Pipeline: Last Week Was The Ultimate

Tue, August 9th, 2011 at 1:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

LIFE WOULD BE QUIETER IF YOU HAD LISTENED TO ME

I see nobody listened to me last Tuesday morning at 7:00 AM-ish, when I tweeted:

As always with breaking comics news in the mainstream media -- avoid the comments at all costs. But you knew that already, didn't you?

Shortly thereafter, Marvel once again broke the internet in half by revealing the new identity of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Someone might have read this latter tweet, though:

How many issues will it take before we find out he's gay, and now MJ's BFF? Think of those headlines!

It took a couple of days, but Drudge found the story and Robot 6 explained how it was all wrong.

Unanswered question: Will "Ultimate Spider-Man" now also be published in a same day Spanish edition? Marvel has dipped its toe in those waters with the Tom Beland/Juan Doe one shots set in Puerto Rico. Will they broaden that program now that they have a half-Hispanic lead character the world wants to read more about?

Wait, does the world want to read more about it? Or does the world just want to scream about racists? Doesn't anyone think of the comics anymore?!?

I blame Hollywood.

Meanwhile, Twitter and the blogosphere goes nuts making fun of Glenn Beck for suggesting Michelle Obama had something to do with Ultimate Spider-Man's racial change. Isn't that silly? Can you imagine the White House calling Marvel Comics to make requests?

The next day, Joe Quesada talks about doing a commission requested by The President of the United States in Cup O' Joe.

I'm not at all suggesting one has any link to the other, but being owned by Disney now also means Marvel looks more like part of the mainstream media and opens itself up to these kinds of comments. Marvel isn't the little rebel publishing company anymore. It's part of the greater Hollywood machine. For someone outside of comics, such connections might be easy to make.

IS MARVEL SPECIES-IST?

Will Marvel pick up the DuckTales license, now that BOOM! no longer has it? And, if so, will they continue to be daring and change the characters' species? Why are Duck books so species-ist as to star only ducks, anyway?

Think of the underrepresented dog population, for starters. How would you feel, as a dog, to be represented on DuckTales by a bunch of inept criminals living with their Mommy? It's not right.

Also, we'll need to branch out from the current misogyny. Think about Huey, Dewey, and Lois. It's about time the Junior Woodchucks stopped being an All Boys Club.

And isn't it time Launchpad McQuack came out of the closet?

LGBT: Launchpad, Gyro Gearloose, Mrs. Beakly, and Terr-Fermies? (C'mon, you always thought that the Terri-Fermies were a little different, didn't you? Just couldn't put your finger on it.)

The final result couldn't be any worse than "Quack Pack."

OF MOVIES AND PROMO IMAGES

Two new images came out last week for forthcoming DC comics-based movies. I don't worry too much about these initial still images when they come out. It's more a curiosity thing. I won't judge a movie from the first publicity image, since that so often doesn't reflect the final movie. A still is vastly different from a moving image. Look at all the amazing bombastic still imagery in comics and how often the same sequence might be transferred to the cheesiest looking video known to man. Then there are the subtleties that motion can convey that still images just can't, without taking up too much page space or slowing the story down further than it should. Just look at how awful photo-traced comics look when they try to replicate a still of a moving scene from a paused DVD player.

Still, these publicity shots are good to get the crowd talking and interested, right? So it's fun to analyze these things, just so long as we don't immediately go down the rathole of affirmatively declaring things "best ever" or "worst ever." We can reserve that judgment for the final film. Odds are, it'll be somewhere in-between.

First, we got our first look at Henry Cavill Superman. As Samuel Davis pointed out to me on Twitter, it's very similar to a Jim Lee "Superman For Tomorrow" image. The problem with it, though, is that the background is different. Where Lee's image shows a powerful Superman walking past a rock, basically, the movie promo image attempts to take the same exact image and make it look like Superman is destroying a very heavy looking vault door with his bare hands. But with that intent in mind, the final image looks boring. Superman looks bored. And it's not that Superman looks bored because he's so powerful that rending metal with his bare hands is nothing. No, it just looks like he has a stomach ache and is vaguely reaching out behind him looking for a wall to rest against.

And, since it's a Zack Snyder movie, the CGI fest that is the background looks disconnected from the human actor placed in it. In Snyder's movies, that often works because the viewer chooses to accept that reality and is subject to it for a long period of time. As a single image, it starts looking like a cheesy green screen image.

I'm not pre-judging the movie here. Heck, I even like the costume, though the cape might be a bit long. Todd McFarlane got away with insanely long capes on Spawn, Batman, etc. in comics because it's a still medium and McFarlane showed it only in shots where it worked, and not in-between.

I just think the image fails at a basic level. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the movie.

Soon after that, an image popped up of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman on a Bat-cycle from the upcoming Batman movie. I still picture her as "Ella Enchanted" or "Princess Diaries." And even though I enjoyed "Devil Wears Prada," it's tough think of her as 'sexy' or even just as a mature adult. I'll get over that, I'm sure, and it doesn't impact how I feel about the picture. The only thing that stands out to me about the pic is the eye wear. It looks tremendously bulky and awkward. Maybe when seen with the rest of the outfit, it'll blend in better, but for now it jumps out. We're not seeing much of the outfit here. We know it's black, and that there doesn't appear to be a three foot tail flying out from behind her, nor fake ears glued to her head, so she's got that going for her.

Overall, I don't think this picture tells us much. That's fine. I'm looking forward to the movie. I'll see it then.

Given my recent history with superhero movies, I'll likely see it a few months later when it hits Blu-ray.

PURGE TWO

A couple of years ago, I was prepared to do a major purge of my comics collection, just to save money on the storage space I was using. The best laid plans, etc. etc., and the purge never happened. I had room in the house to store them, as it turned out, and so the boxes sit there. They take up a lot of space. I've not opened most of them in a long time. What am I doing with them?

My comics collection has, sadly, only grown more convoluted and scattered over time. I've sold off a few small bits of it to buy some toys. I'll thank Robert Kirkman, once again, whose "Walking Dead" and "Invincible" comics basically paid for my new camera. I have the hardcover collections of each, so the loss of the individual issues wasn't all that upsetting, except for that early issue of "Walking Dead" that I had a letter printed in. Such is life.

But it's also the model I'm looking to follow more -- keep the books with spines, and ditch the stapled books. It's not that I have unlimited wall space for bookshelves to showcase the collection properly, but I could probably ditch half my collection that way.

Then I read Josh Flanagan's piece on iFanboy.com last week where he talked about treating the monthly comics as magazines -- disposable. I can only imagine the hate email he's getting on that one. I didn't have the nerve to scroll down to look at the comments underneath that post, but I'm sure it was ugly.

Coincidentally, I just threw a bag of comics out with the paper recycling the day before. Most of that was easily junked -- review copies of things I didn't have an interest in before, and still didn't even with the low price of zero. I don't know that I could do that with the comics that formed my earliest years of reading, but eventually I'll run into that.

So, here's my question to you: At what point is your collection too large? Are you there yet? What have you done about it? If you're not there yet, can you imagine a day? Or do you think you'll always find space to store this stuff, somehow? Is an off-site storage unit rental something you'd consider?

MARVEL SOLICITS FOR OCTOBER

A couple of weeks ago, Marvel announced its October solicitations. I've been meaning to talk about it ever since, but kept running out of space. With the release of the "Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus" this week collecting the entire run of Todd McFarlane-drawn issues (:: fanboy drool :: ), I'm reminded to highlight a few of the awesome looking books due out this fall.

Pardon my inner fanboy being so blatantly unleashed, but can we all just bask in the glow of the very concept of a single book collecting the entirety of McFarlane's original "Amazing Spider-Man" run? I started collecting comics with "Amazing Spider-Man" #318. I later pieced together most of McFarlane's run through trading with other collectors, expensive back issues, and eBay. To this day, though, I don't think I've read them all. And now they're all here in one big door-stopper of a book. It's not cheap, I grant you, but we live in a wonderful world where it's so easily available.

And, in October, Marvel continues to delight comics readers of my generation with the second volume of the "Uncanny X-Men Omnibus" by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. Unfortunately, there's not enough Lee-drawn material to fill out this second book, so you get Whilce Portacio's run on "X-Factor" and some other issues. Specifically: "Uncanny X-Men" #273-280, "X-Factor" #63-70, "Ghost Rider" #26-27, and "X-Men" #1-9 and "material from #10-11." By the end of that run there, you'll see Art Thibert's style taking over for Jim Lee's. But for $125, it'll still be a nice companion piece to the first volume.

Next, Marvel needs to figure out how to put out Omnibi of all the "X-Men" issues between these volumes and the first Claremont/Byrne "Uncanny X-Men Omnibus." There's lots of work from Paul Smith, John Romita Jr., Marc Silvestri, Art Adams, Rick Leonardi, et. al, that people would love to have all over again.

At long last, "Invincible Iron Man" HC Volume 2 will collect issues #20-33 of Matt Fraction's current run on the title with Salvador Larroca. I caught up on the series thanks to the first oversized hardcover in this series -- which is not an Omnibus, even though we all refer to it as one -- and have been patiently waiting for this book to continue on.

"Spider-Man: Masques" is the premiere edition hardcover that finally answers the question I asked earlier this year: When will Marvel collect the rest of Todd McFarlane's adjectiveless "Spider-Man" run, and how? This book collects issues #6-7 (Hobgoblin and Ghost Rider), #13-14 (Morbius, with lettering by McFarlane), and issue #16 along with X-Force #4, which is the two-part crossover McFarlane did with Rob Liefeld in which they blew the top off the World Trade Center, and drew everything sideways. The book is $25.

You can see the obvious gap in there. "Spider-Man" #8-12 is destined for a hardcover collection of its own next, no doubt, with the Wolverine storyline during which McFarlane broke his hand playing baseball and used some guest inkers. Rick Magyar, as I recall, did most of that work, though the likes of Rob Liefeld and Scott Williams also pitched in. Wendigo was the "villain," as you might remember.

"Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man" premiere edition hardcover is another indication that Marvel has given up on the oversized hardcover books collecting the series. I know that's nothing new, though Marvel's always denied it. I guess I'll just have to suck it up and deal. That nice bookshelf I have with all the collections lined up will shrink dramatically after the first dozen or so books. This one is $25 and has "Ultimate Spider-Man" #156-160 in it. Yes, five issues (120 pages) for $25. Ugh.

"Ultimate Comics X: Origins" is another premiere edition hardcover collecting the long-delayed Jeph Loeb/Art Adams five part series. Again, it's not oversized and it only has 120 pages for that $25 price point. No wonder why people seek these things out for a discount on line. . .

There's another Mick Anglo "Young Marvelman" premiere edition hardcover book, proving only that it must be in Marvel's contract to keep making these things, because it's still not the issues anyone cares about.

Andi Watson's Bill Jemas-era "15-Love" is now a graphic novel, together in one package for $15. Congrats to Watson and artist Tommy Ohtsuka for a book ten years in the making.

In the rest of the paperback department, there's a third volume collecting the classic "New Warriors" stories by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley. Since these issues crossed over with "Avengers" at the time, you'll also get a couple of those books thrown in, drawn by Steve Epting. His style hadn't matured completely yet, but it was very cool even back then. $25 here gets you nine comics and 216 pages.

There you go. That's a quick way to spend a few hundred bucks from reading my column. I apologize.

LETTER HACKING

It dawned on me recently that I'll never write anything which will be read by more people than the letters I had printed in comics in the early 90s. Those comics had circulations in the hundreds of thousands. I know not everyone read the letters column, but I'm pretty sure more still read those letters then than read my column and my tweets and my blogs combined today.

Crap, did I peak too soon?

RANDOM ONE LINERS

  • CBR continues to pump out the CCI: San Diego panel reports. Of special interest to me this week was Alan Davis' panel, and IDW's panel. There's good news in there about Davis drawing a Captain America project, too.

  • Sketch of the year award goes to Rob Liefeld -- for a pouch . I wish I had thought of that years ago.

  • I refuse to believe DC is serious about sticking to its commitment to monthly comics while Chuck Dixon isn't writing at least three of them. Remember the last time the trains ran on time at DC and Dixon was writing "Birds of Prey," "Nightwing," and "Robin" -- and they were all great books?

  • Joe Quesada was on the big screen at the back of the Disney Store last weekend, telling me how to make comics. Five years ago, could you have imagined such a thing?
  • ?
CONTACT INFO

I'm on Google Plus, still trying to figure out what to do with it.

I have a photography blog, AugieShoots.com and a general interesting blog, VariousandSundry.com, other oddball thoughts that aren't comics-related. This last week, there's been some diabetes stuff over there.

Twitter @augiedb || E-mail || Pipeline Message Board

TAGS:  pipeline, ultimate spider-man, miles morales, henry cavill, anne hathaway, superman, catwoman

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