The Old 52

With the most recent announcement that 4 original DC titles are getting the ax (Superboy, Birds of Prey, Batwing, and All-Star Western) in August, the remains of the “New” 52 are all but gone. Of all the books DC publishes now, only 21 original titles remain. That’s less than half of the books that were launched. While their are exceptions (Suicide Squad and Teen Titans are getting relaunched, JLI was scrubbed for story purposes, etc) it is still rather alarming to think that the original New 52 has dwindled this far. While DC has added solid replacements such as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn, those serve as the exceptions to DC’s line. The ongoing series’ and the once that have survived are the 21 I have noted above. Of all the books launched to replace books, very few of them exist. Of the Second Wave only Earth 2 survives, with Worlds Finest now joining Batman Inc, Dial H, The Ravagers, and GI Combat. Of the Third Wave, we Phantom Stranger is joining Talon, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7. The next few launched were JLA and Katana, also now gone.

While I will give DC credit for trying new things, with only 23 books on the shelf that have proved to be tried and true, a problem has emerged. Only time can tell if some of DC’s more recent gambits such as JLU, Infinity Man, Constantine, JL 300, and the Superman-Batman/Wonder Woman books will test as well as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn have thus far. To truly succeed and gain back market share, DC is going to need to be bold, but also smart. I posted previously how I felt Marvel’s Hawkeye strategy was effective, and should be emulated. DC needs some help adding titles that can survive in the long run. And with characters like Cyborg, Captain Marvel, and even Lex Luthor gaining increased popularity, DC has the characters to do it. Once again, I’m all for them trying new and bold things, but they need to balance that with books that can and will sell. I may not know exactly what those books look like, but I’m pretty sure all of us out there have many ideas that DC could utilize. For that we’ll have to wait and see what we get to replace these books come October.

What are your thoughts on the matter? What do you think DC has done right and how do you think they could improve for the future?

Until the next time, Rn

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The Last Arrow

It looks like Hawkeye could be coming to an end. At least the one we all know and love. According to Marvel’s June Solicitations, the new arc of Hawkeye is described as “The Finale Part 1”. If this is the case it would mean Fraction is leaving one of the single best comics on the shelf at the moment (or ending it all together). While not a surprise given how busy he is, his removal from Inhumanity, and his long Hiatus from Hawkeye, it still comes as a shock to many.

What will Marvel do in its absence? Given Marvel’s plan, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current run of Hawkeye were to end and then a new Hawkeye be launched in its place, under the Marvel NOW! banner. It seems only fitting they would try to milk what they could out of Fraction’s immense success on the title. I posted recently my thoughts on the title, so I won’t discuss them at length here. Instead I would like to discuss Hawkeye’s lasting legacy on the comic market, and specifically Marvel.

Majority of Hawkeye’s success has come from word of mouth and reputation. I know many people who have not read it yet, but are well aware of its quality. It’s quality has gotten such positive word of mouth that it is, at the moment, the Saga of Marvel. Saga is easily one of the 5 best books published every month, and because of its success Image #1’s have been selling more as a result of it. Everyone is willing to try a #1 if it will turn out to be the next Saga. Thus all of Image’s new series’ are beginning to see a bump in interest and sales because Saga’s fame keeps growing.

This effect has been demonstrated at Marvel as well. Hawkeye is so popular, that quirky solo series’ are beginning to take off. Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, Moon Knight, and She- Hulk are just some of the series’ that have already seen positive initial sales and reception. Many of which have become a critical hit at my local comic book store (Ms. Marvel specifically). With more coming, Marvel clearly understands the effects of Hawkeye. This massive influx of non team books would not exist if it wasn’t for the sensation that Fraction and Aja’s book has become.

So while saddening that this book is ending, I am thrilled to see how one book can actively change a company and an industry for good. Marvel is now trying new concepts and ideas coming close to reclaiming their title as the “Great House of Ideas”. So while my praise for Marvel is generally limited, I have nothing but positive things to say. Hawkeye gave them an edge and because of it, they have turned its success into a brand wide mantra. That solo series’ can sell, and that giving a creator free-reign can make a tremendous impact.

Until the next time,

Rn

Right on Target

While Marvel has had no problem mastering movies in the past few years, their hold on the comic book industry has not been as fortunate. While they frequently find themselves on top of sales on a month to month basis and have arguably the best creative stable in the industry, their stories still suffer from editorial mandates and massive events. Just over a year ago, amid struggling sales Marvel launched their Marvel NOW campaign to stymie their competition and once again come back on top. While many of Marvel’s books have found success under the new label, 2013 was the year of unending events at Marvel. Age of Ultron led into Infinity, which led into Inhumanity. As that was happening, the X-Books were dealing with Battle of the Atom. I found myself getting more and more distanced from the Marvel Universe, due to event burn out and fatigue. Yet the one book that was unaffected by the relaunches, rebrandings, and events continued to prove why Marvel is praised as the great House of Ideas: Hawkeye.

Now more than a year into its run, Hawkeye is consistently the most entertaining and the most heartwarming book on the shelf. Matt Fraction is consistently on top of his game revolutionizing the characters of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop at the same time. The duality of the book, and the embracing of both characters’ connection to the Hawkeye name provides us with infinitely more enjoyment than any big event book. The heart of this book is Clint Barton. Being portrayed for the first time as the everyman of the Avengers. His overarching arrogance and his many frustrations he often develops with his teammates are gone, leaving room for the reader to experience the character one on one. The book is defined not by the bow or the mantle, but the man. Clint Barton is the hero of the story, not Hawkeye. This distinction and departure from typical super hero antics is an example of what Marvel has been missing, connection. As a reader, I feel more connected and impacted by the events that Clint Barton go through on a day to day basis than I do with any other character in the Marvel Universe. Marvel is praised as the home of “real” heroes, ones we can connect and identify with, yet Clint Barton seems to be the only character at the moment I can truly identify with.

Marvel is launching into the All New Marvel NOW, with a slew of new titles and at least one new event on its way. While I may not be excited by any of that, I am excited to see where Matt Fraction and David Aja take Barton and Bishop in the new year.

Until the next time,

Ravingnerd Reviews: Moon Knight #1

As promised, I have decided to do an old fashioned review of Moon Knight. To be fair, I wasn’t super excited about this book. I have always enjoyed Moon Knight, but was taken aback by his new look. Given how abruptly his most recent series ended and how much I found myself drawn in by it, I wasn’t sure I would be able to get behind another concept. Yet with Warren Ellis at the helm, the book was bound to have some potential. Here is what I liked about it.

1. Declan Shalvey’s art is fantastic. The book is well drawn from front to back, often having Shalvey’s rendering of the character snatch the scene. The colorist also is to be credited here, as his dynamic contrast of the dark and gritty with the white is to be applauded.
2. The opening of the book, where Moon Knight is seen in the street arguing with Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America is a brilliant reference to the previous series.
3. He’s brilliant. In just a few pages, Ellis makes sure the readers know that Moon Knight is far more than a psychotic. He’s also a brilliant detective.
4. The final scene, where he is looking at all of his other personalities. Pure brilliance.

Rating before reading: 6
Rating after reading: 8

This book was one of the most solid reads I’ve seen in a while. Stemming off of the Hawkeye effect, if you remove the character from the rest of the heroes, you are left with a fascinating character. One who is even more dynamic solo. Moon Knight #1 proved to us that he is in fact not insane, but damaged. This way of telling the story of an insane hero is different than it has ever been done before. With such a complicated and awkward history, it would be easy for a lesser creator to get the character wrong, yet Ellis does it masterfully. Though I still think I prefer the original, the solid white formal suit flows so well with the art of the book that I can’t really complain about it. Ultimately this book succeeds in a similar manner to Hawkeye. A talented team removing the hero from the heroic universe. With narrative’s focused on just a few heroes. It’s an odd pick, but with Ellis on board I think Moon Knight could grow to rival Hawkeye as Marvel’s premiere title. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Age of Ultron #1

While I initially wanted to stay away, I was offered a digital code for it from MoreFunTravis. It has been a long time since I’ve been invovled with an entire Marvel Crisis, but I’ll stick with it to the end. Just for shits and giggles, and its free for me. So I will journey into the darkest corners of the Marvel Universe, just for you dear readers. So before I get any further, here is what I liked about the jumping on point into the crisis.

1. I’ve always enjoyed Ultron. It’s been hard for me to resist his character.
2. The Hawkguy series has really made me enjoy Hawkeye, it was refreshing to see him in this scenario.

Rating before reading: 7
Rating after reading: 5

This was one of the most unorganized and disappointing things I have ever read. With all the hype it had been getting, I had expected a monumental opening. This in no way felt like a good opening. There was no explanation for what happened, we woke up and the Marvel Universe was completely different. No explanation at all. That was both unsettling, and to me, screamed poor story structure. I would have expected something better from a story with as much press as this.

The fact that we were instantly thrust into it screams gimmick to me as well. While it says the universe is at stake, I have a hard time believing that much of anything will last from this event. It seems like a self contained story. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t hyped as the Marvel event of the year (up until Infinity was announced) then I would be fairly satisfied.

My next complaint comes with the fact that this story doesn’t appear tailored for Marvel NOW! in the slightest. This story certainly isn’t happening “now”. And there are many indicators. The Spider-Man certainly isn’t acting like Superior Spidey. Unless Otto has gotten better at pretending to be Peter, this definitely feels like Peter Parker. Also, I’m fairly certain the Fantastic Four are off wandering the cosmos. Not huddled into an underground bunker. More to the point, Emma Frost seems to be fully recovered. Either that or she hasn’t lost control of her powers because AvX hadn’t been conceived of when this was written. People complain that continuity is off with the DC Universe, this story screams continuity problems. Probably because this was written 2 years ago. This screams Bendis era Avengers, and there is a reason I don’t read most of Bendis’ work.

This comic was not only disappointing, but confusing. It feels like a marketing ploy and nothing more. If the story had to be published, I would have much rather seen it amended to fit within the confines of Marvel NOW! It is certainly being billed as such, but in no way appears that way. This book will have to get a whole lot better, and whole lot more relevant for me to enjoy it. Only time can tell if this is the first major hurtle for Marvel NOW!, or if this is a relic from Marvel THEN.

Until the next time, Perish or Submit, or whatever the cover says.

Rn

 

Ravingnerd Reviews: Avengers (in 3-D!)

Welcome everyone, I don’t want to waste much time with formalities but should offer insight to those readers whom are not also on my Facebook. I do a series of reviews on comic book movies, that began exactly a year ago with the review of Thor. Since then I have reviewed many a movie, old and new. I follow a set criteria for each review in order to judge each movie by the same standards. Finally, I will rank the movie on a scale of 1-10. With ten being the near unachievable level of comic book movie-mastery.

So, without further review, I present, the Avengers (in 3-D!)

The Cast: Was obviously built with an all-star team of actors. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlett Johansson round out the biggest names in the cast. With Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Evans.
The cast was, of course, brilliant. Each member had a role to play and each one of them did it well. Jeremy Renner wasn’t given enough chance to play Hawkeye really well though, and felt that his performance was the weakest of the team. However brilliant Robert Downey Jr may be, it was not him who stole the show, no, instead it was Mark Ruffalo. As Bruce Banner, he added a depth to the character that had not been seen in any of the previous movies. In addition to this, he served a vital role to the team as Bruce, and not as the Hulk. The Hulk however was the highlight of the action sequences. Pleasing even skeptics like me. Samuel L. Jackson was unnecessary I felt, he served a purpose in the previous movies, but did not serve much purpose within the movie after the beginning, other than talk. Scarlett Johansson was spot on again, turning what I find as a lame comic book character, into an absolute brilliant one. On a similar note, Tom Hiddleston does the role of Loki extremely well. And I despise Loki within comics.

The Plot: Though I hate to admit it, and I really do, the plot was perfect. The movie as a whole felt like the Avengers. While characters were over represented and under represented, it still managed to come together as a solid movie. I disliked that Loki was nothing more than the master of the hordes of transformers/parallax-esqu villains. I would have much prefered to see the team fight the treachery of Loki as opposed to the metal alien things. And even despite the fact that the entire invasion sequence from start until close annoyed me to no end (come on Joss, be a bit more original please?) the plot was still fairly seemless in its execution.

Fighting/Action/Drama/Suspense: This movie perhaps embodies this characteristic better than any other super hero movie. This movie blended thrilling fights (Thor VS Cap VS Iron Man), well done action sequences (Cap and Iron Man repair the engine), Intimate moments of drama (the death of *I don’t do spoilers, go see the movie*), and of thrilling suspense (Hulk running loose through the lower decks). Yes, this movie better combined every aspect mentioned above, than any other super hero movie before it. Add in the immense moments of hilarity, and you are set for 2 of the best spent hours of your life.

The Obscure Nerd References: There were not many, which disappointed me. However, did anyone else squeal when Maria Hill showed up for the firs time? No, just me? Alright then. Previous Marvel movies have all done a terrific job of adding in nerdy easter eggs, and least I could tell, not a whole lot showed up within the film.

The Closeness to the Comic it Hails From: Though many people probably will not let me live this down, it felt EXACTLY like an Avengers movie should feel. With exactly the right number of internal conflicts, problems, and dysfunctions and the ultimate success of the unlikely team. Really, I may dislike the team and the characters within the team, I may dislike the entire Marvel Universe, and I may have wanted this movie to fail, so that I could feel some convoluted sense of justice and a DC victory. But no. This movie was absolutely brilliant, just as it should have been. I will give Joss Whedon a lot of credit in this department.

Overall Feel and Fun: Avengers takes the cake in this category. It was an undesirabley good time. You know a movie that kept my attention and still be so invested in the Marvel Universe had to have been damned awesome for me to be saying these words.

Comparison to Other Like Films: There is none. This is the first film super team, and it proved it worked. Now future ambitious endeavors, including the impending Avengers, sequel will suffer by being compared to the high quality work that this movie is.

Favorite Part of the Movie: There was an interrogation scene between Black Widow and Loki, for two periods within this scene the camera panned out and Loki became blurry, while Black Widow (back turned to the audience) was in perfect view. These two thirty-second sequences allowed me to view Scarlett Johansson’s ass…. IN IMAX 3D. I was a very happy nerd.
Least Favorite Part of the Movie: The Transformer/Parallax bad guys. I was displeased with the lack of uniqueness of them. It felt like they were just “generic summer blockbuster movie additions”. I had hoped for more.

And finally, the result you have probably skipped the entire article to find. The final Score.

Avengers earned a rank of………… 8.

Yes. I struggled with this for sometime. It was a brilliant movie, and the fact that it scored perfectly on multiple criteria allowed it to rank this high.

And now to the part where I piss you off. This movie ties Green Lantern in the eyes of the nerd.

Until the next time, live long and prosper

Rn