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By fnord12 | December 29, 2011, 5:17 PM | Comics | Link

Back issues added

A message for those interested in my Marvel Timeline project. I've just completed the addition of a large list of back-issues to the chronology. I started working on these back in October, and it's the amount of content added is the equivalent to me completing about year of comics. And, since these were all issues i deliberately sought out, they all have some degree of significance: first appearances, important events, or unusual storylines.

You can see the list of added issues, and the reasons i bought them, here.

Now on to 1985!

By fnord12 | December 28, 2011, 5:40 PM | Comics | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

New Mutants #35 - I really wasn't looking forward to an "evil nu-mutal band" plotline, and the "fight" this issue went about how you would expect, but throw in Shuma-Gorath-in-a-Box and i'm with you. This book is very good at the inter-personal stuff; the Nate/Dani/Blink conversation about atonement was both funny and good characterization. There definitely seems to be a fight going on between the artists about who is supposed to be drawing the faces on these characters. It seems in this issue the inker said "That #$#@ isn't going to draw faces again? Somehow that's my job? Fine, you want eyes? I'll give you eyes no one will miss."

Next someone will just glue on some googly eyes.

Sorry for the quick scans, but these are called Speed Reviews for a reason.

Avengers Academy #23 - The introduction of X-23 to the team was really good, and the Lightspeed/Striker conversation/revelations was good too. Oh, and Hybrid! I am really disappointed that Sean Chen is leaving the book, especially due to 'revised budgets'. It's one thing to trim the line, quite another to lose top talent. Or maybe they're moving Chen to a higher profile book, which would be well-deserved, but at the same time it ensures that lower tier books like this will never rise to prominence, Wolverine-clone or no Wolverine-clone.

Hulk #46 - I was so sure, when they announced that there was a giant portal to Rigellian space in the basement, that i was going to get my Recorder/Machine Man team-up, or at least get to see a few Big Heads, but no such luck. This was good, and i'm surprised and pleased that the book will actually have a lasting effect on Marvel's status quo with the introduction of this new country and leader. I like the analysis that the Red Hulk uses the reputation of the Hulk to get enemies to treat him like an unthinking monster while actually using tactics more fitting to the guy that used to be General Ross, but i don't feel like that's really borne out in the stories. They should do more with that.

Thunderbolts #167 - I seem to be in the minority about this book again, but i don't have any complaints about the time-travel romp. I was glad to see this Victorian plotline wrap up after two issues, and i don't mind a meeting with [a] Black Knight next. The writing is great, the characters are awesome, and i'm willing to go wherever Parker wants to take us.

New Avengers #19 - If you can get past the fact that it's a re-hash, the Norman Osborn stuff is good.

Avengers #20 - Same here. I enjoyed the "get the squid off Madam Hydra's head" scene. The art is a little weird and blocky, but i kind of like it. This panel looks awkward but at the same time it reminds me of Ditko's early Hulk.

Queue the very angry Ditko fans.

I was advised to read the Avengers comics in the wrong order, but looking back on this there's actually decent coordination between the two issues, with Iron Man realizing that Osborn is working with AIM after the Ultimo attack from New Avengers. I know that complimenting two books with the same writer and editor for actually fitting together in a way that makes sense is faint praise, but it's more than we've gotten in the past from some Bendis books (and i'm one of this guy's defenders!).

Some words on the ads in these issues:

  • Is that MODOK car ad supposed to be showing up twice in every issue? What's with that?
  • Nothing about the Regenesis ads makes me want to get any of the issues. The Wolverine and the X-Men ads have been especially obnoxious. I was really on the fence about getting the Gage-written Legacy book but Rogue, Gambit, and god knows who else standing around staring into the camera looking tough doesn't help me make a decision. And Wolverine's in X-Factor now too?
  • Pssst... Storm joined the team in Avengers #19, so why are they advertising it as happening in issue #21?

By fnord12 | December 26, 2011, 10:18 AM | Comics | Comments (2)| Link

Hard Times

Seen outside the Mexican restaurant where my company held our holiday lunch.

Tequila action Spider-Man

Failed Broadway show, marriage on the reboot, no longer the top mascot now that Mickey's around... it's tough being a Spider-Man.

By fnord12 | December 21, 2011, 2:06 PM | Comics | Link

The cost of a comic book

Marvel comic book prices 1962 to 2012, adjusted for inflation.

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but i was reminded of it when i was putting up some images of covers and corner boxes on my timeline project yesterday. Above is the cost of a Marvel comic book, from 1962 to 2012, expressed in 2012 dollars.

I ignored anniversary issues and similar things when looking at prices. And when there were multiple versions, i went with the lower-cost newsstand version. All prices reflect a "regular" comic book and exclude prestige format books. The exception is for 2011 and 2012, where i went with the higher priced $3.99 books, deliberately, because the reason i'm doing this is because of all the fuss that came about when Marvel raised the price for half (roughly) of their line last year.

I used this inflation calculator to adjust for inflation, and you can click here (text file) to see the "raw" data.

I don't have any great insights, but a couple of observations (some based on the raw data):

  • From 2004 - 2010, Marvel held their cover prices constant for the longest period since 1962-1968, when comics were 12 cents.
  • Holding steady on cover prices from 1962-1968 resulted in a slight decline in inflation adjusted prices. Holding steady in 2004-2010 resulted in a major decline in inflation adjusted prices (it's worth noting that 2004-2010 includes both the housing bubble era as well as the post-bubble crash, so inflation is not consistent during that period. It's nearly non-existent from 2008-2010). It seems like an adjustment was necessary; or you could argue that the jump from $2.25 in 2003 to $2.99 in 2004 was too much at once and that downward adjustment was necessary.
  • Comics definitely have been increasing in price. You could argue that accelerates in the late 80s when direct market sales began overtaking newsstand sales and the industry became more of a niche than a mass market endeavor. You could argue cause and effect here (either comic companies should lower prices to get back into the mass market, or that's not possible and current comic book buyers should accept the fact that they have to pay more to keep the industry alive).

Anyway, i don't think this "proves" anything. The increase to $3.99 isn't as egregious as many people say it is, but it's also true that comic prices are trending upwards.

By fnord12 | December 14, 2011, 4:53 PM | Comics | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

X-Club #1 - I haven't read the issues where he was first introduced, but i've been enjoying Dr. Nemesis whenever he's popped up in random books that i'm reading, so between that and the fact that this series seemed like it was going to have a super-science focus, min and i thought we would give it a try. So far, i'm not so sure. First, i think Simon Spurrier is writing Nemesis way over-the-top, at least compared to what i've read of the character so far. While he's clearly both smart and arrogant, he's been much more down to earth in past appearances. Here, it's like Spurrier is trying to cram in as much Grant Morrison/Warren Ellis-esque dialogue as possible into his mouth. I may change my mind and decide that i actually like it, but i'm a little unsure so far. Beyond that (and doing my best to get past the fact that the friggin Danger Room is now a walking, talking character in the Marvel Universe), my main disappointment is that i've read the first issue of a five issue mini and i have no idea what the plot of the series is going to be. Sure, the X-Men are launching a "space elevator" and that's good super-science fun, but then there's the whole Atlantean mutation attack that just seems like a distraction from the main plot. Based on the opening flashback scene with the Invaders i realize that it probably is the main plot, but it's introduced haphazardly and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the space elevator that most of the issue focuses on, and there's nothing that really establishes the "X-Club" as a distinct group or why they'd be the ones that have to deal with this attack. I don't know. I'm probably rambling. We'll see where it goes, and what min thinks. And min, this is already a limited series so you're allowed to like it without fear of it getting canceled.

Villains for Hire #1 - This was better than the .1 issue. I guess we'll learn why Misty is using villains instead of heroes against Purple Man's team. And i'd like to know why the Purple Man, whose mind control powers allow him to have anything he wants just by asking for it, would bother setting up a criminal empire, but that probably won't be addressed and it's probably not Abnett and Lanning's responsibility to do so.

Avenging Spider-Man #2 - This continues to be great. Running a bit long, maybe? I'd like to see these stories kept short and with frequent new team-up guests. But this was fun and funny all the way through.

Hulk #45 - Some cool plotting in this book. I guess we're not going to have a Machine Man/Recorder meeting like i requested since the Rigellians aren't playing an active role in this story, and that's ok. I really like this version of Machine Man, but what happened to the Nextwave-inspired one from Ms. Marvel? Did we ever see his personality revert to this one? Maybe that was secretly X-52?

By the way, i liked the art in all the above stories. No real complaints.

Omac #4 - Of course, none of those artists were Keith Giffen. Enjoying this. Bio-gaters!

By fnord12 | December 11, 2011, 5:46 PM | Comics | Comments (3)| Link

Stan Lee's Sci-Fi Sexploitation

For my Marvel Timeline project, i only include entries that i own physical copies of, but i recently had occasion to download Savage Tales #1 (May 71), first appearance of the Man-Thing, so i could compare some things with his second appearance in Astonishing Tales #12-13.

Also included in that issue was a story i had been interested in for a while: "The Fury of the Femizons" by Stan Lee with art by John Romita Sr. Since i'll probably never get this issue due to the cost (Savage Tales #1 runs for $41 at mycomicshop.com, and this story was only reprinted once, in Savage Tales #3, of all places, which sells for $22), and since it takes place in the future and doesn't really belong in my chronology project anyway, i thought i would review it here.

Stan Lee imagines the 23rd century, which is ruled by "vicious voluptuaries".

No pillow fights at *this* slumber party.

Lyra, sister to the queen, wins a death-duel and is rewarded with a male slave.

Queen Vega traces her lineage directly back to the first Queen and leader of the Femizon revolution, Suzanne Vega.

Lyra professes loyalty to the three S's of the United Sister Alliance...

Also, surf music and soda pop.

...but she's secretly feeling like something's missing from her life.

When her latest male slave, Mogon, discovers her secret collection of forbidden "brain tapes", he learns the history of Lyra's world.

Such terrible atrocities will never happen again.  Instead we'll just kill each other in sword fights for fun.

Since men kept screwing things up, women have taken over and are hunting the remaining men down like beasts. The women are birthed via "sperm vials". Lyra and the Queen were birthed of the same sperm vial, and that's why they're sisters.

Lyra develops a romance with her slave, and also participates in a secret revolution to bring equal rights to men. However, her sister and the manipulative adviser Syrani become suspicious of her, and to allay suspicions she is forced to run Mogon through.

And tell the geneticists that it's time to stop using the Moondragon sperm vial so often.

The story ends with Lyra longing for the males of old.

A time when sheep were scared.

This alternate future is brought into Marvel Universe continuity with Fantastic Four #151, when we learn that Thundra, who had been around since Fantastic Four #129...

Conies are apparently small mammals referenced in the bible.

...is from this Femizon world (unlike Lyra, Thundra is 100% sold on the Femizon's Credo when she first arrives).

It's actually a surprisingly restrained story, considering that Stan Lee wrote it. And compared to Fantastic Four #151, for example, which introduces Thundra's ridiculous male counterpart, Mahkizmo, from a different, opposite alternative future.

One day John Byrne will reveal that Mahkizmo is Rogue's brother.

By fnord12 | December 11, 2011, 4:45 PM | Comics | Comments (2)| Link

How did you think it would end?

Adventures of the Lee family: Sometimes a jean jacket just isn't enough

By fnord12 | December 10, 2011, 3:55 PM | Comics | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Herc #10 - They're canceling THIS? Really? Forget the fact that it starts off with street mimes with electrical outlet face-masks, goes immediately into Baba Yaga's chicken hut rampaging through Brooklyn, and then gets right to the Kingpin punching out Zeus. The important part is that we're finally past all the Event stuff and we've got a nicely paced story with great dialogue. OK, look, i'm not necessarily invested in Hercules specifically, so let's compromise. Get Pak and Van Lente on something else pronto. Something high profile that won't get canceled. Maybe next year: the Avengers, now that the internet won't have Bendis to kick around any more? And in the meantime, how about Fantastic Four?

Thunderbolts #166 - You know that expression, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? You ever notice how it's actually easier to do the opposite? If i were editor and you had said to me, "How about if we do a story where Mr. Hyde goes back in time and becomes Jack the Ripper?" i'd probably call you crazy and tell you to have the Thunderbolts fight Roughhouse and Bloodsport instead, but this just shows you that i'd be wrong.

By fnord12 | December 8, 2011, 11:28 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link

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