Ambidextrous 286: Go Comics!

Detective Comics #854, pg. 1

I probably say this every single year…but seriously, I’m really supposed to be cutting back on all this…

Since I’m now one of the country’s whatever million unemployed, this seemed like a great time to really examine all of the books I’m buying and start picking things out of my pull list, start trade-waiting some others, etc., in the hope of decreasing my monthly comics expense. Comics are essentially my only vice, so there’s always that nagging feeling that I’m over-indulging, and judging by some of the announcements coming out of the recently wrapped New York Con, its going to be real hard to slow things down.

Couldn’t make it out this year and just watched the announcements stream in, and was genuinely excited about a ton of them. Everyone keeps saying that 2009 is going to be an important year for the business, and from all indications, the product will certainly be there. And that product will likely receive a great deal of my money, contrary to my moderate efforts.

Maybe next year though, right? Let’s dig into a couple of the biggest stories of 2009 already in progress…

Final Crisis: Aftermath-

You could probably tell this from the column that posted here last week, but I thought very highly of Final Crisis. I am patiently waiting for my Batman R.I.P. hardcover from DCBS to show up in the mail, so I can re-read Grant’s entire Batman run (thus far) and then Final Crisis, with all the corresponding tie-ins arranged very nicely in chronological order. The results might warrant a future column, but don’t quote me on that. But the point of all this is to simply convey my incredible excitement that DC wants to spotlight some of the characters that appeared in the series, trying to see exactly what can be done with them in the overall context of the DCU.

On top of that, the actual “pitches” for all of the books sounds great, and really they had me at “Joe Casey is writing the one about the Super Young Team.” That last bit of particularly inspired casting is enough to give all of them a decent chance at getting picked up, and my man Freddie Williams handling art chores on Run! Helps too. It’s just refreshing that DC isn’t letting one of their most inventive and unique events go to waste, as a lot of the characters have real potential in the right hands. Now, I suppose the only thing I can whine about is getting Morrison working on Fifth World stuff…

2009 Writer of the Year: Geoff Johns-

Green Lantern: Blackest Night.

Flash: Rebirth.

Superman: Secret Origin.

Adventure Comics.

This here is an easy one, kids.

Dollar Days-

Love that Vertigo is leaving us with no good excuses in ’09. With everyone chattering their teeth over price increases, Vertigo is giving us something everyone can easily get behind---cheap comics. By pricing all of their first issues (and some natural jumping-on points) at a single dollar, they’re effectively putting the ball in the court of readers and retailers that have made a career out of justifying why they refuse to try new things. Cause now you have one of the most progressive imprints in comics putting out oversized debut issues and charging you almost no money for them. Everyone should be checking out at least one of these this year…who knows, maybe you’ll find something new and Vertigo will have yet another classic title to add to their already impressive résumé. Just finished re-reading Y - The Last Man, so I’m really buzzing a bit about what’s coming next, and I hope this promotion becomes a permanent staple of their marketing approach. First chance folks have to embrace this initiative is with Air #7 in March, then The Unwritten #1 in May, and so on and so forth. I would think that few of us have to be “sold” dollar comics, but it seemed worth mention.

Digital is the Future, starring Spider-Woman-

Didn’t see that one coming. I mean, yeah, anyone with any kind of barometer for quality comics has been anxiously awaiting the next major collaboration from Bendis and Maleev, especially in the wake of Secret Invasion - but exclusive digital motion comics-type content? Good for Marvel and good for the entire industry. Tying their initial forays into what is sure to be one of their biggest launches of the year, and an acclaimed run of X-Men from another two of their biggest names is a great start, and hopefully this will become yet another way to funnel fans into the industry. Very nice surprise and another reason to anticipate this project.

Return of the King-

Like the aforementioned Vertigo, Marvel’s Ultimate line changed the entire game. Its been emulated by publishers big and small, and it not only altered how stories were told in mainstream comics, but who would be entrusted to tell those stories. We’re used to it all now, but when this was announced, people went ape____ crazy and insisted it was destined to be this massive failure, all without having laid eyes on the actual books. And though you don’t need me to point out that it was one of the most successful initiatives in modern comics history, it’s obvious I would like to anyway. And to point out how bold it was to put the initial launch in the hands of obviously talented writers, who hadn’t yet conquered the mainstream market. Just the ideas behind it changed how everyone did business, but in the last several years, it’s clear we’ve all grown used to the things the line set in motion, so it’s become time to do it all over again.

Trying to catch lightning in a bottle a second time will be tough, but having Bendis and Millar once again anchor the line definitely improves the odds. Seeing new artist David LaFuente join Bendis on Spidey is very exciting, as I loved his work on the Hellcat mini and the recent annual. He’s got a perfect style for the book, and the re-launch gives it a shot at reclaiming the sales prominence it deserves. Ultimate Spider-Man has been one of the most consistently enjoyable runs in comics, and again, I think we’ve all taken it a little for granted in the last couple years. Add Millar in with four superstar artists and finally doing the book that could only be called Ultimate Avengers and I think we’re headed back to a time when that Ultimate branding meant undeniable quality and things that could never happen in a traditional Marvel comics.

And I know the ‘net hates him now, but Jeph Loeb paired with Frank Cho seems fairly impossible to resist, right? Oh, it’s just me? Yeah, okay…we’ll see when the book drops.

Another New Artist for New Avengers-

Only thing about the above that concerned me was the fate of Stuart Immonen, whose presence on Ultimate Spider-Man really seemed to spark Bendis’ approach to the title. Thankfully, the entire team is moving right over to New Avengers, which seems to change artists every year or so anyway, and will look great in Stuart’s hands, judging by the work he did on Nextwave awhile back. One of those few situations in comics where everybody wins.

Batwoman…Finally-

Rucka and Williams’ Batwoman series was one of comics’ worst kept secrets, and finally it’s set for release once Detective Comics returns from its hiatus in June. Unfortunately, anytime the subject of the book comes up, it’s never long before things devolve into a horribly embarrassing debate about the character’s sexuality and its place in comics, and whether or not it’s appropriate, and whether or not DC handled it properly, etc. I’ll just say this and leave it alone---Greg Rucka and JH Williams II are doing a comic set in Batman’s universe. If this featured literally any other character from that little franchise of books, there would be absolutely no question that people would be incredibly excited to hear about it, and later use their own money to buy it. Hell, if Williams’ art alone isn’t enough to convince you to buy a book, then I don’t even know what else to say to you. Except maybe go away and leave the rest of us that only care about well written and well illustrated stories in peace.

BOOM! Shake Shake Shake the Room-

Forgive the horrible reference, but I just couldn’t resist. The one clear advantage that BOOM! Studios has over a lot of other independent companies is Mark Waid, one part editor-in-chief, one part talented comics writer. In addition to his superb contributions to the Spidey books, we have not only the Incredibles comic to look forward to, but two new projects just announced, Irredeemable and The Unseen. Those last two are creator-owned affairs, and if they’re anything at all like Empire, they’ll end up being some of Waid’s most acclaimed works, and give folks another great reason to take a closer look at BOOM! in the coming months. You know, just in case their obvious commitment to pushing comics into other markets wasn’t nearly enough for you…

Real Quick Though-

Bendis’ Powers adapted for the FX Network!?

Is there really any doubt that comics are just bullying pop culture right now?

Truest ___ Said at New York Comic-Con-

“If you want to see your favorite creator do creator-owned work, tell them that you would buy it from them,” Liefeld said, adding that the market now is ruled by fear – the fear that there is nothing outside of DC and Marvel. Fresh ideas are what the industry needs, Liefeld said, and it needs creators who are willing to step out of what they know and try creator-owned work in an setting that allows them freedom and independence, not only at Image, but at Dark Horse, or wherever they can find it. Creators need to be encouraged by fans to take the step and do more new things, and fans, likewise, need to try new things from the creators whose work they love.”

And I think that is a great note to leave things on. Oh, and congrats to Rob on the recent Youngblood option. Hope it gets made and made well, as it was one of my first comics, and therefore partly responsible for bringing me into this crazy game.

Thanks for stopping by folks, think I’ll run this year’s first This is Why next week, but you never know what might come up in the meantime…

The Fiction House

Related:

Ambidextrous 285: Keyboard Courage

Ambidextrous 284: Yes, I Hate Digital Comics

Ambidextrous 283: Seal the Deal

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