Announcement Season

This is what comic conventions have finally become to me: “Uh-oh! The news sites are updating over the weekend.”

Somewhere far from here, parties have been going on all weekend long, parties where I would excel at the small talk. People are standing in lines and sitting in auditoriums (auditoria? auditoriae?) dressed as 10-foot Pikachus or something, gawking at the people who are gawking at them. Creators at panels are making wisecracks that will not come across at all in the blogs that reprint them, setting themselves up for the next six months of message board snark. Paul is in there, amid the unwashed throngs, getting insanely great Batperson sketches from Kevin Maguire. And I am here, watching it all pop up in my RSS feed, making a face not unlike the one Barbara Gordon’s making in that sketch.

My wife has seen me during this time of year, my nose forlornly pressed up against my monitor like an orphan in the snow peering in on a happy family’s Christmas dinner. I’ve explained the allure of the coastal cons, and she has said to me, pityingly, “We’ll get you to one, buddy. One day, you’ll join your friends.” We might as well be George and Lennie talking about the rabbits in Of Mice and Men. San Diego tickets are bought so far in advance now that you can only go if your father willed them to you; cruelly ironic, as most attendees never father children. Hotel booking there has grown so merciless you usually have to sleep on a raft tied to a pier. The San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau puts out an entire pamphlet on bat’leth-related leak prevention. “Attend San Diego” is under “purchase Daredevil: The Target #2″ on the Pipe Dream list for now.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess that a proper, honest-to-Kirby convention was practically held in my damn foyer recently, and I just plum forgot about it until it was too late. That’s what happens when you skip your regular Wednesday visit to the shop for a couple of weeks. It sounded like a blast. Billy Tan was there. I would have loved to shake his hand and say, “It’s so nice to meet you! My podcast friends have really complicated feelings about your work. Assuming you’re the Tan they have in mind. Tan proliferation is part of why it’s so complicated.”

Largely, then, conventions remain an abstraction to me. I experience them mostly as news engines; people start to say the word “con,” and then the following weekend 10 artists announce exclusive contracts and I know the plot outline of every comic coming out next October. I was recently saying that, in the wake of Final Crisis and Secret Invasion, every day was a slow news day, but it suddenly occurs to me that maybe it’s just been a year since the last convention season. With that in mind, and with two major conventions going on this weekend, I now splay myself out in front of the internet to let the hype wash over me. What did they put out there for us this weekend?:

Blackest Night. Green Lantern is a book that is impervious to my most vigorous attempts to like it. Still, over the course of the last several months, I’ve really been enjoying everyone else’s enjoyment. People get a glint in the eye and a squeak in the voice whenever the Sinestro Corps enters the conversation, and it’s just nice to hear about a long-form story that doesn’t have readers crabbing about tie-ins and wrap-it-up-alreadys. (Same goes for Dark Reign, but we’ll get there in a minute.) Excitement for the latest chapter of the Lantern Rainbow saga is reaching the “breathe into a paper bag” stage, and it sounds like this was on everyone’s mind over the weekend. As someone who is out of many loops, large and small, I was surprised to see that this wasn’t just a Green Lantern Thing; it’s a just-leave-your-Mastercard-with-the-shopkeep Thing with a ten-book prelude in the grand Event Book tradition. Still, even as an Event, it’s only twenty issues or so. Compared to the last few years, that’s a cakewalk.

Wednesday Comics. This project isn’t news anymore, but this weekend the world did get its first up-close look at DC’s upcoming weekly… book? Series? Bachelor’s giftwrap?

My mind cannot penetrate the inscrutable mysteries of this project. I am a bore of very little brain, but I don’t know what this is or who it’s for. I admire a fresh approach to the medium, but… faux funnies? When I think “spark some interest” or “get people buyin'” in 2009, the word that most doggedly fails to come to mind is “newspaper.” I picture someone in a boardroom, saying, “People think comics are dying… is there a way we can associate them with something even deader? How expensive is making papyrus?” I actually have some nostalgia for reading the Sunday funnies, and I haven’t bought a newspaper since the fall of 1995. And that was for a class.

I hope they make me eat every word. It could be fun, and it’s only 12 weeks. Besides, the idea of a bunch of people with collector’s mentalities trying to read those things and keep them mint makes me smile.

Longbox Digital Comics. Ohhh my God oh my God oh my God it is happening.

As far to the opposite end of the spectrum from Wednesday Comics as you could possibly get, Rantz Hoseley and Quicksilver Software unveiled Longbox Digital Comics, the “comic book iTunes.” I have been hearing whispers and murmurs about this for months now around the iFanboy break room, but this is the first time I have actually seen what they have up their sleeves. I have had to restart this paragraph three times, because I keep fainting and hitting my head on the coffee table every time I think about it.

If the screenshots and description are anything to go by, and it would be pretty absurd if they weren’t, Longbox is everything I have been begging for since the first time I typed “Uncanny X-Men” into Kazaa. (It was very, very hard to remember the word “Kazaa.” Time moves faster online.) Ninety-nine cents per digital issue! The option for publishers to offer you a coupon for the trade of anything you subscribe to! They thought of everything. The software is even compatible with .cbr and .cbz files, acknowledging reality and the way its target market discovered that it needed to exist in the first place.

I will do unspeakable, repugnant things to get invited into the beta for this miracle. Porn stars would get nauseous, thinking about the things I will do.

Ooh, you top five publishers better get on board with this thing. I mean it. I’m preemptively sending away for voodoo dolls right now. I can do that, because you can do everything online except buy your goddamn comics. No more screwin’ around.

Archaia is back in action. For a while there, it looked like Archaia (of Mouse Guard fame) might not make it due to some shuffling behind the scenes. Luckily, it looks like some money has changed hands and everything is back on track. Good for them; I want to see people with new ideas and different approaches succeed, with or without their feudal mice. This Days Missing book they talked about over the weekend sounds pretty intriguing; I’m on board.

The Marvel Stuff. Maybe it’s just because it’s what I’m attuned to look for (you buy a blue Honda Civic, and then suddenly you see blue Honda Civics all over the road) but it seemed like Marvel unleashed a hypealanche this weekend. Phil Jiminez will be Warren Ellis’ partner in crime for upcoming issues of Astonishingly Still Ongoing X-Men. (I’m interested.) They want us to believe that Luke Cage and Iron Fist are joining the Thunderbolts. (I’m listening, but not happily.) You only thought Sean McKeever was DC exclusive; in fact, he’s doing a miniseries about Girl Bucky. (Can’t wait.) They are finally, finally writing the “definitive origin” of the Phantom Reporter, at last answering the prayers of a guy my grandfather played stickball with.

In addition to so many more Marvel Zombies books that it makes me wonder if the Marvel health plan shouldn’t just break down and offer the mental health coverage already, they also announced that the X-Babies are returning to fight the Star Comics line, conclusively signalling that the world has gone mad, and that the only thing left to do is get a can opener and a German shepherd and ride this thing out in a bunker. Still not convinced? They’re revisiting the Clone Saga in two different books. See you down there. Bring some MREs.

Finally, Dark Reign appears to be culminating in a series of one-shots called The List. I like the premise, and I love the non-crossover crossover execution, but then I’ve liked almost everything about Dark Reign. It actually is the new status quo they always promise after a big blockbuster event. It doesn’t feel like an endless roller coaster of crisscrossing tie-ins and money grabs. I haven’t been this satisfied with my Marvel comics in quite a while.

Of course, that having been said, I sense trouble on the horizon:

DARK REIGN ELEKTRA
DARK REIGN HOOD
DARK REIGN LETHAL LEGION
DARK REIGN SINISTER SPIDER-MAN
DARK REIGN ZODIAC
DARK WOLVERINE
DARK AVENGERS
DARK AVENGERS UNCANNY X-MEN UTOPIA


That is a list of books that are coming out this week. And Dark Reign: Hawkeye, Dark Reign: Mister Negative, and Dark Reign: Young Avengers are still sitting unread in my backpack from last week. Hopefully, this just means we are building to a crescendo and not that they’ve just lost the (dark) reins.

What did I miss? What are you looking forward to, other than the next set of announcements?

Comments

  1. Great overview, dude–I will admit, though, that the odds of me following the dark rain of Dark Reign books are Sill Astonishingly Low…too many books for what looks to be very low return…

  2. No way in hell am I reading any of those Dark Reign books. Not this week, not next week, not during the months they annouced these new mini’s and one-shots. On newsarama I think I read an exchange with Bendis and Remender about the ‘end’ of Dark Reign and how it involves Steve Rogers and the Reborn series. So are they already thinking of the end of this new status quo already?

    I really love this "Wednesday Comics" DC is going to release soon. It didnt occur to me that DC is pretty much using a dying art form to release these comics….as Jimski pointed out. But I love the idea of have these storylines printed in the style of Sunday periodical comics. It’s a fresh, new idea and thankfully it’s only for a 1/4th of the year and not a full 52 weeks of these things.

  3. Myself, I can’t wait for the followup to Dark Reign when it’s all over – Light Snow. that’s when Dagger from Cloak and Dagger will really shine. LITERALLY.

  4. Kazaa! Haha! I had purged that name from my brain!

  5. I’m excited for Marvel, I’m excited for Blackest Night, and I’m beyond excited for Longbox.

  6. I don’t really care about any of this stuff.  I dropped everything Dark Reign related except for Amazing Spiderman.  I think X-Men Forever is the only other Marvel book I’m pulling and I’m about to drop that and go hunt down Morrison’s run instead.  There is an Omnibus on Ebay right now.  My max bid is $85 and it looks like someone is gonna outbid me soon.  Still got five days left!

    I’m not much of a Green Lantern guy so Blackest Night isn’t too much of a big deal to me other then the Batman & Superman tie ins.  I don’t know if the main book is worth four bucks to me.

    I’m not all that into Wednesday Comics either.  I can just see that trade sitting in the bargain bin eight months from now.

  7. Ok people we need more memberships so Jim can finally come to a Con. Now lets get out there and make this mans dream a reality. Also Jim i live in SD if you are ever able to get a pass, i can see about putting you up, seriously let me know. oh yea Longbox, OMG OMG OMG.

  8. I think the one thing that you missed out on Jim was Captain America Rebirth.  I would be pretty excited about Longbox Comics if I didn’t look at a computer screen for 10 hours a day.  I really anjoy physical mediums.  I do understand the appeal though.

  9. The tail end of this article just goes to show that the big two really have lost control.  I have to defend DC’s Wednesday Comics, because I don’t know that the project is anything other than a pure celebration of the medium, especially as it’s Mark Chiarello’s baby.  I think that something so resolutely non-commercial should be applauded.  The Dark Reign and Blackest Night tie-ins, however…man!!!  I like Green Lantern, I’ve loved many aspects of Dark Reign, but come on!!  8 3.99 books in one week, without taking into consideration any variety you might want in your stack.  There are very few people who will devote themselves to one genre/storyline at the expense of all others, so who does Marvel think can afford all this.

    My exasperation can be summed up in one line from the article:

    Dark Reign: Lethal Legion!!!! Really???

  10. Jim, do you think if I talked to your wife personally she’d let you come to a convention?

  11. With enough advance planning, she would barely care. It’s the planning and the cash, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you.

    I need to just go to Chicago. (But you guys never come to Chicago.)

    @odare: Marvel is flooding the market in general this week. It’s not just Dark Reign. I think they had 40 books on the last list I saw for this week. I might take July off.

  12. I’ve been very excited for Blackest Night, but I’m not on board with these tie-ins. After this event, no more!

  13. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Did they even announce anything at WWPhilly? I know they did at Heroes Con, but Philly didn’t get anything, did it? As always, I sauntered in fully intending to take in a panel or two and ended up just wandering around. 

     

  14. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    As for Wednesday Comics, I think it’s actually designed for the demographic of me. I can’t articulate why though. I just know that I’m all over that shit.  

  15. I’m super excited for WEDNESDAY COMICS. The sample pages look fantastic!

  16. I’m skipping Blackest Night for Wednesday Comics. I love what DC is doing with Wednesday Comics.

  17. I’m stoked for Wednesday Comics. The format might be a be of a novelty (have to wait and see on that), but the talent lined up behind it is fantastic. And I love that they’re doing stories that are NOT tied into other things! Yay!

    Here’s a thought: how about a similar "2nd Season" of Wednesday comics, but instead of using the newspaper format, do it all digital, designed for weekly release through Longbox to your Xbox, kindle, PC, or iPhone? Short serialized strips, great artists and writers, light continuity, totally downloadable.

    Well, a guy can dream…

  18. "be a *bit* of a novelty, that is…" – grrr, need editing capabilities (or to actually read what I type).

  19. Also: I’m actually kinda excited about the Dark Reign: The List stuff. I’m mostly ignoring the various Dark Reign spin-off series, but the List idea seems to incorporate some of Marvel’s best current writers and they all seem to be working together off a common theme. If done right, and this serves to move the story into new territory, it could be a good use of one-shots under the dark reign banner. I’m a little skeptical, but they’ve certainly got the right names attached.

  20.  Jiminez on Astonishing, oh that’s going to be awesome, this means maybe the book will come out more then 4 times a year (not monthly by God, but a little more then usual)

  21. It’s like Jim and I are completely opposed to one another: I’m all over Blackest Night and Wednesday Comics, averted to Dark Reign like it’s the plague and more or less unfazed by Longbox. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of paying less for comics, its that I have no interest in digital comics. (Case in point I have the complete collection of Star Trek comics released on CD-ROM earlier this year and have never used it once.) I like the the tactility of the physical book. Same reason I don’t do e-books either. Oh well, the market will eventually push me out I guess. I just can’t passed the whole Light On/Light Through thing.

  22. Did anyone see any pics of Mark Bagley holding up the pre-release version of Wednesday Comics? It’s all kinds of crazy and awesome. We’re gonna need to make a seperate longbox or shelve to fit these things!

  23. The Cary Nord pages for Dark Reign Ares look great.  He us such a great artist that needs to do more.

  24. I’m a little worried that at end of Blackest Night Geoff Johns is going to take off his human suit and return to his home planet.

  25. I like the idea of Green Lantern and the idea of Blackes Night.  But it seems to me like Green Lantern along with the Sinstro Corps War is just about the fighting and not about anything else.  That might have worked when I was in high school, but I want some character development, something more.

  26. Wed. comics has the potential to actually be something different, instead of somethign that promises to be different and then reeks of regurgitation.  I can’t wait for it. I have no desire to buy comic books online, so Longbox does nothing for me.  Can anyone explain to me what the heck Marvel is doing with the clone saga revisit?  I saw it in Previews today and the shop owner and I both were like.. "I don’t get it." 

  27. I know that the Clone Saga *miniseries* is Tom Defalco and oh, let’s say Howard Mackie telling the story as it was originally meant to be told– briefly– before management got dollar signs in their eyes and extended it 400 issues.

    Now, what Guggenheim is doing in ASM proper, I have nooo idea.