Tagged: Marvel NOW

Marc Alan Fishman: Gazing Beyond the Gender Gap

ghostbusters thor spiderman iron man

By the time this column posts, I will have seen the new Ghostbusters flick from the Freaks and Geeks guru Paul Feig. I have chosen to see the film based not on any lingering love of the first two incarnations of the franchise (but put a pin in that until next week). I am not seeing it because of any particular love of the paranormal. And I’m especially not seeing it because a who’s-who of amazingly funny women are starring in it.

I’m seeing it because it looks like a fun flick to shut my chattering brain off for a couple of hours. Maybe giggle and marvel at some special effects in the process.

Meanwhile I also saw this week that Iron Man will be played by a black woman in some upcoming issues of the series. I’ve literally no doubt that the move isn’t permanent. I’m chalking it up to Marvel’s occasional jones to do the unexpected. It’s a great marketing plot to enrage Old School fanboys, while making millennials have hope for the future. It’s the battle-cry of the embittered old farts of fandom… “It’s not my Iron Man / Ghostbusters / Peanuts / Voltron / Power Rangers!”

Ahh, but that’s where you’re wrong, Grandpa. It’s merely a horse of a different color.

I’m personally mollified by the continual degradation of our pop culture society’s abandoning the shades of grey that better fit our worlds of fiction. To take a hard line stance over the casting of a female in what was once a male role, a black person in what was once a white role, or even a CGI character where hand-drawn animation once stood is just lunacy to me. At the end of the day, I don’t care who. I care what, why, and how.

While the 2003 Daredevil film will be fondly remembered as dreck, I actually liked it quite a bit. Sure it was muddied by Collin Farrell clearly ingesting a bit too much coke before filming. Sure it introduced the Greek ninja goddess Elektra as a supremely white chick. But you know what? It also gave us Michael Clark Duncan owning the Wilson Fisk role. I recall some sects of fans going banana-sandwiches over the darkening of the character.  And then I recall seeing the film, and basking in the depiction. Duncan was strong, stoic, and the apex of scene-eating-villainous. It never mattered once that he was black. Nor did he speak in jive, or really reference his ethnicity at all.

And yes: Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk is a million times better… but you’re taking a slow burn performance in a carefully built show vs. a blockbuster built to bank bucks in the short term. But I digress.

In the last decade or so, specifically in comics, we’ve seen a veritable gold rush of diversity. To quote Vox: “[Marvel] has already given us a black Captain America, a female Thor, a Muslim American Ms. Marvel, and a black-Latino Spider-Man. That push has been met with applause from fans who want to be included, praise and recognition from critics, and prickly criticism from comic purists who believe their beloved titles have been shunted aside for gimmicks and stunts.” And while those purists poo-poo the notion of such hypocrisy, I’ve been able to enjoy hearing about new readers coming to comics because they now had a character to relate to. Comic books (and I’d go far as to say science-fiction and fantasy) have long been the secret playground for those with a better vision of society. Where the world is color and gender blind. Where the story above all else determines the validity of a character.

Maybe I’m just that liberal a person; I don’t balk at any casting of any character in any fiction for any reason with regards to sexual orientation, gender, creed, religion, or pizza topping preference. It will always be about the character in context to the plot around them. If Riri Williams dons the red and gold armor to do battle with nefarious ne’er-do-wells, so be it. So long as she provides depth and clarity to the book; giving me, a long time reader, something new to respond to. If the Ghostbusters of 2016 are women? That’s fantastic. More so, if they provide a new take on the classic model of snarky comedians waging war on special effects. Regardless of erogenous zone paraphernalia… plot overpowers all.

And at the end of the day, if you want to call it a marketing gimmick, so be it. Because if the final piece of fiction is good enough, then you’ll swallow your ignorance with a smile and a changed mind.

Molly Jackson: Just an Average Fan

Marvel_NOW

I was having a nice, leisurely Sunday morning when fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo sent me an article about Marvel Now! In it Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort talks about how their constant reboots are really there to serve the readers and to attract new readers. So basically, Joe ruined my leisurely Sunday morning. I think he did that on purpose.

Brevoort’s reasoning for all the regular reboots? The fans.

I’m convinced – utterly convinced – that virtually every comic book reader cannot afford to buy all the comics they’d like to be buying and reading. There are too many good books out there, across all publishers. The average fan just can’t afford everything.

Honestly, I don’t disagree with that. It’s true, fans can’t afford everything. That would be insanity. However, I don’t really see how that is ground-breaking news. It can’t be new information that readers can’t buy every issues of every book. What has really changed is how the books are presented to the reader. As stories became ongoing rather than in a single issue, fans looked for more excitement to keep reading. It used to be that reading the issues when they could afford them wasn’t going to work anymore. So fans, knowing they needed to save all their change to support their bi-monthly [insert random superhero here] habit, maybe didn’t go on a buying spree.

Then Brevoort said this. “You can have your great master plan where you slowly set your dominos and then in year two, you’re gonna wow everybody, but your book is gonna be dead in six issues, well before you get to that. People just don’t have the patience to wait a year and a half to get to the good stuff. You have to get to the good stuff immediately. And you have to all be good stuff. Every issue has to be giving readers what they want, or they start to move onto other stories.

Ok, I’m not quoting Brevoort anymore. I promise. But it is the average fan’s fault they can’t buy everything and the average fan’s fault they can’t tell good stories. What is the publisher actually responsible for then?

This statement really irks me because a slow burn done right won’t necessarily lose readers. Admittedly it’s hard in comics right now. I won’t deny it. But there are books that are consistent best sellers. Instead of constantly rebooting and reminding your fans you aren’t consistent, maybe work on the stories more. Look at what’s working.

At this point, I’d prefer if they did limited runs on books. Let me know the start and end date. Let me know how many issues total. If fans are so torn on what comics to buy, give them an incentive by letting them know there will be a payoff for their money. Having a guaranteed end might do that. It doesn’t need to me a short run, despite that being the trend. Let it be fifteen or twenty issues! Get the creative team together, tell them they’ve got x amount of issues, and tell the best damn story they can.

Joe did mention a good point to me in our no-longer leisurely Sunday morning conversation that maybe they should start transitioning into more direct to graphic novel stories. Which I countered with that DC already does to an extent. (I’m a big fan of the Earth 2 line.) He is right. If you want to tell a slow burn story, maybe the graphic novels are the way to go.

Comics is always changing, that fact will not go away. Publishing costs have raised single issue prices through the roof and the digital age is nipping at their heels. But both DC and Marvel seem to have this pathological need to consistently reboot, despite the fact it hasn’t helped them. Rebooting isn’t the answer. Blaming the fans isn’t the answer. Taking a hard, long look inward at your practices might just do it.

But what do I know? I’m just an average fan.

 

Mike Gold: Marvel Now What?

Gold Art 140108Oy. They’re at it again.

In what seems like three hours ago, Marvel Comics did a semi-reboot called Marvel Now. Unlike DC’s New 52, it wasn’t a makeover of their entire line. Unlike DC’s New 52, it wasn’t totally boring and arbitrary. It was still another contrived event that paved the way for a bunch of unnecessary first issues and a couple crossover stunts that led me to abandon reading a slew of their titles.

And, today, we get Marvel All-New Now. Or Marvel Now All-New. Or, if you’re Stanley Lieber or Jack Kurtzburg, Marvel Now – Nu?

So what is Marvel All-New Now?

Beats the hell out of me. I’ve read all their stuff, their Diamond solicitations, their website, all kinds of stuff, and as far as I can tell it’s still another contrived event with a bunch of unnecessary first issues and likely will pave the way for a couple crossover stunts that will doubtlessly lead me to abandon reading another slew of their titles.

In fact, this time Marvel is simply stuttering. They’re giving us Marvel All-New Now replacements for titles that had been published under Marvel Now that, previously, had been published by Marvel pre-Now. How many “first issues” of the Hulk and Daredevil can Mark Waid write in the 21st Century?

Do first issues carry the type of circulation boost as they used to? What about first issues that have a whole bunch of variant covers for retailers to trade back and forth to each other, bidding up their alleged “value” but rarely actualizing any gain by selling them to an ostensibly waiting marketplace?

Honest. Does anybody actually care about Marvel All-New Now? Are you excited by this “event?”

I’ll probably check out a few of these “new” titles – they’re relaunching a few characters that I’ve liked in the past, and no matter how the numbering works I still enjoy Waid’s Marvel work – as well as that of many others – and I see no reason for this to change.

Don’t get me wrong. I like superhero comics, as part of a healthy diet of sundry genres and media. I like DC and Marvel’s superheroes. I just seem to have stopped liking their superhero comic books. They willfully beat it out of me.

Lucky for me, there’s plenty of good stuff out there.

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Tweaks

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

 

John Ostrander: Realistic Fantasy

Ostrander Art 130922I’ve often maintained that the best fantasies are ones that have one foot firmly set in reality. We need something to which we can relate. We are asked to enter into a “willing suspension of disbelief,” as coined by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. However impossible or implausible in reality an event in literature is, we accept it. Quite simply, we’re being told a story and we concede reality to get on with the story – up to a point.

When Superman first appeared in 1938 he was a fantastic character but, in those early stories, he fought real-life villains and situations – slums, gangsters, crooked politicians, corrupt cops and so on. The United States, like most of the world, was still deep in the Great Depression. World War II was looming. For so many people, the reality was that the banks had failed them, the courts had failed them, the police failed them, the system had failed them. With Superman, the Little Guy had a hero who worked outside that corrupt and broken system, working for them, working to achieve justice. Superman was originally very anti-establishment and that may have been his greatest power.

Then came the War and Superman was co-opted, along with the other heroes, to fight the Axis, to bring down the Nazis. Reasons had to be given why he didn’t just fly to Berlin and take down Hitler. That was the reality of the situation and the fantasy was having a harder time fitting in.

After the War, Superman became fully co-opted by the Establishment. His biggest concern was his girl friend, Lois Lane, learning his secret identity.

Marvel came along in the 60s and introduced a psychological realism – the heroes had neuroses, psychological problems, issues that they needed to work out. Spider-Man was the poster boy for the neurotic new hero and it resonated. After all, to put on a mask and go out to fight crime, you had to be a bit crazy. Peter Parker had money troubles, work troubles, girl troubles; he was bullied in high school and it was all compounded by his choice to be Spider-Man. However, he couldn’t stop. He was driven by the death of his Uncle Ben for which he held himself partially responsible. Great fantasy, solid reality.

The reality became more of a soap opera as time went on. What was once fresh became cliché. Like Mickey Mouse (oddly enough, since The Mouse now owns Marvel), Spider-Man went from being a character to being a franchise to being a product and a corporate symbol.

Marvel’s New Universe wandered in at some point and one of its claims was a new realism. One of the boasts was that, when their heroes or villains lifted up a building, you could see broken plumbing underneath. I ask for a little more reality than that and the line eventually folded.

Milestone Comics came in and it had a solid dose of reality, setting their heroes in the African-American community and reflecting that truth. One of my favorite books was the Blood Syndicate; one of the tags for it was “They’re not a team. . . they’re a gang.” That was different and reflected a new reality. Sadly, Milestone didn’t last long enough to get old.

DC has re-launched itself with the New 52 and Marvel has Marvel Now but both, to my taste, veer still more towards fantasy and soap opera. The storylines have gotten more convoluted and event driven.

And then there’s Art Spiegelman’s Maus – the classic hat adroitly combines both fantasy and reality. By using mice as Jews in Germany during World War II, Spiegelman heightened the reality and made what might have been unbearable to look at very readable and very compelling.

After 9/11, the comics industry spoke to the tragedy. More than one person wished that Superman had been real that day. Then maybe he could have prevented the planes from crashing into the World Trade Center. None of the books that came out of that horror, to their credit, tried to do that but, at the same time, they were one shots. There was no lasting effect in the books unlike New York City and our national psyche. Failing to do that made them all a little impotent. The Punisher continued to hunt and kill gangsters; wouldn’t it have been more realistic to have him go after terrorists at home and abroad?

Take a look at the real world around you. How much of it is reflected in your comics? What drove Superman in his earliest incarnations – a hero outside the system, working for justice that the Little Man can’t get – is as or more prevalent today as it was 75 years ago. Look at the news – is any of that reflected in the comics you read? How would a hero deal with terrorists? What if a superhero was a member of al-Quaeda? How can we pit our angels against our demons in such a way as would, as Shakespeare put it, “hold a mirror up to nature”.

I enjoy comics; I enjoy reading them and I enjoy writing them. I do. They can be good entertainment. They could also be more. They could stand, I think, a little more reality.

Or maybe that’s just me.

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

 

Marc Alan Fishman: Welcome to the Comic Book Industry of the Future!


Fishman Art 130209Greetings, past-dwellers. Tis I, Marc Alan Fishman, the sage of the future! I traveled here to the past, via my patented DC Direct TimeSphere. It was only $299.99 at my local comic retailer (which in the future is just Amazon Prime…)! I come to you, this random Saturday morning, on a mission from
ComicMix 8.0. I’ve come to give you hope that in 2013, everything changes. Hold on to your bow ties, time lords. Let me give you the glimpse of what will become of your industry.

In 2013, the rumblings began. You see every time a creator got uppity in the past, they dropped those immortal words: “Creator-owned is the future, man.” And every time those creations (not of Marvel or DC, mind you) became one with the zeitgeist, the word revolution spread across the artist alleys of convention floors like a plague. Ah, I know. I know. You say “but that means nothing, FutureBeard… no one will ever take down the Man!” And, in a sense, you are right. The Man, thanks to lucrative movie franchises only made the big two stronger. Much like Coke and Pepsi, so too grew Disney and Warner Bros. until they were simply entertainment forces of nature. But therein lies the seeds of change.

It will all happen so slowly, you may not notice it. DC’s New52 and Marvel Now continued to polarize the ever-aging fanbase. The movies and TV series connected to them (both live action and cartoon) never lead to direct increases in comic book sales. They were, in essence, two distinct media with distinct audiences. It took a while to figure out ourselves… but our NerdVerse Historian, King Alan Kistler decried it, and it was written; while there will always be crossover, there wasn’t (and will never be) a movie or comic to unite them all.

And with that knowledge, spreading like primordial ooze across the vast lands of Nerdtopia, came with it the paradigm shift.

Through careful and meticulous planning and the support of the not-as-big-as-you’d-hope-but-still-pretty-big fan base… established creators turned towards indie-or-self-publishing outlets. Crowd-sourced, and then sold for profit directly towards their bottom line, these creators proved that even without a corporate overlord signing a check… a meager living could be made. And this is how the pebble begins to roll down the mountain.

When those small books became big hits, their creators soon became corporations unto themselves. And then, those same creators, backed by their cultivated fan base, combined into local studios to consolidate their power. No longer mere islands adrift in freelance work, these micro-states began dictating what they published on their own terms. And yes, even on the outskirts of these creator-states… smaller unknown (cough… cough… unshaven…) studios took to the same open road and formed bonds that could not be broken. And now, from the future where I come to you, I’m proud to say that the industry has never been stronger, where creators are no longer afraid to present their own ideas… and take home enough to support continuing doing it again.

Now, don’t cry for Marvel or DC. They still have a large foothold of the rack-space. But their talent pool is a wide berth of only the young unknowns, and the old guard who chose never to leave. The young, lured in by the shiny opportunity. The old, still fearing the unknown, and clinging to the terrible contracts that deny them anything more than pittance while their creations bring in countless millions in other mediums.

And yes, occasionally some of the Indie Nation takes on an old favorite. And they sell magnificently. But here in the future… after that tale has been told, they are reenergized to return to their own pocket universes. It’s a glorious time for sequential fiction. It happened in dribs and drabs over the aughts. Image’s old image (heh) of splashy pastiche universes gave way to intelligent, and brilliantly crafted mini-series. Dark Horse, IDW, Boom!, Avatar, Dynamite, and others began looking towards those self-sustaining garage bands in the artist alley and gave them a powerful ally to help build their brands.

The Internet, social media, and most important, peer-to-peer connections via conventions spread the word of the DIY-revolution. Indie comic creation became the new rock-and-roll. And 2013 my friends… was where those faint rumblings began to move the needle towards the utopia I live in now. Suffice to say: keep your eyes and ears open. More importantly: keep supporting your favorite creators when they make the leap away from the dark side.

I should also note, in case you’re curious:

Superman ditched the Nehru collar. Grant Morrison’s consciousness was transferred to a super-computer. Rob Liefeld eventually got his eyesight checked, and realized the error in his proportions. He redrew every ounce of work he produced up until 2015. Afterwards, his wrist looked like Cable’s, circa 1996. Unshaven Comics optioned the rights to the Samurnauts to Sony Pictures. Brad Bird directed the first of 17 successful films. Subsequently, Unshaven Comics erected a 75 foot golden beard in the heart of downtown Chicago.

And, finally, Alan Moore eventually forgave DC. Shortly after, he ascended to Snake Mountain and has since lived as the NecroLord of Fourth Realm. He still puts out books every year, and they are still amazing.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Marc Alan Fishman’s Resolutions, Revolutions, and Retcons

Fishman Art 130105I’m nothing if not a slave to predictability and tropes. Sure, I wax poetic weekly on how I loathe authors and artists who fire off the same crap week in and week out,but I’m nothing if not a glorious hypocrite. So, after my “best and worst” article, what better to follow it up with a “New Year’s Resolution” article! Lest I be completely worthless to you, I promise to keep this punchy.

I resolve to wean myself from the teat of Marvel and DC. When I looked over my buy pile of books littered throughout my basement from the last few years, I’ve grown sick at the sight of so much mainstream chum. Not that I ever considered myself anything less than a mainstream whore before… it’s now with half a decade under my belt as an outsider indie guy, that I’ve decided to grow up, if only a little bit.

My rule of thumb has been pretty clear: every week that I have less than four books to buy, I will add one indie title to my list. Thus far, I’ve added Revival, Clone, and Nowhere Men. Two of which landed on Mike Gold’s list of awesome things. This obviously means I’m on the right track. Image, Valiant, Dark Horse, IDW, and the litany of unknowns are making me realize there’s so much more out there. More creativity. More unpredictability. More leaping from the cliff, and hoping to fly. It’s time to read what I sow; it’s time to tell Bob Wayne and Mickey Mouse I’m quitting (just a little bit, cause you know… I’m really liking Batman, Batgirl, and some Marvel Now titles).

I resolve to draw and write everyday. I’m not going to be a fool and say I’m “doing it for myself” because it’d be a lie. I’m going to write and draw more to do it for my company and my family. Not that I don’t love my day job, but let’s be real. Unshaven Comics gets where its going because we work at it. So, by proxy should I vow to write or draw everyday, I will presumably see Unshaven Comics be more lucrative. More than that though, the ideology is clear. The more you work at something, the better you’ll understand it. And while I presently work nearly every day as it stands? Making a concerted effort to spare time every day to do something for Unshaven Comics means there’s more chances at eventually becoming one step closer to semi-obscurity.

I resolve to make better connections with those in the industry – both here with my ComicMix mates and abroad. Unshaven Comics is traveling to 15-16 conventions this year. Simply put? There’s no excuse I shouldn’t be exercising my networking abilities. They’re what landed me here in the first place. As I stated last week, no better memory convention-wise comes to mind more than Baltimore, where I was in contact with Glenn Hauman, Mike Gold, and Emily Whitten, all of ComicMix fame. My hypothesis that possibly making ways to meet my other fellow contributors in the coming year could only benefit my growing rolodex of people I admire also knowing my name. Egotistical? Sure. But I’ve had breakfast with John Ostrander, so suck it.

I resolve to turn off the TV more. I realized over this “holiday break” of sorts how much worthless drivel I surround myself with when I’m home. I only actively watch TV in the last hour of consciousness. But the TV is on in my home basically from the time I get home to the time I go to bed. I tend to lazily leave the set on, with a cooking show, or rerun of The Cosby Show for background noise as I go about my business. Suffice to say, it’s silly of me to do so. Shutting off the set will give me an appreciation for when I turn it on. And maybe in a year’s time, I might just see the heavens part and drop my expensive cable bill in lieu of a Roku system. But that’s a long-game I plan on playing.

Lastly, I resolve to be a better columnist to you, my readers. I look over my body of work here at ComicMix, in 2012, and I certainly see some high points. But like many an artist, I also saw bouts of frustration on my part. Weeks where I had no real points to make outside the handful I’ve relied on: DC sucks. Marvel Sucks. Being an Indie Guy is hard. And so forth. So, in 2013, I vow to return to those tropes only when there is new meat on the bone. I’ll seek out bold and new directions to tantalize you from. I’ll strive to make you angrier, sadder, happier, or flameier. I’ll do everything in my power to remain relevant, and entertaining to you. And I’ll do it all with a smile.

Thanks for sticking with me for another year. The only place to go from here? Up, up, and away.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Marc Alan Fishman: Fantastically Phoning It In

As I write this, my Bears are presently phoning in a performance so bad I’m opting to write my article instead. The game is on, yes. But, frankly, I’m not even paying attention. I guess I owe my bad-news-Bears a debt of gratitude, though. They are giving me the inspiration for a column this week.

Nothing grinds my gears more than a weak start. And this week past, a comic that should have been a touchdown upon reception was a weak three-and-out worthy of the finger wagging like no other. Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley’s relaunched Marvel Now Fantastic Four #1 was a let down of mammoth proportions. And it warrants a bit of a rant.

Generally speaking I like to keep my reviews (chock full of piss and vinegar) over at Michael Davis World. But I was too elated by Gail Simone’s Batgirl this week past to waste time setting fire the ‘Four. To be honest? I read the book, said “Meh,” and figured that I owed it to Fraction to give him some time to warm up. As I took a long and angry trip to my can in between botched Bear’s offensive drives, I flipped through the book once more. Maybe it’s the fact that my team is 20 points down and can’t move the ball more than my infant son. Maybe it’s the few pages I flipped to with glaringly awful moments that caused the rise in blood pressure. Either way, this book is bad.

Giving a favorite writer a pass because they’ve delivered solid performances in books prior is something I’ve done all the time. Hell, it’s the entire reason I still read Green Lantern. But it hit me; these are the pros. They are being given an opportunity I would literally kill for. Who or what would I kill? I dunno. An editor, probably. But I digress. Matt Fraction has written some amazing issue 1’s. His Invincible Iron Man, Defenders, and The Order all jump to mind. In each, Fraction is able to introduce his characters, set the tone of the book, and build a considerable world rich with continuity, but wholly original. In Fantastic Four #1, his dialogue is sloppy, his plotting predictable, and his tone is somewhere between “kiddie cocktail” and “phoning it in.”

For a man who likes the long game? Here he’s nearly parodying himself. Twenty pages of content, of which only two move the story in any direction forward. The rest? A wink, nod, and circle-jerk of continuity-heavy references and in-jokes. Number one indeed.

In The Order and The Defenders, Fraction proved to me he knew how to handle a team book. Moments are given to all the players, and in each tight scene he’s able to interject depth and clarity. He gave us a recovering alcoholic in Henry Hellrung. The other side of the coin to Tony Stark. He gave us a Steven Strange who was coherent of his foibles, but decidedly stubborn enough to ignore them. The key here was Fraction showing how he could take continuity and reshape it to match a new direction. That all being said… in a single issue of his Fantastic Four, he’s only able to deliver a single cliched plot direction, and a handful of watered down scenes built from scraps of Jonathan Hickman.

One of the few problems I had with Hickman’s run concerned the usage of ole’ blue eyes himself. The Thing was mainly sidelined due to the lack of punchable things in the very science-heavy arch. Given the pedigree of Red She-Hulk’s depiction in The Defenders gave me hope to see a Thing with a bit more depth, verve, and humor. Instead, Fraction warms up the tuba for a Yancy Street Gang joke on Ben Grimm. And when the Thing speaks? We get line after hackney’d line suitable only if he were being written for an SNL skit.

In other plot lines, we get yet-another scene of Johnny Storm showing that he’s the cocky brash ass we all know and love, and the totally mature death-defying wunderkind. He gives his cellphone number out to the gal he loves. Yippee. Sue gets to be the same invisible-to-the-fans mother role she was written to play. For a women I expect to be one of the smartest in the 616, she seems awfully daft here… not being able to read her rubber husband’s transparent motivations. And to round out the book? Franklin “Deus Ex Machina” Richards foretells of eeeeeevil afoot. It’s plot-by-the-numbers, and we deserve better.

Over in the art department, we get Mark Bagely. There was a time when I was truly enamored by his work. His work-horse attitude, and nuanced designs helped cement Ultimate Spider-Man’s first six arcs wonderfully. He was eventually poached by DC, where he was given Trinity – a series most of us would care to forget about, art included. Now back at the House of Mouse, he’s firing on all-cylanders… as a watered down John Romita Jr., delivering no memorable visual save for perhaps the last splash page.

Suffice to say, the Bears laid down and took it up the tail pipe tonight. After rereading Fantastic Four #1, I am clear in thinking Matt Fraction did much of the same. He came into the game with a crowd hungry for the next chapter. Instead, he spins his wheels, sputters trying to pick up pieces that were already left put back on the shelf neatly enough. This is not a new beginning. This is not Now. This is the a waste of my money and one I’m not likely to forget. I know the book will bounce back. But a loss is a loss. And this loss hurt something fierce.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

The Point Radio: GRIMM & PERSON OF INTEREST – Shows To Be Thankful For


 
The second season of NBC’s GRIMM has turned the characters upside down, especially “Juliette” played by Bitsi Tulloch. She fills us in on how it all happened – and what’s coming up on the show when it returns in 2013. Plus CBS’ PERSON OF INTEREST is a Top 5 rated show which has been a surprise to a lot of folks including stars Michael Emerson & Jim Caviezel who talk about putting the show together. Meanwhile, STAR WARS gets two more writers and WOLVERINE gets a Marvel NOW launch.

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Marc Alan Fishman: A Painful Admission of Indie Guilt

I admit it readers! I done ran outta things to complain about. So, like any amazing editor would, Mike Gold set forth a challenge. A simple one at that. “How about something(s) you really look forward to that aren’t DC or Marvel?” See? Simple! What a great excuse to highlight all those little known indie projects I dive into… like all the time. What better place to pimp the wares and projects that aren’t draped in NOWs or New52s. Where else could I wax poetic about those “next big things” all of you are fretting over!

And here comes the shocking truth. When it came to comics? Nothing came to mind.

Sure, there’s a litany of TV shows, movies, and music all coming out that I’d love to waste time discussing. Hell, I have a few seconds, so why not. I’m loving the last season of The Office. Parks and Recreation continues to be the funniest / sweetest show on TV.  Since House ended though, I’m just out of the drama verve.

It doesn’t help that I don’t watch TV until midnight, and barely last until half-past. Having a day job, making comic books at night, and being a freelancer adds up. In movieville… I know I have to catch Wreck-It-Ralph. Flight looked good too. Add in Lincoln and The Hobbit? And my dance card is plenty full. And in music? Robbie Williams just served up a huge slice of BritPop that I can’t get enough of. Seriously, watch the video for “Candy” and try not to get a little wiggle in your tuchas. But I digress.

When it comes to the world of comics, my “have to have it meter” is so very mainstream. This week, I came very close to buying some Image books that had cool covers… but I was lured away by my staples, Green Lantern, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and the newly NOW’ed Iron Man. I’m not ashamed to admit what a mainstream whore I’ve been lately. But consider this article my wake up call. There’s too much good stuff out there for me to miss. And as an indie creator in the trenches too? It should absolutely be my duty to explore the lesser-knowns.

But where to start? With con season over, my “indie channel” is pretty much cut off until March 2013. This will mean, to me at least, my exploration of the unknown will be largely relegated to the independent rack space of my local comic shop (which is one third a s’mores in Chicagoland, if you get-the-drift). This means my attention will turn towards Dark Horse, Image, Boom!, Dynamite, IDW, and their brethren. And let’s just make it a hard and fast rule – no licensed comics. Sorry to be mean, but frankly every time I’ve tried one, it comes across more as fan-service than an original leap of interest. I know that’s bull-headed, so I welcome your flaming comments below.

I guess somewhere in between these random thoughts lay the issue so many of the smaller publishers and true indie creators are suffering through these days. With CBR, Bleeding Cool, and Newsarama covering the Big Two (and A Half if we count “everything else”), there’s few hubs that I know of online that really explores the other side of the forest. And let us not fool ourselves. Marvel and DC dominate the ‘cape’ market. Boom! had a hit with Irredeemable/Incorruptible, but that ship has sailed. And try as hard as they might, Dynamite’s ‘Let Alex Ross Do Whatever He Wants’ business model burned me one time too many. Hand to Buddha? Image is my last bastion of street cred these days. Doesn’t hurt that Revival is one of the best books being produced today. The key then is to find more like it.

Suffice to say, I’m truly not picky. Prior to picking up Revival because I actually know the creators… I wasn’t one for horror or zombie books. Now? Paint me grey and call me Charlie. The clear ideology of numbers would tell me that the indie scene is rife with genres I’m not presently enjoying. Is there an amazing western, sci-fi, comedy, romance, or mutt of a comic series I can jump into? There’s one place I know instantly to turn to – you.

I throw myself on the mercy of you, the nerd court. I beg of you to pelt me with suggestions of books I’m missing. And then you can follow my thoughts, good or bad, over at Michael Davis World. Shameless cross-promotion? You bet your sweet bippy.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Michael Davis: Off The Hook

Marvel Now! A new beginning for the Marvel Universe!

Those words are the title and tag line for Marvel’s latest universe direction and marketing approach. Seems a bit like the DC reboot to me, I could be wrong. I was… once.

Full discloser. I don’t spend a great deal of time following the comic book industry. That is to say I don’t make it a point to go to comic book websites, publishers websites or any of the zillion forums where people talk about what goes on in the industry. So, I don’t know how much press or hype surrounds the Marvel Now agenda. If I’m late to the party it’s because I simply don’t pay attention to press or hype.

Given the stuff I’ve been able to pull off in my career you may find it strange that I don’t follow the industry closely at all. I won’t bore you with my résumé but trust me, it’s impressive. I’m mostly clueless as to trends or news in the industry and I plan to stay that way. My way of doing business works best for me if I’m not influenced by what or who is hot.

As an example just about every mainstream publisher does comics these days. I put Simon & Schuster in the comic book business…in 1996. One of the reasons I was able to do that deal was because I don’t pay attention to trends, I pay attention to the idea and where would be the beat place to exploit that idea.

Disco was a trend, Hip-Hop was a movement created by ignoring what was popular at the time and which music now dominates the planet?

Here’s a hint, KC and The Sunshine band are not represented.

I visit ComicMix a few times a week but just to read the columns; any news I get is because I see something on the site that just screams to be read. ComicMix is how I learned about the DC reboot, Before Watchmen and Marvel Now.

Incidentally, I thought I would hate Before Watchmen and love the DC reboot. I actually like some of the Watchmen books and the DC reboot was for the most part cool, but did I love it?

Nah.

Regardless of what I thought of the books I knew and I said the reboot would be a success and it was, big time. I was sure it would be effective because of the buildup which, after I was aware of the reboot, I noticed everywhere and the originality of the concept didn’t hurt either.

But, here’s the thing, it wasn’t original, far from it. That particular kind of event has been being done for – all DC did was changed the “hook.”

Marvel is not ripping off DC vis-à-vis a universe reset; they are following DC with a new hook for their books.

I write for television as well as mainstream publishers. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned as a television creator.

Very few things are new.

Consider these classic TV shows: Father Knows Best, Eight is Enough, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, Charles in Charge, Home Improvement, Modern Family, The New Normal, The Cosby Show.

All of the above are based on the same premise essentially they are the same show, to produce a “new” idea the creators simply changed the hook.

The Cosby Show was pitched like this, “it’s Father Knows Best except the family is black.” They changed the hook. Now you can take any of the above shows and do the same thing.

Some require changing more than one hook but you get the idea.

The Partridge Family is the Brady Bunch except they sing. Home Improvement is The Cosby Show except the family is white. Etc, etc, etc.

Marvel Now is DC’s new 52 except it’s Marvel…Now!

Look, redoing comic book universes is not new. Publishers have been doing it for decades on a smaller scale usually just rebooting a character. DC and Marvel did universe overhauls in the 80s and have been doing it ever since. DC with the Crisis series and Marvel with Secret Wars.

DC came out of Crisis with one earth and Marvel came out of Secret Wars with a black Spider-man, sort off.

DC’s New 52 was a brilliant move because they changed the hook on everything. Universe overhauls staring with a mini-series or one title were always implied to span the entire universe but DC went ahead and said it out loud and kept saying it so the age old universe overhaul was now something bold, new and that seemed to never have been done before.

Why?

Because of the way DC presented it. You call something “new” enough times and even if you have seen it a million times after a while you start believing the hype.

I have no dog in the fight between the New 52 and Marvel Now. Neither company is writing me a check these days so speaking as just a fan I hope the Marvel Now stuff is great.

A lot of people are going to think Marvel ripped off DC with this idea, they didn’t. The idea is not new. Rather or not Marvel was motivated by the success of the New 52 I’m sure that played a part in it but that is just par for the course in comics and in a few years it will happen again on some level.

Meantime, Dark Horse, Image and IDW are not thinking about “universe overhauls,” they are thinking about original content. Those publishers are doing some great work, or as we say in the hood, those publishers are off the hook.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Wants You Off Your Ass