Monday, June 06, 2011

The fall of DC - the rise of Valiant ?

You may already have heard that DC is going day and date with its line of comics and that to further facilitate this they are going to relaunch 52 of it´s books with a new number 1 following the events of FLASHPOINT.

That´s right. New series, new creative teams and most important - new number 1s. Because we haven´t got enough number 1s as it is. Who cares that a book like Justice League has at least six number ones already not counting the number 1s of series like Justice League Europe, Justice League International, Justice League Classified, Justice League Task Force, Formerly known as the Justice League, etc., etc., etc....
And comic companies wonder WHY they have so much trouble getting new readers.

HELLO ! First rule for getting new readers : You have to take them by the hand and guide them, not throw them at the lion pit.

Why is WALKING DEAD so successful ? Besides being a terrific book with great art and writing there is only one book.

No TALES FROM THE WALKING DEAD, no WALKING DEAD EUROPE, no WALKING DEAD REDEAD. If a customer asks : " Is this the comic to the tv series ? " the shop owner can say yes. This is it. And he doesn´t have to explain to the customer that there are five books and what they are all about and which ones he needs to read to understand it.

One book.

But DC relaunches 52 of its titles.

I´m gone for the internet for 5 friggin days and THIS is what I come back to ? Has DC gone mad ? I swear, I can´t leave them alone for 5 minutes.

I´m still reading the books I got at the Comicbörse Stuttgart ( I already gave DAS MARVEL - PROJECT away as a birthday present ) and since I invited my sister and my brother in law to celebrate his birthday I spent most of last week cleaning up the house.

Longtime readers may recall that I mentioned in my last post ( or any other about HARTMUT ) that I always buy two copies of every new HARTMUT comic since it´s one of the few comics my brother in law reads. So after the Comicbörse Stuttgart I called my sister and as fate would have it I asked her when her husband celebrates his birthday ( I didn´t want to wait till Christmas to give him the present ) only to hear that it was the same weekend on which the Comicbörse took place.

So we talked a bit and decided that they would visit us on Saturday ( this weekend ) but that also meant the house needed to be cleaned up a bit. And since none of my brothers seemed to be in the least bit inclined to help with that I had to do it all myself.

I tried to get a bit of rest on Friday after I had almost finished with cleaning but then I also had to cook and that was that.

On Saturday I wanted to take a nap after returning from the ice - cream parlor but just when I started to doze off my sister and her husband had arrived. As usual the time was too short but we had a good meal of paella that my younger brother had cooked ( his birthday present ) and - as my sister hasn´t the time to watch all new DC animated movies - we watched GREEN LANTERN - FIRST FLIGHT and SUPERMAN / BATMAN - ACOPALYPSE.

All in all an enjoyable day and I also gave away my first comic from the GRATIS COMIC TAG, the MUPPET SHOW comic because my sister is a big fan of the show. I´m pretty sure she will love the comic.

As a matter of fact I have already read all the 12 comics I got at the GRATIS COMIC TAG ( and one my brother got ) and besides the MUPPET SHOW comic there are 6 that I´m definitely giving away, 2 I´m also probaly going to give away and 3 I will keep. Unless I can get more copies of the comics. It all depends on my next visit to the comicshop.

I would like to write about a few more comics in the GRATIS COMIC TAG post. Which would have been this post if I hadn´t heard the news of DC´s suicidal tendencies from COMIC BITS ONLINE ( which you can find right on this blogroll - you are checking it out regularly I hope ) which has me shaking my head in disbelieve.

Seriously, I just don´t care anymore. FLASHPOINT doesn´t interest me in the least bit besides the SECRET SEVEN series – and that´s only because George Perez will be doing the art. I´m a big George Perez fan and this way I can hopefully bridge the time until the TEEN TITANS GAMES graphic novel is finally released.

But I wasn´t interested in the FLASHPOINT crossover before and now I´m even less interested.

I mean if you have seen one bleak, grim and gritty alternative timeline you have seen them all. Been ther, done that, bought the t - shirt. And from what I have read so far it doesn´t seem that this is another one of the highly entertaining " Alternate timelines in which everybody dies ".

DC is relaunching 52 books ? Whatever. Wonder Woman was being relaunched anyway and now this is – what ? A re – relaunch ? A re – retrolaunch ? A back – and – forth launch ? In the words of a certain ex – president I would say : Wonder Woman is a flip – flopper.

Every time Wonder Woman has been successful in the last years ( as in the storyline that was drawn by Terry Dodson ) it has had really exceptional art and it has always gone back to the roots and used the things that made Wonder Woman popular. And every time Wonder Woman has flopped in the last years was when the book had below - par art and was trying to re - invent itself.

This is one of the main problems of Wonder Woman ( and comic books in general ) instead of working with the tools they have and writing good stories the company think they have to constantly re - invent the wheel. But once you´ve invented the wheel that´s it. You can fidget with the basic design but the general idea is solid. You just have to use it wisely.

Wonder Woman is one of the best known female comic characters and thanks to a tv show that was better than it got credit there are a lot of things people know about Wonder Woman. She comes from a secret island of amazons where men are forbidden to set foot and she´s a princess. She´s strong, she deflects bullets with her bracelets, she can talk with animals and she has a lasso of truth and an invisible jet.

People know what her costume looks like and that she changes clothes by spinning around. Now, can anyone tell me why the people of DC think they can sell more Wonder Woman comics by changing all the things I mentioned above ? Because I can´t understand it.

It´s still a mystery to me why companies like Marvel decide to flood the market with 5 different versions of IRON MAN whenever a new movie is in the cinemas but not one of them is like the movie version.

In my opinion DC is just digging it´s own grave with this new relaunch and I´ll – as usual – keep on reading my regular books unless they are canceled or relaunched. And I´ll maybe try a few ones that sound interesting which I will mostly decide by on the grounds of who the artist of the books will be. Not like the creative line up of DC books had such a good track record. I mean, every three months I want to do a post about TEN TITANS but the new writer I wanted to announce is already out and the current writer is only temporary until the new one takes over – this time for real. That book goes through more writers than Hawkman has origins ( and I think DC is going to add one more to the list with the relaunch ).

I´m usually a " let´s wait and see before crying bloody murder " guy, but reading the press release........sorry this all sounds like a lot of bs ( pardon my french ).

Guided by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, JUSTICE LEAGUE will begin its first year with an updated secret origin reflecting DC’s new initiative, giving the group a reason for coming together that it lacked when the league first appeared in 1960. And while it will ultimately boast 14 members, at its core will be DC’s A - list do - gooders: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman.

Okay, first of all what´s all this nonsense about lacking a reason for coming together ? A giant alien telepatic starfish that´s bent on enslaving the entire human race is not reason enough for you ? What more do you need ? So far there always was a reason for the Justice League - besides the obvious. Namely that they banded together to fight the threats no superhero could battle alone - oops, wrong comic company.

And since when is Aquaman A - list ? Since BRIGHTEST DAY ? Which was pretty disappointing especially the ending. I mean all this trouble just to bring back one character ? Okay, how much did Mike Sterling pay DC ? This is a ripp - off.

“ The approach is very much about who they are behind the masks and how they interact together and how these personalities mix, ” explains Johns, DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer. “ With the world’s greatest superheroes, how does that team actually work? Do they all get along? Being able to pull together and see how that relationship is forged and continues to grow has to be at the heart of that book. ”

For Lee, working on a team book is a different experience than a Superman or Batman, both of which he illustrated in recent years.

“ When you have a Green Lantern mixing with a foil like Batman, you get scenes that are comic - book history. There’s the epicness of it all. You’re dealing with iconic characters and you want to give them all equal grandeur and weight. ”

Now call me oldfashioned but we already had all this in the DC books that were published so far. At least in the good ones.

Every good Justice League book focuses on the persons behind the masks and their unique interaction. Like the Giffen League or the recent JUSTICE LEAGUE - GENERATION LOST book. So far I haven´t heard anything new about this new relaunch.

Also I´m not sure how good Jim Lee is at keeping deadlines since the wait for new issues of ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN kept getting longer and longer. The sequel to that has been announced every year now but with all the new books at DC and Jim Lee starting a different title who knows if that ever will happen.

The recent emphasis on diverse characters such as lesbian superheroine Batwoman, Hispanic hero Blue Beetle and African - American adventurer Cyborg ( who will be a core member of Johns and Lee’s new Justice League ) also will continue.

“ He’s a character I really see as the modern - day, 21st - century superhero,” Johns says of Cyborg. “ He represents all of us in a lot of ways. If we have a cellphone and we’re texting on it, we are a cyborg — that’s what a cyborg is, using technology as an extension of ourselves.”

Okay, this is where the train not only heads off the rails but swandives into the abyss. Batwoman did not profit from the hysterical media coverage of a lesbian superhero and if it has gained a following it´s because of the solid creative team.

Blue Beetle´s book was canceled.

And Cyborg is neither a new character ( he´s from the 80s ) nor is his inclusion in the Justice League a new idea. James Robinson did it during his run on the book and it didn´t fit even back then.

Cyborg is one of the rocks of the Teen Titans and an integral part of the team. On the Justice League he´s just one of many and not even someone special. He has no ties to the team especially when Dick Grayson is not their Batman, Wally West is not their Flash and Red Arrow, Starfire and Troya are not on the team.

And what the f - word is Jim Lee smoking ? If I am using a cellphone I´m a cyborg ? Last time I looked in the dictionary the word " cyborg " was short for cybernetic organism meaning a living organism being partly organic and partly machine. Half man, half machine. All cop.

I don´t know but as long as your cellphone is not implanted in your body or growing out of your elbow you are not a cyborg. Calm down. Just using technology will not turn you into a man - machine and Skynet is not going to control you to terminate all humans. Really.

Can anyone explain to me why comic companies seem to be in a self – destruct mode lately ?

But there is also good news as the prospects of a return of VALIANT looks pretty good. Another strange coincidence since I just bought the trades of SHADOWMAN, HARBINGER and RAI at the Comicbörse Stuttgart. Now they could be worth more - along with the rest of my VALIANT collection.

Valiant Entertainment – the company which purchased the rights to Valiants original properties in 2007 – announced that it will begin publishing new comics in both print and digitally formats in 2012 featuring heroes like XO Manowar and Bloodshot. The move comes in part thanks to a capital infusion from Cueno & Company, LCC – an investment firm headed by former Marvel CEO and Vice Chairman Peter Cuneo and his son Gavin. Cuneo left Marvel in 2010 as a result of the Disney buyout of that company and will serve as Chairman of Valiant, rounding out a management team that already included CEO Jason Kothari and Director Dinesh Shamdasani. You can read a full interview here

This reminds me a bit of the time Jim Shooter left Marvel and started Valiant. Or when Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portaccio, Jim Valentino and Jim Lee left Marvel to start Image. Hmm, it seems that every time someone leaves Marvel new grounbreaking comic companies follow in its wake. Maybe more people should leave Marvel.

Now although you have to take the press release with a grain of salt since no release dates or creative teams are announced. Also you won´t be seeing new comics about Gold Key properties SOLAR, MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER or TUROK since they are currently published by Dark Horse ( and written by Jim Shooter nonetheless ). But there are such great books left like X - O MANOWAR, BLOODSHOT, RAI, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, ETERNAL WARRIOR or SHADOWMAN to name just a few.

So it seems that while I may be reading less DC books in the future ( JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA is already on the short way to the chopping block of my pull list thanks to Scott Kollins abominable art ) I may fill the vacant space in my pull list with new Valiant titles. I have too many books on my pull list anyway and I would really like to find out what´s up with my favorite armored barbarian Aric Dacia. And who knows we may actually get rid of the awful SUPERGIRL series and Stephanie Brown as Batgirl.

Since the biggest part of Todays post has been rather depressing here´s a clip to cheer you up. The MUPPET SHOW comic has finally reached Germany and at the same time the show is also finally released on DVD. To remind you of the greatness of the show here´s the episode from the third season that had Raquel Welch as the guest star.

Thankfully you can watch the full episode on YouTube unlike most cartoon shows where YouTube always insists on deleting the third part.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

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