Archive for the ‘ Comics ’ Category

Checking In With DC’s “New 52” (Part 1)

Back in February, DC Comics’ “New 52” initiative reached its sixth month, and I reviewed all the series I was reading. Ten months later, it’s time to check in again.

From a branding standpoint, this continues to be a success. Almost all series have stuck to a reliable monthly schedule, and even though DC has cancelled several, they’ve added replacements to keep the focus on a consistent “52” rather than on the individual failures. This is much higher than the number of series that DC was publishing beforehand, and quite a few obscure characters have found success under this system.

From a creative point of view, the results are more mixed. Superhero comics are often hobbled by the attitude of “everything’s new, but don’t worry because we still have everything you used to love!” Once the newness of the first few issues faded away, it became obvious that few of the series actually had new ideas. I’m still reading more than I used to, since the monthly schedule and steady $3 price point (or $4 for extra-long titles) are much better than what Marvel is providing these days, but I doubt I would miss half of these if I stopped buying them.

September provided a perfect example of the challenges that come from mixing a corporate initiative with individual projects. The company put off the thirteenth issues of every series to provide a “zero month”, with stories from the past of each character. Some series had excellent issues that month, while others had an arbitrary interruption to their ongoing stories. It did attract attention (especially with the eye-catching covers that featured the heroes bursting through the image that was on their issue #1), but my interest still hasn’t returned since that bump in the momentum.

While I haven’t kept up on the worst of the series I reviewed back in February, I read at least the next few issues of most of them. I’m going to review all of those again over the next two days. Because there are so many, I plan on keeping these reviews especially brief, more like additions to the original reviews (which can be found by following the links in each heading). Later in the week, I’ll take closer looks at some of the series that have started since then.

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Webcomics Roundup for 2012

Look at that: It’s been more than a year since my last webcomics roundup. I guess I should probably stop pretending these are monthly. I don’t keep up on webcomics quite as obsessively as my other interests, so I will probably never be offering extensive thoughts that often. I do still read a lot, though, so I plan to keep offering updates from time to time. Here are thoughts on and links to some of the webcomics that I should have been talking about over the past year.

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Checking In With Marvel

The last time I reviewed the Marvel titles I was reading, I was concerned to see them raising prices and swapping artists around to squeeze out releases faster than once a month. Well, eight months later, with about twelve more issues for each series available, it’s obvious that this is the new trend. It’s disappointing to see a dominant comics publisher treat the medium like an assembly line instead of a collaborator between artist and writer. My Marvel purchases had already dwindled down to just a few favorite series, though, so it’s not enough of a problem to get me to drop those yet. I guess that makes my purchases a (questionable) victory for Marvel, though I have to imagine that the people who have been buying two or three times as much as me are being forced to cut back.

In fact, I’ve only been reading five comics set in the Marvel universe lately. Here are my reviews, with the rest of the discussion about Marvel news afterwards.

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Image Comics First Looks, Part 2

As promised, here is part two of my look at new ongoing Image comics. It is, of course, limited to only the ones that I chose to read, but with the sheer number of new series coming out from them, it would have to be limited in some way no matter what.

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Image Comics First Looks, Part 1

It’s been amazing to watch the resurgence in Image Comics in the past couple years. They’ve always been a well-regarded publisher, but Image went a long time with just a few hit series, and the rest of their catalog filled out with low-profile comics plagued by delays and cancellations. I suspect that a combination of factors helped them out: The contraction in the comics industry pushed most people out of the “independent” business, and Image is the only major publisher build around experimentation and creator rights. And despite that contraction, interest in comics as a medium beyond superheroes has been growing, with Image providing a safe, accessible gateway to that world. Whatever the reason, the number of small press titles I’m reading has dropped to an all-time low, while the Image ones keep increasing.

Also interestingly, many new Image titles are bucking the miniseries trend that has otherwise dominated comics outside of DC and Marvel. Plenty of Image series have become hits (Invincible, The Walking Dead, and even newer ones like Morning Glories), and it’s a path that other creators apparently want to follow.

In fact, I’ve started reading so many new Image series this year that I’ll need more than one First Look article to go through them all. Here is the first.

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Comic Capsule Reviews: Ongoing Indie Series

My recent comic reviews have focused mainly on “First Look” reviews of new series, and I’ve fallen behind on reviewing some existing ones. Here are my looks at the latest chapters of several independent (or at least non-superhero) ongoing series. Most of these are actually miniseries that pick up where earlier miniseries left off. That has become the trend for independent comics lately. Most people are unlikely to start reading unless they have a “#1” to reassure them on the cover of an issue, and the delay between miniseries also gives creators a chance to take a break for a few months, either to take on other work or to build a buffer on the next series.

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First Looks at New Vertigo Comics: Dominique Laveau and Saucer Country

Four months ago, DC’s Vertigo imprint launched four new comics. I’m not reading one of them (the Fables spin-off Fairest didn’t interest me, since I don’t read the main title), and New Deadwardians is a mini-series that I’ll review once it ends. (I’ll provide a spoiler, though: You should be checking it out.) The other two are ongoing, so it’s time for my first look reviews. The one I like will receive further reviews down the line. For the other one, this will have to be my final say.

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First Looks At New Comics: Rachel Rising, Snarked!, and Thief of Thieves

I’ve been reviewing different comic series in different ways. In many cases, I post a single review after the conclusion of a long mini-series or one that had run for only a few years. For longer-running ones, I might check in with a review every 12-24 issues. With mini-series and most ongoings, I group several together for “capsule reviews”. I like this system, even if my choices are sometimes arbitrary. (Why did I review The Unwritten after 24 issues and Morning Glories after 12? Why has Amazing Spider-Man received its own reviews while other Marvel comics are grouped together? Just because, I guess.)

There is one problem, though. It’s a lot of fun to discuss new series when they first come out. It’s also probably more valuable to my readers to talk about new comics while there’s still a chance to jump on board. Therefore, I’ve decided to start writing first looks at new series that I otherwise wouldn’t review for another year or two. (Of course, if it’s not very good, this may also be my last look at it.)

This will still be somewhat arbitrary. A twelve issue miniseries would get reviewed after it finishes, and most ongoing superhero comics will still get lumped into capsule reviews. I don’t always know how long a comic will run, so I may make the wrong decision about whether it needs a first look a few months in. But I’ll do it where it seems useful.

Here are my initial impressions of three non-superhero comics. With a children’s book, a horror story, and a crime drama, there’s something for everyone.

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Marvel Comics Capsule Reviews (And A Rant!)

After last month’s flurry of new DC reviews, it’s time to check in with Marvel comics. (Don’t worry: I plan to get to titles from other publishers in April.) In addition to the reviews, I also have some commentary at the bottom about the company’s apparent direction.

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New DC Comics, Part 7 – More Superheroes

It’s the end of February, and now the sixth issues have come out for all of DC’s new titles. I started out the month with some superhero titles that I was ready to review after issue #5. Here are the remaining ones.

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