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AICN COMICS ROUNDTABLE: The @$$Holes look back at the Year in Marvel: 2010!



Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. Around this time of year, the @$$Holes get sentimental and like to look back on the past 12 months. This conversation usually goes on behind the scenes, but for the last few years, we’ve posted these long ramblings on all things comics as AICN COMICS Roundtables. In today’s Roundtable, the Holes focused on the House of Ideas, aka Marvel Comics. So get comfortable, grab a snack, and enjoy AICN COMICS 2010 MARVEL ROUNDTABLE!


@$$Hole Roll Call:

Ambush Bug
Matt Adler
Optimous Douche
Humphrey Lee
Vroom Socko
Professor Challenger
Johnny Destructo
Rock-Me Amodeo
Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Okay, this year at Marvel, we've seen a SIEGE, the Death of Sentry, the cancellation of SPIDER-GIRL, a CHAOS WAR, a street level SHADOWLAND war, the formation of the Hulk Family, X-Men’s SECOND COMING, a billion and a half AVENGERS team books, the Red Hulk reveal, a Mutants vs Vampires War, Spidey's GAUNTLET and GRIM HUNT, and the ending of Abnett & Lanning's Cosmic Saga. We'll get into specifics in a bit, but how do you guys think Marvel has been doing as a whole this year?

SUPERHERO: See, now all that right there is why I just can't buy weeklies anymore. That sounds insane. And pricey. How the hell do you guys afford all that?

PROF. CHALLENGER (PROF): I don't. I love the comic biz. I hate the cost and the glut and vote with my wallet.

HUMPHREY LEE (HUMPHREY): Honestly, I look at everything there and it makes me tired, even a little apathetic, and I read maybe only half that stuff. But, I'm not going to say all that as a lambasting of Marvel in general because it just has its ups and downs as a publishing line. There's great books in there; Fraction's runs on IRON MAN and THOR, Hickman's trifecta of books (SECRET WARRIORS, FANTASTIC FOUR, & S.H.I.E.L.D.), CAPTAIN AMERICA is still great albeit drug down a bit by a bad backup story, and THE THANOS IMPERATIVE might be the best event I've read out of all these mainstream titles the past decade; hell, maybe ever.

BUG: Yeah, it's impossible anymore to follow everything. I used to be a completist, but Marvel doesn't seem to care for those folks anymore. I had to trim the fat, so that meant titles I just don't care about anymore like X-MEN and DEADPOOL and the like. I'm curious about X-Men occasionally, but because Marvel's lineup is so bloated these days, there's no way I can check it out.

SUPERHERO: Well, yeah, me too...but how the hell can an average fan sustain that? At $4.00 a book every week, no way. It's like the whole Marvel line has become the overly saturated jumble that the X-Books were in the 90's. If I want to make sense of any of it I have to buy more than just one book. It's not like I can just read AVENGERS any more. I have to read a bajillion other tie in books. So forget it...I'll just wait for trades and hope that they'll be coherent to me once I pick them up.

MATT ADLER (ADLER): Marvel's argument is that they don't expect every person to buy their whole line, but I have to counter that by asking if there even enough monthly comic buyers total to support that approach. We're talking about a market where selling 100,000 copies is a huge achievement; at those numbers, don't you pretty much need your audience to be picking up as much of your line as possible?

VROOM SOCKO (VROOM): I haven't bought a Marvel comic since ULTIMATUM ended. Before that, I hadn't bought a non-Ultimate Marvel book since SECRET INVASION. When I stopped buying X-Men at the end of the 90's, it was because every storyline Marvel's (at the time) flagship title had became an Earth-shattering event that changed everything. Well, for the past five years AVENGERS has been Marvel's flagship title. And every year, there's an Earth-shattering event that not only changes everything, but changes the entire line-up of the team. Every year, every event, felt like starting over from scratch. And, as I said, I read the X-Men back in the 90's. I don't need to go through that again.

KLETUS CASADAY (KLETUS): Which is why there are a million tie-ins to every event. SIEGE did well because most of the tie ins were contained in the monthly titles; but most of the even tie ins are unnecessary and are wallet succubuses.

BUG: But the stories and characters feel so diluted these days. If Wolverine has six titles of his own and is on twelve teams, can the character really be interesting? No. One of the one-time most fascinating characters in comics is whittled down to a cliché who says “bub” too much. Why is Bendis writing four AVENGERS titles with practically the same roster? There is no real difference between AVENGERS, NEW AVENGERS, and the mini with Thor, Cap, and Stark. I'd love to read a few AVENGERS titles if one were written by Bendis, one by Pak & Van Lente, one by Abnett & Lanning, and one by Brubaker. I like AVENGERS ACADEMY and SECRET AVENGERS so much more because the titles are written differently for a variety of fans.

MATT: The other thing is, with all this stuff out there, I wonder if I'm missing something? What if amongst all these events and miniseries, there really is a gem, perhaps by an author I haven't tried before? Because of all the other stuff overcrowding it, I may never see it. I'd like to see Marvel focus on stories that they internally really believe in and feel passionate about, and share that with us.

HUMPHREY: That is the rub of it all, in that there is some really good stuff in all of this, but it all seems so erratic, so overwhelming that who knows what is really going on. Maybe they really do feel they need to keep having these things happen to drive the changes in status quo, but the frequency with which all this shit happens I think begs to differ. If that’s the point, we wouldn't be having them on almost a yearly basis that keeps the status quo shifting. Marvel just went through the SIEGE and pushed this whole "Heroic Age" movement where things are supposed to level out for a while...and yet already there's ominous black pages showing up in their weeklies already, foreboding the next event I assume.

MATT ADLER: The counter argument of course is that without events, attention fades away from these books, and sales drop. But again, I don't think these events need to be the size that they are! You can draw attention to a book, or even a couple of books, with a small, focused event. Just because it doesn't generate 50 different tie-ins doesn't mean you can't sell it as important.

KLETUS: Yeah, the "be all end all" of events is rarely accurate with these things. As far as monthlies go, some of them only exist to get to that next big thing and there's no depth to the things that are happening.

PROF: Both Marvel and DC are now attempting to be managed under standard corporate practices, which involve strangling the market with product in an attempt to overwhelm and push out the competition. Unfortunately, the comic-buying crowd is simply not the average consumer and rebel against that if it is sustained. And at this point, this saturation point has been pushed too long and I know way too many longtime buyers of comics who are finally breaking their OCD compulsions and walking away (or to the trades).

HUMPHREY: Y'know, as a man with an MBA (or close enough) in this stuff I wonder how much of that is true and how much it isn't. One thing we have to consider is the market, and if there was ever a customer base that is a glutton for punishment - myself obviously included - it's the comic reading public. Occasionally though, the hammer needs to fall and someone needs to learn a harsh lesson for not bothering to innovate while taking in those dollars. We're a handful of years after FELL hitting and I'm kind of shocked and amazed no one adopted that as a viable method of story-telling and revenue generation. Put out 18 issues of 16 page books at $2 a pop in a year, if you run that with 8 pages of ads you've just opened yourselves up to roughly 20 more pages of ads over the years to make up shortfalls and probably better margins, you keep attention more by coming out roughly every three weeks, and you're not wallet busting when you hit the stands.

KLETUS: Taking a gamble on a $2 book is a lot easier to do than with a $4 dollar book. Then the question is, are they trying to get you to read more comics or spend more money and at which point are you forgetting about customer satisfaction and enjoyment for making that extra $1 on a comic. Plus that $1 only seems to be attached to the books that are hyped up and what does that say about the books that are still $2.99--hey aren't worth the hype or the extra dollar?

MATT: I like that Marvel is trying to focus on smaller events with CHAOS WAR and SHADOWLAND, but I worry that the market can't support the proliferation of miniseries at $4.00 an issue. I think the spate of cancellations of ongoings and declining sales on their flagship books reflects that. There needs to be a rethinking at Marvel of a long-term strategy beyond meeting quarterly expectations.

BUG: Very true, Matt. Story-wise there hasn't really been much long term thinking either. Look at all of the Earth-shattering stuff that was supposed to change the status quo: Spidey unmasking, No More Mutants, Cap's death…all are undone just a short time later. Sure they got headlines, but readers now are realizing what we realized when Joey Q came on board: that these stories, no matter how status quo shaking, will inevitably return to square one. That's disheartening. All the writers and editors have to do is think about telling strong stories that evolve the character to make more stories for the long run, not think of what would look good in a four issue trade.

MATT: I'm reminded of how in the early '90s, Marvel would do small crossovers which would consist of an interconnected story across the annuals of 4 or 5 books (often including the debut annual of a new book, to draw attention to it). I think that works. But when there are 50 different miniseries, it's a lot harder to sort out.

KLETUS: I think Marvel (both companies really) feel like they HAVE to do these events in order to make sales and I think the quality and lack of gravity of these events reflect that. These events have become very formulaic and thus kind of boring. SIEGE was cool because it was short...but still by the numbers.

HUMPHREY LEE: I don't like big shock change, I like slight growth over the long term. I like runs with the occasional speed bump, or even a giant @$$ pothole, but that will leave the character overall intact with a bit of reflection now built into them. In the former regard, I just think Marvel more than anyone is leaning way too heavy on trying to “OMG! EPIC!” people into picking up books, but to be fair they are doing a bang up job more or less with some of these runs, even if they get some interference from these events, if you can even call it that. Just make good comics and the readers should follow.

MATT: Our immediate reaction to radical change (be it in comics or elsewhere) is discomfort and anxiety. But anxiety is the flipside of excitement. So maybe sometimes it's a good thing to shake the readers up. Again, I think the key is staying true to the characters' core, no matter what changes you make around them.

PROF: Marvel is hastening the demise of the weekly/monthly comic by continuing this event-driven hydra of a publishing policy. "Events" lose their impact when the entire company line is essentially a series of mass "events" that drives away any sense of consumer commitment.

KLETUS: exactly...

BUG: So true, Prof. Marvel tried that in the nineties and went bankrupt because of it. I don't know why they think they can get away with twelve DEADPOOLS a month and not lose out. Why not one strong DEADPOOL title that sells as much as all of the shitty spinoffs combined? There're too many amazing alternatives out there to go the Marvel Zombie route. If I were to choose between WALKING DEAD and some crappy VENOM miniseries, there's no competition. Trying to drown out the indies and DC with multiple titles won't work anymore.

PROF: As far as I'm concerned, as a former Marvel Zombie through middle school and high school, Marvel Comics exists for me almost exclusively as a movie studio. They are forced to strip down the continuity to fit within a limited scope that film-goers can follow and other words...the movies are like the Marvel Comics I fell in love with and that's where my money goes.

BUG: As a comic book reader of 25 years, Prof, that depresses the shit out of me, but it's so true.

MATT: Let me put my conspiracy theory hat on and suggest that maybe Marvel is aware of this... and factors it into their plans? Maybe they have the view that the direct market and the monthly 22 page magazine format is doomed anyway, and are just trying to pump as much of out of it while they still can? They certainly seem to be making bookstores and digital a bigger part of their plans.

BUG: I think they may be eager to see that happen, but I guarantee that there will be a huge drop in readership if they move from paper to digital completely. I think that'll be the final straw for old school readers. Marvel acts like they don't give a shit about them, but these readers are the only ones who kept and will keep the company afloat through the rough days (a point proven through their bankruptcy). I know if and when the digital/trade conversion happens, I'll breathe a sigh of relief because Marvel would have provided me a perfect stopping point.

MATT: I don't see such a move as immediate--but can I see them pursuing a policy that would bleed the direct market dry, without a care for diminishing returns? Yeah. Fewer readers, but due to increased prices (or in the case of ASM, increased shipping schedules) more dollars. And eventually those readers will have dwindled down to only the most hardcore of the hardcore. I think they're hoping by that point, the digital and bookstore audiences will be large enough to replace them.

SUPERHERO: I'm gonna miss the comic shops...although I hardly go to them anymore. I just like knowing that they're there and I can always just go into one if I want. Those days may be gone soon. I don't know how they stay in business.

JOHNNY DESTRUCTO (JD): I don't think the comic shops are going anywhere soon. And what are you doing? Ordering all your stuff online? Get out to the friggin' SHOPS, man! Get out there and support the businesses that are helping to keep what you love alive! :)

BUG: I see comic shops evolving into a more specific type of specialty store. More and more stores have less comics and more tie in merchandise.

KLETUS: I really hope that comic shops aren't going the way of the arcade.

SUPERHERO: I'd love to completely support the comic shops but if I can get a book at 30-40% off at the local Borders or just wait for it and get it for a fraction of its cost on Amazon or E-Bay I think that's the smart move. I've got bills to pay, a kid to feed, etc. I have a comic shop down the street from me that is a great shop but every time I walk in I know that almost anything in there I can find somewhere else for cheaper. Sorry, it's true. The shop I get my books pulled at gives me 35% off every new floppy. That's the shop I support. Because it knows that the books are expensive and that the demographic is getting older and has other shit to spend its hard earned money on. I literally wait months to get my floppies instead of going down the street because the shop I support supports me by giving me a discount that I can't pass up. Sorry, it's called competition. If you can't compete then you need to look at your business model. I buy comics, I support comics, I love comics, I'm just not sacrificing my mortgage to keep the shops in business.

KLETUS: Like Kat Williams says, "You gotta make pimp decisions!" I was in a shop today and they mainly focus on trades because A. It’s easier to get new readers in because the story is already completed and the previous volumes are right there for customers to decide how far they want to go back and B. People are waiting to see if they really want the entire story rather than having to worry if a story is going to turn out good month to month. I'm thinking the shop I work at may need to do the same.

BUG: So let's get into specifics. What was your favorite Marvel book or storyline this year?

MATT: I really think SPIDER-GIRL went out on a strong note, although I don't think Marvel's new version is a good idea. And even as a DeFalco fan, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first issue of the new THUNDERSTRIKE miniseries. He really brought a fresh voice to it that fits in well with modern continuity. I'd love to see it continue in some form as an ongoing, though I won't hold my breath.

BUG: Yeah, I loved THUNDERSTRIKE because it was so different than anything else out there right now.

HUMPHREY: Pretty much anything that was self-contained appeals to me. I love what Fraction is doing on IRON MAN right now, though the "Stark Resilient" arc is running kind of long methinks; I think Hickman is doing quality stuff with the FANTASTIC FOUR, really hitting on the elements that make that book work, and I think Abnett & Lanning are doing the best events in comics right now. Yes, that means over all the BLACKEST NIGHT stuff and so on. Jason Aaron's run on PUNISHER MAX is glorious too, though the first arc was a little uneven.

HENRY HIGGINS IS MY HOMEBOY (HHH): In retrospect, one of the big reasons I'm so happy with Marvel this year has been them catering to my specific loves. “Second Coming” was a brilliant story for the X-Men side of things. CHAOS WAR is giving Hercules something good. And THANOS IMPERATIVE was such a fantastic way to end the Marvel Cosmic saga. The only event I was very invested in seeing do amazing that didn't was AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. But even then, the good outweighs the bad (save for Spidey’s “One Moment In Time”).

BUG: Spidey has just been ok in my opinion over the past year. BIG TIME looks interesting, but Slott doesn't seem interested in making Spidey his own. If he were to give the title the shine he did with his SHE-HULK and THING series, I think he would be on to something. But the "events" of Spidey's past year were very lackluster. Ooooh, he's running a gauntlet and facing a new villain every month! No, that's what Spidey comics used to be, morons! This isn't an event at all.

HHH: Slott's first two issues have been interesting, and it'll be fun to see what Slott has up his sleeve once he's past the first storyline.

KLETUS: Agreed. I do think Slott was the best writer of the bunch and I think he's gonna do some cool stuff with Spidey. I just wish Marcos Martin was the artist. I didn't even read the conclusion to THE GAUNTLET, I just got bored and gave up and waited for BIG TIME. Yeah, they need to stop trying to make every Spidey arc a "thing" and just make a good Spider-Man book.

MATT: SPIDER-MAN's a very hard book for me to get back into given that I grew up reading him married to Mary Jane. None of the other relationships will ever ring true to me for that reason. I want to follow the character on a regular basis again, I'm just not sure what would get me to do it. Maybe if they dipped back into some of the stories from the era where they're saying he was still with MJ, just not married, that might restore my sense of a connection. But right now it just feels like every writer and editor associated with the character is tip-toeing around it, hoping to move forward and forget all that, because of what a landmine the whole OMD mess is. Nobody wants to bring that back into people's minds (except for Quesada with OMIT, I guess). It's the elephant in the room, and I think it's permanently damaged the franchise and the ability of writers to handle the character.

JD: He has a new job, he has a new girlfriend, he has a new apartment, and all of his major villains have been ramped up, power-wise. I'm loving it. Any more shaking for the poor fella and he'd be an epileptic!

MATT: Yeah, it almost feels like the character's suffering from PTSD.

BUG: I think what Spidey needs is one writer given the chance to write the hell out of the character. I understand that they're trying to stay on schedule by having multiple writers, but the stories have been disjointed. Slott has what it takes to do it, but seems to only write the book every three to four months. Zeb Wells could do it too. I just think someone needs to stick with Spidey for a year or so. The title could benefit from that.

IMP: Even though I'm not reading the whole SHADOWLAND thing, I'm curious to see how Marvel will end up returning to the classic interpretation of Daredevil, and whether they will attempt to do it via far-fetched (though "fair") methods such as the ones you mentioned or with the BRAND NEW DAY-style deus ex machina...or maybe that should be diabolos ex machina, in this case.

BUG: I've been reading SHADOWLAND. Not a bad crossover. The introduction of the new Power Man is kind of interesting. I think pushing DD this far over the edge, though, is pretty dangerous. He's almost irredeemable now. Bringing in Black Panther is an interesting development too that I'll probably be picking up.

Anyone reading CHAOS WAR? To me, it kind of feels like a low rent THANOS IMPERATIVE without the enormously cool moments and too many tie ins.

MATT: CHAOS WAR isn't quite as good as THANOS IMPERATIVE, but I still dig what Pak and Van Lente have been doing with Hercules and Amadeus Cho overall. Plus, I like the concept of DEAD AVENGERS, and any excuse to get J.M. DeMatteis to do a THOR comic is alright with me. And I'm looking forward to seeing what a re-teamed Claremont and Simonson can do on the X-Men tie-in.

OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): I've always been a dirty mutie lover when it comes to the Big M, so my condolences to all of you trapped inside your SIEGES. AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA heartache...I loved Marvel this year because they truly did Muties right with SECOND COMING. It was everything an event should be: it crossed all titles seamlessly, the ancillary books were nil and most importantly the events that transpired were an absolute game-changer for the universe.

JD: I'm with you on SECOND COMING, Sir Douche; now THAT was an almost perfectly executed crossover, except for a few minor hiccups. That was this year's SINESTRO COPS WAR for me. Sadly, exactly as I expected, nothing that came after really held my attention besides UNCANNY X-FORCE, which is a mad-cap rrrrromp! Loving that book, the art especially. Jerome Opena is tearing it up.

KLETUS: I agree this crossover was great; the stakes were high. Something happened every issue, the art was awesome...really just a great time. X-FORCE has been great since the start of the last X-FORCE series and has continued to the UNCANNY X-FORCE..Opena IS tearing it up.

BUG: And yet, I still didn't give a shit about what happened with the muties. They could lace their comics with bacon and cocaine and I still wouldn't buy an X-Book. As long as I see an entire wall of monthly X-Books and miniseries and Wolverine titles, I don’t care to dive into X-Continuity anymore. It's just too intimidating, and that's coming from someone who became a Marvel Zombie because of the X-Men. It'll never happen, but Marvel should have 4 X-titles; UNCANNY X-MEN, a younger generation like NEW MUTANTS/GENERATION X, X-FACTOR, and a single WOLVERINE title. If they did that, MAYBE, I'd check some of it out. But the way it is now...forget about it.

OD: That's what was nice about SECOND COMING--totally idiot proof and sans continuity baggage. Seriously, don't hurt yourself to spite a title lineup that will never happen because it makes too much sense.

IMP: See, that's why I love David's X-FACTOR. Even though it technically is a mutie book, the series almost acts as a court jester to the X-Universe, pointing out the flaws and goofiness of the mutant books while happily doing its own thing. In fact, over the last year the title has featured more non-mutant guest-stars and subplots than it has mutants.

MATT: I agree; I think the few times the book has run into trouble, it's because the main X-line has seemed so directionless and X-FACTOR's status quo can get dragged along with it, sometimes derailing with David is trying to set up. But I guess that comes with the territory.

BUG: Right on. The problem I have with X-FACTOR is that Peter David gets this momentum going with the title and characters, then time and time again it has to be tied in with some X-crossover, and everything just derails. Then once the crossover is over with, David is left picking up the pieces. Momentum starts, then here comes another crossover. Frustrating for the reader, and I'm sure it's frustrating for Peter David too.

PROF: I don't really enjoy Peter David's writing anymore. Around the time he actually discovered his own "voice" in his writing is about the the time I realized I didn't care for that voice and neither do I care for most of his plot devices. However...even though I personally don't "like" his current work, he does at least know how to write well and structure his individual issues with full beginning-middle-end plots (even while serving a larger storyline) rather than just chapters that serve no purpose other than advancing a larger plot. That is a disappearing art.

HUMPHREY: I keep wanting to get involved with X-titles again because they are what brought me to the dance, so to speak, 18 years ago, but I'll be buggered if I know what is going on where and what has developed the past couple years. I tried reading Fraction's UNCANNY stuff, and it seemed very reverent to the characters and developing some ideas, but I got tired of playing "guess the pinup girl" with Greg Land's art. UNCANNY X-FORCE seems interesting because it's Remender and Opena doing a book with fucking Fantomex, but at the same time, no bloody clue what greater storyline that book would be a means to.

MATT: The only X-book I really follow is X-FACTOR (well, X-MEN FOREVER too, since it's self-contained, but that's cancelled now). I've picked up a few issues of Fraction's UNCANNY, but never really felt drawn to his characters as people. The Greg Land art didn't help either; I continually wonder why Marvel isn't worried about the legal exposure his work presents. I think if I was to get interested in following the X-line as a broader whole, they'd have to give the X-Men a bit more of a compelling mission beyond survival.

OD: It's an astute observation about the main game being survival for the X-Folks, but that's really the core of the book. When they tried to bloat out the Mutant population it became an exercise in title frustration and a cavalcade of who gives a shit characters. I'll agree a new game should be played, but what is that game without changing the core foundation of the title?

MATT: I don't think survival has always been the core of the X-Men; actually, I think that's been more Magneto's view, that mutantkind is under an existential threat from humanity and we have to do whatever is necessary to survive. The X-Men have traditionally taken a more optimistic path; not just survival, but a belief that if we can stop extremists on both sides, there's a real chance for mutants and humans to prosper mutually. I think “House of M”/”Decimation” put that balance too far out of whack.

IMP: For me, the big event books never held as much interest as Marvel's smaller fringier titles. I've been out of the loop on X-MEN for way too long now, but I was able to dive back into Peter David's X-FACTOR without a hitch, and was able to read it without needing to buy a million other crossover comics. And I loved Abnett & Lanning's cosmic stuff-- both NOVA and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY-- but I've gotta say, once both those series were put on hiatus in favor of THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, my excitement waned. I don't know if it's just a psychological thing on my part, but as soon as an "Event" is decreed by the publisher, I feel like the comics and their creators tend to lose that special spark that drew me to them in the first place.

KLETUS: Yeah, NOVA was awesome and I too was bummed when it went away. I really think when a book like that that is doing that good they should just let it be. If it needs to be looped in to the event, I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to integrate it in to the big story. At the same time I can understand just putting both those titles in one book to make it easier to follow least it saves us some money.

BUG: Though it's definitely lost it's momentum with the current storyline, the WORLD WAR HULKS was a lot of fun. I even found myself liking Red Hulk after the big reveal, though the mystery was idiotic. And Greg Pak writes a vicious Banner.

JD: The Hulks lost me halfway through the Red Hulk bollocks. Except for when the "big reveal" happened, about which I'm surprised that anyone was surprised! And it all feels way too impenetrable at this point to start picking up. To me, the best of all this Hulk business was the “Planet Hulk” stuff. I loved that and haven't really seen anything too interesting happen since then, unfortunately.

KLETUS: I thought the Red Hulk story was pretty fun, really silly at times but fun. The new team on Hulk is kicking ass. The reveal to me was a little obvious seeing that Loeb did the same thing in “Hush” with the reveal being the guy who you thought to be dead as shown in a previous issue. I still had a lot of fun with the series, though.

ROCK-ME: The Cosmic Abnett and Lanning stuff was *snort* out of this world. No, really. The Hulks, with their new and dangerous Bruce Banner, has been quite intriguing. Anything with the newly revitalized Hank Pym has gotten my attention. And you know what all three had in common? An uncertain status quo, or a major change in one. If you want unchanging icons that are intuitions, they should just start churning out “Lil Spidey” or “Lil Hulky”, cast the characters in amber and write them at the level of teenager. As for me, I like some meat on the bone.

BUG: So are there any titles we've forgotten about? I'm digging AVENGERS ACADEMY. But once rock solid stories like RUNAWAYS and YOUNG AVENGERS (in the CHILDREN'S CRUSADE) have really lost their steam. And Brubaker's Cap...I mean, he's doing a great job with SECRET AVENGERS, but P.U. I have to say CAPTAIN AMERICA has really been half a@$$ed since Steve Rogers returned.

KLETUS: Yeah, CAP lost its steam with CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN or whatever it was called and was weirdly similar to BATMAN: RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE. It just wasn't in the same grounded approach he had in the regular CAP series. Red Skull trapped Rogers in time...after all of that planning he did, THAT was his end game...I'm not buyin' it. I think THE TRIAL OF CAPTAIN AMERICA should be pretty good though.

MATT ADLER: AVENGERS ACADEMY is solid. Christos Gage is one of the new generation of writers that consistently impresses me. RUNAWAYS I think is a dead's one of those books where, once the original writer leaves, you realize even more how great he was. I wish Vaughan would write more Marvel comics, but I can understand why he'd rather focus on his own stuff. I've actually never followed YOUNG AVENGERS, and given how Heinberg has shown only half-hearted commitment to his comics writing, I can't say I regret that. I'm still satisfied with Brubaker's work overall.

PROF: I liked AVENGERS ACADEMY. I bought the first 3 issues. Solid set-up and excellent artwork. But it was launched with a ton of intertwined AVENGERS books the boot. I may pick up the trade though, where I can feel like (hopefully) I'm reading it as a bit of a stand-alone series. If Marvel had 1 AVENGERS title and then came out with AVENGERS ACADEMY and that was it? I’d probably still be buying ACADEMY. But AVENGERS, AVENGERS PRIME, NEW AVENGERS, SECRET AVENGERS, and more? They get zero from me. I gave Bendis and Romita three issues to get me hooked on AVENGERS again...instead it was one of the most disappointing series I've tried in years.

BUG: That’s exactly how Marvel got me originally hooked on X-Men. UNCANNY, then NEW MUTANTS, then X-FACTOR. Slow and steady. Soon I was buying anything with an X in it.

MATT: I think you've hit on something here; there's a lot to be said for the gradual start. When they plan a bunch of new releases all together, it's like...where do I start? But focus on just one or two new releases at a time, give them time to find an audience, and maybe you've got the start of something. Maybe I'm expecting too much restraint in this day and age, though.

PROF: FANTASTIC FOUR and S.H.I.E.L.D. are month-to-month incredible and mind-expanding and densely packed with Marvel continuity without sacrificing story, characters, or coherence. And while they give you the sense of being a part of the larger line of Marvel comics, there is no feeling that I am missing essential elements of the stories or getting storylines dictated by editorial fiat.

BUG: OK, well, let's try to put this puppy to pasture. Any final thoughts on the last year of Marvel?

PROF: Nah. It was interesting to observe from afar but essentially any real interest I've had in Marvel as an entity this past year has been to anxiously follow the drips of information, photos, and footage from their CAP And THOR movies.

HUMPHREY: You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and you have... Marvel's lineup? I dunno what to say, except what I almost say every year about the company. Too much shit is over-exposed; too many events, too many AVENGERS and X and freaking DEADPOOL books - just too much cacophony in general - but if the shit sells then there's no one to blame but us fans for not putting our money where our mouths are.

BUG: I've been thinking about this for a while now. I know that there are those who hate Stan Lee, but as a reader who started in the early eighties, he kind of represented this Heroic Age of Comics to me. I don't want to be naive and say that the era wasn't without its shady stuff like price hikes, creator backstabbing, and other heinous acts of ethical terrorism, but the guys who built the foundation of Marvel knew what a hero was and promoted that in their comics. I look at the gleeful abandon some of today's creators at Marvel take in either ignoring that era, making fun of being a good guy, books about villains and anti-heroes, and most importantly alienating the readers with price hikes, over-eventing, and oversaturation, and think that somewhere along the line the idea of heroism was forgotten. I look at the Marvel racks and in between glimmers of hope with your Van Lentes and Slotts, your Hickmans and Wells, your Abnetts and Lannings, and your Paks and Brubakers, there is a core group in charge at Marvel that haven't the foggiest of what the term "hero" means. It's kind of depressing.

KLETUS: Yeah there's nothing worse than a title with a hero you love not doing anything heroic.

MATT: Frankly, I don't just think it's the absence of the notion of heroes; I think they're missing any kind of a unifying editorial philosophy, and maybe that's inevitable since unlike the days of Stan Lee, it isn't just one guy in charge anymore. You've got Joe Quesada who is nominally in charge of editorial, but has stated that he leaves most of the day to day in the hands of Brevoort and Alonso, while he deals more with the other media side of things in his CCO role. And even Brevoort and Alonso aren't necessarily providing a unifying editorial vision for the books they oversee, because they delegate in large part to senior editors like Paniccia, Wacker, and so forth. Add in the sales department who has a lot of input into the development of events, and maybe it's inevitable that Marvel will often seem like it's all over the place. I also think the advent of the "star writer" (advanced most recently with Marvel's "architect" promotion) makes it more difficult for editors to say "No, that's not what that character would do."

BUG: Then again, there is a lot to like, so I'll stick with buying those books. But the Marvel Zombie in me really wants to like all of what Marvel has to offer. They just seem to be doing everything they can to shoot that zombie in the brain.

MATT: It sounds cliched, but I just hope they know what they're doing. The industry as a whole can suffer if its biggest player doesn't have a clear, well thought-out publishing plan. Let's hope that in the new year, they're able to reignite excitement and interest in their core books, and elevate some newer properties to the point where they can sustain a following.

KLETUS: I just want Spidey to be good again, and I think we may see a better Spidey comic this year. Marvel needs to allow their events to grow organically rather than forcing out an event because the other company is doing so. I think we need more comics that accept continuity and thrive on it rather than it being a hindrance. We need more single issue comics and not just stories that are written to be trades. Too many tie-ins and there are so many tie-ins that really have no bearing on the main event and are just there to scrape an extra dollar out of you and Please Please Please Marvel make WHAT IF's a priority again...they were so cool in the 80's but now...most of 'em stink.

SQUASHUA: I've said this elsewhere, but I figured this is as good a place as any. I need those $4 to be justified. This is my open call for an intrepid comic book news reporter to determine the per X cost of a comic book for each company, where X is either panel, page, or book. I understand that there are many parameters surrounding this cost, which include deals with creators (writer, artist), time-frames, issue quantities, distributors, management, and suppliers, and "the cut" for the company, and probably items I'm not even thinking of, but I need to know why I'm paying $4 for a book containing 40% splash pages. I feel a more open industry could help reduce overall cost.

BUG: So to wrap this roundtable up, how about you guys give a few titles worth checking out from Marvel for those brave enough to make it to the end of this roundtable?

IMP: If anyone out there is like me and likes to avoid the mega-crossovers and convoluted continuities but still knows a little something about said continuity, check out Peter David's X-FACTOR for your mutant fix. Christos Gage's AVENGERS ACADEMY is another fun title that showcases a mix of new ideas and a genuine love for Marvel Universe history. And I'll read anything that's written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

SQUASHUA: I guess anything by Dan Slott is worth checking out, as well as the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, but only in trade paperback. $4 is too much for any book.

KLETUS: The Marvel titles I'm into right now are RED HULK by Parker & Hardman, BLACK PANTHER: MAN WITHOUT FEAR by Liss & Fracavilla, ULTIMATE SPIDERMAN, SECRET AVENGERS by Brubaker & Deodato UNCANNY X-FORCE by Remender & Opena and anything in space with Abnett & Lanning.

VROOM: The closest thing to a good Marvel book out there is SCARLET from Bendis and Maleev. Brilliant book, plus it's great to see Bendis trying something new after over half a decade of Avengers. But technically, that's an Icon book. From Marvel proper... there's really nothing.

MATT: AVENGERS ACADEMY scratches the Avengers itch, and ably balances adventure with characterization. X-FACTOR is one of the few mutant books that doesn't take itself too seriously, and guarantees a real sense of the unexpected in every issue. THUNDERSTRIKE is a great new miniseries that provides relief for those who've grown tired of the relentless cynicism in comics. HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD is technically over, but Jim McCann is continuing the story in the pages of WIDOWMAKER, followed by HAWKEYE: BLINDSPOT, and what it all boils down to is an excellent spy romance tale. Jonathan Hickman is practically reinventing the FANTASTIC FOUR, so it deserves the upcoming relaunch, and Ed Brubaker continues what will surely be considered one of the all-time great CAPTAIN AMERICA runs. And if THANOS IMPERATIVE was anything to judge by, we should be in store for a great series with ANNIHILATORS.

BUG: I’m going to have to join the Abnett & Lanning chorus. NOVA, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, THANOS IMPERATIVE, and the rest of the minis were amazing, especially the last issue of THANOS IMPERATIVE. What a perfect ending! Can’t wait to see what they do with HEROES FOR HIRE. Jim McCann’s HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD ended waaaay too soon, but it’s good that McCann will be writing Clint & Bobby in follow-up miniseries. DeFalco’s THUNDERSTRIKE is probably the biggest surprise first issue of the year for me. And Jeff Parker is making RED HULK a must read. Sad to see AGENTS OF ATLAS go, but Gage’s AVENGERS ACADEMY is still around to entertain with feeling. And Slott seems to be finally writing a meaty AMAZING SPIDER-MAN story, so that’s good too.

HUMPHREY: The best bet with Marvel seems to be the cosmic stuff. Abnett & Lanning have been unbelievably consistent with that aspect of the Marvel Universe. Other than that, I dig what Hickman is doing on FF and in SHIELD and Fraction on IRON MAN and THOR. Essentially whatever those two are writing seems to be good stuff. Other than that, I don't think there's anything I gush over regularly enough.

JD: Lessee..UNCANNY X-FORCE has been killer so far, with outstanding art by Opena, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN has been hitting a high, and NEW AVENGERS has been a ton-o-fun! Oh, and ULTIMATE DOOM seems to be going well, so far.

BUG: Well, if you’ve stuck around till the end of this massive back-and-forthing, pat yourselves on the backs. That’s it on the @$$Hole’s thoughts on the Year In Marvel. Be sure to stop back tomorrow when we set our sights on DC Comics!

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 29, 2010, 8:59 a.m. CST


    by TheNipplesofGodReturns

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 8:59 a.m. CST


    by vezner2007

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:10 a.m. CST

    I totally agree....

    by Joaquin_Ondamoon

    ...Marvel has just over-saturated the market with 'event' nonsense that just leaves me scratching my head. I loved 'Secret Invasion', but how many 'Avengers' titles can you read/support @ $4 a pop? I find that my pull list slowly expands as I get interested in various titles, and then I look at my empty wallet and I drop many books. I liked Deadpool until 'Corps' came out (once you add an animal - Krypto, Squeeky, et al - you jump the shark), then dropped the whole line. Haven't read a Spidey book since OMD (fucking horrible idea - how do you fuck with a flagship character like that?). I had whittled down my pull list to Punisher MAX, Cap, the Avengers titles, and Thor, and then about 2 months ago, I stopped buying anything at all. I just can't afford it any more, and this is coming from someone who has collected comics for 40+ years. The days of exciting/readable story arcs are over. Everything must have 14 tie-ins/crossovers. To paraphrase young 'Dash' from the Incredibles: when everything is epic, nothing is.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:11 a.m. CST

    I'm a Marvel Lemming

    by Blanket-Man

    I still buy every issue of Amazing Spidey just like I have since 1974, even though I can't remember the last time I really enjoyed an issue. Ultimate Spidey is still enjoyable. Some of the Avengers series are fun these days but there are way too many of 'em; Thunderbolts is among my favorite titles; Cap is still good, but needs to lose the Nomad back-up snoozer; Hulk is the most fun he's been in years (I bought more Hulk books over the past two years than at any time since the early 1980s). So I guess Marvel's 2010 is a mixed bag. Looking forward to the conclusion of Three in FF and the Trial of Cap... and some decent Spidey stories (he wrote hopefully, for the 20th year in a row).

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:13 a.m. CST

    I feel for you guys...

    by Marshal_Lannes

    I'm an old school comic reader and collector- meaning that I began collecting in the 70's and my first con was memorable in that I went on a Byrne X-Men rampage...spending big 1980's bucks on those early 100's issues and I've never regretted that. I stopped around 1990...and for the single reason y'all mention early in the article- you had to read 10 or 12 books to keep up with one story line and the heroes began to be diluted by all that. It began, in my comic world, with Alpha Flight getting their own book to be the Canadian X-Men. Are they even still around? It just went from there- Spin offs, Mini-Series, Crossovers, New this, New that..... I had to stop. So now my perfectly preserved collection sits....and waits....and I'll probably never do anything with it.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Marvel is lost in the wilderness.

    by shutupfanboy

    We will probably never see digital comics take off due to how terrible they look in 3-D world. The new Buffy motion comic looks like the same abortion that the comic itself was. I stopped buying single issues Marvel after One More Day. I bought JMS' Thor which was great. Now that is done in trade, I am done. Its dead to me until they get Peter and MJ back together or Quesada and his minions are thrown out of power. I also think with the new Disney deal, we see less books next year. They are going to thin the herd and hire a bunch of cheap hacks to write what is left. I am ok with thinning the herd, but they need someone who understands the universe and the characters not someone who is going to be a corporate stooge or shakes things up for the sake of shaking things up. Also bringing back shit from the 90s like Thanos is the wrong direction. DC is kicking their ass right now. Why, because they gave their characters to people who can write them minus Morrison on Batman. Blackest Night was amazing and Brightest Day even though long winded keeps you update with the entire universe. Superman has been awesome. Flash has been ok and Wonder Woman is at least intriguing. I am buying more DC then ever and its due to them not fucking up things so bad, its unreadable minus you know Batman right now.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:20 a.m. CST

    shutupfanboy , who in their right mind buys a buffy comic?

    by Talkbacker with no name

    let alone a motion one. There is your problem right there.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Marcos Martin IS one of the Spidey artists

    by SifoDyasJr

    Slott is the main writer and the artists are rotating with different story arcs. I think Martin's starts up next month after the Hobgoblin story concludes. Slott & Martin are the (post)modern day Lee & Ditko.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Collecting for 25 years now....

    by BangoSkank

    ...and can't bring myself to drop them altogether. But between the price increase and the glut of crap Marvel pushes out, I buy far less than I used to. I get my comics through a mail service, and you need to have at least 10 monthly titles in your pull list, so that's what I keep it at now. 10 is my limit, and that feels about right. I'll let it sneak up to 11 or 12 if there's a really good mini I want, but otherwise 10 is the limit, and these days Marvel only get about 5 of those.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 10:07 a.m. CST

    You guys should have told us you were doing this...

    by Joenathan

    I would have brought some cheese to go with your whine.... Let's keep this all in perspective here, kids. I saw it mentioned once, but not nearly enough. Vote with your wallets. If you don't like it, stop buying it. You'll sleep better at night. Fraction's Iron man, Brubaker's Cap, Hickman's books: S.H.I.E.L.D, Secret warriors and FF(Ultimate Thor is also interesting...), Secret Avengers, New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-man and Bendis's Ultimate Enemy and Ultimate Mystery. These are all good books. If you don't like regular Avengers... stop buying it. I did. If enough of you stop, they might change stuff.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Buffy is Dark Horse is big seller

    by shutupfanboy

    So, it not just me. It started off on ok, but as soon as Angel was revealed to be Twilight as well as Buffy being gay, it went to shit. Angel: After the Fall was very good to the reset button got hit. I am just picking it up for a friend right now and reading it. Its fucking awful and almost as bad as Spidey is right now. Slott is a jackass whose claim to fame is kissing Quesada's ass. Why do you think Marvel can't get anyone good to write Amazing right, because all the good writers know the character is a fucking terrible without the marriage. Peter is now Johnny Storm without the back-up. Peter was the most developed character at Marvel until they regressed him back to the shit days of the 1970s and 80s. Its an embarrassment what they did with that character.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 10:51 a.m. CST

    And that...

    by Joenathan

    Is why Ultimate Spider-man is the BEST Spider-man... well, one of the reasons.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 10:52 a.m. CST

    The state of Marvel

    by gooseud

    I dropped Cap when the Red Skull had him dead to rights with a .38 snubnose.......and chose to send him hurtling through time instead. C'mon. It seems like Secret Avengers is what Cap used to be: classic Brubaker spy-ish gritty hand to hand coolness, with nary a hint of a sense of humor anywhere in sight (although seeing them not be able to use Fu Manchu's name is hilarious, "We need to stop....that guy! Ya know, HIM! Standing right there!". X-Factor, while it had moments of greatness, was corrupted with various crossover garbage. Thor was AWESOME for JMS's run, sank slowly through Siege, and dropped off an absolute cliff with Fraction's arrival (you bring back Loki, the guy responsible for Asgard's destruction, not even a week after he is killed.....because gee, you sure miss that mischievous lil sprite......C'mon.). Thor is at his best on an island out of normal continuity, as the awesomeness of Ultimate Thor and Thor: For Asgard attest. Speaking of Fraction, the "Stark Resilient" arc was awful and moved at the pace of a glacier, and I'm giving it the upcoming Mandarin arc to revive my interest or it gets the boot too. Sometimes it just seems like Fraction is a little too pleased with his own cleverness for my tastes. Thunderbolts continues to be kinda cool, as Juggernaut continues his slow face turn and gets more interesting by the issue. RIP Abnett and Lanning's cosmic stuff, as that run of the first Anihilation mini through Thanos Imperative was probably in my top 3 favorite stories of the decade, right there with Walking Dead.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 10:56 a.m. CST

    Someone Please Explain

    by optimous_douche

    Fucking motion comics. How is this not simply cheap animation? Seriously, they are not letting your imagination do the work, because...well it moves. Yet they don't move with the same fluidity as full-on animation. Someone please explain why this shit is popular. Please.....

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Motion comics don't require you to read

    by shutupfanboy

    Its spoon feed to you and that is what this generation is all about. Getting the joy of something without doing anything for it. Actually, this is all young generations, it just escalated due to the super tech we have. I think it looks like shit to be honest as well, but people will eat it, because they don't want to read or thing since its on a computer or TV its better. The trailer for Buffy made it look worse then the actual comic which is a statement of how shitty it is. I don't believe digital comics will take over for a few reasons. One, the collector market helps run the industry and unless they make the content something that can be rebought at a bigger price then its useless to those people. Two, the tech has not gotten to the point that it looks any good. Eventually, someone will point this out to this generation how gay it looks and it will lose all creditability, I expect Family Guy or South Park to point that out or some other show that is at the pulse of this generation. Third, No one is going to wait a year between issues. Lastly, the amount of money comic book companies will have to pay for "new" stories by new writers, artist and now animators will be double of what it is. The worst part will be the $25 cost for 5 issues. Its not feasible to go all digital since you are going to bite the hand that feeds you which is the comic book stores. They need the comic book store for the community, as we have seen online community is just filled with so much negativity no body wants to go there unless they are a negative person to begin with. Without a strong sense of community, it will blow up in their face.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 11:32 a.m. CST

    Motion comics

    by Joenathan

    I've never understood that shit. It's like they're trying to convince that the way they used to do cartoons 40 years ago is the best way... WTF? And why pour so much money into this but not regular animation. The Avengers cartoon is fun, but I still dream of the day the big two start putting out "adult" cartoons in series like Samurai Champloo or Trigun or something. Imagine Ellis's Thunderbolts done by talent and treated with "adult" sensibilities. I'd line up to pay for that shit. And yeah, the Red Skull's ultimate plan was one of the dumbest thing ever. I could just hear Scott Evil throwing a fit. What happened there, do you think? Was that all Bru or Editorial? Anyone know? I still like the book though, I think Bucky could be one of the better characters Marvel's got. Also, Resiliant ran too long, but it had good stuff going on and I think we're gonna look back on an awesomely built character of Tony Stark, instead of a one note ex-drunk. I'm still with Walking Dead, but... I can't help but like the comic a little bit less after the show turned out to be so fucking crappy.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 1:17 p.m. CST

    I hear ya Fanboy & Ques for Joen

    by optimous_douche

    I'm at the very beginning of the lazy-as-shit generation, so I totally get the tether of electronic trappings... So what do I do? I watch REAL animation. Joen just said it best, motion comics are like the bad bad animation from two generations ago, they might as well stop motion the shit with clay characters. Joen: Why do you think Walking Dead the show is shity? I have thoughts here, but I'm curious.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 2:09 p.m. CST

    I really enjoyed Second Coming.

    by rabidfnark

    That was a light in the darkness for me, along with Brubaker's Cap (despite some of those problems mentioned above). I've also recently been enjoying Jason Aaron's Wolverine (just as I did earlier with his Wolverine: Weapon X, and Get Mystique). And as for motion comics: tried it, hated it, won't be trying it again. At best it seems like a way to get around actually having to animate some great material.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Walking Dead

    by Joenathan

    The first ep was great. They took the good stuff and added some more good stuff and it was alright. Every episode after that, ESPECIALLY Kirkman's was worse and worse. There was no arc. Six episodes, no single story thread. Now, if pressed, I would say the thread might have been the realization that no where was safe, that the old world was dead, blah, blah, blah, but you never get to SEE any of the characters have that realization. Also, character development? Six episodes and they not only ignore characters that are going to stick around, but they add more characters, 90% of which don't make it to episode six! Think about all the time wasted on the skinny black lady and Carol's husband and T Dog and the no name family and Meryl (Daryl was actually a welcome voice and viewpoint). All that air time gone, along with most of the new characters AND Andrea and Dale's relationship is never really established. Rick is a mystery, fighting to get to his family only to ditch them right away to save a nutjob that logical recollection would have to dictate is that they assume is dead. Glenn? Glenn who? Lori does nothing but occasionally nag and Carl, Carol, and the girl might as well have been redshirts themselves. Now, sure, Meryl is most likely going to come back with or as the Governor and will probably be the one who cuts of Rick's had, but shit... how stupid is it to waste so much time on a character that doesn't appear in a majority of your season when (at the time) they didn't have a second season! The latino gangbangers?... come on... And the last episode with the ticking clock. I love how skinny black lady is like: "I'm gonna stay and blow up" and everyone is like: "ok" and then Andrea says "Me too" and everyone is like: "NOOOOOOOO!" Ha! In your face, skinny black lady! They hate you. Mostly, my problem was the lack of an arc and character development (except for Shane and Daryl, the only two actually interesting chracters). The show looked great, but the writing (for the most part)... BAD. After the first ep, I was excited. 5 stars. After the six ep... 2 stars, then I'd admit I was lying and switch it down to 1.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 2:36 p.m. CST

    I dont think the show sucked

    by gooseud

    I just think the finale was lame. That was a terrible idea, we all knew it, everyone had a foreboding feeling heading into it, and it turned out to be as lame as we suspected. The love triangle was just as it was in the book, Glenn was awesome and hilarious, Rick was pretty much on key with the first arc of the comic. The pilot was awesome, I didnt hate Vatos as much as alot of people seemed to. Dale was also actually much more relatable and likeable on screen then he ever was in the book. Things I didnt like: the various redshirts that I didnt care about clogging up my screen, Michael Rooker hamming up my television screen in such an over-the-top fashion that Oliver Platt was jealous, Andrea being turned into an obnoxious wuss. I just think the Governor is such a dominant, overwhelming, psychologically scarring presence that people are waiting for that arc to hurry up and start just to get on with it. Honestly, although I didnt realize it at the time, the book has actually been BETTER over the past 30 issues, once they got past the Governor, then it was for the 30 preceeding it. Still though, nothing can touch those first 15 issues or so, pure gold.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 3:34 p.m. CST

    Are you sure?

    by Joenathan

    It sounds like you thought the show was more lame than good... How was Glenn awesome? He did nothing. 2 jokes and walking with Rick in the 2nd ep does not "awesome" make. You're right though, I am so uniterested in seeing the Governor/prison arc come to life and I am sick of everyone pulling their puds like crazed monkeys at the thought. I was disappointed. I thought "story matters" at AMC, but you couldn't tell by watching the whole of the first season. I hope there is some serious work between now and season two and a definite plan.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 6:23 p.m. CST

    You're being a bit harsh...but you're not totally wrong either...

    by Ambush Bug

    I agree THE WALKING DEAD is not the best, but it's certainly not as bad as one would think. Honestly, I believe the introduced too many characters and tried to do too much in six episodes. The lack of characterization is evident. Glen, Dale, Andrea, Andrea's sister, all didn't have much by way of character. But seriously, what can you do in six episodes?<br><br> The reason why we care about the characters in THE WALKING DEAD is that they've been around for almost 80 issues. The series tried to do too much too soon. I know making the first six episodes exactly like the first six issues is impossible, but that would have been the most ideal situation. End with Rick actually making it to the camp. The emotional payoff could have been awesome. Frame it like FRINGE was this season where one episode follows Rick and maybe Glen, while the next episode follows teh camp. Culminate with Rick's arrival, followed by the attack on the camp which wipes out most of them.<br><br> But that doesn't mean the show is that bad. The Rick/Lori/other dude (god, I forget his name and I'm at work) conflict was decent. The actors are fine. And I think the death of Andrea's sister was the emotional highpoint of the series (apart from the first episode which had even my cold dead heart breaking).<br><br> Had they forgone the explosive finale and ended two episodes sooner with the survivors deeming the location unsafe and heading for the road and spent a little more time establishing Rick and Glen's relationship, I think I would have been more satisfied.<br><br> Still, it ain't all bad. I'm hoping for more character development in the next season with the introduction of Tyreese and Michonne. Rick and Tyreese's relationship was one of the best in the series. If they nail that it'll be fine. I just can't complain that much because it's THE frikkin WALKING DEAD on television! They ate a deer and a horse! Heads were lopped off! Faces were punched in! Good stuff.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 6:56 p.m. CST

    I quit comics because of Marvel in this decade.

    by Chewtoy

    I grew up reading Marvel. I was a huge Avengers fan, digging through back-issue bins to fill in the holes in my collection, learning the history of all of the characters, gradually widening my interests to more and more comics as I grew older. It grew through college, and even through my marriage. And then in the last 10 years I've stopped reading all but the rare trade paperback, and it's pretty much because Marvel shit the bed. Marvel comics aren't about discovering cool characters any longer. They're entirely side shows, gathering crowds to see what crazy thing they'll do next. As soon as the show's over, the crowd disperses because they have no particular attachment to the stars of the show. Hell, fans proudly state "I don't follow characters, I follow creators". Well, yeah... there are no fucking characters to follow at Marvel. Just shallow stand-ins that change personality, history and status quo constantly. Change is good. I like change. But it's fairly obvious that Marvel puts on their demolition hats because the swinging wrecking ball draws attention, not because they've actually drawn up plans for building anything worthwhile on the cleared foundation after the dust settles.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 7:13 p.m. CST

    joaquin_ondamoon and marshal_lannes, HELP!

    by art123guy

    I'm an old school Marvel zombie and can't stop. PLEASE tell me how you did it! I have complete collections of Avengers, X-Men Captain America, Incredible Hulk and most Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. I WANT to stop, but I just can't. I know I'm gonna miss something and I'll have to go back and buy the gaps. While I can afford it, I'd obviously have more money if I could quit or not buy as much. An even bigger issue is WHERE to store them. I've got 72 Drawer long boxes in a walk in closet. Unfortunately, an old comic strip I saw 25 years ago has become true: Comic book collectors don't die, they disappear behind comic book long boxes.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 7:14 p.m. CST

    A long time ago in a comic shop far far away

    by Timothy

    I was really fucking bored by everything on the stands. Nothing worthy was going on, so I walked away from reading comics altogether. out of pure curiousity i picked up Bendis and Gaydos's ALIAS and i was hooked yet again. 10 years later i find myself in the same position. Hardly any super hero comics really capture me anymore because i know beyond any shadow of a doubt it'll all come round again and there will be no real lasting change. and as a result i'm looking to independent comics and i'm way more satisfied with what i'm buying. there is significantly less i'm buying but i'm not mad reading DMZ the way avengers makes me. i'm not reading usagi yojimbo thinking didn't all these characters die a couple of times already like I do reading x-men

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 7:45 p.m. CST

    No Thunderbolts love?

    by kungfuhustler84

    think hulk is boring, so I dont read it, but jeff parker is doing a great job with a really cool team

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 9:43 p.m. CST

    If I may quote the "Lord Humongous"...

    by Joaquin_Ondamoon

    ..."Just walk away." As simple as that. Chewtoy hit it on the head: at Marvel it's not about the characters, it's about the event. Characters change with the writers, there's hardly any consistency. Gooseud had a good example - the Return of Loki. After a whole week. After he pretty much fucked over Asgard single handedly. Because Thor 'missed his bro'. Please. Thor was one of the best titles last year, and slowly declined as 2010 dragged on. While I really enjoyed Cap (and I like Bucky as Cap, but he's kinda 'Cap Lite'), I'm not crazy about the Steve Rogers characterization: I feel it's different depending upon which book you happen to be reading at the moment. And I love the Avengers, but how many teams do you need? It dilutes the franchise, and sullies the 'honor' of being an Avenger. "I'm an Avenger." Yeah, you and forty other people, pal. I'll throw a shout out to 'Secret Warriors', because Nick Fury (the 616 one) is the coolest bad-ass on the planet. But even that storyline began to get muddled during the last few issues. I used to be a completist - now I just want good stories, with interesting characters, and decent artwork. I can't afford 14 tie-ins anymore, and if you can't wrap up a story in 5-6 issues, I don't have the time anymore. Look at the Golden Age. You didn't have all this bullshit - just an Annual once a year. Whatever. Didn't mean to rant, but this has really been bothering me lately, to the point where I just up and stopped buying. I did the same thing during the late '80's glut, and took a 10 year hiatus from comics. I hope it doesn't take another decade to clear some heads over at Marvel. (and I apologize for the giant paragraph - can someone please tell me how to generate paragraph breaks now?)

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 10:19 p.m. CST

    You're not wrong, Bug

    by Joenathan

    But you also nailed exactly what pissed me off about the show. They only had SIX EPISODES! SIX! They needed to realize that and write FOR THAT! It wasn't like it was a surprise. They needed to sit down and say: "Okay, six episodes and we need to do this, this, and this. Let's block it out." and it is sooooo obvious that DID NOT happen. So yeah, casting, special effects, sets... all great. Writing? P.U. stinky.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 10:40 p.m. CST

    I treat comics the way I would a pet dog.

    by rabidfnark

    I love them, spend money, time and energy on them, but if they turn on me they get put down.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 11:07 p.m. CST

    Walking Dead - joenathan is correct

    by Squashua

    Six episodes and they wasted a lot of the time doing wasteful nothing. Totally agree.

  • Dec. 29, 2010, 11:08 p.m. CST

    Voting with my Wallet

    by Squashua

    Notice I'm not in this talkback much. <br><br> That's because I didn't buy much Marvel this year besides Kick Ass 2, and that was only out of curiousity. I'm primarily DC and independents now.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 12:12 a.m. CST

    I would like the $4 per book explained too.

    by ClaireRedfield

    I would rather they go back to newsprint and primary colors than pay $4 for something I can read in ten minutes which may or may not be worth a damn. Why on earth would I pay that much when I can buy a novel for the same price as two comics? Why would they expect ANYONE to make that kind of investment on a month to month basis? If a person has other hobbies or interests, what do you think is going to be given up first? Comics at $4 a pop, or a video game, at $10-$50 for a hours long experience? Sure I buy a collection now and then, but that's because I know what I'm getting into. I'm not going in blind, on a whim, which is how I used to buy comics as a kid. They've priced me out of my willingness to try anything new. And I've literally seen people go into sticker shock when they consider buying comics off the shelf in bookstores. They are losing potential new customers in droves because no one is willing to pay that much for 20 pages of content. So I for one would like to know whats going on. Maybe I could be more forgiving if I knew where all that damn money was going. Tell me what I'm supposed to be paying for, because it sure as hell ain't all inflation that's causing this.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 6:52 a.m. CST

    The @ssholes hit the nail on the head.

    by Sithtastic

    This conversation was comprehensive and I felt lost in the lurch, trying to get my bearings, having pretty much put normal Marvel continuity aside, post Secret Invasion (which no longer survives the re-read). I have to say whoever in this review stated Marvel has some inkling that monthly books are no longer the main attraction and are now using them to promote Marvel films nailled it. Somewhere along the line a lot of the creators at Marvel were coaxed into believing their future was in setting up, then capitalizing off the company's film success. In the advent of such success at the box office, I can see why, but that's no way to run a comic book company built on fans who actually remember the characters before they were screen icons. That said, like some of them, I find my money is going basically to TPB format for Ultimate books (mostly X-Men and Ultimates--I ditched normal continuity after 2008) and films. I don't know what it would take to get me reading a monthly book again, but I for one have interest in a re-hash of the 90's market glut which led to a collapse from which the industry never fully recovered.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 7:43 a.m. CST

    some intrepid reporter

    by geoff

    SQUASHUA: I've said this elsewhere, but I figured this is as good a place as any. I need those $4 to be justified. This is my open call for an intrepid comic book news reporter to determine the per X cost of a comic book for each company, where X is either panel, page, or book. I understand that there are many parameters surrounding this cost, which include deals with creators (writer, artist), time-frames, issue quantities, distributors, management, and suppliers, and "the cut" for the company, and probably items I'm not even thinking of, but I need to know why I'm paying $4 for a book containing 40% splash pages. I feel a more open industry could help reduce overall cost. Rich Johnstone at does exactly this every month for marvel and dc working out the cost per page and total cost of collecting entire outputs and different families of books. Look for "numbercrunching" on the site

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 7:52 a.m. CST

    Walking Dead and Marvel's other problem.

    by shutupfanboy

    After watching Walking Dead and reading the first four TPBs, I think the show is actually better. They wasted Shane as a villain and I liked how the CDC was used since it would make sense to go there. The show is doing more to flesh out the characters then the book. I do hope they move towards the farm and prison storyline, but they need these other side quests to develop the characters more. In fairness, Kirkland ends up killing most of these guys anyway for no reason then shock value. The problem for Marvel besides being owned by the rat is what happens if a few other movies fall. While Thor, Cap and Avengers should be hits. I think the rebooted X-Men and Spiderman are in real trouble. What happens if next year Spiderman and Avengers tank at the box office. Do they blame the studio which in Disney case is themselves or blame the comic book section? I am thinking the latter. I do think Avengers and Batman 3 will be the last big things next to a JLA movie that the studios can offer us in the way of comic book movies. We are reaching the end of the marketability of comic books.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Bug and Joe are both right

    by gooseud

    I believe Bug is right, in that Joe is looking at the show through the prism of 80 issues of foreknowledge. Go back and read those first 6-8 issues again, there wasnt much more about Glenn in those then the show. However, we KNOW how awesome he is going to become. There are two different issues here: characters and story. The characters, they nailed it. Rick? Dead on. Glenn? Exactly as in the book. Shane? Perfect. Dale? BETTER then in the book (I was never a big Dale fan). I do feel like I'm not a fan of making Andrea this shrill harpy, but I can live with it. As far as characters, its where they stray from the book that things go south (Rooker chewing the scenery like beef jerky, the doctor at the CDC, T-Bag or whatever that useless guy's name is). So the characters are there, but the story, it needs some work. Just stick to the friggin book and things will be fine, the source material is impeccable. Seeing Rooker do his "loud KKK guy" impression as the Governor next year for 6 episodes or so is filling me with dread, I must admit.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 8:07 a.m. CST

    Kungfuhustler: Tbolts

    by gooseud

    is indeed awesome, when they are allowed to do their own stand alone stories and not worry about crossovers. Juggernaut and Ghost are two of my favorite characters out there right now, and thats coming from a guy who never read a page of Tbolts til 6 months ago. I hear Ellis's run is pretty good.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 9:29 a.m. CST


    by MattAdler

    "Rich Johnstone at does exactly this every month for marvel and dc working out the cost per page and total cost of collecting entire outputs and different families of books." I don't think this is what Squashua is referring to; anyone doing basic division can figure out how much you're paying per page; Squashua wants to know how it *costs the company* to produce that page. And that is a carefully guarded secret.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Trade Paperbacks & Events

    by room23storeblogspotcom

    I read X-Men in High School in the early 90's and then stopped because of a number of non comics reasons. (X-Men, Daredevil & GI Joe) A few years ago I started reading the X-Men & Uncanny X-Men Trade Paperbacks and man its just so much better. Its cheaper since I can get 20 - 40% off at Borders and its better because you get the full arch in one book. <br> <br> I'm one of those rare people it looks like that actually likes the event crossovers. I kind of wish that they wouldn't crossover to books that aren't as related, but thats a minor thing for me. I do agree that we need to get rid of some of the extra books like Astonishing X-Men and some of the others. I don't even read Astonishing because most of the time its not part of the main story.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Excellent article

    by fpuk99

    Thanks guys.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Nerd out - you've been warned

    by Joenathan

    Ok, here's why going to the CDC is the stupidest fucking idea ever and one that should have been shot down in the writers' room if they had ever bothered to actually discuss the world they were building. Ok, so... Zombie outbreak, right? It's a virus. Where's the first place you're going to see big concentrations? Hospitals. Why? It's where sick/wounded people go. From there, they start to figure out what is going on, though, and since it's a virus, the center of America's hope for salvation suddenly becomes.... The motherfucking CDC. Why? Who else cures virulent diseases in an emergency... or, at least tries... So, the outbreak is picking up speed and what is on the TV constantly? Three things. 1. The downfall of civilization. 2. Government broadcasts. And 3. CDC warnings. So basically, the whole world would have been able to watch on TV as the CDC's barricades were overrun, the shutters were closed and the place was surrounded by zombies. This makes it a bad place to go. Another reason it's a bad place to go: It is one of the few places in the world where you are guaranteed that the virus will be present. At that point, an outbreak is a survivors worst nightmare given dead flesh, why the hell would you want to go somewhere where the chances of experiencing another one are highest? Now, here's the reason this REALLY irks me: This seems logical to me. It seems logical to me that EVERYONE in that world would know what the fucking CDC was. Even if they didn't see it fall, they would be familiar with it, the way the whole world suddenly becomes familiar with anything: sexting, WMDs, hanging chads... these things get spurted all over the news when they're even tangentally relevant to a crisis/event/zeitgeist moment. So, to me, the idea that a virus that brings back the Dead as hungry monsters showing up, means the whole of America learns about the CDC, even if only for a few days before the world ends... Right? This seems logical to me... So what irks me is this: Rick has been in a coma, as we all know. At the beginning of this he is our everyman's eyes. He doesn't know the world or rules and neither do we, so we learn them together, so maybe HE doesn't know about the CDC, but it stands toreason that SOMEONE ELSE in the group would! What irks me is, how come the rest of the group seems as new world naive as Rick? They've lived through this and yet they all seemed clueless. World building fail. End Nerd-out.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 1:22 p.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    the deaths aren't for shock value, it's because surviving is hard and americans are soft.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 1:25 p.m. CST

    Also, also

    by Joenathan

    Why do you think comic book movies are not going to be marketable? How are comic book movies different from action movies? Or Sci-fi movies? Seriously. Take away the mask and how do they differe from... the Matrix? Or the Expendables? If anything, I think the established property angle for marketing purposes will mean that comic book movies, for better or worse, are here to stay.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 1:27 p.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    For God's sake, read Ellis's run already. WTF?

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 2:25 p.m. CST

    So nerds all hate The Walking Dead now?

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    That was quick.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 2:26 p.m. CST

    Oh wait, it was wildly successful...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ... that explains it.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 2:40 p.m. CST

    You're stupid

    by Joenathan

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 10:29 p.m. CST

    harryknowlesinception is right

    by shutupfanboy

    You can write all the posts you want, but the moment non-nerds like something nerds shit all over it. Walking Dead is so bad, it got a Golden Globe nodd which means it will get an Emmy nod especially if they win. Walking Dead is better with these side quest adventures. That way, people are already spoiled when they read the books. Yet, I am sure Shane will be killed and probably by the boy like in the comic. And I am sure the prison and farm will make an appearance, but it will different or they choose to replace the CDC with the farm since it ended just as bad. If we already know what is going to happen why bother watching? Also most of the farm shit was just really unbelievable like penning up the zombies and magically they attack while the others are there. I know people love the books, I do too, but adding a few things here and there is not going to kill the show. And yeah, most of the deaths are for shock value like the prison ones. It has nothing to do with Americans being soft, Euro-trash.

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 11:37 p.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    I don't care if they follow the book, if you'll notice, none of my complaints are about the fact that there are changes from the book, and I freely admit my complaint about the CDC is a nothing but a nerd-based complaint, NOT because of the fact it veers away from the source material. In fact, I mark two of the new characters (the updated Shane and Daryl) as the two most interesting characters of the bunch. I also think the stuff that was added in the first episode actually made the original stuff better. My problem is with the execution of the show for episodes 2-6, the writing, the lack of story arc and characterization. Also, I hate it when they do the whole "doused in guts and the Dead are confused" thing. It implies too much higher brain function... but that's just me. Anyway, who cares if it follows the book? I just want it done well. An ever-rising zombie zeitgeist amongst the great unwashed is a good thing, so I'm glad it has done so well. I want it to be popular, believe me, but the honeymoon's over, the bloom is off the undead rose. If the writing doesn't pick up in season two, there won't be a three. Seriously, watch all six in a row and pretend that those six episodes were it, no comic, no second season, nothing... just those six episodes. Ready? Ok, what was the story? What was the arc? How did the characters change and grow? What was resolved at the end? Fail Also, the Golden Globes are just the Oscars for retarded people...

  • Dec. 30, 2010, 11:39 p.m. CST


    by Joenathan

    I'm American. I lived on both coasts, in the south and in the midwest. Americans are fat, stupid, soft and lazy. That's how it goes when you're a first world country, genius. Who gives a fuck about Europe?

  • Dec. 31, 2010, 5:29 a.m. CST

    Quesada has stopped trying anymore

    by chien_sale

    And he has no idea what to do. And doesn't care, he just wants to protect his futur and not shake the boat too much.

  • Dec. 31, 2010, 11:43 p.m. CST

    getting closer every year

    by Star Hump

    and someday, someday soon, Marvel publishing will fail utterly, and their weekly/monthly batch of shitty comic books will no longer appear. It cannot happen soon enough, but when it does, it'll be a happy, happy day. Can't wait.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 10:36 a.m. CST

    Dark Reign

    by clupula

    Actually had me reading Avengers for once. I will say that I am not a normal comic book fan. I think characters like Captain America are lame. I don't want to read about heroic people doing heroic deeds. That's why Dark Reign was so great to me. It was a team of villains having to actually do some good in order to keep their power, at the same time trying to keep their most powerful member (the Sentry) from snapping and killing everyone. I know it's the opposite of what Avengers readers wanted, but it kept me reading every month, and now that it's over, I stopped caring again. But, keep in mind, I am not typical fan of the Avengers, so I know that their typical output is not written for me. Dark Avengers felt like it was.

  • Jan. 3, 2011, 11:35 a.m. CST

    JEPHD - Bleeding Cool Numbercrunching - not what I asked for

    by Squashua

    "Rich Johnstone at does exactly this every month for marvel and dc working out the cost per page and total cost of collecting entire outputs and different families of books. Look for "numbercrunching" on the site " <br><br> Rich Johnston doesn't break it down in the way I'm requesting. I want to know where each % of the amount I'm paying for a book gets distributed after-the-fact (30% to Diamond, 20% to Marvel, 0.5% to the writer, 1% to the artist, etc.) <br><br> What Bleeding Cool Numbercrunching monthly Solicitation does is summarize the amount of books in the month and how much you are paying on a per-page basis per-book; this doesn't tell us where the $ goes and for what. I want to know WHY the comics are $4; I can do a per-page basis on my own.

  • Jan. 5, 2011, 6:16 a.m. CST


    by hst666

    When people complain about continuity being overwhelming, I don't get it. I'm 40 and I jumped in in the middle of the Korvac saga in the Avengers and the Project Pegasus stuff in Marvel 2in1 and there was no less continuity then.<p><p>I can understand if people are referring to constant current continuity and a NEED to pick up a ton of current books to follow a new story. However, I have found most of the minis don't require a reading of all the tie-ins, although it helps.