For those who don’t know me, my name is Brent Chittenden. I used to write Fear and Loathing in Geekdom here at this site until real life really took over and I had to step away from Geek Hard for a bit. Now that life has returned to a sense of normalcy, I have returned for a brand new number one! It works for Marvel every twelve months, why can’t it work for me?
Even though I’ve been gone from Geek Hard, I’ve still been reading comics and following the industry and there is some great stuff and there’s stuff that worries me.
Image (as a whole) is putting out the most interesting comics in the industry and not just in one genre either. Southern Bastards is great. Saga is amazing. Sex Criminals is really fun. Rat Queens speaks to the long time D&D player in me. All of Brubaker’s Image books are well worth the price of admission. Beyond those books that I personally love, there are other titles that I couldn’t get into but love the fact that that they are different. Bitch Planet for example. Couldn’t get into it. I really like Valentine De Landro’s art but the story just didn’t grab me. That being said, it’s different then what’s out there. I love the fact that this book exists for the readership that it speaks to.
And Image isn’t alone. I think IDW is putting out solid, consistent stories across their various lines. For a company that is primarily made up of licensed books, they are putting out some really great stuff. I haven’t once thought about dropping TMNT since it began and I can’t say that about any of the mainstream comics I’ve been getting.
Star Wars! I love the Star Wars books from Marvel and in many ways I think the Star Wars comics are the best comics that Marvel puts out every month. It feels like Star Wars more than any Star Wars book or comic has in a long time and I really liked a lot of the stuff Dark Horse put out. If you are not reading Vader Down at the moment, you are really missing out on some fun story telling.
I’m also really happy with the current Doctor Strange run by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachelo. Two issues in, it made it onto my pull list. Aaron’s version of Strange (I assume it’s going to be very much in line with the upcoming film version) is an interesting modern take on the character. He’s a more human Doctor Who complete with two companions. And Bachelo. Holy crap. When I had heard he was announced for this book, I thought, “That’s a pretty good fit.” When I actually got it into my hands, I felt like “Why did it take this long to get Chris Bachelo drawing Doctor Strange?” He is perfect on Doctor Strange.
There is some great product coming out of Valiant. I initially bought the mini-series Dead Drop because (frequent Geek Hard interview subject) Adam Gorham was drawing the book. I left the mini-series wanting to know more about the Valiant world.
Company Wide Crossovers
I have said it before but one of the reasons I hate company wide crossovers is because it messes up the titles that I read. Now they are just starting to mess up everything.
Take Secret Wars for example. I am really enjoying the main Secret Wars series but the fact that it couldn’t keep to schedule annoys me. I know stuff happens beyond the writer/artist/company’s control but in the case of Secret Wars, a majority of the books following it up are being released before the main series is even done. The only good thing to come out DC’s Convergence crossover was that I got two issues of Greg Rucka writing Rene Montoya as The Question.
I honestly don’t know what to say. At the moment there isn’t a mainstream DC comic I’m interested in. While I like the idea of a loose continuity, I think DC is taking the idea too far. Batman is a New God… and Jim Gordon… and Bruce Wayne… or none of the above? Is Harley Quinn the fun book that Jimmy Palmiotti does… or is she the Suicide Squad version? And I’m honestly not try to slam any of the creators here as I think any of the versions might be interesting but given the fact that DC is prone to crossovers every six months, it makes reading a series a bit of a headache.
Back Issues and Variants
As a fan who got into comics in a major way in the 90’s, there are certain things that sort of scare me a little right now, like the state of the back issue market. There are books going up in price to incredibly high numbers that just don’t seem to make sense. I assume someone is buying them but are they readers or are we drifting back to speculators who are trying to make a buck?
A good example of the back issue explosion is X-Force #2. For the most part, it isn’t a notable book and it languished in dollar and fifty cent bis for years until someone figured out that it contains the second appearance of Deadpool. A quick glance of Ebay reveals decent graded copies are going for around $50.00 to $60.00 and I’ve seen dealers at shows selling it for $20.00. Keep in mind, this is for a second appearance, not a first.
And that’s not the only one. There are a ton of books that seem to be making leaps and bounds in price for the smallest of reasons. Harley Quinn’s first comic book appearance in the cartoon tie-in book The Batman Adventures #12 has been skyrocketing the past few months. Keep in mind, this is her first print appearance in a comic tie in to a cartoon. When I saw the comic a few years ago, I remember seeing it for around $120.00, which even at the time I thought that was high. Now, it’s up to around $400.
This isn’t to say that back issues shouldn’t be collectible. They should for the right reasons. But I think there’s a lot of high priced issues that are going to crash in a few years.
The same goes for variant covers. Take Star Wars #1. There were at least 68 variant covers for that issue. The first issue of Vader Down had a rare variant that is selling around the $4000 mark. I’m not against comics going up in value nor am I against variant covers, Lord knows I’ve bought some myself. What worries me is the sheer amount of variants flooding the market and the fact that back issues don’t seem to be slowly gaining value, they seem to be exploding.
I am an unabashed fan of superhero films and television series. While Marvel’s product is (on a whole) better than what we see from DC, DC still had bright spots. The Flash is probably the best overall comic book television show out there.
How long can that last?
Superhero/Comic Book Films at the Box Office and on TV.
Cycles in Hollywood come and go and while I’d argue superhero films have become almost a genre unto themselves (at the very least, a sub genre of action films), at some point, we’re going to see some diminishing returns. You could point to Fantastic Four as a sign of that (yes, the movie wasn’t very good but neither was Ninja Turtles and that did decent enough business to get a sequel). While the easy money seems to be DC screwing up, I’m more curious if we get a faltering film from Marvel Studios. And that’s not even saying they will make a bad one, there just might be a day where for whatever reason, they don’t get the audience. What will Marvel do then? Will it be just a blip on the radar or will it shake things up?
The reason I bring this up is the movies kind of tie into the comic industry as a whole. While “key” back issues are going up rapidly in price, a majority of them are tied to films. If Deadpool absolutely tanks, what does that do to the back issues? Do they stay where they are or do they plummet?
At The End of the Day:
Much like the 90’s, it’s a very interesting time in comics. Many creator’s are hearing the call of their own creations as well as working on the characters they grew up loving. For fans, there has never been a better time to be a reader. There is at least one good solid book in every genre you can think of and they are all easily accessible from your comic shop or online through services like Comixology.
Even the bigger companies seem to be taking on weirder concepts and giving them a go. Take Jason Aaron (and now Sam Humphries) and Mike Del Mundo’s Weirdworld. A few years ago, that book would have never happened. Not only did it get a mini-series but it has now grown into an on-going. I’d love to see more of that kind of thinking.
The question is, while a lot of what’s going on reminds me of the 90’s, the future is unclear. Let’s hope the trend of great books and experimentation continues and maybe everything will turn out all right.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!