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Review: Lazarus #18

lazarus018aDuring the course of its run thus far, Lazarus has been a series of slow developments.  Part of this is a necessity, as a comic series it tells the story in a different way, but the course of world building has to take place at a different pace than what one would expect from a novel or a television show.  This makes the pace its own, but as the setting is dystopian, there is also the necessity to build upon concepts which are perhaps more easily identified in a novel format.  The story has focused on Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus for the family Carlyle, but it has also focused on other developments, specifically at the Denver lift, an event were people move from the discarded proletariat to something more in life.  The previous issue hinted at the first time that these sub-plots intertwined, and this issue promised more of the same.

In one location, Michael is introduced to the closest inner circle of the Carlyle family as he searches for a cure to the poison of the family patriarch.  In the other location, and the sub-plot with more of the attention, Forever works side by side with a squad of soldiers, one of whom includes Casey, who unexpectedly also made the lift in Denver.  The story unfolds separately but also together through its previous connections as Forever slowly makes her way through various enemy positions in the stronghold of Duluth.

As part of the ongoing story in this series it is hard to gauge one issue of the series against each other.  It can easily be said though that this issue at least matches what has come before, while slightly shifting the outlook of the series, as has been implied throughout.  At some point Forever will become aware of the lies which are kept from her, but until that point it will be a sequence of slow developments to put all the pieces in the right place.  This issue does that well enough, and manages to find a few ways to shock at the same time.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed, and this issue might be a sign to those who aren’t that they maybe should be.

Story: Greg Rucka Art: Michael Lark
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.  

Review: Bloodstrike #1

bloodstrikeThough it defies conventional thinking, there are two Rob Liefelds.  One is a relatively talented comic book creator that can put a decent comic together, both in terms of story and art, and the other is the comic book version of Michael Bay, relying on violence and sex to sell stories.  In terms of what he can accomplish he tends to be all over the place, although he has perhaps been best known for his work on superheroes, some of whom he has supposedly “destroyed” and others for whom he provided a decent run on. Blood strike represented something different, as it was his own creation in its own universe, and thus was under his complete control.

It tells the story of a super assassin who has kind of run out luck.  In fact that is an understatement, as it gives the reader one of the strangest introduction to a character in comic history, as he is restrained, chained to a wall, after he has been cut in two.  It is a strange image, but effective in a sense because of its over-the-top nature.  In terms of being over-the-top though, the issue fails.  Doing over-the-top stuff in comics can be fun for a few panels but Liefeld seems to be going at this with the water hose method of restraint.  There are two separate panels here featuring penises (though somewhat in context) and thirteen decapitations.  It makes for both an exciting story from an action standpoint, though also gory, but it also causes that it is harder to take seriously as the actions that led up to the assassin being hanging from a wall are described.

Unfortunately for this first issue, the story and the art get the Rob Liefeld that causes people to roll their eyes, not the one that causes people to be impressed.  It is too bad, because from a contextual point the story is there, and so is the artistic design.  It just seems as though he did not know where to draw the line, and with less creative control as he has often had under the big two publishers, that he went too far with his own concept.  This therefore comes off as more Michael Bay-like than anything, and it is a failed attempt.  It could have been good, but too much of too much makes it fail.

Story and Art: Rob Liefeld
Story: 4.0 Art: 8.0  Overall: 4.0  Recommendation: Pass

Image Reinvents the Mississippi

When one thinks of the Mississippi River it is evocative of many things.  Some will think of the cities along the river which have given rise to so much southern culture.  Other will think of the passage of the river through vasts tracts of wilderness and farmland, given rise to much of the nation’s green space.  Others still will think of the same passage as that of the route of trade, a superhighway on the water which bisected the interior of the country long before there were railway lines or motor cars.  Others still might think back to its early days and its association with the frontier legends and myths which came to dominate American culture.

What often doesn’t happen to the Mississippi though is that it is used as the setting for stories or fiction.  It is true that there are lots of stories that use the Mississippi River as a backdrop in the cities in which they transpire, but the river itself is mostly ignored when it comes to fiction, save for the works of Mark Twain.  The massive river often just exists as what it is, a body of water that is always moving but not often changing.

miss002In terms of its treatment in fiction, little has changed, except indirectly Image Comics might be challenging that in a small way.  It is hard to say that Image is making a conscious decision to challenge the nature of this river, for Image as a comic company has effectively no control over the creative decisions of its series.  Rather the company puts comics into wide release which are of a certain quality which might otherwise be hard for most comic fans to find.  Nonetheless at the moment the Mississippi does factor into two separate Image series, and neither of them are in the slightest way related.

The river serves as the Eastern boundary of the Carlyle clan in Lazarus.  In this future dystopian series, a series of families have taken over control of the world in place of the former states.  It has returned the people of Earth to a system of semi-feudalism, and where individuals running corporations run large, it can be expected equally that the environment is degraded in unacceptable ways.  As the border between two families, the river is maintained by neither of them and is instead a black moving cesspool, which is swum across at one point by one of the characters, even though the thought of doing so disgusts him.

miss001The other Image series dealing with the river is one which puts it in the spotlight almost all the time.  Although it is often not identified specifically as such, the river forms the route by which Lewis and Clark lead their men after the Louisiana Purchase.  This series is very much different from what we know from the history books, rather it is a fantasy/horror retelling of the adventures of the two American heroes.  Instead of charting the wilderness of the United States, they are forced to fight off against giant mosquitoes, plants that turn people in zombies, buffalo-minotaurs and various other creatures.  It thus becomes not a story of discovery but rather one of survival as the team members die one by one, succumbing to the inexplicable threats.

The Mississippi is a piece of Americana, and as the world’s fourth longest river, it does serve as an emblem of what is so large and vast about the American interior.  Equally though, the river is often untouched when it comes to fiction, more often than not simply reduced to the idyllic slice of life from the time of Mark Twain.  Authors often ply their craft simply be reimagining that which is a symbol, and in the case of the two Image series, they are at least challenging what we think about this great river.

Review: Morning Glories #46

mg046One can never really know what to expect from this series, and this issue is evident of that.  Thus far the series although full of the unexplained has generally followed a fairly basic pattern, that of a few issues of surprises and mysteries followed by an issue which jumps the plot forward with a new major revelation.  In terms of this formula though, the series has been a little off in the past few issue, with no major jumping forward point, and those heading into this issue looking for such a moment will be disappointed, even if there is nothing to be disappointed with for the series as a whole.

While previous issue have focused more or less individually on Casey, Jade and Ike, this one focuses on who has mostly been a secondary character, Irina.  The usual out of sequence story telling occurs here with older Casey as Irina’s escort to the training compound, even when this occurred in the past of the present narrative (a previous issue focused on Casey’s transformation into her future/past self).  Irina is shown as ruthless but also no-nonsense as she is shown to be more pragmatic when dealing with this scenario than most others.  It is through this pragmatism that a few revelations are made on the fly, though there is not much to hold them together at the moment as to their overall meaning.

Once again this series manages to warp the minds of the readers by giving them more to think about and to ponder while also trying to keep the intricate story straight.  There is always something more going on with the stories dealing the academy, and while the focus here is mainly away from the academy, it is likely to have a direct effect on it in the immediate future.  The most obvious plot point which everyone want to see resolved is the one with Casey running for class president so that she can save Jade, but the creative team seems happy to get to that when they feel they are ready.  Until then the series continues to both astound and confuse, and maintains the interest that many have in the series.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Joe Eisma
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Review: Red One #2

redone002This comic is noteworthy, not for the story itself, but surprisingly for the discussion in the letter column.  The story itself is interesting enough, carrying on the story of the previously introduced Soviet super-soldier masquerading as an all-American girl, but the description in the letter column is even more interesting.  After this second issue, the creative team aims to leave the series for a year, in the European style of comic producing as they say, and to collect each sequence of yearly two issues together into one trade paperback.  It is an interesting approach, though not one that would seem to be as successful in the saturated comic book market in the United States.  In terms of storytelling it also leaves some unresolved questions.

The series as before focuses on Red One as she is after the Carpenter, a megalomaniacal religious nut who is waging war on those in California who he deems to be impure due to their lifestyle choices (he mostly leads attacks against homosexuals in this issue.)  While this is an incendiary enough point for American life, both for this setting in the 1970s as well as for modern life, it also tends to not ever really make a point in relation to this villian, other than to highlight that such behavious is bad.  Equally, the series teeters on making some kind of commentary about the porn industry, either pro- or anti-, but this too mostly comes off as shooting the center without making its mind where it stands on the issue.  The overall effect is one of stereotypical caricatures.

Despite these drawbacks, the issue still manages to succeed to a degree, and in large part thanks to its main character.  While the creative team vaccillates a little in its overall message, the main character is written in a way to look past those defects, as she is an approachable character even despite her talents.  The series lacks a fcous, both in its message and (according to the letter col) in its delivery, but at the very least the creative team has managed in two issues to introduce a character that has a lot of potential for other stories to be told.

Story: Xavier Dorison Art: Terry Dodson
Story: 8.1  Art: 8.1  Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Read

Image provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Review: Morning Glories #45

mg045Morning Glories is one of the most intricate and mysterious comic titles available on the current market.  Over the course of its run thus far it has focused on a group of high school students with unidentified powers, all of whom have been isolated at one equally mysterious private school.  The overall narrative has focused on various philopsphical questions (like divinity) or abstract scientific principles (like time travel), all the while still mixing in aspects of high school life.  Previous issues in this series have focused more on the latter, or at least in the context of this series.  Casey has been running for class president, and while there has been more going on than that, it is still relatively mundane compared to what else has been covered in this series.

For those that have been waiting for something different, and for what makes this series stand out, they need to look no farther than the cover, one of the most evocative so far in the series.  While this issue does focus a bit on the high school politics aspect of the series for a few pages, it also focuses in on one of the series two standout characters, Jade.  Although she is somewhat relegated by Casey’s popularity, Jade is a complex character whose past is a necessity to discover if there is to be some resolution to this series.  It has been previously noted that Jade can somehow revive people from the dead, and that is what most of this issue focuses around, both from a mystical and from a philosophical standpoint.

This issue ends thus ends up being one of the better ones in the recent run of the series.  While most issues are enticing enough, they also form a greater narrative and thus read better together than separately.  This issue has the benefit of focusing on two of the series stronger points, the more esoteric explanations for the academy as well as one the academy’s more interesting characters, Jade.  While this issue still fits within the overall concept and design of the series, its individual focus results in a better overall read than the few issues that have come before.  As always it is hard to recommend one issue of this series over another as they feed into one another, but this issue does seem to be getting back to the meat of the series.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Joe Eisma
Story: 9.1 Art: 9.1 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Review: Morning Glories #44

MorningGlories_44-1Morning Glories has much in common with some of the more mind-bending ongoing stories in popular fiction, and this issue encapsulates one of those trends.  Although the previous issues have turned the focus back to Casey and her group of colleagues as she attempts to be voted in as student president, this issue ignores her altogether and focuses on Dr. Richmond and her maternal role in bringing up Vanessa.  The change is a bit of a disappointment in terms of the telling of the binding narrative, but it also functions well to add in some more depth to the occurrences within the academy.

The two aren’t biologically mother and daughter, and her role is one of support to Abraham, who aims to take down the Morning Glories Academy by some unmentioned plot.  This issue is mostly devoid of immediate clues which will reveal what is going to happen, instead giving some background into some of the characters.  At the same time there are nice references here, specifically to a Wrinkle in Time, a book which could be easily linked to the happenings at the Morning Glories Academy.  By the end of this issue it is possible to see where the developments might lead, but for now this serves more as a snapshot of the connection between two characters

As always with this series it is hard to judge the individual issue.  Some are a bit more engaging but have fewer answers, and some are more sedate but contain more clues.  If there is any problem at all with this issue it is that it serves as a distraction to the developments of the previous issue which are likely to be resolved soon enough (as it fits the pattern for the trade paperbacks).  This issue is nonetheless an important one, as are they all, to unlocking the truth behind the Morning Glories Academy, and as with all of the others, would fit better in the overall tapestry of the series, once all of the secrets are revealed.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Joe Eisma
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Review: Red One #1

redone-carThe medium of comics have found some fertile ground in the golden age of Hollywood.  These stories are told in a crime noir format, but also take a chance to look at Hollywood as a microcosm of society (including modern society) for a time and place that were different but not very different.  Thus series such as The Fade Out and Satellite Same have become critical successes.  While there is something nostalgic about this period, it also begs the question why other periods might not have received any attention.  With Red One, this change of focus finally takes place, across a significant change in this setting, away from crime noir and into the realm of superheroes.

The action instead focuses on the 1970s and the golden age of cinema has been replaced by the age of pornography in the era of Linda Lovelace.  The porn stars act as the destroyers of society, and the opposition to them is just as strong as it is in other sources.  While this acts as an interesting concept for a comic, this series goes a long way further.  Someone is murdering the porn stars, and furthermore this vigilante is being hailed as a hero, or even a superhero.  In a bit of an illogical non sequitur plot a Soviet super assassin, who also happens to be female, is to be sent to the USA to battle the menace that is killing the porn stars in the name of protecting American society.

If it sounds to be a bizarre premise it’s because it is, and while it seems like it wouldn’t work, it strangely works pretty fluidly.  It is the super soldier program that birthed the Black Widow combined with Boogie Night wrapped in a costume that looks like a female Evil Knievel.  The issue takes most of its content to set up the complex story, but once it gets there it starts to run smoothly, specifically in its meta-take on the superhero genre, referencing Batman and Superman in their role in the American psyche.  The concept is maybe far fetched, but the story doesn’t attempt to cover this up but rather revels in it.  Those that look a little deeper while simultaneously removing their logic cap will probably find a worthy read here.

Story: Xavier Dorison Art: Terry Dodson
Story: 8.6  Art: 8.6  Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Review: Postal #2

postal002The first issue of Postal introduced a town unlike any other.  It is the residence of the worst criminals that the country has to offer, but they are forced into a peaceful living after having been given one last chance.  The complexities of the town are evident, especially as told through the innocence of the main character Mark, a postal worker who must deal with Aspergers while living his not-so-normal daily life.  No one who surrounds him is innocent as he is, or at least not as he is implied to be, except for maybe the girl that he is in love with, the waitress of the local diner Maggie.  Together the two of them work together to discover the secrets to a mystery involving a dead body, but as soon becomes evident, almost everyone has a secret in this town.

As opposed to the meticulous introduction to this town as seen through the eyes of Mark, this second issue changes its focus, giving both his mother and Maggie an equal voice in the telling of the woes of the town now that people are showing up dead.  Both of them have their own secrets and their own demons, only they are hard to hide from Mark, astute despite his apparent simplicity.  While it is the setting which is abnormal and gives potential for the storytelling, it is through the characters that this issue shines, giving more depth to the already strong concept.  As the story fills out the background of some of the other characters, it provides an insight into what motivates the people in this town.

The first issue of this series succeeded in the unconventional setting and the shock value of it seen through the eyes of Mark.  The second issue was hard-pressed to replicate this success and in truth fell a little bit shorter.  Nonetheless it maintains the momentum throughout and delivers a strong followup to the first issue, and moves the story in unexpected direction, and incidentally using a cover picture to tell the inside of an issue as few comics manage to do.  The combination of unconventional setting and unconventional characters could have been a mess, but instead this is an unconventional success.


Story: Bryan Hill and Matt Hawkins Art: Isaac Goodhart
Story: 9.0  Art: 9.0  Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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.

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