Friday, April 18, 2014

Airing Of Minor Grievances

Marvel's been doing better at releasing books that I'd like to read lately than they have in several years. This is nice, but there are still certain silly things they do I'm not happy about. I say silly because these ultimately aren't that big a deal, not like questionable treatment and depictions of people who aren't white dudes, or the fact that a lot of the people who created their big moneymaking characters aren't getting their share of the dosh Marvel's raking in off those characters. Those are actual serious issues, which I think Marvel is maybe, slowly, improving on. Hopefully. The annoyances I'm looking at are the sort where someone could almost make an argument for why they're a good thing, so quite a different matter. Less world hunger, more the garbage man left your trash can on its side so it rolled in the street and got flattened.

The less-dire things I'm thinking about are: Event tie-ins, double shipping, constant restarting of books, and of course, $4 for 20 pages of comics. Let's break this down.

Event Tie-Ins

Why they're a nuisance: They typically disrupt whatever story the creative team was already telling. The actions contained within sometimes make no sense because all the context is in the main mini-series. Unless the title you're reading is a big seller written by one of the big names, the story may be utterly pointless not only to your title, but to the event as well, raising the question of why they bothered to do a tie-in at all.

Why they aren't so bad: Marvel doesn't seem to be making as many books play along these days, so these aren't nearly as pervasive as they were back in the Civil War times. Um, sometimes the writers make them work. Either they're able to work the conflict into the preexisting themes of the book, or they're able to take the changes imposed by the event and run with it in an interesting direction. My go-to examples for these are the Cable/Deadpool and X-Factor Civil War tie-ins. At the same time, it ought to be a little concerning I have to go back to '06 to find ones I thought worked really well (Abnett and Lanning usually did well tying Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy into their cosmic events, but they were writing all the relevant books, and it was happening in a small, self-contained section of Marvel's line, so I'm not sure it counts. they didn't do nearly as well with Secret Invasion, especially on Nova).


Why it's a nuisance: Forces creative teams to shuffle, usually the artists. If they don't, artwork can start to look rushed because the artist is hustling to try and keep up. So either the book has to potentially shift to match the fill-in artist's style, or the quality suffers, either because the pinch-penciler isn't suited for the story, or the regular can't do their best work.

Why they aren't so bad: More issues of your favorite title! Helps to combat decompressed storytelling by getting more issues in your hands in less time! More seriously, Marvel at least seems to let the creative teams know ahead of time this is going to happen, and they're able to make plans. Deadpool does "inventory" issues, Hawkeye has two story arcs running simultaneously, one for each character, each with a different artist. Daredevil simply seems to be plotted so there are smaller stories that are part of a larger arc, but can be wrapped up in a couple of issues, and Javier Rodriguez handles those when Samnee needs a breather.

Constant Restarting of Titles:

Why it's a nuisance: Real pain in the ass if you're trying to sell someone on a book or character by pointing them in the direction of a particular run. "No, not that volume of Daredevil, that other volume of Daredevil! The one by, uh, the exact same group of people as this one." Hey, as someone who preaches the gospel of Hornhead these days, that's more of a problem than you might think (though not as bad as trying to explain the Summers/Grey family tree, or how Power Girl fit in the post Crisis on the Infinite Earths, pre-Flashpoint DCU. It's weird how readily I take some of it for granted until I have to explain it.) Kind of disrupts any sense of continuity between titles. I know, dirty word, but it can be fun to see a team take the end of the previous group's run and spin it in their own direction. Now it feels more like clean break, start fresh. Also, it's utterly ridiculous to be restarting the book when the people working on it are the same.

Why they aren't so bad: Makes for easy starting and stopping points if you were strictly there for the creators. Unless they carry over to the new volume, obviously. The clean break idea means creators might not be beholden to some particularly awful ending cooked up by the previous team. Really, this one is less annoying to me, and more just kind of silly.

$4 for a 20 Page Comic

Why it's a nuisance: A lot of times, it isn't a good value. Story is sparse, maybe in six issues you'll get a complete story arc, but possibly not. Makes it hard to justify sticking with a book doing a slow burn, unless you really trust them to nail the landing. Makes me less inclined to try new books. Makes it harder for me to sell other people on new series, because I don't feel comfortable asking them to shell out that kind of cash.

Why it's not so bad: Saves me money! Gives me series to track down through back issue hunts or discounted trade purchases later! If people are turned away from trying comics by the price, then I don't have to worry about sharing my hobby with people of differing views or perspectives! OK, fine, that last one is nonsense. Does a higher price mean more money for the creators? Or are they getting paid on a flat per page rate regardless? I don't know. If it meant more money for them, that would certainly be good, but I don't know if that's how it works.

Looking over them, it's either the double-shipping or the pricing that bugs me the most. Event tie-ins intrude on my buying habits rarely enough that I don't mind them as much, as the constant canceling and restarting of books is more silly to me than anything else. But I worry that double-shipping hurts the quality of the books by getting the creators to churn out more issues, faster. And I would like to buy more books, but I'd also like to think I'm getting good value for my dollars. The higher the price, the better the book needs to be, the lower the odds it reaches that level.

So that's me. You have a minor grievance that you'd like to air? Or a not so minor one? Doesn't have to be about Marvel. Hell, gripe about morning traffic if you feel like it. Get all the toxins out so they don't ruin your weekend.

1 comment:

SallyP said...

Pricing and constant tie-ins that interrupt the flow of the story are two of my peeves.

Seriously, pricing is getting ridiculous. If everyone ends up waiting for the trade, then what is the point of putting out a monthly product?

And I agree, that trying to explain to people the lunacy of multiple number l's and re-numbering is...difficult.