Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2013 Comics In Review - Part 3

Marvel was just over 61% of what I bought last year, which puts it about 2% ahead of 2010, but a long way behind '06 or '07, when it was something like 86%. The first few years Marvel's share started dropping, DC was getting most of it, peaking at 35% in 2010. It wasn't that I was necessarily buying a lot more DC; the raw total increased, but there isn't that much difference between 25 books in '06 and 47 in '10. More I'd gradually taught myself to stop buying books I wasn't enjoying, to stop buying books because that were "important" (I don't think that was ever a huge problem, but it probably played a part in my buying New Avengers), and Marvel canceled a lot of books I was buying without releasing anything that replaced them. Now DC's down to 21%, and while some of that's going back to Marvel, at least a little of it has slipped over to some of the other publishers. Non-Marvel/DC stuff was almost 18% of the total this year, and that's its lowest share of the last 3 years. Prior to that, it hadn't broken 10%, and only 6% once (2009).

Looking forward, things might actually be shifting back towards to the early years, or at least 2008/2009. Judging by my pull for these first 4 months of 2014, Marvel's taking up a huge share. Between releasing at least a few of their intriguing sounding books at $3 rather than #4, and double-shipping all the damn time, they're getting some decent numbers. DC's just about lost me, down to 1 book, and since I decided to pass on the next round of Angel & Faith, there hasn't been much from other publishers I've decided to plunk down for. The last issue of Savage Sword slipped into 2014, and there's another Empowered Special, and that's about it up through April. I'm curious to see whether Marvel can continue to build up my good will, or if they'll do something I'll hate that sours things again.

Deadpool #20, 21: I'd heard good things about Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan's work on Deadpool, so I bought the first 3 trades over the last half of the year, and enjoyed them enough to start buying it monthly. I reviewed these two weeks ago, so I won't go into them heavily, but the Kirby homage/pastiche they did with Scott Koblish didn't really work for me. I did like the start of the next arc (drawn by Mike Hawthorne), that's going to involve Deadpool going after his cash from SHIELD, while SHIELD tries to kill him with various assassins. There's gonna be a Deadpool/Sabretooth fight, and Wade hates Sabretooth.

Dial H #8-15: China Mieville and Alberto Ponticelli's book was one of the best things I read last year. Good enough to make me wonder how good it would have been if the ending hadn't been rushed by it's cancelation. There was so much potential in the chase after Centipede and the Dial Fixer across worlds. We'd barely gotten to know the Dial Bunch before they started dying and getting left behind.

High Point: All the different dial ideas Mieville came up with: the gear dial, the sidekick dial. Nelson's development and growth, plus his friendship with Roxie, which had the possibility to be more if there'd been time. Open Window Man. He was ridiculous, kind of all the worst personality traits of Batman, but Mieville presented them in a way that made me sad for the kind of person he'd become, rather than irritated at what a jerk he was.

Low Point: The rushed ending. I don't know how long Mieville had this story planned to go, but I wish he'd been given all the time he needed for it. I really didn't feel like he had the decompressed pacing problems a lot of comic writers had, he just had too much to tell, and not enough space to do it in. I like they gave him and Ponticelli almost 40 pages for the last issue, but you could tell Ponticelli had to rush his art a bit as well, which is too bad. I still preferred Santolouco on the book, but Ponticelli's work had the right looseness to make those odd heroes look as strange as they should.

Empowered Special: Nine Beers with Ninjette: Bought this on a whim, enjoyed the heck out of it. This is one of those books where I like the main character fine, but I think I like the supporting characters more and want to see more of them. Happens to me a lot with shonen manga, too. Anyway, Adam Warren wrote it and drew the intro sequence, and then handed off art chores to Takeshi Miyazawa, who has a much softer style, but it worked very well.

Fearless Defenders #1-4: I tried this book by Cullen Bunn and Wil Sliney, but I gave up on it. It felt completely mediocre in that way where nothing is so aggressively bad I felt I had to rail against it, but nothing jumped off the page as particularly cool or clever. It was just sort of there.

Green Arrow #16: The last issue of Ann Nocenti's run on the book, which meant it was the end of my interest in Ollie. I wasn't sticking around for Lemire to spend 18 issues telling some story that needed 10, tops. Ollie stops a gun runner, and saves the kid he uses as sort of an attack dog, and also saves a parade from major casualties. Unfortunately, by this point, he's so jaded by the realization of the limitations of being a costumed vigilante he can barely take any good cheer in the lives he's saved. Which is a downer, but probably important for Ollie to start understanding things beyond his own enjoyment.

Harley Quinn #0, 1: With Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti writing, the 0 issue was Harley imaging her comic as drawn by different artists (who then each drew a few pages). By the end, artist Chad Hardin was on the scene, as the set-up for the series emerges in a patient leaving Harley a home, which she must get jobs to support. The 0 issue hardly matters, and the first issue is all set-up and potential, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

Hawkeye #7-14: It was a year of bad decisions and moping for Clint Barton. Girlfriend broke up with him (rightly so). Protege/partner left, took dog with her. Neighbor friend killed, etc. Kate moved to L.A., is basically broke, has Madame Masque gunning for her. Matt Fraction wrote it, David Aja drew basically 4 issues, Steve Lieber and Jesse Hamm split #7, Francisco Francavilla handled 10 and 12, Annie Wu drew parts of a couple issues, then all of #14. I should confess, I'm seriously thinking I should bail on this book.

High Point: David Aja's art. Francavilla's art. The Hurricane Sandy issue (#7). Issue #9, the one that focused all on the women who, like it or not, have the orbits of their lives occasionally intersect with Clint Barton's. Clint getting dumped by jessica Drew. I've said this before, I don't approve of infidelity, so Clint had that coming, and I was glad she didn't let him slide.

Low Point: The delays. Grills' death. Pizza Dog abandoning Clint: Finding out Tony Stark of all characters lectured Clint on proper behavior for Avengers. In much the same way Mark Waid and I disagree on Dr. Doom, I don't like Fraction's Tony Stark. It might be accurate, but his obliviousness to his own failures makes me hate the character. The delays. The incredibly slow pace, so that I can hardly say the plot's "progressing". I'd say the delays again, but the single biggest problem is that Clint Barton is an awesome character, and he did not do one goddamn awesome thing in an entire year of comics where he is the main character. Not one. I could deal with the waiting, if I felt confident Clint was gonna do something awesome when the book arrived. Which is why I'm currently arguing with myself over whether to stick it out.

Hawkeye Annual #1: Kate arrives in L.A., and finds life rather difficult as Madame Masque sets out to take revenge for Kate knocking her out and impersonating her to try and get that tape back in 2012. Kate escapes, but that's a running plotline for her stay in L.A. So at least Kate got to do something cool, if not particularly wise. Javier Pulido drew it, and parts of it are very nice to look at. But in a lot of panels, Pulido leans so heavily on shadowy outlines, I started to feel he was cutting corners to save time. I just didn't see a pattern that suggested a theme to it. But the non-excessively shadowy outline parts were excellent.

Justice League - Dial E #23.3: Part of DC's Villains Month, this didn't have any connection with anything that was happening in that book. Nope, it was really just a chance for a little more closure for Mieville, as some kids find the Centipede's custom dial and he fights them for it. What? He'll hit a kid, he doesn't care. He's a bad guy. It had a different artist for every page, which was more of a mess than the mass of artists Harley Quinn #0 had. In the latter case, each artist had their own little story to illustrate, while here, they were all drawing part of one big fight, and there was a lot of variability in styles and skill, so a real mixed bag. I'd have preferred them sticking to Santolouco, Lapham, and Ponticelli, since they were the three main Dial H artists. It still left some questions, but there the end was very satisfying.

Things got a little down there at the end, but that's the risk on days where I fly through a bunch of titles. Some of them have few issues because they were limited to begin with, some because they were canceled or delayed, but a lot of times it's because I dropped them due to problems I had with them. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure tomorrow's post won't end on a real high note, either, but there should be some positivity in there.

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