Have a drink. It might help that mortis attitude of yours.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Marvel Mondays: Compliments and Complaints

I thought I would take the opportunity to say something nice and then something not so nice that I thought about Marvel during this last week in comics. Let’s start off with the good things; it always makes the bad medicine go down better.

I do not know about anyone else out there but I freaking love the Wisdom mini-series. Crabby British street magician, colorful characters, Shang Chi and weird creatures, it’s like a Constantine story set in the Marvel Universe’s continuity. Two issues ago, Pete Wisdom fought an army of Jack the Rippers. This issue, Martians, straight out of War of the Worlds, invaded England. Superb stuff.

So here is what I’ve got nice to say. Marvel does a heck of a job with mini-series. They use the opportunities that six issues or eight issues presents to tell a quick, fun, almost out of continuity story. Look at the Loners, look at NextWave (cut unfortunately short) and you’ll understand. Freed from the nonsense of Civil Wars and Houses of M, the 616 Universe is full of interesting stories that can take place. If only editors could steer the rest of the tales with such skill. I mean just look at this page:

Hippie Skrulls about to put the hurt on someone, that rocks hard.

Unfortunately, the moment a comic seems to slip into “Big Picture,” Marvel does whatever it can to take the story down eight levels and bumps up the sleaziness of their marketing up fifteen levels. I’m not saying that other companies don’t have some crappy marketing schemes but Marvel is just more blatant about, less apologetic.

I will use the example of last Wednesday’s release of the Illuminati: Secret History #1. What is so amazing that they had to do a one-shot for a mini-series that wasn’t even finished? Nothing. The comic just collects the first two issues. I thought the “Camelot Falls” trade was a little thin, but two issues. That is a little much for me to stomach. The problem is that they know people are going to buy this. They know that people are going to own the first two issues and this one as well because it has a new title, it has a number one. It is abusing the trust we put in our companies to look out for our interest as a reader.

A couple weeks back now I was walking to work and I heard feet quickly approaching me from behind. I started to turn and then a teenager sucker punched me in the face. His buddy came, punched me again and stole my phone. The one thought that went through my head, other than “How did they both manage to hit the same spot?” was “Why didn’t they just stick me up for it? Why the sucker punches?” That’s what Illuminati: Secret History feels like, a sucker punch. If you’re going to take the money at least just say you’re collecting the first two issues. No reason to use flashy covers and a couple words after a semicolon to beguile us. What’s next? The Marvel marketing staff out on a street cornet, playing organs while trained monkeys pick our pockets?


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