I’m currently working though the Runaways omnibus from last year. It’s a really enjoyable read, and I love seeing how much BKV and Adrian Alphona have come along since they made this. For both of them it’s so recognisably their style, but clearly their much younger selves from the more recent stuff I know them from.
Pretty mad that in 2003 you could make a comic where the goth girl has to cut herself to use her powers though Reminder that the public discourse around self-harm and wider mental health issues have changed quite a lot recently, and that 2003 was actually quite a while ago.
DC plans to redcuce the number of collected editions it releases due to perceived glut in the marketplace, according to Co-Publisher Dan DiDio. This comes following a presentation at this past weekend’s closed-door ComicsPRO annual meeting.
“We feel there are too many collections in the market and the shelves are overcrowded with nothing standing out,” DiDio wrote in a private retailer Facebook group, shared by several retailers with Newsarama. “We are rethinking ways to build collections, including adding material in the print versions that will not be available in the digital.”
Well, that’s one way for me to save money. Thanks DC!
I tend to think this is a really positive move, for the industry. If not me personally. I walk into a bricks and mortar bookstore today, and they have a huge graphic novel selection. However, there’s no quality control there. It’s just rows and rows of (mostly) dross. The glut of material makes it hard for the really good material to stand out. The type of material that would make someone outside of our limited community pay attention. I think reducing the dross, and increasing the proliferation of ever green material will pay dividends. For me, personally, I will miss the “guaranteed” trade as a cheap option of picking something up that I skipped initially. But, I can still count on digital for that if needs be. I say all this knowing full well that my attitude is part of the problem.
They would be mad to not do a trade for every current series (trade sales estimates are surely factored into the budget for monthlies now) so this presumably means fewer archive trades. Which isn’t necessarily a bad idea, when they’ve been putting out a dozen new editions of Knightfall across a few months for instance, but somehow I suspect it’ll be the more niche titles that get shafted rather than Batman et al.
If they really want their trades to stand out more, they need stop using a unified trade dress across their whole line for current books. Go into any shop with a selection of DC trades and you just get a block of identikit looking spines which the eye just glazes over. All the title since Rebirth have matching white spines with blue (or black text) and before that in the New 52 they were all black with text, no logos. It is the least attention grabbing option possible.
This is true for Marvel too.
I’d also say they need to be a bit more attentive to production values, people will pay a couple of quid more for a book they can see and feel the quality of.
“We are rethinking ways to build collections, including adding material in the print versions that will not be available in the digital.”
I wonder if that’s a move to counter the pirates.
Wouldn’t surprise me at all if there are lots of folks who read pirated singles for free, then buy TPBs and HCs of the stuff they really like and want to own.
Fewer physical trades might mean more people subscribing to DC universe in someone’s idea of promoting their streaming service.
A Study in Emerald
I didn’t know how this worked - it’s a smart twist and effectively executed. Scavone’s adaptation is done well and Albuquerque’s art is excellent. It’s a good quality hardback, not that that’s a surprise as it’s DHC.
Sword of Ages: Volume 1: Avalon
A dense opening arc for Rodriguez’s take on Arthurian legend, this does all it should - sets the scene and the world. What sets it apart is Rodriguez being both writer and artist and his sense of ambition, he packs as much as he can into this volume and he pulls it off.
Voyage to the Deep
From one writer-artist to another, this collection features the work of the much missed Sam Glanzman. A four-issue tale of the crew of the USS Proteus, as they engage the mad plots of a unseen, unknown nefarious adversary out to destroy the world in ever more creative ways. For material from 1962 it has a surprising amount of sophistication and Glanzman draws on his own naval experience to depict life on board.
Diamond are putting out exclusive HCs of Batman: White Knight and Mister Miracle:
Out May 15, $30 for White Knight; $35 for Mister Miracle. No word on if they’re oversized.
Yeah, I want both of those.
Hmm. So maybe the whole fewer trades, more print content thing is less about not printing more and more about targeting comic shops instead of Amazon.
It’s Diamond retailer exclusive, which is primarily comic book stores, but also includes Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (from Newsarama’s story).
I think they’re mistaken. Unless it’s changed, Diamond distributes some of the smaller publishers to bookstores like B&N and Amazon but not the larger publishers like DC and Marvel. The last I was involved those were handled by Warners and Disney subsidiaries.
Mister Miracle TPB
In the past few weeks I’ve been going through a bit of a ‘trough’ period in my life in general. Nothing too serious, but a bit of extra stress in several areas of my life that have combined to make things a bit more difficult, a bit more tiring and just a bit less fun in general.
And as a side-effect of this, I’ve found it harder to muster up the enthusiasm for my favourite things - including comics.
So it was the perfect time for Mister Miracle to arrive.
Because in some ways, this book is about life and what you make of it in the hard times as well as the good. It’s about overcoming obstacles, both mental and physical, to make your world and that of the people you care about a better place. And like the best superhero comics, it’s about finding that strength (both within, and through your loved ones) and focusing it in a positive way.
It’s also a book that revels in putting opposite extremes of superhero storytelling next to each other and highlighting the contrasts in a way that makes both stand out.
So you get big epic life-and-death issues dealt with here, along with exploration of the seemingly unimportant minutiae of life. You get the Fourth World in all its operatic glory, and it has to share page space with the kitchen-sink relationship drama of Scott Free and Big Barda. And you get absurd comedy setpieces in almost the same breath as some of the most sincere and grounded drama I’ve read in superhero comics.
Tom King seems to understand that these kinds of pairings of extremes are exactly what makes the best superhero comics work, and he pulls off some amazing bits of writing here to bring it all together. It’s genuinely mature, adult storytelling - but peppered with the details of a Jack Kirby cosmic epic. And it hits the mark perfectly.
Mitch Gerads deserves equal credit, as his art plays a huge part in making it all hang together. I love the paranoid vibe of his occasionally warped, misaligned art, playing up the shifting realities that underpin parts of the book.
And I love his ability to switch between realistic adult human figures and cartoonish superheroes, without making them feel like they occupy completely different worlds.
His Big Barda in particular is a wonderful take on the character that humanises her without reducing her in stature one bit. In fact, she plays such a central role in the series that it almost feels like her name should be in the title next to Scott’s.
Favourite parts? There are too many to name, but I loved the issue in which one character lives out their ‘last day on Earth’ - which also features one of the classiest and most alluring sex scenes I’ve seen in comics in a while.
There’s also a wonderful issue in which an extended out-there battle scene in the heart of the Fourth World is narrated by a running conversation concerning the mundane details of remodelling Scott and Barda’s apartment.
And there’s a lot of fun to be had in playing with panel shapes and sizes for effect, showing just how effective that regular nine-panel-grid can be when you start subverting it.
But I won’t say any more as the last thing I want to do is give away any spoilers for anyone else reading it in trade like me.
A long time ago, Kurt Busiek wrote in a foreword for one of the Astro City collections about the untapped potential of genuinely mature, adult takes on superheroes; about how there were still so many new avenues to explore in terms of how superhero stories can be made relevant to our lives.
This book feels like it delivers on that potential. It reminded me of Busiek’s own Secret Identity series in some respects, although the added page count of a 12-issue series allows King to go even deeper here in drawing us into Scott’s life and making us really care about it all. It’s also a little reminiscent of Lemire’s recent Moon Knight run in the way it takes the uphill battle of a character’s mental health struggles and helps him to fight through it via a wild superhero story.
All I can say is that it did my own mental health the world of good. There are times when I felt quite choked up reading this book; times when it felt like my own life was on the page; times when I laughed and marvelled at the daring way that King risks undercutting his own story with silly humour but never quite goes that one step too far; and times when I simply enjoyed the visceral thrills of a well-written, well-drawn superhero comic.
It’s a fantastic read that rates alongside King’s Vision as an outstanding, brilliantly-conceived and cleverly-constructed superhero comic, and I’ll happily rebuy the new hardcover edition and enjoy it all over again later this year.
Great review, Dave. I really think this book is going to be a classic.
I don’t think I’ve loved a new series like this since I read the White Knight TPB last year. DC are putting out some great books lately.
I like that they collected it as a full 12-issue TPB too. It wouldn’t work split into two six-issue collections.
I still have White Knight in my digital read pile. I really think I’ll enjoy it.
I’ve been on a bit of a Sean Murphy kick since reading it. As it happens, this arrived today.
I didn’t love it first time around but I want to give it another chance.