Tag Archives: Forever Evil

Opinion: DC’s Weekly Release Strategy and Why It’s Going to Fail

DC Comics Logo

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.

The Books

Batman Eternal

IBatman Eternalt 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

Futures EndMay 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

Superman Future's EndRemember 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 All-New-Marvel-Now-logomatter 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 firstNew 52 Logo 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.

The Verdict

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 DC-Marvel Eventsmethod 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.

Geeks’ Picks for New Comics: March 5th, 2014

outright-geekery profile-largeNew Comics Wednesday is upon us again, and some of us here at Outright Geekery are running down our top pick on comic stacks for this week.

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Jules: New Warriors #2

Really think this title is gonna be solid. The first issue was just exactly what the doctor ordered. Classic Chris Yost, a team spread out with very different ideals will somehow make their way to one another for a common goal they cannot foresee. I love how random the cast of characters are for the most part. Really can’t wait ’til this team is pulled together. I’m dying to see just where exactly the New Warriors fit in the Avengers World, this new dawn of Mutants, this Inhuman age… Where will this team fit?

New Warriors 2

NEW WARRIORS #2
CHRISTOPHER YOST (W) • MARCUS TO (A)
Cover by RAMON PEREZ
VARIANT Cover by Mark Bagley
• The Evolutionaries are on the war path! If it’s not human, it DIES.
• What does the High Evolutionary want with Nova?
• All across the world, the New Warriors come together… SEE! Sun Girl and Haechi deal with Morlocks! WITNESS! Justice and Speedball fight to save magic! CRINGE! As Scarlet Spider refuses to play well with others.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

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Gaumer:  Forever Evil #6

The penultimate chapter in Geoff Johns and David Finch’s amazingly entertaining event, Forever Evil, is finally upon us, if not a week or so late. The final fate of Nightwing, more escapades of Lex Luthor’s new Justice League, and more Crime Syndicate dysfunction is on the menu, and, going by what we’ve been given thus far, I have a ton of faith that the last build-up to the finality of this event is going to something people talk about for years. Don’t miss this!

Forver Evil 6

FOREVER EVIL #6
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
Cover by DAVID FINCH
1:25 Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
1:50 Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
1:100 Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale FEBRUARY 19 • 32 pg, 6 OF 7, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
The final fate of Nightwing! The most unlikely of allies have set the Crime Syndicate in their sights — and they’re playing for keeps while the life of a hero hangs in the balance! Plus, the identity of the mysterious man in the hood is finally revealed!

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Taylor: She-Hulk #2

Fresh off of a strong showing from Issue #1, Soule and Pulido return with their next installment in the adventures of Jen Walters. This series is shaping up to be a lot of fun, and a refreshing change of pace from usual super-heroic fair, as it looks to blend Shulkies superhero and lawyer identities together. I’m anxious to see if they can keep up the good work.

She-Hulk 2

SHE-HULK #2
CHARLES SOULE (W)
JAVIER PULIDO (A)
Cover by KEVIN WADA
VARIANT by AMANDA CONNER
• Jennifer opens her own practice, but things aren’t going as smoothly as she’d like.
• A new client rides into town…but is he hero or villain?
• Guest-starring Patsy Walker, Hellcat!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

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J. Jonah Jesse: The Saviors #3

A sort of quirky Lizard Aliens taking over the earth, and our protagonist, the unlikely stoner, caught up in the middle of it! James Robinson got out of DC and is making serious waves in new Indie titles and Marvel books. This is a gem of a comic. Artist J. Bone is creating a snapping black and white world with a stylized feel right out of a ’70s cartoon. This is certainly at the top of my pull list this week.

Saviors #3

SAVIORS #3
story JAMES ROBINSON
art / cover J. BONE
FEBRUARY 26 / 32 PAGES / FC / T+ / $2.99
Tomas Ramirez is now in the small Mexican coastal town of La Calma, where other new freedom fighters allies intend to test a device to end the threat of the aliens forever. But the aliens have a counterattack plan of their own, so this certainly will be the Day of the Dead.

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Those are our picks, what’s on the top of your stack in comic shops this Wednesday?

Comix City Too!This post brought to you by Comix City Too! in Madison Tennessee, Outright Geekery’s local comic shop of choice. Check out everything coming out this week in stores here, and be sure to get out to your local comic shop.

Review: Justice League Issue # 27

Justice League 27

JUSTICE LEAGUE #27
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
32 pg
RATED T
$3.99

Yes, Forever Evil is still a thing! When DC solicited this event as “Forever” Evil I didn’t realize that they actually meant the event would last forever. While that’s certainly an exaggeration, it sure doesn’t feel like it, but, because of some major changes occurring within the pages of the event books and that event’s tie-in comics, “Forever” may be more apropos than first thought. With the obvious deaths of at least a few minor characters; some even seen within the pages of this very comic; and the assumed death of at least one A-Lister, things are going to be quite different in the DC Universe after the dust of the Crime Syndicate’s incursion settles. DC is doing a lot more to change things up than just killing characters, and while we’ll have to wait until the end of Forever Evil for the all of this major change to the status quo to be realized, we’re seeing some big character transformations already underway, and Justice League #27 gives us a nice one. There were some really cool things going on in this issue, and a couple of really bad things, leaving me torn on the overall quality of the book, while worrying me if DC Comics really has any idea what they are doing.

The Good

The book opens with Syndicate members Johnny Quick and Atomica laying a fatal smackdown on a couple of good guys, keeping with the tone of the overall event, which was a necessary aspect of the ish since the rest of the book deals with more positive events. While we get a brief setup to the ultimate end of the book on the next page, the issue quickly moves to the focus of the book: Rebuilding Cyborg. Although I had some problems with the dialogue between Victor and his daddy, it was really cool to see the back of the Red Room, all the gizmos and gadgets collected therein, and the final version of Cyborg 2.0. Upgraded, streamlined, and looking more like the Cyborg I first knew and loved. Cyborg’s trip and the last page reveal do a great job of continuing to paint the current Forever Evil world as the horrible place it is, as well as setting up the next ish and the premiere of another fan-favorite super hero team. Ivan Reis and his team of artists’ work is beautiful, with great overall work, fun attention to detail, and some epic one and two page splashes. While I did have a some problems with this specific issue of JL, a big concern I have for DC as a whole is strongly represented in this ish.

The Bad

The only problem I had with this single issue of Justice League was the conversation between Victor and his scientist father, the Doctor who turned him into Cyborg in the first place. While I understand what Johns is doing, and having Cyborg embrace his Cyborg persona in the midst of a villain dominated world in desperate need of a hero is a great use of the character, his father’s attitude and unwillingness to turn his son again into the Cyborg seemed forced and frankly didn’t make any sense. But I guess fatherhood just doesn’t make sense sometimes, and it wasn’t difficult to ignore this awkward characterization in an otherwise great comic book. No, a more significant problem I identified within the pages of this book had less to do with any single issue of a DC comic and more to do with just what the hell is going on over at DC. I could include a ton of news coming out from the publisher about changes on the horizon, but I’ll stick with this single issue to make my case. The New 52 is just over two years old, while taking into account the last few issue of Justice League have been part of Forever Evil, and the changes to Cyborg hearken back to the character’s pre-New 52 persona so much that it’s hard not to think we’re seeing a grand New 52 retcon. And I’m not sure I want to see that.

The Verdict

Despite the shortcoming I alluded to above, I firmly believe that Forever Evil, in the context of the event title itself, the Justice League tie-in, and the Justice League of America tie-in (all three written by Geoff Johns), may be the writer’s best work. He’s built an amazing story around some really intriguing aspects that are already bringing drastic changes to the entire DC Universe, and he’s doing so in a fashion that is in no way repetitive from series to series, which was my main gripe in the last event from Marvel Comics, Infinity. This is another great issue of a comic that should be entrenched in the event bog that seems to flood the comic lowlands whenever an event storm rips through a publisher’s stock, but, because of the skill of one of the best writers in the biz, Justice League continues to be a great series, and issue #27 is a great addition to it.

Opinion: DC’s Segmented and Sticky Path

DC Comics Logo

Since the launch of DC Comics’ New 52 reboot, readers have dealt with a lot of changes, and while I don’t want to make this post about the quality of the reboot as a whole, it’s probably going to come off that way. No, I want to bring some attention to comparisons and the publishing approach that distinguishes the New 52 in both tone and style. Although DC has tried the whole reboot deal several times in the past, the first 30 or so months of the publisher’s latest reboot show a degree of premeditation, appreciation, and dedication not seen in other reboot attempts, while the future promises more of the same.

The Past

CrisisCrisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Hypertime, Infinite Crisis, Flashpoint the list goes on. Yes, DC Comics has rebooted their entire universe to some extent or another time after time with, more often than not, less than stellar results. While there were plenty of problems with all of these reboots – Donna Troy and Hawkman; a messed up Superman, and a de-aged JSA come to mind – most of the problems stemmed from one very important detail missing from the plan: An actual plan! There may have been a narrow guide or a rudimentary outline at some point during the brainstorming sessions that ultimately lead to these reboots, but it’s safe to say that the follow-through succeeding the event itself ultimately lead to just another reboot, and that qualifies it as an out-and-out fail in my book. So, what makes The New 52 so different? Having a plan and unabashedly sticking to it.

The Promise

DC originally marketed the New 52 as a “soft reboot” and not a full on reboot and revamp of the entire universe. Some things from the past, like the War of the Green Lanterns and Batman: A Death in the Family, would stick and some things wouldn’t, but DC never really made the extent of that adherence to continuity completely known. This allowed them to pick and choose story elements from the past without allowing other, less “important”, elements to become obstacles. DC promised to make their storied history be a help to their creators not a hindrance to creativity as it’s been in the past. That’s not to say that New 52 Logothey threw everything out the window; these characters are still recognizable as the ones we’ve all known and loved for years; but having opportunities to tell early tales of Superman as seen in Action Comics and retelling Batman’s origin in Zero Year, as well as revisiting Wonder Woman’s origin and changing the entire status quo of the Green Lanterns, have been amazingly entertaining comics that just would not have been possible prior to DC adhering to their New 52 continuity policy. That liberal policy in regards to continuity, however, as flexible it’s been with its use of DC’s storied and convoluted history, hasn’t impacted the self-contained continuity the New 52 itself has created, and it’s all part of DC’s push to appreciate their fans.

The Push

It’s logical to assume that DC had a problem reaching fans prior to the New 52 reboot. There’s obviously no reason to reboot the line if fans are buying books that make up that line. So, DC decided to listen to fans, and while they kept the continuity fans liked the most, they understood that, despite the quality of any comic book, fans still want continuity. There’s a certain appeal to having the characters all exist in the same world, and, of course, DC wants to take advantage of this aspect oThe New 52 Coverf superhero comics, but there has to be some “stickiness” to the whole thing. Although readers handle differing degrees of continuity very differently, DC has done an amazing job of keeping New 52 continuity faithful across all of their books. The adherence to this aspect of continuity has been stringent, with Hal Jordan stuck in space when he’d be better as a marquee character in Forever Evil, and Superman having to overcome at least a few obstacles setup in early issues of Action Comics, but it’s also lead to some rewards, with Simon Baz getting a brighter spotlight, and Superman/Wonder Woman even being a thing. They couldn’t just come up with new, exciting things, they had to find new and exciting things within their current continuity, something solidly missing from DC’s line pre-New 52. And that seems to be continuing as the very popular Nightwing see its last issue drop in the wake of the character’s upcoming death in Forever Evil. But continuity isn’t the only thing DC has changed to appeal to fans. The publisher listened, found what’s resonating with fans, and acted.

The Publishing

An Aquaman event last year, a Superman/Wonder Woman title, and Constantine even being a character in the DCU proper are all evidence that DC not only listened to their fans but acted on what was heard. That isn’t the only way they have acted either, and DC has ended many fan-favorite comics over the past two plus years, including Static ShockBlue Beetle Lee + Johnsand two Legion titles, simply because they didn’t resonate with enough fans. While this is no real change to what publishers do all the time, they have replaced titles just as quickly, looking to gives fans something great. A recent example of DC’s faithfulness to keeping their content fresh and relevant is the publisher ending 6 books in April – Justice League of America, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, Superman Unchained, Stormwatch, and Teen Titans – and replacing them with titles fans have specifically shown an interest in – Aquaman and the Others, Justice League United, Secret Origins, and Sinestro. DC’s appreciation to their fans in giving them exactly what they ask for is only eclipsed by the publisher’s dedication to keeping that ideal an active part of their entire publishing approach, and the key to that approach is portion control.

The Portioning

No, not that kind of portion control; I’m talking about “title portion control”. There are currently 9 DC comic books in the Justice League portion, 13 in the Bat-family of titles, 7 in Superman’s section, 5 in Green Lantern, and 6 or so in what DC has labeled “The Dark”, but this hasn’t always been the case. Looking over the various cancellations and new additions to these “families” of books over the years DC not only takes care in ending books that don’t work and consistently replacing them, but also assures that each of these Forever_Evil_1families of titles remains strong and uniquely distinct. Even failed segments like what DC calls “The Edge” and the all but defunct “Young Justice” segment of books were given a solid chance at success with a combined 15 titles launched and cancelled since the New 52 began, and two more cancellations due in April. This only underscores DC’s overall no holds barred approach when it comes to spinning their ever-revolving lineup. DC takes their whole portioning method a step further when it comes to how the publisher handles events. Forever Evil, while it had its share of limited series tie-ins, has been limited to the Justice League family of titles, with the Forever Evil: Blight crossover event occurring only within the pages of The Dark family of books, with never the two meeting. This trend has been fairly constant throughout the New 52: Night of the Owls, Death of the Family, Zero Year, and the upcoming Gothopia are all in the Batman-family; Rise of the Third Army, Wrath of the First Lantern, and Lights Out all played out in GL books; He’l on Earth, Throne of Atlantis, and Rotworld all happened within their own specific category of titles. This has done a great deal to help DC reach new levels of success by avoiding the problems they ran into with other reboots, namely, missing the mark on continuity, ignoring fan requests, and not actively and effectively supporting their numerous and varied brands. This, of course, leads me to one simple worry: They’ll never be able to keep it up.

The Prospective

There’s trouble on the horizon for DC’s current success under this methodology bought about with the New 52. Although they’ve done an incredible job so far, it’s only been 30 months, and there’s some literal and figurative cleaning up to do. Forever Evil will surely end with the good guys winning by the end, but the Earth is in ruins, and, as the rules DC Five Years Laterthemselves have suggested with their entire approach to the New 52 reboot, things will certainly have to change equally as much as they have been impacted, and that’s a whole lot. That means an arc of Batman with Bruce coping with yet another death and dealing with Bane in the aftermath of Arkham War, no more self-contained mega-events or new origin stories to get readers’ attention. That means dealing with things in books like Justice League and Superman/Wonder Woman in meaningful ways. That means putting Lex Luthor on a pedestal, and exploring everyone’s new favorite Kryptonian clone. Those are big shoes to fill, but DC cobbled those slippers all on their own, and probably just because fans devour events. If the big moments and major impacts that made Forever Evil compelling don’t stick, it takes away from everything DC has built with the New 52. I’m not saying it’s impossible, and “big changes” have been promised, but seeing is believing, and DC has not made it easy on themselves. Another problem I see in DC’s future is doing too much crossing over between their individual categories, and the upcoming Supergirl/Red Lanterns crossover, while intriguing a story as it is, may start a trend that could quickly become as unwieldy as anything pre-reboot. And what about DC’s next rumored event, Five Years Later? As difficult as it must be adhering to their current approach, adding a future facet to the whole endeavor won’t make anything easier.

The Punchline

Batman LaughingYeah, I remember, I said this wasn’t going to be a post about the quality of the New 52 reboot, but that promise turned out to be a lie; a joke, really. The very thought of a brief about the publishing approach of DC Comics latest reboot simply cannot be made without a critique of the quality of the books that make up that reboot. But DC is doing something completely different with the New 52, and, as long as it lasts, it’s an amazing ride. Twists, turns, surprises, disappointments. It’s like Disney World, with all it’s unique and different, yet singularly alike, Lands, but in this amusement park they swap out the crappy rides every few months. Now, no one knows if the company can continue to respect the same method that lead them to their current level of success in the wake of such dramatic, universe-wide changes, but that takes nothing away from the ground-breaking success DC has already had in their latest reboot, and it’s been a very long time coming.

Review: Justice League Issue #26

Justice League #26

JUSTICE LEAGUE #26
Writter: GEOFF JOHNS
Art: IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale DECEMBER 24
32 pg
$3.99 US
RATED T

If you keep up with my reviews at all you know I’ve been paying a whole lot of attention to the whole Forever Evil event going on over at DC Comics, and for good reason. The story of the Crime Syndicate coming to the New 52 and bringing down the entire Justice League in the porcess of taking over the world is a pretty cool premise. And, for the most part, the story has been just as compelling as that premise, and the Justice League tie-ins to the event have been no different. The premise of these JL tie-ins to Forever Evil has been a spotlight on the individual members of the Crime Syndicate itself, offering readers fascinating insight into who these characters are in this New 52 era. Issue #26, however, while keeping to this basic idea, was somewhat of a departure from this recipe, and although that departure was a necessary change of direction as the Forever Evil event begins to reach its end, the change did impact the overall appeal of that premise, one that made the Forever Evil era of Justice League enjoyable to begin with.

The Good

Reis and Prado on art is a joy to behold. The work is consistent throughout the issue, and the detail in the pencils and colors is the kind of quality readers have come to expect from the premiere team book at DC Comics, while doing a great job of pushing along the story in the book. The overall appeal of the JL books that have been part of Forever Evil has been seeing the Crime Syndicate’s backstory, and Johns keeps to that trend in this title, albeit in a more slimmed down fashion. Power Ring and Johnny Quick and Atomica’s origins were quite intriguing, but seeing what the A.I. Grid’s agenda is all about is a brilliant addition to the Syndicate’s inherent dysfunction. The stuff about Cyborg was good, but I wasn’t really ready to see that part of the Forever Evil story move into other titles. But I guess the event can’t last Forever.

The Bad

Although I liked what I saw about the Crime Syndicate in this ish, I wanted more. Previous JL issues dedicated an entire issue to a single Syndicate member, and #26 gave us three. That’s just way too many awesome characters to fit in a single issue, and seeing more of them would have been better than this single crammed book. Additionally, Justice League has remained part of Forever Evil, but kept a bit of separation from the actual events of Forever Evil, and although that method was really working well, this issue, sadly, moved away from all that. I understand that the title has to work with the end of the event, but the departure did hurt the book.

The Verdict

Although issue #26 of Justice League suffered a bit from the event that made it possible in the first place, it was still a pretty good ish. It’s nowhere near as good as the JL issues that preceded it, and felt like a watered down version of those books, but getting backstory on these very interesting Crime Syndicate members has been quite enjoyable. Now, surely that is all coming to an end, and that IS sad, but hopefully the title changing direction doesn’t hurt it any more than the damage seen in this latest installment. Go pick this up, but don’t expect the same sort of fun you’ve had in recent JL comics. Still a fun trip, but the ride feels like it’s slowing down.

Review: Forever Evil Issue #4

Forever Evil 4

FOREVER EVIL #4
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
On sale DECEMBER 24
32 pg.
$3.99 US
RATED T

As much as comic book events are all about the big, dramatic, universe-wide change to the status quo that is sure to come by the end of any event, they are just as much about big moments. Moments that, while not necessarily being a huge part of the overall impact of the event, add some great impacts of their own along the way to the overarching impact of the event itself. Although Forever Evil has certainly hinted at the huge changes coming, it’s lacked a bit in the “awesome moment” department. So it was really nice to get some of those really good “OH SHIT!” moments that have no real impact on anything in this ish, and despite the lack of anything really important happening, those moments saved the book from mediocrity.

The Good

Like I said, there were some great moments in this issue. Batman and Catwoman making it back to the Batcave was nice, and it’s great to see their relationship grow in a way that has not been explored before. Lex giving Bizarro a pep talk was almost endearing and felt more like a father-son chat (which it kind of was) than a super-genius talking to his science experiment. The predictable meetup of Batman and Luthor’s Injustice League was cool, and Batman’s safe full of anti-Justice League gizmos was pretty awesome, but nowhere near as awesome as Batman wearing a Yellow Lantern Ring. Fear the Bat!! The last page character reveal worked very well, and acts as a promising addition to this anti-team. David Finch’s art was great as usual, but the key to this title is Geoff Johns simply having fun the way you’d expect a fanboy to have fun. And it’s a great ride!

The Bad

While the “OH SHIT!” moments do a great job of keeping your eyes on the pages, there’s really nothing going on in this title that has much to do with the Forever Evil event itself that we didn’t already know was going on. There’s Ultraman snorting more kryptonite; there’s Super Woman playing Ultraman and Owlman off each other; there’s Power Ring being a pussy. Alright, we get it already! There’s no reason to give us the same information over and over again, issue after issue, just because there’s nothing else going on with them in the course of the story. We don’t need to be reminded that these characters are around, especially if they aren’t doing anything new. Maybe I’m greedy and I want to have my cake AND eat it, but I think we should be able to get those “OH SHIT!” moments fanboys cream over, as well as having a story that is being pushed along by more than promotional solicits and comic book covers. Honestly, the entire story of Forever Evil could have been told simply by glancing at the covers.

The Verdict

There’s enough great moments in this ish to make it worth picking up. Although there’s not a whole lot going on that is inherently necessary to enjoy Forever Evil itself, it’s still fun to see the team that everyone knew was going to get together. Things are shaping up for the last three issues of this event to be amazing on several levels, but getting there has been a bit difficult to say the least. Although it’s not a huge endorsement for the issue, Forever Evil #4 had enough shining moments in it to be redeemed. It was close, but go pick it up.

Review: Justice League of America #10

Justice League of America 10

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #10
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TOM DERENICK and EDDY BARROWS
On sale DECEMBER 11
32 pg
$3.99
RATED T

I’m pretty sure it’s not as literal as it sounds and won’t be lasting forever, but DC’s latest epic event, Forever Evil, continues its long march through many DC books, including all of the Justice League titles. As I mentioned in a previous JL-book review, however, each of the three individual Justice League books is taking a unique look at certain aspects of the overall event, with some good things and bad being left in the wake. While JL proper has been taking us on a fun-filled ride through the lives of the individual members of the Crime Syndicate, and JL: Dark has been a lackluster journey through something altogether different and only loosely associated with Forever Evil, Justice League of America has been sitting somewhere in the middle. Yes, the title is completely different, but it remains inherently Forever Evil, and issue #10 sticks to that trend. Although this title is taking on elements and characters that could make it the best of the Forever Evil tie-ins, like other Justice League tie-ins to Forever Evil, the issue is getting bogged down in the slow crawl that is the Forever Evil event itself. Despite a big reveal and some interesting character interactions, a mediocre origin story and seemingly cheap tactics bring JLA down enough to make this issue less than spectacular.

The Good

Despite four artists (two on pencils and two more on inks) and an entire company devoted to the coloring working on this issue, the ish does not suffer artistically from there being so many cooks in the kitchen. The art is consistently good throughout; there’s a ton of detail in each and every panel; those panels are quite diverse with sprawling two-page splashes, brilliantly done full-page offerings, and great story-telling done from beginning to end. While I didn’t really care that much about Stargirl’s origin it was nicely told, and didn’t take too much away from the overall story being written. The real gold in this book is the interaction between Manhunter and Stargirl as they attempt to rectify their current desperate situation, although the “how” behind that fix left me wanting. I hate spoilers in my reviews but one’s coming, so be warned and skip to The Bad right now if you must, but the reveal that the entire JL is being imprisoned inside Firestorm and the matrix itself was, while pretty damned predictable, vindicating to say the least. There’s a really interesting element to this reveal that I hope doesn’t get lost somewhere between now and the end of the Forever Evil event.

The Bad

Understanding that, perhaps, Stargirl was, herself, stuck in the prison along with the other JL members did nothing to help keep her origin story entertaining. I kept waiting for the hook of that aspect of the story to show itself, and, sadly, it never did. The desperate matter that Stargirl and Manhunter deal with in this ish, although quite fun on the surface, seemed equally desperate as a lackluster effort to get from Point A (the end of last issue) to Point B (the rest of this arc). Yes, I know, that IS the goal, but the approach in this case felt way to clunky, and the culminating solution was so cheap that I flipped back and forth a couple of times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I hadn’t.

The Verdict

Although the artwork, surprisingly, makes issue #10 of Justice League of America almost redeemable, I cannot advise you to pick up this issue. There’s really nothing going on in this issue that won’t be covered down the road as a part of the event tie-in, the big reveal, while interestingly fun, was as predictable as the sun rising in the morning, and Stargirl is nowhere near as intriguing as she needs to be to deserve any kind of origin story, especially in a book meant to make the Forever Evil event more enjoyable. So, unless you are hooked on those pencils, or just have a thing for Stargirl, skip this ish, reread the previous issues in this arc, and wait for what’s coming next. Because, as this filler issue alludes to, there’s plenty to come.

Review: Justice League #25

Justice League 25

JUSTICE LEAGUE #25
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art by Dough Mahnke
C
over by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale NOVEMBER 20
32 pg
$3.99 US
RATED T

DC Comics’ latest event, Forever Evil, continues throughout the various Justice League titles, and, while they all have their own specific feel and Forever Evil tone, Justice League proper has reached a perfect balance of pushing along current events to keep the event moving forward and showing off the evil awesomeness of the Crime Syndicate’s various members. Even better is how both of these counterweights are slowly and brilliantly intertwining.

The Good

Justice League #25 is all about Owlman, and it’s a wonderful ride! Although the ish is very similar in tone and style to the Ultraman focused issue a few months ago, there’s really nothing wrong with that at all as it links the issues in a pretty sly way, while Owlman’s origin is so freaking fun to see. But we also get to see Owlman’s version of Dick Grayson come up as the villain’s sidekick, all while the book flashes back and forth to the present day. While seemingly a clunky way to move around a story, Geoff Johns pulls it off brilliantly. The stuff with Nightwing literally made my jaw drop! There may not be another option, granted, but this major turn of events for Forever Evil is sure to make things pretty exciting down the road. Doug Mahnke’s pencils do an amazing job of taking the reader along for this intriguing ride into the psyche of Owlman, as well as his plans for the future, but the colorists stand out in the flashback scenes setting the overall tone very nicely. It’s great to have such a great team of creators all working on an amazing event tie-in.

The Bad

Although everything that’s happening in these pages is really great, it’s almost too much to the point that I felt kind of cheated. I wanted to see more of every major scene in the book, and they could have, and should have, expanded it to two issues. While I understand Johns’ idea of giving each member of the Syndicate their own individual issue of Justice League, the CS is too awesome to be contained. Even with everything going on in this ish, Johns still finds time to address things going on in other titles, and I’m so over that. If people aren’t reading those other titles they aren’t going to start now, and it is nowhere near an “Easter Egg” worthy tactic, more of a cheap way to have an umbilical between books. Yeah, we all know Grid is on the job. These, however, are merely nicks that required picking on my part, and do nothing to ruin an otherwise wonderful comic experience.

The Verdict

If you’re reading Forever Evil, and you should be, this is a must-have addition to that event. It ties-in beautifully to a story that is way too full of awesome to be contained. Hell, THIS ish shouldn’t have been contained to a single book! There are great things going on that will really add to Forever Evil, while the book itself isn’t, as of yet, necessary to enjoy that event, yet it’s still an incredibly enjoyable read. Better yet, a reader could skip Forever Evil and still get a huge kick out of the characters in the tie-in issues, and issue #25 is no exception. Ultimately, however, this arc of JL will culminate in a battle that ends in the pages of Forever Evil, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting this ish. A fun tie-in, a neat backstory, and standalone quality? It’s all there.

Review: Justice League Dark #25

Justice League Dark 25

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #25
Written by J.M. DeMATTEIS
Art and cover by MIKEL JANIN
On sale NOVEMBER 27
32 pg
$3.99
RATED T

DC Comics latest installment in the second-level of Inception style event Blight, an event spinning out of another DC comic’s event Forever Evil, picks up a bit more steam, while leading us directly to where we all knew the side-event was eventually going. While Justice League Dark issue #25 certainly helps to push along the story within the story that is Blight, the overall approach DC is taking with the side-event in all aspects leaves way too much to be desired, and helps to ruin a book that has continually shined.

The Good

There’s some intriguing characters making appearances in this title, and there’s a whole lot of great character interactions going on to go along with them. Nightmare Nurse looks to be a new member of the Dark, and her Swamp Thing ripoff hijinks coupled with the whole magical-healer aspect of the character make her a fine addition to the team despite her recent creation. Swamp Thing himself also made for some terrific moments, and this is a character that begs to be on this team. The New 52 debut of Cassanrda Craft was really fun for this fan, and adds yet another facet to such a long story. Constantine is his usual fun and arrogantly self-motivated self, but his feelings for Zatanna continue to betray him. It’s nice to see that aspect of Constantine’s New 52 persona, because, frankly, his relationship with Zatanna has been about the only interesting part of the character. The art is consistent, adequately detailed, and does a fantastic job of helping to move an otherwise slow-crawl of a story forward at a relatively readable pace. The Blight itself was explained in a bit more detail and, while it serves as a fascinating device to tell this sort of story, the marketing has made it all moot.

The Bad

As cool as the character interactions were they weren’t without issues. Nightmare Nurse’s search for redemption is old, tired and overused. Although his entrance was pretty cool, we all knew Swamp Thing was going to show up, and the illusion of surprise was very much only that, an illusion. The supposed reveals continued to disappoint as the return of a presumed dead villain, and the final answer to the question of how the Dark can save the world, were all completely spoiled by the very solicits and, worse, covers of future comics that tie-in to the overall Blight event. And, according to those same solicits, Blight itself is simply nothing more than just another badguy. Although I loved seeing Cassandra Craft in the book, the circumstances leading to that seemed forced. I love JL: Dark‘s constantly revolving roster, but it’s getting way out of hand from the fun it began as.

The Verdict

Blight is the most appropriate name DC could have given this event within an event because it’s sucking the life out of a book that will make up 1/6 of the 18 part epic that is Blight. If you’re into the whole Blight, yeah, definitely go buy this ish, but I’m not very sure that picking up Blight is anywhere near a wise move. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Universe-wide events like Forever Evil, and seeing the impact of the event on the characters I love. This, however, is NOT that! This is an event in and of itself stemming from another event, and the overall delivery early on has been one huge yawn. Skip this book and skip Blight. As much as I love the Justice League: Dark the book is getting bogged down in the event quagmire way to deep to be rescued. The bright side: You can save some bucks by skipping a bunch of Blight-centric titles. The bad side: The Dark team itself will probably see some dramatic changes during the event, and that may be interesting for readers wanting to enjoy the book post-Forever Evil. Still, its quite worth the risk to forget Justice League: Dark exists for awhile.

Opinion: Comic Book Events – It’s Not Them, It’s Us!

DC-Marvel EventsThe Preface

Comic book readers are a fickle bunch. We decry everything from cover prices to character resurrections with a degree of seething anger most times left for late night toe stubbing’s and gridlocked road rage. But we keep coming back for more! And so it is with the ever-present and much disparaged comic book crossover/tie-in/event. Flip through any issue of Previews for the past decade or so and you’ll see it. Walk into any comic book shop on a Wednesday morning and eventually you’ll hear it. It’s come by many names before; names like Civil War, Blackest Night, and Infinite Crisis; and has had other names more recently; like Infinity, Forever Evil, and Zero Year. Like them or not, events get a lot of negative talk from fanboys I’ve spoken with as well as those found across the internet, but there’s very little action backing it up. We love comic book events! At least, that’s what the sales figures show. Comichron.com tracks sales over time and the figures are clear. Comics Sold RiseBooks associated with an event of some kind or another are consistently in the top 5 each and every month, easily hitting the 100,000 copies sold milestone. Additionally, tie-in titles tend to get bumps in their sales the months they are tying-in, and overall comics’ sales drop in months with fewer or no event books. We’re definitely buying these books, but we’re still complaining the entire way. What gives?

The Premise

Let’s get some definitions out of the way first. There’s the Event. This is a new, stand-alone series that usually involves something major happening in a universe. Now, because these events are usually such epic affairs they entice publishers to include Tie-ins to the event. These are planets orbiting the center, so to speak, and may add a bit to the event but are not an integral part of the event itself. Then there is the Crossover, in Infinitywhich there are multiple, existing or new titles that must be read in order to fully enjoy or understand the overall story being told. However, it’s sometimes very difficult to differentiate between these three classes. For example, Marvel’s Infinity event is, by itself, an event book, and there are certainly crossover titles that may be deemed required reading, like Avengers and New Avengers, but there are also tie-ins, like Mighty Avengers. Battle of the Atom was a crossover through-and-through, but still had event style “bookend” chapters. Blackest Night, although solicited as a stand-alone event with a series of tie-ins, surely crossed-over to a great extent when the spotlight Rainbow Warrior Team itself got together within the pages of the, seemingly, tie-in title Green Lantern Corps. Trinity War took the whole thing a step further as that crossover was simply a prelude for an event, Forever Evil,Evil-Is-Relative-Teaser which may or may not include the required reading of the 9 or so title strong crossover story, Blight, and all of that is happening on the heels of Villain’s Month and another new Batman event that also may or may not be crossing-over or tying-in to other DC titles. Whew! The whole thing can be too damned much for a comic book reader, and that’s where all the griping comes in.

Like I said before, we’re a fickle bunch. We want the comics to be good, but even when they’re bad we want to be informed enough to properly bitch about it. Above that, we’re often times completeists who need to get each and every single book slapped with an event moniker, yet get offended when we are forced to buy them all to enjoy the particular story dominating the event, especially when it’s a crapshoot knowing witch books will, indeed, be integral. Above everything else, however, comic book geeks don’t want to be left out in the cold. They are compelled to be abreast of what is going on in the universes as a whole, not because it’s good or bad, but simply because it’s happening. Now, when all of this is coupled together you get a monster of a trend that feeds off of this incredibly fickle spirit of the comic book reader. Publishers market and sell events of all shapes, sizes and types as “universe-changing epics” and, whether they live up to the hype or not, readers will pick them up just to stay up-to-date. Fuel is added to the fire when, despite the event’s quality, the buzz is the same. In fact, a bad event may get a bigger buzz than a good event. Even more confusion is added to the overall picture when the overall quality and the “universe-changing” merits of the event differ so much from one event to the next. Good or bad, the industry is currently being driven by events, with the quality or continuity of the event having absolutely no impact on the popularity of the phenomenon.

The Promise

I’m not completely demonizing events, tie-ins and crossovers. There have been some great stories told in the pages of a lot of events that I wouldn’t want to trade. But there is a fascinating dichotomy found within the entire scope of the trend, and I’m honestly not sure there is a way to stop the ball from rolling at this point. Readers won’t want to miss out long enough to persuade publishers to change their methods, and as long as publishers are raking in the event cash they aren’t likely to move away from the style. All we can really do as readers is sit back and hope that the publishers do more good than bad. That’s not much consolation, MemeI know, but readers have to realize that as much as they enjoy griping about comic events, that griping isn’t translating into lower sales for events overall. So really, it’s not the publishers we should be blaming, it’s ourselves. By all accounts and according to sales figures, they’re giving their base exactly what they are asking for, even though that base seems to be asking for the exact opposite. So, it’s not really them, it’s us, but there’s nothing we can really do to change things, because, deep down, we don’t actually want to change.