Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Wash: 03/10/10

o Omnibus Crash

Heidi MacDonald has a good round-up of that Amazon thing from the weekend. I can see why people ordered the merchandise—I'd have done the same if I were still in the U.S., probably. But to feel entitled to receive merchandise at price points that were clearly a glitch, and that were even so low as to be potentially harmful to whoever has to eat them? How annoying.

What really boggles the mind are the folks now bugging Amazon for between $ 5.00 and $ 30.00's worth of compensation, though—for what, exactly? Trying to rip them off and failing? Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but what a depressingly cheap price tag for people to put on their personal ethics.

Another side to this that I haven't seen brought up is that all these books, if the orders had been fulfilled, would have taken a lot of money away from the market down the road. Presumably not everyone who ordered copies ordered them for themselves, but to sell them and make a profit on them later on—which would effectively have put them in competition with the regular-priced ones.

For high-ticket books like these, a few hundred copies can make or break the production, so even assuming that Amazon would have had to eat the cost of the error, it was probably in the publishers' best interests not to go through with selling the books.

o Knock-Off Effect

The preliminary Diamond Comic Distributors chart and index information for February 2010 is in, and if I'm reading the figures right, it seems like Siege #2 sold around 110,000 units, versus the estimated 108,000 sales of issue #1 in January.

Which would mean that either the book did better than retailers expected, leading to the rare phenomenon of issue #2 outselling #1; or, as suspected last week, that Diamond knocked 20% off the sales of issue #1 because it came with a retailer incentive that involved returnability. In the latter case, which I think is more likely, sales of Siege #1 would be around 130K, rather than 108K.

o J. Michael Hustlebustle

Douglas Wolk asks the right questions about DC's recent announcement that J. Michael Straczynski is the new Superman and Wonder Woman writer starting in June:

(1) How will Straczynski's well-documented aversion to crossovers (see Fantastic Four and Thor) work out on a book like Superman, which has basically been part of a non-stop crossover for the last couple of years? Will DC accommodate Straczynski by keeping the series self-contained? Or will Straczynski try to play nice?

(2) Isn't this schedule illusory for a writer with Straczynski's recent track record? The two monthlies come on top of the monthly The Brave and the Bold and the upcoming Superman: Earth One line of book-length comics that Straczynski is also writing for DC. Over at Marvel, Straczynski's maxiseries The Twelve, on hiatus since 2008, is still missing its three final issues.

(3) Why have no artists been announced?

For that matter, to add another question, why does DC use Free Comic Book Day to promote what now turns out to be the swan song of the current direction, rather than Straczynski's run? Wouldn't it have made infinitely more sense to get Straczynski's stories into people's hands, instead of an "event" storyline that clears up the debris of a direction that's been a commercial failure?

On the surface, the move certainly seems like the sort of thing that DC should have done long ago. But looking deeper, it seems like an awfully sudden development that leaves a lot of question marks.

o Nothing to Do With Each Other

Christopher Nolan, who directed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and is now confirmed as the director "mentor" or "shepherd" of the next Superman film, intends to keep Superman and Batman's worlds separate; in Nolan's view, the two characters are the only superheroes in their given worlds, in order to preserve the internal logic of their stories.

As much as I like the idea of sprawling superhero universes, I think that's the only sensible way to approach these stories if you want to reach a mainstream audience. It's the decision Marvel should have made with their Ultimate books, for that matter.

Sure, it's possible to have a "shared universe" where every story is still accessible to everyone, in theory—but looking back at both Marvel and DC's histories, the cases where that's really worked are a rare exception, overall.

Apart from all the smaller-scale issues a "shared universe" setting creates, the big one is that it inevitably makes whichever superhero is supposed to be the big star in a given series less unique.

Do we really need Peter Parker deal with "anti-mutant sentiment" in Ultimate Spider-Man? What has that ever added to the character, or said about him, that couldn't have been said in more accessible, more relevant terms?

o Nine-Picture Deal

I have no particular interest or investment in the way Marvel go about making their films, but signing the Captain America lead (who hasn't been named yet) to no less than nine movies seems remarkable.

For one thing, it reinforces the idea that Marvel are looking for an approach opposite Christopher Nolan's (see above). For another, it's an awful lot of faith to put in a single guy, given that Marvel's recent Hollywood oeuvre includes films like Daredevil, Hulk, Ghost Rider, Elektra and both Punisher films.

Don't get me wrong, I like some of these, including some of the performances. But what happens if Captain America ends up being a bomb at the box office, with a popular consensus putting much of the blame on casting? Am I missing something?

o In Stores Now

In this Newsarama piece on Eric Powell, interviewer Chris Arrant claims that "all three issues of Chimichanga" have been released.

As far as I can see, though, the most recent issue is still #1, from back in December. Right?

o Fill In Blank

I'm reviewing Human Target: Chance Meetings, by Peter Milligan, Edvin Biuković, Javier Pulido, et al.

6 comments:

collectededitions said...

I can't think of an example of a shared universe coming to fruition in a live-action movie anyway (maybe someone else has examples) -- even if the individual movies do very well, a team-up movie with actors from multiple franchises must be terribly expensive.

That said, I think Nolan just spoke too far. Of course there are comics fans out there who want a crossover movie, so why disappoint them from the outset by saying it'll never happen? If it's an important point in Nolan's movie to establish Superman as the only superhero, so be it, but I'm not sure the outside comment was necessary.

The Superman/Free Comic Book Day issue puzzles me, too. I had thought there was a Blackest Night-level Superman event coming up, and this four week event seems minor. One possibility is that there's another shoe to drop after the Superman event that effects Straczynski's run; it would seem a waste if there's no New Krypton fallout.

And what do you make of Straczynski's suggestion that he's about to have something to do with DC as some sort of national initiative? Is that digital comics?

Marc-Oliver Frisch said...

No idea what he may be referring to - maybe it's a regular Superman newspaper strip or something in the digital realm, or something else entirely. I'm curious about that one.

Steven R. Stahl said...

All three issues of CHIMICHANGA have been published, based on the actual or estimated publication dates. The date for #3 was 2/3/10 -- http://totallycomics.com/product/468211519/

SRS

Marc-Oliver Frisch said...

Steven,

Sure, according to the original schedule, they should have been.

However, on February 16, Eric Powell posted the following at his message board:

"Yep, it's behind. Had a few setbacks/holidays/etc so I'm a little behind. Wrapping it and #3 up. they should be coming soon."

There's still no evidence of issues #2 and #3 having shipped, at this time. My comics store is still listing them as pending, and neither Mile High Comics or MyComicshop.com have them in stock.

Joseph said...

I'm pretty sure Nolan is just shepherding the revamped Superman film as a producer, and has not committed to directing.

Marc-Oliver Frisch said...

You're right. The fact that the article uses terms like "mentor," "shepherd" and "oversee" and the term "direct" never comes up should have been a clue.