Tagged: House

‘X-Factor’ and Event Fatigue

Though you can’t go to a comics convention panel without hearing some fan decry crossovers, it’s readily obvious why they keep appearing and tying up comics series: Crossovers sell.

As editors and creators quickly point out, slapping an event label on a comic cover can immediately boost sales by a healthy margin. And when books are struggling for readers, those opportunities are hard to pass up.

But for those who closely follow a particular series, crossovers certainly have the potential to seriously gum up the works, which is made evident with perfect clarity in the two issues of X-Factor released last week.

The issue from the main series has the main team in Detroit, sort of teaming up with She-Hulk to take down a Skrull attacker. The other, a Layla Miller special, has that character still stuck in the future, having some very strange adventures and knowing stuff.

The series proper has been one of my favorites since it started up again a few years ago, with Peter David knocking out  some of the best superheroics seen this decade. His scripts are smart, funny and well crafted, and continued reading makes clear how good he is at plotting stories out in the long term.

But the past two Secret Invasion tie-in issues have been easily the worst of the run, in part because of sub-standard art and in part because the Skrull situation feels as forced as it is. Even Jamie Madrox’s patented monologues lack their usual flair.

This is then highlighted (or perhaps lowlighted) by the brilliant Layla Miller issue, which is clearly Miller in more unadulterated form. Layla — herself a deus ex machina from House of M, another event/crossover — has been a driving force of X-Factor. But for now she’s relegated off to an alternate future, not coincidentally by the last X-Men crossover, Messiah Complex.

All told, the past year and a half of X-Factor has seen it cross over with three events (Civil War being the only one I haven’t mentioned yet). For fans of the series, all we can do is wonder what the book might have been if David had been left to his own devices.

ComicMix Radio: Kumar And The Guide To DC Hell

ComicMix Radio: Kumar And The Guide To DC Hell

 We’re back from Comic Con and ready to hit the comic shop in search of so much we saw previewed on the floor in San Diego, plus:

  • Kal (Kumar) Penn shows us how he landed on Fox’s House
  • Keith Giffen prepares us for this week’s visit to the DC Version Of Hell
  • ComicMix‘s Denny O’Neil warms up the BatCave for Gaiman

Get a pen, your shopping list and then Press the Button!

And remember, you can always subscribe to ComicMix Radio podcasts via iTunes - ComicMix or RSS!



‘Final Crisis’ tanks; WildStorm Sales Worst Ever

There’s a lengthy breakdown of DC’s May sales up at The Beat, and it only serves as further notice that the ol’ warship is taking on copious amounts of water.

The big story, of course, is the soft debut of Final Crisis, which couldn’t even crack 145,000 issues, a paltry sum for any big comics event. It’s not only well south of the 250,000 issues of Secret Invasion #1 that sold, but even the 178,000 from the much less ballyhooed World War Hulk #1. Not good.

The problem, according to Marc-Oliver Frisch, is mainly one of marketing:

One reason that may have led to this loss of faith in DC’s product is the publisher’s recent string of high-level failures. … Retailers had learned their lessons, and I suppose there was no reason to presume that they were going to forget them when it came to ordering Final Crisis. DC would have to put out all the stops to convince them that this was going to be different.

Which they emphatically did not do. Crucially, DC never bothered to tell anyone what Final Crisis was going to be about. … The slogan with which DC chose to advertise the content of Final Crisis when pressed for it, “The Day Evil Won,” doesn’t really address the problem. I mean, congratulations, so you’ve got a second act in there somewhere, at the end of which the bad guys temporarily win, which they always do.

In short, there is no hook.

Which sounds an awful lot like what I had to say about the first issue.

Things go from worse to, well, worse for DC, as its WildStorm line is basically not selling any comics. The average units sold for the line was a shade over 9,800, which is its worst ever mark, Frisch writes.

All told, sales are down everywhere and a whopping 11 series have been canceled because of poor sales.

The only good point was Vertigo’s new House of Mystery series, which debuted at well more than 20,000 copies.

Exploring Creators’ Rights With ‘The Incredible Hulk’

Exploring Creators’ Rights With ‘The Incredible Hulk’

As a footnote of sorts to his recent review of The Incredible Hulk, Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter made an interesting observation about a potential subtext in the Paramount/Marvel Studios blockbuster.

According to Spurgeon, one particular element in the relationship between the characters of Dr. Bruce Banner and Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross might be worth a little more exploration — but don’t expect the House of Ideas to lead the discussion:

* in case you were wondering, Incredible Hulk continues Marvel’s weird Summer 2008 conversational subtext on creators’ rights issues, as General Thunderbolt Ross demands ownership of Bruce Banner’s body of work and licensing rights, and turns the Super-Soldier formula over to another work-for-hire creator. I can hardly wait for Thor’s exegesis on trademarks and public domain.

Good eye (or ear, in this case), Tom!

The Weekly Haul: Reviews for June 5, 2008

Quite a top-notch week in comics, all in all. We had another Secret Invasion entry and the debut of DC’s Trinity (I’ll be doing separate weekly reviews of that one), as well as strong outings from other series.

There seemed to be a viral outbreak of silliness, though, as a handful of comics pushed the goofy too far and suffered for it. Only a couple of outright stink bombs, which are helping me kick off a new section for these reviews: The Dregs. Now, the reviews…

Book of the Week: Secret Invasion #3 — First, let me say there continue to be some serious problems with Skrullapalooza ’08. The series is not even remotely self contained, so any casual fan is probably going to be quite lost, there are a few too many unclear moments (lost either in script or art), and the Skrull invasion force still looks like they were designed by Toys R’ Us.

That out of the way, this issue merits top billing for a few big reasons.

First, the story actually moves ahead after stagnating in the Savage Land. Second, there are some huh-yuge fights, and Leinil Yu takes a bellows and pumps them full of hot air. Third…

We need a big SPOILER WARNING for this. Third, we learn the biggest reveal in modern comics memory, that this colossal, inconsistent prick of Tony Stark who has embroiled the Marvel Universe isn’t really Tony Stark. Gasp. He’s a Skrull.

Runners Up:

Abe Sapien: The Drowning #5 — This series ends with a graceful if unsatisfying issue, filled with more sparsely worded craziness (giant flying eel?!?) and Abe continuing to wonder how he stacks up. "You aren’t Hellboy and you never will be," he tells himself. But, like Hellboy, he learns the crucial lesson that guns usually don’t stop supernatural forces.

The shining light of this series is artist Jason Alexander, who lends everything a perfect ephemeral, abstract air. The good news is he’s going to be doing more BPRD work.

Omega the Unknown #9 — Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple’s bizarre cerebral odyssey is nearly at an end, and this penultimate issue brings the Omega and robot forces to a head in a big way, with the world at stake. Still, things are never too heavy, and despite a dramatic death it ends up being the most rambunctious issue yet.


Happy Birthday: Mike W. Barr

Happy Birthday: Mike W. Barr

Born in 1952, Mike W. Barr’s first comic book story was an eight-page backup in Detective Comics #444 in 1974.

In 1980, he started doing semi-regular backup stories in both Detective Comics and House of Mystery. He also wrote an issue of Captain America, which led to regular work with Marvel as well.

The following year, Barr picked up some editorial duties at DC and also started writing Star Trek for Marvel. In 1982, he wrote Camelot 3000, one of the first so-called “maxi-series.”

August 1983 saw the debut of Batman and the Outsiders, probably Barr’s best-known creation, and in 1987 he wrote Batman: Son of the Demon, which is often credited as singlehandedly restoring DC’s fortunes.

Since then Barr has done many more comic book projects, including more Batman stories, a two-parter for JLA: Classified, a relaunch of his Maze Agency series, and a piece for Star Trek: The Manga.

He also wrote a Star Trek novel, Gemini, which included some of the characters he created in the Star Trek comic book series.

The Weekly Haul: Reviews for May 8, 2008

Simply put, a huge week in comics, with a full load of books even before we get into Skrullapalooza 2008. Though a few decent indies came out, superheroes dominated the shelves, and Marvel’s superheroes especially, including a couple of big debuts.

Book of the Week: Nova #13 — A comic has to be pretty dang good to overcome a cover like the one at right, which seems to show Nova and Silver Surfer en flagrante as Galactus serves as an interstellar peeping tom.

Despite that, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s space book shows no Annihilation hangover, keeping the pedal all the way to the floor. Back to trying to serve as a cop of the cosmos, Nova responds to a world being destroyed by Galactus. In a great catch, Nova realizes the world is already doomed, so he focuses instead on the rescue mission (with nice allusions to FEMA and Hurricane Katrina).

As if that wasn’t enough, the writing crew throws in the complicating villain Harrow, a malevolent and vague force that feeds off suffering — a clever parallel to Galactus’ appetite.

No kidding, this is one of the best superhero comics right now, and easily the most enjoyable space story in recent years.

Runners Up:

The Boys #18 — The comic known for its raunchiness is as bellicose as ever, with a constant peppering of cursing that almost makes Deadwood seem prim and proper. While that’s what the series has come to be known for, this issue surprises in how well it captures interactions among the characters in low-key ways.

Of course, there’s also a lengthy scene of a floating corpse peeing all over…

The All-New Atom #23 — Escalating craziness is the proper description for this series. Ryan is now in some sort of alternate universe, where his friends (thought to have been eaten by last issue’s monster) are fending off bizarre monsters. A classic bad-to-worse issue, with lively art from Pat Olliffe and another great cliffhanger ending.


Happy Birthday: David Michelinie

Happy Birthday: David Michelinie

Born in 1948, David Michelinie loved comic books from early on and knew he wanted to write them. So he took a chance, and in the early 1970s he moved to New York to work for DC Comics.

He started out writing backup stories on House of Mystery and House of Secrets, then wrote seven issues of Swamp Thing. In 1978, he switched over to Marvel and immediately began writing The Avengers. From there he moved to Iron Man, Amazing Spider-Man, and Star Wars.

Michelinie was responsible for introducing both Jim Rhodes and Tony Stark’s alcoholism during his run on Iron Man, but he is perhaps best known for the supervillain he created and introduced in Amazing Spider-Man: Venom.

Since then, he has worked on Action Comics, Rai, H.A.R.D. Corps, Captain Fear, The Bozz Chronicles, and many others.

NYCC: Vertigo ‘Welcome to the Edge’ Panel – Getting Bullish on Grant Morrison and Seaguy

NYCC: Vertigo ‘Welcome to the Edge’ Panel – Getting Bullish on Grant Morrison and Seaguy

When you attend some of these publisher panels, you’re usually shown a few slides and given a brief description of upcoming titles — kind of like someone reading the Diamond Previews catalog out loud. So, instead of just parroting the entire affair, I’ve assembled an account of what you need to know  about Friday’s "Vertigo: Welcome to the Edge" panel at New York Comic Con.

Before we get started, I just want to note that the room was surprisingly packed. Being a fan of the Vertigo Comics imprint, I’ve attended a few of these over the years and they’re usually well attended, but not crowded. Maybe this one is the exception because New York is the home of literati?

Here are my notes from the panel:

Karen Berger, Executive Editor of Vertigo Comics, takes the stage. Instead of introducing the panelists in order, she starts with Grant Morrison in the middle. The benefits of being a comic book rock star, eh? Introductions follow with Amy Hadley, G. Willow Wilson, Joshua Dysart, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, Brian Azzarello (big applause, even a few yells), David Tischman and Russ Braun. Mark Buckingham arrives just in time and gets a big reaction out of the audience.

House of Mystery – Berger explains that this project will not be an anthology. It’s about a waitress stuck in a mysterious house with strangers who tell their stories, illustrated by a different artist every month. So basically it is an anthology — with a framing device. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Madame Xanadu – The mystic DC character finally receives an origin. Since she’s nigh immortal, her stages of life take decades. Puberty must’ve been hell. [Sidenote: This news was responsible for Olivia Newton-John’s "Xanadu" getting stuck in everyone’s head later at the ComicMix HQ.


Bendis, Brevoort on Marvel’s Secret Invasion

Bendis, Brevoort on Marvel’s Secret Invasion

Over at IGN.com, Marvel scribe Brian Bendis and editor Tom Brevoort discuss the House of Ideas’ plans for ’08, including the "trust us, it’s bigger than the  last event" Secret Invasion storyline set to rock the Marvel Universe in a few months.

If you believe the hype,  the real-world frights of Joe McCarthy’s hunt for Closet Communists will pale in comparison to the terror of Secret Skulls in the Marvel U. But just in case you need a little more convincing, the duo provided some covers from the eight-issue miniseries that forms the foundation of the storyline. The covers include an occasional homage to well-known Avengers issues, featuring green-chinned dopplegangers of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Bendis: It’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever written in scope, but if you include the Avengers tie-ins as part of the story (and I do –laughs- ) its also the biggest story I’ve ever written period. It is the same size as Civil War as far as ramifications and amount of characters involved, but it’s a different animal in every other sense. It’s a different type of genre and it’s something we’ve been building to over years.