Comic Picks By The Glick
The fate of the Ultimate Universe:  Grist for the mill.

The fate of the Ultimate Universe: Grist for the mill.

December 21, 2013

As you know, speculating on the fate of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is an ongoing concern around here.  Initially launched way back at the turn of the millenium with the intent of providing continuity-free updates of Marvel characters to appeal to a modern audience, the imprint succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations.  Not only did “Ultimate Spider-Man” and “Ultimate X-Men” sell incredibly well, they were also great comics too.  For a while, the imprint looked unstoppable, then… Well it’s hard to say exactly at what point things stopped looking so new and shiny, but sales started to flag and the comics stopped being better than the versions of the characters we were getting in the mainstream Marvel Universe.  The company tried to jump-start interest with the reputedly awful “Ultimatum” event which saw the wholesale slaughter of a good chunk of the imprint’s characters, and after the boost from that wore off they killed Peter Parker and brought in Miles Morales as Spider-Man.  While that proved to be a more creatively satisfying move than you would expect, and this latest relaunch has had its moments, it was clear from the sales that the universe had run its course at least as far as most fans have been concerned.


Now Galactus is preparing to eat the Earth in the current “Cataclysm” miniseries and I’m expecting this to be the last we’ll hear of the Ultimate Universe for now.  However, Rich Johnston raised a potentially fascinating idea for where things are going to end up.  It’s a great tie-in to the current “New Avengers” series, but an ignominious end for this imprint.


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Marvel Previews Picks:  March 2014

Marvel Previews Picks: March 2014

December 20, 2013

Okay, Marvel, what you’re doing with the “Infinity” hardcover is a grade-A DICK MOVE as far as I’m concerned!  Previously, the hardcover was set to collect not only the six-issue miniseries of the same name, but also issues #12-23 of “Avengers” and #7-12 of “New Avengers.”  All of Hickman’s build-up and essential tie-ins to the event in one place, and two volumes of “Avengers” in one.  That’s not the case anymore as the hardcover is now listed on Amazon as collecting issues #14-23 of “Avengers.”  No explanation was given, though if I had to guess it may be because these issues were co-written with Nick Spencer and the company wants (or had to) give us an entire omnibus of Hickman goodness.  If anyone else has any ideas, I’d like to hear them.  As for now, it seems that I’ll have to track down the missing issues as I did for “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” if I want to know what I’m missing.


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Stumptown vol. 2

Stumptown vol. 2

December 19, 2013

THIS SERIES IS STILL TOO DAMN EXPENSIVE!


I don’t know why Oni thinks that it’s a good idea to release Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s enjoyable shaggy dog private investigator in an oversized hardcover format for $30 a volume.  Done correctly, putting a title in hardcover can signify prestige and that’s best seen in manga releases like “A Bride’s Story,” “Thermae Romae,” and “Vinland Saga.”  It’s also worth noting that the latter two are two-in-one editions so you get a particularly good cost-per-page value.  Also, while most of Marvel’s “premiere editions” don’t justify the extra cost those editions entail, they do a good job of trying to give you good value for their oversized hardcovers which collect multiple volumes as in the case of “Superior Spider-Man.”


“Stumptown,” however, is none of those.  You’re not getting any extra pages or substantial bonuses for the format and the story isn’t quite good enough to justify this special treatment.  If you’re wondering how I wound up with it, Amazon was offering a special coupon during Black Friday that when coupled with their existing discount, brought the price down to a more reasonable level.  It’s a shame that there’s such a high barrier to entry in terms of cost for this series as it’s easily the most fun writing Rucka has done.


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Dark Horse Previews Picks:  March 2014

Dark Horse Previews Picks: March 2014

December 18, 2013

Remember “Xerxes?”  The sequel to “300” to be written and illustrated by Frank Miller that was previewed back when “Dark Horse Presents” launched back in 2011 and to serve as the basis for the upcoming film sequel “Rise of an Empire?”  Well, after turning in two issues a couple years back, Miller has yet to finish the sequel.  Apparently his Hollywood commitments, including co-directing the next “Sin City” movie with Robert Rodriguez again and planning a TV series for the same, have prevented him from putting pen to paper recently.  While this certainly sucks for Dark Horse as they won’t have a new graphic novel or comic to promote in time for the movie’s release, it may be for the best in the end.  Given the quality of his recent output and the furor that resulted the last time he made a sequel to one of his classic works, the reputation of “300” the graphic novel may be better served without a prequel to complement it.


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The myth of the jumping on point.

The myth of the jumping on point.

December 17, 2013

Over a week ago, Jonathan Hickman and Tom Brevoort talked about what constitutes a good jumping on point for a series.  Issue #24 of Hickman’s “Avengers” was cited as such, given the push it has received as being part of the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative.  Hickman thought that it was a terrible example of a jumping on point, stating that he didn’t intend it as such and that he’s never written issue twenty-something of anything with the intent of having a new reader start from there given how he plots his stories.  Brevoort disagreed, stating that issue contained a complete story, introduced a new character, and takes stock of things in the wake of “Infinity” before moving forward.


With all due respect to Brevoort, I agree with Hickman completely.  In fact, I’m willing to take it a step further and say that issue twenty-something of ANY title makes for a poor jumping on point.  Unless a new writer is coming onboard.  These days, that’s the only thing that makes a difference.  At least, that’s how it is for me.


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Pink by Kyoko Okazaki

Pink by Kyoko Okazaki

December 16, 2013

Terrible ending coda aside, Kyoko Okazaki’s “Helter Skelter” was an engrossing thriller that left me eagerly awaiting this story.  Described as her “representative work” on the back cover, “Pink” is entertaining fluff and light on its feet with its protagonist’s determined refusal to acknowledge life’s harder edges.  Interestingly enough, its quality proves to be the inverse of “Helter Skelter’s.”  Though the majority of it doesn’t have a whole lot of substance, “Pink” does feature a great ending that actually makes one of the most tired dramatic tropes work in its context.


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DC Previews Picks:  March 2014

DC Previews Picks: March 2014

December 15, 2013

DC’s new weekly series “Batman Eternal?”  That’s old news now with the announcement of their newest weekly series “Future’s End.”  Taking place “Five Years Later,” which is also thought to be the theme of the company’s event for this coming September, the only characters mentioned as participating in it so far are Batman Beyond, Frankenstein and Firestorm.  There will certainly be more announcements about the cast in the near future, though this strikes me as one of those events where EVERYONE gets involved.  More important is that the title has a writing staff announced:  Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen, Brian Azzarello and Dan Jurgens.  It’s an eclectic group to say the least as Giffen and Jurgens have been in the mainstream for almost their entire careers, Lemire started as an indie creator and still does creator-owned work alongside his DC commitments, while Azzarello…  Azzarello has done some truly fantastic work over the course of his career, but the majority of it hasn’t been on high-profile event series like this.  Like Matt Fraction, the man seems to do his best work off in the margins outside of the spotlight.  In any event, it’s an interesting mix of writers that at least makes me curious about how this is going to turn out.


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An odd couple of anthologies.

An odd couple of anthologies.

December 14, 2013

In one corner we have “Mouse Guard:  Legends of the Guard vol. 2.”  Part of the excellent “Mouse Guard” series with a host of great creators both known and unknown to me.  The first volume also won an Eisner for being the best anthology in the year that it was released.  In the other we have “A+X vol. 2:  =Amazing.”  It’s the follow-up to the uneven first volume of Avengers/X-Men team-ups whose ongoing series will be cancelled with issue #18.  I might be making it sound like there’s a clear victor here, but both volumes are actually pretty solid and full of appeal to their established fans.


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Storm Dogs vol. 1

Storm Dogs vol. 1

December 13, 2013

This wasn’t on my “must buy” list but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  It’s just that the idea of a science fiction story that was part “Star Trek,” part “C.S.I.” sounded appealing to me and it had that “unknown new title from Image” vibe to it so that was a plus too.  What writer David Hine and artist Doug Braithwaite have given us here is a pretty good story that doesn’t hew exclusively to those two sources for inspiration.  I’d have no problem giving this my full recommendation if it wasn’t for the awful cliffhanger ending we get at the end.  Also, the awful cover too.


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Comic Picks #148:  Slam Dunk

Comic Picks #148: Slam Dunk

December 12, 2013

Myron's back as we talk about a series that, once it gets going, really justifies its reputation as one of the greatest Shonen Jump titles.

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