Briefs & Boxers! 06/16/10

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o “Aggressively Committed”

In an environment where the bigger publishers have too much to lose to risk burning any bridges with comic-book retailers, it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that it’s a small independent company like Boom! Studios that comes out with the most sweeping and unapologetic approach yet to digital distribution.

o “The Problem with This Statement Is That Green, Pink, and Blue People Don’t Exist”

David Brothers once again steps in and does the tiresome work of explaining, to folks who still require it, what precisely is so deeply and disturbingly wrong with statements and mindsets like the one articulated by DC Comics editor Ian Sattler, and why a clunky cartoon page from 30 years ago is precisely the kind of response merited by something like that, morally and intellectually.

And here’s a more general follow-up by Brothers.

Frankly, I’m appalled that we even need to talk about why bringing “blue” people into a discussion about race without irony rather misses several marks by several leagues.

o “Carefully Dulled Down for Maximum Demographic Acceptance”

howard 197x300 Briefs & Boxers! 06/16/10If you have to do Howard the Duck without his creator Steve Gerber, and I remain entirely unconvinced that you do, then Stuart Moore is probably better qualified than most. Moore was Gerber’s editor for a Howard the Duck miniseries released through Marvel’s Max imprint in 2001 and 2002, and from what Gerber wrote about the experience later, it seems he generally had a good time doing it.

In September, now, there’s going to be a new Howard one-shot from Marvel, written by Moore, that will evidently have a meta-take on the character. I’m sure it’s by well-intentioned people, but I still have a hard time seeing the point. Frankly, I feel pretty safe in predicting that nothing ever published by Marvel will ever be as “meta” as it would need to be about Howard the Duck and Steve Gerber to not leave a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who’s even broadly aware of the history.

Also from Marvel in September: something called Deadpool: Pulp, which has art by Laurence Campbell and will look good; the final issue of Web of Spider-Man; more Thor, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and Thor product to feed the Mighty Marvel Merchandise Machine; a weekly five-issue miniseries, called Heroic Age: One Month to Live, that sounds like a less coherent version of Harlan Ellison’s 1972 issue of Avengers; a relaunch of the Wolverine line by familiar faces; Incognito and Kick-Ass coming back for seconds; the return of Solo Avengers, now titled I Am an Avenger; and—wait for it—a 750-page Acts of Vengeance brick, collecting “the premier crossover event of the 1990s,” which is a fancy way of saying that it was probably the first crossover event of the 1990s, chronologically.

o “The Resurrected Have Discovered Their Purpose for Being Back”

Over at DC, “the new Aqualad” is the peak of awesomeness in September. (It’s a character, not a cleaning mop promoted by Chuck Norris.)

In other news, those previously announced war-comics one-shots are coming out, for $ 3.99 per 32-page pamphlet; Batman and Robin and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne arrive at some kind of conclusion; Marv Wolfman, George Pérez and friends turn in a book-length New Teen Titans story they started working on decades ago; there’s a new ongoing Freedom Fighters title, against all odds; WildStorm has a Wetworks one-shot by people you haven’t heard of, because that’s going to sell well, and a bunch of new game adaptations that might make the Top 300 chart, accompanied by insubstantial rumors that they’re all the rage in game stores; and Vertigo puts out a book-length comic by Sarah Glidden, titled How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.

o “The Best Thing About Ultimatum

Brian Michael Bendis talks to Vaneta Rogers about Marvel’s Ultimate line:

The best thing about Ultimatum, to me, was I got to do the most bullshitty writing moment I’ve ever gotten to do. When I was writing it, I was laughing, because I knew there was a tidal wave coming. So I could write these, like, I got to have Aunt May get arrested. Aunt May gets put in a box, and the cops are working her over, then… tidal wave!

In any other place, if you wrote a story where your character was going through this traumatic thing and you just all of the sudden dropped a tidal wave on her, that would have been the worst writing in the history of the world. But it’s not my tidal wave, so I get away with it.

Actually, reading this made me think a lot of North American mainstream comics are written like there’s a tidal wave coming. It doesn’t, in most cases, of course.

o “You Meet a Priest, You Can Bet He’ll Also Be a Boxer”

Sean T. Collins lovingly dissects Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’s Ex Machina. (I love loving dissections.)

o “This Is About as Close as I Can Get You, Pal”

7 soldiers 200x300 Briefs & Boxers! 06/16/10A bunch of Grant Morrison comics are out in new formats this week.

First up is the first of two hardcover books collecting Seven Soldiers of Victory, the mammoth, hyper-layered, super-complex 30-part crossover that Morrison wrote all by himself in 2005 and 2006. It has everything you’ve ever loved/hated about Morrison’s superhero work, plus art by J.H. Williams III, Simone Bianchi, Ryan Sook, Frazer Irving and Cameron Stewart.

Next, Batman: R.I.P., plus the two-part sequel that actually belongs more to Final Crisis, comes out as a paperback edition. The story, which has dull but mostly serviceable art by Tony Daniel and Lee Garbett, ends on an anti-climax that drove people nuts at the time and may not have been the smartest move from a marketing perspective. Taken on its own terms, though, it’s the culmination of a fascinating take on the character. In plot terms, its true ramifications are only now beginning to play out in the Batman books.

From Marvel, finally, there’s a $ 1.00 reprint of New X-Men #114 from 2001, drawn by Frank Quitely. It’s the beginning of Grant Morrison’s three-year revamp of the franchise and, to date, the most innovative and well-told X-Men comic in existence.

 Briefs & Boxers! 06/16/10
Marc-Oliver Frisch writes about comics at his weblog and at Comicgate. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Synsidar says:

    I read Brothers’ two blog entries. He’s arguing without making a valid point. He doesn’t want diversity for diversity’s sake, he doesn’t want proportional representation of blacks in stories — he wants well-written stories that happen to have blacks as the title characters. In other words, the races of the characters in stories should be incidental, but also inclusive. Anything DC were to do in response could be criticized.

    If the quality of the stories is the main concern, as it should be, then the races of the title characters aren’t important enough to single out. Revisit the situation in five years and see what’s changed — and if DC is no longer in business, the argument is moot.

    The odds are that DC will still be publishing comics five years from now, but the problems the company has reaching readers and introducing new characters arguably render the question of racial bias moot — it’s rather like criticizing a TV soap opera on the verge of cancellation for failing to do enough to attract viewers.

    SRS

  2. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that I dropped Ultimate Spider-Man with that tidal wave.

    I forget what the last issue I bought was, but I remember being appalled with it.

  3. @Synsider:
    I read Brothers’ two blog entries. He’s arguing without making a valid point. He doesn’t want diversity for diversity’s sake, he doesn’t want proportional representation of blacks in stories — he wants well-written stories that happen to have blacks as the title characters. In other words, the races of the characters in stories should be incidental, but also inclusive.

    You’re wrong in saying that I want the races in the stories to be simultaneously incidental and inclusive. That’s ridiculous, and I don’t say anything of the sort. My point, which was written specifically in answer to a certain question, was that using percentages and proportions to discuss or write about race in comics is a mistake. If you’re attempting to tell a story, you can’t use real-life proportions and percentages. That is a system that completely breaks down once you go past a certain vantage point. Doing it according to your own whims, where you’ve thought through every character and why they are black or white or Chinese or Inuit, is much more likely to result in a story that feels real.

    It’s not about title characters, and I never said it was. In fact, I listed several comics with various racial makeups, from completely one race to a mix of others to minority black, and praised all of them.

  4. On a completely trivial note.

    Not to make anyone feel old, but GL/GA isn’t 30 years old…it’s 40. As of this year.

    40…sigh

  5. “the most innovative and well-told X-Men comic in existence” — hyperbole of the day! c’mon!!!! not much of an X-Men fan or just didn’t bother picking up much other than Morrison’s run? because i’d be shocked to hear someone say that after reading the majority of Claremont’s work on the franchise.

  6. Sam Thielman says:

    The analysis of Vaughan’s writing in that post is terrific, but I wish people would quit bagging on Tony Harris for using photo references. The only reason anyone gets on his case about it is that one of the earlier “Ex Machina” volumes featured an oh-that’s-how-he-does-it appendix showing off his reference photos. LOADS of artists use photos, including really great ones, like P. Craig Russell (ever read “The Magic Flute?” The Queen of the Night is Jill Thompson).

  7. Nick:

    “not much of an X-Men fan or just didn’t bother picking up much other than Morrison’s run? because i’d be shocked to hear someone say that after reading the majority of Claremont’s work on the franchise.”

    Longtime X-Men fan, actually. Read pretty much ALL of Claremont’s pre-2000 X-book stuff, most of his post-2000 stuff and hundreds of other X-books by other writers.

    Claremont and friends have done great superhero soap opera with the X-Men at their peak, but Morrison’s run is the only one that still stands up as a substantial, well-told piece of fiction, period.

  8. Nate Horn says:

    I’m not a big X-Men guy or anything, but I liked that Days of Future Past story a lot.

  9. Brandon says:

    I grew up with Claremont. Liked it well enough but it didn’t stick with me. If, however, you’re the type of fan that still loves that stuff, you’re never going to favor Morrison’s run. Morrison has a lot of love for Batman history, but his X-Men read like he was trying to make Claremont look bad. And in my opinion he did!

    Not technically X-Men, but Milligan’s X-Force/X-Statix gives Morrison a run for his mutant money. Also, and I’m always a lonely voice one this, Barry Smith’s Weapon X is an overlooked masterpiece. A top 10 effort in the history of Marvel.

  10. You think?! I didn’t see that at all.

    As far as I could see, Morrison’s NewXmeN was about breaking the cycle – the recycle! hyuk – around the death and resurrection of Jean(/Magneto?). Taking the holographic approach to *shudder* Continuity which has served him so well with Batman/Superman (although you can stick Joe Chill and BatDad up yer Batalackadackdack), and using it to celebrate what was ace about the X-Men in the past, while stripping away the outdated chaffle in order to keep it fresh for the future. Like Wolverine’s mask, or making the school work. Or like giving Mutanity a proper metropolitan sub-culture.

    I don’t know what the problem was. Underneath all that kundalini stuff about The White Room, etc. (What was that about escaping the Wheel of Karma?), it was as X-Men as you get: crazy mutants, mean humans, soap opera, stroppy yoot’ and Sentinels large and small stomping seven kinds of crap at every opportunity. Plus there was loads of Professor X in it! Awesome!

    (what? I like Professor X. He’s the best character in it! Next to The Beak, of course.)

    //Oo/\

  11. John Warren says:

    I was about to complain about these articles being all briefs and no boxers when I came to this headline:

    “You Meet a Priest, You Can Bet He’ll Also Be a Boxer”

    Curses! Foiled again!

  12. Synsidar says:

    In retrospect, the “Days of Future Past” storyline in UXM might have been a mistake. Popular though it was, the storyline’s success led writers to believe that they could do dramatic and exciting alternate future stories that they couldn’t do in the present. The continued existence of alternate futures in spite of the heroes’ various actions practically forces a reader to think that the stories aren’t actually about alternate futures. The heroes are journeying to parallel universes instead, and if there are infinitely many such universes, what they do in one means absolutely nothing.

    SRS

  13. Marc: First off, thanks for the kind words. As for SPIDER-MAN: BACK IN QUACK: I don’t want to ruin the plot, but the solicitation (which I wrote, so I take all blame) probably makes the story sound more “meta” than it is. In narrative terms, it’s fairly straightforward.

    And yes, the book is my tribute to Steve G. in a way, down to the “tiny-sized Man-Thing” story in the back. But hopefully it’s the right kind of tribute: not an imitation, but a modern take on what made Howard and Man-Thing so special, back in the day.

    By the way, my title for the lead story is “Human Slavery for Beginners.” Just in case that’s a selling point. :)

  14. “Actually, reading this made me think a lot of North American mainstream comics are written like there’s a tidal wave coming. It doesn’t, in most cases, of course.”

    Ironic that this is exactly the scenario being depicted in an upcoming issue of JLoA then, isn’t it.

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