Thursday, March 1, 2012

Frequency and Quality of Comics?

FINALLY this is getting talked about! put up an excellent article concerning a major sticking point for me with comics: the un-ending double shipping titles every month. Read it here: What's The Frequency, Uncanny?

Here's my opinion on the subject. (Madrox the Multiple Man seemed like an apt analogy for how I'm feeling about this. His screaming and falling in the picture also fits.)

It really does start to hurt the over-all comic buying experience when I'm left groaning "ohh.... two issues of Uncanny X-Force" -- a title at the absolute top of my reading list. An extra issue now and then wouldn't be hard to swallow -- but Marvel is doing it every single month! If X-Force and Wolverine aren't shipping twice, then I can count on Avengers and New Avengers to be filling in that month to steal more money from me.

I happen to be doing pretty well, and have disposable income -- but I'm helped by a 20% discount. When the combined prices of comics in a given month hit, for example, $80 - I can ease to pain of that knowing I'll only have to pay $64.

Still - double shipping makes it very, very hard to keep up on all the titles I like. Marvel has actually been bumping up the quality of books -- where I would usually have been ditching Wolverine and Wolverine and the X-Men - I instead find myself keeping those books and signing up for Avengers vs X-Men! I actually have to say the changing of artists has not been a complaint of mine. Uncanny X-Force has been incredible no matter who's on art -- and the change in artists gave them a chance to make the Dark Angel Saga drawn all by their main guy. For my opinion, frankly, the editors have been very good in choosing the right combination of artists to switch between. I barely recognized Billy Tan's art at first in X-Force - because the over-all look of it matched up well enough with the color palette of the rest of the series.

That said - it's really all about the increasing price. I might be sticking with Wolverine and the X-Men, but I'm also looking forward to Jason Aaron leaving Wolverine, giving me an exit point to drop the series. That's where it's going to start hurting Marvel over the long haul. They mentioned rumors of Hickman leaving the Fantastic Four? I love the Fantastic Four - but I simply can't stay on the book after he leaves. I've already dropped Red Hulk -- a title I know I'm going to look back on in a few months wishing I hadn't given up. But it's getting dropped nonetheless.

Rick Remender with Venom was mentioned in the article -- the 5 issues in a month indeed wasn't necessary; but he's the one writer at Marvel's I'm counting on all the way. That's the real key to buying comics these days: find what you like, and stick with it. Stay within the confines of that marked out territory and don't stray off trying out new titles every month. If you do add a new title, think long and hard about it. Can you drop something else to make up for it?

I buy a lot of comics -- but now that I think about it, the glut of double issues pouring in have made their mark here and there. (Again, I'm always looking for Exit points, where I feel emotionally satisfied with leaving a series.)

FF - I loved the Future Foundation kiddy think-tank, but simply couldn't justify getting two FF books. And once Hickman is gone, I'll probably drop the series.

Hulk - I LOVE Jeff Parker's issues, but things have simply been going nowhere fast. I'm nearly 25 issues in, and the Hulk still hasn't given the final smack-down to Zeo/One? Sorry; I know I'll regret it later, but I'm dropping this one.

Superman - Besides Superman being unceremoniously humiliated by Lois in issue #1, the change in art and writers made this a smart decision not to go past issue #1. Also - those tie-ins to Stormwatch are total BS.

Green Lantern Corps - The first issue simply felt like we where re-treading similar ground when they brought back Peter Tomasi. I am interested in the Alpha Lantern Trail of John Stewart - but I'd wait for the TPB rather than get the regular issues.

GL: New Guardians - I dropped off after issue #3. Too much spectacle; not enough substance.

Wolverine - Jason Aaron is off the title? Sweet - that's $4 to $8 off my comic budget.

Moon Knight - It simply wasn't Daredevil; and I wasn't in the mood to spend more money to give the book a chance to prove itself. And this is coming from someone who loves Benids' work. Dropped after issue #2

Iron Man - Despite my mixed opinion about Matt Fraction's writing, I was truely wowed when I read his critically acclaimed Invincible Iron Man run. After reading the Hardcover, collecting 19 issues - I was all set to continue reading the monthly book. The long drawn-out pacing of the story, that worked so well in the HC? Didn't work as well for me in single issues. I kept questioning wether something was going to actually happen in each issue.

Uncanny X-Men - I was only reading a few issues here and there. The X-Men's time on Utopia, overall, hasn't been great for the franchise; as it turned them from outcasts of society, to isolationists. Matt Fraction wasn't that great on the series either - but at least he pushed the series forward. After he left, it looked like a complete nose-dive. A re-numbered issue #1 didn't help matters. And, serious - Greg Land simply has to leave that title! I use to like him as an artist, but with digital art all his character poses look like they where copied off of porn.

Astonishing... Amazing, whatever Thor failed for me on so many levels, despite my eager willingness to continue reading the series. At $4 an issue, the story really should go somewhere. Dropped after issue #2.

Deadpool - I love Deadpool, and got excited to read it again, having enjoyed his visit with the X-Men. It seemed funny enough, too. AT FIRST. After a while you realize you're reading the same dumb punch lines issue after issue.

OMAC - I love this book, and sooo wanted to support it, but I was actually grateful to see it get canceled. Saves me $3. A shame, too, as they where just delving into Apocalypse and New Genesis stuff.

Batman - I'm only onboard for the Court of Owls story arch (it just became too engrossing to miss!) But just for the sake of finances - once it's over, I'm gone.

Batman and Robin - I loved Batman and Robin under Morrison - and was deeply looking forward to Tomasi finally writing the series. 3 issues in and I still don't even know who the bad guy is. Dropped it.

The Shade - I loved reading Robinson's Starman and JLA runs - and swore I wouldn't miss out on this series. Seems I could miss out on it - I simply never picked up issue #2. (Figure if I really want to read it, I'll get the TPB)

The Flash - Didn't even sign on for issue #1 after how badly the last volume ended leading into Flashpoint. A shame, too - the art looks fantastic! I just couldn't justify going from Geoff Johns (the reason I was reading in the first place), to the artist taking over both art and writing duties.

Legion of Super-Heroes - I was very pleased with the return to prominence and quality Geoff Johns accomplished with the Legion these past few years. Paul Levitz was doing a decent job following that up -- but it simply became too much. Suddenly the book demanded two issues you needed to read. Currently? I never followed the Legion into the 52, except for Legion Lost #1. It really bugs me to see a single franchise demanding two monthly books, an origin mini-series, and a cross-over with the original cast of Star Trek! (Well, that last one is probably optional. But still -- 4 Legion books coming out at the same time!!!)

Herc - I adored the Incredible Hercules series. I was shocked and delighted to see it continue after the Chaos War. But Herc depowered? No Amedeous Cho? I wish I had held on a bit longer just to have completed the series - but I didn't know at the time it would only last until issue #10. I dropped off after issue #4.

Ultimate Spider-Man - I dropped off of Ultimate Spider-Man quite a while ago. Now Spider-man is black, and I missed a whole bunch of issues inbetween. If I ever go back, to at least see the conclusion of Ultimate Peter Parker's journey, it will be a while from now. The entire Ultimate Universe began treading water the minute Marvel decided to make it a "What If?" universe, instead of a modern reinterpetation of their classic characters.

Ultimates/Ultimate Avengers - Seriously, what the heck happened to those books? Joe Madureia comes on board, and suddenly all of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's work on the series is unraveled. I don't even know who's on that team anymore, much less care about them.

Kirby Genesis - It was a cool sojourn to another publisher, but the expanded nature, with multiple spin-off series, simply made this a 6-issue-only run for me.

Well -- that's quite a larger list than I thought. The canceled books just sort of accumulate, don't they?

And, like this article has pointed out, there are more diminishing returns to come. Marvel really has to wake up and cut the consumer some slack, and just publish one issue a month. DC might have their own issues to deal with (too many tie-ins, changing writers) - but they have proved you can put out an incredible series with only one issue a month, and make money on it. (Enough to challenge Marvel, even. I know it will die down eventually; but for $3 an issue, and the promise of one issue a month - DC simply is more trusted regarding my money right now.)

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