Monday, June 13, 2011

Avenging Spider-Man #1 > All 52 New DC Comics

DISCLAIMER: The following is the opinion of one Tracie L. Mauk and does not represent the beliefs or opinions of her fellow bloggers and friends at Comicbook Crossfire.

Today Marvel held one of their regular Next Big Thing conference calls breaking the news that November 2011 would see writer Zeb Wells would be joining superstar artist Joe Madureira on an unexpected new ongoing series, Avenging Spider-Man, an in-continuity Marvel Team-Up-like series featuring Spidey teaming up with various fellow avengers for large scale adventures.

This marks the first Marvel work for Madureira since 2008's Ultimates 3 and first "ongoing" since 1998's creator-owned series Battle Chasers. (I am, regrettably, using the term loosely, in that instance)

Your mileage will undoubtedly vary but for this blogger, whose comic fandom and own artistry was dramatically and fundamentally changed when Madureira hit the scene in 1994, the announcement of Wells and Madureira on Spider-Man is more exciting than any one of the 52 new books DC is rolling out in September.

Now, before you even begin to feel the itch to click "reply" and start snarking on how soon before delays start to plague the book or even type the words "video games," stop. I don't want to hear it. I've been listening to that stuff for over a decade and so has he. The creators have had TONS of lead time and I'm sure Joe, as much as anyone, would hate to see this dream gig suffer under delays.

But I don't even want to talk about that, much less think about it. I learned long ago not to worry about that sort of thing and just enjoy what I'm given, when I'm given it. For my money, Joe's artistry is the type that, as long as he is enjoying what he is doing (and you can absolutely tell when he is), he can take as much time as he needs to give us a product he is proud of.

But back to my title remark, this is exactly the kind of move I wanted to see DC roll out when they announced they were going to wipe clean their entire publishing schedule and start fresh with 52 new #1 issues in September. They started strong with the initial announcement that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee would be launching a new Justice League #1. It was an expected move (and something that's been in the rumor mill for around 2 years now), but it was a team book featuring their most popular characters, written and drawn by two of the biggest names in comics. (and chief architects at the company today)

As further announcements started rolling out, they were largely more of the same or sometimes downright perplexing. Why was DC pushing a huge relaunch, grabbing all kinds of headlines and attention, but pulling so many of their punches creatively?

The most startling announcement I can think of offhand was Rob Liefeld returning to Hawk & Dove. And it was startling in a sense that I don't imagine DC was aiming for.

Sure, we get books from top creators like Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Brian Azzarello, Judd Winick and newer stars like Scott Snyder, Francis Manapul (but can he write?), Cliff Chiang and Jeff Lemire. But they were already doing regular work for DC. Outside of Liefeld, Greg Capullo and Paul Jenkins, where are the big scores from other publishers? (do Ig Gurara and Travel Foreman count?) Where are the hot new indie darlings like Jonathan Hickman or Nick Spencer? You have Josh Fialkov on a shirtless vampire comic but is that going to do it? Nathan Edmondson's getting some great press for Who Is Jake Ellis? but is bringing Grifter into the DC Universe going to raise his star?

Marvel's pairing a talented young writer like Zeb Wells with an artist who was one of the biggest things in comics when he was with the company and whose creator owned series held strong in the Diamond Top 10, despite long delays.

Where's the star power, DC? You seem to be rewarding a lot of, shall we say, underwhelming creators who were delivering the same underwhelming work BEFORE the relaunch, but there have got to be big name creators out there dying to handle some of the most popular and well known characters in the world or those extremely talented writers and artists who're just needing their one shot at the big time to really explode on the scene. (oh--and the women--WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?) Is it too much to want Wednesday Comics quality line-ups tackling these classic comic characters?

It's puzzling to me. Sure there are plenty of DC books I'm going to end up buying or pensively taste testing (I am kind of a slave to the medium) but as much as I hope Grant Morrison gives us All-Star Superman 2.0, that Geoff and Jim make the League feel big and important again, and that Azzarello gives us a Wonder Woman as compelling as Chiang's gorgeous artwork, I can't say that I'm more excited for any of those books than I am to see Wells and Madureira on Spider-Man. And it has nothing to do with being more of a Marvel girl than DC, if they had announced Wells and Mad doing a Bat-book or Teen Titans or even Metamorpho, I'd be just as pumped. (well, okay, I'd probably way more psyched for Spider-Man than Metamorpho, but it'd still be danged cool to see)

Though Madureira at DC would certainly do nothing to shift the I Love the 90's feel and resulting snark directed at these September launches and new DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras.

Ah well. Bring me gorgeous double-page spreads of moloids attacking marathon runners while Spider-Man fights alongside Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, and (a) Hulk.


  1. Wow... Now that is not a bad volley back by Marvel. Way to steal back a few of those DC headlines. I'm impressed with this announcement.

    And I agree with you Tracie... This is the kind of creator announcement I too was hoping DC would make. Not the... ok we just shook up what "ok" creative team we already had and moved them to another book. This is bold, new and fresh. And it it doesn't work... at least Marvel can say they tried something. I for one would buy this book. Color me very impressed.

    Also... you're not a JoeMad fan are you? Nahhh.

  2. Madureira to me is just one of those overly cartoony artits that frankly produce ugly superhero stories. The portions are always off so much that everything looks freakish and disfigured. And it's not even that you can claim the art by itself is energetic and light, look at Ultimates 3 where when the coloring was off everything was just painful.

    As for the current line-up of talent at DC, do you know what most of them have in common? They can meet a deadline. This is big thing for DC right now if they want the date/day digital aspect to succeed. Yeah Bob Harras went back to some his old 90's contacts for this, but they could actually get a book out. Say what you want about Scott Lobdell he got multiple books out on time for years.

    Plus let's be honest about those hot new indie darlings, they don't mean anything to what DC is doing with this relaunch. This is about expanding the market outside the dwindling group of fans that is barely keeping everything alive. DC is going to promote their entire line-up as being about superheroes and those indie guys can't write superheroes. Also people are acting like this is everything from DC, it's just the first wave. Come SDCC we will probably get some more titles and new exclusive creators.

    I hate to say this but this highlights a problem with the current market, if a artist who hasn't produced anything of note in over a decade gets someone more excited then an entire line-wide relaunch. Now I am not saying you shouldn't like what you like, but let's be honest about Madureira. He is past his prime and already had his chance at his return which was a massive fumble. I am happy for you that you are looking forward to this and hope it matches your expectations. For me I am more than excited about the relaunch, I plan to offer my nephews their choice of titles to help it succeed.

  3. Then why shake up where they were? Why Rob Liefeld? Why Jim Lee if your bottom line is making deadlines?

    As for your opinion on Joe's art... dude... you lit a powder keg. (lol) I will say this... Madureira was a cool new energy in the 90's and stood out like few others had... pulling many young artists to take what had come before and melt in the Anime influence. Mads had his short comings... But this is the kind of Engery and surprise I wanted to See DC do.

    I would have been ok with DC importing new talent and taking a risk and failing rather than putting out 3 new JT Krul books out... when the 2 he was doing have been just plain dull. He killed the momentum on Teen Titans and never got any on Green Arrow. Tracie is correct... DC is rewarding dull. Just because they can put out a regular monthly? So what... That is why they are doing this shake up? Its not working.. DC is losing readers in droves.

    After Crisis... What did DC do? John Byrne... stolen from Marvel. George Perez and Frank Miller on Batman. I dare say.... JT Krul isn't going to be seen in this type of class.

    Some names and creators were ok... some were... but most... Eh.

  4. Right now DC's first priority is making the company professional again. I think we can all agree that over the last few years comic publishers have become a little lax with deadlines. With books shipping late or having to be forced to bring a slew of fill-in artists. DC in this initial wave is focusing on rebuilding their own internal structure, this is also why Harras is bringing in some his old editors from Marvel. They are serious about this, I mean just look at the 3 issue minimum they are requiring by the end of August.

    There is also the fact that many comic fans fail to realize or don't want to admit is we all basically read schlock. Even some our most highly regarded runs are melodramatic schlock, just look at Watchmen. Schlock isn't a bad thing though.

    You mentioned Krul and Tony Daniels (in the podcast) as being dull/"meh". I have to disagree Daniel's run on Batman looked very inviting to me with his new characters. I only didn't get since I was waiting for a jumping on point due being confused by David Hine fill-in issue. As for Krul his Titans looked good, I was especially interested in Solstice who I hope stays around. As Liefeld, I know he is seen as a joke but seriously he has been getting a lot better as of late. His art is improving, his portion is a lot better, and he has been meeting a lot of deadlines.

    Finally right now DC and Marvel is selling to different audiences. DC is trying for the first time in over a decade to sell to a bigger audience outside the direct market which is needed if the industry wants to survive. I support DC completely with that, to the point I am willing to forgive a lot of other faults. Because at the end of the day DC is producing fun superhero stories, and while they may not be the best I still enjoy the hell out of them. Marvel on the other hand is trying to sell to the insular established comics community. They are the type of person that cares about names and hold affection for them. I have said this before there are very few creators I care for either way. I am supporting DC right now because I am liking who they are running their business. I am liking they are trying something to save the industry.

  5. Art is purely subjective. If you find Madureira's art too cartoony for your tastes, that's fine. But don't tell me that his art looks freakish and disfigured and then tell me that Liefeld is doing alright. I have nothing against Liefeld's fans. He's the only reason I could get my little brother to read comics in the 90's. People dug his stuff and he totally built a brand out of it and I respect that. They probably loved Liefeld for the same reasons I love Madureira, despite the fact that they're completely different artists. You enjoy it, though, because something about it is dynamic and eye catching and it excites you. That's awesome! That's when comic art is at it's best. When it moves you, when you can't look away from it, when you want to just pour over all the details and neuances and then hang it all over your walls.

    Also, please don't tell me that Joe Madureira is past his prime like it is given fact. I could not disagree with you more. I get it. You don't like his art. Cool. There's artists that I don't like and they're probably perfectly fine illustrators and maybe there even just a hair away from being the kind of thing I dig, but there's just something about it that doesn't do it for me. Paco Medina is like that for me. As is Eddy Barrows. They just don't grab me. They're fine illustrators, there's just something there that doesn't connect with me like it should. Nothing wrong with that.

    I find Joe's stuff just as exciting and dynamic now as I did when I first saw it in the early 90's. (on a Pizza Hut placemat, to be exact) In fact, I think his work's gotten a lot more detailed and less cartoony and anime-like than it was when he was on Uncanny. But it still wows me. I've seen so much pencil art from this Avenging Spider-Man comic and all of it just blows me away, man.

    I'm actually with you on the coloring in Ultimates 3. It overpowered the pencils too much. I still dug the heck out of the book and to see the uncolored pencil work was still pretty great. The Spidey stuff I've seen is so much better than that, though. And hopefully they've adjusted the coloring process for this one. In a perfect world, Tim Townsend would be inking this and then maybe the colors could be toned down a bit. Who knows what the finished interiors will look like at this point. But those penciled pages, man, they just whisk me away.

    I'm an artist myself and Joe was HUGELY influential on me as a young girl and he opened up a whole new world of comic art I wasn't aware could exist at the time. It sparked something in me and it still means a lot to me to this day. I got to meet him at Comic-Con last year and I'm not ashamed to admit that I was trembling when I shook his hand and I called my best friend in Norfolk, Nebraska immediately after meeting him and started weeping on the phone out of happiness and excitement that I finally got to meet this hero and inspiration of mine and he was such a great guy. (and even took a postcard for my webcomic, FIGHT!)

  6. Maybe I shouldn't have made this an opportunity to dig at DC's creator line-ups but I just can't help but see some missed opportunities with the new launch.

    I understand the mechanics of it but it seems like, if you're doing this big flashy venture to bring new readers to comics-- which is fantastic and we need that and THEY need that-- why aren't they doing it in more engaging ways? This is your chance to really show how exciting and interesting comics can be.

    I dunno. I feel like I'm inches away from contridicting myself at this point, after spending all that time talking about subjectivism. I just feel like a lot of the creator line-ups and pairings just do not interest me in the slightest. Green Arrow has been one of my favorite characters since Kevin Smith and Phil Hester brought him back and I just cannot bring myself to care about J.T. Krul being given another chance on the book with Dan Jurgens as artist. That doesn't do anything for me. But hey, presumably someone out there has to be super excited for that so I guess good for them. I'm stepping out. I've got plenty of other stuff I'm jazzed to read and I'm sure I'll get another chance to enjoy Oliver Queen somewhere down the road.

    I think we just have some diametrically opposed feelings about comics. Your comment about DC producing fun superhero stories and Marvel catering to the established community? I feel it's completely the other way around. To me, DC seems way too interested in making everything the way it was in the Silver Age. Marvel's doing a lot more stuff that excites me as a reader. Not all of, but a lot. I think these indie darlings seem to be actually quite adept at writing superhero stories. Jeff Parker keeps proving himself a bigger and bigger talent. Nick Spencer excites me so much with the fresh voice he brings to his projects. (and I will miss his THUNDER Agents sooooo terribly much) Jonathan Hickman is an idea machine. There's a lot of exciting new writers at the company and I'm digging that. DC had Bryan Q. Miller writing an insanely fun Batgirl and he's nowhere to be seen post relaunch.

    I do genuinely want these books to be good and fun and to bring in new readers. I'm just skeptical right now about the choices they've made.

  7. The past his prime comment is something I will stand by, because for a comic book artist he is since he is now seemingly unable to keep to a monthly schedule. I would say the same thing about someone like Jim Lee. They may still be able to produce art but if can't get it out monthly than for this industry they are past their prime.

    Now I brought up Liefeld simply because Robb did, personally his art doesn't do anything for me. I do count X-Force #2 as one of my favorite though for a weird reason. Towards the ends of the book there is a double page ad for one of those telephone "adventure" games featuring the X-Men. I saw that I feel in love with the X-Men. Liefeld didn't do the art for it either, I forget who did. All I remember is Banshee in the Jim Lee X-Men suit being awesome. All that said I stand by saying Liefeld has improved, I mean he actually draws feet now.

    As for my problems with Marvel they have been long brewing and mainly center around the X-Men. I was PISSED AS HELL when they started to kill off the Academy X kids for a cheap shock value. Things only got worse when Alonso got control, he ran them right into the ground. So when he was named EIC (add on to that their bullshit pricing policy) I realized what Marvel was turning into wasn't for me. Right now I see it as an overly cynical and depressing universe.

    Part of the reason I am looking forward to relaunch is that it seems to want to get rid of some of grimdark. I could be wrong but right now a lot of what I see coming out seems to bright, colorful, and frankly fun looking. Plus some of the costumes just look so neat to me. I love Nightwing and Supergirl especially. In fact I was a little upset that their weren't any DC Direct figures solicited this month.

  8. I thought your judgement of "prime" was based upon the actual quality of the work, not the level of efficiency with which it was completed.

    That was my only issue.

    Also, I feel like we're judging the frequency of a book that hasn't even had its first issue solicited yet, much less shipped.

    Furthermore, you're clearly not a fan of Joe, nor are you interested in the book, so there's really not much more to discuss on the topic. You won't buy it, I will, and we'll both be happy.