Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Waiting for Wednesday, Issue 31

I'm writing this week's edition of Waiting for on Tuesday afternoon, so forgive me if Disney decides to buy Marvel again on Wednesday morning and we don't have an up-to-the-minute post to go along with the news. That probably won't happen, though. But it's comics, and one just never knows anymore.

This week looks to be a pretty big shipping week, but my list is trimmed and lean and ready for a featherweight bout. But I think I have some good stuff budgeted for my reading pleasure, and I think I might even have a hidden gem recommendation that some of you will enjoy.

But first, a word about the price of comics.

I know, I know. Fanpeople have talked about this endlessly here on Ye Old Internets, and I've even complained about it a time or two in the past. But last week, there were five books (Five. Books) on my list that cost $5.00.

Even with my math deficient brain, I know that's way too much money to spend on five floppy, under-25-page, comic books. They are, of course, disposable paper that will (one day soon) be collected into a trade paperback. Well, okay, fine, the issues will be first collected into a $20 to $25 hardcover, and then collected into a more affordable paperback.

Six months or so later.

The price of paper has skyrocketed, sure. The cost of production has gone up, fine. The number of comics people buy has declined since the heyday of the 1990s, I'll grant you that. But with the onslaught of new media, the comics industry needs to wake up. They cannot produce a Spider-Woman motion comic and then expect retailers to sell record amounts of the floppy issue adaptation of said motion comic almost a month after the motion comic debuts.

Heck, we've seen the first three motion comics launch online, and the first issue (which takes us to about where the first online episode ended) shipped just last week.

People are not going to buy something twice before they buy it a third time in trade. And that not-buying hurts the retailers. But that's okay, because the economy is booming like Hellboy and comics shops will always be recession-proof.

Oh, sarcasm, how I missed thee.

The industry needs to change. Now. Tomorrow. Yesterday. Either go completely digital and tell the shops they're dead, or cut out the floppies and go to an all graphic novel format. Seriously. The time has come, the time has passed, the time is now.

Do it.

And give the comics shops first crack at selling the trades. Give them a two or four week lead time before the national chain bookstores get the product. Comics shops will thrive, selling the same amount of product (maybe more) each month. Sure, there will be some lean weeks, but I'm willing to bet the monthly returns will be higher, right off the bat.

All signs point towards the Death of the Floppy, so why are we letting him hang around, pointlessly, while every other industry has figured this out? There are no more music albums in the classical sense--there are digital file collections sold via iTunes. It stinks for record hounds like myself, but I understand the shift. The quality of the digital file is just better and cleaner than the sound of a CD, and when it comes to storage--there is none. Digital files don't take up any physical space.

The mainstream book market has also shifted towards digital, with devices like Kindle and the Sony reader. Sure, I hate them, but again, I understand the need/demand for them. I have books all over the place, and limiting the number of them on my floor without having to get rid of them for good would be great.

Now, would I hate to see comics go all-digital? Absolutely. Personally, I like the floppies, I like the serialized nature of the books I buy every month, and I like the whole comics buying experience.

But I think, for the first time since I've been reading these things, I might be in the minority amongst comics fans. I think now the paradigm has shifted so far that either an all-digital comics industry or an all-trade comics industry would be met with more cheers than boos.

It'll be interesting to see how Marvel proceeds with their Motion Comics. I think, if they continue with an onslaught of new material, the move to digital will happen much quicker than I would have thought at the start of the year.

Of course, as with most things, I could be completely and utterly off the mark on all this. I'd love to see the sales numbers for Spider-Woman, issue 1. If they maintain Bendis-level sales, then I'm wrong, and the floppy is still breathing and relevant. If they dip under that magical 85,000-100,000 mark (a range that Bendis has owned the past five years), then I think I might be onto something here.

But for now, let's stop all this ranting and get to this week's new comics! (And, yes, there are a few floppies in here that I'm going to mention--hypocrisy thy name is Alex.)

First up, we have the fifth volume of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Dark Horse Comics, entitled "Predators and Prey." If you were a fan of the TV series, then I hope (I hope!) you've been following the comics series. They collect the issues in trade very soon after each arc wraps, and volumes one through four can be found in comics shops and bookstores now.

Obviously, I'd reccomend going back and reading trades one through four before picking up this latest offering. This volume includes stories written by some of the best writers of the show, including (obviously) Whedon and Jane Espenson. The characters "sound" like the characters in the TV show, and the art in this volume is spot-on.

Here's the description from Dark Horse:

Buffy's world goes awry when former-classmate-turned-vampire Harmony Kendall lands her own reality TV show, Harmony Bites, bolstering bloodsucking fiends in the mainstream. Humans line up to have their blood consumed, and Slayers, through a series of missteps, misfortunes, and anti-Slayer propaganda driven by the mysterious Twilight, are forced into hiding.

In Germany, Faith and Giles discover a town where Slayers retreat from a world that has turned against them, only to find themselves in the arms of something far worse. A rogue-Slayer faction displaces an entire Italian village, living up to their tarnished reputation as power-hungry thieves. And finally, with the help of a would-be demon lover, Dawn addresses her unfaltering insecurities.

Check it out!

Next up we have Green Lantern, issue 46, a Blackest Night tie-in. Written by Geoff Johns and with art by Doug Mahnke, this is the only real "need to buy" tie-in to go along with the main Blackest Night event. Sure, the other titles (such as Blackest Night: Batman and Blackest Night: Superman) are of high quality and worth checking out, but Green Lantern Lantern, and it's written by the event's mastermind.

So, yeah, it'll be a good read. Here's the blurb, followed by this week's cover image.

BLACKEST NIGHT continues! For months, Mongul has wrested control of the Sinestro Corps. Now Sinestro wants a word with him. And Hal wants a word with Sinestro. But in the midst of BLACKEST NIGHT, they'll all become the hunted as the fallen Sinestro Corps members rise. What will happen? Here's a hint: Sinestro gets some serious payback.
Blackest NightAnd, last but not least, a hidden gem. A hidden, expensive gem. Remember when I was yelling and screaming about the $5 price point for so many comics these days? Sure you do. Well, this book definitely does not have a $5 price point. No, sir.

It has a $6 price point.

BUT, there's many more pages than would normally be found in your typical single issue and each page features more panels (and more words) than you might be accustomed to. From Marvel, Spin Angels, issue 2 hits stands this week. Now, this is an imported book, from French creators. If you know anything about the French and their comics...well...the French have incredible comics.

And this is no different. Angels tells the story of secret Vatican operatives, working undercover to protect the secrets of the Church. If you like stuff on the Knights Templar and weird, supernatural stories with religious overtones, then this should be right up your alley. Here's the blurb from Marvel.

Cardinal Marchesi’s cell of secret Vatican operatives is about to obtain a document that could shake the very foundation of the Catholic Church. The mission turns into a massacre and investigator Sofia d’Agostino and her bodyguard, an aging mafia hit man, find themselves face to face with a commando linked to an occult branch of the Vatican.

They’ve unwittingly joined the thousand-year-old fight to save Faith — a war that has been on hold since the disappearance of the Order of the Temple ... Until now.

And here's the cover for issue two.
Spin Angels #2 CoverWith that, I need to get going. This post became a Beast very quickly, and, frankly, my hands hurt. So, all that's left is to ask: What are you Waiting for?


Scott said...

Crisis on Two Earths preview...

AJG said...

Oh, sweet!

Also, I watched the Superman/Batman direct-to-DVD movie yesterday. It was excellent. Really well done, and the action scenes (of which there were many) were very well executed.

It was a fun, "this one goes up to 11" superhero movie.