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Some Raw Thoughts to Start September

[This is a rather raw/unedited post. No fancy formatting, no strategically-placed images. Just some worn-out thoughts from a guy worn out with the ongoing comic-buying thing.]

I’ve seen (but not read many) articles about the apprent “failure” of the DC You campaign, the support remaining behind it, ways it failed readers and ways it reinvigorated ’em. Stuff like that.

But not having read MUCH (going mostly off quasi-clickbaity headlines and links to VIDEOS rather than text), here are some of MY thoughts.

For me, to me, it’s been a failure. I bought the first issue of Batman Beyond, based on learning it was now Tim Drake behind the mask, that Terry had died during Futures End or such, and having an interest in the Tim Drake character, as one of my (pre-New 52) favorite characters. As I type this, I do not recall issue #2, if I even bought it (I’m pretty sure I passed on it). Despite interest in the future Batman, interest in Tim Drake, and having a soft spot for Dan Jurgens’ work…it wasn’t enough to hold me. Sure, the $2.99 price is appealing in an overwhelming sea of $3.99 books, but I just do not have faith in DC keeping the book going longer than 6-12 issues, which would make for a couple of collected editions, likely accessible in a bargain bin in a year or two’s time…or single issues in a bargain bin for 1/4 to 1/3 on the whole cover price.

I’m forcing myself to try a few issues of Constantine, missing the Vertigo Hellblazer incarnation. While the first two issues (I’ve bought but not yet read the third) seemed a lot more in line with that…again, I haven’t a clue how long this incarnation will last; whether the creative team will bail or leave or be let go, or the book will be cancelled, etc. There’s no “history” to it, with “only” 3 issues, while there are 3 HUNDRED issues of the Vertigo series…plus assorted guest-starring roles, specials, and so on.

Pretty much everything “continuing” from before Convergence just simply doesn’t interest me–especially as serialized graphic novels rather than monthly episodes in any sort of truly ongoing story.

And perhaps is was misunderstanding on my end, but the notion that ‘continuity’ doesn’t matter and that ‘story’ is more important REALLY put me off to some of the truly new things (as well as–again–the lack of faith in any true longevity to the series beyond what I can eventually get in bargain bins or discounted collected volumes in a couple years’ time).

And maybe that’s the thing, too, in the face of stuff that’s otherwise just “the latest” thing or the most current in a series of things that puts me “off” of new/current comics while leaving me totally embracing ’90s stuff and older stuff.

Ten years ago, maybe eleven, I was railing against $2.99 comics, up from $2.50 or less. The last seven or so against $3.99 comics, having gone straight from $2.99 with no stops at $3.25, $3.50, or $3.75 between.

And for wanting to follow entire continuities, entire universes…at the rare/occasional $3 and mostly $4/issue anymore, that’s just not possible for stuff like Marvel and DC. Even for sub-groupings or “families” of titles. Marvel double-ships a bunch of titles last I paid attention, and DC…has just really lost me with the New 52, beyond however much they’d “lost” me prior.

Valiant was manageable with only about 9 titles/month, but in terms of single issues for “everything they publish,” they blew it big-time with LotG (see anything I’ve posted in the last couple months about Valiant).

Which leaves me with my old fallback and readily-admitted exception to most anyother “stance” or “principle” I’ll take in comics: the TMNT. 2 books/month (1 ongoing, 1 of whatever the ‘current’ mini-series is), 1 book/month based on the cartoon, and about 1 book/month reprinting classic material…four books/month. I can handle that, and I get the entirety, pretty much, of comic book output of TMNT.

I might try something different here or there–Thom Zahler’s Long Distance, giving in to nostalgia with X-Men ’92 or Age of Apocalypse (with the added benefit of knowing these are mini-series and not an ongoing ‘investment’).

But at this point, I’m sick of the event-into-event-into-event-into-EVENT model. I’m sick of renumbering. I’m sick of the “seasonal” model of Marvel, and I’m sick of a crappy Superman.

I’m sick of the speculator-collector stuff, I’m sick of variant covers, and I’m entirely sick of shrinking pagecounts with increasing prices.

I’m sick of comics being nothing more than serialized graphic novels, where shocks, surprises, and “key” story elements have to be taken in within larger groupings of issues and not simply as the latest unfolding chapter of an ongoing continuous series. An X-Man dies in chapter 2 of a 6-part story, there’s no TRUE bearing on the series until at least the next arc–she might be back or the death undone in 4 issues as the larger story for the “graphic novel” resolves, or the very next “arc” as part of a larger 2-volume thing.

And I don’t like the unpredictability of most “indie” comics…and particularly WITH the serialized graphic novel bit…either I have no idea when/if I’ll get a second issue if I trie a first, or the thing’s geared toward the graphic novel. The “guaranteed-to-be-collected-into-a-single-volume” thing dooms most single issues for me.

Raiding quarter bins, I can buy a 16-issue (more than a YEAR)’s run of something for the price of a single current issue. I can sample smaller runs of various series. For only SLIGHTLY more than buying a 6-issue arc, I can buy a HUNDRED issues from 20 years ago. From a period of definite nostalgia for me, of a time when I simply enjoyed comics for what they were, and following ongoing stories with little regard–outside the occasional in-title “event” or “crossover”–for any notion of collected volumes.

And while I absolutely will NOT knock it–with Marvel Unlimited, I can read 40 issues for about what ONE would cost me, and I can truly “binge-read” series without laying out a small fortune.

So, bringing this stream-of-conscious post to a close: yeah. DC You was a failure for me. It has not drawn me ‘back’ in, it doesn’t leave me at all reinvigorated toward DC, and I’m desperately chasing alternatives to the former “joy” of the weekly/monthly comics-buying experience.

Batman Beyond (2015) #1 [Review]

batmanbeyond(2015)001Brave New Worlds, part 1

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Chang with Maiolo
Editors: Dan Didio & David Pina
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I truly had no intention of buying any DC stuff in June, let alone trying any of the nearly-half-as-many-as-the-New-52-launch-not-even-four-years-ago new titles. Yet, despite not yet reading most of New 52 Futures End, I had stuff spoiled for me, namely the death of Terry McGinnis and that Tim Drake was the new Batman Beyond…and given it’s Tim Drake, from the present shunted out of his time into the future (not the Tim Drake seen in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker that progressed to the time in a linear fashion), I was interested.

Add to that that this is "only" $2.99 cover price (and I feel like I haven’t seen a $2.99 comic in AGES!), I figured I’d check it out….AND show SUPPORT for the price-point!

We open on some Jokerz, and a fight with Batman…excuse to show off the time period a bit, the Bat-suit’s abilities, the Alfred AI (think Iron Man’s Jarvis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and that the character now is a man out of time. The Jokerz were stealing a device that would reveal Gotham to Brother Eye, which would allow the city to be targeted and destroyed. Batman goes to the closest thing he now has to "home" and interacts with a new supporting cast–Nora and Matt. Matt is Terry’s younger brother, who appears likely to have some definite "issues" with Tim, and Nora took Matt in after the Brother Eye attacks. Tim then heads out to see if there’s more left of the world than Gotham, and winds up fighting a Brother Eye cyborg Superman, and then meets an old ally who is in the present through linear progression.

The story works…and definitely does well for me AS a first issue. We’re given a good structure for an introductory issue: shown a dangerous, criminal act in progress (one that actually threatens the entire city), we see the hero in-costume enter the situation and defeat them, saving the city. We see the man behind the mask, we’re introduced to a couple of major supporting-cast characters, and exposition gives us some background on recent goings-on and status quo details. We’re given a larger, more dangerous situation for the hero with some story threads tying back to the big story that led to this title existing, and then we’re introduced to another likely supporting character with a cliffhanger to leave us wondering how this character will factor into things. We see the title character, we see him in action as well as downtime, meet supporting characters and touch on the general status quo, elements to play into the larger arc (if not series in general) are seeded, and we’re given cause to come back for the next issue.

I applaud Jurgens‘ work here, and would like to say that I’ll definitely be back for the next issue…but I’m honestly not sure about that, and I’ll detail why below.

The art is very good–the issue’s a treat to look at; character designs are good, the flow of action is easy to follow, and it does what the art should without calling attention to itself AS art.

Probably my biggest problem was the double-half-page candy bar ad breaking this up…it was annoying and distracting, and very unwelcome in an age where I’m not mentally trained to "expect" such ads. I pointedly ignored it as best I could but it was a case of "the more you try to ignore it, the more you notice it."

I should want to come back for the next issue on price point combined with Jurgens‘ writing combined with the nostalgia factor for the classic Batman Beyond cartoon combined with this being actual DC Universe combined with THIS Batman Beyond being Tim Drake, a key character I have grown up with in comics since his very introduction. If any of those reasons are of interest to you, I certainly recommend this.

But on a personal level I’m not really interested in contemporary New 52 DC stuff (which this is, even if the branding/label has been dropped), and I’m reading between the lines on things that shunting Tim Drake into the future is a means to remove him from "present-day" continuity where his presence has been quite problematic for the established timeline and would run counter to the use of Damian as Robin (Dick is presumed dead and now works as a spy, Jason is off doing his own thing as Red Hood, and now there’s no longer a Robin/Red-Robin running around to muddy up Damian’s claim to the title).

If Batman Beyond remains a self-contained title and all, I may try keeping up with it for a bit just for the Dan Jurgens and Tim Drake factor. That will be an issue by issue basis and be heavily influenced by its ship-week and however many other issues I’m picking up and how interested I am "in the moment."

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