Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Marvel.1 - not as stupid as it sounds ?

With all the news about DC on this blog you might think that I´m sponsored by them. But let me assure you, I´m still the only one paying for all the comics that I review here.

So, since I owe them no alliegance I thought it was about time to give some equal opportunity posts to Marvel and the other comic companies. I guess the biggest thing that bugs me about the whole DC relaunch is that I always was a big supporter of DC. For me they were the comic company that always had the readers best interest in mind and thought about the long term effects. While Marvel seemed to be focused on the quick buck and cheap marketing ploys.

Well, we´ll talk about one such cheap marketing ploy ( or maybe something more ) later on. DC always produced the better series for the readers as apparent by less changes in the artistical departement and aside from finally succeeding to get me to stop caring about the FLASH ( a series I read for years ) I was mostly in for the long haul. But I guess always coming in second got to them and suddenly the idea of relaunching their entire line with designs by Jim Lee doesn´t sounds so bad anymore.

Not that Marvel´s FEAR ITSELF is more innovative. Who knew that when Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke the words " The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. " he meant a crossover by one of the two big comic companies 77 years in the future ?

All joking aside, at the moment I´m " evented out " or like other blogs have phrased it I´m suffering from event fatiguee. And that´s pretty lucky because FEAR ITSELF sounds like a really hare brained story. The whole thing with now giving out hammers by the dozen thing sits wrong with me. And FLASHPOINT doesn´t sound much better. Not that I could get my hands on any issues if I wanted. Both online shops I use have sold out all their issues and I´m not sure if my regular comicshop has some issues.

I heard most shops sold out on them which is either a good sign because it could mean there was a higher demand than supply. Or it could mean that they were simply underordered because comicshops don´t trust the big events anymore. Because the readers just don´t care anymore.

But back to Marvel, I thought about doing a news post with all the Marvel news but decided against it. Not that there is no news about Marvel that´s comment - worthy. I mean who´d have thought that Joe " I´ll do my comic series after I finished with my playstation even if it destroys my BATTLE CHASERS franchise forever and after that I´ll do a fugly run on ULTIMATES that makes you wish I kept on designing computer games " Madureiras would ever return to comics ? And to draw a monthly Spider - Man series nonetheless.

But that´s not what I want to write about Today. What I´m going to write about are some comics - finally ! - and I´m once again pondering a few questions about the 3.99 price tag most Marvel comics carry. Because I want to know if we as the comic reading and comic buying public have been lied to. But let´s start with the question of this posts title.


The .1 concept or Point One, like Marvel itself calls it, is to do special issues that are geared to help introduce readers to a new series. Comics don´t sell as much as they used to do which on one side could be caused by the fact that instead of 12 or 20 titles Marvel now has over hundred.

And if you keep selling to the same audience and number of clients this means your costs for producing comics rise while your revenue shrinks. The only way to get more money is to bring in new readers. DC is doing it by going day and date with their complete line, Marvel did it years ago with their ULTIMATE line. Which they have now flushed down the toilet. And rebooted. And killed of Spider - Man. And brought himback. Well, it´s a different person in the costume now but you know what I mean.

So Marvel´s new idea to bring in new readers was to do these .1 issues that are for instance UNCANNY X - MEN 534.1, an issue that comes between UNCANNY X - MEN 534 and UNCANNY X - MEN 535. In Marvel´s own words :

Geared for new and long - time readers alike, the all - new Marvel: Point One initiative delivers the perfect jumping on points for the biggest super hero series in the world! Beginning in February 2011, select Marvel comic series marked with a ".1" after the issue number feature full - length, self - contained stories by Marvel's top creators, laying the groundwork for the next year of storylines. From INVINCIBLE IRON MAN to AVENGERS to AMAZING SPIDER - MAN, each Marvel: Point One issue of the associated series not only begin major new storylines, but also seamlessly introduces new readers into the dynamic Marvel Universe and its popular super heroes.

Additionally, each issue bearing the Marvel: Point One branding will be followed in the same month by another issue of that series, delivering new fans another exciting installment of the series they enjoy.

" Marvel is absolutely committed to providing new readers with easy entry points into all our comic book series and Marvel: Point One is the next step in our new reader initiatives, " explained David Gabriel, Senior Vice - President, Sales & Circulation, Marvel Entertainment. " And to make sure readers can sample all of Marvel's top series, we've priced every Marvel: Point One issue at $2.99. Utilizing our top characters, top creators and employing a huge marketing push, we expect a lot of new faces in comic stores nationwide to check out Marvel: Point One. Retailers should stock up on these titles and the subsequent issues. "

The biggest super heroes in the universe. The biggest creators in comics. And now, it's time to jump onboard the biggest comic book series with Marvel: Point One, beginning in February 2011!

Okay, now you´re probably wondering " Hey, that statement says Marvel Point One starts in February and now we´re in the middle of June. Why so late ? " and you´re right.

First of all, when the .1 issues were announced for AMAZING SPIDER - MAN, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, WOLVERINE, CAPTAIN AMERICA, DEADPOOL, HULK, THOR, UNCANNY X-FORCE, AVENGERS, SECRET AVENGERS and UNCANNY X-MEN it didn´t look like I was going to get them anyway. Especially the DEADPOOL issue. I mean who needs more Deadpool ? One series is already too much and right now we have at least six of them. Overkill much, Marvel ?

But the whole idea of spending 3 extra bucks on an issue that´s just some in - between story and a logistic nightmare for all the comicfans out there obsessing with the numbering sounded ridiculous.

Then Carlos Pacheco was announced as artist for the .1 issue of UNCANNY X - MEN and I thought " Okay, just the one. " Or .1 in this case. Although Carlos Pacheco´s style has changed from his art on JLA / JSA VIRTUE AND VICE for more of an HEAVY METAL style I use every opportunity to get some pages from him. Okay, the last work I really, really, really liked was his SUPERMAN / BATMAN storyline ABSOLUTE POWER and the last inkers he had in his ULTIMATE books weren´t on the level of longtime partner in crime Jesus Merino. But what can I say ? Us paisanos gotta stick together.

Okay, I´m right in the middle of the review but I haven´t finished with the segueway yet. So, I thought that I would get just this one issue. Then Brian Hitch was going to do the AVENGERS.1 issue. Okay, two. I can live with two. No big thing. Then Scott Eaton was doing SECRET AVENGERS.1 who was always an underrated artist for me. He also did the next regular issue of SECRET AVENGERS so I thought - in Bob Ross´immortal words - what the heck, I´ll take that too. Which was also my reaction when I found CAPTAIN AMERICA 615.1 in my comic bag. The art didn´t look too bad and since I was catching up on my CAPTAIN AMERICA with three issues I went for the whole " the more the merrier thing ".

So now I had managed to buy 4 of these .1 issues which for me were enough for a post. Not the most balanced since I don´t have all the issues and it might well be that all other issues I didn´t get really sucked. But as I said, for the moment I´m buying all comics myself and if Marvel doesn´t like my conclusions they can always send me the rest of the issues for free. But let´s get started with the issues in question.


Do you remember when comic stories used to have titles ? Back in the olden days, in the times before the times, in the long long ago every comic story had a title. Impressive, grandiose titles like WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW ? or THE BOY WHO COLLECTED SPIDER - MAN or FOR THE MAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING. Well, it seems like sound words, caption boxes and thought ballons titles are now a thing of the past especially with the .1 issues.

I shortly thought about using the title I wrote above but since it´s too long I´m going to refer to this story as PRESS RELEASE - if I have to.

This was the first one I was absolutely sure I would get so it´s just fitting to start with it. The story is written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Carlos Pacheco, as I already mentioned. Having Cam Smith, Dan Green and Nathan Lee doing the inks is a bit weird but since you barely notice the different inkers I won´t complain.

Since I´m reading the X - Men in the german translation I´m still a few months behind on the books so I can share the viewpoint of a new reader or someone who´s thinking about coming back to the title.

The art is - of course - stunning and that´s really promising for the upcoming X - MEN SCHISM series that has art by Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho and other comic greats. Yeah, I know X - MENSCHISM sounds like Snoop Doggy Dog is now writing for Marvel but that´s not the worst title for a comic series I have ever heard. Not by a long shot.

PRESS RELEASE has a subplot about A.I.M. scientists extorting money from San Francisco corporations with an earthquake machine, but the main story is all about Magneto. One of Marvel´s best villains Magneto has always flip - flopped between the light and the darkness. Starting out as a villain he has often play Malcolm X to Xavier´s Martin Luther King and was at one point even headmaster for the NEW MUTANTS. The Meister of Magnetism with the BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY t - shirt collection has even died a few times and come back more villainious than ever or as the big mutant hope.

Right now it looks like he´s on the side of the angels again and PRESS RELEASE deals with the repercussions of that. Thanks to the fallout of Brian Michael Bendis godawful AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED the mutant population is on the brink of extinction and the X - Men are now residing in San Francisco. Having just barely survived an all - out attack by Bastion ( well, not everybody made it out of this one alive ) and saved the world the X - Men are the focus of the media and that includes Magneto now.

As he seems trying to turn over a new leaf ( he brought Kitty Pryde back to earth ) he´s now faced with the problem of selling the idea of a mass murderer and mutant activist living right next door to the public. One of the things that I find odd is the fact that while science has now proven that the idea of species being wiped out by other species as a result of evolution is wrong this has no impact on the x - Men comic.

According to new studies there were two human races co - existing at the same time and one of them just became extinct. The other one didn´t substitute them or eat all their food or whatnot. But still the idea of mutants as the new dominant species by extingushing the human race is being propagandised in the pages of X - Men. I would have thought that the new scientific discoveries would have been an opportunity to tell all humans that they will not be extinguished and that they can co - exist with mutants.

Well, another missed opportunity now that mutants are a minority. Speaking of propaganda, that´s what this issue is all about if you keep in mind that propaganda stats with pr. The story doesn´t dissect EVERY aspect of Magneto´s personality - you could do various miniseries on that subject - but it manages to show you a bit how he ticks. And, together with the preview images of upcoming X - Men issues, it really makes you want to read further issues.

So in that prospect this comic really does what it´s supposed to do.


Man, they should really start to give these stories titles. Although I do kind of like my own title. It´s abit long and gives away some part of the story but the shorter one I cam up with does give away the ending so there you have it.

This one has surprised me a bit. Besides the top notch artistic team of Brain Michael Bendis, Brian Hitch and Paul Neary the ending leads into the next big event of earth´s mightiest - well, mortlas is not so fitting since Thor returned to their ranks - heroes. It´s not surprising keeping in mind the first six issues of AVENGERS proper just unexpecting. Besides that there´s not much to add on this one because I really can´t find any faults here.

It has a solid story, great art by Brian Hitch and really gets you interested to pick up the book. And all for 2.99 - preview avengers 12.1


As I said before, Scott Eaton is one of comics most underrated artists - at least in my book. He has worked on a few high caliber series but aside from his time at CrossGen it seems he´s always the guy between regular artists. As with the AVENGERS.1 issue I´m a regular reader so I don´t know how successful this issue is in selling the concept of the Avenger´s new black ops team.

On one side the story is not essential to the series so you could have the complete collection without it. On the other side it´s a clever story by Nick Spence that serves up the usual back and forth between this particular team. Especially the new Antman who´s very annoying mostly because while he embodies the reader he speaks out loud what most people wouldn´t think. I mean a lot of people might think that Benjamin Grimm is not winning any beauty contests in the near future. But most people would have the common sense not to call him an ugly bastich to his face.

Because they would end up in a hospital or a cemetery. So it´s never been very realistic to see the new Antman just do this kind of thing. Although you have to keep in mind that there was this scene in an Avengers special where the male members where discussing which women they would like to have sex with while in the presence of their female colleagues. So Marvel might be the new home for males behaving unrealistic to impress women. But aside from that little gripe - which is more a gripe with the character per se and not the story - it´s an enjoyable read. i think a few readers might pick up the regular series.

  • preview secret avengers 12.1


    Mitch Breitweiser is not one of my favorite artists. Truth to tell I could do without any of his issues in my collection. Still the editorial team of Captain America has managed to keep a certain " house look " with all the artists that have come and gone so far. I mean they don´t have them all mimicking Steve Epting. But so far they have had Michael Lark, Butch Guice, Mike Perkins, Stefano Gaudino, Chris Samnee and Luke Ross in the series - sometimes three of them in one issue - and still made it look cohesively through the right coloring or the right inker.

    And Ed Brubaker has a lot of leeway for his run on Captain America so far. Not so much that I´m going to try out his non - superhero books but enough that I took a chance at this one.

    The story in this comic does not so much LEAD into the next big thing but rather present a dilemma that Steve Rogers has got to solve sooner or later. And keeping in mind that according to the news the demise of a certain character ( that rhymes with Ducky ) seems to be on the horizon it looks like it´s going to be sooner. So it looks like so far I can recommend all the .1 books I have read - preview captain america 615.1


    I have kept CAPTAIN AMERICA 615.1 for last because it is followed by the big 70th anniversary issue CAPTAIN AMERICA 616. I have already written a bit about it when it was announced but besides having great stories illustrated by artists like Ed McGuiness, Mike Deodato,

    Howard Chaykin and Paul Grist

    ( which all DO have titles ) it has 94 comic pages for 4.99.

    Back when Marvel was raising the price to 3.99 for their regular issues one of the main arguments was that it was impossible to have top artists on books with a 2.99 price tag. Well, on the four .1 issues I got you have Carlos Pacheco, Brian Hitch and Scott Eaton who are not exactly at the bottom of the barrel. I´m not saying that this could be done on a regular basis but you can´t tell me that a company that´s as money oriented like Marvel is not making some profit. It´s probably less than on their regular books but I can´t believe they are not making money with this.

    So far there are also two issues I have ( there may be more but once again I have to buy all my comics myself ) that have two complete stories. AVENGERS 10 has also the complete first issue of HEROES FOR HIRE and UNCANNY X - MEN 534 also includes the first issue of AVENGERS ACADEMY.

    Once again, I don´t know how much profit Marvel is making with this but is shows that it is possible to publish a comic with twice as much comic pages as the regular books for the same price.

    Or four times as much comic pages for an extra buck. Even not including the comics that include the bonus books this raises an interesting question. Was Marvel´s only possibility to raise the price to 3.99 ? Or did they also have the possibility of raising the price to 4.99 and putting in more pages ?

    Okay, you might argue that 94 pages for a 4.99 comic may be cutting it close. but what about 84 pages for 4.99. There have been a few bloggers who have written about the " satisfying chunk " meaning that readers are sometimes willing to pay more, even buy a graphic novel instead of a few floppies if they have the feeling they get their money´s worth. With Marvel producing between four and five series for most of their characters coming up with the material wouldn´t be a problem.

    And it would be ideal for artists like Brian Hitch, Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Arthur Adams, George Perez, Richard Corben or Ed McGuiness who have problems keeping a monthly schedule. They could do stories from 5 to 25 pages and you could include them when they are ready. And if you want you could also include veteran artists who haven´t gotten much comic work lately like Kerry Gamill, Bob McLeod, Sal Buscema, Ron Frenz, Walter Simonson or Mike Zeck. I would love to see some new pages by them.

    So, I would say the Point One iniciative from Marvel is better than it sounds at first but with the 2.99 price tag I have to wonder how much of the money we pay for the regular issues are justified and how much of it is just Marvel filling their pockets. And wouldn´t the better alternative be to offer 4.99 books with more pages ? In Germany the X - Men comics are printed in 100 page books for 5.99 and although there is a lot of filler material I still have the feeling to get my money´s worth. So is a comic for 4.99 with 64 to 84 pages really an utopic idea ?

    In a time where the economy is bad the comic industry is the only one that has increased its prices while the rest are reducing prices and showering the customer with incentives and special prices. While the rest of the business world is doing all it can to keep its customer base comics are doing everything in their power to get rid of its core readers. The only comic companies that haven´t raised their prices so far are the independent companies. Although they don´t use that.

    I don´t know, but if it was up to me I´d put STILL 49 CENTS CHEAPER THAN YOUR AVERAGE MARVEL COMIC in bold letters on every Image comic if I was Erik Larsen.

    And on all books by IDW, DARK HORSE or ABSTRACT STUDIOS. And bigger than the small " Drawing the line at 2.99 " thingie - that´s for sure. So it seems the whole 3.99 ( or 4.99 ) thing at Marvel will still be a topic on this blog. Especially when it looks like I will be reading less DC books in the future.

    So I hope we can finally come to the first GRATIS COMIC TAG post next as I´m itching to give them away. Yes, you have read right. Due to the big success of my last free comic contest there will be a new contest. Write in soon as there is only one copy of each comic available at the moment. But who knows ? I might get another few copies with my next visit at the comicshop.

    Today we´re taking a break from the Muppet Show videos for one about german comic artist Jens Harder and his award winning graphic novel ALPHA.

    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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