Comic Fodder

The Signal Watch: Week Three

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Welcome to the third edition of The Signal Watch, a weekly opinion soap box. We discuss comics, comic culture, comic blogs, whatever.

Please feel free to comment.

Keep it clean.

Vampires don't sparkle

It looks like Dynamite will be adapting Stoker's Dracula.

Some might feel there's a bit of "been there, done that" as Dracula's been done in comics repeatedly, from all sorts of angles and creators. However, this reader always feels that Dracula, Frankenstein and other classics have been around for a while, and they can take it. Like going to see different companies put on Shakespeare, its not so much about the discovery as it can be about what the talent does with it.
Here's Dynamite's announcement.

Probably good news. Sure, Dynamite has made an industry out of exploiting pre-existing fanboy favorites, but they also do it well, bringing on talented writers and artists.

And, of course, Marvel was already there long ago with Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano's effort for folks looking for a different take from names you trust. (Apparently Marvel felt that Thomas' work in translation was strong enough to more or less hand him their Marvel Illustrated (and from what I've seen, its worked out).

Countdown to a comic of the Stephenie Meyer "vampire" books (and I'm betting there's a manga-ization).

The Complicated World of Valerie D'Orazio

I am guessing this is going to become a weekly installment, because, frankly, D'Orazio is a font of the entertaining. For those of you playing catch up, she has very, very good reasons for disliking DC Comics as a company. I will not say she does not.

That doesn't mean it doesn't occasionally lead down some slippery slopes, such as jumping on the "the media makes them do it" bandwagon.

Here and here where she discusses the recent murders in Belgium of children by a man in make-up described to resemble that of Ledger in "The Dark Knight".

It's the same argument as anyone growing up in the 80's heard about metal, that we heard about the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons, that we heard after Columbine... it just finally made its way to comics. Just as Wertham suggested all along.

What will help D'Orazio in her arguments is if she is able to turn that same eye not just upon DC, but upon Marvel, freeing her of the burden of refusing to separate the work from the company/ complaints with some of the staff. More dangerous of late, of course, is that her refusal to address Marvel's mirror sins gives the impression of intellectual dishonesty in her debating points. A paycheck and the chance to pursue an opportunity are fairly good reasons to compromise, but why give anyone a chance to dismiss you if you're serious about making a statement?

Mostly, D'Orazio must learn to address legitimate challenges to her assumptions in her comments section and not retreat behind proclamations regarding how people are rude, respond with snide and insufficient jabs, and flatly NOT responding to legitimate criticism. Accusing anyone who presents criticism of your arguments of psychotic tendencies, childish fears of their toys being taken away, being a bad feminist, what have you... rather than investigating their counter claims... not really convincing.

When D'Orazio can squarely address criticism, I honestly believe there won't be anyone or anything that can hold her back.

Top Cow Guy Gives Advice from 2005

Newsarama has a blog, as you might know.

They've given a column to Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik, who spends this week's column trotting out the old saw that "they should only put out Superman comics as stand alone stories". IE: Elseworlds stuff that he's picked up when its gotten some buzz. Here.

He cites the common complaint that Superman is so iconic that you can't do anything with the character. He then checks off the boxes by naming Clark Kent's career and supporting cast as immutable, all of which, the reader must assume would have to go under Sablik's pen (poor Jimmy).

Unable to change Clark's career or kill off the Planet staff, what Sablik is pitching is essentially The Eddie Berganza Model from the latter years of berganza's stewardship on the Superman titles (03' to 05', really). Get a new writer on for 6 issues, and ignore continuity aside from the basics.

Its been done, and it went so poorly, it led to the reboot and Johns-ification of the Superman books with Infinite Crisis. Which, if Sablik has been checking, have been some of the best reviewed and best enjoyed comics at DC of the past three years.

Superman as a property is a flexible thing, and can handle Elseworlds, All Star treatments and maintain a strong reading audience on a monthly basis across multiple titles in part because of the iconic nature, not in spite of it. All of which are already happening, so its kind of a head scratcher why Sablik wants the ongoing monthlies to end.

It's fairly typical that its folks who aren't following Superman and Wonder Woman who pop up with how to "fix" the books with extreme changes in publishing, format, etc... What's interesting/ frustrating is how often those changes are based not upon the actual content of the books, but upon the perceptions comic readers carry around in their pocket about how a title "is" without really becoming familiar with the character or title.

Superman Beyond #2

I'm going to admit... I'm not entirely sure I got all that... Nor why it was in 3D. My copy of issue #1 is tucked away at the moment, so I kind of feel like I need to re-read issue #1, as I can't recall what one issue had to do with the other.

Still, I wonder why Mahnke isn't a bigger deal in superhero comics. I've liked his work since his says on the Superman titles.

Final Crisis Wraps this Week

Prepare for the incessant complaints.

What is Scott Pilgrim About?

Based upon a few things I'd read, I picked up a Scott Pilgrim volume for my wife. She liked it, so I bought her more Scott Pilgrim. I've never read the comics as, honestly, you wouldn't believe the stack of stuff I have to catch up on without tossing Scott Pilgrim on the pile.

Then I read this at The ISB:

The basic beats that make the series so fun (menacing exes, people being hit so hard that they turn into change, sub-space highways) are all here

I thought the Scott Pilgrim books were basically "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist", which I did not feel was aimed at me, so I'd not opened them. It seems I completely do not know what is going on in these comics.

Maybe this weekend?

I'm cutting the number of comics I pick up

Budgetary considerations. By comics, I mostly mean floppies.

I suspect this will be the end of my exploration of ancillary mini-series (think: Reign in Hell) and one-off's (think: Faces of Evil) in favor of ongoings and trade paperbacks.

I don't know whose theories of the fate of comics I'm fulfilling.

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Questions? Comments? Hate mail?

Come on, I can take it.


Ryan is an Op/Ed columnist for Comic Fodder. He keeps his comics and himself in Austin, Texas where he manages the long running blog League of Melbotis.

He likes Superman.

You can reach Ryan (aka: The League) at

I agree about Val, ALL media not just the DC corner is the issue.

And I too was left scratching my head at Sablik's column. Ever since that awful Azzarello story the entirety of the Superman-vese went downhill exactly because of what he sites as reasons to buy a Superman story. Writing continuity is a SKILL and it's HARD - anyone can write "a" Superman story with unique elements that don't count what has come before. All you need is a good story and then just plug-n-play the characters. Red Son is a great story about seeing the err of your ways and being true to your heart - but there is very little Superman-y about it.

I also wouldn't lay the blame solely at Eddie's feet for those awful years. I thought the years leading up to that, about 99-02 which he was also over, were really good years for the Superman books - inspired stories that had merit and affected the character.

Superman Beyond #2 was esoteric but worth it IMO. Morrison has come full circle with his concept of how we influence comics influencing us.

Funny that ALSO I am cutting back. My pull list was 31 titles for December, including mini's and such. My March pull is now 17. I am not replacing them with TPBs. This is a God's honest pull back. Didio has destroyed the DCU with his Wayback Machine time trip to 1978 and Marvel is a frat-boy clusterfuck. Hell I'm half expecting that the next cover of Ms. Marvel or Spider Woman to have the characters' lips flapping in the wind - and I'm not talking about the ones on their faces.

I will not say that I won't pay $3.99 for a regular-sized comic but nothing at Marvel will make me do it, that’s for sure. At least when I buy Gemini at $3.50, I know it's to pay the creators a heck of a lot more than what they get from the corporate machines. I have a degree in Economics so I don't need internet know-it-alls lecturing me on how supply/demand works; just count me as part of the inevitable attrition due to the increase. They are painting themselves into a corner with this type of plan and what happens next is their own faults.

And is it just me or is DC getting their artists from a high school art class?

-- Posted by: David at January 28, 2009 11:26 AM

I actually began reading Superman full time under Berganza. Before that, it had been stray issue or two, an Elseworlds, etc... I do recall his comments at Supermanhomepage or else where describing how we basically wasn't bothering to control his writers, so I kind of attribute the early 00's success to a writing pool who had a certain amount of dedication to the character in SPITE of Berganza.

But, yeah... those Joe Kelly, Loeb, etc... tales were my entry point. And I still genuinely really like "Our Worlds at War".

I also don't want to leave the impression that I was anti-Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2, but the time in between issues kind of killed my momentum and I would have rather had it all in one long volume to read.

I totally appreciate Travis's reading of the issue as I think it crystallized the story for me. That happens to me with Morrison. I think I'm understanding something, but then I start wondering if maybe I'm reading too much/ not enough into it...

Not sure I love the idea of Ultraman's final moments in the issue, but I'm game for whatever if the story is worth it. Loved the concept of the Thought Robot, and the mismanagement of the universes, which made me wonder how much was editorial commentary on the DCU these days...

-- Posted by: Ryan at January 28, 2009 12:27 PM

My moniker is "ultraaman" but I was quite cool with Ultraman's fate in SB #2 (until I read Final Crisis #7). The queer situation of having an Ultraman (and CSA) on an anti-matter Earth and an Earth-3 was confusing. I had this vision of the new vampire Ultraman going back to his world and turning the entirety of that world into vampires. Think about it. The exact opposite of the essense of life as we know it - (giving live via kindness, reproduction, etc.) - would be someone who takes life in order to stay alive. The fact they would also be anti-matter would just be doubly cool IMO. That would leave us the Ultraman of Earth-3. Alas if you have read FC #7 you know what happens.

I loved OWAW. Some of the moments in it were not handled visually well but many of the core story itself and almost all the tie-ins were great.

-- Posted by: David at January 28, 2009 3:17 PM