Tagged: Phoenix

Joe Corallo: No More Phoenix

Way back in September, it was announced that Marvel was bringing back Jean Grey for the first time in thirteen years. No, not time displaced Jean Grey. No, not the reanimated Jean Grey from Phoenix – Endsong; the real fictional character. I’ve been thinking about this ever since the announcement. I’ve wanted to say something here, but I just wasn’t sure. I’ve talked privately with people whom all more or less agree with me on this to a point, so I’m finally going to say it here in my column.

I hate that they’re bringing Jean Grey back. It’s genuinely a terrible idea.

I feel terrible talking about this because the writer, Matthew Rosenberg, is a great guy writing incredible comics at publishers like Marvel and Black Mask Studios. He deserves all the success in the world. Leinil Yu is a fantastic artist. This has nothing to do with the creative team on this book; it’s about the editorial direction. It’s just plain and simple a terrible idea.

Most glaringly this transparent stunt shows off how Marvel just doesn’t know what to do with the X franchise so they’re just repacking greatest hits collections. In write ups about the move, Marvel makes statements about how it’s interesting because how will the other X-Men react to her suddenly being back? The real question is why would anyone care when we’ve already seen this done before. More than once. More than twice. That’s not an interesting or unique angle.

This also reminds everyone just how needlessly convoluted the continuity is for the X franchise. In the ads for this book they state that this is the return of the adult Jean Grey. Yes, they have to specify which version of Jean Grey is actually coming back. That is a problem. There is no other way to look at this. If you want new readers coming in, this is not how to do it. If you want lapsed readers coming back in, this is a way to remind them why they stopped reading in the first place. I’m a low hanging fruit X-Men fanboy and I will absolutely not be participating in this event. That should be viewed as a bad sign that have no interest in even humoring this concept.

I’d also like to remind everyone that Jean Grey was literally so boring and played up as a damsel in distress to the point where Chris Claremont came in with incredibly talented collaborators like Dave Cockrum and John Byrne and turned her into a space goddess. She remained so uninteresting they had to make her a villain and kill her off.

The first time she was brought back was for X-Factor in which, again, she was the least interesting team member. As characters like Angel and Iceman were fleshed out by Louise and Walter Simonson (in some of the best and lasting ways either of those characters have been portrayed), but even the Simonsons could not elevate Jean Grey to the kind of character Marvel seems to think she should be. Hell, they just started a solo, time displaced Jean Grey comic earlier this year and in the first issue they already started referencing Phoenix. That is how boring this character is, or at least how creatively bankrupt Marvel is regarding the character.

When Grant Morrison took on the X-Men in New X-Men Jean was actually portrayed with a level of depth she’s rarely been given before. She had a complicated emotional story arc that really elevated her and her death resonated. Despite all of that, Marvel has moved so far away from  the incredible work Grant Morrison did with the X-Men, even though the collected editions are constantly in print and available, still solid sellers thirteen years later. These stories have been reprinted in more formats than most other Marvel comics. It’s baffling why Marvel would move so far away from a direction that was working in favor of an over a decades long emo mutant sadness porn.

We need stakes in our stories. Stakes are what keeps the reader engaged. Why should I read this story if ultimately nothing of consequence will happen? Of course there are some exceptions, but not when we’re dealing with the heavily action based superhero genre. The characters are what keeps people coming back to these stories. Can Peter Parker pay Aunt May’s rent and stop the Lizard this month? Will we find out more of Wolverine’s past? Stuff like that.

It’s safe to say that in most situations the highest stakes for a character is that they could die. When those stakes are completely removed, as they are in the superhero genre, it makes it difficult for readers to want to pick up and read them month to month. Why am I going to care about the issue where X character dies when I know they’ll be back anyway? There is no more shock value in that and the ways characters come back from different dimensions and magic and aliens makes it hard for anyone to get too invested anymore. It makes it hard for me to get invested.

Mainstream comics have a problem, and instead of dealing with it they are actually celebrating it. People are championing (adult) Jean Grey coming back after thirteen years as something that was a long time coming that we should celebrate. Finally, she’s back! It’s about time! When I hear that, it sounds like people celebrating that their friend or loved one that’s been sober for thirteen years is finally drinking again. This is not only not the time to be celebrating, it’s also very depressing and leaves you feeling hopeless.

Look, I love Marvel. Really. I adore the characters, the stories, the movies, and the TV shows; I even had a Jean Grey Phoenix action figure growing up. Some of the best characters and comics ever made or that will ever be made are from Marvel. The reason I’m writing this is because I care and so do a lot of other people. The comics industry needs Marvel to succeed. I want Marvel to succeed and, in particular, the X franchise to succeed. Back in April, I wrote this open letter to Marvel regarding the direction I saw ResurrXion going in. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be getting better, but just getting worse and the sales numbers are reflecting that.

Remember a couple of years ago when rumors started swirling that maybe the X-Men would be put in their own mini-universe separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe? Remember how some people were genuinely excited by that idea, and were kind of sad when Axel said that wouldn’t be the case? Instances like these are maybe worth taking more seriously, because I honestly can’t fathom that approach being worse than what’s happening now and you, the reader, probably can’t either.

I understand that this is a problem that didn’t happen overnight. It took a long time to get here and it will take a long time to get out. Either way, something has to change soon, because this is not sustainable.

Tweeks: A-Force Assemble!


Last week when Marvel announced the all-female team of Avengers, you better believe we were stoked! We studied the A-Force artwork to figure out who everyone was and got right to researching the superheroes we didn’t know. Now, we’re even more excited and can’t wait  read Secret Wars in May.  In this week’s video we’ll tell you why A-Force is rad, which mutant powers we’d use to make lunch, and our thoughts on the girls not included (namely Maddy’s #2 favorite superhero, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). A-Force Assemble, indeed!

Jen Krueger: Breaking Down the Breakdown


Shia LaBeouf claims that the other guy is a stunt double and that he’s the one being copied here. We don’t believe it either.

By spending six days last week wearing a paper bag emblazoned “I am not famous anymore” on his head as part of an art installation entitled #IAMSORRY, Shia LaBeouf became the latest celebrity to very publicly seem to have…let’s see, how do I put this gently…”lost it.” The installation itself is the culmination of nearly two months of behavior questionable enough to make people wonder if the actor is in the midst of a mental breakdown, yet it conveniently also began not long after LaBeouf came under fire for plagiarizing a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, and is apparently only ramping up as the release of LaBeouf’s latest (and most controversial to date) movie draws nearer. It’s this timing that makes me think every bit of the bizarre behavior is entirely calculated for publicity purposes, which happens to be my default reaction nowadays whenever I hear about any celebrity acting remarkably strange.

Maybe I should blame my skepticism on Joaquin Phoenix. (more…)

Disney Is Watching Your Skin

hEE6530F5When we started hearing rumors and reports from WonderCon this weekend, we thought we knew what the story was going to be: Disney/Marvel was following in the footsteps of Warner Bros/DC Comics and going after tattooed fans in an attempt to get a piece of the still-growing body modification dollar.

We were wrong.

Sort of.

Yes, this morning we had the unveiling of the officially licensed tattoo flash with sheets featuring Disney, Marvel and Star Wars characters.

But that’s not the story here. The real story is what happened when corporate executives approached attendees at the Anaheim California Convention Center and what occurred at area tattoo shops.

Unlike the cease-and-desist letters fans received from Warner Bros/DC two years ago, Disney (which now includes their Marvel and LucasFilm divisions) has taken a wholly different tack with fans. “I guess they don’t want the pics from spring break of that guy doing body shots off of me up on Facebook” said one female fan whose right arm has a huge Dark Phoenix tattoo.

“We feel that fans are acting as ‘brand ambassadors’ when they sport tattoos of our characters, and as such have a responsibility to maintain our company’s image, as well as that of our properties’. Therefore we are asking our “inked” fans and devotees to please take care and be mindful of behavior that may be deemed improper,” is how the opening statement of the packets handed out to attendees with the applicable visible ink.

They go on to outline what basically amounts to a morality clause, asking that tattoos be covered up if the wearer insists on participating in objectionable or questionable acts. And Disney “insists upon curtailing the posting of any images to social media outlets where our property is visible while such actions as drug abuse, alcohol use, smoking, or illegal activities are taking place, as well as usage in any nudity or sexually explicit content whatsoever.” Disney states the cease-and-desist letters will be issued should these requests not be fulfilled, adding a bunch of legalese that boils down to threats of copyright infringement lawsuits.Poo-Tattoo

Ah, yes. Copyright Infringements. Because Disney wants to control the images of their characters in the literal sense too. “They asked me where I’d gotten my work done,” WonderCon attendee Sean Law told ComicMix. “They were really interested in it – and really unhappy about it” he laughed, then showed us his tattoo of a maniacal Winnie the Pooh holding Piglet’s bloody head rather than a honeypot.

The Orange County tattoo artist who did Law’s tattoo, as well as artists at dozens of other area shops, received visits from lawyers this morning. Law’s artist was told he had violated Disney’s copyrights by doing the piece. “They objected to both the image and the execution, dude said it wasn’t ‘on model.’ Can you believe that?

“Then he handed me a style guide!”

Snow White and the Huntsman News and Notes

With Snow White and the Huntsman about to be released on home video, Universal Pictures has released a variety of short news items. While awaiting the disc and the confirmation of the sequel’s content, check this out:

Snow White & the Huntsman Magic Mirror Takeovers

Approximately 165 bars and restaurants in seven cities will transform their restroom mirrors to offer personal photo opportunities for patrons to emulate either Queen Ravenna or The Huntsman via specially designed window clings of the characters.  Just position yourself within the image and snap a photo to upload to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share with friends and fans.  Look for the “Queens” or “Huntsman” restroom door signs at locations in Atlanta, Boston, Philly, Chicago, NYC, Los Angeles and San Fran from Sept 5 – 12.

Free ‘Queen Ravenna Red’ Nail Changes at Participating Nail Salons

Twenty participating nail salons around the country will offer FREE “Queen Ravenna Red” polish changes and a keepsake mirrored key chain to the first 50 patrons to make an appointment from Sept 4 – 14 at locations in Detroit, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Orange County, Chicago, Tampa, Cleveland, St. Louis, Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, Houston, San Diego, Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York, San Fran, Washington, Philly. Look for the special flyers distributed at malls and bring your friends, post your new look and enjoy watching sneak peek clips from the upcoming “Snow White & the Huntsman” Blu-ray/DVD.

Kelly’s Coffee & Fudge Shops Celebrate Snow White & the Huntsman

Thirteen participating Kelly’s Coffee & Fudge shops in the SoCal area will feature specially-created ‘Snow White & the Huntsman’ candied apples along with complimentary promotional items from Sept 7 through October 7. And don’t forget, an exclusive game code to play the online game “Conquer the Kingdom” is contained on signature coffee cup sleeves while supplies last.  Look for store posters and tags for more information about the game and a chance to win daily prizes and qualify to win a grand prize free trip to Ireland.

Snow White & the Huntsman Conquer the Kingdom Game

Launched online Aug. 29 the Conquer the Kingdom game allows fans to uncover “spell codes” by participating in various Snow White & the Huntsman activities, both online and offline.  Fans submit their “spell codes” to the Mirror (for a chance to win prizes throughout the promotion, accumulating multiple entries for the chance to win the Grand Prize.

The Conquer the Kingdom website is the main hub for activation.  It will feature four challenges, each with a unique environment based on locations in the film.  By playing the various challenges, consumers earn “spell codes” to submit to the Mirror. The website will also feature videos to watch to as an incentive to earn additional “spell codes”.

Snow White & the Huntsman Collector’s Bags at Comic Book Stores

Over 125 comic book stores around the country are distributing over 120,000 colorful limited edition Snow White & the Huntsman bags and promo items from Sept 6 – Oct 6 and offering exclusive game codes to visitors to play “Conquer the Kingdom” for a chance to win daily prizes and qualify for the grand prize trip to Ireland.

Snow White & the Huntsman Gameplay Tour at Simon Malls Properties

Over fourteen Simon Malls locations are hosting Gameplay, the interactive gaming tour that connects fans of all ages to the hottest video games before they are officially launched and available in stores. From Aug 7 – Oct 3, visitors can get an advance look at the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD release of Snow White & the Huntsman and play the popular online games created for the release.  In addition as an exclusive for the malls, an exclusive game code will be given to participants to play the new online game “Conquer the Kingdom” to win daily prizes and qualify to win a grand prize free trip to Ireland.


What goes into making a memorable character for a story?

According to Lawrence Block, author of over one hundred novels and recipient of the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America, they must be three things: plausible, sympathetic, and original.

I think that’s a damn good definition of what makes a character real. Except that I think Mr. Block used the wrong word. It’s not “sympathetic,” it’s “empathetic.” Now, sympathy and empathy are kissing cousins, but sympathy, I think, allows the individual to separate from the character just a bit, to feel for the character while still allowing for some separation – six degrees of separation, if you will. Empathy, on the other hand causes the individual to feel with the character– it’s the recognition of self in someone else.

Without that recognition, without that empathy, the character is in danger of falling flat, of eliciting a “who cares?” response. The great characters are empathetic – Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With The Wind, the Joad family (especially Tom and “Ma”) of The Grapes Of Wrath, Vito and Michael Coreleone of The Godfather, Caleb Trask of East Of Eden, Joe and Kirsten Clay of Days Of Wine And Roses, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, King George VI in The King’s Speech.

In comics there is Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and his sister, Death, the X-Men’s Max Eisenhardt/Erik Lensherr/Magneto and Jean Grey/Phoenix (Dark and “Light”), Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman. Of course there are more; I just chose those characters that appeared at the top of my head as I write this. You will have your own characters that engender empathy.

Originality is hard.  The history of storytelling begins when our ancestors first sat down around the fire and told tales to ward off the dark night. The history of storytelling is ripe with heroes and villains, love and betrayal, valor and cowardice. Originality, I think, comprises the total picture. As Block says in his book Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, “it’s not the quirks that make an enduring character, but the essential personality which the quirks highlight.” In other words, and like I said, it’s the whole picture, the complete character or individual that makes him or her an original.

Norma Desmond’s quirk is her inability to adjust to age and talkies, to realize and accept that time, and Hollywood, has marched on. Tom Joad’s quirk is his inability to accept injustice, even if it causes him to murder, which he sees as no injustice. Vito Coreleone’s quirk is to see the world as an “us against them” scenario, to nurture the family while attacking the world. Michael Coreleone’s quirk is to talk of love and loyalty to the family while he destroys it.  Swamp Thing’s quirk is that he is a plant trying to be a man. And Death loves life, even as she takes it away.

Plausibility allows the reader to suspend his or her disbelief, to accept that the actions of the character are true and real and acceptable. Now in comics, of course, plausibility is a two-edged sword. Of course we know that nobody can fly; nobody is invulnerable or runs at supersonic speed; no one can turn invisible or survive the explosion of a gamma bomb (except Bruce Banner, of course!) But as readers of superhero comics, we willingly suspend our disbelief, the implausibility of the character, before we even open the book. Why? Well, I think it has something to do with the capturing of our imagination, the “what if?” factor that I wrote about several months ago. But I also think that the other factors mentioned above play a role in our acceptance of Superman or Rogue. Empathy: “I get it. I know what it’s like to be Rogue, to be unable to really touch someone, to really get close to someone.” Or “Yeah, sometimes I feel like Kal-El, a stranger in a strange land.”

I watched Game Change on HBO. The movie is based on Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time. Both men are seasoned politically analysts, and their book, which was released on January 11, 2010, is an inside look at the Presidential campaign of 2008. The HBO movie focuses on Palin, played by Julianne Moore, from the moment the McCain campaign decides to ask her to be his running mate to Obama’s running mate.

The movie is riveting. Moore buries herself completely into the role, and I’m guaranteeing right now that she wins an Emmy for her performance. Sarah Palin is, without a doubt, love her or hate her, an original. She is empathetic – and sympathetic – as she works to maintain her sense of self and, love them or hate them, her own beliefs against the McCain and Republican political machinery.

But is she plausible? The movie shows that, as far as being capable of being “one heartbeat away from the Presidency,” Palin was an implausible candidate. But don’t tell that to the huge – and I mean huge – groundswell of love and support she engendered.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my local comic book store, Vector Comics, to pick up my haul. Joe and Tina, the terrific and wonderful owners of the shop, were busy with other customers, so I browsed through the stacks to see if anything not on my list that caught my interest. (Actually, almost everything piques my appetite, and if I allowed myself to buy everything I want, I couldn’t pay the rent!)

Know what I found? The Sarah Palin comic from Bluewater Comics.

What a character!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis


Mark of the Spider-Man Starts Sending Out Operatives…

Mark of the Spider-Man Starts Sending Out Operatives…

The countdown clock has ticked down, and there’s a new message:

So, you’ve found us.

If you support us, if you support Spider-Man, now is your time.

Follow the Twitter accounts of our operatives in each of these cities. They’ll tell you where to go to uncover the next step. For this pursuit we ask that you please be over the age of 18.

Be safe, and good luck. We’re counting on you.

via Mark of the Spider-Man.

So far, @Nycwebslinger and @Caughtinatlweb have been revealed. Denver, Phoenix, Seattle and Los Angeles are still to come…

Twitter of the Mark of the Spider-Man: UPDATED


Earlier in the week, we mentioned that there was what looked like the start of a viral marketing campaign embedded in the new trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man. (We’d call it a web strategy, but– ugh.) People were to start looking for Mark Of The Spider-Man.

Now, a new Twitter feed @markofspiderman has popped up, along with what appear to be latitude and longitude for comic book stores in New York, Atlanta, and Denver, noting that property of Peter Parker has been lost.

What was lost, we don’t know yet. But as soon as we hear, we’ll let you know– right after we sell our tips to the Daily Bugle, of course.

Of course, if anybody finds anything interesting, our “Contact Us” form is right at the top of the page… or you can comment below.

The Amazing Spider-Man comes out July 3rd, and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, and Martin Sheen.

UPDATE 5:35 PM: And now he’s losing things in Phoenix… are we sure it’s not Nightcrawler teleporting all over the country?

UPDATE 6:15 PM: Hello, Seattle… we’re listening.

UPDATE 6:37 PM: According to @dag_kurt, he’s gotten to one of the Atlanta locations, where he found a backpack. Photos to come.

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: X-Men vs. Avengers? Pray for a Reset…

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: X-Men vs. Avengers? Pray for a Reset…

So we’ve all heard the news, right? The next big thing to be constructed by the architects of the House of Ideas is a doozy. “X-Men Vs. Avengers” touts the titular teams of the 616 waging war against one another in hopes of quelling Hope and her potential Phoenix Force powers. Now this may be putting the cart before the horse… so let’s go to the official release:

“The Avengers and X-Men have learned that the all-powerful embodiment of both death and rebirth known as the Phoenix Force is on a crash course for Earth… and it needs a new host to unleash its immeasurable power. But what is the shocking decision tied to the Phoenix’s return that will pit the Avengers against the X-Men? And when good friends become bitter enemies, what does this mean for the future of the Marvel Universe?”

Since I’m a betting fellow, and love to stick my foot in my mouth… I’m going to answer those questions. At best? I’ll nail what all of you are already thinking. At worst? I’ll piss the lot of you off, and Axel will send a goon squad to my house to cap me off at the knees. Let’s roll them bones!

What is the shocking decision tied to the Phoenix’s return that will pit the Avengers Vs. The X-Men? Well, most people round the interwebs believe it will tie to Hope Summers. For those (like me) who don’t know Hope from Adam, Wikipedia was kind enough to enlighten me. You see, the short and sweet synopsis says that when Scarlet Witch went bananas back in Disassembled, she reduced the mutant population down to 198 lucky losers.

The first mutant born after this mass de-powering was Hope. Immediately after she was born, Cable and Bishop came a calling. Cable said she was the Messiah. Bishop said she was a crazy cracker who would eventually murder over a million people. Herman Cain came forward to say he didn’t harass her. A whole bunch of convoluted continuity happened after that. Suffice to say all these prophecies, in line with the well-documented return of the Phoenix Force, can safely answer the question; Hope is most likely the target of the celestial upgrade. Let’s assume the X-Men think she’s gonna save humanity. The Avengers assume another crazy bitch gonna get some shiz. Let the mini-series unleash itself!

And when good friends become bitter enemies, what does this mean for the future of the Marvel Universe? Well this isn’t such an easy answer now, is it? I think there are two schools of thought. The conservative true believer might postulate that this will draw harsh lines between certain X-people and certain Avengineers. There will be many hard fought battles.

Since it’s hero on hero action, let’s assume some villains will try to get away with evil while the do-gooders pound each other on the street. Wolverine will have to choose a side. Cyclops will go toe-to-toe with Cap in a battle for who adds the perfect amount of starch to their unitards. Colossus will pound the Red Hulk in the middle of a well-populated area, causing millions of dollars of collateral damage.

What does a car insurance policy look like in Marvel’s Manhattan anyways?

At the end of the day, the conservative epic will end with more questions than answers. Hope will undoubtedly get the force within her. She’ll see all the fighting, and perhaps will sacrifice herself out in space or maybe shack up with Galactus. He’s got to be lonely, right? The dust will settle, and the heroes will be mad at each other. 15 new books will cover the epilogue. 12 new X-Teams and 459 new Avenger teams will emerge.

Now, let’s say Marvel’s been paying attention to the competition lately. What if they take a more ballsy approach? A universal reset might not be the worst ending, now would it? As we all know, Bendis is hanging up the Avenger cloak of writership after all of this hoopla. Marvel’s losing the battle at the stands (barely) to DC. DC is all fresh and new and shiny. Marvel is shoulder deep in crazy continuity. Maybe a Phoenix-level razing of the universe could become a Flashpoint to significant change? See what I did there… And while this is merely wild speculation, I for one would love to see Marvel do something this jarring. Picture it. One More Day? Gone. Age of Apocalypse? A faded memory. Secret War? A secret we can all forget. Now, of course a TON of Marvel backstory is simply amazing and untouchable. So is DC’s…and it didn’t stop them. The numbers don’t lie. Sometimes a big risk can garner big rewards.

Marvel’s mega-bucks in the multiplexes have meant a generation of kids are savvy to their characters; But still they may be queasy at coughing up the coin to catch up to convoluted continuity. With Hope decimating the universe, there’s a chance to keep the good stuff, forget the bad, and catch a whole new crop of fans wanting an easy jumping on point. After all the fighting over her, the X-Men and Avengers witness Hope rise above them. “Enough!” She’ll scream. We fade to white… and in the wake, the 617?

Now, if I were to wage a bet on this, I’m no fool. This crossover is like so many before it; An excuse to make extra mini-series, epilogues, prologues, tie-ins, et al. The series itself will be an excuse to the same excesses we’re used to by now. The book itself will be well drawn, sharply written, but ultimately a fluffy complicated plot to move the next batch of editorial mandates forward. Don’t believe the hype kiddos. Stick to the main book… enjoy the battle scenes, and pray Cable unleashes a gun that fires other guns (tip of the hat to LBFA). When the dust settles, we all know what it’ll really mean for the Marvel Universe.

Another epic event in just six months!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander’s New Year’s Thrills!

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: What I’m NOT Thankful For

I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving holiday was amazing. I myself hosted festivities for the first time in our new home. It was here, in 2011 where Marc Alan Fishman finally graduated from the kiddie table. Looks like all it took was making a meal for 10 people, in my own home. But with the assistance of my fantastic in-laws, and even more fantastic(ly pregnant) wife… we done pulled off a doosy. After last week’s lov-in, I unbuckled my belt, let my gut out, and took stock in those things that didn’t quite make me a happy camper. Sure, my initial articles covered some of those (The X-Men, Barry Allen, and Hal Jordon to name a few)… but here we are, nearing the end of the year. What exactly happened that cause my beard to stand on end? Let the hatespew begin!

Epic Events of Extremely Excessive Inanity

To be truly fair, I could spend the entirely of this editorial tearing DC and Marvel both for their predilection to create crappy crossover events. But let’s boil it down to the brass tacks, shall we? Simply put, these money-sucking whores create bloated wastes of ink and paper, all based on the idea that “everything you know will change.” This of course, preys on our fan-boy fear of being left behind. And it would seem over the course of the Aughts, such as they were, the Big Two have perfected their scheme:

Create a main book where all the bullet point action takes place. A few not so significant people will die. One or two major ones might kick it too. A great evil rises up. It looks insurmountable. Then a legion of the most marketable heroes get some brilliant form of upgrade, or a lost and forgotten hero comes back from the dead, or some other deus ex machina reveals itself in the nick of time for one last issue of double page Photoshopped explosions. What follows is generally seven to twenty seven epilogues setting up the next six months of editorial mandated character changes.

But it’s never just that one main title now, is it? These mega-loads of mega-suck bleed into the entire continuity of issues. Soon every book you’d normally pick up features the event-du-jour’s nom de plum across its masthead. What follows is generally exposition taken from bullet point A before bullet point B from the main series. Not reading that series? Well, I guess it sucks to be you. I was loving, L-O-V-I-N-G Matt Fraction’s Incredible Iron Man series until Fear Itself. And for four issues straight, all the world building he’d done was cast aside so I could follow Tony into Asgard to get drunk, swear, and make some action-figure-waiting-to-happen weapon variants for random heroes to use. Did I follow Fear Itself? No. Thanks for wasting my time, money, and love of the Iron Man book.

Don’t think for a second DC skates by here either, kiddos. Those cash-craving carnivores did one worse; they let the deus ex machina implode their entire line of comics. Flashpoint, by and large, will sit in my collection next to Countdown to Final Crisis as a testament to everything wrong with comic books today. “But why did you keep buying them, if you hated them so much?” Well… One – I’m a masochist. Two – the series promised to feature at least one or two characters I’d normally not get to read about. Three; – I didn’t want to come out of the other side confused as to why everything changed. Flashpoint even had the nerve to release wave after wave of mini-series to take us around this “Age of Not Quite Apocalypse.” And while Batman: Knight of Vengeance delivered an amazing Elseworlds tale, it was just that… An Elseworlds tale. Slap any title card you wanted on the cover, Dan, Geoff, and Jim. We all knew it should have said “Flash Point Over There and Distract The Fanboys While We Hit The Reset Button.”

4/5ths of the DCNu

And since we’re on the subject… the next thing that ground my gears was the rebooting of the DC Universe itself. I give credit where credit is due. It was a bold move that in fact did raise awareness, sales, and general levels of hope amongst the comic book readers of the world. But by and large, it was all smoke pellets and Mirror Masters.

Let’s face facts. Superman, Wonder Woman, the JLA, and Aquaman all got the reboots needed to make them matter again. Batman and Green Lantern may have gotten shiny new #1s on their books, but didn’t reboot a damned thing. Batgirl got to disappoint the handicapped community (not that the book is bad mind you, but still…), and a plethora of bad ideas were hurled out with hopes any of it would stick. What we’re left with is a mangled mess of a few fantastic books littered amongst total garbage. All the solid character-building moments that gave DC a strong legacy and continuity were thrown out with the bath water in hopes that a #1 and a power-cycle would somehow make comic books appeal to the masses who aren’t reading comic books. Guess what? Sales may have increased, but not by that much. Walk out on the street today, and ask a passer-by who OMAC, Voodoo, or Captain Atom are. Don’t be surprised when they need to Google it.

It’s still too early to say exactly what impact this reboot is going to make. Suffice to say, I hardly believe I’ll be telling my son “Oh yeah, in 2011, it all changed. DC created the new paradigm by which all comic books were created.” More likely? “Oh yeah, in 2011 DC rebooted everything, because they figured they’d move more issues if they had #1 on them. Superman turned out really good. I kind of forgot everything else.”

The Fallacy of Death in Comics

If 2011 has taught us nothing else, then we should all learn this: Death is meaningless in comic books. In the long-long ago, in a time and place far far away from here… dying meant dying. No mysterious body swaps. No time-bullets. No psuedo-science backtracking. Dead meant dead. In 2011, Marvel iced the Human Torch, Bucky Barnes (again…), and Thor (again, again). Human Torch didn’t even stay chilled long enough to be missed. With Fantastic Four #600, his mighty resurrection (as predicted by just about everyone) came to pass. In Fear Itself, Bucky and Thor each bit the dust. Who here is man enough to say they’ll stay that way for 365 days? With The Avengers movie hitting megaplexes next summer, I doubt Mr. Odinson will be resting for even a fortnight. Oh, and it looks like the Phoenix force is coming back too. As it stands, I can’t even tell you for sure who is alive and who isn’t. Only Ultimate Peter Parker seems to be the most likely candidate for a spot next to Gwen Stacy of the 616 in the land of the “neva’ coming back.” And thanks largely to Flashpoint, DC was able to kill off whole portions of their catalog, with the promise to thaw them out the second sales dip. Did someone say JSA?

Goodbye 2011. May 2012 boast less deaths and less events. See you next week, when my column resets back to #1.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander