Thursday, March 26, 2009

Catacombs Commentary: The State of Marvel

Take a big step back away from the racks in your local comics shop and it's pretty easy to see that there is quite a bit of product available for purchase. Heft a copy of any monthly issue of Diamond Previews catalogue and you will wonder (or dare I say "Marvel" ) at the enormous amount of funny book and related-stuff that is offered for sale to the adoring masses, but read virtually any online message board or forum and there is bound to be at least some discussion about the dwindling readership of comic book purists.
All of this in a depressed economy, where disposable income for such purchases is truly at a premium (unless you are an executive at AIG - and then the sky is the limit)!
As a long-time reader of Marvel Comics, I've grown terribly weary of seeing how great of a cluster fuck the current editorial regime & management group can make out of the X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Avengers franchises. It has been a long time since I was comfortably able to buy any titles out of that entire publishing morass. I mean just where am I supposed to focus my attention between a dozen different monthly books all sporting "X-something" on the cover? Same question with Spider-Man and his extended family of titles, ditto for the Avengers. How many team books can Wolverine actually be a member of AT THE SAME TIME?
These days it's usually some other new title that the former "House of Ideas" produces that catches my eye, but whether or not they ultimately hold my attention depends upon the execution of the given title or creative team that's responsible. Take a look at these recent hits and misses and decide for yourself.
Agents of Atlas: Based on the earlier mini-series, I had high hopes for this book, but they completely lost me in the first two issues, by having flashback pages done by a different (and inferior) artist from the penciller that replaced Leonard Kirk (sniff!). It's not a good way to inaugurate a new series, that doesn't bring back the artist who originated the thing in the first place, and then includes a filler artist to boot.
All-New Savage She-Hulk: Before you apologists jump down my throat by arguing that I haven't even seen this one yet, please let me explain something. That chick on the cover looks EXACTLY like Thundra, a pretty cool character who was introduced in the 1970's Fantastic Four series. Coloring her green and calling her the "New She-Hulk" doesn't cut it with me. I'll take a pass on this one! Any old school editor would have likely killed this idea, or at least given it a decent try out within the pages of a regular series...first. Not launched it in its own series right out of the gate.
Guardians of the Galaxy: I really enjoyed this book, and then they had to go and tie it into Secret Invasion, which pretty much scrapped everything that was good about it. Plus, the entire creative team jumped ship to head up War of Kings [see below] , a mini-series which features the Guardians title as a tie-in. I tried to get on board with the new artist, but the book has sadly lost alot of quality that it showed in its earlier issues. I buy a book with the intention of sticking with it - regardless of creative team shuffles - but some consistency and integrity has to remain in order for me to invest myself in that way and Marvel didn't meet me even halfway with this book.
Marvel Zombies 4: "4"? They have got to be kidding here! This is the most overblown, over baked, overdone concept that Marvel fields at the moment. Not all.
The Twelve: I loved Babylon 5 on television, but JMS screwed everybody on this one. The next issue is nowhere to be seen, its not even on the schedule anymore and that arrogant jerk really should have the living shit beaten out of him for wasting our time and our dollars. Now, I am going to pause for a brief moment and say that everything isn't in the crapper at Marvel.

Captain America deserves every bit of praise that it has earned over the year since Steve Rogers fell and Bucky Barnes surprisingly stepped into the role. Black Panther, despite the pointless numbering restart, is worth taking a chance on. I picked up the latest issue and flipped through it. I may not know what happened to T'Challa, I may not really want a female version of the Panther, but the book looks interesting and I may start picking it up. And then there is War of Kings. The loss of the creative team from Guardians of the Galaxy still smarts, but Kings is the kind of comic that used to be published by Marvel all across the board. It is a breath of fresh air. Just don't expect me to pick up the tie-in books!

No comments: