Marvel News & Views

Hey guess what, I’m back over here now. Michael Maillaro, your standard Marvel News & Views guy is currently out doing something or another and will be back in a month or so. In all honesty, if you didn’t know – he’s getting married. So ladies, it’s sad I know, but he is off the market. We here at Comics Nexus want to wish him the best on his new nuptials, and congratulate him on keeping her drugged enough to say yes.

So let me introduce this month’s very special Marvel News & Views team. First off, she also has recently been filed away in the ‘TAKEN OFF THE MARKET’ bin since I asked her to deal with me for the rest of her life. You might know her from various columns and things that I’ve done here at IP/CN – the beautiful and talented, Danielle O’Brien.

DANI: Good morning.

Also, I do believe we have a special guest. Not only does this man strike fear in the hearts of all children that cross his path, but he is so badass he brings triple coupons to double coupon day. Craziness. The DC News & Views guy, and Assistant Editor – Mister Tim Stevens.

TIM: I am Assistant to no man!

Oh…and hello.

Just so you are all aware, we may be repeating some stories from Mike’s column last week. You may ask yourself why. You may then question your friends. You may then plead with a priest for the answers. But you’d be overreacting, cause I’ll tell you now. Much like Marvel themselves, we don’t let previous continuity get in the way of a good story. In fact, we say f**k MNV continuity, thank you very much.

Now – to the news… the rumors… and everything in between…

MCKEEVER GETS HEAVY

(Links to Newsarama)

Written by Sean McKeever with art by Mike Norton, this new superhero story will be published as part of the Marvel Next imprint. It promises to bring readers a fresh new cast of costumed heroes and villains — all within the regular Marvel Universe — while also featuring appearances by some old Marvel standards.

JAMIE: So what’s the opinion on this one? The style looks quite a bit like Invincible from the shots they are showing with the article. That’s not a bad thing at all since Invincible is one of the more breakout superhero titles of the last few years. My major concern is Marvel’s inability to let one of these titles fly. Add this into their inability to let McKeever do a book longer than a year, and this book has gold written on it.

I love McKeever’s work at the ‘M’ so far and wish him luck – this title looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Oh, and the main character is from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That’s comedy genius right there. Only slightly less fun than Lake Titikaka.

TIM: Ha, that is a funny pla…wait…I don’t get it.

DANI: How can you go wrong here? It’s Sean McKeever, writing about a superhero, who happens to be 18, and it is probably going to be a coming of age story. It has classic story gold written all over it. Sadly, it’ll probably last barely 12 issues.

Isn’t it sad that we assume the worst here. The book looks great. One thing I have faith in is McKeever’s ability to write teenagers and write them well. I’m going to take a guess and say this will be another breakout hit because it’ll be the complete opposite of most super-hero books. It’ll concentrate on the boy, and then the super-hero.

I can’t wait. Please Marvel, Please. Promote this book.

TIM: I understand the fear, but in the case of McKeever’s work on Sentinel, I’d point out that that was part of a massive simultaneous release which is never a good idea and a mistake that only Runaways managed to escape. And with Mystique, certainly McKeever was on that title more than year, right? It seemed longer anyway.

My point here isn’t that Marvel won’t drop the ball, as they very well still could. I just think McKeever’s got better odds on this one. Plus, I believe, Marvel Next has different sales cutoff points then the mainstream Marvel titles. So hopefully, these factors will combine to give McKeever his day in the sun cause this one looks really interesting to me.

$1.99 .. $2.25 .. $2.50 .. HIKE!
(Linked to Newsarama)

Diamond Comics Distributors has released a text version of their April 2005 Previews (Vol. XV #6) Order Form for titles shipping to the Direct Market in June, and as some eagle-eyed readers have already noticed that June apparently marks a raise in price for Marvel Comics lowest priced books from $2.25 to $2.50.

JAMIE: It’s just the nature of the beast I guess. Although it does still bother me that for the price of two comics I can buy any major magazine. A magazine like Heavy Metal or Maxim that shoots for a similar demographic is roughly 4.99 and you get twice as much content. I’m not shocked, just annoyed that comics are now 25 cents harder to reach for kids.

Is this going to hurt much sales? Probably not.

DANI: I hate when they do this. I really do. As Jamie pointed out, it is the nature of the beast. All sorts of things factor into the decision to raise the prices of the books, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As I’ve said in the past, I work in a comic book store. Anytime that a child and his parents do come into the store and they want a comic it ends up being a issue with the price. It is incredibly frustrating. A parent will look at the price of a kids comic, then look at the dollar bins and tell their kid to get a book from there.

I can’t even explain the frustration of this. The parent doesn’t want to spend the 2.25 for a product that is geared towards a child. When I inform them that not all the books in the dollar bins are geared towards a kid their age they either don’t care, or they have a tendency to not get anything. Parents don’t want to spend the 2.25 now because they are convinced the kid will read it once, or just look at the pictures and then it’ll get ruined. It is almost as if this is another reason why parents would rather spend 50 dollars on a video game that will garner their attention for hours upon hours, instead of helping them learn how to read better.

I know there really isn’t much that can be done about this. Kids don’t read comics, so why should Marvel try and keep the prices down on their comics, when they don’t seem to be selling. Why should a parent spend 2.25, now 2.50 on a comic that their kid is going to enjoy for about 5 minutes and then it’ll be thrown to the ground and never be looked upon again?

I’m not sure how this can be resolved. My only suggestion to Marvel would be to look at different paper costs. Until you’ve collected books upon books of paper samples, you have no idea the cornucopia of paper that is out there. It’s not all like the paper that you buy at Staples for your printer. Compare a DC book with a Marvel book. There is a big difference in the paper quality.

Maybe if Marvel got rid of the shiny stock paper they use for the Ultimate books and stuck to a paper quality that wasn’t so glossy they could keep paper costs down. Look at a DC book. I think there is something more charming about the non-glossy paper that they use. Sure it makes the books look more slick and shiny to use glossy paper, but DC books look just as good. Heck, most people complain about the Ultimate title books and their covers. They get much more easily dinged, and they are a pain sometimes to keep on the shelf. When a big pile is sitting on the shelf they have a tendency to start sliding, and then they fall of the shelf. DC books are much sturdier.

I didn’t mean to turn this into a rant about paper quality and who has the better of the two. I’m just using this as an example of some of the measures that can be taken to keep costs down. Shiny doesn’t equal better form and substance.

I’m sad to see the prices go up. And this will effect retailers and customers alike. This will help make Marvels trade sales even higher. Which is fine for them, but where does it leave the retailer in the mix. Why is someone going to pay 2.50 an issue, when they can buy the trade the next week after the storyline is done? And why go to a retailer when they can pick it up at their local bookstore, who have book clubs that give their customers discounts on books. (this is assuming the retailer doesn’t give discounts on trades. At my store we do, but I know a lot of stores don’t.)

Hopefully Marvel will try and do something about the price raising, but all I see is it raising all sorts of hell on every message board around the internet.

JAMIE: Is there any question as to why I love this girl?

TIM: No. But there is a question why she loves you.

Ooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Yes, I went there. I think you like how I went there.

Getting back to the topic at hand, this, like any raising of the price, is too bad. For me, it is a non-issue. I mean most of the Marvel titles are at this price level anyway and those that aren’t that I actually get are small in number. Thus, the difference is price is negligible to me. However, I get that there is a bigger issue of concern here and that is the ease of buying for the casual fan or child. Any price raise can cut into that audience.

I think Danielle makes some great points above. I do admit to liking the higher quality paper that Marvel offers. My often jarring reaction to DC’s paper is “Why exactly was this printed on the same paper as my phone book?” However, realistically, it does not really effect my overall enjoyment of the comic. Besides, as all good Americans are (no irony intended), I am willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the whole industry.

However, I don’t really know what difference the paper change will make, really. I mean, as Dani points out, DC uses lesser quality paper. But to look at the prices on their books, it is difficult to tell that. They may offer more books at the $2.25 mark, but not substantially more. And is that quarter savings enough? I don’t know.

Finally, I reject the notion that kids can’t get more out of a comic than a video game. When I was a kid and I used to get comics when we went to Cape Cod, I’d have 3 or 4 books to cover the whole week and I would read them over and over again, finding new things and enjoying them more and more. I know my parents would have much rather shelled out 9 dollars for three books than 50 for a video game, especially since they wanted me outside as much as possible. So I know that is the rap on comics, that video games are more involving and the cost to enjoyment ratio is somehow better, but I think that that all boils down to PR. It is perception, nothing more.

There is a House in Salem Centre – they call the House of M
(Linked to Newsarama)
(And with apologies to The Animals)

TIM: I make no apologies to The Animals. Deal with it, Eric Burdon.

“After a couple of months of buzz and speculation, Marvels House of M begins in June. The eight issue miniseries, which ties in to the events of last falls Avengers: Disassembled storyline is epic in scope, combining the X-Men and the Avengers in a battle that spans the entirety of the Marvel Universe in order to stop the Scarlet Witch from reshaping reality to her whim.”

JAMIE: Over at the Forums, debate rages on as to whether House of M is going to be Marvel’s answer to Identity Crisis or whether it is just going to be another flash in the pan crossover that does nothing. In reading Brevoort’s words, it feels as if they haven’t even written an ending. He’s vague about scope.

On the problem of crossovers having no longterm affect, Brevoort goes to say – “I think the drama only rang hollow after the fact during both of those stories, readers were actively engaged in what was going on, and wanted to know where things were going to end up when all was said and done, the editor said. That said, House of M shares some similarities with those earlier stories, but is not the same.”

Effectively saying that the problem is that once the crossover’s conflict is dropped – the reader feels disappointed. I would agree with Brevoort’s sentiment, but he in no way alleviates that feeling in the reader. It’s like the doctor telling you that you are in for a long haul with a disease.

Every time you ask if you are going to get better, he just starts playing solitaire.

I hope it’s fun. I hope it’s everything the comicdom wants it to be. I just have a feeling it won’t.

DANI: Blah, Blah, Blah. House of M. Blah, Blah, Blah. I don’t care.

I really have no feeling towards this mini-series one way or the other. I’m excited for some more Bendis writing, because I am a huge squealing fangirl for his work, but it doesn’t grab me.

But how can you not compare it to a crisis on infinite earths type scenario. Now I can’t completely comment on that being that I’ve never read the mini-series. (yeah whatever, throw stones at me geek boys. I’m still a girl who reads comics. ) I tried reading it, but I’m not an huge old school DC fan, so it was hard to follow. But you can see the similarities. You’ve got Wanda who can change reality, and it’s going to affect all of the Marvel Universe.

My guess. This is a way to change everything they didn’t like, and fix a lot of continuity. Rock on with your bad self here. If they can pull this mini-series together and re-innovate the Marvel Universe, go for it.

But boy oh boy do I hear the old schoolers screaming already. When going to a con this summer season, stay away from all booths selling silver age comics and don’t ask them how they feel about present day Marvel.

TIM: It’s funny that many of us will complain about continuity glitches and then when a mini rolls around that could fix them we complain that all Marvel is trying to do is eliminate those problems. Isn’t that what we all want?

That being said, much like Danielle, even with Bendis involved I’m just very “eh” about this whole thing. Wish I wasn’t but hey not every book any writer/ artist/company does has to appeal to everyone. And this one just happens not to do anything for me.

Scorpion wins!!! ….FATALITY!…
(Link to ComicBookResources)

In November 2005, Marvel.com conducted a poll to determine the character that fans wanted to see revamped in the pages of AMAZING FANTASY — the revived title that introduced the red-hot ARANA to the world, before she spun off into her own series. Fans elected The Scorpion for the revamp treatment, over the other three contenders of Kraven, The Cat, and Werewolf by Night.

JAMIE: You can’t blame me.. I voted for Werewolf By Night.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Arana. It’s gaining that weird kind of underground cult fame that guarantees for it to be put into a couple digest formats and ditched like the body at 2am in the middle of Mojave Desert so you don’t have to pay your gambling debts.

The spin in this article is amusing, referring to Scorpion as a ‘classic character’ which is doublespeak for ‘B-rated villain’. Although the story and revamp seems pretty neat. Kind of a Mystique meets Runaways – two great tastes from the last two years. I’ll give it a shot, but that’s because I give all goth girls a shot. It’s a weakness.

DANI: I don’t read Arana, nor have any love for the Scorpion so I just can’t comment. Yeah for everyone who voted for the Scorpion. Congrats kids. You won.

TIM: I didn’t get this contest in the first place. I mean, what exactly was being voted on? It was not a revamp of the existing Scorpion, a new Scorpion for Spidey to battle, or a new path for Gorgon. So, essentially, it was a vote on which name you liked better? I think the contest would have been better served by people voting on the prospective plotlines. But this is retroactive whining and if I’m honest I’ll admit that I really had no intention of buying this book one way or another and even if they changed the voting process, I probably would have sat that out too. I wish all involved the best of luck though.

JAMIE: That’s actually a damn fine idea Tim…

Ultimate Iron Man breaks up… it’s always hardest on the kids
(Link to Newsarama)

“In its most recent communication with retailers, Marvel has noted that writer Orson Scott Card has requested that Ultimate Iron Man be changed from one six-issue miniseries to two five issue miniseries, as his storyline has expanded during the writing process.”

JAMIE: This to me sounds like a fine thing. The first issue was a great set-up for the rest of the book, and I’m looking forward to see all of the political backbiting in the house of Stark. Ten issues means four more.. see, I graduated math. Let’s just hope that Kubert sticks for the whole thing.

DANI: Hmmm, I don’t understand. Am I supposed to be rioting over the fact that we are getting more issues of a comic? I am I supposed to feel betrayed because Marvel has LIED to me about a 6 issue mini-series turning into two 5 issue mini-series. I just don’t know how to react. I feel I should be snarky. I should be ranting in Baker-esque proportions, but I’m not. I feel nothing. I’m sad and lonely. Jeesh! When did I channel Jamie.

Ok, sorry, done. I can’t see anything wrong with this. Go Marvel for allowing Scott Card to have the opportunity to tell the story he wants in the amount of issues that he needs. But don’t worry, this mini-series will get to small trades, instead of one big one.

Stupid People with Stupid Arguments
(Link to Ninthart.com)

“Comics offer an escape from the tedious routine of school and parents, and the last thing kids need is Benjamin Grimm teaching them their ABC.”

DANI: Ah yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I warn you children, once you start reading this rant, there is no turning back. You now will all have to hear what I’ve been hearing for the past week. This it what happens when you live with one of the Nexus Staff writers.

You see, this week our own Tim Stevens posted on the message board that link above to an article about Marvel working with schools using the Fantastic Four to help teach children. Go read the article. I’ll wait. It’ll make more sense.

Are you back now. Good. You see, my very own fianc����¯�¿�½������©, soon to be Mr James O’Brien, read said article and flipped. I’ve never seen him so mad, so angry, so upset over something involving the words learning and school. He felt the need to rant. He felt the need to rave. He just needed to tell this guy the way he felt.

I listened to him rant and rave for 3 hours as he went searching around for an email address to write a response this article. When he could not find said email address, this is what happened. Sit back, enjoy, grab a snack. This might take awhile. Feel the passion, embrace the anger, venture into Jamie’s dark side.

JAMIE: Not yet lust of my loins, I not only am not going to waste the precious space here to rant… I’m going to invent all new precious amounts of space. Over HERE to this week’s Words of Questionable Wisdom. I do believe though, that Mistah Stevens has a few words to share with the class… Tim?

TIM: I’ll keep my thoughts brief so as not to steal Jamie’s thunder too badly. In fact, I’ll just plagiarize myself from the message boards.

Huh…I get what he’s saying, I just… I think there are miles of difference between comics and fast food, first of all. I hardly think if Random House (or whoever publishing Harry Potter) distributed several hundred copies to classrooms everywhere with lesson plans, it would be an issue. In fact, I think people would be most appreciative, even if it did make “lifelong users” out of the kids. So why should it be so awful when its comics? Sure, its business, but is that always bad? Just because Marvel’s reasons for doing it are not 100% altruistic, does that still mean kids can’t benefit from it? Or enjoy it? I mean, if this guy likes comics, and I assume he does, why on earth would he have any problem with Marvel putting them in the hands of youngsters, movie cross promotion or not. It’s a bit beguiling to me.

JMS shows us what happens when we sleep
(Link to Newsarama)

“In the very near future, Detectives Joe Thursday and Frank Stafford patrol the surreal landscape of Los Angeles. But theirs is not just any beat. Their beat is the dreamscape — a neo-noire landscape populated by trolls, dinosaurs, and things that go bump in the night, a place where its not too uncommon to find oneself late for the big test, completely naked at work, or trapped in an endless, repetitive loop.”

JAMIE: Yeah, I’m a huge JMS guy. If he wrote a book called ‘3,000 Ways To Yawn’ I’d buy it. This book sounds like an awesome combination of Powers and Sandman with a total noir thing. Yeah, how’s that for a buzz quote!

As Babylon 5 and Midnight Nation taught us – when JMS is working in his own world that he’s created from the bottom up, he is at his best. I mean seriously, there are dragons on the cover. DRAGONS!

DANI: There is still more to write about. When does this column end? Why did I sign on to do this? Where am I? Why did I agree to marry Jamie? What is going on here?

I’m sorry, I do this all to amuse myself when writing. I hope you are laughing along.

I’m a big fan of the JMS. I heart Babylon 5. I enjoyed Midnight Nation, and I love the Sins Past storyline. (Yeah, that’s right boys, keep throwing stones.) I’ll read it when it comes out.

Oh, and dragons. How can you not love dragons.

TIM: Well, I can’t speak for the dragons thing, but if this is the JMS of Midnight Patrol and Supreme Power showing up then I will hop on this bandwagon and ride it forever. However, if we are talking the JMS of Rising Stars or Amazing Spider-Man (and it has nothing to do with Sins Past…I was done with Amazing long before that), then I’ll be one disappointed Un Gajje. Given this interview and everything else I’ve read on it, I am very optimistic that it will be my favorite JMS that comes to play on this project.

OPINIONS ON PEOPLE’S WORK FAR MORE TALENTED THAN TIM STEVENS

TIM: Heh, that’s funn…HEY!

DANI: Before this section starts I just want to make a general comment. I would have more comments in this section, but you see, my lovely fiance has a tendency to take the books before I can read them.

We have this tradition. Every Wednesday night before we go to bed, we cuddle up in bed together and read comics. We save the really good comics for this time.

Lately because of my demanding school schedule, I read about 1 or 2 books and then go to sleep. Jamie then the next day takes all the books and reads them on the train. Problem is, when he comes home later on that night, he never takes them out of the bag. I never know where the comics are, and I never get a chance to read them.

So my lack of commenting is not because I haven’t read them. It’s because of Jamie.

JAMIE: I’m also apparently to blame for killing Kennedy and her ‘love of life’… whatever that means.

CABLE / DEADPOOL #13
JAMIE: A great leap on spot for a new reader… fun stuff all around. Check for a full review of it later this week.

EXILES #61
JAMIE: The Timebroker is going crazy, and this is the storyline that is kicking off the story that Bedard’s been building up since he introduced Namora. Are all of the Exiles going to survive? Lord I hope not.

WOLVERINE #26
JAMIE: Good old Marvel, letting death mean something once again by killing Northstar last issue and (spoiler… not really) having him turn into a Hand Zombie this issue. The reprogramming of Logan was a neat bit, but when it comes down to it I’m enjoying the stories. Now if only they had any effect on the state of Wolverine in other books… it’s so silly!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #4
TIM: I could waste your time just rehashing my review on the main page, but why bother when you can check it out right here. I fawn over the book a lot and it is pretty embarrassing. Fun for the entire family!

YOUNG AVENGERS #2
JAMIE: Issue numero uno was a nice launching pad for a crew of new characters, with a Kangish twist at the end. Now, here we are in issue number two and we are starting to see the entire team form up. Giant Girl and a raven-haired Hawkeye type round out the team nicely… and when I say nicely… I mean sexily.

TIM: Is sexily a word?

JAMIE: It is.. oh it so is.

TIM: In any case, this second issue nicely proves the first one was no fluke. I’m still not sure if it will change all my tomorrows as Mr. Quesada led me to believe in San Diego last year, but it is damn good. And I think the intention is to have the ladies mirror Giant Girl and Wasp, (although, not in powers/abilities) thus making this Young Avenger team a mirror of the original Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Giant Man, Wasp plus almost founder Captain America). But that’s just my personal theory.

ULTIMATE SPIDERMAN
DANI: This is Bendis at his best. Writing great dialogue between the characters. His best stories involve little action and more heart. Kudos to you Mr Bendis.

TIM: Every time this book misses a beat, it comes back so strong in the next arc that you forget what your problem was before. For example, I think I was kind of drifting away from the book during those two Human Torch issues, but now, I just can’t be sure. If Raimi does go the route of making Harry the villain in Spider-Man 3 he could do worse than using this as a template.

ULTIMATE X-MEN #57
TIM: I’m surprised I beat Jamie “Ooh, look at me, I LOOOOOOVE the Ultimate X-Men” Hatton to this one. Because, you know, he loves the Ultimate X-Men, as his nickname would suggest.

Anyway…

This issue caps the Longshot arc and while I liked the twist on the true murderer of the story, I realized that I just didn’t really care about this arc. It was good, but it didn’t capture my attention like Vaughan’s work on, say, the Sinister arc. But then, that might be because I just don’t care about Longshot, mainstream, Ultimate, or otherwise.

JAMIE: You did get the upperhand this time Stevens… THIS TIME. Truth be told, I wasn’t as huge of a fan of this arc either. I am glad they didn’t go the whole ‘Murderworld’ videogame land, but I am a bit upset that Arcade was nothing more than a throwaway Kraven character. The writing was still tip top, thoug. Bring me Ultimate Apocalypse!

ULTIMATES 2 #4
TIM: Uh-oh…Thor’s gonna get it. And keen eyes will notice that Thor’s “brother” appeared in the diner in issue 1 or 2 when Thor had a conversation with the amazing disappearing Volstaag. Something tells me that that can’t be a good sign.

WE BE OUTTA HEAAA’

JAMIE: So that’s it, our first Marvel News & Views minus the Mallaro. Did you like it? Yeah, that’s right… you liked it. You are dirty and naughty and you liked it quite a bit. Hey, kids, did you like it?

DANI: They didn’t like it, they loved it. Make sure when emailing, because you have to email, or at least message board comment, mention how much you loved the girl. Everyone loves the girl.

TIM: What about me…does everyone love me?

JAMIE: Of course some of them do. Sadly though, you and I will always come second when fangirls are involved.

DANI: Of course we love you.. EVERYONE love TV’s Michael Rosenbaum..

JAMIE: Okay, before overt flirting begins, I’m stopping this train. We’ll see you next week!

Join our newsletter

never miss the latest news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary for Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games!