That's That Shit: Week of 9/26/2012: Greg Rucka, Dredd Box Office and Superhero TV Shows

A comics news article


That's That Shit

Last Week's News, This Week's Comics for 9/26/2012


Hi. That's That Shit is exactly what it says above -- we talk in-depth about everything that happened in the comics world last week, and then look forward to some notable releases slated for this coming Wednesday.
Your panel of judges are Comics Bulletin Managing Editors Danny Djeljosevic and Nick Hanover, who pretty much have paper and ink in their blood, and CB Columns Editor Andrew Tan, who got his start in comics late in life through Adrian Tomine and is slowly dipping his toes into the broader aspects of the medium. So we deliver the news, Andrew asks the questions and hopefully everyone learns something.
Bang on.


Last Week's News


Greg Rucka: DC "Took Gross Advantage of Me"



Danny: Greg Rucka said a few words about his tenure at DC to Mark Millar's CLiNT that Bleeding Cool transcribed. They were not nice.

Nick: I'll be writing more in depth about this soon, but the gist of what I want to get across is that I believe we are seeing the end of what I'm calling the Auteur Era of Mainstream Comics, which roughly began when Marvel filed for bankruptcy in 1998 and essentially tasked Joe Quesada with remaking their brand. Quesada and Marvel president Bill Jemas set about reeling in independent creators and handing them the reins of select portions of the Marvel U, which reversed Marvel's fortunes and set the base for much of what would be seen in the Marvel Film titles the company would unleash in the ensuing two decades. While DC had Vertigo before this started and of course housed many of the great writers and artists of the British Invasion, Marvel beat them to the punch when it came to allowing these independent minded creators control over the main line of titles and is still more definitively associated with this mindset, especially as DC's New 52 initiative mostly brought back creators who had left Marvel prior to Quesada's rule.

But now, with the departures of Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and others, it seems that Marvel under Disney is less interested in allowing independent minded creators to play around in their billion dollar sandbox. In the case of Rucka specifically, that's very disappointing, because he and Mark Waid had been working wonders with two problematic but iconic Marvel titles in The Punisher and Daredevil (which suffered its own loss with Paolo Rivera's departure from it and mainstream comics on the whole) respectively. It's not surprising that Rucka has gone public with his dissatisfaction, since Marvel's shipping demands have led to a lot of speculation in the critical community over how sustainable any kind of auteur model would continue to be. Creators speaking out about poor treatment at the hands of editorial has been a theme this year, since Chris Roberson, Rob Liefeld and Brubaker have all chimed in, in varying degrees of bluntness. It's unlikely that it will make a difference in terms of how these corporations treat their "stars," but hopefully it will encourage others to make the leap to the creator owned world or encourage younger creators to avoid spending as much time in the mainstream as Rucka and company have.

Still, I think Disney may not realize how much they stand to lose by forcing out creators like Rucka, since they're arguably responsible for the bulk of the stories that have inspired the Marvel Film universe.

Danny: Rucka's pretty easy on Marvel ("I’m enjoying The Punisher, but that’s not mine, it’s Marvel’s, and l knew that going in."), and Brubaker doesn't really claim any bad blood, either. I think the number of creative team shakeups happening at one company versus another are pretty indicative of how happy the talent is there. Both companies seem editorially driven at this point and neither aren't without their problems, but it seems like Marvel's having an easier time keeping its creators happy.

I gotta say -- and hopefully this doesn't make me sound too zombie-ish -- Marvel's way better about breaking indie talent, giving creators like Sam Humphries, Dennis Hopeless and Joe Keatinge high-profile opportunities with ongoings. Even the current "architects" -- Fraction, Bendis, Hickman and I guess Remender now -- are dudes who came up through the indies. While Marvel aren't nearly as adventurous as it was during the Nu-Marvel days -- funny what bankruptcy will do to a publisher -- they seem to be practicing the same basic ethos of seeking out talent and actually giving them the chance. Sure, DC has Jeff Lemire and Justin Jordan, but they also have Scott Lobdell and Howard Mackie and seasoned pros like Liefeld and Rucka throwing their hands up in frustration.

As for DC, the real source of many of these creator complaints -- that's a huge can of worms. Identity crises out the wazoo, as far as struggling to make their product into something it's maybe not. That's a much bigger conversation to be had.


Apparently Nobody Saw Dredd 3D



Danny: Deadline reports that Dredd 3D, the new Judge Dredd film starring Karl Urban, did pretty bad in its opening weekend box office, earning $6.3 million to end up in the #6 spot for the weekend. Which I guess means something to those who care about sabermetrics type shit. I don't. Like, at all.

Andrew: I feel like there was next to no actual promotion of this movie though. I had no idea it was even out yet until I heard it didn’t do well. Hell, I didn’t even know Karl Urban was the star until this very article. That said, I’ll probably put aside my gore-squeamishness for the sake of pretending Bones is dispensing some post-apocalyptic justice. 

Nick: I agree that it wasn't promoted very well, though it did get mostly favourable reviews at the bulk of the publications I frequent. But I think part of the problem was the emphasis on the 3D aspect, which I honestly believe may have confused some people into thinking it was a rerelease, and the matter of the media considering this an attempt at a blockbuster film which I don't think is accurate. Like The Inbetweeners Movie that is out right now, the film is doing pretty well in its homeland and there shouldn't be an expectation for it to do anywhere near as well stateside, given the lack of visibility for the character in the states and the different interests of American blockbuster audiences. Make no mistake, Dredd isn't a failure or a true "bomb" since it continues to meet expectations in the UK and besides, it basically earned what Lionsgate, its North American distributor, expected it to earn, which is under $10 million.

Danny: Yeah, let's not forget that to America, Judge Dredd is nothing but a bad Stallone film. Lack of satire aside, the new Dredd is pretty much a perfect take on the average quick-and-dirty 2000 AD tale. I'm seriously hoping Dredd is a big enough hit in other markets to warrant countless standalone sequels where Judge Dredd kills new and interesting criminals and never learns anything.


J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron Will Try Doing Their Own Version of Heroes



Danny: Remember when Tim Kring's "Lost with superheroes" series Heroes was hot shit for about a minute before even the hardcore fans couldn't take it anymore, and then Lost prevailed in the end like we expected? Well, J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot are set to piss on Heroes' unmarked grave with a new as-yet-unnamed series focusing on "a girl in possession of a great gift/powers -- which will come into their own in seven years -- and the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from those trying to hunt her down," according to Deadline.

Andrew: What makes a successful superhero TV show though? Which ones have actually been really good? Has there been a Batman Begins style superhero revolution in TV yet? Did it involve Dean Cain?

Nick: The only one that people seem to enjoy is SyFy's Alphas, which our own Paul Brian McCoy routinely champions. But even that show isn't exactly on the level of Batman Begins let alone Breaking Bad. When it comes to heroes on television, American audiences seem to enjoy things to be more melodramatic, with The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman still somehow the high water marks. If you ask me, what we need is a more consistent version of the UK's Misfits, a show that to date has provided about 1.5 great seasons and at least two inarguably classic episodes with the first series finale and the second. The whole show is available on Hulu for free and when it's at its best, it's a darkly comic yet oddly touching series that mixes the irreverence and sardonicism of modern British masters like Warren Ellis with the romantic entanglements of the prime Claremont era of X-Men. Which is why I think that if someone could mine its perfect elements and reduce the problematic elements, they'd have a major fucking hit.

Danny: I like the mean British superhero sitcom No Heroics. Otherwise... the first season of the animated Justice League Unlimited actually builds to become a great, surprisingly mature story. I got a screener of the Arrow pilot the other day (Dylan reviewed it offish) and it at least fulfills the Batman Begins bit. And, god help us all, I really dug The Cape as a cheesy, straightforward superhero show. I dunno what makes a good superhero show -- maybe one that actually uses the TV medium to its benefit without embarrassing itself?

I always thought Daredevil would make a really good TV show, especially if it took cues from the Brian Bendis era.


This Week's Comics


Happy! #1 (of 4)

(Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson, Image)



Danny: Grant Morrison is set to transition from writing superheroes to focusing on creator-owned material again -- it seems to happen in phases for him going by recent years -- and he and Darick Robertson are kicking it off with the four-issue Happy!, a comic about a hitman and a talking blue cartoon horse.

Andrew: I’ve always liked how Morrison has reinterpreted superheroes but I still need to read his actual creator-owned material. What do you think the chances are that a Penis Silverkin will appear playing a RodentPerson?

Nick: I have no idea what you just said, Andrew and I'm afraid to Google any of that. Danny and I have a full review of Happy! that will go live this week, and so far I'm enjoying the comic, even though I'm not sure it will be on the level of his creator owned masterpieces The Filth and The Invisibles, but then again, what could be? The way I've been pitching Happy! to people is that it's what would have happened if Morrison had written Hitman instead of Ennis.


Bigfoot Boy Vol. 1: Into the Woods

(J. Torres, Faith Erin Hicks, Kids Can)



Danny: I'm a big fan of Faith Erin Hicks, who seems to be putting out a ton of work as of late. I am way outside of Bigfoot Boy's demographic, but it looks like anyone can enjoy this charming tale of a boy who transforms into a bigfoot. Also Steve loved it, and I trust that guy.

Nick: Steve won me over to this book with his opening sentence alone: "Have you ever wanted to see Faith Erin Hicks draw a squirrel swoop around in a forest? Of course you have."


Elric: The Balance Lost #12 (of 12)

(Chris Roberson, Francesco Biagini, BOOM!)



Danny: I feel like the first issue of Elric came out like three years ago, but who cares? It's a good comic and pretty much worth waiting for. Good thing the wait is over, because the pretty bonkers Roberson/Biagini take on several of Michael Moorcock's iconic characters is finally reaching its epic conclusion. I like the parts where Elric cuts up a bunch of dudes and screams about blood.

Nick: I really need to pick this series up, along with the new Conan that Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan have been killing with. I've never been a big fantasy fan, but having creators like Wood, Cloonan, Roberson and Biagini involved is a great way to convince someone like me to explore these waters, especially since they seem to have shed a lot of the baggage that keeps some people stupidly obsessive over even the most minor of fucking details. Comic and fantasy fandom's bizarre entitlement and sense of ownership of old characters is one of my biggest turn offs and I welcome any attempt that creators make to enliven those creations.

Danny: I have read ZERO Moorcock and I've enjoyed the multiversal zaniness that Roberson and Biagini have been playing with. It's certainly got me wanting to read more of the source material.


Talon #0

(Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Guillem March, DC)



Danny: Spinning off of the "Night of the Owls" crossover that ran through the Batman titles a few month's ago, Talon follows the New 52's version of Owlman, I guess. It's got a solid creative team, but do you guys think releasing these new titles amidst a sea of #0s this month kind of drowns them out? Have we talked about this already?

Nick: I honestly don't even understand this #0 business, even though we've spoken about it at several points now. And if I'm confused about it despite co-running a comics criticism publication where I drown on a daily basis in press releases, news blurbs, reviews and other flotsam and jetsam, I wonder how the more casual fans that DC claims to be courting are faring? It just seems like it's a needless flood of the market that muddles the retail waters and will turn off way more people than it will seduce.

Danny: I find it confusing -- aren't fans who read Justice League month to month going to balk at their regularly scheduled programming suddenly being interrupted by a #0 issue that's all about the terrible Shazam back-up feature?

Andrew: I say this as a person who preferred Miles “Tails” Prower over Sonic the Hedgehog. I say this as a person who thought Luke was way cooler than Han. I say this as a person that loves birds; Owlman is a lame fucking name for a superhero.

Danny: Owlman is actually the evil version of Batman from various alternate universe takes on the Justice League (Morrison/Quitely's graphic novel JLA: Earth 2 being a particularly great example). He's quite the badass. This character is actually named Talon, probably for the very reason you state above, Andrew.


Skullkickers #18

(A Whole Bunch of People, Image)



Danny: These are always fun -- after every story arc the Skullkickers crew takes a little break by putting out a "Tavern Tales" issue featuring short stories featuring our heroes from a variety of talent. This time we get stories from (among others) Heart's Blair Butler, the Luther Strode guys, and the winners of the Tavern Tales Contest, where fans were invited to pitch Skullkickers stories and submit art. Funnnnnnnn

Andrew: Is it too late to submit my idea for Skullkickers based solely on the title? The idea is that Tom Waits pretends to play soccer with a human skull of former pirates. There are no other characters.

Nick: Someone call Jim Zub, I think Andrew is about to make him a trillionaire. 



Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions) and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic with Mike Prezzato, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery. His webcomic The Ghost Engine,with artist Eric Zawadzki, updates twice a week.



When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set and functioning as the Co-Managing Editor of Comics BulletinNick Hanover is a book, film and music critic who has contributed to Spectrum CultureNo Tofu Magazine, Performer MagazinePort City Lights and various other international publications. By which he means Canadian rags you have no reason to know anything about. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon and you can follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Hanover.



Andrew Tan spends his days working on a bunch of different stuff he can't really explain here. Before that, he majored in Journalism at the University of Florida, where he worked for a few newspapers. He loves comics (obviously), sad music, duck confit and San Francisco. He also has a sentence published in McSweeney's that he is proud of. He was also mocked in Gawker for said sentence, which brings him roughly the same level of pride.

Andrew is one of the many people on the internet vying for the moniker of Tandrew. Some are him, some are not. You can find him on Twitter at @TandrewTan.


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