Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Wash: 01/12/10

o Last week, I wondered why there has been no concerted effort to reward the best critical writing on comics.

Ask and ye shall receive.

I doubt it's anything but a happy confluence of ideas, really, but it's good that someone's getting something off the ground.

In terms of the jurors' choices, I'm glad that Tom Crippen's "Age of Geeks" made it—it was certainly the most insightful and astute piece of comics criticism of 2009 that I read.

On the other hand, I'm wondering whether a site that's affiliated with The Comics Journal should be selecting work from Comics Journal contributors. I'd hope there was a more independent way of approaching things.

o DC will be trying to build on the success of Blackest Night with a 26-issue bi-weekly title called Brightest Day, written by Geoff Johns (Blackest Night, Green Lantern) and Peter J. Tomasi (Green Lantern Corps), with covers by newly hijacked Marvel artist David Finch.

Also, "Brightest Day" will be used as a crutch for the flagging books The Flash, Justice League of America and Titans.

I'm not sure if all of that's a very smart move, given that never-ending line-wide crossovers seem to be wearing on the market's patience, if the December 2009 figures for Marvel's Siege: The Cabal are any indication. Not that you can blame DC for trying to capitalize on their big hit; I'm just wondering if there's not a better way to do it.

o Speaking of the December figures: The fact that Siege: The Cabal, Brian Michael Bendis' lead-in to Siege proper, evidently didn't manage to crack the 70,000-unit mark doesn't bode well for Marvel's "big event" comic of 2010. Also, both New Avengers and Dark Avengers, the company's flagship titles, also written by Bendis, are selling around 70K as well, which isn't exactly impressive.

Perhaps that's why Marvel editor Joe Quesada believes in "event fatigue" right now and DC editor Dan DiDio doesn't?

o Speaking of Siege, here's a review by Douglas Wolk.

Related: What's the popular appeal of Brian Michael Bendis' Marvel Universe work?

o The new Iron Man armor looks kinda like the one from the film.

o Next stop for Grant Morrison: Wonder Woman?

o Alan Moore (Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century) and Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) take the Top 5 spots in Diamond Comic Distributors' "Top 500 Graphic Novels for 2009" list of best-selling book-length comics in North American comics specialty stores.

The "Top 500 Comic Books for 2009" chart is headed by the Barack Obama issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, unsurprisingly.

Then things get more interesting, though. Geoff Johns takes a whopping 10 out of the Top 25 spots, with issues of Blackest Night, Green Lantern and The Flash: Rebirth; and Grant Morrison takes 6, with Batman and Robin and Final Crisis. Together with Neil Gaiman's Batman #686, that's 17 out of the Top 25 for DC Comics.

For Marvel, it's four slots for Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Captain America: Reborn), a measly two entries for Brian Michael Bendis (Dark Avengers #1 and New Avengers #50) and one each for Barack Obama and Dan Slott (The Amazing Spider-Man #600).

o Bill Willingham, who writes Joss Whedon's Angel comic-book series for publisher IDW, goes off like a forgotten firecracker two weeks after New Year's Eve against Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and, against Whedon himself.

For [Dark Horse Comics editor Scott] Allie to suggest that he is in coordination with IDW [...] is grossly misleading, at best. By intentionally allowing, encouraging in fact, the notion to exist among the comics reading public, that Whedon and Dark Horse are in any way steering, or influencing, the stories I help to produce in IDW’s ongoing Angel series, Allie and Whedon are committing what is tantamount to taking credit for the work of others, a repugnant practice in any business, although I understand it is all too common in some.

As long as I am writing the Angel series for IDW, I will not be coordinating stories with any Dark Horse comic, period.

I always find that sort of thing very odd, to the point where I'm wondering if it's staged.

But hey; I guess some people use e-mail to communicate with each other, and others use Comic Book Resources.

o The reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise doesn't bother me. I liked Sam Raimi's first film, was indifferent to the second one and thought the third one wasn't terribly good. Also, it was pretty obvious from Spider-Man 3 that Raimi and the studio weren't on the same page anymore, so it's only logical that they've decided to go their separate ways. Personally, one of the thrills of corporately owned characters like Spider-Man or Batman is that they allow multiple interpretations by all kinds of people who come in, give it their best shot and then move on. I think Sam Raimi's done that, so I'm mostly curious about the next interpretation we're going to see.

o Reasons why spiffy high-ticket print editions of comics won't disappear anytime soon, exhibit 267: Here's writer Kurt Busiek gushing about the new hardcover edition of The Wizard's Tale, his 1990s book with artist David Wenzel, complete with pictures that make you want to own a copy right now.

o Happy to see Brian Hibbs' report that Stumptown, the new crime comics serial by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth and Lee Loughridge, is doing well at his store. Here's why you should buy it.

o Comics recommendation for January 13, 2010: Human Target: Chance Meetings (paperback), by Peter Milligan, Edvin Biuković and Javier Pulido, from DC Comics/Vertigo. Here's a preview.

o Quite possibly, Tom Spurgeon's introduced the new gold standard for dealing with best-of lists.

o Now complete, for your perusal: My "Best Pop Comics of 2009" list: part 1, part 2, part 3.

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