Pick of the Week Podcast

Pick of the Week #261 – Batman Incorporated #1

Show Notes

Not only are the guys back together, they’re in person in the warmth of Brooklyn and apparently on speed.  But that doesn’t keep them from discussing the top books of the week, argue over the harsh realities of the comic book industry and direct market, and avoid the haunting by the Brooklyn ghost.

Running Time: 00:57:49

Pick of the Week:
00:01:55 – Conor loved the international sexy time of Batman Incorporated #1 by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette.

00:08:10 – Jeff Parker and Kev Walker check in with the milestone issue of Thunderbolts #150 and everyone’s loving it.
00:12:06 – The cover to Superman #705 is quite the metaphor for reading this book, so says Conor.
00:13:40 – Was there anything more awesome than X-Men #5? Ron doesn’t think so.
00:15:47 – Finally, The Flash #6 wraps up this great first arc from Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul.
00:17:49 – How do you make the next arc of The Avengers #7? Infinity Gems and Ron and Conor are all over it.
00:21:24 – Josh felt that The Sixth Gun #6 may have been the best issue of this new series yet.
00:23:08 – Take a trip to the 1990s with DC Universe: Legacies #7.
00:23:51 – Josh gets giggly over Hellboy: Double Shot of Evil.
00:24:55 – Green Lantern #59 was a bit better than previous issues, but Ron and Conor agree, there’s too much going on.
00:26:15 – Ron was amused, but not as much as he hoped, by The Heroic Age: Villains.

User Reviews:
00:28:12 – headless gave a glowing review for the great Brightest Day #14.
00:30:16 – heylook is on board with Batman: The Return .

Book of the Month:
00:33:49 – Josh was delighted in reading The Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet K. Lee.

00:41:34 – Steve from Seattle, WA is upset by the cancellation of Thor: The Mighty Avenger and wants answers.

Brought to You By:
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  1. Man, not a single thing I read talked about here. No Superior or Morning Glories?

  2. Are you asking because you think the show notes might be a mistake? Or is it more rhetorical?

  3. Giggly perfectly describes my response to Hellboy this week. Very fun issue.

  4. by the way, i think someone said in the book that the ‘Mr. Unknown’ that had his face burnt off in Batman Inc. was a body double. The kid with the Groceries was the real Mr. Unknown (which is why he was able to fight the goons off) I think that’s his thing, nobody knows who the real one is 

  5. In your conversation, you couldn’t bring up any DC books that got cancled, and as a Blue Beetle fan, I have faith in Didio for letting the stories go at least 30 issue’s even if it undersells (look at secret six and rebels and booster gold). Be nicer to DC, they’re holding the line in a way Marvel is not

  6. Great show as always guys.

    As for the big discussion at the end, I honestly think that every last bit of blame for the case at hand should be laid at the feet of Marvel. Thor: The Might Avenger was one of a half dozen or so Thor titles launched recently and it was – apparently, I was waiting for the trade – the weird out of continuity, all ages one. The only way the book would EVER have sold was through word of mouth. As such, they needed to give it at least one trade before cancelling it because if people only hear about how good the series is after a few issues then most people would rather wait for the trade rather than trying to hunt down past issues. Something like, what, six issues have come out before they canned it? The series simply never had a chance with the way Marvel works.

    DC is actually a bit better about this.  Obviously, they cancel a lot of mid-range series as well but, pretty much without fail, they at least give them a chance to catch on with at least one trade and a dozen or so issues under a series’ belt before it is is cancelled. Marvel has shown time and time again that they don’t do this so you have to wonder why they even bother releasing stuff like S.W.O.R.D or Thor: Mighty Avenger at all. 

  7. Agreed Vod89. Most Marvel vs.DC debates are basically rather silly but in terms of business practices DC are just light years ahead of Marvel. Not just in terms of cancelling books but, well, do I really have to go into the different pricing structures of the two companies? Even before they knocked down the prices to $3, they were very clearly retiscent about moving up to $4 dollars as most of their $4 books at least offered extra content. Marvel, the biggest company in comics right now, has shown no signs of stopping what is clearly just a way of taking advantage of their customers with markedly over-priced comics and even more over-priced graphic novels/ trades/ HCs.

  8. I’m with conor blame the broken system, not the people who didn’t read it or Marvel for cancelling it

  9. Great energy, guys.  This was a lot of fun.  Thanks.

  10. @Josh, sorry, more rhetorical. Just a little dissapointed. I’m not blaming you guys or anything, its just a little dissapointing since I’m don’t have the budget to buy too many books, so its pretty much all Boom! Image and Icon, leaving me with not as much to talk about. I still love the podcast, but I feel a little out of the loop or whatever when weeks go by where nothing I read gets talked about. Not your fault/problem.

  11. What is the address to subscribe to the feed for those listening on a mobile device podast player?

  12. Wow. That was some fast talkin! In a hurry?

  13. Can’t wait for Flash trade!!!

  14. @SpiderTitan   So don’t wait, go buy the current issue now and read on!!!   

  15. I love when you guys don’t talk about any books I"m reading, you are informative and entertaining and I don’t get anything spoiled. win win for me 🙂 

  16. You guys were like fast-talking school girls. I wish ya’ll could podcast in the same room all the time. Great show and I’m glad you guys found each other.

  17. good episode, some interesting discussion. thanks all

  18. I haven’t listened to the episode yet (I do the Monday commute thing), but I definitely didn’t write any reviews this week and the excerpts you read from Batman: The Return are for matthader!


  19. @heylook: There’s your mistake in the script. Sorry, matthader!

  20. Batman, INC was great fun.

  21. Okay, I give. What’s the Back to the Future rule?  

    Josh mentions this when Conor points out Iceman‘s ice comes from the moisture around him, and thus turning Iceman into holy water wouldn’t necessarily work.

    Is the rule have sometime to do with favoring fun creativity, over pure facts? Or something like that?

    Again, just curious.

  22. Looking forward to Flash trade as well!

  23. does anyone realize that Marvel did have the numbers already on the first trade?  if the first trade comes out next month, which it does, then orders were mostly in for that book last month. so everybody screaming, "they should at least wait for the first trade!", Marvel DID wait for the first trade.  trade-waiters need to pre-order as well.

  24. Why does everything think Thor: TMA is going to sell amazingly well in trades?

    Sure it got some good buzz online, but thats only a small segment of the people buying the books.
    Also, its going to be stored along side the other Thor books, so its going to have a crazy amount of competition.
    Its also theoretically competiting with a hardback of the Simonson Thor. Yikes.

    It kinda makes sense when Vertigo banks of trade sales, cos you can put something like Sweet Tooth on a shelf and its not directly competiting with the 20 or so books next to it.

  25. I’m just happy the first review I wrote was mentioned on the show. 😀

  26. "We are witnessing a sea change" – Josh

  27. Powerdad – You don’t pick apart Back to the Future for inconsistencies, scientific problems, continuity gaffs. You just enjoy the movie. All the important things are right.

  28. Ditto on the Thor:TMA conversation. Multiple Thor titles and it not being the "main" book was its downfall.

  29. Very interesting email question ths week. Sparked a hell of a debate. As a trade reader, I find this a hot subject, especially at the moment.

    Cannot wait for the Walking Dead episode. Was wondering when you guys’d get around to it 🙂

  30. I also think that in many comic book stores, the Direct Market structure works against all ages titles. Its not a demographic that pre-orders stuff from previews 3 months in advance. 

  31. I Love Rival Schools!

  32. Josh, if you dug Paquette’s art here, I highly recommend his work with Alan Moore on Terra Obscura. It’s a spinoff of Tom Strong, which I’ve never really been excited about, and way more fun and exciting than I ever thought it’d be. Along with Top Ten, it’s easily my favorite of the ABC books that Moore did.

  33. That sounds pretty good. I just might. Thanks for the tip.

  34. Gents,


    I welcome the sea change. B-and C list books should only come out if the story merits it.

    There are too many trademarks of charcters and titles at the big 2 to be maintained for them to be totally ignored, and cameos in established titles won’t be enough. I think you will just see more mini series.

    I have no problem with a good 4-6 part Atom or Ms Marvel story coming out every year and a half- two years versus a mediocre ongoing that sputters out after 12-18 issues.


  35. Or in the case of the Atom, a 1 issue story. Deathstroke happens, Ryan Choi dies, the end. 🙁

  36. To Ron’s point about preordering, pretty much every retailer around me still has copies on the shelf. These retailers ordered enough, You can’t just assume that the sales were low because retailers didnt order it because people didnt pre-order. if copies sit unsold, then the supply was there not the demand.

    I mentioned in another thread that i picked up issue 1 (there were plenty on the shelf) and i didn’t care for it. I stopped getting it. then there was plenty of buzz about it and then it was POW. SO i picked up 2-4 (again all were on the shelf) and tried again. Still didnt thrill me, i picked up 5, still nothing, and decided to drop the book again. I tried the book twice and it didnt click for me. When i picked up 2-4 my retailer asked me what made me pick them up. I told him about the buzz and he said they didnt sell in his store.

    I asked him yesterday what his sales on the book were. He told me he ordered 10 copies of issue 1 and sold 6. For issue 2 he cut his order (as most retailers do) in half, to 5 and sold 2. for issue 3 and 4 same thing. bought 5 sold 2.I bumped the sales up to 3 copies, but now they are back to 2. He said he considered cutting the orders to 3 but didnt in case other people wanted to try it if there was buzz. 

    just in his store, 6 people picked up 1 and only 2 returned for 2. 2/3 of the people who tried it, dropped it, including me.  We can blame the retailers, and the customers and the publishers and the system, but maybe part of the blame is the book. While it may get raves on podcasts and twitter. that may represent a small part of the buying community who may just have different tastes in comics. While it is a loss for all of you, it means the possibility that i can see chris samness art on a book that i might actually like. 

  37. I did like you guys saying at the end that, for the most part, your in a bubble. So whatever you praise will get praised in your bubble of friends. But obviously people outside that bubble won’t care much for it.

    I am a bit more in the favor of mini-series at this point. I mean if Marvel is too lazy to let a new ongoing go more then 3 issues before announcing cancellation; then why not go to mini-series form? Of course Marvel will probably find a way around that by cancelling a mini-series 1 issue into its run.

  38. Hey IFanboys…loved the show, but I didn’t really understand the "sea change" comment, but I want to.  Are you saying that decreased sales are causing a sea change, or that the market is moving to trades is the sea change, or that Marvel just instituted a harsher cutdown regime, or what?

    I’m sorry, I am totally not trying to be annoying, I just didn’t understand, but given the passion of the discussion, I feel like I’m missing something?  Because I personally haven’t noticed anything really earth-shattering going on in the business/at the store other than the point you made about how things are slow when there isn’t an event.  (I pride myself in only reading an event I care about, last one of those was Civil War…but it is always clear from the pull numbers on this site that events *work*)

  39. It’s hard to say what is going to change, but something’s changing. Corporate forces are watching the big 2 like never before. The direct market is showing its weaknesses, digital comics are trying to find their niche, and the sales on non-core titles are dropping. Business as usual is changing right now, and the things we’ve come to expect from publishers as standard behavior, will change.

    I don’t know how that will shake out.  But you’re already seeing the effects.

  40. The companies need to figure out how to translate the movie (and now series) popularity into comic book sales.  I think we’ll know a lot more over the next 2 years if Marvel can get young people interested in the books for Cap, Thor, etc.  Comic books are so much more "acceptable" to the general public, it would be a shame if they can’t capitalize now that the subject matter isn’t so niche.

    Comics are such wonderful products, the trick is just getting them in the hands of a new reader and getting them to come back the next month to get the next chapter in the story.  I don’t think giving movie goers a free coupon to pick up the latest Avengers issue at an LCS would be such a bad marketing idea; at least it’s worth a shot.

  41. Thanks.  I certainly agree that

    1) the movie franchise aspect has been a sea change.  The fact that Batman has gone from "it will never work" to "007 level box office franchise" in less than two decades is really remarkable when you step back…and then add in the success of Iron Man and you have the definiton of a sea change. 

    2) Digital Comics and their effect are a complete question mark, I got no clue if I’ll be reading all, some, or none of my books that way in ten years.

    3) Trade paperbacks are actively changing how things work.  I wonder how the numbers on books like Scalped or Locke & Key even work for the single issues, my guess is they are a loss but then the TP is a huge win….that makes for weird dynamics for mini-series, particularly from talent creators for whom you might think there is a TP sale down the line and the readers are all just waiting.

    On the good front, however, I’m hard pressed to remember a time when so many 2nd tier publishers like Image, Dark Horse, Boom, Archaia, etc seemed viable (at least to me?).  A more TP oriented market might help indies even more.



  42. You really think they haven’t tried to capitalize on the massive box office success of movies?  Just because you didn’t see it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t done. And it didn’t work. Most people don’t want to go to a comic shop. Most people don’t want to read comic book issues.  The movie folks clearly aren’t that interested in buying comics in the way we think of them.  It’s been a decade of this.  It didn’t translate. 

  43. @Josh – I didn’t say they didn’t try, I said it hasn’t worked.  My post wasn’t exactly a definitive theory on specifically what they should do, my point is that Marvel has a ‘make or break’ moment coming up with all their Avengers movies and they need to be aggressive and creative.  Its somewhat ironic that there is finally genuine interest from the mass public in this material, and the floppies can’t capitalize; it sucks actually.

    I will say that DC did a shit job of trying to capitalize on the Dark Knight movie.  I feel sorry for any new reader that picked up an issue of BATMAN as their first comic while that was in the theatres.

  44. @cutty–they are capitalizing off of the movies quite well…just with toys, games, clothes  and other merch. Comic books are small potatoes compared to those other products. 

  45. Bingo.

  46. @wally – Agreed.  And to me that’s the irony, because the licensed properties are so popular but floppies just can’t seem to take advantage. 

    I did think Marvel rolling out INVINCIBLE IRON MAN to coincide with the first movie was pretty inspired.  It was the perfect product for a new reader, but unfortunately the trick is to get it into their hands

  47. as far as the pre-ordering. I get what Ron was saying but i don’t think its fair to call non previews people "culpable". It just sounds so directed and blame-y. I agree with Conor that the system is broken and with Josh when he says that consumers should decide the best format for their tastes. I mean what kind of industry doesn’t consider sales numbers on a product it sells (trades)? Thats like movie studios not considering DVD sales. Its foolish and kinda short sighted. Are comics publishers really surviving issue to issue like that? They have no operating funds to front some titles and see how an entire release (issues to trades) plays out before they pull it?

    I don’t pre-order anything and I don’t like previews. I’m old school and like to be surprised by my comics instead of having them spoiled months in advance. I also have lots of fun going to the shop and browsing just like when i was a kid at the drug store spinning the racks. If that kinda behavior is killing the industry then thats kinda lame.

  48. @wallythegreenmonster

    Comic companies certainly do take the trade sales into account, but as its been pointed out the trade was already solicited and the numbers still werent there. I highly doubt the trade sales were more than a few thousand. not enough to justify. While its possible that over time that could grow with word of mouth etc, its just that, POSSIBLE. marvel would be better suited trying another book, rather than just hope that this one increased. with very few exceptions sales dont go up without an event tie in or a change in creative team or some big shake up. none of which would have made the fans of this book happy.

  49. well its still a bad system. It assumes that everyone who purchases a trade preorders and looks at solicits. I agree they probably know how to estimate and have formula’s set up. The Direct Market system is pretty bad…As Josh was saying there is change coming. Its obvious that the publishers have a really faulty system on their hands for every step in the process all the way down to the consumer being able to make a purchase. 

  50. It’s a bad system in part because it’s very protective, and because the margins are so low. 

  51. @Josh – how bad are the margins on floppies?  say, compared to any other licensed products that Disney or WB could put out.

    I’m just wondering how motivated the corporate parents are going to be to put any kind of development or additional hiring dollars into the actual comic books.  I guess I’m worried that at some point they decide it’s not really worth their time to make comics succeed – at least at anything more than a small line of the headline titles.

  52. I went and bought the song from the podcast and their previous album. Thanks for playing it!

  53. @cutty – I don’t have figures for you, but they’re insignificant in the greater scheme of things. Marvel didn’t get bought by Disney for their comic book sales.

  54. And its sort of ironic that Marvel has the best track record of putting out a trade as soon as an arc is complete, yet shooting titles before the sales on said trades can be figured in.

     I have a soft spot for the B-list, but I’m also not inclined to sign up for 3 issues on the basis of a previews blurb.

  55. As somoene who works in a related field, i can tell you that the comic production process is archaic and incredibly inefficient which contributes to the low margins. It really takes 6-10 freelancers+staffers to create one 30 page monthly? If I was buying some illustration for a project and an artist told me that I needed to pay 2-4 extra people to enable him to turn his assignment in on time, he would get laughed out of the room.

    if you condensed jobs like Pencils and inking and lettering/coloring/production into one or two jobs you’d have higher margins. I’m forced to wear many hats at my creative job (Graphic Design/Art Direction) because thats what the economy dictates and technology allows. Comic creators seem to be stuck in pre 1980s commercial art mentalities of specialized trades. No other field that buys illustration has to deal with this kinda stuff. Guys like Guillroy and Layman on Chew are showing you how to efficiently do a monthly comic series in the 21st century. 

  56. @wally – Thats interesting.  It seems like they’re resistant to change in a lot of areas.  Darwin Cooke made some very good observations in the interview with Ron (I think) in one of the video shows

  57. @abstractgeek – you make a great point about TMA shelf copies. my lcs also had shelf copies aplenty. it wasn’t selling. my retailer did their job: supply shelf copies for potential customers of TMA. Can’t blame people for not pre-ordering.

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