Monthly archives: September, 2008

The Numbers v3: Week 13

JIM DOOM: The August sales figures were released yesterday, and regarding these new Trinity numbers, there are two things going on here.

There’s the obvious drop-off in the number of readers who gave up on weekly comics, presumably due to Countdown’s awfulness. You have to get to week 36 of Countdown, which is past the point I gave up, to get sales as low as the first issue of Trinity.

But the second thing going on here is the astounding drop-off since the first issue. After 13 issues, 52’s sales dropped 15.3% since the first issue; Countdown’s dropped only 3.4%. Trinity dropped 34.9% from issue 1 to issue 13. More than a third of the people who picked up the first issue have given up on this series in only 13 weeks.

Though the first two titles’ week 13 numbers were clearly aided by the artificial spike seen above, that still doesn’t change the fact that 52 never lost 35% of its first-issue numbers. Neither did Countdown.

52’s lowest point was at #43, which was a 33.7% drop from first issue sales, but it never dipped that low again. Countdown’s lowest sales figure was at issue 9 (week 42), which was a 26.0% drop from its first week.

It’s also worth noting that 52’s first issue was much more of an outlier than Countdown’s.

DOOM DeLUISE: Whoa. I think a lot of people bought issue 1 of 52 just to see what it was all about, and then just decided against it for whatever reason. The second two weekly series suffered from people knowing what they were getting themselves invested in from the start.

The Doomino Effect for Sep 10, 2008

I only bought two comics this week.

Final Crisis: Revelations #2 picks up with The Spectre chasing down Renee “Question” Montoya, intending to inflict vengeance upon her for murder, which The Spectre concludes she has committed as the leader of the Order of the Stone. Montoya claims she’s innocent, as she has only infiltrated — not commanded — said Order. The Spectre seems to be making quite the blunder if she’s correct.

This is the type of mistake one would make from mishearing something or just not understanding the whole situation. This presumably is not the type of mistake one would make if one were even only semi-omniscient. Deities would judge through observation and awareness, not through erroneously interpreted socialization.

I’m hoping what this means is that The Spectre is somehow being manipulated for someone else’s purposes; I’d much prefer that to “God heard a rumor and acted on it.”

No doubt the facelessness of The Question removes what could potentially be one of the most attractive parts of Renee Montoya’s body; however, Philip Tan’s rendering of Montoya’s overly muscular body, even without a bra, makes her about as de-sexed as humanly imaginable. She’s gross, in the way that bodybuilders who try to fake femininity through silicone are gross. If you are a body builder who fakes femininity through silicone, I apologize, but you’re probably gross too.

The Goshdarn Batman

the goddamn batman #10Have you read about this? All-Star Batman and Robin #10 was supposed to ship this week, but DC apparently recalled it before it could hit the stands. Why was it recalled, you might ask? Because it dropped the f-bomb.

The word was supposed to be masked by a dark black box, but when it hit the printers, somebody apparently didn’t have the tone dark enough, so you could still see what was written underneath. DC doesn’t mind a Batman who kills cops and kidnaps children, but when it comes to Batgirl saying the word, “fuck,” the line is drawn in the sand.

It’s unfortunate for DC, since ASSBAR is regularly one of their best selling comics. When the last issue shipped in February, it sold nearly 94,000 copies and came in ranked at number six for the month. So DC wasted a lot of copies, and now they’re going to have to fix the glitch and re-release it later this month.

Talk about a fuck up.

Oh, by the way, in case you’re a collector or just incredibly impatient, these things are going like hotcakes over on eBay.

Trinity #15

15In the lead: Enigma, Morgaine Le Fey and Despero are all making up in their secret castle HQ when the Trinity shows up unexpectedly. The story cuts to a flashback of the heroes figuring everything out, and then the two Trinities have a throwdown. Oh, and Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman brought along a few dozen super-friends too.

In the back-up: As the heroes fight the minions of the bad Trinity, Gangbuster and Hawkman try to break into the castle and rescue Tarot.

My take: Holy crap! That was certainly a bit of a surprise, and a damn good surprise at that.

We’re barely a quarter of the way through this year-long series, and the heroes have already hunted down and confronted the villains. So where does the story go from here? There’s still the “World Without a Trinity” side quest that was teased in the first issue, but I don’t see the bad Trinity supporting the story for another 40-ish issues. Maybe this will be like every Legend of Zelda game ever, and right as we think out heroes our victorious, a previous unknown and even deadlier enemy will come onto the scene.

Things to keep an eye on: The bad Trinity just needs to brand Batman in order to complete the spell they’re working on. Future covers of the series show both a world without a Trinity and a world that’s honoring the Trinity with giant, crumbling statues. Makes sense that the spell would be tied into one of those. The bad Trinity story can’t be over already, so something’s got to happen to delay the inevitable ass-whooping.

The Doomino Effect for the week of Sep 3, 2008

Starting off the reviews is Secret Six #1. I really got a kick out of this team back when it was Villains United in the pre-Infinite Crisis days, and I’m hoping this series will re-hook me on this cast of characters.

We start off seeing that there’s a bad guy who lives in a box guarded by twins in matching plaid suits. Then Deadshot and Catman are out for a drive, and Catman explains how he did some bad things in Africa. As the team comprises a half-dozen or so villains, this is perhaps not as profound as Catman feels it is, except for the fact that he feels some kind of existential dilemma over the rightness and wrongness of it all. Deadshot, a.k.a. Martin Blank, feels assured that if he’s supposed to assassinate someone, they probably did something to deserve it.

The duo turns a botched convenience store robbery into a clinic for a few amateur hoodlums for the requisite comedic irony. Meanwhile, Ragdoll and Bane are trying to cheer up Scandal, who is mourning the loss of her girlfriend. I love that Scandal sleeps with her claws on. I’m not up on my Bane, but he seemed more like the dullard from Batman & Robin and less like the guy from Knightfall. I don’t know if something happened that made him speak in painfully obvious and abrupt sentences, but he seems way less interesting now, but probably more useful for a team book like this.

Trinity #14

14In the lead: The JLA realizes that the Trinity isn’t acting like themselves (or rather, they’re acting like each other) and decide those three need to head home and cool off while the JLA deals with Counter-Earth. Green Lantern, Firestorm, Red Tornado, Ray Palmer and the All-New Atom build a machine that will send everyone back to their normal universe, but Enigma shows up unexpectedly and activates it. Everyone gets zapped back to New Earth, but not before Despero’s thugs brand Superman with a tarot symbol.

In the back-up: The heroes fight Sun-Chained-In-Ink, who didn’t so much explode last issue as he did not explode. After a while he does explode (this time in outer space), Swashbuckler and Primat get taken into custody, and TVM gets away with Maxwell Lord’s skull.

My take: I’ve noticed that you can judge how much I’m enjoying this series by how early in the comic week this review gets posted. So obviously I wasn’t too impressed by issue #14.

Nothing really happened this issue. The JLA knows the Trinity is acting kind of funny, but readers have known that since issue #10. The satellite team built a machine to send everyone home. The non-JLAers had a boring fight with a boring character that only debuted a few weeks ago. Strangely enough, this back-up seems to be as insignificant as issue #12’s lead was, because we’re at the same point now as we were at the end of last issue: Sun-Chained-In-Ink went boom.

Two somewhat major things were buried in the meaningless story, though. Superman got branded just like Wonder Woman was way back in issue #5, leaving only Batman unmarked. And Enigma was seen for the very first time by a good guy, although none of them should have any idea who he is or that he’s related to the Trinity stuff. That’s certainly not enough to base a 12-page story on, let alone fill a 10-page back-up. (more…)

Marvel’s Next Big Thing

dark reign

Last night, Marvel Comics announced their next big company-wide brand title that will be popping up on all of our favorite comics following Secret Invasion. That title, in case you were still wondering after that ominous logo above, is “Dark Reign.” It’s being compared to the Initiative brand, which stemmed from Civil War, and is being heralded as changing the status quo in the entire Marvel Universe once again, which is wont to happen every year or so.

Brian Michael Bendis, the man behind Secret Invasion, has this to say:

The Initiative was kind of like the Cold War. There’s a war, and then there’s a cold war. This was an invasion, and from the invasion, certain people take the hit, certain people rise up as the heroes who you wouldn’t expect, and from that comes a new power status in the Marvel Universe that some would consider a dark reign and some would consider heaven. One man’s dark reign is another man’s ‘Finally!’

I’m not sure how The Initiative was like the Cold War, since there wasn’t a known enemy that the Marvel heroes were trying to intimidate or outmaneuver, but, then again, I slept through most of my history classes in high school and college.

Even though it’s silly to guess how all of this plays out, I’m still going to conjecture that the title “Dark Reign” is actually a pun, and Storm is going to rule the Universe in what many will call the “Dark Rain.”

Oh, ouch, that was awful. Sorry.

Ironic quotes from last year

While reading through some old posts on the site, I couldn’t help but notice a few lines that stuck out more than others.

Doom DeLuise: I think that [Brad Meltzer’s] JLA has been an incredibly fun read.

Jim Doom: Are you going to try Countdown?
DD: Hell yeah. I’m excited about it.

— March 20, 2007

DD: The big problem is that if Countdown doesn’t pick up some steam, if it loses a lot of readership, whatever is being counted down to is going to have a pretty limp lead-in.
JD: I sure hope it’s not another crisis. Did you read Justice League of America #9?
DD: The “middle crisis” line?
JD: Yeah.
DD: They shouldn’t have put that in there.
JD: If there’s another crisis, I want them to wait 20 more years.
DD: I don’t think they’ll throw another one in after just two years away from the idea. They should know better.

— May 18, 2007

Doom DeLuise (on Countdown): I think my criticism against Countdown was a tad premature. I really enjoyed this issue.

— May 23, 2007

Fin Fang Doom: Justice League has not been a good book over the last ten issues. It’s come to the point where I’m just counting down the issues until Dwayne McDuffie takes over.

— July 23, 2007

Fin Fang Doom (on Countdown): I have this nagging feeling that it’s going to get really sweet any issue now.

— July 30, 2007

Jim Doom (on Green Arrow: Year One #2): I love fiction like this.

— July 31, 2007

Jim Doom: Maybe Grant Morrison is just demonstrating that even a somewhat simple premise can be a great story – a call to arms for writers to get back to basics and shed convoluted gimmicks.

— Aug 14, 2007

Jim Doom (theorizing on the various blatant contradictions within the pages of Countdown): All of these stories are taking place on different Earths in the multiverse – we just assume they’re all happening on our Earth, thus explaining the characters acting stupid or at least not how we would expect them to.

— Aug 21, 2007

Fin Fang Doom: DC editorial decided to coordinate a few things (including the joke about Ollie not wanting strippers), but didn’t bother to make sure their two writers weren’t writing conflicting stories? That’s an interesting choice.

— Sep 24, 2007

In the news

• Grant Morrison responded to the various Countdown / DONG / Final Crisis continuity problems in a recent IGN interview.

MORRISON: There were a couple of discrepancies which affected the early issues of Final Crisis and which came about because of the way the two books were being written out of order and to different deadlines.

Ultimately, it comes down to me as the last guy in the chain to fix it all, which is what I’m going to do. I’m actually going to make all the discrepancies work and tie in, and I’ve got a plan to fix it. To me, it was just like, “Oh guys, don’t worry about it.” Sometimes human error just creeps into the system. But I also realize that a lot of readers have a genuine emotional investment in the strict coherence of these patchwork fictional universes, so it seemed only fair that I should use the Crisis to clean up any lingering problems.

I was very glad to see this comment, even if it is a little backhanded in its approach to making things right, so to speak. As should be obvious, the desire for consistence in continuity has nothing to do with worshiping imaginary characters and timelines. If you read Morrison’s guided tour through FC #3 at Newsarama, you’ll see you need to know who Überfraulein is, be familiar with Jack Kirby’s original OMAC visuals and know about the history of the Tomorrow People (among other things) to fully understand important parts of the story. The point, of course, is that if a story drops the ball on extremely simple things, the reader has no reason to wonder about meaning hidden in subtleties like the color of the sky or Aquaman’s facial hair.

I’m very much looking forward to how Morrison wraps things up, particularly how he writes away the contradictions. The big-picture things he describes in the IGN interview have the potential to be great, but their greatness only works if readers understand and appreciate the years — if not decades — of meaning built into those characters. Considering he doesn’t care about “…people who respond to [his] work with personal insults and slanders,” I hope we’ll see an end to mockery of those who desire adherence to continuity for stories that depend on extensive knowledge of it.

• The writer formerly known as Doomkopf’s Jean-Claude Van Doom broke the news that Chuck Dixon will be a new G.I. Joe book for IDW. Dixon, along with writer Larry Hama, will be rebooting the G.I. Joe franchise for IDW, dropping the mythology that began with the 1980s cartoon.

Dixon’s fallout with DC earlier this year reached a new level when he broke his silence in the comments section of a June CBR column.

• There might be a Ghost Rider 2.

The Doomino Effect for Aug 27, 2008

Thanks to Labor Day delaying new comics, I can be a day late with this and still end up on New Comics Eve.

Starting off this week’s Doomino Effect is DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1, a story that was good and bad.

The premise is that it’s the last night before the end of the world, and everyone decides how they’re going to spend it in an obviously telling moment. The story revolves around Geo-Force, a character who I’ve always seemed more fitting for a mid-80s line of toys ripping off the He-Man characters, sort of like a Go-Bot Leader-1 to Optimus Prime, except Geo-Force isn’t on the lines of He-Man; he’s more like a cheap analog to Meckaneck. So I guess that’s a really convoluted way of saying that I really doubt anyone cares about Geo-Force to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of comics fans would forget to list him if a kidnapper said “Write down a list of every DC Universe hero on this paper NOW!” The lone exception, of course, is Brad Meltzer, who put the guy in the new JLA.

That said, the presentation and characterization of the guy was pretty good. He’s an angry enough fellow that he doesn’t want the world to end without Deathstroke being punished for what he did. Problem is, I didn’t realize Deathstroke was guilty of doing to Terra what Geo-Force said he did. I also probably care as little about Terra as I do about Geo-Force, so there’s that. I read this fully accepting that Deathstroke probably has earned himself some retribution by this point.

Geo-Force wants Black Lightning to help him, but Black Lightning would much rather spend his last night with his daughters (and by, I did keep thinking “Hey! It’s dark out! If you have “Last night on earth” plans, get to it!) than help Geo-Force commit murder. So anyway, long story short, Geo-Force goes out and takes on the ultimate premeditated trapper and lures him into his premeditated trap. Tables turned, hooray for Geo-Force, blah blah blah. As an isolated story, particularly with the little interludes starring Captain Cold and the Bat Family, it was a nice look at how some people decided to spend their last night.