It has come to my attention that SBC will no longer deliver The Truth About Comics.
Hal Roth, through his weekly deliverance of infinite wisdom, illuminated the correct path any self-respecting comic industry should hope to follow. How could anyone forget the brilliance of commentaries such as Girls and Comics – Oil and Water, Comic Store Etiquette, and my personal favorite, How To Become A Comic Book Writer?? Never before has an online columnist assembled such a remarkable index, merging insight with an incredible sense of charisma and charm.
Has it become sufficiently thick in here yet?
Sarcasm aside, if I said that the presence of Hal Roth would not be missed, I’d be lying. While his viewpoint was certainly…different, his column frequently made interesting reading. And that’s the most important thing.
I’m proud to announce that Ambidextrous has been selected to fill the Saturday void left by Hal Roth, entrusted with the task of delivering a periodic dose of weekend madness available only on SBC. These people must know I love a challenge.
Given my track record as a self-professed “Marvel zombie” (the term guest columnist Nate Lee used to describe me) the following piece was inevitable. Joe Quesada and his editorial co-conspirators are actively expanding my monthly comic allowance by delivering a consistent stream of must-have titles that temporarily eradicate all remnants of common sense responsible for maintaining a reliable budget. Hell, even CrossGen is taking more of my money these days. Yet all remains quiet on the DC front.
This is not to suggest that several of my monthly purchases do not contain the DC bullet in the upper left corner…because they do. However, I buy the same DC titles month in month out, and the creative atmosphere there seems to lack the presence of wild and crazy concepts spewed forth on a monthly basis, whether or not the rabid fan base appreciates them immediately or not. Marvel is unpredictable, and DC is both predictable and easily categorized.
And I’m also not suggesting that DC is donkey crap compared to Marvel’s cotton candy, so let’s delete that message board posting before it’s even typed. I’m merely pointing out the obvious, Marvel and their new regime is taking over the game, check the Diamond charts if you don’t believe me, and whether it’s due to excessive promotion or excessive under-printing, DC looks to be running slightly behind the eight ball. Their net presence is that of a whisper compared to Marvel and CrossGen’s righteous thunder (unless your name is Frank Miller of course) and though backed by the mighty Time-Warner/AOL empire, their mainstream coverage is akin to that of a virtual goose egg.
Different companies, different policies I suppose. But let’s try a little experiment shall we?? Since DC isn’t going to offer additional promotion to its wares, it has become incumbent upon creative talents to display either a big name or big balls with their work, offering something so diverse and unique that the industry is forced to take notice with a minimal amount of attention or internet time devoted.
Since nobody asked my opinion, I’m going to do the work for them. Seven projects that will attain top 10 status with minimal effort (well, six, the last is a virtual wildcard, you’ll see when you get there), but here’s how to sell a truckload of books using creator reputations and original approaches as fuel…without providing the internet press with an additional page of artwork, a creator bio, or a significant hype campaign. Solicit the first issue and watch the dollar bills roll in.
Pay very close attention and realize…regardless of the possibility surrounding the implementation of radical changes…it’s the thought that counts.
Writer: Chuck Dixon Artist: Norm Breyfogle
As a twelve-year old lad being introduced to the wonderful world of comics for the first time, with his virgin exposure to Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman occurring in conjunction with the first issue of Toddy Mac’s Spawn, two names remain with me to this day. One is Norm Breyfogle, who was maintaining a run on one of the Bat-titles, producing a truly awesome rendition of the Dark Knight complete with shoulder horns, pointy ears, and piercing eyes, and the other was Chuck Dixon. An issue of the original Robin mini-series was one of my first purchases and I knew almost instantly that this Dixon guy could weave a story. If you want solid detective tales with breakneck action sequences, then Chuck is your man. And no one understands Robin/Tim Drake better. NOBODY.
Pair these two together and set them loose within Gotham City, exploring the dynamics of the Batman/Robin partnership, and what makes this pairing unique and subsequently more effective than previous incarnations. It’s always fun witnessing the damage inflicted upon fictional criminal elements by two partners operating with a purpose and skill co-ordinated to such an insane degree that it suspends disbelief. Breakneck action sequences, defining emotional moments, and expressive artwork would make Dynamic Duo the true haven for any fan craving action and the consequences associated with it.
Writer: Jeph Loeb Artist: Tim Sale
If these two names are unfamiliar to you…quickly detonate the rock you’ve been living under. Batman: The Long Halloween, and Batman: Dark Victory have forever solidified their credibility in regards to the Dark Knight, and the only thing better than another temporary foray into Gotham would be a permanent one.
This one is for those that believe Bats operates more efficiently when he’s flying solo, and those that are intending to marvel at the creative upheaval of Batman’s rogues gallery, both thematically and artistically, that could be provided by these two visionaries. Jeph takes the Dark Knight’s greatest adversaries and retools their motivations for the twentieth-first century, while Tim redesigns their visual gimmicks, making them equally terrifying. Loeb and Sale on a monthly!? How could this not work?
Writer: Paul Jenkins Artist: Bryan Hitch
Jenkins knows what the hell he’s doing. Inhumans, Sentry, Peter Parker, Incredible Hulk, Origin, The Agency…need I go on? The man understands that the internal motivations of the heroes permeating our pages make them just as inspiring and realistic as whatever villain they’re battling that week. Anyone that could make me care about the damn Inhumans could handle literally any character placed before him. Why not the Man of Steel? His role as strange visitor from another planet blessed with the ability to lift buildings, only to use this talent to make the world a better place, while maintaining a human connection to this world through his parents, his wife, and his job at the Daily Planet is rife for psychological examination. Break him down to the rawest components to see what really makes Superman tick. What makes him think the never-ending battle is worth fightin?
And Hitch’s tight pencilling ensures that the scope of Superman’s adventures need not suffer from the mental dissection occurring within. Hitch would prove equally adept at rendering spaceships, Kansas cornfields, and crowded news rooms.
Writer: Doselle Young Artist: Sean Phillips
This one is a little odd. Instead of focusing on the current incarnation of the “Injustice Gang” that features Lex Luthor, Joker, and those other costumed miscreants, let’s mature the concept of the unholy consortium of super-villains that live to plague our colorful heroes just a bit. With our current political climate DC would NEVER publish a title like this, because what I’m suggesting could easily be pigeonholed into the blanket of domestic terrorism.
We have five individuals; a politician, a powerful businessman, an actor, a scientist, and a common hood attempting to take over the world…but quietly. They would prefer that the JLA remain occupied in their secure Watchtower with little idea of what is occurring on the fringes of their world. This Injustice Gang overthrows countries, secures oil platforms, develops cutting-edge technology, and manipulates the media to accomplish their clandestine goals. This is the X-Files on anabolic steroids, a conspiracy unlike any the world has ever known, and our heroes don’t even know these people exist.
Doselle Young could handle this one expertly with his experience penning the adventures of the highly-underrated The Monarchy that evokes an X-Files vibe that’s undeniable. Enough answers are provided for the readership to remain interested and insanely curious of what’s coming next, but only the writer knows for sure what path this mystery will take. Injustice Gang would be safe within his grasp, and Sean Phillips as evidenced by his time on Wildcats has an uncanny ability for rendering everyday people is dynamic and dramatic positions. His storytelling is nearly unmatched, and he’s always on time too.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Eduardo Risso
Pure, unadulterated detective shit, as only Bendis can deliver. That Martian Manhunter stuff with the billowing cape and intangibility is for the tabloids…this is what our second favorite strange visitor enjoys. John Jones is a police detective, using his keen intellect and profound understanding of the criminal psyche to ensure that the scales of justice remain balanced.
One obvious draw is Bendis, who makes top-notch dialogue look easy and excels at… well…every damn thing he’s involved with. Maintaining a secret identity among the rapidly expanding supporting cast that would include fellow officers, a couple informants, and several love interests would provide an additional pair of legs for this title to stand on. And I haven’t even mentioned Risso yet, whose flair for crime noir gives DC’s 100 Bullets a decidedly unique storytelling approach that would be a literal match made in Heaven for this project. Haven’t you been waiting for Eduardo’s rendition of the Martian Manhunter with bated breath? Me neither. This title is called John Jones because there’s not a cape in sight, and barring the obligatory guest appearance by that other detective Bruce Wayne, zero presence from the famed Justice League of America. Hell, Jones could easily clear several of his open cases through the use of a little focused telepathy, but this alien likes doing the leg work, only using his abilities in the most dire of situations.
Part Powers, part Alias, with a sprinkle of 100 Bullets thrown in for good measure firmly entrench this title in the realm of Diamond’s top 10 within six months. Easy.
Writer: Various Artist: John Romita Jr.
Every good line needs an anthology series, utilizing the finest creative talent unable to commit to lengthy monthly assignments. DC Universe provides a street-level, everyman POV to a world in which strange alien castaways display altruistic behaviors with no reward for their troubles, a man taps into a strange Speed Force to run really, really fast, and a man dresses up like a Bat, trains a league of teenage partners, and proceeds to fight crime. This title shows what real three-dimensional people think about the heroes that permeate their world. Tangled Web with a DC twist. Recruit the finest scribes for brief arcs and watch the fireworks.
JRJR is my choice for permanent artist to maintain some manner of continuity between the various tales, and because simply…the man can draw anything. One of the finest storytellers in the business and he hasn’t had the opportunity to unleash artistic fury within the friendly confines of the DC universe. Barring the possibility of nervous breakdown from collaborating with a different writer every three months, John would be a natural for this.
And because I couldn’t resist the opportunity….
Writer: Brandon Thomas Artist: Keron Grant
Though I do enjoy the playful adventures of DC’s scout team on occasion; the scribe within wants to see DC utilize the myriad possibilities capable from the subtle manipulation of a team of heroes painting an accurate reflection of the MTV generation within which they are living. These kids are DC’s heroic future, who will one day be responsible for keeping the world in one piece, are subject to the whims of their lofty mentors, and have one goal in life…don’t screw it all up. Let’s bring the impulsiveness back to teen heroics with bad decisions and elaborate cover-ups to keep the “parents” from finding out. Where’s the sex and uncontrollable angst!? Where’s the drama!? Robin, Superboy, and their counterparts command a level of power and responsibility that most adults couldn’t control…and they’re teenagers for God’s sake!! The generation gap is going to ensure that YJ views the concept of heroism through slightly tinted eyes. Let’s see that examined on a monthly basis.
First order of business is the obvious…how long do you think Young Justice would last if they got into a violent disagreement with the Justice League? The most terrifying answer is…longer than you’d think.
Keron is the man for this because his kinetic pencils would perfectly complement the wild exchange of youthful energy flowing through the pages. Check Iron Man, Kaboom, and his art on the Matrix comics if you don’t believe me. The way the man positions the camera for the most mundane of shots ensures that nothing ever appears static or boring.
Whew!! I apologize about the length and promise to subtract a few hundred words from my next foray into the wild world of comic books. If this was your first journey into the two-fisted realm of Ambidextrous, browse the bountiful index for past articles that may spark your interest. Hell, even if you aren’t new to this circus, hit the index anyway. Encores are good.
Meet me on the message boards to talk about anything you find particularly interesting…or particularly insane.
I wasn’t going to begin this practice until next week, but I became inspired by a small piece of news encountered on the net. Today marks the premature premiere of Ambidextrous Approves of… as I do my duty in informing you of the comics, music, movies, and other such media projects you should be paying additional attention to.
Ambidextrous Approves of… Larry Young’s AiT/Planet Lar publishing empire. In a decision that now prompts me to take a more serious look at the product this company releases, in response to a high-profile Warren Ellis project that suffered unavoidable delays, these people are sending free books to retailers to make up for it. FREE books!? When was the last time any company offered retailers free books because of late-shipping books!? Be honest. Apparently, AiT/Planet Lar conducts business a little differently than your normal comics company…and I like it. If anyone runs into Larry Young anytime soon, tell him I said, “Good show.” You’ve won a new customer. Keep “making comics better”. Ambidextrous approves.
Next time: Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…I was an enemy to this great industry. Gaze upon my unavoidable sins next week and learn the revelation that followed.