Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is It Wednesday Yet?

Last week's awful Flashpoint issue, which I didn't even have the strength to review, combined with the sheer idiocy of the reveal at the end of issue #2 of Knight of Vengeance, convinced me to stop buying anything that had the word "Flashpoint" printed on the cover. Even though I was semi-enjoying at least a few of those mini-series and was vaguely curious about where the whole thing would lead and how it would flow into the New 52 in September, I finally realized that there's a reason so many people hate these comic book events. They suck!

And yet in spite of having dropped Booster Gold and that Frankenstein tie-in, I still end up with a gigantic list this week. (See below.) Going over-budget again.

Fill-in artists and unsolicited creative team changes on DC books

Yesterday I got into a bit of an argument with Gail Simone on Twitter after I made a cynical remark about not having faith in DC's ability to hold stable creative teams on the new books for more than a couple of issues. I understand why she was upset about it and how, from her perspective, it might seem like all I do is complain, but honestly I feel like my cynicism over this is 100% justified, given DC's recent track record with this issue and given that it's only going to get worse, based on DC's insistence that books will now ship on schedule and that artists will be replaced if they can't deliver the books on time. It's not like I'm making any of this up. It's coming straight from the horse's mouth. I think when a publisher who already has a rampant problem with art consistency on their books announced that they are going to have even more fill-in artists after a big line-wide relaunch, there's ample reason for me to say: "Fuck this. I'm not spending any money on these books until they come out in collections."

More than any other factor, it's the issue of inconsistent art that has convinced me to stop buying monthly books from DC in September. And let's be clear: I have no problem with occasional fill-in artists on a series. I understand that doing a monthly book must be incredibly demanding for a single artist, especially given the level of detail and craft that's expected of modern comic book artists. But there's a way to plan it so that the fill-in art feels organic to the story, rather than a last-minute patch-up job. A perfect example of this is Scott Snyder's current Detective Comics run, which has been alternating between art by Jock and Francesco Francavilla, both of whom are immensely talented artists who bring their own style and unique contribution to the story. This is the kind of model that I would like to see more books at DC adopt, but unfortunately there is no indication that the editors are learning anything from the critical success of this book.

Another book that I think manages to handle the art teams fairly well is Amazing Spider-Man. The art team is constantly shifting, but it doesn't bother me that much because I don't feel like I'm being lied to by the solicitations. The book ships twice a month, so it would pretty much be impossible for an artist to draw every issue for an extended period of time anyway, so the rotating artists are part of the plan. Some of them I like more than others, but the important thing is there are no nasty surprises when I pick up a book expecting Artist-so-and-so-who-was-listed-in-the-solicitation and instead find a name on the cover that I've never even seen before. If Marvel editors can get their shit together on a book that ships twice a month, why can't editors at DC get it right on a monthly book like Birds of Prey?

So that was the root of my pseudo-argument with Gail Simone yesterday, though I'm not sure I really managed to get any of my points across very clearly. I'm disappointed that she thinks I'm just being silly and cynical, but I guess part of that comes from our different perspective on the issue. When I brought up Jesus Saiz, who was announced as the new regular artist in BOP to much fanfare and who only worked on a single issue before a fill-in artist was brought it, she justified it by saying that editors wanted him to get a head start on the September books instead, as if that was supposed to make it better. In fact, it makes it worse! Because it proves that the inconsistent art teams on BOP weren't the result of unforeseen accidents or incompetence on the part of the artists, but poor planning by the editors. They decided to pull their brand new "regular" artist off the book after a single issue, even though he was listed in the solicitations as doing the next issue, even though the previous 12 issues of the series had already suffered tremendously from this revolving door approach to art. I rest my case.

Comics posi-vibes on Twitter!

On the other hand, I hate being a cynic. It's not like I want to be right about that stuff. I want the DC relaunch to be successful. I want DC to finally get it right. I want to be proven wrong about a lot of the concerns I have about what's going to happen to those books in September and beyond.

I think as a self-appointed comic book blogger, it's easy to slip into the habit of spending more time and energy pointing out the things that are wrong (or that we perceive as wrong) than talking about the things we feel good about.

And there are plenty of comics I'm very excited about. I wouldn't have 13 books on my pull list this week if I wasn't super-excited about the state of comics! So to tip the balance back in a positive direction, I've taken it upon myself to focus on the positive for the rest of the week. I'm going to be using the tag #comicsposivibes to stuff I read and enjoy and stuff I'm looking forward to.

I don't think I have enough followers to get that topic trending, but feel free to use the tag and spread the love.

New comics this week!

  • Batgirl #23 (DC)
  • Detective Comics #879 (DC)
  • Teen Titans #97 (DC)
  • American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2 (of 5) (Vertigo)
  • Northlanders #42 (Vertigo)
  • Hellboy: The Fury #2 (of 3) (Dark Horse)
  • Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths #2 (of 5) (IDW)
  • Gladstone's School for World Conquerors #3 (Image)
  • Red Wing #1 (of 6) (Image)
  • Amazing Spider-Man #665 (Marvel)
  • FF #6 (Marvel)
  • Journey into Mystery #652 (Marvel)
  • Loose Ends #1 (of 4) (12 Gauge)
I want to point out that there's a new epic story arc starting in Northlanders. It's going to be the final story, with the book concluding at issue #50. Like all stories in Northlanders, it's completely standalone, so you even if you've never picked up an issue before, you can jump right in. I highly recommend that you do, because it's one of the best titles at Vertigo - or any publisher, as far as I'm concerned.

Red Wing is a new mini-series by Jonathan Hickman.

Loose Ends is something that was completely off my radar until I heard Kelly Thompson's enthusiastic endorsement on this week's Three Chicks Review Comics podcast. I'm not sure they'll have it at my store, but if so I'll probably pick up a copy.


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