes on their roster as the JLA does, but it seems a bit off.
To me, Daredevil is one of the street level heroes and that is his domain. I don’t see him able to handle foes of the caliber that we’ve been seeing in Fear Itself, in the midst of which he will make his debut. For example: Do you all think the D-man could take out a Nazi Mech? I think it’d be tough but he makes it look like it’s as easy as slipping on your shoes. Many thanks to CBR for the preview pictures!
Despite what I think I’m going to embrace this thing. I’m loving the hell out of the new Daredevil comic out there brought to us by Mark Waid and I think DD is on the right track now after having a rough last decade. Don’t forget Matt Murdock had to go through a public outing of his secret identity, a divorce, prison time and demonic depression. It’s about time the guy has something to fall back on like the protection of the Avengers. Look to see the Man Without Fear avenging against the Serpent in New Avengers #16!
It would seem that Marvel is jumping on the whole new number 1’s band wagon, because Daredevil is back at #1 again, as is The Hulk and Uncanny X-men later this fall. If any character needed a fresh new start at number one, it was Matt Murdock. He and his alter ego have gone through a shitload over the years. The deaths of two girlfriends, insanity, nervous breakdowns, divorce, his secret identity being compromised, prison and being possessed by a demon. That’s more than a lot of our other heroes go through.
Even though he needed a fresh start, there was no need to cop out and restart continuity from a certain point. (Spidey!) But it’s definitely a breath of fresh air for us the reader to see Matt Murdock back in Hell’s Kitchen with a more carefree attitude. He actually looks to be having a little fun being back, saving the daughter of a mob boss at the boss’s wedding and kissing the bride in the middle of a fight. That was a classic moment! The villain he fights in that scene was just as Daredevil described him – “Dumb name. Disturbing power.” Yes the Spot is an extremely dumb villain name, but his power to open holes in space at will is something you don’t take lightly. Especially after you see his hands come out of nowhere to snap a mob guy’s neck.
Everyone in New York from Matt’s morning coffee guy to the new assistant D.A. still believe that Matt is Daredevil, so the fallout from the Bendis-Maleev run is still there. But all Matt can do at this point is deny it and play dumb… er blind. I wonder if things will ever get back to normal for him. Him and Foggy can’t even hold onto clients because the opposing attorneys do nothing but bring the fact that Murdock is or was Daredevil. It is good to see the Matt and Foggy duo back. Those two just wouldn’t be the same without one another. It’s a true bromance all the way even though they are polar opposites in almost every way.
The ending was a bit of a shocker if his attacker is who I think it is but we’ll have to wait until the next issue to find out. I give the issue a 4.5 out of 5 bears.
Mark Waid is a fantastic writer and is able to catch the essence of Matt Murdock, Daredevil and Foggy Nelson just as good as Bendis or Brubaker ever could. The art by Paolo Rivera will take some getting used to, but overall I enjoyed it. The cover price of $3.99 was definitely worth it because there was a little bonus story in the back that was pretty enjoyable. Hopefully Daredevil is back on the right track with Mark Waid pulling the trigger because I just sort of lost interest when Andy Diggle took over. Not to say Diggle is a bad writer, I just don’t think he is suited for the character of Daredevil. I’ll definitely be picking up issue 2!