Sometimes you just want to see hot comic book shelf porn. Well, we’ve got you COVERED! Here’s the best comic book covers of the week. Continue reading COVERED: August 6th, 2014
Sometimes you just want to see hot comic book shelf porn. Well, we’ve got you COVERED! Here’s the best comic book covers of the week.
Review: Batman Eternal #13
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV Art by Mikel Janin and Guillermo Ortega
Batman Eternal begins to build up steam again as Lt. Bard puts his plan into motion to stop the gang war that has been ripping apart Gotham while James Gordon confronts his son, James Jr. There are also some fun parts with Stephanie Brown, Red Robin, and Harper Row thrown in there as well.
What makes Batman Eternal work as a weekly book is that it is focused. Yes, there are a number of little side stories, but for the most part they all serve to advance the main plot of the book which is the fall of Gordon because of some plan made by Falcone and his mysterious benefactor. There is actual progression in this book unlike Future’s End, the other DC weekly title. Here, that progression is taken in the form of Lt. Bard’s plan. Without spoiling anything, Bard’s plan creates what should be a major shake-up to the events of the title from this point on. Batman Eternal is also delivering on its well written, soul searching dialogue in the form of James Jr. confronting his father. Sure, James Jr. is insane, but man did he have some compelling things to say to his father. I don’t expect Gordon to follow through with his son’s plans and machinations, but it was still great to see his face when he considers whether or not his son has some merit in what he is saying.There were also some bits thrown in there with Red Robin, Harper Row, and Stephanie Brown, but they were mostly filler just to remind us of these characters’ various plot lines. They weren’t bad filler, though. They just took a back seat to what was obviously the more important story line.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but just something that annoys me. Is it just me, or do James Gordon, James Jr, and Lt. Bard all look pretty much the same? I get James Jr. looking like his dad. That makes sense. I just think that if you put James Jr. and Bard in a lineup that you could not tell them apart. Minor complaint. That’s all I got for this one.
Story: 4 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Next in our month-long, weekly series of run-downs of the best comics of the first half of 2014 is DC Comics. While last week’s Marvel list was full of All-New Marvel NOW!, DC was dealing a lot with the legacy of 2013’s leftovers, and sowing seeds for the Future (pun totally intended). There may have been a hiccup or two with release schedules all-around, but no one can say DC doesn’t do it their own way. So, without further ado, we don the cowl (A LOT!), look at the brighter side of Evil, and look toward the Future, with Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: DC Comics for 2014 (so far). Continue reading Top o’ the Lot: DC Comics for 2014 (so far)
Jules: Southern Bastards #3
Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are at it with a strange very cool title. Welcome to Craw County, Alabama, home of Boss BBQ, the state champion Runnin’ Rebs football team…and more bastards than you’ve ever seen. Angry old Earl Tubb has returned to handle his family’s estate when he gets mixed up in somethings, the only way to survive a place like this…is to carry a really big stick. I’m been digging this title. Its definitely worth checking out if you haven’t yet! Aaron the man writing Thor: God of Thunder and Latour writing Wolverine and the X-Men at Marvel, this is a wicked strange tale that’s definitely worth checking out, folks.
SOUTHERN BASTARDS #3
story: JASAON AARON
art / cover: JASON LATOUR
JUNE 25 / 32 PAGES / FC / M / $3.50
Earl Tubb’s one-man war to clean up Craw County begins to rage out of control, as it claims its first casualty.
Taylor: Black Widow #8
Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto continue to give strong work with each issue, with intriguing character work from Edmondson coupled with Noto’s stunning art. This week, we get to see a black ops team-up between the Widow and another Marvel’s premiere spooks (and yet another of Natasha’s exes), the Winter Soldier. This issue should be a lot of fun.
NATHAN EDMONDSON (WRITER) • PHIL NOTO (ARTIST)
• On a snowy night in Prague, Natasha must fight her way out of disaster alongside the WINTER SOLDIER!
• Meanwhile, Isaiah has business of his own in London, but a simple plan gets complicated.
• Nathan Edmonson and Phil Noto continue their uninterrupted run on one of the most acclaimed books of the year.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Christian: Batman Eternal #13
DC’s weekly Batman book just keep getting better and better. All the Bat-family members are here; the multifaceted story is intriguing, and I just can’t wait to see where this book goes each and every week. With an imprisoned Gordon being taken to Blackgate prison, Gotham’s Top-Cop is going to be in a whole mess of trouble, and Batman just doesn’t have the time to help him out. This is going to be a great issue!
BATMAN ETERNAL #13
Written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV, RAY FAWKES, JOHN LAYMAN and TIM SEELEY
Art by MIKEL JANIN
Cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
On sale JULY 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
A demon from Jim Gordon’s past comes to haunt him in Blackgate while the Gang War threatens to rip Gotham City apart! Can Jason Bard keep the order without coming head to head with Batman himself?
Gaumer:Original Sin #5
The reveal at the end of the last issue of Marvel summer blockbuster event Original Sin left a whole lot of readers’ jaws sitting on the floor, and I want, nay, need some answers. Just how long has Nick Fury been using LMDs to doppelgang his way around the Marvel U? And why let the cat out of the bag now? The layers of mystery keep unfolding in this title, and I’m ready to get some answers to my questions.
Those are our picks, what’s on the top of your stack this Wednesday?
I was reading Forever Evil, and it was great, but then it just stopped sometime in February. Because of the tie-ins, Justice League and Justice League of America also both stopped. I mean, they just stopped coming out! I had all of this extra money to spend on other books, and damn it if DC didn’t provide me some in the meantime. So, I jumped on both Batman Eternal and Futures End (which isn’t all that much more money a month if you account for the differing cover prices), and they are actually pretty good for weekly books. But now that Forever Evil came back to life this week, I now have Justice League books to buy again, and my wallet is taking the hit. But that’s only half of the problem.
After the events of Marvel’s…well…event Infinity, I was all ramped up for the Inhuman title that was supposed to come on the heels of that event. But, a last minute writer change, and some obvious problems with the art in some capacity, pushed this book back a couple of months. So, what was I supposed to do with that extra cash? I’ll tell you what I did, I bought the damn Original Sin event’s first issue, and damn if it wasn’t just a fun little old comic book. But now Inhuman is due to come back to shelves, and my wallet is going to take a hit. Is there an echo in here?
Okay, so this is obviously not a new problem; readers are always cash strapped because there’s always another comic book to be bought; but this is a comic book perfect storm of epic proportions, and something’s going to have to give…or I’ll just leave some books in my hold-box for an extra week.
This was a huge week for comic books from all sides, and I’m not sure it’s going to stop throughout the summer. Maybe I’m crying about money again, but really it’s just a great time to be a comic book fan. Which also makes it a terrible time for comic book fans.
If you read my quick and to the point review of the first issue of Batman Eternal you know I wasn’t very impressed by what was going in the ish. I was looking for the roller coaster ride of a comic that one should expect with the debut of a weekly comic, and I just wasn’t feeling it. There was plenty of action, an adequate buildup, and a nice twist, but the pacing and overall tone of the ish just wasn’t what I was expecting. Reluctantly, I picked up issue #2 of Batman Eternal, and I am so thankful that I did, because everything that I missed in issue 1 was given to me in droves in issue 2.
This issue picks up right where issue 1 left off with the aftermath of the subway explosion and the fallout from Commissioner Gordon’s unintentional use of excessive force, and everything you want in a Batman weekly comic book is here. Just about every member of the Bat-family is present and accounted for, Batman talking to Jim Gordon after the fact was gut-wrenchingly good storytelling, Batman the Detective was in there just a bit, and the pacing was spot-on perfection. The villains reveals were really well done, add to the overall intrigue of the story very nicely, and the final page reveal is jaw-dropping good fun for anyone who has ever even thought about being a Batman fan. I didn’t think it could be done, but Jason Fabok was even better on this issue than he was with the art on Batman Eternal #1, and it was a pleasant surprise, and a tasty cherry on top of this sundae.
Where the hell was this greatness last issue? I understand that they were setting the table with issue #1 and this issue #2 is the first course of what hopes to be a delicious banquet of weekly comic goodness, but a less than par first issue followed by this stellar follow-up certainly suggests a trend of wavering quality in this title, which would be consistent with other DC weekly releases, like 52 and Countdown. I hate to presume anything at this early stage, but the clues are all there, but that does absolutely nothing to spoil how great this comic truly was.
I have to admit, I’m glad I didn’t give up on this book. While I still stand by my review of Batman Eternal #1, issue 2 of the title has certainly compelled me to buy issue number 3, and that adoration will probably carry over to issue 4. I guess, if that’s the plan DC had from the beginning, only releasing 2 out 5 quality issues of a weekly series can still be a success. So long as those 2 good issues are REALLY good. And this issue was REALLY good.
Story: 4.5 Out of 5
Art: 4.5 Out of 5
Overall: 4.5 Out 5
There’s always a reason why a company does things differently. Some want to set themselves apart from their competition. Some see an empty niche that can be filled and exploited. Some are answering the requests of their customers. No matter the reason for doing things differently, ALL companies are in business to make money. Therefore, logically speaking, companies do things differently to raise their bottom-line; to make more money. This is certainly the goal of DC Comics, and the thing they are doing differently is launching several series of comics that will be released each and every week, instead of the traditional once per month. While DC Comics has tried the whole weekly release comics in the past, the sheer number of weekly books DC plans on releasing in 2014 shows that the publisher is putting a lot of its eggs in this basket. Here’s a rundown of DC’s weekly release strategy and some reasons it’s going to fail.
It all begins in April as DC releases the brand new title Batman Eternal on each of the 4 Wednesdays after the first one. That’s 4 more Batman comic books a month to go along with Batman-proper, Detective Comics, Batman/Superman, and the Batman and… title that’s starred a revolving cast since Damian Wayne’s untimely death. The writing staff for this book is immense with Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins, John Layman, and Tim Seeley all on the book. Whew, that’s a ton of writers! But for a weekly book I guess you need a ton of help. Jason Fabok, on the other hand, will be doing the artwork in the first 4 issues, but 4 (count ’em, four) different artists are doing issues #5 though #8, making this an all-inclusive title when it comes to creative force.
But is this going to be a successful book for the long-haul? With 6 writers and 5 artists working on just the first 8 issues of Batman Eternal it won’t be hard for this title to get away from the creators and, more importantly, an editorial staff with a weekly deadline. And with 4 other Batman titles on shelves every month for readers to pick-up there’s plenty of opportunity for readers to simply get their Bat-fix elsewhere; an elsewhere without the 4 issue a month investment; an elsewhere without the inconsistency in creators.
The New 52: Futures End
May brings us another weekly comic debut from DC, The New 52: Futures End, which is promising to give readers a look 5 years into the future of the DC Universe, where the impacts of the war with another world that was Forever Evil are still being dealt with, and Batman Beyond comes to help a huge cast of DC’s finest save the day. This book too has a big creative team, with Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, Brian Azzarello, and Jeff Lemire on writing duties, and 7 (count ’em, 7) artists on just the first 4 issues. Batman Beyond making his New 52 debut and keeping up with the continuity of an event as good as Forever Evil are the shining gems on what is looking to be something that could have a mass appeal across the various flavors of DC readers.
But is this going to be successful over the long-haul? This book has the same problems with consistency and editorial pressure of Batman Eternal, and that could damage some of its overall success. Beyond that (pun intended), because of the introduction of Terry McGinnes and the robust cast, this is going to be the most successful of the weeklies DC plans on releasing in 2014, and, at 4 extra books a month, that’s quite enough. But they ain’t done yet!
Unnamed October Weekly
Remember Villain’s Month? When every single issue of every single DC comic book changed and became about the villains for an issue or three? Well, DC is doing it again in September, and each book will jump ahead 5 year into the future, giving readers insight on what “might” happen with their favorite characters. And in October, they’re launching a weekly series to follow-up this Future Month event that will be connected to the previously mentioned weekly released title, The New 52: Futures End. Little else is known about this particular weekly title, for obvious reasons, but it’s worth recapping: DC is releasing a weekly in May, that will include a month long event that will take over each and every DC comic in the month of September, followed by another weekly comic debut in October. That’s a lot of books!
But is it going to be successful in the long-haul? Odds are, for this book, the answer to that question is “NO”. Villain’s Month was successful for one reason and one reason only: Cool covers! The month-long takeover part of this whole thing will certainly provide that, but afterwards the thing that will ultimately sell this book week in and week out is quality which leads me to my overarching opinion on why DC Comics’ weekly release strategy is going to backfire.
Why It’s Going to Fail
I’m not completely against going against the grain and doing things a bit differently. No matter how much I hate the practice, Marvel Comics has been renumbering and relaunching comics for years in an attempt to boost sales numbers and grow readership, and they’ve reached a certain level of success with that recipe. I’m of the mindset that if a comic is a quality read it will gain the readership it deserves, but the sales figures show that #1’s sell more books. The sale charts ALSO show, however, that quality, above all else, is what sells comics, with only temporary sales boosts coming from those relaunches and renumbers. Now, I don’t want to have the discussion about comic shops ordering more first issues with most of them still sitting in their back-issue bins compared to readers trying but simply not falling in love with a #1’s, although both will be part of my reasoning for believing DC will ultimately fail with their own unique method.
So, we’ve established that issue #1’s sell, but, as Marvel’s technique has suggested, it’s difficult to bring new readers to a book once the numbering gets too high. If you get behind in a story it’s hard to catch up. So I find it quite illogical for DC to put all their eggs into a single month or two, which is basically what they are doing. I have no doubt that the first issue of each of these weeklies is going to be stellar, but it’s going to be tough to make each issue, each week, live up to the value of the investment. There’s far too many books to choose from each and every week to stay devoted to something requiring such a huge investment if it doesn’t stay entertaining or, more importantly, consistent. And with so many creators needed for this kind of release schedule it’s hard to do that. There are a lot of reasons to drop any of these titles along the way to their year-long, 52 issue+, ends, and not much reason at all to start reading them once they get just a month or two in. I can see picking up four issues of a run if I hear it’s an absolute must-read, but if it’s two months in, I cannot possibly swing that kind of investment in a single purchase, and I doubt many comic readers can. And there’s no guarantee readers are going to jump on any of these titles from their starts.
Batman Eternal, one of the weeklies in question, is the hardest sell for me. Batman already has SOOO many titles that a weekly is almost too much. I’m sure the Batman diehards, and I know there are plenty of them, will buy it, but it’s a tough sale for the comic fan on a budget with so much to choose from on Wednesday afternoons. It could be argued that the other weekly titles hitting in 2014 have a steeper road to climb because of their close association with some DC events, but I think this works for them. World-building is great for the publisher as a whole! I just don’t think it’s an easy sell for readers either way. If you include the month-long event, this is an even bigger investment than getting all the Batman titles, including the new weekly. It goes back to the same problem that has suffered the industry for years: Stagnant market growth. And that’s really the bottom-line.
I think each of these books is going to have a fantastic initial launch. The launches of each of them for a month, maybe even two, will fill out the Top 5 to 10 spots on the sale charts for those months. But this is going to quickly drop off, followed by steadily dropping month after month until the finality of the title. And what’s worse is that readers will just stop buying one title to make up for the cost of any weeklies they pick up. Granted, some of those titles may be Marvel or, perish the thought, Image titles, but the spike to overall market share will be slim to none over the stretch of the whole year. The one thing that throws a wrench into this whole crazy thinking of mine is quality. If the books are great they’re going to sell, and that’s a good thing! I hope I’m wrong! But, like I said before, if the books DC was currently putting out were of a higher quality, and there are plenty of them out there, there would be no need to do anything differently at all.
Of course, DC’s plan is a direct counter to Marvel’s current renumber/relaunch strategy, a method unavailable to DC due to the painting themselves into the New 52 corner, but I give them credit. Their embracing their brand by building on what works (ie. Batman and events) and keeping up with ideas that aren’t really that new. 52 and Countdown to Crisis weren’t necessarily failures, but DC wasn’t as invested in those then as they appear to be investing now. Time will ultimately tell, and I want these books to be great, I honestly do! I just have the sinking feeling, and some evidence, that it’s going to be a huge dud.