Ok, so, there is something fundamentally wrong with comic books these days if one of the mainstream/favored characters is Deadpool. I mean, first of all… he was partially created by ROB LIEFELD. Rob Liefeld sucks. There are websites devoted to his suckitude, I don’t need to get into it much, but it is his fault nearly every superhero comic book female had J cups and every male looks like he belonged on WWE Raw in the 90’s, and why they sported more pouches than a herd of kangaroos as well as guns bigger than their already huge forearms.
So, Deadpool was created as an anti-90’s hero while embodying everything about that era of comics, well, more or less. First off, he is mercenary, he has a (then) unknown and possibly dark and gritty past (in the 90’s every superhero was dark and gritty, even Superman). He used guns… a LOT. His super power was to be a knock off of Wolverine, but with guns. He hung out with other characters who were beefy and had guns (X-Factor, mostly Cable) but were also mutants. (In the 90’s Chris Claremont went mutant-overboard and every B-list super hero who had some sort of special skill or talent was “outed” as being a mutant.) Now, the thing is, he is batcrap crazy. Like… mocking Alan Moore/Warren Ellis style violence crazy as well as a dose of camp. The thing that makes him popular, however, is his particular brand of crazy is hilarious. He hears voices in his head… that voice is the comic narrator, which he knows are little yellow speech bubbles. He also knows he is a comic book character, but his insanity allows for other characters to interact with him while he continues to break the 4th wall.
The problem here is, you have to have loved comics in the 90’s or watched the old X-Men cartoons or anything by Top Cow or Image to really get just how ludicrous the whole thing was. Now… they are going to do a Deadpool movie, which I do not know about. mean, the point of the book is to mock the mistakes the industry made (were making…) and even now they continue it by putting out Deadpool Team up #1000 (the first issue) making fun of meaningless numbering, and advanced the joke by putting Deadpool on nearly every cover and in something like 11 different comics in one month.
So, Deadpool.. a parody of the things wrong in comics occasionally is basically hilarious because of the in jokes for comic book fans and, it is, as the British say, mental. But it is also usually brilliant.
A comedy crime drama where the main character pretends to be a psychic but is really hyper-observant and spouts 80’s pop culture references with his best friend who is somewhat reluctant to join in.
Brilliant show about Secret Service Agents who go out and collect dangerous artifacts that were owned by (in)famous people like a pair of drawers owned by Jack Kirby that imbue the wearer with super powers, they have some steampunk technology they use and basically a lot of kooky things in the giant Warehouse they collect all the “magical” stuff in, and occasionally, it all goes horribly wrong…
A humorous and amusing show about a town full of (mad) Scientists (and Engineers) and all about SCIENCE! and then it goes hooooorribly wrooooong, and is now 3ish seasons in and has shaken up things a bit.
Game of Thrones:
Knights, intrigue, dire wolves, royal incest, dragons, barbarians, midgets, whores, beer, boar hunting, king slaying, sword fighting, and the dead walking because winter is coming.
Slightly formulaic show in the venue of heist movies, but honestly it becomes about the glimpses into the character’s lives you get to see between their Corporate Robin Hood type shenanigans.
The Walking Dead:
Good, but really, read the comic, also, zombies, lots of them.
USA really does know how to pick up shows where there is a premise that is a variation of something that has been done before, but then turn it into brilliance with good acting, characters, and writing, and the thief who works for the FBI schtick has been done before, but not nearly so well as on this show.
I know it isn’t airing expect as reruns, but really, this show was one of the greatest Science Fiction works of all time, equally humorous, story driven, and character driven, it has everything a nerd could want.
Hilarious, get through the first season, which is a series of homages to horror stereotypes, then you get into the meat and potatoes of a story about some teenagers who are growing up and have to fight monsters and do homework, then transition from high school to be adults and still save the world.
Not quite as funny as Buffy, but still a touch of humor overshadows this more grown up version of Fight monsters, save the world, but also tosses in themes like Destiny and Redemption and the question of Nature vs Nurture in subtle undertones.
Name of the Wind:
If you like fantasy even a little bit, this book has amazing character writing, themes, world building, dialogue, pacing, and all tied together in a coming of age story where you know everything is going to go all wrong at the end of the series because of love and the mistakes the main character makes.
The Dresden Files:
Jim Butcher is the King of Urban Fantasy, writing about a Wizard in Chicago who is also a Private Eye is basically brilliant, especially when his main character has to suffer for both his mistakes and his morals, working so hard to do the right thing, but getting caught in the cross hairs of things that do not care for the right thing at all, and while he may be outclassed, he continues to be cracking wise all the while.
The Sword of Truth:
Fell in love with the world building behind this series, but Terry Goodkind begins to get preachy in about book 5 or 6, yet still, solid plot, characters, and stories if you can stomach the fact that you know everything will turn out all right in the end no matter what because love conquers all and that sort of thing. (Also, not NEARLY enough Zedd.)
Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson Novels:
Finally some Urban Fantasy novels written by a woman that don’t degenerate into all out fantasy werewolf/vampire/ghost/faerie/whatever smut, and the token ‘good’ emo vampire does drive a van painted like the Mystery Machine, so that is a nice touch, but luckily it is mostly about werewolves playing second fiddle to a character who is a strange coyote shapeshifter whose powers I assume will grow as the series goes on.
PS is it even possible to write something in the Urban Fantasy genre without there being an angsty vampire who wants to be good, these days?
Back issues of Deadpool, especially when Nicieza wrote for it. (Early issues of Cable and Deadpool, and Deadpool Volume 1 mostly):
Deadpool is the poster boy for comic heroes of the 90’s, he has guns, pouches, he was drawn by Rob Liefeld , and he cracks wise,of course he is also insane, breaks the fourth wall, knows he is a comic book character, cannot be taken too seriously, and depending on who is writing him is either a semi-villain who wants to be a hero, or a vigilante who is unashamed of making money off of killing.
A sort of continuity reboot in an alternate dimension where they could simply drop a lot of the baggage Spidey has and get him back to being a teenager who has to juggle school, work, crime-fighting, dating, and tak ing care of his Aunt May, all while using his Great Power with Great Responsibility, and while t hey coasted sometimes and repeated classic storylines, the things they did to mix them up a bit are interesting.
Which segues into Ultimate X-Men:
Takes place in the same universe as Ultimate Spidey, and was also impressive in the way they handled some of the classic storylines, with a HUGE death count of the rotating roster, and mostly Comic Book Death syndrome did not apply.
Thor: Better than I expected it to be, it has a lot of the JMS storyline in it and Loki is truly a God of Mischief instead of a God of Being a Totally Evil Jerkbutt You Should Never Ever Listen To Ever.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
The greatest movie of all time, despite George Lucas trying to meddle with it post release, there is literally not a single science fiction or space horror/comedy movie that has not been inspired by it in some way, technologically, thematically, cinematically or story wise, the Original Star Wars Trilogy is like the Rebirth of Science Fiction. (Seriously, try watching a Sci Fi that came out pre-Star Wars and then one post Star Wars, the themes, settings, and pacing have all changed since then, and drastically)
It is almost like Joss Whedon was writing a love letter to old George Lucas in movie form, but with Space Zombies.
I’ve never read the comics, but the movie is hilarious, funny video game and comic book references, and amusing all around for nerds.
Ok, I spent the last two days reading every digital comic of The Runaways that Marvel.com has available. It is amazing. Every creative team has had beautiful or fun art, the stories have consistently worked for the voice of the characters and themes inherent in the title, and there was a great character dynamic in the books with only a small revolving cast. This is probably the best thing Marvel has put out since Fabian Nicieza wrote Deadpool.
Now, the best part about it is they don’t go mucking about (much) with characters outside their title. There are points where characters meet A-listers like Captain America, Iron Man, and even Wolverine, and inevitably they don’t get along. The Runaways is a super hero team book that doesn’t follow the rules of being a super team, and it works in a way that makes the X-Men and Avengers look like overbloated marketing tools.
Also the cover art is consistently beautiful.
What is going on with you guys? Seriously. Ok, I am sure you have noticed by now, but The World Is Changing. YOU know what I am talking about, digital comics. DC is going to start doing zero day digital copies, which is awesome, but also retarded at the same time. Many people have commented on this in many ways, but let us pretend my input is important. There are lots of reasons why comics are 4$ an issue (yikes) for A-lister titles, but the ones I most frequently hear are the costs of ink/paper. Not the price of the creative team, which lets be honest, is going to vary a LOT. I do not expect names like Greg Pak and Dale Eaglesham to get the kind of money that you would pay Joss Whedon and Jim Lee, for instance, but then, pricing would be a mess if it reflected the creative teams every time they switched books.
No, the problem is the focus of the market. You have, at its core three audiences. One of which wants to read the stories/see the art because they love comic books, these guys may or may not pick up every issue of Spider-Man or X-whatever or Bat-of-the-week, because they just want to read what is going on. These guys are your digital sales GOLD. They will just as often as not, go to a comic book store, pick up a few promising books, and read them, then maybe buy them, but maybe not because, yikes, 4 bucks for 30 pages of story and 12 of advertisements. (Actual page count varies) If you sell these comics for a buck a piece though (the iTunes Method, I call it) They will probably buy anthologies like wildfire.
The next you have are your fanboys… These guys will buy EVERY title of whatever they are invested in, and probably collect. They will stand in line for 3 hours to get JMS or John Romita Jr to sign their issues of the Thor relaunch or Amazing Spider-Man and will still buy your 4 dollar a title comics and complain about it loudly, especially on the internet. These guys are who retailers are made for. Comic book shops could easily be killed by the market going digital if they don’t also keep up. In fact, I do not know of a single comic book shop that actually makes much selling comics, most of them sell the varying CCG’s and Miniatures and Board Games and RPGs to make the real money. This section of the market will probably follow you until comics are 12$ an issue and complain loudly about it on the Internet, so you probably don’t need to worry about them other than don’t mess with their character(s) that they love. (Which they will then complain about loudly on the internet.)
The third market you are trying to reach are newcomers. These seem to be mostly coming into the comics market because of some other property or a movie comes out. The problem with them as readers is continuity/baggage. Every once and a while a character gets reset to status quo. This is both good and bad, good because sometimes you get a great creative team that does brilliant things with the character, and sometimes you get one who is J Michael Straczynski who is going to do something maddening to the status quo and get the cosmic reset button, or retconned out of happening. The thing is I love JMS when he does weird stuff to characters, and I think the cosmic reset button should be avoided. Well, how does this fare for the newcomer? It… well, doesn’t a whole lot. The best you can do for new readers is recaps (which are done) and make a good backlog of recent issues available on the cheap digitally. (Zero Day digital would be ideal for this, maybe drop a buck off the price every month til it is 99 cents or something, because honestly, at this point any money you get for a digital copy is gravy.)
In all honesty, I cannot see a way out of the current comic slump… actually, I can, but lets face it, there is no way Marvel or DC are going to adopt the Webcomics model any time soon. I mean, If there was a single page a day of Spider-Man, or Iron Man, or Wonder woman, or whatever, what comic fan WOULDNT frequent that website? And instead of ads that are in the middle of the story, (ARG, I hate you so much for this, comics industry!) They would be nicely unobtrusive on the sidelines and/or top.
But comic retailers, with super entertainment stores like Hastings and Barnes and Noble to compete with… just may go the way of the dodo. (Or find a way to adapt to the new model)