Monthly Archives: October 2008

O Canada, or No Canada – Part Deux

A Marvel Comics spokesman reiterated Thursday the comics publisher will drop the Canadian price on its comics, but he corrected a statement indicating the same would happen for collected editions.

Arune Singh, manager of sales communications with Marvel Entertainment Inc., corrected a statement he provided Eye on Comics earlier this week, noting that Canadian pricing won’t be dropped from its books, only from its periodical publications.

“For the time being, Canadian prices will remain on Marvel collections,” he said in an e-mail Thursday.

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Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1
“Rage of the Red Lanterns, Prologue: Blood Feud”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Shane Davis
Inks: Sandra Hope
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Shane Davis & Sandra Hope
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US/CAN

For regular readers of Green Lantern, this one-shot (connected to Final Crisis in title only, it seems) will be a real treat, as the storyline about several new lantern corps of different colors finally goes from trotting up to the gate to galloping down the track. The Corps-of-Many-Colors concept is a simple one, but it seems to have really caught readers’ attention, tapping into a nostalgic sense of wonder while still maintaining a modern, dark edge in the midst of the traditional super-hero storytelling. I would imagine this one-shot was designed to draw in even more readers to Green Lantern’s corner of the DC Universe, but I don’t think it’ll succeed. Johns’s story isn’t the most accessible I’ve read, but there’s a sense of fun, a sense of foreboding and a sense of myth at play that makes for an entertaining experience for the audience overall.

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O Canada, or No Canada

Conflicting reports indicate two major American comics publishers are moving to eliminate Canadian pricing on its products or are planning to maintain it despite requests from many comics retailers north of the 49th parallel.

One prominent retailer — Calum Johnston, owner of two Strange Adventures comic shops in Atlantic Canada and one-time winner of the Eisner Spirit of Retailing award — said he’s been told Canadian pricing on “Big Two” comics may be a thing of the past.

“Both Marvel and DC are thinking of removing the Canadian cover price to comic-book periodicals,” he said this week.

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Quick Critiques – Oct. 27, 2008

Amazing Spider-Man #574 (Marvel Comics)
by Marc Guggenheim, Barry Kitson & Mark Farmer

About seven years ago, writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist John Romita Jr. took on the real-world tragedy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. With this issue, writer Marc Guggenheim and penciller Barry Kitson turn their attention to the real-world drama of American soldiers at war overseas, using Spider-Man supporting-cast member Flash Thompson as the bridge between the reality of war and the fantasy of the Marvel Universe. In theory, it’s a nice way to pay tribute to troops overseas and it’s a nice sentiment, but there’s something disconcerting about the execution of the story and characterization in this issue. Flash’s gung-ho heroism in the story seems more than a little over the top. Furthermore, Guggenheim’s effort to connect the desperate, do-or-die decisions made in war with the bright, four-color adventures of super-heroes in the Silver Age doesn’t really work. I get that we’re meant to see that Flash is inspired by Spidey’s example, and in turn, I expect that the writer is trying to show that the super-hero genre helped to shape many people’s notions of doing what’s right no matter what. Unfortunately, the comparison of those disparate representations of conflict doesn’t hold up. Kitson’s art allows the action to unfold clearly, but his style doesn’t come through as strongly here as what we’ve seen in his other projects in the past. I can’t help but wonder if inker Mark Farmer’s style wasn’t a good match for Kitson’s. 5/10

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Hybrid Vehicle

XS Hybrid Vol. 1 graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Song Ji-Hyung
Translation: Jay So
Lettering: Kathryn Renta
Editor: Tim Ervin
Publisher: Dark Horse/Dark Horse Manwha
Price: $10.95 US

This Korean comic was originally published in 2003, but it made its way westward last year thanks to Dark Horse Comics and its line of translated manwha books. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Asian comics in the past, but there have been some select titles that caught my attention and impressed. The simple but slick design for this book caught my eye, and the blurb on the back led me to sit down and give it a read. Song Ji-Hyung certainly brings a lot of personality and attitude to his characters, and his linework brings an undeniable energy and lightspeed-quick pace to the action. It seems clear to me that Song is more of an artist than a writer. The focus in on the visuals; there’s not nearly enough information conveyed through dialogue or captions in order for the reader to follow the story rather than the action. The first half of the book is confusing, and the central plot only just begins to come into focus in the latter chapters of this volume.

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Getting the Colbert Dump

I’m a big fan of the faux right-wing pundit persona of Stephen Colbert and his show, The Colbert Report. One could argue that he’s bound to appeal to the comic-book reader demographic, as he’s shown he’s not afraid to get his geek on. Both The Colbert Report and its parent program, The Daily Show, have frequently incorporated comics and animation references in their political and social satire. Colbert has also had Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada on the program twice, once even “bequeathing” the late Captain America’s shield to the comedian (granting the comic icon surprisingly high visibility in every subsequent episode of the show).

Colbert’s over-the-top persona is no stranger to the world of comics either. Oni Press launched Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen last year, featuring the show’s animated sci-fi spoof, and Marvel Comics has been incorporating Colbert’s pseudo-presidential candidacy into the background of its super-hero comics for months. Last week, Amazing Spider-Man #573 featured a backup feature teaming the would-be political figure with Marvel’s best-known, webslinging super-hero.

Those comic-book connections beg the question: why aren’t Colbert’s viewers hearing about them right from the horse’s mouth?

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Quick Critiques – Oct. 19, 2008

Booster Gold #13 (DC Comics)
by Rick Remender, Pat Oliffe & Jerry Ordway

Rick Remender takes over the writing chores on the title with this issue, and though the plotting is rather conventional in nature, he’s definitely captured the spirit and energy of Booster Gold. He offers up an accessible script that not only sums up the current mission of the title character, but he also gives newer readers a crash course on the classic Justice League of America villain at the heart of the plot. Remender also teases his audience with glimpses of other characters that are meant to play a role in the hero’s future, which is part of the fun of a super-hero comic book about time travel. What’s really interesting about this issue, though, is the artwork. Assigning Pat Oliffe the pencilling gig for this title makes sense, as he was a regular contributor to 52, the title that breathed new life into Booster Gold. Pairing Oliffe’s thin-lined, sketchy style with the thicker, more detailed linework of inker Jerry Ordway seems like an odd choice. I have to admit that the end result seems to showcase the pair’s strengths. While they have radically different styles, they have something in common: a bright, fun tone, and that comes through in this unusual collaboration. I’m still undecided on their overall compatibility, but I did enjoy this particular joint effort. 7/10

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Catering to the Wrong Crowd

We’ve gotten too close to the creators. It’s the only conclusion I’m able to reach.

The Internet has proven to be the most powerful communication tool mankind has ever seen. It’s brought us closer together, even on a global scale, and it’s fostered the resurgence of written correspondence, mail-order shopping and access to unlimited amounts of information. It’s also provided each and every user with a powerful voice; one can reach an unimaginably large audience with little in the way of resources. That’s a great thing, but it’s also a curse. The divide between fans and celebrities, between readers/viewers and creators, is a lot smaller these days, and the Internet is what’s shrunk the gap.

With the comics industry, writers, artists and editors get immediate feedback from readers. There’s an ongoing conversation between the creators and the audience. Every day is a comic convention online, as we read the creators’ blogs and sites for insight into their craft and the business, and they in turn scan those of the readers. I’ve come to wonder if (a) the creators are paying too much attention, and (b) if they’re paying attention to the right people.

Case in point: recent Secret Invasion tie-in issues of New Avengers and Mighty Avengers.

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Flagging Flagship

Justice League of America #25
“The Second Coming, Chapter Four: The Best Lack All Conviction”
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils: Ed Benes, Doug Mahnke, Darick Robertson, Shane Davis, Ian Churchill & Ivan Reis
Inks: Ed Benes, Christian Alamy, Darick Robertson, Rob Stull, Ian Churchill & Joe Prado
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artist: Ed Benes
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US/CAN

I want to like this title. I liked it when it debuted with writer Brad Meltzer at the helm. There were flaws in the storytelling, yes, but it harkened back to the colorful, epic super-hero stories of the Justice League of America series of the 1970s, as it was intended to do. When Dwayne McDuffie signed on to replace Meltzer, I was pleased, given the strength of his contributions to the Justice League Unlimited animated TV series. But the series has really lost any real sense of direction. Plotlines play tug-of-war with the reader’s attention, and Ed Benes’s muddied artwork is further hampered by the use of multiple art teams on this issue. JLA should be a big, flashy, fun super-hero romp. Lately, it’s been confusing and conflicted.

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