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By The Numbers: January 2015

By The Numbers: January 2015

Welcome readers for the first article in a new series at Graphics Policy!  Like in any industry, comic books and their companies listen most to one thing and that’s your money!  What does your money tell them?  What does it tell us as fans?  What series do people say they adore but can’t seem to catch a break and what books to people hate that sell out?  What are the trends?  What looks good?  What looks rough?

All these questions and more will be answered here, every month in ‘By The Numbers’ by comic writers, editors and fans, Glenn Matchett and Ray Goldfield.

Glenn Matchett is a comic writer and editor.  He’s worked in the industry for 5 years but grew up reading comics.  He loves the format deeply and spends way too much time concerned that his favorite books will be cancelled.  He intends to use these articles to help as therapy for his OCD.  He also releases comics now and then and has a weekly column right here at Graphics Policy where he talks about whatever takes his fancy.

Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the Death of Superman. He is a writer and editor for GrayHaven Comics, in addition to his day job. He started out as a DC Zombie, but has broadened his tastes to Marvel and indie books in recent years. He follows the comic sales charts obsessively, primarily to cheer on Magneto’s steady hold each month.

All sales figures retrieved from ICv2.com

What Went Well

Glenn:  Well obviously the big debut and the big story this month is Marvel new Star Wars title which sold just over an astounding 985 thousand copies.  I don’t recall a Marvel book selling that well since the Obama, Amazing issue and I don’t think it did those kind of numbers right away.

This property is obviously back at Marvel who had in initially in the 70’s after being a solid backbone of Dark Horse for 20 years or so.  I don’t think the Dark Horse versions of the Star Wars comics ever broke 6 figures.  Why do you think that is here?

Ray:  I agree, this is just incredible. I think the Obama issue sold something in the 350K range, and that was a cultural event. This is probably the highest sales for any comic since the 90s. The big question, of course, is how it holds up from here, but the early rumors is that #2 sold over 200K. That would put it in a position to regularly be the top selling comic on the stands.

I think the big x-factor here is probably the sense of a new beginning. This is no longer expanded universe stuff, catering to an audience of die-hards following the complex continuity of the books and comics. This is the start of a new era, where the story of the original characters will continue in the movies. I think it felt much more important to the larger Star Wars fandom at large. I think the comic benefitted from that a lot, as well as the huge creative team and glut of variant covers, of course. It’s pretty much a perfect storm for massive success.

Another big success story for Marvel is Thor. This seems to be a rare case of a new status quo actually delivering a lasting sales change. The combination of buzz for the new female Thor and the continued excellence of the Aaron run has turned this into the second-highest selling Marvel Universe series, only behind Amazing Spider-man.

It’s a smaller-scale success, of course, but I feel like the debut of Jonathan Hickman’s The Dying and the Dead is noteworthy as well. Launching with 32K for a creator-owned book is pretty impressive in the superhero-dominated top 100.

I feel like the news is a bit more mixed for this month’s other four big Marvel debuts, though.

Glenn:  Yeah, it seems the big media push they gave the new Thor paid off.  This is likely why they have also decided to do a whole team of female Avenger’s.

It doesn’t seem like it’s paid off as well on the new Captain America but we’ll get there.

It seems like Hickman has now become a name that sells on its own.  I mean he’s been one of Marvel’s big names the last few years now, he actually made the Fantastic Four sell better than it has for like…years.  I’m not surprised his creator owned stuff would do well, he’s on the same level as Snyder who seemingly will get a big debut with Wytches.

Batman, Amazing and Walking Dead seem to be the reliable sellers for their respective companies.  It seems that concerns that Superior sales wouldn’t carry over to a Peter Parker led book but it seems those fears at least have been quelled but I’m sure Spider-Verse has helped there.

I think it should be noted that currently, Walking Dead is the cheapest book in the top ten and two of those books in the top ten were 4.99, which to me, could be a scary sign of things to come.

A new launch this month was Ant Man which debuted at number 7 with just over 70 thousand copies sold.  I’m not expected this to last up there, to be honest.   Even with the movie coming out.

Ray:  All-New Captain America did fall pretty hard right off the bat. I don’t think Remender’s style is really clicking with what the public expects a Cap comic to be, but this did make up for some of the slipping sales of the previous run. I think the timing of this run, with Sam Wilson debuting as Cap and then promptly being inverted to be evil, took a lot of the wind out of its sales.

Ant-Man debuted impressively for what it was, for sure. I think the critical acclaim might help it to keep some of its momentum, at least a bit longer than some books. It’s interesting that it debuted roughly in the same level as Uncanny Avengers, another big launch this month. I expect both of them to drop a good deal next month, just based on the pattern for Marvel relaunches lately.

One of Marvel’s most significant debuts this month was the weekly series “Wolverines“. This is their first foray into weeklies, as well as the first weekly comic priced at $3.99 besides the unconventional “Wednesday Comics“. It debuts in the top ten – and then promptly slips hard the same month, with #2 landing at #25 and out of the top 30 by #4. By the end of its first month – all ordered at the same time – it’s selling well below Batman: Eternal, which is almost a year in. If I was Marvel, I’d be pretty worried about what this looks like once orders get adjusted for the following months.

Glenn:  Well to me, since Brubaker left and really since Bucky stopped being Captain America, the book has struggled.  When you had Death Of Cap, obviously that was a big thing but then the book sold continuously well.  It just seems to be one of those nuts that overall are hard to crack, like Fantastic Four or Superman.  By all intents and purposes, those books SHOULD sell but for some reason or another they’re (at best) middle of the road.

Yeah no doubt.  I kind of made the joke that by killing Wolverine, Marvel have only made him stronger.  Overall they’re still coming out because instead of one Wolverine book that sells like 50-70 k or whatever, you have 4 so overall they’re ahead.

Squirrel Girl seems to have had a solid launch too for a D list (being generous) character.  Maybe because of her exposure on Bendis Avenger’s run but I think that’ll be short lived too.

One of the big surprises is having the Star Trek/Planet Of The Apes mini do so well.  I can’t remember what the Doctor Who crossover sold but I think this is a pretty solid debut.

Ray:  Squirrel Girl is a big question mark. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one is closer to the mark in terms of demand than some of the other debuts, and so it starts lower but might hold better. I assume Marvel is trying for the same audience that is buying Ms. Marvel, and it’s not a bad idea. Of course, next month will tell the tale.

I’m pretty sure that is a very impressive debut for a licensed comic. One factor that might have helped it is that it’s one of the seven books that were sold on New Year’s Eve. Those tend to be ordered heavily because casual readers might take a chance on them during an unusually small week.

Steady books/books in the middle

Ray:  The first thing I notice is that comedy is still doing well. Harley Quinn, of course, is probably the most surprising big hit out of DC in years, and is still hanging around just below the top ten. Not a surprise this creative team is getting a new book and a spin-off in June. And Rocket Raccoon is hanging around in the upper 30s, about 40 spots before the other Guardians spin-offs. I expect to see more of this type of book from the companies.

Wonder Woman had a brief peak when the Finches landed on the title, but now it’s selling at about the same level as the end of the Azzarello run with far weaker response. DC has to be a bit worried about that one.

I’m surprised SHIELD fell this far with its second issue, from a top ten debut. I’m less surprised by the drops for Angela and Spider-man & the X-men, as those two seemed like they were dropped with relatively little fanfare. It’s a bit surreal to see an Angela comic in the top 50 again, heh.

Glenn:  I actually thought that they might be looking at the people buying Harley Quinn, the success of that book may be the oddest thing to happen in years.

Wonder Woman will be definitely one to watch, I think.  I mean the Azzarello run wasn’t a best seller but it was extremely stable.  Putting Finch on will definitely keep those sales but like you said, the critical response has been less than generous.  If Finch can stay on schedule, it may be fine but its likely to face a creative overall after Convergence I’d say.

SHIELD is kind of something with a specific hook.  It’s a kind of fringe book that don’t tend to stay stable long at the big two.  It kind of makes you wonder that if the same premise and writer had been done at Image how it would have performed in the current market.

I think a lot of the success of ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ has to attributed to Jason Aaron, now he’s gone and they’re trying to shoe horn Spider-Man in, I think this is the kind of response the current comic market will give you.  I’m as big a Spidey fan as anyone but I’m not picking up this book, it seems to be a bit of a hail Mary to me.

A lot of indie/creator owned books seem to stabilize very quickly.  They might not do as big number as say Amazing or Batman but the audience seems more dedicated.  No one can overlook the success of Star Wars this month but as you said, its set to lose like 700 thousand sales in one issue.  It seems like most Image or Dark Horse or whoever books obviously launch a lot lower but suffer less of a drop.

Green Lantern and Green Arrow have both seen better days at DC but both are stable sellers.  Of course, we’ve found out recently that Green Arrow is set for another creative change which I believe is the 5th since the new 52 launch 3 years ago.

Ray:  I think it’s actually six creative changes. All but one of them (the acclaimed Lemire/Sorrentino run) have only lasted one arc. And that’s not counting Judd Winick’s one-off. This title has been in creative flux since moment one. With Green Lantern, I think this is sort of course correction after they lost their A-list creator in Johns. The line will be paring back to only three books come June, which seems like a smart move.

Looking at the other weeklies for DC, it’s a world between Eternal and these books. Futures End is sort of a mid-level performer, but World’s End is really sinking fast. It probably doesn’t help that the title lost its chief architect right before the weekly began, with Tom Taylor leaving the line.

I must say, I’m sad to see three of my favorite Bat-books, Gotham Academy, Gotham By Midnight, and the short-lived Arkham Manor sinking out of the top 100 so quickly. These are clever, unique books, but they don’t seem to be reaping the benefit that Bat-titles seem to get.

This is where we start to see a lot of lower-tier books from Marvel and DC that just aren’t finding their footing, unfortunately. And I think the fact that Hulk’s main title is selling scarcely 1K more than Magneto’s solo book is testament to the diminishing returns we’re seeing with Marvel’s frequent relaunches. I’m interested to see if Secret Wars and the likely relaunch that follows will turn this around, or if we’ll continue to see the huge starts and huge drops. Marvel has developed a strategy of using tons of variant covers and mainstream press to launch huge, but it doesn’t seem to be carrying over past the first month or two.

Glenn:  This to me presents two very big problems in this market at the moment.  Firstly, people say they want something a little different/off-beat but when they deliver, it doesn’t seem that the market indicates the demand.

The second problem is like you mentioned, diminishing returns.  Back in the day, a relaunch was a big, big deal but 30’s-50’s, especially in terms of Marvel are rare.  It just seems to be relaunch, boom, sink, relaunch and so on and so on.

The Danger Zone

Glenn: This may sound a bit random but I noticed Halo on the charts, near the bottom.  I remember when this property was a big deal at Marvel, it seems to have fallen in a major way.

Then again, outside of the monster hit that it was Star Wars, it seems a very bad time for properties in the industry.  A lot of them are scarping around the low end of 5 figures.  Most of them are even being outsold by creator owned.  It doesn’t seem that properties like Star Trek, Doctor Who, Tomb Raider and more have a place in today’s market.

It also looks to me that Constantine is now down to the level ‘Hellblazer’ was at during its Vertigo days.  It’s due for a rebranding following Convergence though.

I would think that Bucky would be performing better given the fact that this title is essentially a follow on from ‘Original Sin’ and he was in a movie a lot of people went to see.

Ray: I also forgot Marvel was even putting out Halo comics, to be honest. And outside of Star Wars, as you said, it seems very hard for licensed comics to get any traction. Besides that and the Star Trek/Apes crossover, the next one down is My Little Pony all the way at 119, and that’s clearly an unconventional mix of fanbases driving it. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the TMNT/Ghostbusters crossover are hanging around the mid-130s. It seems like there’s a lot of problems getting a significant portion of the original fan base to check out the comic.

Constantine fell to earth rather quickly. I’m not surprised they’re relaunching it – it was the lowest-selling un-cancelled DC book for a while, before the Earth 2 tie-in briefly boosted its sales. While the relaunch should help, I wonder if the character is just a bit too unconventional to sell to a wide superhero audience.

With Bucky’s book, I think this is just a mismatch of property and comic. Original Sin was rather poorly received, and it has an odd concept with Bucky in space fighting aliens. I think if they launched a spy comic starring the Winter Soldier that resembled the movie more, they might have done better.

Two comics that jump out at me are Klarion at 225 and Star-Spangled War Stories at 245. For main-line DC comics only a few issues in, that’s shocking. It’s interesting that DC’s experiments in unconventional, non-superhero comics like these are landing with such a thud, but they seem to be doubling down on this type of book with the June relaunch. What is their plan to make things like Prez, Doomed, Bizarro, and Omega Men succeed, when they’ve had such trouble recently?

Glenn:  I think they’re going to be looking to replicate the success they’ve had with Harley but to me, that might be lightning in a bottle.

Again, at least they’re trying new things, which is fans say they want but sales prove different.

It’ll be an interesting summer at both companies, for sure.

Coming up next month

Ray: Looking ahead to next month, it’s sort of the calm before the storm. Next month’s chart will have a few interesting points, though. We’ve got the launch of Grant Morrison’s first Image ongoing, The Nameless. Marvel is bringing us the next Star Wars launch in Darth Vader, plus the internet phenomenon of Spider-Gwen makes its ongoing debut. Those will probably be dueling for #1. There’s also the launch of Silk, a more controversial character that Marvel has a lot of faith in. It’ll be interesting to see how those books shake up the charts.

Glenn: It should be the debut of Wytches on the sales chart, I believe.  I think this one might be one of the big winners from the company.  You’re right though, the majority of books will be treading water sales wise until we get our annual huge shake up.  Most of the ones to watch next month will be the indie books.  I’m personally hoping that Nailbiter can gain a stronger following over time.  Once upon a time, Walking Dead was down that part of the charts too.

Enjoyed what you read?  Let us know and follow us on Twitter @glenn_matchett & @raygoldfield

 

 

 

 

Toy Stories (PLUS) – May 27th 2014

TEAMWORK! CO-OPERATION!

portal-bots-pkg

BFFs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pleasant little update from the good people over NECA toys this week. The looooooooooong awaited Portal 2: P-Body and Atlas figures are shipping out this week and should be arriving in stores very soon. I’ve been eagerly awaiting these two since they debuted at New York Toy Fair back in what seems like 1956. This pair have been a long time coming and from the new photos, they look to be worth the wait. They both feature LED lights, on themselves, as well as their portal devices (like the previously released Chell). These two will make a great addition to a Half Life or video game display. Keep your eye’s peeled.

650h-PBody

He’s the Ken

650h-Atlas

He’s the Ryu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for something a little different………..Thoughts on Toys.

capollonightwing

Designer

nighwing52

Standard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We know DC Collectibles has been making some great figures lately, and a wide variety of characters are getting a plastic doppelganger. It’s very rare that DCC will churn out a repeat character (unless that character is BATMAN) in a short time frame. That’s why Deathstroke never got a figure in the Identity Crisis line because of his earlier Teen Titans figure. This is going to change a little with Nightwing this year.

We’ve already seen the release of the “Designer Series” figure, but later this year DCC will release another Nightwing. Although each figure has some minor costume changes, and each is a different sculpt, they both represent the character at virtually the same point. There’s no battle damage from Forever Evil, the colour schemes are the same, as are the weapons. It just strikes me as odd that DC chose this route, with this character. Following Forever Evil “Nightwing” doesn’t even exist anymore and his book is simply called “Grayson” now. Both figures do have positive and negatives and I do appreciate the ability to choose a specific artist version of a character or a “standard” version. Will this be something we see from DCC and the Designer Series in the future?

Outside of re-releases (with new paint, and maybe a new head sculpt) DCC hasn’t released a duplicate figure. I enjoy the wide variety of figures being released as opposed the “crank out a Batman or Superman variation every 2 months“. I would like to see this continue. I for one will more than likely be getting the regular New52 version of Nightwing coming later this year. I just prefer the more slender sculpt on the body, even though the Designer Series head sculpt and white eyes are better. What are your thoughts? Comment below or cast you ballot of your preferred Nightwing.

 

Toy Stories – April 30th 2014

Prepare for Titanfall indeed. Leading up to the figures debut at Thailand Toy Expo, threezero brings a us a sneak-peek of their latest offering: Titanfall: Atlas

titan02

……..MECH!

titan01

Smokey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not a statue or small scale figure, this beast is nearly 21″ tall and articulated. The 6″ scale pilot will also be on display, but in a unpainted form. No word yet on a price point, but I’m thinking EXPENSIVE.

Mattel Toy Collector also dropped the word on some of their SDCC exclusives. First up is a Masters of the Universe Filmation coloured Hordak from She-Ra, a figure long requested by fans. The figure includes interchangeable arms, snap-on claw, staff and Imp sidekick. Pre-order or buy at the show and you’ll also get a bagged bonus item, the “Imp as a Treasure Chest” figure.

hordakimpchest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDCC will also be the place to finally pick up a Doomsday in containment suit from the now dead DCU Classics series. Coming in at over 9″ tall, this figure is scaled far better than the “Unleased Doomsday” from earlier in DCU Classics series. Doomsday comes packed in a special window box that will pay homage to Superman: The Man of Steel #18.

doom

Doom doom doom doom doom, doom doom do DOOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both figures will available for pre-order June 24, 2014 at MattyCollector.com for pick up at SDCC. For those of us unable to attend the show, the figures will be available for purchase at MattyCollector.com on August 5, 2014.

The year of the Bat continues

batpack

DC collectibles has released a rundown of their “Bat Family” of figures scheduled for release this year. If you’re a Batman fan or DC Collectibles…….collector, this is a handy little resource to chart the figures for the rest of the year.

There are a couple of items that up until now we didn’t know about. There is a  4-pack of Batman figures being released in both October and “the Fall” of 2014 to celebrate Batman’s 75th Anniversary. These box sets contain re-releases of older figures (presumably with new decos) and feature Batman as depicted by various artists in different mediums. Check em out:

AVAILABLE OCTOBER 2014

Batman 75th Anniversary Action Figure 4-Pack: Hush by Jim Lee, Batman Arkham Origins, New Frontier Darwyn Cooke and First Appearance by Bob Kane.

AVAILABLE FALL 2014

Batman 75th Anniversary Action Figure 4-Pack: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Justice by Alex Ross, Batman by Greg Capullo and Super-Friends Batman by Alex Toth.

These 4-packs give people the chance to add some harder to find figures to their collections, like the Jim Lee HUSH or Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT RETURNS Batman.

You can see the entire list at DC Collectibles.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here and I need it. I still haven’t recovered from San Diego Comic-Con. Here’s the news you might have missed.

Around the Blogs:

DC Women Kicking Ass – Stephanie Brown WASN’T Removed from Smallville Due to Iconism -This is what I’m hearing too.

IGN – Webb May Not Return for Amazing Spider-Man 2 -I’m kind of indifferent on this.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews:

CBR – Avengers Vs. X-Men #8

The Comics Journal – Batman: Earth One

CBR – Daredevil #15

Top Five Recently Canceled Series I Wish Were Still Being Published

Sorry haven’t posted in a while, but life has been getting in the way, but I should be back in the regular mix here at Graphic Policy from now on. My first post back is pretty straightforward, I’m going to take a look at five series that have ended recently that I wish were still going on. Not limited series, but ongoing series that have been canceled.

Honorable Mention: The Order, all of Marvel’s cosmic titles

OMAC 5. OMAC (8 issues, last in April 2012): OMAC wasn’t brilliant and it was, of course, little more than a tribute to Jack Kirby that hadn’t really been developed into anything of its own yet, but it had a lot of potential. Keith Giffen gave us art that was as true to Kirby as if Jack had done it himself. Dan DiDio was starting to establish an original character in Kevin Kho (the only Cambodian-American character in comics I know of) and there were a lot of Brother Eye stories to be told. Many crappier titles survived into the Second Wave of the New 52, hopefully we’ll see more from Kho, OMAC and Brother Eye again soon.

Heroes for Hire 4. Heroes for Hire (12 issues, last in November 2011): Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning showed us with this series that there are no small characters, just small stories and small writers. Misty Knight and Paladin were turned into compelling and entertaining characters in a way they rarely have been in the past. The first issue of this series, with its shout-out to The Warriors, remains one of the best first issues of any series I’ve ever read. Luckily we got to see the story continued in Spider Island and Villains for Hire, but with the team having no current home, I worry that we won’t be seeing them as much.

28 Days Later 3. 28 Days Later (24 issues, last in June 2011): In the days when zombie comics are rightfully dominated by The Walking Dead and wrongfully imitated by dozens of inferior titles, 28 Days Later was one of the few non-Robert Kirkman series that actually added something to the genre. Every issue started with a brilliant cover (most of the recent ones by Sean Phillips), continued with solid interior art by Alejandro Aragon and top-notch storytelling by Michael Alan Nelson. Following in the footsteps of the first movie, the series was always compelling and gave us a look at the aftermath of the British zombie outbreak that broke new ground in a well-worn genre. The comic did the same.

SWORD 2. SWORD (5 issues, last in March 2010): SWORD is exactly what I’m looking for when I pick up comics. It was one of the smartest comics on the shelf, fast-paced, funny, filled with references and jokes that you don’t need to know, but if you do they add layers to the story, action-packed, and consistently awesome. It featured a strong female lead who could’ve developed into one of Marvel’s better characters and introduced us to one of the more intriguing characters to come along in years in the Unit. Luckily, we’re still seeing flashes of these characters and SWORD in X-Men comics, but it’s sad, that from what I understand, the comic was never really given a chance. Keiron Gillen gets most of the credit for how great this comic was.

Secret Warriors 1. Secret Warriors (28 issues, last in September 2011): Secret Warriors beats out SWORD, to me, because, while SWORD is exactly what I come to comics to find, Secret Warriors consistently surprised me. It was way better than I expected and it brought to my attention things I wouldn’t have otherwise read or thought about. It also had better art than SWORD. Another series with consistently brilliant covers and superior art by the likes of Allesandro Viti and Stefano Caselli (among others), the comic clearly had its own visual style and it was better than most of what was on the market. On top of that, the writing was even better. Originally a Brian Michael Bendis project and later taken over by Jonathan Hickman, the comic delved into the espionage side of the Marvel Universe, particularly the ongoing tale of Nick Fury, better than it has been done in decades. I’m not even that big a fan of Fury and the espionage stuff. Well, I wasn’t until this series. The only thing that still touches on this stuff in a good way are the ongoing Captain America and Secret Avengers titles, but neither of them is as consistently good (and shocking) as Secret Warriors was.

Around the Tubes

It’s a new week and C2E2 is over.  Any announcements folks are excited about?

Around the Blogs:

IGN – C2E2: Marvel Reveals Ultimate Universe Event - Should be interesting.

MTV Geek – C2E2 2012: Avengers Vs. X-Men Panel Brings The Fight To ChicagoDoesn’t this event cover all the cons?

MTV Geek – C2E2 2012: Did DC’s “All Access: Before Watchmen” Panel Have Fans Saying “Hurm,” or “Hurm!”Still not sure what to think.

CBR – C2E2: Jhonen Vasquez Talks Johnny, Zim & MoreI want more Johnny!

CBR – C2E2: Tom Morello on “Orchid,” Music & PoliticsOne of the people I’d love to interview.

Bleeding Cool – ComiXology At C2E2: Alex De Campi, A Digital PioneerSome good hints as to what to expect.

Comics Alliance – Marvel’s Sunday at C2E2: ‘Thor’ Crossover with ‘Journey into Mystery,’ McKelvie on ‘Defenders’ - Lots of Marvel news during this con.

The Death and Return of Superman

This got me laughing out loud and really does sum up the idiocy of the Death of Superman storyline.

The film by Max Landis also stars Elden Henson, Elijah Wood, Mandy Moore, Morgan Krantz and many more.

Around the Tubes

Did you stay up all night to watch the Iowa Caucus results!?  Ok, that might have just been me… well, here’s the comic book news you might have missed.

Around the Blogs:

Bleeding Cool – The Goon Dies, Relaunches, Turns Gay, Racebends, Gets Religion And Goes Socialist In An Attempt To Get Your Hard Earned DollarToo funny not to link to.

The Beat – DC’s red hood lady gets a name: PandoraLike the music streaming service?

CBLDF – ACLU Asks Missouri Library to Stop Censoring Websites – Yay!

MTV Geek – B-List Breakouts: 12 Characters Primed for the Spotlight In 2012 – Not sure all these are really B-list.

The Wall Street Journal – Tibet Goes KABOOM! – An article covering the “Hero, Villain, Yeti” exhibit.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews:

Swamp of Boredom – The Unwritten Volumes 2, 3 & 4

Best Comics of 2011

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means we’re doing our “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2011. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2010, though some are from earlier times and we got around to reading them. Keep in mind, this is what I have read.  If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

Best Super Hero Comic – Daredevil

Daredevil #1 CoverDaredevil has had an interesting 2011, we started with Shadowland and then got Matt Murdock finding himself and then a relaunched back to basic series written by Mark Waid with art by Paolo RiveraShadowland wasn’t too bad, a bit uneven, but as a whole Marvel had issues with this year’s events.  Seeing Murdock corrupt and the emotion from his friends was an interesting read.  After you had Murdock wandering the country in short mini-series followed up by the relaunch.

It’s that relaunch that makes Daredevil stick out in my mind.  It’s a comic I look forward to reading each month.  Waid has given it a pulp action feel like classic Green Hornet or the Shadow and Rivera’s art is fantastic.  The comic is just fun to read.  On top of Waid’s take, Daredevil is now an Avenger and each of his brief appearances so far has enhanced that series.  When you show up in an ensemble comic and steal the show, that says something.

Waid has set up a lot going into 2012, can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Runner Ups – Moon Knight, Uncanny X-Force, Aquaman

Best Non-Super Hero Comic -DMZ

DMZ 50Is there a more politically relevant comic book series out there? Every month we’re given something to think about as we follow Matty Roth through Manhattan which is now a DMZ in the middle of the second American Civil War.

Writer Brian Wood is able to pivot and comment on what’s currently happening in politics and the world challenging our perceptions and not seem preachy at the same time.

With some single issues that stand as some of the best of the year and numerous holy shit moments, this isn’t just one of the most relevant comics out there, but some of the best political commentary of any entertainment medium.  Fittingly, this final week also brought us the final issue of the series, a perfect way to end the year.

Runner Ups – American Vampire, Chew, The Walking Dead

Best Limited Series or One Shot – Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent

Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent #1Really, just sign me up for whatever Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips have in store.  This latest volume of their crime/noir series from Marvel/Icon gave us a shit-head of a main character and kept us on our toes as to what to expect.  Sean Philips also showed us something new by changing up the art style every so often.

These two are one of the best teams in comic books today.  Early 2012 brings us Fatale from them to be published by Image which is more horror/noir.  Hopefully we’ll be seeing another volume of this series as well.

I’m a huge fan up pulp/noir comics, and this is the gold standard by which all others are judged.  Just fantastic.

Runner Ups – Critical Millennium, Severed, 27: Second Set

Best Single Issue – Transformers #22 and #23

Transformers #23 CoverTechnically it’s two issues, but the story is spread out between the two issues and either stands out as the best.  On top of that Transformers: The Death of Optimus Prime reflects on what’s discussed in these issues as well.  Megatron is captured and the two issues reflect on his and Optimus’ past and how they became who they are.  Flash forward to the present and the two leaders debate politics and motives.  It’s an adult discussion coming from two giant robots.

DMZ might have been “the” political discussion of the year, but these two issues I just didn’t expect it from.  Absolutely fantastic and enough to give me pause and make me think.

What’s the difference between a terrorist and freedom fighter?  Find out in these issues.

Worst Single Issue of the Year – Holy Terror

Just a holy piece of crap.  This is up there as one of the worst things I’ve ever read.  The graphic novel by legend Frank miller is racist, xenophobic, sexist and horribly written.  Can’t believe we’ve waited so long to read it.

Runner Ups - The Infinite (any issue)

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – Green River Killer

Green River Killer A True Detective StoryDark Horse’s Green River Killer is a true-crime story focused on the Green River serial killings.  The writer was close to the subject, as his father was one of the lead detectives.  The story has multiple layers, looking at how families were affected, the struggles the police went through and at the end, why the killer did what he did.

The graphic novel is haunting.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it for many days it was that disturbing and unsettling.  The art is good, but it’s the story that gets you.  The whole time you’re wondering how they’re going to solve this, but also why is this happening.

Add in the fact this is a true story.  It’s a disturbing true story.  Being able to get some of the behind the scenes to a story I only know from newspapers and the nightly news, just adds more to it all.

Runner Ups - Any Empire, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand

Best Event of the Year – Uncanny X-Force: The Dark Angel Saga

Uncanny X-Force #18 Teaser 1I’m counting this as an event, though it’s really a long story arc.  Rick Remender has put together the best “X” book put out by Marvel.  This event which saw the rise of a new Apocalypse in the form of Archangel and X-Force is all that stands in the way between him and world destruction.

Diving into “X” lore with trips to the Age of Apocalypse universe, this was a story for the hard core “X” fans.  But, more than that, everything was thrown into it.  You had no idea what was going to come next and what to expect.

It wasn’t until I finally read the last issue that I know the ending, that’s how much of a big question mark Remender gave us.  The follow as well was fantastic as why characters did what they did and a new status-quo and direction were set.

Runner Ups - Artifacts, Flashpoint

Best Genre of the Year – Horror

Horror was where it was at this year with DC folding in some Vertigo books and some great limited series like Severed.  Animal Man, Swamp Thing, I, Vampire, B.P.R.D. and more lead the way to dethroning last year’s winner, a bunch of shuffling zombies (though that’s also horror in a way).  I’ve never been creeped out more and enjoyed it as much.

Runner Up – Steampunk, Zombie

Best Comic Tie-In of the Year – Batman: Arkham City

I enjoy a video game or two (dozen).  One of the best video games of the year, not just comic book tie-ins was Batman: Arkham City which just brought more of the brawler game.  There’s a reason many are naming this as one of the best video games of the year and it’s sold so well.  It’s that damn good.

The downloadable material which seems to be coming as a steady flow, the fact you can play as so many characters, that all adds up to a comic book experience you can control.  Add in amazing graphics, game play and there you have it, it’s a must buy video game.

Runner Up – Marvel Universe toys, DC Universe Super Heroes Legos

Best Comic Book Related Movie – Thor

Marvel Studios Thor PosterThis year’s crop of comic book related movies wasn’t as amazing as I’d hope, but it’s a solid bunch.  Marvel’s batch as what stood out and all three really deserve to share the honors.  Each was excellent and flawed in their own ways, but out of the three Thor holds up best.

The story is pretty standard, didn’t really challenge me at all, but the visuals and Chris Hemsworth’s acting is what really makes it all stand out.  The flaws also are the least of the bunch with only the final fight between Thor and the Destroyer really bothering me.

Out of the bunch, this was also the highest grossing, showing it wasn’t just me that liked it.

Runner Ups – Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: First Class

Best Surprise of the Year – DC New 52

DC ComicsThis is a mixed one as DC’s relaunch is also a disappointment, but I’ll address it all here.  DC made a bold move this year to shake up their sagging line of comic books by starting from the beginning and relaunching the entire line.  It was gutsy.  On top of that, their digital initiative was bold.

The story that lead up to it all, Flashpoint, was pretty damn good and what came out of it as well.  I took a chance on all fifty-two issues and came away with giving half of them a chance for the second issue.  From there, I made further cuts, but today, I’m reading more comics from DC than I ever have and their higher volumes they’re selling that the initiative has worked for the short term.

The disappointing part is that they didn’t go far enough.  The comics were pretty standard and we didn’t get anything out of the box.  There also was a clear audience, adolescent males (or men stuck in their adolescence).  While we saw more advertising to the general public, we haven’t seen a sustained campaign.  For all their gains in 2011, I think we’ll see a good chunk of it erode in 2012.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Marvel Events

Marvel ComicsFear Itself and it’s follow up were and are bad.  X-Men: Schism was ok, but much better than what was before.  Shadowland was uneven.  Marvel has been having some issues when it comes to their events.  I won’t call it overall event fatigue in the industry as others have put out quality and showed what works.

Too many tie-ins, stories not thought out and gimmicky tricks paved the way to a substandard experience.

Marvel relied on the tired gimmick of death, killing the Ultimate Spider-Man, Bucky, the Human Torch and more, that all made headlines but some of it is already undone.  There’s only so many times you can call death before the masses catch on and shrugs their shoulders.

Already we’re heading into more events at Marvel in 2012, here’s hoping there’s some improvement.

Runner Up – Green Lantern (movie), DCnU

Best Character – Moon Knight

Moon Knight #1 CoverMoon Knight has always been a character that’s intrigued me.  Brian Michael Bendis, along with amazing art by Alex Maleev, have given us a new series that really looks at the many personalities of Marc Spector.  The new series really has fun with the idea having Moon Knight drawing upon his personalities at different points.

Moon Knight is the psychotic Batman, a super hero struggling with mental illness.  But is he really suffering from it?  And should it be this much enjoyable to read?

Publisher of the Year – Archaia

ArchaiaArchaia received the honor last year as well, so let me really explain my logic here.  Lets start with the big two, Marvel and DC.  Marvel’s line has suffered in 2011, they’re out.  DC made a bold choice, but four months letter, it all feels empty.  There’s quality, but there’s also a lot that just doesn’t excite.

BOOM! made it’s case towards the end of the year with some great original series, along with some on-goings that continue to show off their quality.  Add in a lot of licensed comics and they’ve got a line that has something for everyone.  There were also some busts, but they’ve got a great line of comics.  Image Comics, for all the quality also has some major duds.  Inconsistency is the issue, but their quality is some of the best out there.

Dark Horse has some amazing comics.  A lot of big name licenses and some good original, but there’s a lot of series I read and just didn’t interest me.  Their quality though is up there.  If your a Star Wars or Buffy fan too, they put out excellent product.  Then we come to IDW Publishing.  A lot of license there too, and also a lot of original material.  Each week I see their new releases, I get excited, as a whole, I’m probably interested in more of their monthly comics percentage wise than any other publisher, and it’s all excellent.

And the big winner is Archaia.  I should start with the presentation of the books.  Beautiful covers and packaging is the first thing that sticks out.  Their entire line of graphic novels are beautiful to look at on a shelf.  Then there’s what’s in between those fancy covers.  The variety of the books and quality is unmatched.  I can find something for everyone and hand out one of their series or a graphic novel and know I’m good with my choice.  All of what I read was good to great and much challenges story telling and comic book visuals.

Licensed books, original books, it’s all here.  And it’s amazing.  There’s comics for kids and adults and books kids and adults will love together.  Books from the US and Europe, we have different styles and perspectives, it’s like the publisher goes out of it’s way to present choice and variety.  And it’s all good.

I said it last year and it still holds true this year, when I think Archaia, I think high quality and expect the best.  They continue to not let me down.

Runner Up – IDW Publishing

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