Monday, May 27, 2013


I have never been a fan of Superman, but I always liked Action Comics … at least I did until the latest revamp.  I started buying the issues in the ‘70s, when Superman was king, but why was I purchasing those issues if I wasn’t a Superman fan?  Legacy and history.  Each issue had a sense of both of those things with their high numbers and referencing of material from years before.  Action Comics and many other titles gave readers a sense of their place in history and the feeling that they were stepping into something that had been going on for decades before them and, as logic would figure, would continue decades after they left.  The series title may have been plain.  The hero and his stories tired.  All that was forgiven, however, for the comic’s legendary place in history.

Most of that comic’s history and legacy seems to be lost now with DC’s rebooting, revamping and renumbering every title that matters (and many that don’t).  Some say it’s because people only want “new” things.  Others say the history I so loved so much was too confusing for new readers (something I never had a problem comprehending as a new reader).  The truth, I believe, is much simpler and far more appalling. 

DC is a greedy bastard.

I believe the real reason companies like Marvel and DC do this is because it makes the news and gets people like me to write about it.  The companies figure they’ll lose older readers (for a little while), but gain so many new ones in their place that it will be worth it to tank a title.  Everything is sacrificed for the dollar.
I can’t complain too much, though.  Today’s stories are better and more mature than the tales that spawned them.  Creators are taking real chances with the characters, and while not all have paid off, most are at least interesting.  It is, above everything else, a really good time to be a comic book fan.   Yes, the artform may have lost that spirit that attracted me to it in the ‘70s, but it gained something new.  It gained vision and a renewed sense of daring.  No longer resting on its laurels, the comic book industry is doing everything it can to attract new readers and make exciting stories, and I have to admit, we’re all better off for it.

I may miss those things that drew me to Action Comics, but I finally believe that the industry may be doing the right thing after all.  Part of me mourns the past, but another is fairly certain that this move by the comic companies solidifies their future and without that all we have is the past.  I can’t believe I’ve actually written that, but I have to admit: DC and Marvel may be right. 

Greed isn’t only good in this case … it is survival.  That said, I haven’t read any of the new Action Comics and I don’t intend to anytime soon.   The title was all about legacy and history to me.  Without that it is just another comic book with a character I don’t care about, and there’s no reason for me to start caring now.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Trouble With CrossGen

CrossGen was a comic book company that bit off far more than it could chew.  Many people, including the owner of the store where I worked (Comic Castle) during the time the company started, thought CrossGen was going places and would give Marvel and DC a run for its money.  Its “innovative” titles and programs would boost the comics industry and help get it out of its slump … or so it seemed.  I was less-than-enthusiastic because I had seen far too many companies as bold or bolder come and go just because they got too bold too quickly, and looking at the press release material made it obvious this comic was not going to produce characters as interesting or memorable as Wolverine, Raven or Marshal Law.  As it was, I stayed away from the CrossGen titles.  Not only did it seem like the company would go under fairly quickly, but the titles themselves came across as mediocre, though you couldn’t say that to the company’s fans.  There was one title that looked like it could be an exception, however.


That comic, from the description in Previews, held promise for me.  I think a lot of it had to do with the artist, Mike Ploog.  I’m a fan of his work, and this project sounded right up his alley.  The first issue came out and I have to admit I was disappointed.  The cover was horrible, and looked worse holding it than it did in the publicity material.  It wasn’t that it was poorly drawn; it repulsed me because I so dislike characters who are nothing but head, though I think M.O.D.O.K. is pretty cool for some reason.

I put aside my disgust and delved into the first issue, eager to see if it would live up to my expectations.  It didn’t.  Not even close.  I could tell it had potential.  I could see that it would possibly get better.  I quickly put it back on the shelf, though, convinced the company would go under soon enough, which meant I wasn’t going to put any effort into what I viewed as a doomed series that started off on the wrong foot. 
Two more issues were published and then Crossgen bit the dust.  Yes, it was later bought by Disney, and Abadazad became a series of children’s books that also never lived up to their full potential and then those were also scrapped.

CrossGen was an example of a company gone wrong.  Its intentions were pure and good.  The then-owner of Comic Castle bought into the hype full-bore and ordered a lot of CrossGen material on nothing more than a wing and a prayer and a belief that the stuff would sell, and when I left my employment there, we were still sitting on a majority of it.  The comics sold, but never at gangbuster numbers, and the trades languished – especially when they changed formats.  Abadazad was a prime example of one of the reasons I think the company never caught on: its books seemed good, but the execution was flawed.  It’s the story of CrossGen, and it’s the story of far too many new comic companies.  And it will happen again and again.  If only that cover were a little less creepy …

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