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Fan Expo Interviews: Meredith and David Finch

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  David and Meredith Finch have had a pretty exciting year go by, having worked on some big names in the industry as well as some less heralded endeavors that were pretty awesome as well.  We got a chance to talk with them about their past year and what to expect in Toronto

finch002Graphic Policy:  You two have had a pretty busy year, between taking over the creative control of Wonder Woman, working on parts of the Darkseid War, and some indie successes with Zenescope’s Little Mermaid.  What were your own highlights?

Meredith Finch:  November 2014 saw our first issue of Wonder Woman hit the stands.  I have to say that was a highlight for me.  We worked so hard on the book for so many months beforehand, it was nice to finally see that come to fruition.

David Finch:  I just worry about putting out the best work I can, and I’ve been very lucky this year to start working with Jonathan Glapion, and Brad Anderson.  They’ve taken my work to another level.  I’ve had the chance to control the panel flow and pacing with Wonder Woman, and that’s been very gratifying.

GP:  On the subject of the Little Mermaid, fairy tales have become a pretty big genre in comics in recent years, but why haven’t they made their way into the mainstream superhero comics yet?

MF:  I think that we don’t see more traditional fairy tale characters in mainstream superhero comics because a superhero comic is, in and of itself, a fantasy.  Our ancestors told fairytales to explain things that were seemingly magical or to provide a moral foundation for childhood behavior.  We use mainstream superhero comics in much the same way.   So I guess I would consider superhero comics much more a modern day extension of fairytales rather than something that excludes them.

finch003GP:  The Darkseid War is a pretty big deal for the Justice League, but its scope is also a lot different, focusing on epic moves.  Do you prefer this kind of epic approach, or something more like Wonder Woman which focuses more on one character and her own character development?

MF:  I love that there is a place for both to exist in the industry.  I think that it’s obvious based on what we are doing how much I love developing a character.  Perhaps as I get more experienced I’d be more inclined to take on a more epic project like Darkseid War, but there aren’t many people out there who can bring to the table the storytelling finesse of Geoff Johns.

DF:  I go back and forth on this one.  I really enjoy single character books because I can really explore and get to know them, but the big expansive books are a blast too.  I have a tough time getting bored when I’ve got lots of varied things to draw, and crossovers are great that way.

GP:  You were recently involved in a costume redesign for Wonder Woman, but costume redesigns for characters are often not well received by the fans.  Why do you think that this is?  And what did you do to counteract it?

MF:  Comics used to be a very new and innovative artistic medium.  I feel like today it is much harder to overcome the sense of nostalgia that is attached to characters and the costumes they have been wearing for decades.

DF:  The costume was very well received from what I saw.  I don’t worry about counteracting negativity.  I especially enjoy working with writers that are fearless in the face of that stuff.  Trying to make everyone happy is a great way to put out boring books.  

finch004GP:  Wonder Woman and the Little Mermaid are interesting in that they have so much pre-established history in terms of what is known about them.  How do you approach beloved characters like this to put your own spin on them?  Do you research them a lot?

MF:  I do as much research as I feel is necessary to understand who and what the characters mean to me.  I definitely was heavily influenced by Disney’s Little Mermaid character.  I love that movie.  But I also wanted to be true to Zenescope’s vision of who and what the character was.  It helped that their Little Mermaid has a monster lurking inside of her.  With Wonder Woman I mainly focused on Brian and Cliff’s run.  They really defined who and what the character was for the new 52 and I let that be my major influence.

GP:  On the same topic, how do you approach characters that are based in a different era, as both the Little Mermaid and Wonder Woman have elements in their background which could seem to be almost anachronistic in the modern day?

MF:  I really try to keep my focus for my story primarily on the women themselves.  Everything else is just a tool to be used as necessary to me.  I do however, think that the fact that both characters have anachronistic elements to their story is part of what I find so appealing.  It helps with the whole fish out of water feeling that we all can relate to.

DF:  Great concepts are timeless, and I think both characters have that going for them.  Then the trick is focusing on the elements of the concept that relate to our times.  

finch005GP:  Do you think that there is a shift underway in the presentation of female comic characters?

MF:  I think you would have to have your head under a rock these days to not be aware of the major shifts that are happening today in comics as they relate to female characters and the creators behind them.  Woman represent almost 50% of the industry now and they are definitely demanding equal representation in the medium.

DF:  Absolutely.  Women are embracing comics in greater numbers lately, both as readers, and as creators.   That’s having a big impact on female character portrayal across the board.

GP:  Do you ever find yourself liking a particular character more after being exposed to them?

MF:  As a writer… absolutely.  The more I have time to delve into a character and what makes them tick, the better I get to know them, the more attached I become.  Right now, Wonder Woman and her cast feel almost as much like family as my real kids.  I love having the opportunity to shape who and what they will become.

DF:  The better written the character, the more engaged I am with them.  That just makes sense, I guess.  I do find it can take me a while to understand what I character is about, but once I do, I’m rolling.

GP:  What are you looking forward to at FanExpo 2015?

MF:  Canadian fans are the best.  I can say that because I’m Canadian.  There is such a great energy to the Toronto show.  The only shows that come close to that type of energy are San Diego and NYCC.  See you soon Toronto!

DF:  I’m looking forward to the fans.  That sounds like a pr kind of answer, I know, but Toronto has a great core of comic fans, and I see lots of familiar faces every year.  

Review: Aquaman #43

am043car Aquaman has been by tradition a hard hero to handle.  Although he has his fans, the character is one that has been marginalized and even ridiculed because of his appearance, his adventures and even his powers.  Of course, those that do so are usually just looking for an easy punchline and not actually invested in his stories, or even fans of comics for that matter.  All of this changed with the new 52 as Aquaman was given a new spin, a new respectability that made him far more mainstream than he had ever been.  Gone were most of the jokes at his expense, and the diehard Aquaman fans finally got a chance for a few “I told you so” moments as their favorite hero gained the spotlight under Geoff Johns.  The problem with Geoff Johns approach is that it was a step above and beyond recognizing the hero as something more than what he was, and separating him from all of the same problems that defined him as a niche hero for so long.

Under the new direction of writer Cullen Bunn it would seem as though the same missteps are being revisited.  Gone are the solo adventures of Arthur, and returned seems to be the same old script.  Arthur is king of Atlantis but cannot rule it.  Mera loves him, but is forced to hate him as well for reasons beyond her control.  Arthur is off on his own adventures without the support of any help … and so on.  This issue contains much of the same, and for those who are not diehard fans of the character it is easy to see why many would not be interested much in the series anymore.  There is a temporary alliance with his enemies, and a decent battle but not much else, save for the twist at the end.

It is the ending which actually gives this some hope.  Although this is told in a somewhat confusing manner at times between the “Then” and “Now” it still manages to give a glimpse of what Cullen Bunn might be capable of here.  After it should not be expected that he write exactly like Johns, and there are glimpses of him doing right by this series, even if his introduction to it is a lot of what has been seen before.  For the moment, it is worth a chance and worth a look, although it could still really go either way.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Trevor McCarthy
Story: 7.6 Art: 7.6 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

 

Review: Justice League #43

jl043In the past several years at DC Comics, Geoff Johns undeniably has been behind some of the biggest successes.  Although the big event crossovers that he has led have tended to focus around the Green Lantern Corps during his run on those titles, with the relaunch of DC into the new 52 his interest has lain with the Justice League and its main collection of DC’s most popular and most powerful heroes.  That having been said though, that while Johns’ work has led to some of the best 5-star epic story lines, that they are not necessarily always extremely original.  After all, when his formula works it doesn’t need too much to make it work elsewhere as long as the players and the stories underneath are different.  Such is the case with Justice League, with such an impressive collection of characters to work with that have been assembled in this book, it makes sense to throw them all together in a way which will be for a big flashy story.  So far Darkseid War has worked at that, especially with the twist ending at the end of the previous issue with Batman taking over the role of Metron.

This issue plays out a bit differently, although it fits into the same kind of Geoff Johns formula.  Batman as Metron discusses the virtue of the Mobius Chair and whether he should sit in it at all.  At the same time the heroes are hesitant about the arrival of both the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid, as they have to prepare for the worst scenario that they could conceive of.  Elsewhere Superman and Lex are continued to be forced to work together as they have to struggle for survival in their own corner of Apokolips.  Although the issue starts slowly, there is the promise of a lot of action as the issue comes to a close, as pretty much every major player in this story arc gets thrown into some kind of battle.

There might be those who read this and recognize some of the hallmarks of a Geoff Johns epic story.  After a big plot twist at the end of the previous issue, it seems as though Johns could not resist doing the same here, although the effect is less impressive.  At the same time, there is a good reason that Johns keeps getting handed the reins to such ambitious projects and this issue is proof of his abilities.  Such an issue as this almost has to exist as there needs to be some setup for what is to come, and this issue might therefore seem to be a bit more low key to others which have come before, but also most certainly those that will follow.  At the very least, although there are fewer fireworks here, it is easy to see where this fits in the bigger picture of the story arc, especially as Johns takes the times to devote a bit of effort to characterization even in the midst of this big show.  In the end, it all works, even if it we have seen some of the same before.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Jason Fabok
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Geoff Johns Reveals Justice League: Gods and Men

JL_GODS-MEN_BM_1Justice League writer Geoff Johns has revealed his plans for series of one-shots spinning out of his current “Darkseid War” story arc.

Scheduled for October, Justice League: Gods and Men is a series of six single issues focusing on key characters in the “Darkseid War” and extends their individual conflicts against the backdrop of universal Armageddon, with Darkseid squaring off against the Anti-Monitor:

Batman – Armed with the godlike power of the Mobius Chair, the Dark Knight has taken on the role of Metreon and plans to use the infinite knowledge of this device to turn Gotham City into a completely crime-free zone!

Superman – Corrupted by the weird energies of Apokolips’ fire pits, Superman has been turned into an angry, violent brute. And only one man can possibly save him: Lex Luthor.

Green Lantern – Oa has been conquered and transformed into a Parademon factory and the Green Lantern Corps is no more! Only Hal Jordan remains to follow a distress call from the last active Lantern seen fighting on Oa: John Stewart

Lex Luthor – At last, Lex Luthor, the new ruler of Apokolips, can do what he never could accomplish on Earth: hold the fate of a world in his hands. But his one failure from the “Darkseid War” continues to keep him from the peace he craves – and only a crazed Superman can help him get it!

The Flash – The Flash takes on the role of death’s harbinger, the Black Racer. And the beneficiary of his first visit is Aquaman!

Shazam! – Instead of accessing the powers of the old gods, Billy Batson now commands the combined powers of the New Gods like Highfather, Mantis and others trapped within the Source Wall. And that’s power that no mortal should possess!

Review: Justice League #42

jl042Epic comic book stories will often have a pretty predictable formula, and especially when it comes to Geoff Johns.  Although the stories obviously change, there is nonetheless common developments among them.  For instance, the introductory issue for the Darkseid War promised something epic, and the first issue was action packed and yet also promised more action for the second issue.  This being formulaic though, the second issue did not really deliver on that promise from the previous issue, but rather instead there is some of what should actually be expected, plot developments that are unforeseen.  If one looks back on some of the bigger Johns’ crossovers and story arcs, it is the same, but then again he has created some of the biggest and best epic stories in the past ten years, so evidently it is a formula that does not need to be tinkered with too much.

Grail has brought the war to Earth and the Justice League, and although seemingly very much out matched Wonder Woman stands alone against them after her colleagues have been beaten.  Superman aids Luthor’s recovery, while Darkseid makes plans for how to break the two of them, and on Earth, Mister Miracle and Myrina Black make plans to both start and stop the war, through the only way that she knows how, an alliance with the Anti-Monitor.  All of this is further confused when Metron shows up and intercedes against the plans of others, although this has an unexpected outcome.

There will likely be those who think that this issue is weaker compared to those that led into it.  In a sense it is, because this story arc is based on big epic moves, and this issue doesn’t really contain any.  What it does provide though are the plot elements required for this story arc to become something pretty amazing.  In other words, there are no “wow” moments here, but it is setting them up, and in a pretty impressive way.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Jason Fabok
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Justice League #41

JL 41 aThe start to Geoff John’s latest Justice League story not only manages to thrill; it also raises the stakes to become something more exciting than it’s ever been before. Indeed, Justice League #41 makes the years of previous issues all feel like build-up to what is happening now. So many characters, some warm and familiar heroes, others new to the game of fighting injustice and still to prove themselves, have made their way to this point in the story, each established as something bold and worthy of attention in their own ways. Darkseid needs defeated, and the group of people expected to accomplish that goal are more fascinating than they’ve been this entire run. Justice League #41 is an epic comic book filled with character, action, and, above all else, excitement.

There’s a load of exposition in this double-sized comic that doesn’t directly follow the Justice League heroes. This sets up the immediate story, which charms as a simple crime-scene investigation, but also the larger story that spans planets and paints a picture of a gigantic war that all of humanity should be concerned with. The interesting storytelling continued from the last issue, detailing the war of two planets, is expanded upon here from the present to set the stage for what’s to come, and it still rocks with a tale that reads like scripture. It’s also brought down to Earth some here, as a focus on a particular caped hero takes readers on a more personal route through all of that heavy plot.

Whenever the microscope is put on Batman, Wonder Woman and all of the rest, Johns takes the time in his script to remind readers why these characters are so special and worth celebrating. Grand, sweeping narration led by the team’s leading woman muses on what it is that drives these heroes, bringing things back to simple childhood moments that are emblematic of larger motivations. Once that’s finished, the fun banter one comes to expect from a blockbuster superhero story is on display, but not without more subtle and touching character beats, the best of which forcing Shazam to face mortality in a way he never has in his short time alive.

The character drama and overall interaction is lovely. The tension between Superman and Lex Luthor continues to grow and the latter’s role in the league grows ever more complicated, thanks to a twist that ties into the latest conflict. Hal Jordon slides back into this book elegantly while simultaneously serving as a crutch for the new, young lantern Jess to fit more comfortably. The only noteworthy flaw in this whole book is the unfortunate lack of Aquaman, who is almost entirely absent from the events of this book. For an issue that is so celebratory of the team and such a culmination of everything before, it’s especially problematic not to see him.

Around half of this comic is a shining example of superhero action done right, with Jason Fabok’s art exploding off of the page to a degree more than competent as a replacement to artists like Jim Lee and Ivan Reis. Splash pages are plentiful and filled with color, striking amounts of detail, and pitch-perfect movement and expression. It all has an impressive shimmer to it as well, thanks to the fine coloring duty of Brad Anderson. The villain at hands lays into each hero in battle individually, not just through specific physical attacks but also psychological. It’s even in the action that the characterization shines.

Despite all of the troubles concerning New 52 continuity, Johns has managed to craft a new wave of Justice League lore DC Comics fans can be proud of. Justice League #41 is the amalgamation of a few years’ worth of comics, and the kind of thing geeks dream of.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Jason Fabok
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Justice League #40

jl040At its roots there can be said to be no better team book in comics than the Justice League.  As the hero team which more or less spawned every other hero team, either as a reaction or counter-reaction, the League was the first to define the application of superpowered individuals together, and its approach to the medium is seminal.  Although it was later passed by other team books (X-Men and Avengers) there is something about the group that speaks to a greater story.  As has been said before, DC is the realm of the myths, whereas Marvel is the realm of the everyday.  This means that Marvel stories can be more approachable, but when DC throws everything it has at its heroes, the greater stories result.  Throw in the fact that series writer Geoff Johns often does best when he goes big, and this is the setup for what could be one of the more memorable stories in the team’s history, and definitely one that has been begging to be told since the New 52 relaunch.

Such is the setup for the upcoming Darkseid War, but this issue does not take the expected turn towards a super throwdown.  Instead it focuses on an unlikely conduit for the development of the story, the enigmatic Metron.  He is perhaps never shown to be more enticing than he is here, shown as a ttrue observer, acting only in the case of events which could cause him to lose the ability to observe.  Such has been the case before when he brokered the infamous peace between the Highfather and Darkseid, resulting in the exchange of Orion and Mister Miracle, and such would seem to be the case here as he intervenes on behalf of Earth and the oncoming battle with an unexpected foe.  In the process he revisits some of the notable events of DC Comics history, the best of the best of the crossovers, referencing Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, and Flashpoint (and the not so great Convergence.)  In so doing he sets the stage and makes some interesting revelations about the fate of Earth and those that threaten it.

Simply put, those is Johns doing what he does best.  While he might occasionally stumble with presenting approachable characters, there is no one better at putting together a big story like this among comics big two.  He pulled it off numerous times on his run on Green Lantern, and Flashpoint was a decent enough entry in the sequence of the universe changing crossovers.  It is a shame that Covergence is getting all of the focus at the moment and that something like this was not approached instead (as it would have been easy to change to the plot of Convergence to fit this plot.)  As it stands this is a near perfect lead in to the Darkseid War, and one that should get the fans excited for what is to come.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Kevin Maguire, Phil Jimenez, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Scott Kolins, Jason Fabok, Jim Lee
Story: 9.6 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Darkseid War Begins April 29

The first chapter in the epic “Darkseid War” saga begins with Justice League #40, on sale April 29!

The dreaded Darkseid squares off against the Anti-Monitor in a battle for the cosmos, with the Justice League smack dab in the middle! Written by Geoff Johns, issue 40 also introduces a new villain that has a strange connection to Darkseid and a certain Justice League member… In addition to killer art from Justice League regular artist Jason Fabok, this issue also includes contributions from an all-star lineup of guest artists, including: Phil Jimenez, Dan Jurgens, Scott Kolins, Jim Lee, Kevin Maguire and Jerry Ordway!

darkseid war

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

 

 

 

 

A New Artist for Justice League. A New Team for Superman/Wonder Woman.

Jason Fabok will be joining writer Geoff Johns as the regular ongoing artist for Justice League starting in November with issue #36. The issue arrives November 19th.

fabok justice leagueIn other creative team news Peter Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke will take over as the new creative team on Superman/Wonder Woman starting in November with issue #13. That issue hits shelves on November 12th.

superman wonder woman

 

 

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