Thursday, 26 June 2014

One Harsh Truth You Don’t Want To Admit About Comic Books‏: You Don't Have To Buy Them All!

I recently read a silly article entitled 10 Harsh Truths You Don’t Want To Admit About Comic Books‏. Most of it consisted of the usual stuff you find while reading comics commentary on the internet; moaning, snarkiness, and an inability to distinguish between "Marvel & DC's superhero comics" and "all comics of every genre currently being produced". But one paragraph particularly irked me, so I thought I'd have a little rant about it. Here's the irksome paragraph:
Think about your latest batch of comics picked up from your local store, or downloaded onto Comixology. How many of those single issues really stood out to you? How many will you remember in a few months’ time, without re-reading them? Maybe one or two, if you’re lucky. And then look around the shop/app and see how many other single issues came out that month. How come you’re not reading them? Because most monthly superhero comics aren’t masterpieces. Most of them are thoroughly average, and a lot of them don’t even manage that. Yet we keep reading them out of a sort of brand loyalty, or because they’ve always had our support; like a football team, you stay with a title through the rough patches and the smooth. And you hope that, amidst all the rubbish, you’ll come across some real gems. It’s just tough to admit that, most of the time, we’re reading what are decidedly not gems.
Yeah, speak for yourself dude. I'm sick of being made out to be some kool-aid swigging drone, just because I enjoy mainstream superhero comics. If you're stupid enough to waste money on a hobby you don't actually enjoy, fine, but don't make out that we're all in the same boat. It makes us all sound like arseholes. I know this sounds crazy but many fans are actually able to distinguish between what they like and don't like when spending their cash. I also imagine most fans simply can't afford to fritter away their hard earned money on stuff they don't actually like. "Look around the shop/app and see how many other single issues came out that month. How come you’re not reading them?" Er... because I'm not a bloody billionaire!

I honestly believe that there's a lot of talent working for the Big Two and it's pretty insulting to blame them for your consistent disappointment. If you get ill every time you eat ice-cream, sure, maybe there's some dodgy ice-cream out there, but maybe it's not all Ben & Jerry's fault. Maybe we don't all constantly eat ice cream even though it makes us sick, in the vain hope of finding that elusive flavour that made us happy when we were a kid. Maybe it's just you. Maybe you just don't like ice cream and you're an idiot to keep eating it.

I'm not saying that we should just shut up and be grateful for what we get, of course we should criticise comics when we feel they're lacking in quality. And I know "don't like it, don't buy it" is a bit of a cliche. But I think there's a difference between thinking critically about the pop culture you consume, and indiscriminately buying everything and then bitching because most of it wasn't to your taste. It seems to me that a huge portion of comic book fandom behave like a man gorging himself on the entire contents of a fridge and then complaining 'cos some of the food tastes like plastic ice cube trays.

Frankly, when there's literally hundreds of superhero comics being produced by Marvel & DC every month, buying them all and then bitching because most of them aren't to your liking and then acting like the rest of the comics reading community shares your views makes us all look like greedy, spoiled wankers. It's just a bit embarassing.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Fantastic Four: Cancelled!?

Recently Bleeding Cool has been predicting that Fantastic Four will be cancelled due to Marvel CEO and largest Disney shareholder Ike Perlmutter's reluctance to promote the Fantastic Four film currently being developed by Fox. Marvel Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort has responded with vague semi-denials to requests for confirmation of this (including a request from yours truly.) Normally I don't pay too much attention to comic book rumours but I'm rather a big fan of the Fantastic Four and I'd hate to think of my enjoyment of their comic being affected by the petty whims of a billionaire. I was however, happy to wait and see what happened, until I read an interview with Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso that was published today on Comic Book Resources.

According to Alonso;
"...we are continually devising plans to use (the Fantastic Four) in new and surprising ways in the vast landscape of the Marvel Universe, like we do with any Marvel character; in fact, we already know that one of [the FF] will be a huge player in a universe-spanning event down the road. 
Part of Marvel's success hinges on the fact that we aren't afraid to exercise massive flexibility with our catalog of characters. Sometimes, the way we move the pieces around on the board -- the death and/or replacement of a character, the dissolution and/or reconstitution of a team -- or our choice of characters to spotlight -- Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Inhumans -- causes controversy, but that doesn't inhibit us from taking chances and doing what we think is right for our universe and the characters within it."
Reading between the lines here it seems to me that, while Fantastic Four may not be getting cancelled it does seem to be headed towards some kind of status quo change, maybe even a name change. Currently in the title the Fantastic Four are on trial, their kids have been taken from them by the state, and the Human Torch has lost his powers. It's the kind of storyline that could easily lead to the team as we know it splitting up and reforming with new members and a new name. Indeed, the storyline's called “THE FALL OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR”.

All this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The current writer is James Robinson, a favourite of mine, and while the first few issues of his run seemed a little slow his story has now begun to move along nicely. Issue #5, the most recent issue as of this writing, had a particularly brilliant final page reveal. Also, the Fantastic Four have had new members and a new name before. Quite recently in fact, during Jonathan Hickman's run, the Torch temporarily died, Spider-Man replaced him, the team became the Future Foundation, and it all made for absolutely amazing comics.

Having said that though I can't help but feel irritated at the idea of a storyline of this nature being made necessary by someone like Perlmutter, a man who has absolutely nothing to do with the creative side of comics. Naturally Marvel are going to make out that it's all part of a story that they've been wanting to tell, but it seems a pretty big coincidence that Alonso is hinting at a status quo shake up for the Fantastic Four at exactly the same time as the big boss is rumoured to have decided that he doesn't want Marvel producing comics that bear any resemblance to Fox's upcoming Fantastic Four movie.

Of course, all these rumours could be complete bollocks. Or, as I said earlier, the rumours could be true but the resulting changes could make for some brilliant comics. But Alonso's statement seemed to say so much between the lines I thought it was worth commenting on. Regardless, I'll be sticking with Fantastic Four for now, and I'll be giving any changes that may or may not be happening a fair chance. And if the worst happens, if everything changes and it's rubbish, I'm sure Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben will be back eventually. I can't imagine Marvel being without the Fantastic Four for too long.

And at the very least I have a Fantastic Four movie to look forward to.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

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