Wednesday, January 13, 2010

All I want in 2010 is for the Dumb Shit to Cease

Hello America!

For many years, two companies have ruled the comics landscape, DC and Marvel Comics and many of you already know this. For many years these two companies have tried to one up each other in the great game of how to hunt the dollars that we geeks hold onto, almost dearly. At one point the level of competition sort of dropped off but Joe Quesada and Brian Michael Bendis over at Marvel have worked pretty damn hard to bring that spirit back.

I don't mind this spirit of competition. If DC puts out a great series involving Batman, Marvel should really look at Captain American and see what it can do to step it's game up. There is one thing I don't like though I hate when that competition starts looking like something you'd see in high school talent show shenanigans.

Here's the issue at hand:

Essentially Marvel is offering we retailers a copy of Siege #3 with a special variant Deadpool cover for ever stripped off cover of certain DC comics.

Stripped Covers To Be Sent:
Adventure Comics #4
Booster Gold #26
Doom Patrol #4
Justice League of America #39
Outsiders #24
R.E.B.E.L.S #10

SO if we happen to have a bunch of extra DC comics (related to DC's awesome selling Blackest Night event) we can destroy them and Marvel will do us the service of getting a copy of the 3rd issue of it's next big event but with a Deadpool cover as opposed to it's normal cover.

My problem with this is pretty much everything. Marvel should not worry so much about how many copies of a DC event we ordered and concentrate on making Dark Reign and Siege something that we give a damn about.

Blackest Night is about the emotional connection between our heroes and loved ones or enemies of theirs who have passed on and since come back to life as undead zombie Black Lanterns (like a Green Lantern, only cannibalistic and chatty). The key here is the emotional connection.

Dark Reign is about how a madman has gotten a cushy government job and hired a bunch of his crooked friends (all villains) to commit crimes and act like dicks (like villains). Generally this means many of them even get to dress up like heroes (kinda like evil transvestites).

It works in some cases but there is no actual emotional connection with anyone involved. Spiderman should care big time because Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) is the aforementioned madman and after that Tony Stark should care but he's off in a coma or something. Captain America should care because Osborn is stamping all over our freedoms, but Cap is all lost in the time stream. I guess super secret agent Nick Fury and his pals in the Avengers could just get film of Osborn being a crazy person but then this story would have been over after like 3 issues so that hasn't happened yet either.

Well something did happen when Luke Cage, Leader of the Avengers, had a heart problem, the Avengers had to go to Osborn's people to get a good cardiologist.


So anyway, Marvel wants me to take my DC Comics relating to the good series and send them to Marvel in exchange for Siege #3 (with Deadpool cover).


I hate Deadpool too.

He's a gun toting, smartass who seems to be immortal or something and as near as I can tell he just talks shit and winks at the reader a lot. Personally I'm not sure how he appeals to anyone over the age of 30 but then again, if I were a company with a wealth of characters like Marvel Comics and I asked the masses which characters they wanted more of:

The Nerdy Heroic Everyman
The Jekyll and Hyde Complex
The Man Out of Time
The Norse God with Classic Daddy Issues
The Cool Exec with a Heart of Steel
The Family of Misfits Looking for Acceptance in a World That Can only Fear Them
The Family of Misfits who have Found Acceptance but can't Find Normality
The shit talking Mercenary ripped off from a really good DC Villain and who Breaks the Fourth Wall all the time

I have an idea, based on history, which one would get the vote of the masses. The masses have been taught to look past all the stuff that could actually create and emotional connection and to instead go for the thrill of the shit talking little weirdo. Whatever.

Marvel is so confident that enough fans are into shit talking little weirdos that they have offered up...A VARIANT COVER!!!!!!!!!!

OMFG!!! I wonder if I have 150 unsold DC comics around so I can get my hands on THREE of these copies of this 3rd issue of Siege (a comic where that madman with a government job, decides to pull a "9-11" and trick an Asgardian dude into destroying Soldier Field in Chicago, in order to allow the US to invade Asgard.


So you can have the 3rd issue of the "Heavy Handed Allegory Follies" complete with "Manic Psycho Killer" cover for issue #3.

Another reason why this is insulting is the timing of it.

Marvel is offering a Variant cover for issue #3 as opposed to the more relevant and appropriate issue #1 but that would have put them firmly up against the point in time when DC's books in question were hitting the shelves. Siege #1 JUST came out so they would have had to ask us to reduce our order of those books (which DC was hoping we'd order more of for reasons such as us getting colored power ring toys to give to customers).

This only really works for rabid collectors of variant covers, which in my opinion, our industry could use a shit ton less of. I'd rather a rabid fanboy who reads the shit out of the books than a rabid fanboy who just wants more damn covers.

Any rabid fanboy who wants more covers would love an issue of Siege #3 with that shit talking Monkey cover but I'm not going to ruin perfectly good copies of comics about what comics are supposed to be about (emotional connections with and between characters) for what comics are not supposed to be about (jealous companies trying to squeeze other comics off the shelves without providing quality content).

Now one could argue that it's just business but I'd argue that my business is my business. I'll be the one to determine if I've got a few extra copies of something and when I determine that I do, I'll do something about it. I sure as hell don't need to trade good comics for speculative bullshit.

Marve is basically acting like the "dumb jock" shouting "look, a nerd" and then running up and trying to convince us retailers to give DC a wedgie in order to get a copy of the Michael Bay Transformers movie.

Screw you Marvel. Just make good comics.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I left my cell phone at home and it just feels wrong

This is the part where you say, "How wrong is it?" and then I consider my...feelings.

I know that women tend to say that men aren't in touch with their feelings at all but we men are all deep and complex dudes. We seem emotionless because our brains have a hard time translating the metaphors that are our thoughts on emotions into more that, "I'm fine!", 'It's Nothing!" or my personal favorite, "What makes you think that juyst because I'm always yelling, cursing, kicking shit and then sitting in abject silence, getting drunk, that something is wrong?"

Well, America, I own a comic book store. I've got about 1000 sqft of metaphor RIGHT HERE and it's gonna help me explain why leaving my cellphone at home is such an emotional low, like when Leon Durham missed that ball or when the Bears suited uo for almost every game this season or when Patrice ******* gave me that "Let's just be friends..." speech that day in high school. She was a pretty poetic person too. I really understood the depth to which I'd been dumped. Well...not really UNDERSTOOD per se know.


When I leave my house in the morning I feel out of sorts unless I'm fully armed with the "Seven Items of Awesomeness"

As long as I count these Items in my pocket I'm all good.

They are:

My Wedding Ring (It's actually a Christian Bauer or something because my wife wouldn't agree to matching LSH flight rings)

My Fossil Watch (It really is a nice Fossil but I really want a Gatchaman watch kinda bad like. Bird Ninjas kick ass)

My IPod Touch. I live a mile from the train station and walking to the train with nothing but the sound of traffic blows.

My wallet. Yes, this is what my wallet looks like. Just a bit more worn these days.

My Keys. How else am I gonna get into my awesome store.

And this silly thing, my Chicago Card. It's how many of us in this town gain access to the best in odd smells, sketchy schedules and the more interested impov comedy project you'll ever see after a few drinks some times.

All this, and my cell phone. I won't post a picture of it because it's just too painful. Some of you have seen it. Small, silver and black, crushed face, lost puppy dog eyes.

I can't call people or txt people, or screen calls, or mass txt holiday messages to only 10 people at a time. I plan on getting drunk tonite. How am I gonna drunk txt?????

Now you guys out there may think I'm over reacting a bit but remember, I am a consistent over reactor and there are many stories of my losing my shit in Karaoke Bars in Chicago to prove it but some of those times it was the Drambuie talking and not me.


Remember your first phone back in the day? You knew you needed one, like Captain America needed his Shield. It may have even looked like this:

Yeah, that's Captain America with a goofy looking triangle shield, It was the bag phone of super hero accessories back in the day.

What about Thor's Hammer? Isn't that how you feel when you have your phone?

Have you ever NOT had it and been like "SHIT, did I lose it or did my cats hide it or did my pet frog stash it in frog poop?"

I KNOW! It's driving me nuts too! Arrrrgh! I need something to distract me...

I also think I've just provided enough emotions depth for 10 men. This means that guys I know named Jeff, Jason, Scott, Michael, Will, Joe, Troy, Mark, Dan and Gordon can be a little more introspective today. Your boy has brought the feelings...respect, ya'll!

Doc M

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Technology, Comics and Old Habits Die Hard

So I just read the post by DJ Francis about the possibility of the Kindle and the iTouch to save the comic book industry:

I have to say that I like many of DJ's points but some assumptions were made that really should be considered. The Comic Book industry as currently constituted is run by old skool comic book guys who are making comics for people OVER 30 years old. Hell at this point I think they are making comics for people over 40 years old. I'd also not really be going out on a limb to say that most retailers are over 35 too.

When new tech comes along it's generally the youth who stand up and leap into the fray to embrace it. Lately it's been some cats over 30, 40 or 50 to head the companies that give and distribute said tech but that doesn't change the fact that the youth are all about it and the age peers of the tech makers were left in the dust long ago.

Books, are about as low tech as you can get before we start considering writing on brick walls.

Giving people a new way to read books isn't going to kill books and it's not exactly going to save books either because that older demographic of folks who have been supporting books isn't going anywhere, well except death and even then, that younger group who folks are watching work their little fingers into a frenzy reading comics on screens are going to get older too and so will the next generation of comics publishing heads whose job it will be to prtoduce actual books.

The message will be:
"Produce content in book form that will make the masses happy"

The message to some other younger person will be:
"Turn this digital stuff into a money maker that sells our good old paper comic books"

Marvel and DC both produce online content now and there are digital subscription services out there that are ready and willing to take your cash if you're willing to do the one thing that the big publishers have made a living, banking that you will never do.

"Can you utterly change comic book buying your habits AS A GROUP?"

I'd like to think that Marvel and DC know that some folks will always drop titles and fall away from the hobby. This happens in every hobby industry but comics have managed to make the changes that were needed to please the majority of what it sees as it's market.

Here are some things DJ asked for:

· Allow me to buy single issues at a cheap price. You already have the content and you’ll spend nothing on paper or distribution. It’s almost pure profit for you. (Sure, you’ll have to allot some time for scanning and development, but not much.)

This is a fine idea and I don’t see where there has to be a ton of resistance to it. If someone needs to have a copy of Avengers Forever #4 because they really want to see a shot of Killraven carrying Captain America’s Shield and Yellow Jacket acting like an ass, then why not have then pony up a buck for it to sit on their hard drive. If you really want to make it work, spend some time pumping up the quality of the work or the era it was produced in too. Buyers have no reason to give a damn other than nostalgia (older consumers) or curiosity (younger consumers). This works for music on iTunes right now. If you’re selling the Killers and the Strokes, you may as well try and sell some Simple Minds and Velvet Underground.

· Allow me to pay a subscription fee for back issues. I would gladly pay $5 per month to browse back issues of the X-men and I’m sure I’m not alone. The interaction doesn’t need to be robust – just assign a scanner to an intern and collect the (electronic) checks. It’d be the Netflix of comic books.

This is where you have to put your money where your mouth is. People SAY they’d pay a monthly fee for comics download but they go into stores and pay for comics. The services are out there. Not sure what the buyrates are for it but I don’t know anyone doing it and from his post, it didn’t seem like DJ was up on it either.

I will say this though. The current comics buyer may not be all that keen on paying 10 bucks a month to read comics on his computer screen that were published a year or so before. Old habits die hard and comic book readers tend to still want to be current. Folks waiting for the trade paper back versions of their comics might want to consider this but again, it’s a comic book subscription so you’re still not getting entire stories.

This format looks ideal, if you’re a parent with a kid who wants to read comics but you aren’t near a specialty store and you want to have a comics reading experience with your kid but don’t want to acquire a lot of paper.

Marvel and DC better consider the content carefully though. Don’t make me pay 10 bucks a month and then give me a lot of Dark Reign to have to explain to my seven year old.

· Allow me to subscribe to the electronic version. Comic books get mangled in the mail and delivery can be spotty (I know from personal experience). I would gladly pay a slightly reduced rate to have the files sent to me each month. It would be consistent, trackable, and automatic.

Not sure how this differs from the above method but I want to believe that the publishers should be getting out of paper subscriptions anyway and pushing you towards online. If you’re so remote that you can’t get to a specialty store AT ALL and are willing to take a chance on comics coming in the mail, then you can order from several online retailers (including Third Coast Comics) at a reasonable rate BUT this is a choice for older paper buyers. Younger, remote living, tech savy folks may want the above digital subscription but with current content.

I browsed the Marvel digital site and it looks like they are just using that service to get you into current books. Read what you missed and then get out there and buy some stuff.

· Create a website or app that allows me to create my pull list and then prompt me to purchase directly. There are iPod apps that do this, but no real market leader. With this, you would have an ongoing source of income from a customer who asks to be contacted. Plus, consider the market research capabilities (i.e. imagine lots of readers with The Fantastic Four on their pull list who suddenly stop ordering it – that’s immediate notification that something about the book has gone sour.)

Not sure why Marvel or DC would need to do this. This is a retail issue and many options like this already exist. Find a store with an online component AND an online pull list system…AHEM!

You COULD have an app for it or you can just go to a site like maybe the Third Coast Comics website, using your preferred web enabled device and do exactly what you’re asking for. Now if you’d only be interested if Marvel or DC were doing this then you’re cutting out the retailer from the equation but if you’re like most comics readers who read titles from more than one publisher, then this would limit access to the vast range of titles available and wouldn’t be preferable at all.

Now if you were using the Third Coast Comics online subscription system and decided that you didn’t like the Fantastic Four and dropped it, we would know and shortly thereafter Diamond Comic Book Distributors would know and shortly after that, Marvel Comics would know. By shortly, I mean several weeks but it is what it is. The only way to make faster would be to eliminate a distributor and that’s not gonna happen anytime soon, other than with digital media BUT the current services seem to lock you in for a certain amount of time so deciding you don’t like Jonathan Hickmans’s Fantastic Four (and also proving you’re a crazy person) wouldn’t really help you. A pay per current copy scenario is what you really want and it looks like we’re not there yet.

· Wrap in author/artist interviews or other bonus material with each comic book and charge me a premium rate. Again, this is content that doesn’t take much effort to create – just figure out how to package it. Remember that fans open their wallets for access.

I agree but I’m agreeing because Marvel and DC already use this model to keep comic book readers using this model. How many times have you seen an interview that states that “This will change the direction of Company X for years to come”? How many times have you turned to a buddy and said, “Dammit, is it really time for another Crisis/War/Reign again??

You’re getting what you want and at a premium rate and people are paying it. Doing it online might LOOK different but the only real difference is a lack of paper in your house and as long as you’re six month behind the current story, does an interview with the writer really matter anymore? I loved the Wire but it’s a little late for Ed Burns to be interviewed in order to get me excited for that last season. I’ve already watched cit and spent that last year it was on, making my friends not talk about it around me.

I want to see more digital content but for reasons other than "Comics are expensive" or "I need to justify this cool toy I've purchased" I want to see digital comics because it's a great new way to promote comics. Period. I want to see it used that way and it is but I think what folks are looking for is a way to use it to replace paper comics and DC and Marvel are not in the business of helping you do that.

How about something like this for a publishing model:

  • All trade paper back volume 1 releases are $9.99. This is often the only way many reader get into a new series. Why should they pay $19.99 for an unproven product?

  • All collected editions are published in soft cover 1st and hard cover versions are only for special occasions and major story lines and both versions are offered simultaneously. Someone might want to read X-Factor in a collected soft cover and they might do it for 8 volumes but they sure as hell don't need volume 8 in hard cover.

  • Replace many of the limited series on the stands with the original graphic novel model. This will reduce shelf crowding AND purchase drop off. The crowding will allow for retailers to add diversity to their shelves, which in turn will get publishers a chance at more eyes and hands on their books.

  • Offer a digital companion series for books currently being published and set the price point at something like .99 cents to $1.99 for a download or something comparable for a subscription to said material on a monthly basis. Marvel wants me reading Dark Reign books right? Then they can offer me an exclusive series for Bullseye/Sentry/Vanessa Hand that will run concurrently with whatever series it's related to and NOW I have current content as well as older contend and I can afford my damn comics to boot.

Well that's kinda my addl. two cents on the issue.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Can new and inproved hardware actually inprove the comics retail business

So today I asked the twitterverse for a suggestion for a topic (because I'm not ready to talk X-Men again just yet or post the one "Forever" topic I'd be all over.

What I got was a suggestion from Bobbidigital at

He asked: What effect will color tablet size computers have on the comic book retail business if any?How do retailers innovate?

I think this translates to "How will the reintroduction of the Tablet PC to the market affect folks in my line of work.

In my opinion, in it's current application, I can't see it making a lot of impact. Apparently there are some folks out there that think that the Microsoft supported version of this product will be good for business based solely on the idea that MS pushes out a ton of apps that businesses already use BUT you realy have to look at what business owners are likely to be considering.

"What does this (relatively) new technology do for me and can I get that done with the old technology?"

Hey, I don't know about restaurant owners, bike shop owners or massage therapists but I own a comic book store. It's Third Coast Comics, in the Edgewater area of Chicago, and it's a sexy bastard of a shop if I do say so myself but it's kinda Hugh Grant/Michael Shanks/Alan Tudyk sexy. The point is that it's not Johnny Depp/Matt Damon sexy just yet.

Hugh Grant sexy can be fine with a good ole desktop PC running whatever it is I run and doing it's thing here in my community like I do. Hardware isn't an issue for me and for most comic book retailers who are basically rocking something Wilfred Brimley sexy at best, new technology is more a hindrance than a help.

I can think of an almost practical application of tablet technology. I could take a tablet around the store when doing some inventory counting like crap task and instead of needing to print out count sheets or make notes, I can log right into my inventory suite and adjust and reorder, etc.

I could do that but what am I really doing? I'm not actually saving myself all that much time. I am just looking all cool and high tech and what not.

Comics book retailers need less hardware upgrades and more marketing strategy upgrades. I do realize that there are some people out there who are completely swayed by certain intangibles a shop might have. I know people who, when given a choice of two shops, will tend to choose the shop that sells Family Guy lunch boxes as opposed to the shop that just has the books they love to read.

This is largely because the consumer experience is about more than just getting what you want. It's also about getting what you want in the kind of place that you really like to envision yourself in. If I'm walking around the store with a tablet under my arm there will be some folks who will see us as a "more modern shop" and may gravitate this way. I'm not sure it's worth it. It just invites douchebaggery. Yeah, I said it.

Now there is also the Entourage Dualbool E-reader, a delightful piece of machinery that takes an anti book device like the Kindle and adds an element of Tablet PC for those of us that not only can't turn real pages but have found the physical space between a monitor and keyboard to be a limiting experience that can only be compared to the lead character in "Johnny Get You Gun".

The questions is as follows, "Will comic book collectors stop buying comics in order to simply download them onto 10 inch screen?"

The answer, as I see it is, "Anything can happen for some people, especially those whose wrists have gone numb from all holding of periodical material in their grubby little fingers."

If the only reason you're buying actual comics now is that you were waiting for a 10 inch touch screen then basically Santa got your letter. You might even save some money, except that the countdown is on for publishers to push PDFs to you in such a way as to make illegal downloads of comics not as preferable by giving you a little more content than just the PDF and we also aren't all that far from a Print on Demand element to the business where retailers like myself can get a slice of that digital pie as well.

Having a tablet, in store for retailer use doesn't help so much as I see it and the percentage of people leaving print comics for digital doesn't really seem to be kicking the ass of the number of people leaving monthly comics for the bound comic format so if nothing else, a third leg of the market has just developed which a smart industry will figure out a way to get in on.

The way I see it, smart shops will be seeing a slight decline of tech savvy fan boys but we'll be seeing an uptick of customers who check out the New York Times best seller list before heading off to their local book vendor, where incidentally, they really don't want to be shoulder to shoulder with fanboys anyway. Especially fanboys who read books on a screen.

As a retailer I've sort of already traded a certain level of "fanboy" for the next generation of "graphic novel enthusiast". This is the market and it's a lot bigger than many older retailers have ever really been able to crack. I believe that in order to really impact the industry, digital comics enthusiasts will have to cut much deeper into general fanboy numbers AND win over folks who have simply changed their preferred method of getting print comics.

How's That!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Comics: Forever? I hope not.

Yeah, I know that at first it looks like some sort of political statement from me but in this case it isn't about that. It's really about my dislike for the idea that some eras of comics are so special that they should have been captured in glass to forever be examined in their own little bubble of time.

An example is X-Men Forever (And soon X-Factor Forever) which seeks to show us what would have happened in writer Chris Claremont had never left the title back in...oh who really cares.

Here's my problem; Time Marches On.

Unless someone comes along and decides that time, instead, does the moon walk.

Every writer in the business who has ever walked away from a title he or she wrote for more than 12 issues, probably has a drawer full of notes all about what they would have done had they not left that title.

It's often a damn good thing that they moved on then.

Now I am a fan of many concepts in mainstream comics. I like a good old parallel universe story alot more than most people do. I love stories about giant monkeys (or apes if you're anal retentive). I like stories about evil relatives, I have a stated love for anything involving a crime fighting vehicle.

What I don't have love for is a comic book title designed to prevent comic book readers from growing and getting over their past selves.

I don't need a Fantastic Four Forever where John Byrne comes back and tries to pick up exactly where he left off back when he was destroy our enjoyment of the Fantastic Four.

I don't need a book like Spiderman comic where Spiderman is transported back to a simpler time when he didn't have a hot super model wife...wait...that just happened in Spiderman too didn't it?


Now I know these books aren't in continuity because that would be stupid (I'm looking at you web head) but this is besides the point. If creators of yester...century want to come back and write comics then they should offer up new ideas which can be seen as contemporary and we fans ought to have the stones to say, "There is no way in hell I want to go back to 1996 with my comics".

Now my guy, Lord Toede in Middle of Nowhere, Alberta, Canada happens to like X-Men Forever and states that thousands of others do as well.

He's right. just over 19K folks were down with some retro X-Men love in November BUT this is a deceptive number.

I tried posting a chart I got from but I blow at that so here's a link to it and while X-Men forever came in at a respectable #109, take a look at what came in at #76. It is being outsold by the Archies.

I want to make a greater point about that too but I won't because the Archies beat a lot of books I like too. I just want to call bullshit on X-Men Forever.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hello 2010, lets talk about 2009 for a bit

Well it looks like I took a bunch of time off last Fall to do anything other than blog but I have a goal/resolution. By May, I want someone out there to think of me as Doc Midnight, Comic Book Retailer/Podcaster/Blogger in addition to other positive things so in order to do that, I think I need to move some of my real life conversations to this space here on a more consistent basis.

My friend, writer, Michael Moreci asked me to send him a list of things i really enjoyed in comics in 2009 and I did and I realized it was a perfect blog post so here it is. I'm sure Michael will edit what I sent him so I think it's fine to post here.

Now you should probably know hat I read a lot of comics in 2009. This is a list of the things that sort of hit the scene and made an impact on me (and as near as I can tell, many of you)

Incognito by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips and published by Marvel Comics
The Story of a bad guy who is depowered and put into witness protection for bad guys. One day he finds out he actually has powers and, while he doesn't want to reveal his identity to the world, really likes ass kicking and is quite familiar with the concepts of treachery and retribution.

Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory and published by Image comics
The story of a guy with the power to get the history of any object he ingests. He gets a job with the FDA, in a world where chicken is outlawed and occasionally an underground chicken joint gets busted.

Irredeemable by Mark Waid and Peter Krause and published by Boom Studios
The story of a world where the Plutonian, a "Superman" like figure, goes apeshit and just starts wrecking the world and all of his super powered former friends. People have a hard time accepting that their greatest hero has become a murderous tool but they still have to figure out how to deal with him.

Olympus by Nathan Edmundson and Christian Ward and published by Image Comics
The story of brothers, Castor and Pollux, Olympians, who have been authorized by Zeus himself to come down to Earth and Mix it up with mortals in order to bring rogue Olympian elements to justice. It's like a cross between Boondock Saints and Steven Segal: Lawman. Full of Awesome.

Cowboy Ninja Viking by AJ Lieberman and Riley Rossmo and published by Image Comics
Ok there's only been 2 issues so far but bear with me.
So we have a world where agencies have figured out that if one assassin with the personality of an assassin of good, then an assassin with the personalities of a Cowboy and Ninja and a Viking would have to be 3 times as good right? Of Course!
Just wait til he fights Pirate/Gladiator/Oceanographer! What's not to likes. As far as I'm concerned this book was a winner before it was ever printed.

Now you may be wondering where the DC and Marvel books that dominate the racks are?

I'll tell you. The bulk of what is on the racks in comic shops is the same as it ever was. Much of it is just there to maintain the status quo. Marvel puts out a lot of titles that hold a place on shelves but that don';t really push the medium or envelope anywhere.

Exceptions to the rule are the Warren Ellis Astonishing X-Men run and Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four, in which you get the return of an ancient alien race of genetic hermit crabs and a council of super brains from parallel dimensions that show up and ask a protagonist how come he hasn't solved it all, already.

DC gave us a year of Zombie Super person action and a really good Batman universe devoid of Bruce Wayne. I'd probably be a ton more excited if I felt like someone over there hadn't just read Captain America Reborn and decided that this was a near perfect way to bring Bruce Wayne back.

I suppose if I consider that Marvel is currently running an Undead Super Big Bad story in some of their X-men comics, then all is fair in DNA and Power Rings.

I think you see my point.

I think my next post is going to cover what one can do to read books not published by the big 2 and still get that New Comics Smell all over you.