Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Captain Britain and MI 13

I Want to be a cowboy
I live in central North Carolina. When I was taking a walk the other evening through a residential area just off the main college drag, I came across a wannabe cowboy taking a cigarette break. Don't see too many cowboys standing around in the Capital City. He was around college age and little shorter than average height, he had perfected that slight sneer of aloof disdain or disgust about the state of affairs as he smoked. He was wearing his cowboy hat, a rodeo/western styled shirt that was slightly wrinkled and worn, slightly faded blue jeans and the brown leather belt with the over-sized oval buckle. What killed his attempted look and gave him more of a humorous appearance of a poser (beyond being in an area where not a single home was on a piece of land more than half an acre) was that he had no boots. More than no boots, but had on nice clean white socks, the toes which peaked out of the end of his too long jeans. My first thought was that maybe he had gotten dressed and couldn't find his boots, and was waiting for his girlfriend to deliver them. Or maybe he got kicked out of the house and she kept the boots. I mean, who would go through so much trouble to put a specific look together like that, but then was jonesing so bad for a cigarette, he didn't have time to slip his boots on but did have time to grab his hat? I just found his appearance slightly ludicrous. I could only think his look would work if he actually rolled up the cuff of his jeans and stood there bare-footed, giving him a more rough edge than that of a typical teen slacker. Just one of those little asides in life that I felt like sharing.

A LETTER: Normally, I just let the replies go into the comment section. However, this came pretty much on the heels of my blog answering a question I raised there about the reported Silver Star mini-series Steve Englehart was to write that never came out. As it deals directly with that question, providing us with a few more facts, I thought it deserved more up-front exposure as not everyone necessarily reads the comments.

Kurt Busiek said... Steve E. did write the first few issues of a CAPTAIN VICTORY revival, which would have followed the VICTORY! crossover. But the crossover was never finished, so the follow-ups never happened. And Steve's right -- the artist who drew his scripts wasn't really up to the job.

Finishing SILVER STAR is something that comes up every now and then -- we're currently talking it over with Image.

There you go. Looks like Topps had big plans for Silver Star, a character with all sorts of potential.

Captain Britain & MI 13 Preview

Comicbook Resources has released some pages of the new Captain Britain series as well as some interviews with the writer and editor of the book. I enjoyed the old Claremont-Davis EXCALIBUR series and so I thought this might be worth checking out. Then I saw the preview pages. The artwork is clear in its storytelling, so that it's easy to follow even minus any words or text. The action is very dynamic and the characters seem to be mostly drawn on model (though why Dane Whitman isn't actually suited up in his chainmail, no idea). And, it's cool to see some preview pages that actually show excitement and some of the actioin. So many previews are obviously put out with no actual thought given to them. They just seem like someone grabs the first few pages out of the book or the first few done and sends them on their way. And we end up with a lot of previews that are just of people talking. Admittedly, with some writers, if they showed some of the more exciting parts of the book, that would be pretty much it for the book. Instead, editors (and the websites as well should strive for this if they can) should treat them like movie previews and trailers. They don't just show you the first five minutes of the movie, they grab bits and pieces from all over to give you a feel for the type of movie is and its story, the previews are advertising, it's supposed to draw people in. They shouldn't be just some advance looks for people ALREADY buying the book but to sway those on the fence.

While these previews do show some action, and we can be sure that's probably more by accident than design as we see so many of the aforementioned bad previews, the effect on me is the opposite. In the space of a 6 pages, every hero on the page graphically and brutally kills one of their opponents. Sure, they're skrulls, but they're still sentient beings. These scenes do raise some plot questions which are enticing such as thought the Black Knight had that pesky curse to worry about and why is Spitfire acting like a vampire, but mostly, I'm just turned off by these heroes casually killing the bad guys. In Thomas' INVADERS, Spitfire didn't even kill the Nazis.

The other turn off? This is from the first issue. Right off the bat, the comic is part of the big crossover event. An event series I'm otherwise avoiding. This heavy pushing of crossovers is why I dropped She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel. It's why I didn't pick up the Nova series. It's a big part of the reason I avoided the Annihilation mini's. And it's liable to play into my not getting Avengers/Invaders as it looks like it too may be crossing over into other books. It's one of the little things that's annoying about the Defenders mini. Something's seriously wrong when even mini-series must strongly tie-in to inter-continuity and not be allowed to be its own entity, to survie on its own. Ultimately, it's going to hurt future tpb sales and collections. Because years from now when the book is collected, one must not only be interested in that title, but be very aware with what was going on in the other books and the larger continuity at the time. Oh, this is when Civil War was going on. This was after Civil War but before so-and-so was revealed to be a skrull. This is after 20 years of history was retconned because so-and-so was revealed really to be a skrull all along. One of the highest selling trades right now? A re-release of THE KILLING JOKE. DC has made quite a bit of money over the years steadily reprinting O'Neil & Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow run, a run that lost money at the time, but now gets reprinted every so many years. But those titles stand on their own very well, even after all this time. You don't have to be aware of what Superman was going through or who the JLA were facing at the same time.

Mind you, I'm not saying write for the trade market, at least not in the sense of storytelling structure. Just that much of these crossovers are dictated by short-sighted gains and immediate sales. But, they are choking the life out of the books and the universes. We're getting less creativity and less variety because every book is covering the same one of three plot lines. It's making books too difficult to attract new readers or even casual readers because they demand too much of an investment into other books, other titles and in-depth knowledge of past continuity. It makes it easier and easier just to look for other books that don't require that kind of commitment.

1 comment:

Doctor Zen said...

I remember the days (but then I'm a dinosaur) when Dr Strange making a cameo appearance in Spider-man was a big deal. In addition to your other points, mega-events like this kill the excitement of seeing two heroes meet, when an issue WITHOUT a crossover is rarer than one with. In fact, these have gone beyond events, when th entire continuity of all the books is caught up in a Crisis or a Secret Invasion. My only interest in Secret Invasion is which bad idea Marvel is going with: revealing that certain characters have been Skrulls all along (does Jennifer Garner know she was playing a Skrull in ELEKTRA?), or copping out and by having them only recently replaced. The former is just a bad idea, the latter is cheating the fans by reneging on their advertised premise (DC did the same thing with the Manhunters in the 80s, remember?) Several of the new titles I was interested in (like INVADERS/AVENGERS) I'm staying away from because they're tied up in Civil War or Secret Invasion. With Final Crisis, it's like why should I start reading a series when this big honkin' event is about to change everything?