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Sunday, December 31, 2006 

Was there that much of a score for comics this year?

Despite what Scripps-Howard says, I can't say there was much of anything to crow over this year. And yet, they seem to think so. The latter part in this item, about crossover mania, is what really makes me groan:
At both Marvel and DC, the big publishers who between them publish about 90 percent of American comics, the year was dominated by two major crossovers - stories that "crossed over" into virtually every title.

At DC Comics, the "Infinite Crisis" miniseries leaped all of the publisher's superhero series one year into the future, where readers were introduced (in many cases) to surprising new status quos, like Catwoman as a mother and Green Arrow as the mayor of Star City.

That missing year, in the meantime, is being explored in the weekly series "52" - yes, a weekly series, which alone makes it big news. Weekly comics are a near impossibility, but DC is managing it with multiple artists and four writers. And so far, they haven't blown a single deadline.
But does that alone make it any good? It wouldn't be good news if it suffered delays, but artistic quality still has importance, and from what I've analyzed so far, 52 doesn't seem to have much of it.
That's not the story over at Marvel Comics, which has been dominated by the "Civil War" storyline, which pits its major characters in combat with each other over (of all things) politics.

Make no mistake, "Civil War" is a huge story - if for no other reason, that it revealed Spider-Man's secret identity to the world, forever changing the company's flagship character's life. Other changes are rippling across the publisher's superhero line, from the splintering of the Avengers to the virtual vilification of Iron Man.
Whoo boy! Talk about sensationalizing it all, and it doesn't get any more superficial than this either. There was nothing great about Spidey unmasking, nor the splintering of the EMH, and the villification of Iron Man is insulting at worst. And to be quite honest, I think I'd feel much more comfortable if "changes" weren't being done. Because by now, I realize that I never asked for it, certainly not the way they're doing it, and after this, I think a case can be made that Marvel needs to be putting all these "changes" on the shelf.
But while the story is a success - like it or loathe it, it's selling like mad - Marvel has had significantly less success than DC at keeping on schedule. The "Civil War" miniseries that is driving all the other title's stories was supposed to wrap up in November, but has been delayed a couple of times and now won't finish until early in '07.
This almost sounds like something Wizard might say, depending on how favoratist they are to either one company or the other. Mainly because the publishing schedule alone is not important, it's the story quality that is. But this dreck column here has almost no concern about that, if at all.

Now, what's this they say about money:
1) Money, money, money

2006 was the sixth consecutive year of rising sales for the comics industry. While the final figures aren't in, Comics Buyers Guide's John Jackson Miller said this year's sales surpassed last year's back on Nov. 22. In fact, November, with five ship dates, was huge overall.

Which means the industry's never been healthier. So come on, 2007!
Uh, I wouldn't count on that so easily. It's true that quite a few people have been buying up Marvel's recent books like hotcakes, regardless of story quality, which is appalling and distressing, not to mention misguided, but at the same time, it's hard to say if comics, at least the pamphlet issues are increasing their sales at any rate. And when you see that they're not providing clear figures of any sort, you have to wonder if this is just "hype" to prompt people to go and buy, under the assumption it's not for nothing.

As a result, alas, there's no telling if the industry's any healthier now than it was before, and no way of knowing if 2007 will be any better.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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