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.
Our erstwhile editor-in-chief decided, at the last possible minute, to take the day off. Off of what, we don’t know. But we believe he’s at his laboratory coming up with a way to reboot himself. Why not? Everybody else is doing it!
Unfortunately, this is akin to how Bizarro got his start. Rebooting Mike into Bizarro 2016 seems… highly logical.
He’ll probably write another review or something in a couple of days. His ego can’t handle prolonged invisibility.
I gave up buying comics monthly basically two years ago. The New52 let me down. Marvel’s events didn’t grab my gaze either. With Marvel’s TV and movies being excellent alternatives, and DC’s archives of animated adventures at my beck and call, I was as comically sated as I needed to be. And seemingly, I’ve not missed much in the down time since.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, a whole mess of news hit the wires. The two biggest ones to note: Eric Stephenson of Image Comics had the same rant Robert Kirkman had five years ago, and Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Alan Moore, and plenty of other big names have had prior to them. My ComicMix compatriot Molly Jackson covered it well. For those who are afraid of clicking? Stephenson came out to proclaim it was time to stop cutting corners for short term success, and to celebrate our collective creativity to build new characters and such. You can’t see it, obviously, but I’ve only got one eyebrow and one corner of my mouth in the “up” position.
Stephenson’s call to arms aside, DC went ahead and announced their next short term success gamble “DC REBIRTH”. What is it exactly? It’s not a reboot. It’s not a retcon. It’s not a reshaping of their universe. No, they don’t want you to think any of that. What it is, according to their own newspost, is a line-wide title relaunch. Which is so not a reboot, guys. The non-event begins in June with REBIRTH Specials for Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lanterns, Superman, Titans, and Wonder Woman. In the same month, there will be $2.99 releases – two times a month – for Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lanterns, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Oh, and Action Comics and Detective Comics.
I’d like to stop right here to denote that during an interview about this so totally not a reboot, seriously dudes, DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio said (and he speaks FAST, so I’m paraphrasing):
“I thought that was a big issue (the price drop). We’ve seen a lot of resistance to the prices creeping up. And it was a great thing for us to get people to reinvest in DC Comics, with these double ships.”
So, if you like Batman (and who doesn’t!)… and you’re ready to reinvest in DC Comics? Well then! Get ready for a REBIRTH special, and 4 issues of Batmanbetween his self-titled release and Detective Comics. Five books in a month. And DiDio was quick to note that REBIRTH brings with it a “return to continuity” and “universe building”. That’s code for you’ll want to buy all the books to see the bigger picture. If that doesn’t set Eric Stephenson on fire from frustration, I don’t know what would.
Therein lay the rub. Every so often, our best and brightest scream to the heavens with desire to change the world. But they seemingly forget their success doesn’t work the same for everyone else. DC Comics won’t invest in new characters, stories, and ideas when they can mine their history in an unending loop. When they hit the reset button twice a decade – or more – it equals short term sales spikes they then attempt to clutch to in order to reach that brass ring of sales they haven’t seen since their last short term spike effort.
And don’t think I’m not looking with a crooked eye at Marvel. Because it’s a whole ‘nother article for me to write about choking your coffers with continuity. All-New All-Different Superior Spider-Verse I’m looking at you.
The fact is no speech will change the way our medium works. The movies and TV shows will rake in the real profits, while the comics continue to build, destroy, and re-release in perpetuity. For better or worse… this is the way of world.
If you don’t like it? Wait 6 months. It’ll reboot soon enough.
“This computer will soon stop receiving Google Chrome updates because Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8 will not longer be supported.” – Message on My Computer when I Open Google Chrome
“Justice Scalia was a hero. We owe to him, & the Nation, to ensure that the next President names his replacement.” – Tweet from Ted Cruz, 2016 Presidential Campaign
“The other candidates – they went in, they didn’t know the air conditioning didn’t work. They sweated like dogs… How are they gonna beat ISIS? I don’t think it’s gonna happen…You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass… My IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault… You’re disgusting.” – Donald Trump, 2016 Presidential Campaign
“At DC we believe in superheroes and what makes them great. And we also believe in the direct market and the core comics fan. Rebirth is designed to bring back the best of DC’s past, embrace the stories we currently love and move the entire epic universe into the future. We are returning to the essence of the DCU. With Rebirth we are putting the highest priority on the direct market and we will continue to create and cultivate new opportunities for retailers to thrive and prosper, grow readers, fans and customers.” – Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher, DC Entertainment
Annoyed: The Tyranny of the (Geek) Mob.
Every time I open Chrome I get the above message from Google; if I click on the “learn more” link I’m at the “Chrome Blog,” which says that those unsupported platforms will not receive updates or security fixes. In other words, Google is giving a big fuck you to consumers who are happy with their systems – including those using Windows XP and Windows Vista – and have need to go out and spend money on new computers and/or software. Norton is doing this with its security platforms as well. I’m being told on an almost daily basis that the company is soon going to stop supporting my Mac OS X 10.8 with anti-viral software; meantime every time I go on Facebook they want more and more information – which I don’t give them – and the page looks different. Apple releases a new iPhone almost every six months and is and now encouraging people to update to Mac OS X El Capitan, which is something like OS X 10.11.3.
Look, I get it – updating systems and platforms is like the car manufacturers introducing new models every year. But I have a 2004 Toyota Matrix (and I see even older cars out on the road – I know someone with a 1999 Ford Ram truck with over 250,000 miles on its odometer), and when I bring it in for an oil change (or, just recently, some major work – the steering wheel was shaking and twisting like a hula dancer whenever I went over 30 miles an hour, turned out my brake calipers kept getting locked), my mechanic doesn’t say to me, “Sorry, Min, the Matrix is no longer supported, so you have to go out and buy a new car.” What Google and Apple and Facebook and all the technology companies are doing is pure bullshit.
Angry: The Repugnantican Party.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said upon hearing of the death Justice Antonin Scalia said that the “vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” and has promised to block anyone that Obama nominates. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said, “that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year,” which is total bullshit, because Saint Ronnie nominated Arthur Kennedy to SCOTUS, and the Senate confirmed him, in 1988, when that Presidential campaign was in full swing.
And then of course there is Ted Cruz, whose vitriol about the Supreme Court now includes Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Cruz supported. He actually said that it was “unconstitutional” for the President to nominate a justice while in his last year of office. I have a copy of the Constitution; Article III, Section 1 simply states: The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office. That’s all it says. There is nothing in there about the nominating process that I could find. (Hello, Bob Ingersoll! How did the nominating process come about?)
So, yeah, yeah, tell it to the Marines, Repugnanticans. If Obama were a Republican you’d be falling all over yourselves in your eagerness to get another justice his or her seat. And why does your bullcrap about “activist judges” only extend to those judges who were placed by Democrats?
And by the way, Repugnanticans, it’s your obstinacy against working with Obama, and your barely disguised bigotry towards our first black president, that’s created the specter of Donald Trump swearing on the Bible on the Capitol steps in January 2017.
Aggravated: Donald Trump
Y’know, I’d feel sorry for the people who support Trump if they weren’t such tremendous patsies. Trump is the ultimate con man of our times, and like any good con man, he knows how to sell it by sticking to the script. I’ve watched and listened to Trump in interviews and at televised “town halls.” No matter what anyone asks him, he never really answers the question. He repeats slogans. He avoids specifics. At one town hall that was hosted and televised by MSNBC, a woman asked him what he was going to do to help small business entrepreneurs. He said, “Did you read my book, ‘The Art of The Deal’? I hope you read it. The answers are all in there. Did you read it? If you read it you should be successful. Oh, you read it? Then you must be successful.” He said versions of “Make America Great Again” a million times in one hour. Again and again he tells us, “I’m rich, I’m funding my own campaign, I’m beholden to nobody.”
He feeds on people’s fears and bigotries, he listens to what people say, and responds by giving them what they want. Immigrants are taking our jobs and lowering our wages. “I’m going to build a wall on the border and make Mexico pay for it.” Hello, people, we have a longer and more porous 3,000 mile border with Canada, how come no one is asking him if he’s going to build a wall at that border, too, and make Canada pay for it?
And btw, Donald, how many illegal immigrants are working for you, keeping your golf courses green and smooth and playable? I lost my job when my company moved overseas. “I know how to negotiate, and I’ll make China live up to its obligations” Hey, people, you’re the ones shopping at Walmart and other cheap shit stores, you’re the ones supporting the global market. Why don’t you try a nationwide boycott for one day or one weekend instead of hauling your fat asses to buy stuff made by men and women and kids chained to their desks for 12 hours at a time without even a bathroom break? And besides, even The Donald admits to doing “business” with China.
The point is, it’s a lot more complicated than you might think, people – our cars are a hodgepodge of parts from all over the world, same with our computers; and by the way, it ain’t just Walmart and The Donald. Hell, you want to talk upscale? Our Calvin Kleins and Donna Karans and Ralph Laurens – don’t you remember the tumult that occurred when it was discovered that our team uniforms for the last Olympics were made in China? – are all made outside our borders. Go to Macy’s, go to Nordstrom or Bloomingdales or Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus or any boutique store. Few and far between are the clothes and lingerie and handbags and shoes and belts and scarves and sunglasses with a “Made in the USA” label. And soon our Nabisco cookies – Oreos! – are going to be made in Mexico.
The globalized economy is here to stay, folks. Its ramifications aren’t going away. This isn’t your WWII veteran grandfather’s America. Hell, it’s not even your father’s America. Hell, it’s not even the America in which I grew up. Those Americas are gone for good. Those Americas ain’t coming back. Yeah, in some ways it does make me sad. But I also realize that those Americas weren’t Utopias, either. Looking backwards is always dangerous. Rose-colored glasses and all that…
My TV is on right now. The Donald is campaigning in Atlanta. He just told the crowd that “We’re gonna be winning so much, we’re gonna get tired of winning. Make America Great Again!”
Yeah, choosing a guy who picks fights with the Pope – the Pope, for Christ’s sake! – is just the way to do it.
Apathetic: Reboots, Sequels, and still more Reboots
Nope. This is not an old guy rant about how you-all young’uns are ignoring comic books because you’re too busy enjoying the movies and teevee shows being made out of those same comic books. I’m beginning to think that if you lust for heroic fantasy, maybe the plethora of such fare in our theaters and our sundry home electronics will serve your needs.
Back when I was doing public relations for DC Comics, which was so long ago it was well before my pal Martha Thomases was doing public relations for DC Comics, I was fond of telling the press that we had it all over movies because we weren’t restricted by reasonable special effects budgets. We only were restricted by the imaginations of our writers and artists, and that posed no problem at all. We had, and we continue to have, lots of people with wonderful ideas along with the ability to get those visions inside the reader’s brainpan. We could blow up a planet on page one, resurrect that planet on page two, populate it on page three and then blow up the new place on page four.
Today… well… we’ve got computers and brilliant people who never see the light of day to put all that in a movie at a reasonable price and at reasonable speed. And then a bunch of other moloids add music and sound effects and maybe some 3-D crap. Movies – and, now, television – can boldly go where comic books always have been… and get there first.
Better still, the consumer’s cost per minute is far lower in these new venues. Movies and cable bills are expensive, but two hours worth of comic books can run you maybe forty bucks.
This is not to suggest I no longer enjoy comics. To paraphrase a famous ape-fighting gun nut, they’ll have to rip that comic book out of my cold dead hands. And I hope it’s a goddamned expensive one. But this does offer me the opportunity for praise my fellow American publishers that are not owned by mammoth movie studios for moving well beyond traditional superhero fare. Today we can tell virtually any type of story, even true ones, and if that story is well-told and well-marketed we’ve got a pretty good shot at not losing the rent on it.
Maybe we haven’t quite reached the level of selling comics to, say, bored grandmothers who pine for their days of child-rearing. There are very specific comics in other countries, particularly Japan and Belgium, that cater to audiences we rarely think of in the American quadrasphere. But we’re almost there.
Today I am more interested in the new Marvel Netflix series than I am in the post-Battleworld Marvel comics. I am much more interested in the next season of Flash and Arrow than I am in DC’s next reboot – or their previous dozen reboots. That’s where the superhero mojo lives these days.
I see coming up with superhero comics that are more involving than other superhero media as a challenge to our comics creators. Having worked with at least four generations of such talent, I know this will be a wonderful thing to behold. However, right now I’m in the middle of producing at least a half-dozen original graphic novels (editors get to multitask, which is another word for “short attention span”). Some sort of fall into the category of heroic fantasy, maybe, but most do not.
As far as I’m concerned, happy days are here again.
The best science fiction is the kind that uses the settings to make comments about our society today, making us think. When Paul Verhoeven gave us RoboCop in 1987, it was a commentary on the rapidly rising role of technology in the world along with the increasing spread of urban crime. The idea that a mortally wounded cop (Peter Weller) was involuntarily turned into a cyborg and sent out to clean up the city was riveting. The performance, blood, and violence made the film an interesting statement and the beginning of a franchise that got watered down in lesser hands.
MGM saw the moribund property as a chance to make some fresh cash with a reboot because everything else has been dusted off and for the most part done pretty well. But did Brazilian director José Padilha have something to say or was he brought in for stylish mayhem? Apparently he did, working with screenwriter Joshua Zetumer, building on the original script by Edward Neumaier and Michael Miner. Omnicorp, a subsidiary of OmniConsumer Products (OCP), is a next generation supplier of military weapons in the form of humanoid ED-209 and EM-208 mechanized warriors at a time global tensions mean a steady supply of soldiers is required.
OCP CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) wants to sell a domestic version of his machines but is thwarted by Senator Hubert Dreyfus (Zach Grenier) and his just passed Act outlawing such domestic police. Undaunted, Sellars finds a loophole in the law and orders man put inside one of the machines, something general counsel Liz Kline (Jennifer Ehle) and marketing chief Tom Pope (Jay Baruchel) endorse. He instructs Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to take his prosthetics research to the next level and the scientist screens candidates until he settles on Detroit police detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman). Welcome, RoboCop 2.0.
Partnered with Lewis (Michael K. Williams), he takes on the underworld in the form of Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow) while risking his humanity as his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan) grow increasingly distant. Meantime, one battle is overt, while the covert story is machine versus corporation over Free Will. OCP has intentionally “dumbed down” Murphy, hoping he would merely follow orders after being trained by Rick Mattox (Jackie Early Haley) but Murphy is his own man and not the “Tin Man” Mattox insists on calling him.
Things blow up just fine and the human conflicts sometimes take a backseat to the PG-13 violence (a crass commercial move that robbed the film) but this is better than we feared when the collective consciousness said, “We don’t’ need a RoboCop reboot.” Yes, its’ commentary is not as sharp as Verhoeven’s original nor is the action any better despite enhanced special effects or the presence of Samuel L. Jackson. And maybe we don’t but what we got is a cut above and well worth a look. Padilha’s American debut is done with affectionate nods to the original film while still having its own voice.
The film, now out on home video as a Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy combo pack form MGM Home Entertainment, has an excellent video transfer with sharp colors. The audio is a notch below this but the overall 5.1 lossless DTS-HD MA sound mix is fine.
The Blu-pray comes with a standard assortment of unremarkable special features including Deleted Scenes (3:59), 10 Omnicorp Product Announcements (3:27); RoboCop: Engineered for the 21st Century (The Illusion of Free Will: A New Vision, 7:46; To Serve and Protect: RoboCop’s New Weapons, 6:05, The RoboCop Suit: Form and Function, 14:54); and, two theatrical trailers.
As expected, Marvel’s second reboot of the Amazing Spider-Man title was a record-setter in April: Diamond Comic Distributors reported today that the issue “was the best-selling comic book in both units and dollars in over a decade.” More importantly, the market turned positive for the year, mostly erasing a slow start. Diamond sold nearly .2 million in comics and graphic novels to comics
shops in the month of April, a larger total than any month in 2013 except for the record-breaking million October…
The BBC did a cracking job of filling the week before the Doctor Who 50th anniversary with new programming to appeal to Whovians across the globe. Noted scientist Brian Cox hosted a seminar about the nature of space and time, while noted actor Brian Cox starred in An Adventure in Space and Time. Paul McGann starred in a short adventure featuring the eighth Doctor, while Doctors Five, Six, and Seven hatched their own plan to crash the festivities.
David Bradley as William Hartnell as The Doctor in An Adventure in Space and Time
Mark Gatiss penned An Adventure in Space and Time, a dramatic adaptation of the early years of the classic series. Brian Cox and Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) starred as Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert respectively, the minds behind the show, while David Bradley (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter) took the role of William Hartnell, the first Doctor. Hartnell was unsure of his ability to take on the role, and Verity supported and encouraged him, each helping the other make a name for themselves in television history. Bradley does a wonderful job of showing Hartnell’s range of emotion as the harsh schedule of the show takes its toll on him in only three years. A recurring motif of a series of publicity pictures for each new cast change portrays the progression wonderfully.
There’s a number of cameos of classic Who actors in the film. William Russell (the original Ian Chesterton) plays a BBC guard, and early companions Anneke Wills and Jean Marsh (Upstairs Downstairs), and current voice of the Daleks Nicholas Briggs as the original voice of the Daleks, Peter Hawkins. One final cameo at the end is too wonderful and precious to spoil – let’s just say Gatiss is not afraid to let the line between reality and fantasy blur if needs be.
While the adventure is scheduled for release in the UK on December 2, there’s no date for a US release as of yet.
A lot of fans were upset that the “classic Doctors” were not asked to participate in the anniversary episode (save for McGann, who naturally had to keep his appearance strictly secret), so Peter Davison decided to take matters into his own hands. He wrote and directed The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, a half-hour adventure in which, well, in which Peter Davison takes matters into his own hands about not being asked to participate in the anniversary. He, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy hatch a mad plan to crash the filming of The Day of the Doctor and garner appearances. In a series of mad escapades worthy of Lucy Ricardo trying to get into Ricky’s show (ask your parents), the trio get help from John Barrowman, Peter’s daughter Georgia Moffett and her husband, one David Tennant.
The adventure was filmed alongside the anniversary episode, with our heroes conspiring behind the scenes as the “actual” footage is filmed off-camera It features cameos from just about everyone that’s been on Doctor Who that “wasn’t invited” to be in the anniversary, up to and including Russel T. Davies. Tom Baker does not appear, instead using the very same footage from The Five Doctors that they pulled from Shada to cover for his non-appearance there. Georgia gets a producer’s credit for the adventure, with Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin as executive producers. It’s a wonderful piece of work from all involved, clearly a love letter to both the old guard and its fans.
The professional wrestler C.M. Punk truly made his mark and broke free of the shackles of mid-card obscurity by way of his infamous pipe bomb shoot promo. For those not in-the-know, a shoot in wrestling is an interview (or soliloquy some of the time) wherein said grappler breaks the fourth wall. As relived in this week’s WTF podcast, Punk was vivid in saying that this promo was done because he was at the end of his rope.
With the WWE wanting him to resign for three more years and Punk decidedly against continuing to not be the guy on the roster, Vince McMahon allowed him to air his grievances live on their Monday night broadcast. If Punk captured the zeitgeist, he’d be a made-man forever in wrestling (which, by my count, is a little over two years). If he failed, he’d be gone, buried back in VA halls wrestling for gas money, and be nothing more than a footnote in WWE’s now 50-year history.
The shoot worked. Punk resigned, and ruled the company with an iron fist until he literally could give no more. The glass ceiling was shattered on the “norm” of the product, and wrestling now is forever changed. Well, maybe not, but I’ll circle back round that idea in a bit.
Why do I bring this up? Well, for one, because it’s topical to me. I was just listening to the podcast on my way home from work tonight. Beyond that, it dawned on me that with all the coverage and snark that exists in the world of comics… there is no C.M. Punk. There is no shoot promo to cut, on any live broadcast. There’s only guys like me; indie creators and op-ed columnists chasing windmills and yelling into the wind. But this here is my stage. This here is my time. So, allow me to speak ill of the industry I wish every damned day I was a part of, but know full well I’ll never actually see.
The WWE’s CEO lives a double life as an on-screen performer. He enjoys his product not only for the money it makes but for the crafted product it actually is. Warner Bros and Disney are just faceless boardrooms ruled not by the glee in little kids’ faces, but cold hard cash. Their publishing branches exist for one reason, and one reason only: to keep the movie and TV machines churning. Don’t think for a second that your issues of Batman mean any more to the execs in Burbank than a roll of teepee. It doesn’t. That rag in your hands? The one that has the blood, sweat, and tears of a dozen hard working men and women broiled into its pulp? It’s an incubator of ideas for a movie or cartoon show. It’s a crockpot keeping the license warm. It’s a mosquito light that keeps the most vocal fans distracted. Go ahead, post your death threats if we make Afflec Batman… but hey! Look over there! It’s Zero Year!
We all desire the notion that those behind the rich mahogany desks (being packed up in Midtown Manhattan in 18 months) lie overgrown fanboys and girls that just want to knock the socks off us, the ever-enduring fans of a dying medium. But it too is just a pipedream. The suits that run your comic book publishing companies are shackled to boulders far too big to drag up the mountain. Beyond the goodwill garnered by our little niche market, and the fervent fans that exist at comic cons lie those aforementioned suits in bigger boardrooms that still demand that at the end of the day everything be profitable. Profits occur when sales increase. Sales increase when gimmicks, #1s, and creators that draw a crowd are given the top spots. When a book stops earning what meager profits it can when it’s hot, it’s tossed out with the bathwater and things start again. The era of continuity is long dead. All hail the retcon.
The closest thing we had to C.M. Punk in comics was Robert Kirkman. He took his indie prowess and love of the craft and turned out The Walking Dead. Now, Kirkman is a suit. Behind a desk. Of a multi-media empire. He won the championship belt, and didn’t even have to work for the man to do it. Now, he is the man, and no longer a voice of the voiceless. Like so many though, atop his mountain of money many years ago he gave birth to his manifesto wherein he challenged the industry to veer towards creator-owned projects. Hey Robbie! Trickle-down economics don’t work in real life or in comics. If every known talent jumped off their pedestals at Marvel and DC to come make indie books at Dark Horse, Image, and Boom! the line to replace them would still be wrapped around the vacant Midtown offices and land somewhere in the opposite ocean. Everyone is replaceable when the end goal is product. Not good product. Just product.
The fact is this: After he changed the world and held the WWE title for longer than any wrestler in the last two decades or so, Punk took a much-needed break. When he returned, he was just as our resurrected Jean Greys, Steve Rogers, or Hal Jordans… a hero to be celebrated for what he was, not who he is now. A long and listless program against his on-screen mentor, and Punk is now booked right back in the mid-card where he started. The comic book industry has no panacea to cure itself of the ills we rally against. Just as the WWE fans buy their John Cena Fruity Pebbles Lunchboxes… so too do we comic fans flock to every worthless gimmick they shove on the racks. We make our excuses, we plunk down our money, and we bitch about it on the Internet later.
The only way to make change, is to make it. There is no utopia. There’s only revolution.