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30 December 2012

Other Comics News Parade-O-Links 12302012

(Image stolen from The Visual Exegesis.)

Here are some things I found interesting in the world of minicomics, comic books, graphic novels, small press, self publishing, zines, webcomics, cartoons, digital comics, other, etc. during the week ending 12302012:

“Spider-Man is such a whiny loser.” - Stephanie Meyer.
  • Stuff I got for Christmas:  A Doctor Who t-shirt.  DC Showcase Presents The  Brave and the Bold volume one in a package labeled "from Bat-Mite".  (I bought that one for myself, used off eBay for a few dollars.  I'm Bat-Mite.)  Some clothes.  Some money.  My kids got a lot of fun things including Legos and video games and the new Batman Lego video game.  I've had fun but I'm very tired with my daughter's birthday left to go before the new year.  
(Image stolen from Newsarama.)

...was Amazing Spider-Man #700 by Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, J.M. DeMatteis, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jen Van Meter, Stephanie Buscema and several thousand other people.  Published by Marvel Comics and sold for the retail price of $7.99.  This comic wins my weekly "The Best Single Print Comic I Read This Week" honor by virtue of being a solid hour or so of entertainment and for being the only comic that came out this week.  Let's talk about what exactly this comic book is as the product that exists in my hands at this moment.  Well, not THIS moment.  I have to set it down to type but, ya know. Having folded and stapled as many comics as I have, I can guess the page count of a book just by holding it.  This sucker is 27 sheets of paper.  Folded in half and stapled that is 108 pages of comics.  52 of those pages are the main story by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos.  Which, in this day and age would be considered and epic freaking graphic novel if you took out the staples and gave it a perfect bound spine.  16 of those pages are a back up story by J.M. DeMatteis and Giuseppe Camuncoli.  8 of those pages are a back up story by Jen Van Meter and Stephanie Buscema.  The rest is your cover, back pages, ads, a gallery of the variant covers, a copy of the Spider-Man-day proclamation by the Mayor of New York, a gallery of the covers from all 700 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and a very long letters column featuring some responses from Spider-Man co-creator Stan "The Man" Lee.
The comic has been received with mixed opinions.
So yeah, this is an eight dollar comic and that is just and insane and absurd thing for a stack of paper to be.  But, I bought it.  I had read Amazing Spider-Man 699 and thought the thing was great comics.  And I loves me some Spider-Man.  I consider Spider-Man to be one of my only true friends.  There is not a point of my life in which I can remember not being aware of and a fan of Spider-Man.  He's just always been there for me.  Thanks Spidey!  So yeah, I paid eight dollars for a comic book.
In defense of that madness, it does contain 76 pages of comics.  So, that's what?  Three comics worth of comics?  Which would cost between nine and twelve dollars normally.  I spend around ten bucks on comics in a normal week.  This week I bought this one eight dollar thing and probably got more out of it than my normal ten bucks so, I'm okay with this thing.  No apologies.
And it feels nice pals.  I loves me a thick comic.  Like the big thick annuals Marvel and DC put out when I was a kid or the 80 Page Giants.  This sucker feels good.  I've said time and time again over the past ten years or so, don't give me five Spider-Man comics a month.  Give me one big thick one.  This comic hints at how right I am and how great that would be.  And now that I think about it, if Marvel could give me this much content for eight bucks every month I'd subscribe or put it on my pull list no questions asked.
Okay, so what happens in this comic and is it any good?  So the hype on this thing is that... SPOILERS ... Peter Parker dies.  Except he totally does not die at all.  He's totally not dead and I don't mean zombie.  The new Spider-Man is just the old Spider-Man with some Doctor Octopus personality added into the mix.  So, he's jerk Spider-Man.  Peter Parker's body.  Peter Parker's powers.  Peter Parker's life.  Peter Parker's memories.  And most importantly, Peter Parker's morals.  That's about 95% Peter Parker.  The real question in all of this is just what part of Peter Parker is dead?  And I think that could be a fun thing for Dan Slott to explore in the upcoming Superior Spider-Man.  I mean, I would.  This is science fiction folks.  This is a story where the hero and the villain swap bodies and or brains.  This is pure silver age comics hijinks and I enjoy it.  High five Dan Slott.  Good idea.  But again, now that you killed half of the swap duo before the standard sci-fi swap-back resolution, where did  that part of the character go and what was it?  His soul?  Is Peter in Heaven?  Does Heaven let you in if your body is totally still in better than human shape and still full of your personality?
And just a few issues into this brain swap, Peter Parker's morals and values have already taken over Doc Ock's own to the point that the villain is now committed to being  a hero and carrying on Spider-Man's legacy.  If Peter Parker's brain waves can flip the switch on Doc Ock in just three issues, by what issue do they just go ahead and push him out altogether?  At what issue does he just become 100% Peter Parker?  I'm guessing that issue will be a comic titled The Amazing Spider-Man #1.
All the fuss about this comic has been about the death of Peter Parker.  Partially because that is the gimmick that Marvel has hyped.  But I read this thing and what I see is the death of Doctor Octopus and Peter Parker carrying on with a minor jerk infection.
But enough speculation, back to the comic as it actually exists.  It's good.  Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos do a good job with this thing.  It feels a bit rushed and the intensity feels turned up to eleven but they are hitting all right notes.  All the right guest appearances are crammed in.  All the right homages to Ditko and Romita are in there.  Peter gets to have a near-death Heaven scene where all the people he thought he failed tell him he done good.  Slott knows what he's doing for sure.  This is a good Spider-Man comic.  And I mean that as more than a good comic with Spider-Man in it.  I mean that it does all the things that make Spider-Man comics good and unique to Marvel and to comics.
And I like Ramos here too.  He's not one of my favorite Spider-Man artists but I like the way he draws Spidey's eyes and  he draws the suit in action very well.  And I gotta say, that the three page sequence where Doc Ock is projecting himself into Peter Parker's memories and we see little boy Doc Ock's head on young Peter Parker's body complete with his Moe Howard hair and goggles it is effective, hilarious and adorable.  One of my favorite things in comics of 2012.  High five Humberto.  If Superior Spider-Man were Spider-Man's body with Doc Ock Moe Howard hair for a head I would buy two copies of every issue.
The coloring on this comic did not make me furious and that's about as nice a thing as I can say about the coloring in a Marvel comic.
So I enjoyed this big eight dollar thing.  Here are some more random thoughts about it in no particular order:
-This is a great jumping off point.  I hate to admit that I kind of like canceled comics.  It gives me an end to work toward as a reader and as a buyer of $1 comics at comic shops and conventions.  I like the idea of having a whole run of a thing to read through.  Not that I'll manage all 700 issues but, in theory.  So yeah, canceling comics is the absolute BEST way to make a reader stop reading a comic.
-I like periodicals and I really hate to see a periodical canceled/re-named/re-numbered just as a gimmick.  And, forget Dan Slott, forget the story, from a publishing stand point, this is a sales gimmick.  I just think there should be more pride in that legacy.   I mean, The Amazing Spider-Man as a periodical outlasted Life Magazine for F's sake.  Gone for a gimmick.
-And theoretically, a new #1 is a good way to get new readers but, would a kid that likes the Spider-Man of the movies, cartoons, toys, video games, t-shirts, lunch boxes, beach towels, etc. want to read a comic about Doc Ock driving Spider-Man's body?  That remains to be seen.  And don't give me a single drop of that 'kids don't read comics anyway' bullshit.  Kids absolutely read comics.
-Was December 26 a very dumb day to release this book?  Who goes to a comic shop to spend money on the day AFTER Christmas?  Well, other than me?  I guess it's good for Marvel in that they get the guaranteed best seller of the end of the year and maybe good for the retailers because it gives people a reason to come in the shop on a normally dead day.  I just think it would have been a bigger deal on, oh, say any other Wednesday of the year.
-The J.M. DeMatteis back up story was weird to me.  Well executed but weird.  Are those characters from the Spider-Man comics?  Was I supposed to know who those guys were and who those Squadron Supreme like dudes were.  I'm confused. Please explain it to me.
-Loved the Jen Van Meter written and Stephanie Buscema drawn back-up.  Mainly for Buscema.  She's great people.  If your comic has a Stephanie Buscema drawn back-up story in it, I will probably buy your comic.
-The cover gallery thing was kind of neat.  I would need a magnifying glass to really appreciate all 700 covers but it is neat to scan through and see the progression of the comic.  I was really shocked to look at it and realize how quickly the Todd McFarlane era started after J.M. DeMatteis's great Kraven story. In my mind I thought those were years apart but it was only three months.  Also, the covers got really awful starting with Civil War.  Ugh.
-Speaking of covers.  I got the standard cover pictured above.  I dig it.  I've spent a fair amount of time looking through all the little pictures to see who everyone is.  I don't see Howard the Duck in there and that kind of bums me out for some reason.  The black suit and or Venom get a lot of attention on the cover taking up all of the black in the the outline of Spidey's eye.  Is the black costume and Venom that big a deal to people?  Really?  I mean, I bought those first black costume and Venom comics right off the spinner rack and I thought they were cool as a kid but in the grand scheme of things, the symbiote costume is like any random Fantastic Four subplot and Venom is a villain with just nothing going on character wise.  Nothing at all.  I guess it makes sense design wise for the cover though.
-I enjoyed the letters pages.  I have no problem with Stan Lee showing up to do his Stan Lee impersonation.  I thought some of the comments from previous Spider-Man contributors and industry folks were neat.  I was disappointed in editor Stephen Wacker's comments though.  His stuff reads as dashed off and uninterested.  Not really up to the weight of the moment at all.  Drink some coffee bro.  You worked hard on the book.  Don't sabotage the thing for yourself.    
-There has been some talk about IF Doc Ock has sex with Mary Jane WILL it be rape?  Jeezis Christmas people.  They had one single smooch in this comic.  One G movie level smooch.  And Doc Ock seems to now be governed by Peter Parker's moral code so, I just don't see him raping people.  I mean, how much in-panel sex did Peter Parker ever have?  He's not Matt Murdock.  Really people?  Can we hold off on freaking out about a thing until it actually happens?  (But yeah, if he and MJ get down with her thinking that he is 100% Peter Parker that will be some gross ehSS right there.  But doesn't that sort of thing happen in at least one new Hollywood movie every Friday?  I don't know.  I don't watch movies.  Not that rape is ever okay.  Not even totally fictional impossible to happen mind swap science fiction rape.  Just say no to rape fiction people.)
-And one last thing about the cancellation of Amazing Spider-Man and the launch of a new title.  This is a gimmick. There is no denying it.  But I'm okay with it.  For one, Spider-Man comics will continue and Peter Parker will be Spider-Man for as long as there is money in the Spider-Man business.  But I'm also okay with it because I feel like Marvel uses gimmicks in an appropriate way for a publisher of comic books to use gimmicks.  Their gimmicks exist to hype and promote their story ideas.  This cancellation and this "death" and all the hype around it serve as a way to promote and bring readers to the end of a story that Dan Slott had been working on for 100 issues give or take.  I feel that the Marvel guys come up with the story first then work on the gimmick to promote it.  Which, is why Marvel, despite their horrific coloring and ridiculous prices, makes better comics than DC.  DC puts the gimmick first and the comics are just an afterthought.  Who writes them, who draws them, and where the story goes does not matter.  The product has to match the marketing.  Advantage Marvel. 
  • My new years resolution is to get paid to write comics or to write about comics.  Do you know how I can make that happen?  Because honestly, I don't have a clue.  But I'd like to give it a try.  Let me know if you know how.  I've been writing about comics for over ten years now.  What you've seen of my writing has been dashed off.  It has been writing done on lunch breaks, on conference calls and way past bed time.  I've turned down a lot of opportunities over the past 5 or so years because I did not have the time but I'm ready to make the time.  I can do more.  Much more.  I have near infinite ideas but I can't take the time away from my kids and my day job to make them happen.  Unless!  Unless, there was some money involved.  So, what I'm saying is, are you a comics website, magazine, publisher, etceraer?  I am ready for you to pay me to write great things for you.  
  • And finally... Happy New Year!  May your new year be filled with good fortune, good health, love and much synth trumpet. 

Oh, and one more last thing!  Did you know you can leave comments on these posts here at file under other?  It's true!  And, I'll probably respond.  Twitter and facebook killed the message boards but that's no reason why you can't argue with me, praise me or leave me recipes.  It's your intronet.  Have fun!

And that's just a taste of some of the interesting things going out there in the wonderful world of comics and things. I can't keep up with it all but I do keep up with a lot of it on twitter and I try to re-tweet the good stuff. You should probably follow me there. If you did something to make comics better this week then high-five!

Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
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