Friday, January 30, 2009

What´s in store for 2009 ? Part 2

Time to continue our look at what Marvel has planned for 2009.

more of the dark and more Avengers

When CIVIL WAR was announced it seemed that it was just a run - of - the - mill - crossover like dozens before. Well, this year the fallout from the event that changed the landscape of the Marvel universe seems to continue with DARK AVENGERS.

Well, I thought NEW SECRET DEFENDERS.....ahem, I mean " Bendis NEW AVENGERS " and MIGHTY AVENGERS were dark enough. Obviously Marvel doesn´t share my opinion so there is a new title. Like that´s what we really need. Another title. And more of the grom and gritty. I guess it´s true that it gets a whole lot worse before it gets better.

Okay, let´s not get too hasty in comdemming the title. It´s got Mike Deodato Jr. on pencils which means I finally know where he went off to after his THUNDERBOLTS issues. I can´t say much about the story because I don´t read too much previews and now that Marvel also has stopped providing MILE HIGH COMICS with preview pages ( because Marvel can´t give stuff away for free even if it multiplies their sales ) I can´t get it there neither. As it´s a new book it has the 3.99 price tag and I really love Mike Deodato......but not that much.

What´s more since this is going to be one of the " hot " titles the first trade will probably be out one month after issue six. So I´m not sure if I should put it on the pull list. Another thing I find weird is the variant cover for issue 3. I mean the regular cover is a full frontal boobity shot of Morgaine LeFay while the variant is.....Hawkeye ?

Okay, am I the only one hearing Cartman´s voice in my head ?

" Hawkeye or boobies ? "

" Hawkeye or boobies ? "

" Hawkeye on one side boobies on the other Side . Hmm, decisions, decisions. "

I think somebody should explain the concept of variant covers to Marvel. Or maybe not.

And since we haven´t had enough of secret invasions, secret illuminatis and behind - the - scenes movers and shakers with all the stuff involved with the Osborn Supremacy :

Doctor Doom! Emma Frost! The Hood! Namor the Sub-Mariner! Loki! They're the members of Norman Osborn's secret Cabal of villainy, united in common cause as they move to change the very landscape of the Marvel Universe! Now, in five all-new stories, learn how each member of this sinister syndicate intends to capitalize on the situation-and perhaps how they intend to deal with each other should it prove necessary!

Another 3.99 book that sounds like AVENGERS ILLUMINATI - only without Jim Cheung´s awesome pencils. Not that the stories were anything but boring and 90 percent pure WTF ? So now we really need more of that ? And am I the only one who´s slightly creeped out by female Loki ? Foki ? What ? I don´t know. Yes, Loki was always described as a kind of hermaphrodite in the original folk tales and having characteristics of both sexes. But it´s one thing to read about it in a book and another to see something like this in the comic continuity. I guess I´m just too used to see Loki as a guy in the pages of Marvel comics. This book is definitely a candidate for first taking a look at it when I see it in the comic shop.

more superheroes become superheroines

But wait.....there´s still more WTF to come. Foki ( Floki ? ) is nothing compared to....ta da da daaaa.....the NEW BLACK PANTHER ! Now with 100 percent more boobies !

As a comic reader who is reading comics for more than 20 years now I can tell you there´s a simple sign for when a comic publisher is at the end of the creative rope. And that´s when they introduce female versions of their comic characters. And I don´t mean books like SUPERGIRL, BATGIRL, SPIDER - GIRL or SHE - HULK. No, comic companies have always done female counterparts of their male heroes with sometimes mild success and - in a few cases - with really spectacular results.

No, what I mean is the " Oh no, Superman ( or the Punisher or any other comic character ) is suddenly a girl ! Who is she and where did she come from ? " Can you get more unoriginal ? I remember back when Rob Liefeld ( can´t believe I really mentioned that name on my blog ) was doing a month where all male heroes were suddenly chicks. Man, what a total gimmick ! Everybody was getting on his case. And now Marvel´s doing it.

The Black Panther is back.....and she´s badder than ever. Who is she ? Who cares ? Can somebody explain to me what was wrong with the Black Panther we had ? Okay, the sales might not have been as good lately. Which could have something to do with the fact that the art mostly......sucked. No, really. I have been reading the book since the relaunch because my brother has it on his pull list and apart from the issues by Scott Eaton there hasn´t been good art since John Romita Jr. left after ISSUE 6.

It´s always the same : comic publishers start a new title with a lot of hype, superstar artists and lots of expectations. Then after six months - I mean the first trade - the hype is gone taking with it the star artist, the high sales position and everybody is scratching their heads why fans leave the book in drones. You just can´t sell a title on their reputation of past glories alone. You have to put out a quality product if you want a permanent connection with the reader.

more totally different and all - new superheroines

Speaking of superheroes being suddenly superheroines this brings us to superheroines suddenly being totally different superheroines. Which brings us to one of the recurring topics on this blog : SHE - HULK. Why can´t they just let it die ? I think we all have accepted that Marvel.....well, basically they just don´t know what to do with the title. Other than completely destroying it. Finally Peter David had a good idea although you have to ask yourself why the idea of an " all girls team " is always the last thing he comes up with.

That was the case with SUPERGIRL where it got cancelled before he could implement it ( which basically happens when writers think they need 50 issues of buildup before they can share their really good ideas ) and in SHE - HULK he only got it in in the last issues before cancellation. I mean it was also in the restarted HULK book so obviously Marvel knows that it´s something that attracts readers.

If you have seen the variant cover by Arthur Adams you know on which AVENGERS story from the 70s this is based but I have to ask myself : Really, Marvel ? You need 40 years to come back to that ? You only JUST NOW realize that you should do a follow up ?

For years I have prophesied the end of the SHE - HULK title because Marvel doesn´t know how to do it. Is it really so hard ? I mean the last issues of HULK have shown that you CAN have good artists like Frank Cho and Arthur Adams working on a book without forcing them to do 22 pages a month. I think the basic idea is that Marvel is unclear on it´s target audience with this book. I guess they are not unaware that the title is mostly read by males even if they have clearly no intention to cater to that audience since neither the stories are what guys like to read nor the art is geared towards them - aside from the issues done by Paul Pelletier.

On the other hand I don´t think it´s really targeted at girls.

I mean where are the horses ? If you really want to be successful in capturing the female audience you have to include horses. Sounds like a cliche but if you look at successful comics in catering to this audience you can see that it´s true. It may be a coincidence and not intended for that purpose alone like in NEW MUTANTS but it works. And where are the horses ? In HULK. Yes, the Valkyrie appeared in the pages of SHE - HULK but not her flying horse.

Now it could be that the artist can´t draw horses but than he shouldn´t be on a comic book for girls. Unless it´s not a comic for girls. But then for who is it ? Anyway, seeing as Marvel has clearly no idea who their readers are and what they might like - add to that the sudden realization that they never really tapped into the potential of Thundra - their idea for a restart on SHE - HULK seems kind of desperate.

In the spirit of the old MARVEL TWO IN ONE they just mash SHE - HULK and THUNDRA together and I really don´t want to speculate with which new name the internet community will come up for her. Shundra ? Thulka ? Sunk ? I know that it has something to do with the RAMPAGING HULK special which is all of a sudden required reading.

Way to kill two comics with one atomic bomb.

more relaunches

Speaking about relaunches brings us to EXILES 1. Yes, after cancelling the first EXILES series with issue 100 ( we don´t want those three digit issue numbers ) and restarting the whole book as NEW EXILES under the pen of Chris Claremont they have just cancelled it again. Only to bring it back again in the hopes that it will stick the third time around. Now I haven´t read THAT many issues of the EXILES franchise - only the first issues that were covered in the MONSTER from PANINI where they basically fumbled all the FUCK YEAH !- moments and the run where Paul Pelletier did the artwork. I have already sold the issues from that period that were not done by Paul Pelletier since I have to start selectioning the parts of my huge comic collection I intend to keep.

And I have to say compared with the rest the final five issues that were written by Chris Claremont show a huge decline in quality. I really don´t want to say that Chris Claremont is only rewriting his old UNCANNY X - MEN scripts again and again. But how many times can you bring THE TERROR from the CAPTAIN BRITAIN books and EXCALIBUR back ? And always with the Psylocke. I know she´s his favorite character and every time somebody kills her he brings her right back. I like her too. But we all know the drill : Psylocke comes back, Psylocke goes to another dimension, Psylocke has to go up against that dimension´s Slaymaster and we all have to re - read the whole Psylocke / Slaymaster soap opera all over again. Really, it´s not even funny anymore.

So now Marvel tries it again.

This time without Chris Claremont and without good artists like Paul Pelletier or Tom Grummet. Or it may be just to raise the cover price to 3.99 since Marvel seems to have the policy only to raise the prices for new books ( at least at the moment ). But - they brought Blink back. And that´s what really counts. Maybe I´m totally off and Jeff Parker writes really good stories and Salvador Espin has made a huge jump in his artistic evolution - we´ll have to wait and see for that.

Wow, this and the last part have really turned out quite negative. But at first sight it seems there is not much good that has been announced for this year. I´ll have to continue the review of 2008 to post some postitve content. Or maybe there will be something cool in the third part. Anyway, as always a more uplifting picture to end this post : pantsless Namor. In the spirit of FREE WILLY the avenging son let´s his little submariner roam free. More power to him.

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  • new link on Friday

    Okay, I know I promised some comic content for my next post but I just added another link to my blog roll and as it has become a tradition to do a small introduction.

    You never know how many of your readers ( all five of them in my case ) check out the links on a regular basis. So far I have put the newest links on the top and the links are not sorted. Maybe I should do that when I reach twenty links. So far you can see them with one glance and I´m far too lazy to put them in order. Maybe I will still keep the new ones on the top for a month or so before putting them in order. Which will be on a regular basis I hope.

    Now the link is for CRY HAVOK ! a blog all about a mix of things like movies, comics, tv and creative stuff in general.

    It´s not one of the blogs I wrote an e - mail to so the invitation to do a link exchange came out of the blue. It´s written by two brothers, Nick and Justin, which is kind of strange for me because if I were doing a blog with my brother it would be like Superman and Lex Luthor writing a blog. Hmm, maybe that wouldn´t be such a bad idea.

    Think about it : movie reviews written by Superman and Lex. Could be interesting.

    Back to CRY HAVOK !!! ( I have to ask them if the name of the blog is somehow related to X- Man Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok ) Since I´m not watching that many movies because I´m at least two seasons behind with CHARMED, DESPERATE HOUSEWIFES, ONE PIECE, AVATAR and whatnot I can find a lot of interesting stuff there. Like the HULK VS DVD. Didn´t know about that. What´s even better Nick works in a movie store and so they get to review new movies before the official release.

    Reading the entries reminded me a bit of my school days when we spent whole weekends with watching movies. There was a place where you could rent videos pretty cheap ( I think it was three movies for 3 Deutschmark or something ) so we rented 9 or 12 movies and watched them one after the other only taking breaks to go to the bathroom, eat or sleep a few hours. We did the whole " theme " thing were we rented like 3 movies with Harrison Ford or 3 movies by Woody Allen or just 3 horror movies.

    There even was a summer where my father was staying in Spain for five or six months and every day we rented a movie. I really watched a lot of movies back then. Now I´m mostly watching what´s on tv ( I finally saw the movie THE COUNTERFEITERS which won an Oscar - I think - but I missed the new PINK PANTHER movie with Beyonce TWICE this week ) and what my brothers rent from time to time. Last year we bought a beamer and since my mother bought a big screen to watch the movies around Christmas last year ( it´s like a small cinema screen ) my older brother is kind of obsessed with watching movies.

    With that I mean that he doesn´t want to see anything on the itsy bitsy tv anymore. I think he would have connected the tv to the beamer permanently if I hadn´t mentioned that this was a terrific idea because than we could all watch SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS on the big screen together. This never fails.

    Anyway, movie blog.

    I know I´m starting to ramble so let´s wrap this up. I haven´t had a chance to read everything that´s on the blog so far and I don´t think I´m going to get the chance Today since I have to do another post - I promised some new comic related stuff so that´s what I´m going to do. Check out the new link I´m sure you will find a lot of entertaining posts. Right now I´m waiting for a new post on their blog because the top post right now is about LOST and since the new season has just started here it´s full of spoilers. They are also showing the new season of PRISON BREAK in Germany but I already saw most of it when I was in Spain.

    That´s all for now and I´m going right to the next part of WHAT´S IN STORE FOR 2009 ?

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  • Thursday, January 29, 2009

    new links Thursday

    Time again for some blog introductions since two new bloggers have accepted to do a link exchange with yours truly. Again, I hope you find something interesting on their blogs as you check them out but don´t forget to come back here.......I need every one of you !

    The first one is I´D LIKE TO STAY HERE AND BE NORMAL by fellow blogger Dana who is the first girl ( or should I say woman ? ) who agreed to exchange links. So far there are only two entries whichs means that :

    1. all I know so far is that she likes Excalibur cosplay and the band Joydivision

    2. you can get in on the ground floor on this one and read it all from day 1

    Let´s welcome her to the blogging community and please - no trolls.

    The second one is also kind of a premiere since it´s my first spanish blog exchange partner. Yes, I have finally added another country to my plans for world domination.

    YO DIGO NO ! is of course written entirely in spanish and has nice articles about spanish comics and also travels to New York City. Man, am I the only spanish comic fan who hasn´t been to New York or at least an american comic convention ? For my readers in the United States this is probably not so interesting but for us readers in europe it´s always nice to read these travel diaries. Especailly if they are that entertaining.

    As for spanish comics although I always try to include as much stuff as I can about it ( someday I have to finish my series about the Salon del Comic de Barcelona and Classicos DC : the Brave and the Bold ) it´s always from an outsiders point of view. But on YO DIGO NO ! you get input from somebody who´s got the inside scoop. Because I´m not the typical comic buyer ( or movie goer or music listener ) because when I go to Spain I especially seek out comics from spanish artists.

    I can get all the european or american or german comics when I´m in Germany. So when I go to spain I want stuff from local artists especially on conventions. There is a lot of national talent in Spain and even if I´m not so lucky with some artists ( more about that in my review of JAZZ MAYNARD ) most are really nice. Okay, I´m beginning to rant when all I wanted was pimpin my new blog links.

    Go check them out and if you have a blog and want to exchange links drop me a line. And if you want to send some review copies my way ( you hear me Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse etc. ? ) I´m ready for some heavy pimpin. Next time we will hopefully come to more comic content. In the last few weeks I have really posted a lot of linkheavy posts. Which was one of the reasons for the long MADMAN post. That and because everybody has to check out that book.

    New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN :

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  • Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Don´t get even - get Madman !

    I´m still working on my review of 2008 as well as my look to the future of what 2009 has in store for us comic readers. But I decided to make this a seperate post as I think this is going to be a bit longer.

    I don´t know how much ground I´m going to cover and since this is probably one of the few titles that is going to remain on my pull list - which I will have to reduce pretty heavy this year - no matter what it´s difficult to say if it belongs to the stuff that was good in 2008 or to the stuff I´m excited about for 2009.

    Because I was in Spain for the biggest part of last year there is a huge pile of comics waiting for me every time I come to my comic shop. Which makes it a bit difficult to write my review of 2008 since I´m way behind on my regular series. On the other side it´s good because I read the comics just before writing the review ( at least some of them ) and then they are still fresh in my mind.

    So every time I go to the comic shop I decide which series or two series I´m going to pick since I want to get 20 issues maximum. I think next time I´m going to take all the TEEN TITANS and USAGI YOJIMBO issues - or maybe all the ECHO issues. Anyway, last time I took all the THUNDERBOLTS and MADMAN issues which meant that I could read six issues of MADMAN in a row.

    Which was kind of difficult because I wanted to read just one issue when I started but the first issue I read was issue 7 - an all silent issue. So since I read that rather quick I went right to issue 8 which was divided into two parts. The first part is a retelling of the main characters history which was also very quick and a second story about something else ( it´s not important now and I don´t want to spoil it ).

    The next day I popped open issue 9 which was a complete double spread issue - at least at first glance.

    Now all this sound pretty negative but to say the truth it´s one of the reasons why I started reading the book in the first place. There is this old cliche that all superhero books are the same and no matter how many books like MADMAN, TOP TEN, ASTRO CITY, INVINCIBLE or SAVAGE DRAGON come along it never dies.

    I think that part of it is that while there are tons of readers out there who say that they want different superhero comics only a select few really have the cojones to put one of these titles like MADMAN on their pull list. In the case of MADMAN I think it´s this weird " not flesh nor fish " thing were people who want to read something different are repelled from the outer appearance of yet another superhero comic while the more mainstream superhero fans immediatelly dismiss it as an independent book because it´s not drawn in the regular superhero style.

    For me the art of Mike Allred was always something of an acquired taste. While many comic readers don´t like his style because it doesn´t fall within the regular perimeters for superhero comics people who don´t read much comics ( we need a word for comic - muggels ) accept it much easier because it somehow reminds them of Roy Lichtenstein´s art. And like it or not that´s what most people still think of first when they think about comic art.

    Mike Allred´s style has evolved in a big way since my first encounters with the MADMAN books waaay back when it was still published by THUNDRA. Older comic readers may remember it newer comics readers never heard of that publisher. There was an interview in the ordercatalogue ( of which I totally forgot the name ) back when you got one catalogue for all publishers. At that time there were interviews in it and at that time I was still working and always looking for new interesting comics to add to my reading list.

    The art didn´t make that much of an impression on me but it also wasn´t garish as in other articles I had read and the story sounded interesting. In the preview art there were some dinosaurs if I remember correctly and you can´t go wrong with dinosaurs. I think it was around that time that DINOSAURS FOR HIRE came out which was a total hoot. Can´t go wrong with dinosaurs. Anyway, I put the comic on my pull list but I think it didn´t last long till THUNDRA closed it´s doors.

    Shortly after that DARK HORSE began continuing the book and with the collection of the first stroyline THE ODDITY ODDYSEE I could read it from the beginning. And the rest is history.

    Well, you might ask yourself where am I going with all this ? My point is that I´m reading the adventures of Frank Einstein a.k.a. MADMAN for a long time and for me it was always about the story of MADMAN. Sounds weird coming from a guy like me who puts more emphasis on art then on story. But there are artists who write and draw their own comics which I mostly put in three categories.

    First - artist who write. These are artists who either I get to know as artists first and as writers later or artists who start drawing and begin writing their own stuff later in their career. Even Mike Mignola or Walter Simonson didn´t write the stuff they illustrated from the get - go.

    Second - writers who draw. These are artists who I get to know as writers first or artists who are mostly known because of their writing and not for their art. And of course artists who are far better at writing than at drawing.

    Third - artists who make comics. Since the underground comics and the rise of independents in the 80s there are artists who have always done both and which I also haven´t known as doing just one thing. Jaime Hernandez, Robert Crumb and for me Mike Allred have always been doing " their own thing " in providing their readers with their original vision of the world in which you can´t seperate the art from the story without breaking it.

    Both are an integral part of telling their stories and I couldn´t read the one without the other. Sure, Mike Allred did an incredible job on X - Static and even if the story was much more intriguing then I originally gave it credit for - it isn´t MADMAN. That´s 100 percent Mike´s baby and even if there are a lot of nice pin ups by the Who´s Who of comics in the back pages I couldn´t imagine it with somebody elses art.

    Having said that I have to add that MADMAN is not really 100 percent Mike Allred´s since a big part that defines the look of it and which in fact has become one of the main attractors for the title ( at least in my humble opinion ) are Laura Allred´s colors. They have a distinctive look in Today´s world of computer colored comics which all try to look alike while the colors by Laura ( as somebody wrote in the lettercolumn ) really look like it was colored by a living person. It´s like something you expect to find on a painting instead of in the pages of a comic book.

    Back to the issues I read. I think the part that was a bit discomforting for me was the accumulated impact of MADMAN crazyness that hit me all at once. Normally you read the issues with one month to catch your breath and digest the whole issue mentally. And this is also how you have to look at the issues. Because yes, Mike is always experimenting with the storytelling and the art. But it´s all for a reason. Apart from the obvious - which is his constant evolution as both a writer and comic artist - it´s a nice break from all the other comic books that tell the stories in the same way month after month.

    Like I said issue 7 was an all silent issue......something you may know as " NUFF SAID month " from Marvel. But that´s because in issue 7 MADMAN is in space.

    And as we all know there is no sound in space. Normally comics circumvent this with communicators but Frank´s helmet is damaged so there is no sound in the issue. And one of my favorite issues is issue 9. Which like I said looks like an all double page spread issue. Which it isn´t.

    In reality it´s an one panel - panorama issue which means that all the double page spreads together give you one big picture which depicts the town in which the story takes place. And it´s not a cheap trick to make all readers buy various issue to put them next to each other and see the complete picture. That would be the case with a Marvel book. I only realized this when I began to read the next issue because on the second page of every MADMANS ATOMIC COMICS issue ( or the inside front cover how some people call it ) there is a short recap of the last issue with all the pages.

    That is a nice way to see if you read last issue because you only have to look at the recap and see if it looks familiar. I wonder why none of the big publishers incorporated that into their comics. Anyway that´s were I could confirm that all the double page spreads could be combined to one big image. Now the reason why I liked the issue so much was that it reminded me of a thing we used to have in Germany back when I was young called " Rubbelbilder " which could be loosely translated to " rub on pictures ". Rubbelbilder were small pictures you could buy at the bakery or in a paperstore which had the two sides folded in.

    The pictures depicted scenery like a town or a city or the inside of an apartement. Together with the picture there was a little foil with a thin paper layer on one side that had little pictures of animals, plants, things and of course comic characters on it. By removing the thin paper and rubbing the foil on the picture with a coin or some kind of plastic you could transfer the small things to the picture.

    I remember going to a nearby village to buy them and making my own pictures with the town of Asterix, Superman fighting aliens, Batman catching thieves or Popeye belting some bad guys. I must have spent hours rubbing laserbeams, rayguns or nunchakus on pictures and I guess that´s were my love for comics was reinforced with my first layout compositions. So that´s what was going through my mind while reading the issue. If you want to see the full panorama picture of issue 9 here is a link where you can see the complete version. I would have included it on my blog but the size is really big and all you could see would be a looong black thing.

  • see the full image of issue 9 ( without words )

  • Another thing I must add is that the issue also shows Mike Allred´s strength as a storyteller as you have no problem in reading it even if your eye goes up and down on the page. There are other comic artists who have trouble with double page spreads or double pages in general. In some cases you don´t know if you read the part on top before the part on the bottom in other cases you don´t even know if it´s a double page or two seperate pages. I have read the first 8 trades of POWERS and to this day I´m not sure if I have read them the right way.

    So one of the appeals of MADMAN is that Mike Allred is always experimenting with the form of telling the story. I mean in issue three he pays homage to all the great artists in the comic industry. Not just a few - all of them. If there is an artist you like or an artist you think is important....or even if it is just an artist you know - there is a panel in issue 3 that looks like it was drawn by him. American artists, french artists, european artists, comic book artists, animation artists - they are all there.

    And not only is it an homage to the great comic artists that have made the comic medium what it is today. Since the issue deals with the issues of identity and selfawareness it helps to show how peceptions can change by showing the characters in different art styles. MADMAN has always been a comic that stands apart from other superhero books because of the topics of personality and identity. Frank Einstein has always been a man in search of his past not only because he has been brought back to life after his death and the resulting loss of memory.

    In MADMANS ATOMIC COMICS the whole issue of finding out who we are, where we are coming from and where we are going to becomes the center of the story. The first issue in fact questions everything the reader ( and Frank ) took for granted and it does it in a really intelligent and intriguing way. I would like to go into further detail but I don´t want to spoil it for those who haven´t read it. If you want to know more just click the link below :

  • read the FULL first issue

  • But MADMAN is not only one giant headtrip into the frontiers of human existence, a rollercoaster ride to unknown metphysical and religious heights. It´s also an adventure full of weird science, rocket ships, space aliens, superhero teams like the Atomics, birth, death and rebirth ( and cloning ).

    It has action, drama, romance, adventure, phylosophy and spirituality. It´s full of crazy ideas, wonderful concepts and a pure love for life and the comic medium which you can see on every page. No wonder it´s numer 14 on Comic Book Resources Timothy Callahan´s Top Twenty books of 2008 :

    This comic seems to fly under the radar, even though Mike Allred has been one of the great comic book artists of the past fifteen years. I think the average comic book reader dismisses Allred's "Madman Atomic Comics" because of a superficial awareness of its contents. Either they think that it's all about camp nostalgia or they think, maybe after reading the first few issues of this series, that it's going nowhere. But what Allred is doing here -- what makes it a bit different than his previous Madman comics -- is bringing his metaphysical explorations to the fore. Frank Einstein has always been a character in search of answers to philosophical questions, but Allred tended to couch those questions in "ginchy" superhero tropes and wacky situations. He's still doing that to some extent, but he's not forcing conventional plots on his story anymore. He's letting his characters explore their universe at a slower, more thoughtful pace. And, to make it more enticing, Allred's been experimenting with his drawing style or layouts in nearly every issue. This comic is about the big questions, and it approaches those questions with grace and charm.

    If I have managed to pique your interest and you want to find out more about Mike Allred and the MADMAN comic series here are some links. But be careful since there might be spoilers :

  • madman the series wikipedia entry

  • madman atomic comics 1 review ( with spoilers )

  • madman atomic comic 2 review

  • madman atomic comics 4 review ( with spoilers )

  • interview about what´s to come after issue 7 ( with spoilers )

  • madman atomic comics 9 review

  • madman atomic comics 11 review

  • another madman atomic comics 11 review ( some spoilers )

  • another madman atomic comics 11 review ( with spoilers )

  • mike allred on fanboyradio

  • mike allred on iFanboy watch it

  • mike allred on iFanboy with download link

  • mike allred homepage

  • a tour of mike allred´s studio

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  • Thursday, January 22, 2009

    What´s in store for 2009 ? Solicitations

    The last few days I was a bit slacking on my blogging duties but Today I´m back again sending out e - mails for blog links exchange and stuff. Yesterday I was going through the new solicitation images and since I didn´t get to do the solicitation rundown for last month I thought I was time to do a special edition this time around.

    For those new to the blog I usually do a rundown of the solicitations when I have sorted out the new images. Since I´m usually very far behind on my reading material this is my only chance to talk about current series. I don´t do the PREVIEWS posts other bloggers do and the reviews I do are usually more about whole runs, or storylines or the exceptional single issue.

    But as a rule I don´t do the monthly discussion about what I get to read each month. So this is my way to post some nice pictures and just go off on a rant. Sometimes it´s strictly about the comics I pick but sometimes I will go off on a mental tangent about a character or something that happened in a series or any other stuff that´s connected in some way.

    This time around since it´s two months I thought that I could use this to try to take a look at what´s in store for this year. Having not read the issues I´m talking about ( as usual ) I´m going out on a limb and it´s probably total speculation on my part but who knows ? Maybe I´m not that far off when I look back at it at the end of the year. So let´s head right into it and see what´s in store for 2009 at Marvel :

    more buttshot covers

    I don´t know if it´s a new trend and I´m not against buttshot covers in general ( I mean the Frank Cho buttshot cover for KING SIZE HULK probably sold the whole print run on it´s own ) but I´m asking myself if this is MARVEL´s way of trying to console it´s readers for the price jump to 3.99 that´s going to come.

    I mean waaay back when I started reading comics there were the main publishers which had comics that went for 1.50 and the independents who were priced at 2.50. Later on the mainstream comics were 2 bucks while the independents were at 2.95 and finally the mainstream comics also reached the 2.95 benchmark. So from the cost point there was no difference between mainstream comics and independents. And in many independent comics you had far superior art.

    So while it would be a good thing if mainstream comics raised their prices to 3.99 while the independent publishers stayed at 2.95 I don´t think this is going to happen. Since DIAMOND has now upped the ante about how much revenue the items listed in PREVIEWS have to generate independent publishers will have to raise their prices too. This week I was at my comic shop and since I can only pick a few comics I took the THUNDERBOLTS and MADMAN issues that were waiting in my bag.

    And IMAGE already rised the prices on MADMAN and SAVAGE DRAGON from 2.99 to 3.50. If they can stay at 3.50 while MARVEL increases the prices to 3.99 that would give them an edge. At the moment I´m still catching up on my old books from last year so it will be a while before I have to deal with the whole 3.99 issue. But with Ed McGuiness, Art Adams and Frank Cho on HULK or Paul Pelletier on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - what do I get for the extra buck ?

    I don´t know but if they don´t include some extra pages I don´t see how you can do a 3.99 book. This year I have to cut down on some books but new books will really have a hard time to get on my pull list now. Especially with new books going for almost 4 bucks.

    more comic characters returning from the dead

    One of the effects of the whole SECRET INVASION storyline is not only that Marvel has now a cheap excuse for whenever a superhero was behaving out of character. No, they can now bring back every dead character they want. Because now they just go : " You know, the guy that died ? That was really a skrull while the real one was held captive by the skrulls. " I´m surprised they didn´t already pull this kind of thing with Captain Marvel since he was already exposed as a skrull.

    I mean they could totally crap all over THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL by saying that was the first skrull who tried to impersonate him and he got cancer and died. So they send in a new guy. They haven´t done it - yet. But prepare for more of the dead coming back. Also : again a buttshot cover.

    the death and rebirth of Spider - Girl

    2009 sees the end of one of the best comics ever to come from the spider franchise which is AMAZING SPIDER - GIRL. 2009 also sees the return of it now included in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN FAMILY starting with issue 5. This is not the first cancelation of a series with an instant relaunch following on it´s heels since they also do it on SHE HULK and a few others.

    I never was a fan of the whole relaunches because it´s hell to keep your comic collection in order and new readers can get problems with 4 or 5 different SHE HULK issues 1. While companies argue that it´s just to generate more audience by tricking newbies into believing it´s a new title or as a sign of a whole new direction it always comes off as a cheap gimmick. Especially if they go back to the old numbers like for THOR 600.

    I think that Marvel wants to eat the cake and keep it at the same time. They want to get rid of the damn spiderbook that could that has the audacity to constantly outstage the other spiderbooks. At the same time they want to squeeze as much money out of the still remaining fans of Mayday Parker. So they don´t loose more readers after the BRAND NEW DAY fiasko. They look like they really care about their readers and at the same time they increase readership on SPIDER - MAN FAMILY. Everybody wins.

    Since the title is on my brother´s pull list I have no idea if he´s going to include SPIDER - MAN FAMILY to his reading pile. But I will have to keep an eye on it to see how this will unfold.

    more return of the dead comic characters

    Spider - Girl is not the only comic character who returns from the dead. Or more she´s not the only dead character who returns. MARVEL ZOMBIES is reaching it´s fourth season and as somebody who hasn´t read a single issue so far I can´t say if that´s justified. For me there are some sacrosanct rules for zombies that should not be changed because then you just ruin it.

    Rule number 1 : no fast zombies. Sorry, but that just goes against the whole concept of a zombie. Zombies are not fast. They are creepy because even if they are slow and pretty easy to kill they overwhelm their victims through pure numbers. That´s what makes zombies scary.

    Rule number 2 : no talking zombies. Again, the whole idea of a zombie is to be this unstoppable, silent killing machine. The only thing a zombie is allowed to utter is : brains. And only under special circumstances.

    So the whole idea of fast, talking zombies who are the Marvel superheroes to top it off doesn´t sound very intriguing to me. Maybe I´m totally wrong to think that Marvel heroes would never sink so low as to become braineating undead from hell. Maybe this is what happens in DARK REIGN. Who knows ? ( Well, people who read solicitations and stuff on the internet but I like to find out stuff while actually reading the comic. )

    There seems to be an audience for that kind of book with millions of people who don´t like superheroes at all - or Marvel. The question is if it can keep up qualitywise. I guess sooner or later I´m going to read it if it´s any good.

    even more undead comic characters

    Captain Britain and MI 13 was one of the books that I thought was only there as long as SECRET INVASION. When it was announced it sounded as it was just another of these SECRET INVASION tie in books that would be ended in four issues. I don´t know if the powers to be at Marvel changed their minds about that when they found out what a great book they had on their hands or if that was the idea from the beginning. But the series continues to explore the supernatural parts of the Marvel universe and any comic with Dracula on the cover - especially old school Gene Colan Dracula - can´t be all that bad.

    more dead skrulls

    In the spirit of the old saying " The only good skrull is a dead skrull " Marvel brings back one of it´s books that has had a kind of renaissance thanks to it´s appearance on AVENGERS : THE INITIATIVE. There were only two issues I read in Spain from the series and one was with the SKRULL KILL CREW. I haven´t read the original series but on the Initiative they kicked ass ! And the premise of the new book is rather easy : you see a skrull ? Kill it ! That sounds like simple, uncomplicated political correct fun. And we need more books like that. This is totally on my radar.

    more comic characters who should be dead

    Why is Deadpool still around ( keeping the whole " dead " theme going ) ? I never really understood the appeal of a contract killer as a main character for a Marvel book. This is a clearly immoral character who kills people for money with no remorse about it whatsoever. I mean the Punisher only kills criminals because that´s his idea of making the world better. It´s crazy, it´s totally psycho but it comes from the heart. He really thinks he´s a good guy. But Deadpool is not a nice guy. Maybe the idea of a hero who can be some kind of role model is outdated but it just seems wrong to me to turn killers or gangster rappers into idols. Is it any wonder that society can´t cope with Today´s youths ?

    And about the whole " merc with a mouth " deal - he never was that funny to begin with. Not on the same level as Spider - Man. There were some instances where he was mildly amusing but not really funny. More like that annoying kid at school who just rants on about weird stuff without getting that he´s not funny. So he´s like an unfunny psycho killer Spider - Man with a real effed up face. I can really say that in every comic I have read with him he was really annoying - in the best instances. In the worst cases he was either totally obnoxious or completely unbearable. He´s kind of the Gambit of contract killers.

    So every time I see a new issue of Deadpool announced I go : can´t this just be over ? While good comics like MAJOR BUMMER or POWER COMPANY get cancelled this is the timex of comics. And this is even made more painful with great artists like Jason Pearson or Ed McGuiness providing covers. I mean I can´t blame Ed McGuiness since he started his career on that book.

    Now that I think of it maybe I CAN blame Ed McGuiness. Without his great art on the first issues the book would never have gotten as much exposure and it would never have ended on my brother´s pull list. And then I never would have to suffer through the issues and to me it would be just one of those series I don´t follow. But don´t despair. With annuals, miniseries and more monthly issues Marvel is going to drown you in Deadpool stuff. Whether you want it or not.

    But enough doom and gloom on this post. I´m going to wrap up this whole " dead - coming back from the dead - dead coming back " stuff as it´s already long enough. To end this on a different note here are two more buttshot covers.

    Next time : Dark Avengers, Dark Reign, superheroes who suddenly are superheroines and superheroines who are totally different superheroines.

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