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Comics: The Commentary Track for the February 9th Buy Pile

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, buy pile, dc, marvel, randomness, ranting, writing on February 12th, 2011 by Hannibal Tabu
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Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

PACE YOURSELF: Lots of times I read comics that either have too much happening or too little. It’s a tough balance to get right — in my own fiction writing, I’d wager I get it wrong a decent percentage of the time (especially on first drafts). With both physical storage space and cost issues (and I’m gonna discuss that in a sec), I try to be selective in my purchasing and that means making some weird and idiosyncratic decisions. When I “buy on sight” a title, I consider its moments of balance to be proportionately more than it’s moments of inbalance. I don’t think that’s unfair.

Let’s be specific here: X-Factor #215 was a “not enough” case. Here come the [SPOILERS]

Still hanging on?

So Layla (who may or may not know what’s gonna happen before it does, she may have caught up to herself with a weird time loop paradox thing) and Jamie take the case of an African immigrant whose rich father was killed by what looks like a vampire (in the 616 universe, that’s not even considered that weird). Yes, “vampires” are on my list of things that bore me (along with Nazis, zombies and pirates). They talk to the client, another Jamie talks to the suspect (stepmother) … and they talk to each other for a few pages. Interesting chat? Sure. Pushing the plot? Not so much. The character work here reinforces what we know about these two already. This is “not enough” to justify the purchase, since I believe the team has been drifting without purpose (private detective work has been inconsistent) despite loving, loving, loving the talent of Peter A. David (who was also very gracious and helpful when I met him).

How about “too much?” Lessee here … how about Fabian Nicieza’s “Red Robin” #20 (another really nice person, we’ve traded emails). On one side, Red Robin — who’s turning out to be one of the real contenders in unarmed combat as far as the DCU goes — squares off against Catman. When Catman went against Bronze Tiger, it was an epic battle. Here? Catman’s got appointments to make, he’s just on the job and redirects Tim Drake with a feint, putting Lucius Fox’s daughter Tam in danger and getting away while the hero has to make a choice. Okay. Then, there’s this mad hunt to stop the Calculator’s countermeasures from killing people, and that turns out to be a geography lesson with detective work, undercover work and a guest appearance by the Teen Titans. Way too many characters on panel (Ravager gets short shirted, some “senior” Titans didn’t even show, making it more like a Young Justice reunion), the Calculator’s game is very thinly explained, too many scene settings and overall it just seems like juggling before returning to a kind of status quo. That’s too much happening that doesn’t really accomplish anything. Calculator can’t be stopped by these guys, and he probably won’t whack any important licensed properties (outside of her damsel in distress bit, we don’t know much about Tam Fox as a character anyway), so it’s just musical chairs without anybody taking anything away.

Both of these examples are titles I’ve purchased before from creators I’ve praised before (David’s Incredible Hulk and Nicieza’s Thunderbolts I believe were seminal works), so there’s no personal beef in saying this issue didn’t get it done. The rules are simple — three buys in a row = “buy on sight” until there’s three misses in a row. Hope that clears things up there, for all the people who say I “hate everything.”

PLUG IN, SON, GET CONNECTED: I checked out two new pieces on Diamond Comics Distributors’ new plan for in-store digital sales, to try and serve two masters (keep brick-and-mortar retailers happy while sticking a toe in this digital content distribution model). The official stance from Diamond’s Dave Bowen at The Beat talks about the mechanism of the project …

The retailer will login using their Diamond retailer login and be presented with the opportunity to create store-specific, item-specific codes in whatever quantities they need. Then we’ll use some approved cryptographically secure method to generate random codes for the retailer to use. And we’ll format those in a PDF which they can then print out. Likely what will happen is, it’ll print easily on Avery 30-up laser labels. So what you have is a sheet of Avery laser labels with a bunch of different books and codes on individual labels. In that case the retailer takes that material and secures it and then when someone wants Transformers #16 they simply ring the sale and give the label or sticker or cut-out to the consumer. We have some idea for a card that would allow you to do aggregate purchases and stick a bunch on there. But we’re looking for retailer input before we design that piece of the point of purchase materials. We think something like that would be necessary.

It’s really very simple. Then the consumer that has that code, which is live, they could literally step out of the line, pull out their iphone or ipad or whatever other device and redeem the code and begin reading the material.

However, this guy Todd at Indignant Online has some other ideas

Is the Digital Market the Direct Market? … # Is This Cannibalization Unto Itself? … And If the Digital Consumer Isn’t Already in the DM… A Monopoly? In Comics? Surely Not … How Many Platforms Does This Work On? … Are You Sure This Is Effective Outreach? … The Format Problem Nobody Wants To Discuss … I Hope This Company is Healthy

… and he threatened that he could have dropped 5K-10K words on what’s wrong, but he was trying to hold back.

Me? Well … if I could spend, say, a buck less per comic and avoid the ever-growing storage problem I have, I’d be less touchy about things. I would buy more. That’s just true, especially since I’m debating tablets right now. I would like to buy more, even though I’m not inclined to spend more. Following this story with some interest, as I would be happy to buy some Honorable Mentions digitally while I’m at Comics Ink, helping take care of the retailer who’s done so much to take care of me.

THAT’S THE NEWS, AND I AM OUTTA HERE: I’ve gotta go rain down the wrath of MFin’ god on somebody at my job, so moving on …

Playing (Music):DJ Felli Fel’s New @ 2 mix on Power 106

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Comics: Commentary Track for the September 15th Buy Pile

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, black panther, blame society, buy pile, comics, comics reviews, dc, entertainment, g.i. joe, wackness, wakanda on September 16th, 2010 by Hannibal Tabu
buy pile commentary track header image

Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

Okay, what do we have here …

CRIMSON: I’ve gotta say, I’m officially interested in the movie adaptation of Red.

I can’t find my original reviews (“Red” is too common a term, even with my name, to Google properly on the amount of sleep I’ve had), but suffice it to say that the humorous tone here is a far cry from the gritty, murderous Jack Bauer-ishness of the original miniseries with Cully Hamner on art. While I would have enjoyed seeing that, I could just watch The Bourne Ultimatum or something for fast chases and close cropped action and what not. This takes Warren’s original idea and makes it a whole different thing, which I’m interested in too without taking anything away from the original work (unlike, say, V for Vendetta which was one of comics’ finest accomplishments and such an abomination on the silver screen that we shall never speak of it again). This makes an arguably new idea.

“Are you mad that Warren didn’t do it that way?” Heck no. Why? I’ve already got more Red comics on stands than the original run of the mini, and two of ‘em are excellent (one is virtually sublime, the “Joe” special I bought this week). Warren Ellis doesn’t do funny that way — if Giffen and DeMatteis had showed up for it, well, that might do. Honestly, I think Greg Rucka, Christopher J. Priest or Gail Simone could have done okay too.

That said, these books have me hyped for the movie, which could only be more excellent if it had some ridiculous level of “blow ‘em up” added to the already amusing concept. I just hope the script and on screen chemistry doesn’t fall apart.

WHAT’S THE STORY, MORNING GLORIES? I can see the appeal of Morning Glories, can see certain types of readers (Runaways fans, I’d wager, but maybe some Phonogram or Blue Monday types too … what, I’m not just some superhero fanboy, I am aware of other stuff) who could glom on to this. I am almost there, but I need either a stronger sense of the characters (maybe too many of ‘em) or much tighter plotting. I like the expanding of the media and opening up to stories of this sort, but I think an editor could tighten the story a bit. To be honest, I feel the same about Mystery Society, which I’d love to love rather than just have a passing interest in, as I do now.

CHOOSE JOY: I’m trying to avoid talking about some of the crappy comics this week — really, Black Manta and “Deathstorm?” — because life’s too short. I will make one note from my mobile blog that’s been irking me since I saw the announcement that T’Challa would become “Black Panther: The Man Without Fear” …

For thousands of years, through the entirety of the colonial period, Wakanda remained isolated, strong, advanced and free. T’chaka gets friendly with Steve Rogers, his son opens the nation to the world … and down goes the greatest civilization in Marvel history, now dependent on “foreign aid” and charity to maintain their society after throwing away their greatest cultural heritage to try and toughen the nation up. Reminder: never been conquered (and not for lack of trying). It’s like Chuck Norris saying, “You know, I’ve had it too easy … I’m gonna chop off my hands and feet, so I can find out how to really be tough.” OR YOU COULD KEEP YOUR ADVANTAGES YOU WORKED SO HARD TO MAINTAIN, MORON!

I’m so upset about this … until I remember it was a creation of one white man and torn down by another (not just Doom, I’m looking at Jonathan Maberry too). Screw this noise …

They have no idea they’ve even taken anything from anyone. Amazing.

So there’s that (and the jury’s still out). Back to the good stuff …

ODDS AND ENDS: Let’s close this down, stuff to do …

  • I think the recent Rawhide Kid series would have made a great novella. I can see it opening up the western genre in a whole different way. As pamphlets it felt thin and ended weakly, maybe a collected read will go better. Not like I’ll ever know, but still …
  • I think X-Factor needs more Vegas. I liked Deadpool’s recent trip there, I kind of liked when the Initiative runaway was hyping Hydra there, Bruce Banner had a fine old time there for a while … heck, I think Vegas would be a good town for Madrox and his gang. Besides, how many ongoing comics are focused on Vegas? (I seriously don’t know) How awesome would that be? Who’s with me? Vegas or bust for X-factor, which was getting a little emo in New York (which is too jam packed with capes and masks anyway)!
  • Drifting a little there, G.I. Joe: Cobra 2. Let’s stay on target, y’all.
  • Yes, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors answered some questions … but not in a way that made the story compelling. Sorry.
  • We discovered that if the Hulk just calmly said things, it was pretty funny. We somehow envisioned Hiro-Kala, Skaar and Hulk running into Logan, Daken and X-23 at a park or something, and things went downhill from there between store clerk Quislet and Tax Hitler (also known as Senor Sidekick). The phrases, “Hulk not best father” (admitting that his three marriages and two instances of being a deadbeat dad were proven) and “Hulk have talk” (when finding out that Hiro-Kala tried to defile X-23) are still cracking me up today. Made me miss Hulk’s blog to be honest (written by CBR reviewer and all around bon vivant Kevin Church).

Tabu out. Keep it movin’, y’all …

Playing (Music): “Airplanes” by B.O.B. feat. Hayley Williams

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