Sunday, September 6, 2009

You've Been Warned Vol II Issue XXXIII

Comic reviews by a fan, for the fans.

**As always, mind the spoilers, fanboy.**

- Opening Remarks -

Disney Buys Marvel Comics


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I couldn't believe my fucking eyes when this shit happened. Truth be told, I'm still a little stunned. Over the past week though my initial feeling of amazement has slowly been replaced by a feeling of inescapable dread. Suddenly so much makes sense: the spectacular parade of unending events, the unexplainable price increases, the pandering for headlines with major newspapers. For the longest time Marvel's been acting like some showoff hooker on a shady street corner, shakin' that ass at any and all potential customers. All this time we thought we were just witnessing some shameless hustling. Little did we realize that this particular whore was looking to attract the attention of the baddest pimp in the game, the only pimp capable of letting 'er bring in some REAL business.

No good will come of this. Marvel's money problems have seemingly disappeared for good now, but giving way to corporate assimilation has cost them the one edge they may have had: their ability to think for themselves. The big publisher which once possessed the courage to kick the Comic Code to the curb and let creators run rough shot with some of their biggest commodities is now under the umbrella of the most artistically soulless, whitewashed, PC corporation in existence. For now Disney's claimed they'll let Marvel stay the course they've been on, but the second the money's not flowing in as freely as it had been, just watch and see how quickly that pimp smacks his bitch around.

Just when you thought shit couldn't get more hopeless. Mark my words, people: this is the beginning of the end. The beginning of the end.

Young Liars #18
by David Lapham
Vertigo (DC) Comics

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VERSES

Exiles #6
by Jeff Parker & Salva Espin
Marvel Comics

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Two of my monthly titles from the respective two big publishers kicked the sequential bucket this week. I thought it'd be fun to take a moment out of our busy schedules and go over how each company handles books that just aren't profitable.

This newest incarnation of Exiles had only been around for half a year, and let's be honest, it was doomed from the beginning. A team consisting entirely of B-(even C)-list characters most likely isn't going to have a long shelf life. That being said, the book had an amazing amount of potential. It was penned by up-and-coming Jeff Parker, who took these minor characters most people don't give a flying fuck about (Forge, for instance. Get the fuck outta here with that shit), and made them interesting. He created the device of these characters travelling to parallel universes to set wrongs right that had literally limitless potential. He was paired up on this book with Salva Espin, whose manga-influenced style was wonderfully playful and perfectly matched for the stories. And as much as I hate to admit it, the book had three half-naked female characters. That always has plenty of sway in the sales.

So it wasn't the most monumental of titles, but it was attention grabbing, and it might have done more if given the chance. Who knows for certain? Marvel gave it the fucking axe before it had a chance to hit the ground at full stride because the sales figures weren't there. In an attempt at a semi-respectable demise, Parker scrambled to conclude what little story there was, and the whole ordeal ended up being a convoluted mish-mash of cosmic hooey that barley made a cocklick of sense. I wish I'd never picked up the book to begin with. I was under the impression I'd been reading a comic book, when in actuality I'd been reading an commodity that was terminated the second it was deemed unprofitable.

Contrast this now with Young Liars, David Lapham's surreal opus of a crazy young guy and the crazier broad he's in love with. Another title that for all intents and purposes was doomed from the start. Being a "Mature Readers" title immediately removes it from a huge number of potential readers. It's got a terrible title. The first storyline was abysmal and cliche. It's a miracle it made it past the first six issues, frankly. But it was left alone, and although it never generated mountains of money for its publisher, it gradually progressed into one hell of an interesting read. Obviously the story didn't get as far as it possibly could have, but when it was decided the title needed to be canceled, the author was allowed to bring it to a respectable conclusion. I enjoyed this title, and hated to see it end prematurely, but this final issue at least left me with a sense of closure. I'd been reading a piece of art, and it was treated as such. This respectful handling of the book is why I'm not afraid to try other Vertigo titles.

In the end it's all about respect. Respect for the artists, respect for the fans, and respect for the medium. Exiles is just another example of how Marvel Comics doesn't possess any of those attributes, which has put me in the unfortunate position of recommending that when this Exiles storyline is collected, don't even bother picking it up. For all intent and purposes, it's literally and figuratively an abortion. Conversely, I couldn't recommend Young Liars enough. That book morphed into one hell of a trippy ride, on par with (for lack of a better sequential comparison) Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, or (more appropriately) David Lynch's Mulholland Dr.

My monthly Marvel titles, due primarily to cancellation and my unwillingness to pursue new ones, are at an all-time low. My monthly Vertigo titles are at an all time high. I've just demonstrated why. Thank you, Vertigo and DC Comics, for treating your books and your readers with respect the respect deserved (at least when it comes to this imprint. See this week's PAN). And, once again, fuck you, Marvel.

Sweet Tooth #1
by Jeff Lemire
Vertigo (DC) Comics


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Speaking of not being afraid to try new Vertigo titles ...

Vertigo book's in their infant issues all tend to share one common trait: they're sloppy. The characters are always uncomplicated and generic, and the action's always forced. I don't quite understand why this is. Perhaps it's an attempt to get the title off and running in a timely manner, attracting readers as quickly as possible so there's an audience around when things are fleshed out later. That statements just conjecture. I have no idea why this continual abnormality exists. I just know it does.

It doesn't happen in Sweet Tooth though. Lemire isn't afraid to start things off slowly. We don't know why poor young Gus has deer antlers, or why he's living in the woods with his religious zealot of a father, or why people are looking to bust a cap in his young skull. That's just the way it is. We're given just enough information to know that whatever the reason may be, it's gonna be good. To find out more we're all just gonna have to stay tuned.

I've been grinding my teeth in anticipation for this premiere issue, and I haven't been let down. Here's to the beginning of another Vertigo masterpiece.

-PICK OF THE WEEK-
Strange Tales #1
by various
Marvel Comics


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If all Marvel titles were this fun I wouldn't have a care in the world. This is a superb collection of tales from some of the more talented creators in the indie comics scene. Not a single story in this first issue is a waste of time. I laughed out loud on several occasions, and we all know how rare that is, particularly where a Marvel title is concerned. In particular Paul Pope's Inhumans, Dash Shaw's Dr. Strange, and the selections from The Perry Bible Fellowship are worth the $5.00 admission fee. But hands down, it's excellent all around.

Enjoy it while you can, folks. With Disney at the helm you're not gonna see books like this from Marvel for much longer.

-PAN OF THE WEEK-
Wednesday Comics #9
by various
DC Comics


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What the fuck?! What the fucking fuck?! I'm missing pages! Worse, I've got fucking double pages! You fuckers! I'm not hangin' around here, paying $4.00 a month, so I can miss the latest Green Lantern or Metamorpho strip in exchange for reading the same Batman installment twice. And unfortunately I'm not the only one with this problem. Get with the fuckin' program, you guys! Chiggity-check yo' shit before you riggity-wreck my shit.

You've been warned.

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