Americans can always note the waning days of Summer by the paucity of decent new movies appearing in theaters. It’s the dead zone between the dumbed-down Hollywood Blockbusters and the more Serious Fare released to hopefully snag a few Oscar votes. These days are called “dog days” because it is usually so hot outside– even the most energetic pups seek shade under big trees and just pant– dreaming of Fall’s cooler temperatures.I don’t ever remember a month where the yearly movie maxim could be so aptly applied to the Comic Industry. Earlier this month, I noted there were FIVE comic book shipping weeks in August. I prognosticated (wrongly, as I often do) that we Hardcover and Trade Waiters could expect to be overwhelmed for at least two or more of these weeks.
But that didn’t happen.
In fact, August 2012 will go down as one of the most lackluster months in memory– with very few decent collections worthy of note seeing release. (Look back– I mostly praised re-released product or “upgraded” product like the Scott Pilgrim Vol 1 Color Edition.) I spent much less than $150 USD on books this week– the lowest tally I’ve seen in a long, long time. I welcome the reprieve, of course. It’s nice to have a month where I don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of product– both good and craptastic.
But you know what this means, don’t you? September’s gonna make me its’ bitch.
All Action Classics Wonderful Wizard Of Oz
Amulet Vol 5 Prince Of Elves
Cat Eyed Vol 2
Courtney Crumin Special Edition Vol 2 HC
Dal Tokyo HC – Did I miss something special?
Darkness Rebirth Vol 1
Dark Shadows Complete Series Vol 5 HC
Deadpool Classic Vol 7
End Of Nations – More video game-based stuff that I’ve sworn off…
GI Joe Field Manual Vol 1
GI Joe Transformers Vol 1
Golden Age Greats Spotlight Vol 10
Green Lantern Archives Vol 7 HC
Guarding The Globe Vol 1 – Finally!
Gutters Absolute Complete Omnibus Vol 2 HC
Hellraiser Masterpieces Vol 2
Irredeemable Vol 10 – Recommended
Journey Into Mystery Vol 1 Fear Itself – Own the Hardcover
Kirby Genesis Vol 1 – Recommended
Knights Of The Dinner Table Vol 37
Lenore Swirlies HC
Lone Ranger Vol 5 Hard Country
Machine Teen History 101001 – What barrel did Marvel scrape this out of?
Mouse Guard Legends Of The Guard Vol 1 Leather Bound HC
Namor Visionaries By John Byrne Vol 2 – Byrne’s work was hardly “visionary” here
Penny Arcade Vol 8 Magical Kids in Danger
Peter Panzerfaust Vol 1 The Great Escape
Phantom Complete Series King Years HC – I buy Phantom Comic Strip collections…
Resurrection Man Vol 1 Dead Again
Return of the Dapper Men Vol 1 Leather Bound HC – Own the Original HC
Rex Mundi Omnibus Vol 1 – Own the Original Trades
Showcase Presents Tales of the Unexpected Vol 1
Sonic Saga Vol 1 Darkest Storm
Supernatural The Dogs Of Edinburgh
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Vol 2
Thunderbolts Fear Itself – Own the Hardcover
Tokyo Grindhouse Vol 1 Pinky Violence Bad Girl
Transformers Maximum Dinobots Vol 1
Ultimate Comics Spider-man By Bendis Vol 1 – Suuucked in Hardcover form…
Ultimate Comics Ultimates By Jonathan Hickman Vol 1 – Same as above
X-Men Legacy Five Miles South Of Universe – Own the Hardcover
Gon Vol 7 (Kodansha Edition)
Persona 4 Official Design Works
Street Fighter X Tekken Artworks
There are times I love the Comic Book Industry as much as I could love any industry filled with an inordinate amount of deluded, self-important assholes of medium talent or less. (Don’t worry, I feel the same way about the Film & TV Industries too.)
But no matter how much I love comics, every once in a while there’s a book I find so heinous and so filled with regrettable shit… That I just about lose what little sanity I still have. This week’s Pièce O’ Shit de résistance? Well, it’s sorta hard to tell. Why? Because the hardcover’s slipcase says Ultimate Comics Spider-man Death of Spider-man Fallout… But the actual cover calls the book Ultimate Fallout.
I know! I’ll just call it Ultimate Piece O’ Shit Ca$h Grab.
Issue #1, written by one of
my favorite the most overrated writers of all time, Brian Michael Bendis, is a textbook case of cloying, manipulative claptrap. Every character beat seems false, with overly dramatic dialogue that TELLS you to feel something monumental– rather than MAKING you actually feel it with its’ eloquency. Aunt May SLAPPING Captain America for telling Peter (on the morning of the day of his death) that the kid wasn’t yet good enough to be in the superhero game?
Sure, it makes for good melodrama… A vibrant scene to draw. But seriously? I’ve read every frickin’ issue of Ultimate Spider-man (you’re welcome Brian– glad I could help keep you on top of the Shit Sales Pile), and if there ever was ANYBODY that kept telling Peter Parker over and over that he wasn’t good enough to be playing superhero… It was Aunt Fucking May. Given her skewed logic, the white-haired killjoy should’ve been slapping HERSELF.
And sadly, it’s all pretty much downhill from that point.
I really don’t get that upset when Marvel or some other company releases a shit comic or a series of shit comics. Not everything is going to be top-notch. I not only know this, I understand it as well. What I DO mind, however, is when they market said shit material as something other than what it truly is… Just so they can hoodwink me (and lots of other people) into buying their shit under false pretenses. And Marvel has done this more than just a few times.
Here’s what I mean… Several comics collected in this book exist solely to set up Marvel’s THIRD GO at their Ultimate Universe (or second reboot, if you will). In other words, the majority of these stories have NOTHING to do with the death of Ultimate Spider-man… At all. Yet, here they sit in a book with slipcase art that shows Ultimate Spider-man with his head bowed in a reverent pose– with the words Ultimate Spider-man Death of Spider-man Fallout splashed across the front of the slipcase. Even the hardcover’s actual title, Ultimate Fallout, makes no sense– as it refers, presumably, back to Spider-man’s demise… While containing tons of stories that have ZERO to do with any “fallout” due to Spider-man or his death. Most of the things happening in these comics would occur whether Peter Parker lived or died… Or if Miles Morales assumed the role Spider-man.
The pinnacle of this contempt? One story in Issue Four has two women talking and the only tangential relationship the story has to the book’s title is Valerie Cooper asking,
“You want an interview with Captain America? He’s not gonna want to talk about this Spider-kid thing.”
I paid $24.99 USD expecting well-crafted, meaningful stories about the ramifications of Spider-man’s death and I got… THIS?!?
Maybe I’ve been wrong all along. Maybe Marvel should have called this volume Ultimate Bullshit.
I often notice stuff other people don’t– or more likely– I notice stuff most people don’t care about anywhere near as much as I do. Sadly, this causes some cursory readers of my columns to think I am always bitching/nitpicking about something (some would say I bitch/nitpick about everything)… Even the most minute stuff… When I am really just attempting to bring stuff up I notice that I haven’t read about everywhere else.
Thankfully, most people “get” what I’m really doing. I mean, we could regurgitate the same publicity releases the various companies spew out daily– but that’s not why Inveterate Media Junkies exists… And we feel their absence is one of the reasons why so many people gratefully decide to spend so much of their valuable time here.
Along those lines, I would like to formally complain about the thickness of the paper DC Comics uses for their expensive Hardcovers. Now, I am consider myself both an Earth Guy and a Tech Lover. Raised on newsprint comics, I am absolutely amazed at how thin the paper can be inside these hardcovers. From an environmental perspective, I think its’ great. Less trees are used for wood pulp and less energy is used shipping the books from printer to distributor to store or buyer.
But here’s my problem: The paper is so thin, I can’t seem to turn a page and simply get to the next page. I always end up jumping at least two… If not 3 or 4 pages in advance. I can hear some of you thinking, “Ian? Really?” And I can only respond, “Yes. Really.”
With our advanced technologies, there is a continuous battle between form and function. Sure, we can build cell phones small enough for mice to use– but how in the hell can a normal human successfully make a call… Or compose a text on a keypad made for Jiminy Cricket? Part of me loves that the paper can still be thin, yet sturdy– and the other part of me really doesn’t want to make turning a simple comic book page a chore. I also don’t want to know who gets killed on page 63– when I still have to flip back and read pages 59 – 62.
So you know, I made this frustrating discovery while reading the ENTIRE Superman New Krypton story– going through book after book (both Hardcovers and Trades)… And I refuse to believe I am the only person to feel this is a problem. (Primarily because I know I am not that unique.)
Just for the hell of it– I decided to plow through every one of Marvel’s Siege Hardcovers and Trades to compare… Only to discover that I didn’t have a SINGLE functional problem with those books at all. Both the New Krypton and Siege collections were printed in America– but at different printers. And, for whatever reason, Marvel’s graphic novels were printed on ever so slightly thicker paper stock.
If I were running DC’s Trade and Hardcover Program (don’t you just love it when critics make insanely stupid statements like that?), I would quit nickel-and-diming the books to death. I am all for saving the environment and utilizing all available technologies toward that end– but between the insanely thin paper and the general lack of release plan they seem to have for their whole graphic line… DC is really screwing the golden pooch. Despite comments otherwise, they still wait untold extra months to release certain collections… And some other comics, they don’t collect at all. Meanwhile, Marvel will reprint a sketchy character design an inebriated artist drew on the back of a rum soaked bar napkin… If they think it will make them money.
I don’t get it. Cursory readers of this column, please be kind enough to note I am not calling for a boycott of DC Graphic Novels because of their continued shortsightedness and ridiculous penny-ante attempts to cut costs in all the wrong places. Like I said before, I’m just pointing out something I noticed the other day– that no one else seems to be discussing (but I bet a lot of Hardcover and Trade Waiters have experienced).
Remember, this is a weekly column. Not every topic is going to provide some profound revelation meant to save the comics industry.
How could I not pick this Omnibus as my Hot Pick of the Week? Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Grant Morrison when he gets his freak on (Doom Patrol, anyone?), you can’t help but be impressed by the long list of fantastic artists whose work graces this book: Steve Yeowell, Jill Thompson, Chris Weston, John Ridgway, Steve Parkhouse, Paul Johnson, Phil Jimenez, Tommy Lee Edwards, Mark Buckingham, Duncan Fegredo, Michael Lark, Philip Bond, Ivan Reis, Warren Pleece, Grant Morrison, Sean Phillips, Frank Quitely and Brian Bolland.
The plot? I’m not even going to go there. Let me let Vertigo tell you: “Follow the adventures of The Invisibles, a secret organization out to battle the physical and psychic oppression brought upon humanity by the interdimensional alien gods of the Archons of Outer Church!”
It’s also 1,536 pages. And yes, it costs $150 USD. But (and this is one BIG but), at least one fine comic retailer (as of 8.30.12) has it on sale for 40% OFF– so this huge tome only costs a measly $90 USD. I don’t like to give any type of investment advice in this column, but I know Vertigo does not overprint books– especially some monster like this. As long as you don’t run it through the washer, it’s gotta be worth 40% OFF one day, right?
All New Batman Brave and The Bold Vol 2 Help Wanted
Astonishing X-Men Northstar HC
Best Of Archie Comics Vol 2 SC
Bubbles and Gondola HC
Classics Illustrated Vol 16 Kidnapped HC
Crockett Johnson And Ruth Krauss
Disney Fairies Vol 9 Tinker Bell & Her Magical Arrival
Doctor Who Crimson Hand
Empowered Vol 2 Deluxe HC – Own Original Volumes…
Fear Itself Avengers – Own the Hardcover
History Of Underground Comics 20th Annivesary
Incredible Rockhead Vol 1 Rock Paper Scissorlegz
Invisibles Omnibus HC – Hot Pick of the Week!
Jack Kirbys Fourth World Omnibus Vol 3 – Recommended
Lil Depressed Boy Vol 3
Manara Library Vol 3 HC – Recommended
MMW Golden Age Captain America Vol 1 SC
Namor Visionaries By John Byrne Vol 2
Prophet Vol 1 Remission
RIP Kirby Vol 5 HC
Rise Of The Planet Of The Living Dead
Serenity Vol 1 Those Left Behind HC (New Edition) – Own it
Sleaze Castle Etcetera Incomplete Final Cut Vol 1
Space Family Robinson Archives Vol 1 HC
Starstruck – Recommended. Own the Hardcover
Star Wars Omnibus Clone Wars Vol 1 Republic War
Star Wars The Clone Wars Sith Hunters
Swamp Thing Vol 1 Raise Them Bones
Tails Vol 1
Thunderbolts Classic Vol 3
Wolverine and X-men By Jason Aaron Vol 2 HC
Bamboo Blade Vol 14
Betrayal Knows My Name Vol 4
Bunny Drop Vol 6
Cat Eyed Boy Vol 1
Countdown 7 Days Vol 3
Disappearance Of Nagato Yuki-chan Vol 1
Dorohedoro Vol 7
Gantz Vol 24
Gate 7 Vol 3
Genocidal Organ SC
Ikigami The Ultimate Limit Vol 8
Is This A Zombie Vol 2
Itazura Na Kiss Vol 9
I’ve Seen It All Vol 1
Man I Picked Up
Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol 13
Nabari No Ou Vol 11
Oh My Goddess Vol 42
Omamori Himari Vol 8
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol 2
Replica Vol 3
Soul Eater Vol 10
Tenjo Tenge Viz Edition Vol 8