The Week in Capes
I’ve been dabbling in the non-Bendis world of the Avengers lately, mostly due to the rave reviews that I’ve heard from others. So far, though, the two books I’ve tried have fallen short.
Perhaps that will change with the arrival of Avenges Academy #26, although given that it’s the finale of the current storyline, I’m not particularly hopeful. I’ve been waiting for a superhero high school type of book, and thought perhaps that’s what AA would be. Instead, I found a rather convoluted story about time traveling minds, alien hybrids, an unsolved murder, and the addition of a bunch of characters that are only vaguely introduced. Not my cup of tea, sure, but I can’t help but think that using old plot points (the time traveling bit) in a supposedly new-reader friendly story arc was a questionable move.
With my comic book budget already stretched thin, I don’t even know that I’ll stick around for the appearance by the Runaways.
I’m more hopeful for Secret Avengers #23, which will be my third issue of the series. So far I’ve found the characterizations to be off almost across the board. There’s a distinct lack of chemistry among these characters, something that seemed to be pretty essential to the issues I flipped through of Brubaker and Ellis’ runs on this title.
I’m hoping that changes with this issue, which features the addition of Venom. I never thought I would look to Venom for a boost to a book, but Remender writes his solo title, so I would assume that he’s got a pretty good grasp on his character. I also have to admit that I have absolutely no knowledge of this new Venom and I’m morbidly curious to learn more.
Regardless of what happens with the story, Secret Avengers has one big advantage of all other Avengers books: Gabriel Hardman draws it. While I thought Bettie Breitweiser’s normally fantastic colors were a bit too bright in Hardman’s first issue, these two have worked well together in the past, and I expect nothing but greatness from them in the future.
The Week in Vampires (and Diatribes)
I, Vampire is one of the more interesting books to come out of the New 52 launch. While it still feels like it’s moving a bit slow for my tastes, the tone of this title is enough to carry it along. Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov has done a nice job of working in a few big name guest stars in ways that actually make sense, as opposed to being just an attempt at boosting sales (although I’m sure that’s a nice added bonus).
A vampire book is not exactly an easy sell in the current comics market. It appears, however, that it’s an easier sell than a superhero book not published by the Big Two, which is more than a bit infuriating. In the last issue of Fialkov’s Last of the Greats, he says that the title is going on hiatus due to low sales, and that I, Vampire sells six times as many copies as Last of the Greats.
This is a problem. Yes, genre diversity is the best bet to bring in new readers, but those comics need to survive long enough for said new readers to find them. But they don’t, because current comic book readers don’t buy them, even if they’re written or drawn by creators whose books they already buy.
I repeat, this is a problem. Current comic book readers are the best (and worst) ambassadors to non-comic book readers. If we really want comics to survive, we need to expand the audience, and we need to do so by supporting books that might actually attract a more people. If you like the work of Fialkov or Cullen Bunn or Jeff Parker then, at the very least, try their non-superhero books; you already know you like their work. It’s maddening that this is even an issue.
The Week in Westerns
Speaking of genre diversity, this week brings two Westerns, both by creators who do creator owned work while also working for the Big Two. First up is The Sixth Gun #19, by the aforementioned Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt. I’ve gone on and on about this book in the past so I won’t bored you with more of the same. Suffice to say that this comic has always been great and continues to be great, with no end in sight, sales willing.
While DC had made its fair share of mistakes with their New 52 launch, to me they’ve it’s all been worth it to get a book like All Star Western. I know people were concerned that moving Jonah Hex to Gotham would force a superhero angle on this book, but so far the connections to Batman have been fairly natural and haven’t detracted from the story.
Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have done a great job not just with the main story featuring Hex, but also the back up stories that fill in the DC Universe of this time period. This is a $3.99 book that actually gives you $3.99 worth of entertainment.