Marvel News & Views

Welcome to Marvel News & Views, I’m James Hatton a reviewer here at IP/CN and a columnist here at the comics section as well as over at TV. Your former host, Iain Burnside has taken a sabbatical, and we wish him the best. We also talk in the royal We.

Anyway, before we get to all of the wonderful comicky bits going on at the big ‘M’ let me just tell you my theories on comic books as a whole, and if you’ve read any small percentage of my reviews, it’s pretty obvious. I love comics. I love them as a literary device. I love them for their ability to tell a story in a way that’s not cinema or (non-picture) filled books. I ask one thing out of them – let me have fun. The comics that I’ve given 9’s and 10’s have all been books that not only excited me to read, they also were like watching a good movie. At the end I wanted to talk about them. I wanted to praise them.

So with that out of the way, I’m sure I’ll find other cool things to say in the intro, but before we begin I’d like to introduce my lovely assistant, fangirl to the stars, and a ratings booster because as everyone knows, girls don’t read comics.. the lovely Danielle O’Brien.

Thanks hun. I feel like I should be coming out in a sequined gown with that intro. Maybe turn over a few letters, point to a couple links, stand around while guys oogle my chest. It’s a fun existence being a girl who digs comics.

Most of my comments will probably come from the side of fangirlish moments, mixed in with the opinion of someone who has worked in comic book stores for way too many years. Plus, watch as I trounce Jamie in his knowledge of all things comics.

Dani is currently being courted by the editorial staff to do a column, she’ll be adding her spin in the hopes to up my readership.

Don’t worry, after this first column, they’ll change their minds real fast.

You’ll do fine. Let’s get onto the news.

THE NEWS!

Marvel FUBARS Variant’s -Part 2-
Credit – Newsarama

The good folks at Newsarama have now explained what’s going to happen with the NEW AVENGERS variant covers. What originally sounded like a surefire money-marketing pyramid scheme has finally collapsed.

As the variant program for New Avengers continued through the first six issues, variant copies of the issues were tied to order plateaus, which some retailers felt was unreasonable. That is, in order to get the variant copy of New Avengers #2, retailers had to order a number of copies equal to or greater than 95% of the number of copies they ordered for #1. Then, for issues #3 through #6, retailers had to order at 95% of the level of the previous issue to receive the variant copy.

Insanity. First off, I can’t stand the variant cover market. I think it’s a shill for any person who still feels that those 30 copies of X-Force #1 they are sitting on are going to pay their kids way through life. This is the second time Marvel has gotten blasted for trying something stupid, the first was just a few weeks ago where they were going to distribute a Black & White version of Ultimates #1 Vol.2 as a percentage of the order put in. Not an extra. Not a special. You are paying that 2.99 (more likely 3.50) for a book without all that coloring that gets in the way.

Retailers aren’t now forced to pick up 95% of an issue two, which classically doesn’t sell as well. With the new program, a retailer will recieve 1 variant for each 20 copies of #1 they buy. For issue 2 they recieve a variant for each 19 copies they buy, etc. Much more reasonable. Stupid, but reasonable.

You know Jamie, it’s a good thing you read that article and explained it, because I just couldn’t do it. Ugh! I hate variant covers. I’m really starting to hate them with a passion. These covers do not help retailers, unless they are scum sucking bastards who feel the need to charge 30 dollars Wednesday afternoon for a book that they just pulled out of their Diamond Box Wednesday morning.

I’ve never been a big believer in Variant covers. I’ve seen friends waste their money on books that one year later are sitting in a dollar bin. This is exactly what helped collapse the market in the early 90’s. I work at a store, that when we get in a variant cover, we sell it at cover price. It’s a first come, first serve process with our reservists. If you call and ask us to put the book aside, we will. If you’re loyal to us, we’re going to be loyal to you. We’re not going to charge you a ridiculous price for a book that is not going to retain that value in 2 years.

Why we need these variant covers, I don’t know. They don’t really serve a purpose but to help stores get a large chunk of money real fast. But what happens when next year that poor sap who paid 50 dollars for the variant avengers issue tries to sell it and can’t get any money for it. It’s going to help disenchant a whole new generation of readers. Sorry, I’ll step off my soap box now.

God you’re sexy when you are angry and geeky.

Hey look, Wolverine…. again!
Credit – CBR

CBR has given us a preview of some of the art we can expect from Marvel Team-Up #1 & #2 which has the world’s favorite webslinger with the world’s most overexposed Canadian.

“Marvel says, “When Cerebro detects Paul Patterson, a student attending Peter Parker’s school who has developed mutant powers — it sets Wolverine and Spider-Man on the same path. But with competing agendas, will they work together? Will they be at odds? Hard to say…”

The good is that I dig team-ups. They’re fun little side stories you don’t have to worry about. The bad news is that they generally are so light that they are completely pointless. This one seems to have a fairly cool sounding story and putting Spidey & Wolvie is just smart marketing. With Robert Kirkman behind the helm of this first story, I am a little worried – he’s recently been showing that he is somewhat hit or miss in the Marvel U. I wouldn’t expect anything mindblowing out of it, but as I said earlier – a fun story doesn’t need to be mindblowing.

You know, this story is a whatever for me. Smart marketing move to have the first team up in the story be Spidey and Wolvie. Take your 2 big money makers, put them together, hijinks ensue, and sales go up. I just hope the Kirkman story holds up. I like the guys work, I heart Walking Dead, but Jubilee makes me sad. You have to understand, this is the character that got me into comics. I was in 6th grade watching the X-Men cartoon and I fell in love. I found out the X-Men were a comic book and I’ve been hooked ever since. I had such faith that Kirkman was going to write me a story on par with Mary Jane and the early Generation X issues, and he just didn’t quite make it. I just really hopes he nails the Spidey and Wolvie characters.

The Top 300

We jump over to check out the top 300 books this past month, where does Marvel rank?

1 SUPERMAN BATMAN #12
2 ASTONISHING X-MEN #5
3 IDENTITY CRISIS #4 (Of 7)
4 SUPERMAN #209
5 ULTIMATE X-MEN #51
6 UNCANNY X-MEN #448
7 ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #65
8 UNCANNY X-MEN #449
9 AVENGERS #502 (#87)
10 AVENGERS #501 (#86)

High profile books, all of them. Marvel holds most of the top 25, but can’t seem to grasp onto that top rung, even with Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. None of these are shockers, my opinion of Claremont’s X-Men aside. I am shocked to see that Supes/Bats gets top rung over Astonishing AND Identity Crisis, but all three books deserve praise.

I’ll give you 2 words that explain the Supes/Batman in the number 1 spot. Michael Turner. That explains it all.

It amazes me that people still don’t realize that if you drench Michael Turner’s version of Wonder Woman, you have Fathom.

OVERVIEW OF OUTPUT

A new feature here, which will look at what came out in the past week. Including little snippits of what I read, as well as just looking at the overview of how Marvel looked like this week. Secret War, She-Hulk, District X, Ultimate X-Men, and Powers. Five excellent reads in one week. I’ve also heard good things about Bullseye and Knight’s ‘4’ so I have to say this is an amazing week to be reading Marvel. The greatest thing is, with the exception of Secret War and Captain America, there is almost no ‘obvious’ big hitters. No Wolverine or Avengers, no mainline X-Men or Spiderman and I enjoyed almost every book I read this week. (..ignoring X-Force #3 of course)

I’ve got to agree, it was a Marveltastic week in comics. As I was flipping through comics in bed on Wednesday night I did say it was an awesome week in comics, before I tossed the X-Force #3 across the room for sullying my pile of comicy goodness. A week with 2 Bendis books, is always a good week for me. (Plus an awesome array of DC books came out to this week, but I’m sure Mr Tim will be discussing those.)

Marvel Previews (aka ‘Dani’s Section)
As I sat at the computer at work entering the special orders from the Previews Catalog that our reservist hand into the store, an idea struck me. What if I went through the Marvel Previews section and highlighted a few choice items that caught my eye. I immediately called my boyfriend to give him the wonderful news of my idea, and he said “NO!” No?! I don’t normally hear that word coming out of his mouth. He tried to explain, “but they’re just going to be reviewed in 2 months.” Where I proclaimed, “but what about special ordering from your retailer.” And then the boy understood the purpose of this section.

You see boys and girls, Marvel has this policy, no reorders. That means, if your store runs out of your favorite Marvel title or mini-series, they can’t get it back in stock for you. You’ll have to go to another store, and that inconveniences you and that store loses it’s 2.25. Now you might be thinking, well shouldn’t they have enough copies for everyone. And in most cases, yeah, I’m sure most retailers have a set amount of titles that they sell every month. But you see my children, when a mini-series or special 1-shot comes out, it’s sometimes impossible to figure out the demand for said issue. You’ll either under order, or over order. And this is where I’m going to help you.

Trust me when I say, it makes your retailers life easier to let him know you are interested in getting a certain mini-series or one shot from the section.

It seems in the month of December we’ve got the beginnings of a new chapter in the life of the Ultimates. Make sure to check your store in February for that issue.

More reasonably speaking, look for it to actually come out this Summer.

Ultimate Secret #1 seems to be another mini-series written by one Mister Ellis. He first brought you a nightmare, now he’s letting you in on a little secret.

This is actually a continuation of Nightmare – but it’s funny to think that Ellis is keeping secrets from us.

X-Men/Fantastic Four is going to try and give you a little bit of some team up action with a little bit of that Pat Lee animation style. It seems that its going to be the crossover event of 2005.

The Young Guns 2004 Sketchbook gives me a little giggle. It’s good to know that people who have been in the industry for years, are young and upcoming superstars. I guess it’s a cute marketing gimmick. I’ll grab one for the art inside.

Which brings us to the What if one shots coming out in a couple short months. I’m looking forward to these issues, if only because my boy Bendis is writing a small slew of them, throw in a Kevin Smith and a Brubaker and I’m a happy girl for the month.

And of course Marvel is sporting all of their normal monthlies and a nice slew of Trade Paper Back goodness. Miss all of the Avengers Disassembled, watch as Iron Man, Captain America, Spidey, the Fantastic Four and Thor all fall apart through the wonderfulness of Marvels TPB program. I know I’ll be picking up Astonishing X-Men vol 1, Mystique vol 3 and Ultimate Fantastic Four vol 2. I’m what you’d call a TPB whore.

The joke here is too easy, thusly, we let it go.

And just in case you didn’t see it, it seems Marvel is giving you the chance to own not only a Venom Statue, but a Captain Marvel Maquette too. Plus a Kitty Pryde bust and a Ultimate Thing. How can you resist such good deals. But I haven’t mentioned the best item of all. A Cerebro Helmet Replica. Now you too can be cool just like Prof Xavier too.

Funny enough, I don’t think the sarcasm was tangible enough, trust me – Dani doesn’t want to be as cool as Xavier.

PIMPING MY FRIENDS

For the first couple weeks that we were open, I didn’t even realize that we had so many things to read. Apparently I’m not the only one here. So here are some other folks that deserve to be read:

Lucard reviews Bub & Bob our Bubble Bouncing Buddies over in Video Games.

Tom D’Errico reviews William Shatner’s new album. For godsakes man.. It’s Shatner! Sadly, no techno remix of “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!”

Tim Stevens reviews the most recent installment of Ultimate Spider-Man, and he does so all by himself.

And outside the Nexus and IP, you are henceforth obligated to go to Girls With Slingshots written by tomorrow’s big star – Danielle Corsetto.

We heart the Danielle Corsetto!!

ADIOS!

All in all I think I did decently.. what do you think Dani?

I have a feeling you’ll never want me to do this again.

Bah, you did fine. Please drop me a line at jhatton@comicsnexus.com and we can discuss the news and views. Until next time, be excelsior to one another.

You’re such an ass.