Friday, June 29, 2007

C0un7d0wn... To Mocking!

Now that I'm one of precisely two people in my acquaintance who's actually reading Countdown, I figure that puts me in optimal Mocking position.

I actually spent some time at my job tonight thinking about precisely how I should go about it. What would show my disdain for Countdown, while illustrating just how shallow and empty each issue is.

It occurred to me, that using l33tspeak was almost made for the task. It's shallow and laughable, much like this series. So as the first in what may return as a weekly post, I give you...

C0un7d0wn #44

Captain Marvel & Mary Marvel

Mary Marvel: OMG, u r teh albino!
Captain Marvel: M, we g0tst4 tlk

Forerunner & Monarch

Monarch: U g0t skllz. J01n my t34m.
Forerunner: Kk. I pwn u if ur a d1ck.

Jimmy Olsen


Holly Robinson

Holly: OMG, 4maz0n Bo0b1es!

Piper & Trickster

Piper: WTF?! W3 pwned teh Flash!? 4 re4l?
Trickster: D0n'7 b3 a b1tch. Ju5t u n me n0w.

Mary Marvel & Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel: Ur a pr0bl3m, M. U haxx0red pow3rs frm Bl4ck 4dam.
Mary Marvel: STFU, n00b. Im 0utt4 h3re.

Sadly... that's the essence of Countdown #44. Each grouping of pages could actually be summed up by two... well, I hesitate to actually call them phrases... how about strings of l33tspeak. I've just saved you $2.99, gentle reader. Let me know what you thought. It could just be that mine was the only diseased mind to find this amusing. But if anybody enjoyed it, I might have a reason to keep throwing money at DC. Who knows?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Counting Down to Extinction

I know that I'm probably one of my only acquaintances that are still reading Countdown, and I'm starting to wonder why.

Oh, I mean I'm wondering why I'm still reading it... not why they aren't.

For anybody who doesn't know, it's become a hobby of mine over the past year or so to write synopses for my comics when I process them by entering them into my database. It helps cement the story in my head, gives me a brief chance to stretch my own writing legs, and it contributes something to the folks that use the online database. On the whole, it's been a fun exercise, and I think I've had a few instances of actually writing a pretty good summary of the plot.

The thing is... I'm having a really hard time writing a synopsis for Countdown. And I kindof think that's because while there's a lot of action in the book, there isn't a lot of plot. We're seven issues in, and really... nothing's happened except that Duela Dent and Lightray got bleeding demised. But I can only think of one plot thread that has advanced form the very first issue, and that's that the Monitors have decided that killing people is the best way to solve problems of cosmic consequence. It occurs to me that they should pop over to the Marvel Universe and talk to the Punisher. They'd get along great.

But after seven issues, we know that Jimmy Olsen's exhibiting random super-powers. Donna Troy and Jason Todd are anomalies. Everybody knows Jason Todd's secret identity. That's it.

There's a familiar taste in my mouth, DC. It's called 'disappointment'. It's not a good thing for people to get from your books. I'm not ready to drop just yet... but I'm getting closer and closer. Give me something worth reading, DC... or I'll do it myself.

Monday, June 18, 2007

On Convention Panels

The one aspect of HeroesCon that disappointed me this year was the panel discussions.

I'm not saying that I regret going. After all, when you're schlepping a backpack full of comics, and carryinganother full bag or two, any opportunity you get to sit down for awhile can be welcome. Especially in a convention center full of people. So on that score, at the very least, it was a blazing success.

Buyt on the information front, I just couldn't help being disappointed.

I'll start with DC's Countdown panel. This one was definitely a better panel than the Marvel alternative, I've got to say that. There was some actual information given, but most of it seemed to be that the question is answered in Sinestro War #1 later this month. That issue must have the smallest font ever developed to cram in everything they said it would answer. But right of the bat, Dan Didio declared that he had a VP of Marketing sitting in the front row to help him out with what he could and couldn't say, which was a bit disappointing. But hey, at least we had DC's EiC on the spot. I heard enough to sell me on the Sinestro Corps, which is the only thing I miss about having dropped Green Lantern en masse months ago. Looks like I'm getting back on the wagon. Or is that off?

But Marvel's Round-Table panel was just a massive disappointment. Joe Quesada, a regular face at HeroesCon was up in Philadelphia for a WizardWorld con, which apparently meant that absolutely no news could be dropped at HeroesCon unless it had already been dropped by Joe Q in Philly. Literally. The only reason they could tell us that Peter David would be picking up She-Hulk after Dan Slott leaves it, is that Joe Q had already announced it.

Seriously, if I'd known that going in, I probably wouldn't have bothered. The only thing that prevented me from getting up and leaving early, I think, was that Peter David was one of the panelists, and after actually having met the man at his signing table, I have a new respect for him.

All told, this hasn't spoiled my impression of my time at the Con. It hasn't even completely ruined my impulse to attend these panels. But I think that in the future, if an Editor in Chief isn't present, I'll only sit in if I'm tired of the dealer room and need a rest.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Post-Con Wrap-Up

First, courtesy of my database, some statistics on my haul, which I've just spent a couple of hours entering:

116 New Comics
Total Cost: $93.85
Average Purchase Price: $0.82
Total Cover Price: $227.57
Average Cover Price: $2.03

It's times like this that having a database makes me feel really warm and fuzzy.

I got some really good deals. I picked up a slew of Astro City, including all of Local Heroes at $0.50 a pop. All of Arrowsmith at that price too. My Kurt Busiek obsession proceeds ahead of schedule, go team go.

I was looking to explore the cosmic aspects of the Marvel Universe, so when visiting boxes ranging from $0.25 to $0.50 I tended to pick out almost anything I saw with the Silver Surfer, or Adam Warlock on it. I haven't read anything yet so we'll see how this strategy served me. Again, courtesy of my database, it looks like I scored 13 issues written by Jim Starlin, and I'm told that's a good thing.

It was a return to the quieter HeroesCon of old. There were no scheduled signings... artists/writers were just at a table whenever they weren't eating, or at a panel. That's pretty cool. I got to chat a bit with Peter David, and instantly formed an even higher impression of the man than his books had given me. He managed to sum up in one sentence why I like his writing so much compared to a lot of other Marvel writers. Very cool to meet him in such a casual setting.

I'm going to take a break to, perhaps, sit down and actually read a few of those books I spent my hard-earned scratch on earlier. So do me a favor... if you see me complaining that I don't have anything to read in the next month or two, just smack me.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Convention Time

I'm probably the only comics fan in Columbia who hasn't yet blogged about HeroesCon.

So, we can't have that, can we?

I'm a junkie for HeroesCon. It's the Christmas that comes in June (And sometimes in July instead.) And it's the kind of event that I really like to sink my teeth into. As a general rule, I can only make it up there for a day... and as I don't have anything to contribute to the con, short of my financial appreciation, that's fine. But I try to do that one in spades.

As I like to do with many things, I enjoy making a day of it. I'll be getting up around 6am to catch a shower, and be ready to head out to IHOP with a friend when he arrives around 6:30. After breakfast, we'll hit the road to Charlotte, and be prepared to spend the day. I'll probably dig out a few books to get signed. I'd like to try to sit in on both Marvel and DC's panels... but I think Marvel takes precedence over DC this year. (Countdown really isnt't hitting it like 52 did.) But I think a lot of time will be spent on the dealer floor. (That would be the part about spreading my financial appreciation.)

I'm trying to figure out what I'm actually interested in seeing. Last year, I went in mainly with a goal of picking up some 80's DC stuff. I think I'm still looking for some of that, but I'm also thinking pretty strongly about some Marvel stuff too. I don't have much experience with the cosmic aspects of the Marvel Universe, so I may keep my eye open for the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock.

I don't have a pre-set time to leave by... but generally the amount of cash in my wallet has some impact there. I'm taking a bit more than I ever have before this year... we'll see if I make it to closing time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Puny Humans! I have come to Smash!

Well... I've been looking forward to World War Hulk, and the first issue hasn't disappointed. I think it may be due to the fact that, by and large, I'm not expecting too much of it.

I don't want to slight the recent work on Hulk... far from it. I loved Planet Hulk, and Greg Pak is just continuing a story I'm already sold on here. But I think that one of the reasons I like it so much is that it's not as nuanced or complicated as something like Civil War.

Try explaining Civil War to a friend who doesn't read comics, and you have to explain the schisms between different groups of heroes. All the while, you're going to be bombarded with questions as to why this person's on that side, why Iron Man gave badges to super-villains, and so on. It's an interesting story, at least in concept... but it's pretty complicated.

World War Hulk is refreshingly simple. A year ago, a bunch of the world's heroes shot the Hulk off into space to get rid of him. Now he's back. I'll admit, I'm glossing over a lot of story here, but it's a much easier jumping on point for new readers, and about as straightforward as a green fist to the face.

I don't know if this is going to be one of the 'great' ones, but I know it's looking to be a fun read.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Convention Time

When it comes to my time off, I don't generally want to go too far from home. Most of the things that I enjoy doing with my spare time are right here, so I'm a hard-sell on traveling for vacation. Why would I want to go someplace else to read, lay around, watch movies and play video games? I can do all of those things at home.

But one thing I can't do at home is attend HeroesCon. When there's an Event(TM) reasonaly nearby relating to one of my geeky vices, that's a whole different story.

I seem to recall posting about my love of Free Comic Book Day earlier. This is sortof like that, but bigger. Whereas FCBD was something I was happily able to attend because the stars aligned and my schedule worked out right... I'll rearrange my days off to go to HeroesCon. I make a day of it... and it's a pretty full day. My Little Brother and I will meet up at IHOP for breakfast well in advance of the con opening, then drive up together to be in line when the doors are opened. Last year, for the first time, I realized that sitting in panels and getting in line for signings is a great way to break up my day, so that I'm not just constantly trolling the dealer's floor looking for $.25 back issues from the 80's.

I'm more excited for HeroesCon than I am for most holidays. Thanksgiving? I could eat Turkey anytime I want... HeroesCon is just once a year though! And because it almost always lines up on the weekend closest to my birthday, I usually have disposable income.

Four days and counting down.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Counting Down...

So we're five weeks closer to another massive Multiverse-shaking event courtesy of DC... but how much closer are we story-wise?

Well, we killed Lightray, one of the New Gods. That's big, right? At least I THINK we killed him, because I'll be durned if he didn't show up the next week in an issue of Superman. Y'know, if we're going to really have Countdown serve as the 'spine' of the DC Universe for the next year or so, you might want to get the timing on issues right. It could confuse someone who isn't saavy enough to explain Cable or Rachel Summer's origins to their girlfriend.

Let me say up front... I love the idea they're shooting for with Countdown. I'm a huge continuity nut, so I love the fact that this huge master-series should tie into most of the major DC books and events for a year. But I think we've got a problem with the format of the book. When you insist on following more than three plot threads in an issue, you run a real risk of having anything actually happen in your title. Heck, 52 had a problem with this, and look at the creative talent on that book?

Look at it this way... I'm a big dork, so I've got a database to help me organize, and actually find my comics. One of the things I've been doing for the past year or so, is writing up a plot synopsis for most of the new comics I add. Just a quick blurb so that I can look at the issue five years from now, and jog my memory as to just what happened in this one.

Well, I'm having a hard time actually writing anything about Countdown. Sure, there's a lot going on in the book, but not enough of any one thing to leave an impression, most of the time. If I can squeeze out two full sentences, I feel like I'm a winner.

A good example with this week's issue... the main focci of the issue were Mary Marvel's thread, and the Monitors having a big pow-wow to decide what to do about all these naughty people who happen to be on the wrong Earths. (Well, primarily on Earth-1 because they happened to have wound up there after the FIRST multiverse-shaking Crisis.) Oh, sure, there's a bit with Jimmy Olsen, and something with a woman I have no clue who she is, and maybe some other junk too... but nowhere near enough of it to leave an impression.

And a last suggestion before leaving:

For the love of all that's super-powered, get rid of the backup story about the history of the Multiverse. We put up with it in 52. Honestly, I put up with it because they knocked $.50 off the price. If I'm paying the full price for a 32-page comic, I pretty much expect 32-pages of the comic, not another lecture on the history of the Multiverse.

What they ought to do, if they're so determined to put a stupid back-up in a weekly book, is put the Monitor's big meeting there, so we don't have to look at it in the regular story. Who wants to watch a bunch of folks have a meeting anyway? Would you want to buy an issue of the Justice League where they all sit up in their Satellite (or wherever the heck they're headquartered now) and do nothing but talk about the global political situation? I thought not.

At least one of the people I know who reads comics has already dropped Countdown. I'm not ready to, because I still really love the idea. But even I can't hang in there forever if the book doesn't improve. Maybe it'll be a badge of honor or shame... how far did you make it in Countdown?