Welcome back to the comic racks everyone. Yes a whole new week of pulls to run through and time well wasted at your local comic store. From the conversations around the stacks today, it looks like the big story of the week is not about this week, but rather the last 52, and how the new 52 didn’t quite do it. Diamond Distributors has released the overall sales states for 2011 (that is purchased by comics shops and not necessarily resold to customers), and it looks like another year for Marvel at the top spot. With a market share of 37.29% and unit share of 40.93% Marvel was well above DC Comics 31.41% market and 36.77 unit. The mathematicians out there can already guess that leaves the independents with the scraps, Image Comics ranked third (5.27% and 4.71%), followed by a virtually tied Dark Horse (4.71% – 3.35%) and IDW Publishing (4.73% – 3.78%).
DC’s New 52 did pay off in one area though, locking in 9 of the top selling books of the year. Justice League #1 came out as the years top seller to the surprise of no one, with Batman #1, Action #1, Justice League #2 and Batman #2 to round out the top 5. Marvels only top ten appearance came with Ultimate Comics Spider-man 160 at number 6, so Peter Parkers death counted for something. The rest of the top 10 were Green Lantern #1, Justice League #3, Action #2 and finally Detective Comics #1. The smaller companies got some love too, top selling trade? Another no brainer. Image’s The Walking Dead walked (shambled) away with the top seller, no doubt due to the hit TV show on AMC
Ok, before the this game of shouting numbers carries on to much longer, here is the really good news, comic sales are up, way up. Single issue sales were up 3 million over 2010′s, bringing total comic sales to 72.13 million units sold. What’s that mean for us the reader? If the industry is stronger we get a better product, right? If you want more coverage of the sales figures check out Newsarama and Comics Alliances coverage., they are the experts, I’m just a dude that loves reading comics, speaking of which… let’s read some, damn it.
This week in the stands, I found my wanting a little, it was a light shipping week I guess however it did come with a few high points. The easy grab for Marvel was The Scarlet Spider #1, spining out of the events of this summer’s Spider Island arc and desperately trying to make the whole clone saga matter, this I have to read… The one that got away? Damn it, I could not find a copy of Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand, by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, the main character is called Lobster Johnson, it’s by Mike Mignola, I must read this! Dark Horse kicks off Dark Matter, which is basically “Terminator” on a spaceship, alright, I’ll bite. From Image, Whispers, yes another crack at the horror comic genre. That really just leaves DC Comics, should I? Could I? Yes, I think it’s time to pick up another one of my least liked from the relaunch, it’s time to revisit The Suicide Squad, so someone tell Harly Quinn to put some pants on.
Your fast and dirty reviews start after the jump.
SCARLET SPIDER #1 – MARVEL COMICS – Story by Chris Yost, Art by Ryan Stegman, Cover by Ryan Stegman & Mark Bagley
I’ve always been a sucker for someone trying to take a c-list character and give it a run, and I think Kaine (the evil Peter Parker clone) should take being called a c-lister as a big compliment. So, after Spider Island, after Ben (the good clone) died, Kaine had found redemption and is now the 90′s styled anti-hero he was always meant to be. Long hair and melodrama included. Moving to Huston, Texas to start a new and come to grips with his powers and himself, yadda yadda ya.
This really is a very basic set up story. He spends a lot of panels lamenting his past and questioning his future. I’m trying to remember how much of this was fortold way back in Marvel Point One, but I’m honestly to lazy to dig it out. What I do remember from Marvels over sized and over priced prelude to 2012 was the sorta Spiderman-hobo that was traveling/running from his life. Yep, he’s still kind of a hobo but not without a little charm. Chris Yost has written a mildly charming almost interesting script here. Nothing really grabbed me though. Kaine was mildly interesting at best, I didn’t hate him, but I didn’t really start routing for him either. Sure he may have stumbled over a slave smuggling ring and saved an old lady (at the cost of a douchey Hummer driver, which is still a point in the positive in my books) but nothing really roped me in. That might sound a bit harsh, it was a ‘good’ comic, maybe if I was more into the tiny nooks and crannies of the Spiderman cast of characters I might be a bit more interested. Ryan Stegman did a fine job on the art by the way, crisp and clean and solid with all the McFarlane styled webbing and requisite Spiderman poses.
VERDICT: This comic would have fit in nicely in the 90′s. I have checked my copy a few times, nope… its not a chromium holograph variant 6 of 9. No trading card dropped out when I picked it up and as far as I can tell I won’t get to buy a house boat in 10 years for having this one either. I liked it, it was good, I might even pick up the second issue, if only for the sell line of “All of the power, none of the responsibility”. Like I said, I’m a sucker for the c-listers.
WHISPERS #1 – IMAGE COMICS – by Joshua Luna
That’s right, an all in one creative team. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book done by a solo act. Joshua Luna of the Luna Brothers (Ultra, Girls, The Sword) makes a solo debut with ‘a dark, supernatural thriller that questions free will and explores the obsessions, addictions and urges we all have and may not have control of at all.’ Ok, I don’t really know the work of the Luna Brothers, but I do know we have a solid first issue of a very interesting story here.
Sam, wracked with a hefty dose of OCD and clearly a few other social problems discovers he has the ability to have fully controlled out of body experiences, ones where he can push the minds of people close to him. Sorta like DC Comic’s Deadman, just that he is petrified of public washrooms.
The opening scene is one that would really work great on TV, a nice round introducing the main character, with a hefty chunk of the secondaries as well as setting up how crippling and sad Sam’s state of affairs really is. His ex has moved on, and her friends are dicks, wonderfully relatable (oh like I’m the only one). I have to say I am very interested to see where this goes. In this issue we see Sam interact with his estranged mother and a old girlfriend, he discovers his ability to push peoples minds with mixed results on both. The cliffhanger see’s Sam at his recent ex door step, will he use his power? Will it even work? My call is it doesn’t. He can only push people towards something they were already thinking, this is how he finds out his ex has no intention of ever giving him a second chance. Granted, that is coming (maybe) in issue two, and yes I am going to be there.
Crap, I just realized I’ve been going on and on about Luna’s writing, but failed to mention the art is great too. It has a certain lucid quality to it that adds to the dreamy yet all to real feel to the book. A little loose around the edges in some parts, but it all seems to work.
VERDICT: My favorite part of these random pulls are the big surprises. Luna’s Whispers #1 is just such a surprise. If you are into treading on the off beaten path of comics, make sure this one is on it.
DARK MATTER #1 (OF 4) – DARK HORSE COMICS – Writer: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie, Artist: Garry Brown, Colorist: Ryan Hill, Cover Artist: Garry Brown
It’s written by Stargate series writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, it’s claustrophobic ship borne science fiction, how could this go wrong? A star ship floats a drift in space, it’s crew dumped from stasis without any memories of who they are ot what’s going on, they fumble around for a bit and end up setting off the ships security system: a relentless android that will not stop till they are all dead! Well, that’s what the solicit said. Really the android in question only goes after them for a panel or two before being subdued and turned back into serving it’s human masters, score one for us.
I’m not sold on this one just yet. Sure it had some classic sci-fi elements, the amnesia, the homicidal android. While I am not totally into the characters just yet, I see the dashing one, the kick ass chick, the bad dude… none of them grabbed me. The whole issue (and this is a shocker) read like the pilot to a sci-fi TV show, it falls short in a few places, has some high points, and well… it’s better than “the Bachelor”, so you give it a chance.
I want to say one thing about Garry Brown‘s art. Garry, if you ever read these words, I mean them with total respect. Never have I found an artist that has me loving one panel, and hating the next. You’ve got a style dude and I am not bashing it. In my defense, years ago I had the same reaction to Keith Giffen the first time I saw his work (Hex #15) and now I’d crawl across broken glass to look at his work (or read O.M.A.C. same difference).
VERDICT: Joseph, Paul, Gary even you Ryan Hill, I’m not done with this. I’ll admit I had my qualms with this issue, but damn it. I am hungry for good science fiction, and I think it might be here. I’ll be grabbing the second issue.
SUICIDE SQUAD #5 – DC Comics – Written by ADAM GLASS, Art by FEDERICO DALLOCCHIO, Cover by DAN PANOSIAN
Remember when you were a kid, and you’d push the green beans around your plate, you knew you had to eat them, but somehow relocating them delayed that. This issue of Suicide Squad is a green bead to me. Back when the new 52 was coming out from DC this title was one of my least favorites. Back then I said I’d revisit each one of them and I guess the time has come. The good news is I have a prison riot to welcome me back.
The lionshare of this issue is devoted to Diablo and Deadshot, and it’s done very well. A systematic take down of a prison riot filled with meta’s can not be an easy thing to deal with. The character that really shines through for me, begrudgingly, is Amanda Waller. I really hated the skinny Waller, it bugged me in the Green Lantern movie and it bugged me that it carried over into the new DC continuity. Don’t get me wrong, Angela Bassett‘s role in the Ryan Reynolds flick was a high point but I didn’t feel the character had the same punch as she did in our previous continuity. This issue changed that. Adam Glass writes a tough as nails chillingly all business Waller that might, MIGHT, just rewrite the character.
I enjoyed this issue, the King Shark and Yo-yo bit aside (seriously you are just stunting there).
In defense of my previous critic, Harley Quinn only appears in the last panel.
VERDICT: Will I buy issue 6? Actually, I might. What I saw here was a huge leap from the first issue. I’m starting to notice that a lot of the under-performers from the first week of DC’s New 52 are starting to hit their stride a few issues in. I am willing to give Suicide Squad a shot.
That’s a wrap for AotNCW for this week, thanks for reading and as always, if you have a book you think I should check out, let me know.
Till then, we’ll see you at the racks.