Alan Moore Justifies the Publication of Before Watchmen

A bit of a different thought for tonight... I was re-reading the old classic in anticipation of next month's upcoming Before Watchmen stories... and I thought I'd articulate to the nothingness of cyberspace exactly how I feel that Alan Moore's very own storytelling has permitted the continuation of the Watchmen story, before and after... so this'll be a bit of a ramble without any real formal structure... first of all, Moore works so hard throughout the entire story to make it a universal one, establishing the cyclical nature of things, particularly in the concluding chapters, offering the statement that nothing ever ends. If indeed nothing ever ends, as posited by Doctor Manhattan, why then should the Watchmen legend? And Moore's biggest mistake, at least in attempting to hold the work against his wishes to see no more publications is to literally leave the fate of the story in the hands of a publisher... the New Frontiersman holds the finally fate of the publication, and the entire purpose of the story and its aftermath is left in the hands of a depiction of the stereotypical fanboy... Mr. Moore departs from the picture frame of his own story, leaving in my hands and yours the fate of what is to come... I leave it entirely in your hands, he authors... while Mr. Moore may perceive the story to be a complete and finite work, the very thing that makes his work so brilliant is the same thing that, in my eyes, divorces him from the theoretical right to establish any limiting ownership of the work. It is something beyond the author, it is something that can only be determined in the eyes of the fans. So if you wish for the story to end there, if you wish for Before Watchmen to be nothing more than a glorified piece of fan fiction, you are empowered by the work to do so. But if you thought for even a moment of events beyond the pages, the likes of which Mr. Moore strove so strongly to create... then you may imbue that world however you so choose, permitted by the bearded malcontent himself... Mr. Moore falls prey to his own Ozymandias-like scheme... he has created something so brilliant and incontrovertibly magnificent that he must surrender to its induction of anonymity or lose the power bestowed by the work. If he declares himself God and master alone of this work, it becomes something stagnant, cold and no longer empowered through the reader's investment... but by elevating it to a work of higher fiction, the likes of which allow him to be cited as a mastercraftsman, he must disavow his title as lone and executive creator of the work... for the work itself demands that it be shared with an audience. So thank you, Mr. Moore, for your work, and I eagerly anticipate the next piece of Watchmen's future and past.

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TheOptimist's April Report

April Report

DC: 58 Comics

Vertigo: 8 Comics

Marvel: 9 Comics

Other Publishers: 2 Comics

Total: 77 Comics

Top Vertigo: American Vampire #26

I thought for sure that it would be impossible for all of my top titles to remain the same. Somehow, it managed to be true. So this month will be American Vampire's final time to be eligible for my top Vertigo spot, moving instead to a permanent approval spot on my pull list. The thing that makes this book so wonderful is how it plays against all the expectations of the Vampire trope, particularly in the way that the number of the title monsters are actually controlled. Each one is fleshed out beautifully, and this month's star, Calvin Poole, is indicative of the true social and cultural commentary linked to the underlying theme of the book. Beautifully done.

Honorable Mentions: Sweet Tooth #32, The Unwritten #36

Top Marvel: Wolverine & The X-Men #8

This book earning the top honor for its kind is not, in fact, indicative of its quality. This month, Marvel basically disappointed across the board. In fact, if it had only been issue #9 of this title released this month, Wolverine & The X-Men would have lost out. As it is, the book will be moved to the permanent removal and approval list, no longer eligible for the top spot. On the whole, I don't mind that, as the book has been quite an enjoyable ride, but I'm hoping that some other Marvel title will at least be worthy enough to earn that top spot in its absence.

No Honorable Mentions

Top Other Publisher: Saga #2

I won't be surprised is this book earns its way to a permanent spot on my board, particularly because its only other independent competition is Morning Glories, which admirably vies for that top spot on its own, but did not ship this month. The real question is what other independent book will secure my attention, earn praise equal to these two titles, and manage to sustain enough readers to keep itself afloat. As it is, Brian K. Vaughn is blowing it out of the water. As you might notice, this was my only independent book. I'm not opposed to them... but if I'm going to buy into them, they should match the quality of Mr. Vaughn's or Mr. Spencer's work.

No Honorable Mentions

Top DC: Batman #8

Batman joins Swamp Thing in the ranks of the DC permanently removed and approved on my pull list. I wouldn't be surprised if, given the opportunity, these two books would hold the top spot throughout the entire year. But now that all of Scott Snyder's monthly books have been wiped clean of eligibility, it makes me all the more excited to celebrate the rest of the comic book line. This book, however, is a crossover done perfectly. It stands on its own, it offers a hook, it keeps the story rolling and it raises the stakes while not blasting itself in the foot with its own hype. It also perfectly sets the stage for this month's Night of the Owls, and the fruit of the Batman family could not be more ripe for the picking.

My DC Top 10 For April

1) Batman #8 - A crossover flagship done right.

2) Nightwing #8 - A crossover brother/sister title done right, with a perfect balance of epic and history.

3) Batman & Robin #8 - A tale of a father and son, finally understanding and yet caught in an emotional wave.

4) Batgirl #8 - A brutal emotional roller coaster that yanked my heartstrings to shreds, only to instill terror with a last page reveal.

5) I, Vampire #8 - A different type of crossover that manages to cap off the story, while elevating the threat potential of this underrated gem.

6) Justice League Dark #8 - A perfect companion title that plays in a shared universe, offers a fond farewell and a tease of new beginnings.

7) Wonder Woman #8 - A mind blowing conclusion, led by another creative interpretation of ancient mythology.

8) Aquaman #8 - A journey of adventure, excitement, horror and mystery that continues to please.

9) Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8 - Another poignant tale of a hero's family that was harsh, cruel and heartbreaking.

10) Demon Knights #8 - A nice tease of a story that offers a reprieve from the epic fields of battle.

Overall Pick of the Month: Batman #8 (DC Comics)

Next Month’s Anticipations: The Night of the Owls continues! Who is David Graves? The Second Wave begins! What is Andrew Bennett's master plan? Anton Arcane returns! Will Marvel's May comics match the quality of their May film outings?

And My Questions for You!

What are you getting/enjoying out of DC's Second Wave?

Will AVX improve, or should it be dropped before too much wallet damage is done?

Congratulations to: American Vampire, Wolverine & The X-Men and Batman for joining Swamp Thing in my Pull List Hall of Fame!

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An Appeal for I, Vampire: A Save This Book Campaign

An Appeal for I, Vampire

Many of us have that book that we read that we absolutely adore, but realistically understand that its chances of reaching certain issue # milestones are somewhat limited by the reality of sales. We hope with our fingers crossed behind our backs and then shout about the injustice of it all when the book is cancelled, blaming anyone we can get our hands on (most often the publisher). While we might’ve talked about how much we love the book before… the truth is more often than not we haven’t actively tried to “save” our book, at least not all that well. In the course of yesterday’s reading, I felt compelled to take an active step, not only to save one such book, but also to get out the word about a hidden gem that is even now still overlooked.

I’ve listened to people’s appeals for books in the past, have tried them out on recommendations, and have often found myself overjoyed at having done so. (Avengers Academy, courtesy of cafeterialoca and others, Uncanny X-Force and X-Factor courtesy of the use formerly known as Dark Huntress and others, btw.) So below, I’ll try a couple of different tactics to convince you to read this book. If you are someone who already reads this book and finds it as stellar as I do, what I ask is that you help its chances by keeping this appeal afloat… adding your own support and sharing the excitement of such a title.

Critical Acclaim: Clearly this book has a lot of critical support. History has indicated that this is not at all correlated to the title’s success, in comics, television or film. But nevertheless, I wanted to share a few statistics, to show how overwhelmingly positive the response has been from those who read it. I, Vampire is one of the only titles of the New 52 that has received Five Stars on every issue where it has been reviewed, here at ComicVine. The only other that comes to mind at this point is Batman. Average community ratings on these issues go from 4 stars up to 4.8 stars. IGN’s average rating for the book is an astounding 8.9 on a scale out of 10. The average. Twice, it has scored near perfect 9.5 ratings, and twice more it has been marked at 9.0, a rating they note as “Amazing.” Clearly these readers have found something rather spectacular about these books worth considering.

Sales: The sales figures for this book are, at first glance, not inspiring. Thus, the rationale for this appeal. But look again. Since the sales of the first issue, relative to other titles I, Vampire has actually bumped up its ranking among New 52 titles. It has, in fact, jumped up a total of 5 spots. In terms of the numbers of total readers lost, the book is actually the 11 best performing book, and it has retained the same percentage of its original readers as Action Comics and The Flash. That ain’t too shabby folks. Especially compared to other low charters, a lot more people are sticking to this book, and there is a reason why. DC has historically also breathed an extra life or two into books like this, whose sales are relatively low, but far exceed the expectations set for them… Manhunter, Blue Beetle, R.E.B.E.L.S. and Jonah Hex all stuck around in part because they hit a level and maintained it, just as I, Vampire is starting to its potential to do.

Jumping On: If you’re worried that you won’t be able to jump on, don’t. There are many different options for you. First, many stores still have issues of the first arc available. If they don’t, the collection of the first volume is coming shortly. You can pre-order it now on Amazon for 45% off. Secondly, the recent crossover the book had with Justice League Dark was a pretty stellar entry point. If you want to trial run a section of the story, this arc taking place from issues #7 to #8 of both titles is a good starting point. Issue #9 is also the start of a new direction, providing an excellent jumping on point for new readers.

Why Try It?: The writing. The art. The story. The whole shebang. It is, seriously, one of the top books in my stack each 4 week of the month… which, given the size of my pile, is saying something. It is a story within the shared DC Universe, without being ‘just another super’ book, one that adds its own twist to the mythos of the Vampire and ranges from an epic legend-style story to an intimate and intense tale of the journey of two not-quite people. And in the words of Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton and children everywhere, “but you don’t have to take my word for it…”

So if you’ve read it, and recommend it, say so. If you check it out, and enjoy it, say so. Let’s get out the word.

I, Vampire Recommended By: TheOptimist

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Exit Ticket: The First New 52 Minis

Huntress: I’ll admit, my perception of this series was probably swayed by Marcus To’s art… but that in itself should serve as a testament of sorts. The story wasn’t out of this world crazy, I suppose, but it doesn’t always have to be. The character and the plot were a standard adventure… the miniseries filled a void that no other book was filling… I would call this one a rather rousing success, all things said and done.

Penguin – Pain and Prejudice: Another one that when they announced I said “really?” And boy am I glad they ran this miniseries. It was REALLY good. The writing and the art were both superb, complementing the essence of the character and his story perfectly. While the pacing was right on the mark and I wouldn’t change it for the world… I also would’ve bought this book for 7 more issues. It was really deep and emotional. I know people are down on the Dark Knight as of late, but if this mini’s writer can work that book half as well has he handled this one… we’re going to hear a lot of “I take it back” regarding the Dark Knight as a book…

The Ray: I’m glad this book was a four issue miniseries… because I enjoyed the character and his little story… but I think I would’ve lost interest if it had carried any longer beyond this final issue… as with Huntress, I think it filled a void, one of levity by a hero just emerging… it hit some diversity marks which was nice I suppose… although the ending didn’t make me beg for more of the character, it also didn’t leave me hoping to never see him again. Not a mind-blower, but they can’t all be, can they?

Legion – Secret Origin: The drawback of this book is that it left me asking the question why, far too often. Why did we need a third legion book when the first two are struggling as they are? Why did we need the origin told again? Why didn’t we really pull anything new out of the book? Which left me feeling a bit like ‘Why did I bother?’ It wasn’t bad writing, nor was it bad art… but I’m not sure that made it justified.

My Greatest Adventure: I’m not really sure why they pushed this book into the rotation. Clearly there was something that I missed, or the creators involved really just wanted to do the stories without hopes for a big blockbuster… but the sales really didn’t warrant this book… that said, I enjoyed it for what it was, and I do hope that there are future options for multi-character shared title minis like this in the future… just maybe with a little more recognizable firepower. Robotman’s story was good, but not really exceptional. I grew to enjoy Garbage Man in the first book… and I loved the art… but if he shows up again, I’d like to see it in someone else’s pages, and only if they can find a real reason for the appearance… Tanga, I’ll admit, was a tad strange. Enjoyable, cute in its own way… but I often found myself chuckling, and unsure of exactly why it was happening.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: Ah, Nick Spencer, DC will miss you. I wish this book had found more sales success… because especially now that the journey is complete, it was quite a fun adventure. Sometimes it went a bit beyond me, but as in a Morrison book, by the time we reached the end all of the pieces seemed clear and I had a fun ride. I’m glad that the story was told, at least.

Batman – Odyssey: I’ll be frank, I didn’t enjoy the first volume of this. Enough that the only thing I wasn’t picking up out of all of DC’s main line product, this was the one thing I held off on. And for kicks then I casually picked up issue 1. And enjoyed it, for the most part. So I picked up issue 2. And enjoyed it, for the most part. Rinse and repeat this all the way to the end of the mini, so I ended up picking up every issue, despite not planning to get any of them. This volume did all the things the last one failed to for me… I ended up loving the quirky world it explored, the somewhat atypical script, and the Adams style of art… I guess truth be told, I had quite a good time with this book. Well done.

The Shade: Hey “The Shade”, weren’t you panicking about your book not making it past issue #6? Well congrats, you’ve pushed out 7 so far, and barring a crazy twist you’ll be making it to #12 in September. Seeya then, ya fun book. Good luck to you and Night Force, ya little chuggers.

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Exit Ticket: The First Concluded New 52 Books

As today marked the end of Blackhawks, and the first wave of conclusions, I thought I'd run a quick thought about each of the books that concluded their run this month... I'll also be posting a similar such entry on the mini-series, although I'm supposing (perhaps incorrectly) that there is a less vested interest in those titles.

Hawk & Dove: I hold by my earliest assessment of this book, that if Rob Liefeld is going to fit on any book in this modern day anti-Liefeld world that it would be in a book such as this. In the end, however, the ball was dropped in the delivery of the story (which I admittedly believed had promise in issue #1), after which the Liefeld art lost the pass that the book would normally afford it. I picked it up to the bitter end, but was disappointed that this potential underdog surprise hit fizzled when it could have popped.

OMAC: Of the 6 ending books, this is the one I’ll miss the most. I thought it was clever, aware of its niche, well purposed and in the end a big bucket of fun. Each issue of this title reminded me of the excitement I felt when I picked up Didio’s Outsiders crossover into the Reign of Doomsday… that realization that when he writes to his strengths, his books can be quite a lot of fun. OMAC, for me, was chock full of the best Dan had to offer… which made for a blast in a can. I only hope that his next writing project will be able to play as much upon his strengths as this title did.

Blackhawks: Honestly, there were a lot of times I had no clue what was going on in this book. The cast of characters was often hard for me to track, the mission was a bit too ambiguous and although it’ll probably read better in the trade, I couldn’t track the story from issue to issue. However, I do have to say that when it caught me by surprise, it did so rather well, particularly with the occasional twist endings… even if I hadn’t quite followed the story to that point, when those big explosive final pages came… they were a thrill.

Men of War: War comics aren’t my thing, but the first issue of this book blew me away. After that, it lost steam, suffering from the same “confusion/I can’t keep track” problem as Blackhawks… the final two issues were much more my speed and were really fantastic… although #8 was mostly just an extra issue of Frankenstein anyways. I think if the book held to more of the one-shot style stories, I might’ve dug it more on the whole. I did love that the book went out on a bang though, and it seems that Voodoo will be a potential home for at least a few of the characters for now.

Mister Terrific: Truth be told, I found this book rather amusing. Not in a mind blowing kind of way, but I quite enjoyed the whacky hijink adventures of the world’s third smartest man… sure, there was a lot of potential that never got achieved because of the book’s abbreviated run… but I was astonished when the title was announced, so the fact that they got me to buy it and enjoy the book for all 8 issues is quite a feat.

Static Shock: All the creator change drama aside… this book was a flop for me. There was little I enjoyed, in story or art… I just couldn’t get into it. I’m not sure how much of that was caused by the editorial conflict… but I just couldn’t see what made Virgil worthy of the reader’s attention. That first issue, I thought was a perfect set-up for a DC equivalent of the early days of Ultimate Spider-Man… not only was this hope lost, but it was further smeared by the fact that the New Ultimate Spider-Man actually ending up accomplishing what I hoped Static would (at least, from the issue I’ve read and the reviews I’ve heard). I know the books chances weren’t very good… but the desperate scramble to provide it some life support ended up tarnishing the quality and sending it to the same grave anyways. I hope we’ll see Static again, but it’ll take a really good writer or a really great pitch to convince me he can sustain a solo book at this point.

What'd you think? Which ones are you sad to see make their exit? What do you see in store for the characters, creators and titles involved?

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Setting Expectations for the Second Wave

If you've read any of my previous blog posts, you've probably discerned by now that I am a bit of a data driven creature. As such, I wanted to begin setting my expectations for the Second Wave of the New 52 titles. Where these titles will actually fall is a bit of a game of luck... but I wanted to establish some wide parameters for analysis, to check how these titles will compare to other current titles as well as to the initial launch of the New 52. To do this, my first step was to find the average sales amount of each of the New 52 groups, throughout issues #1 to #7. This includes every copy indicated on sales charts, including combo packs and reorders. The first numbered column indicates the group average including the cancelled, the second indicates the average with those titles removed.

Pre-Cancel AveragePost Cancel Average
Superman Group74541.4285774541.42857
Green Lantern Group72339.7142972339.71429
Justice League Group59086.1142963246.19048
Batman Group48791.8701348791.87013
Young Justice Group31460.1666736342.39286
The Dark Group35012.2653135012.26531
The Edge Group26742.9523830180.54762
DC Universe Presents27127.5714327127.57143
So now...
Once we've done this... I used these figures as the range for the titles in their respective groups... included are their groups, and the range that they would need to meet...
Earth 2Justice League Group5908663246
World's FinestJustice League Group5908663246
Batman, Inc.Batman Group4879148791
Dial HThe Dark Group3501236342
The RavagersYoung Justice Group3146035012
GI CombatThe Edge Group2674230180

So if these titles hit within these ranges, they will be either raising or maintaining the levels of their various groups... for my purposes, to be within this general range (take a thousand units or so) would be to meet the established standard. If sales are above those marks, they would be regarded as exceeding the established expectations. Most likely that'll be pretty feasible for the two Justice League titles: JLI and JLD managed to beat those levels in their first month's sales, even without reorders. Similarly, Batman Inc. last sold at about 56K, and in the relaunch the given range was about where Superboy was falling. The other titles might have a tougher time. Ravagers probably has the best luck, spinning out of the Culling event. Dial H is one I'm incredibly hopeful will meet that level, especially to indicate that readers are digging the Dark titles... GI Combat has the biggest challenge as its debut number pretty much would have to match Men of War's debut to achieve the aim.

Now, that isn't the end game... we also need to compare the titles to the ones they're replacing... anything above these levels would be of moderate quality, basically approaching the established standard... not panic news, but not celebration either. Included below are the data points for the cancelled titles:

#7 SalesAverageAssumed Replacement
Hawk and Dove1273123108.57143Earth 2
Mister Terrific1062021645.42857World's Finest
Omac1180720964.42857Batman, Inc.
Static Shock1056520282.85714Dial H
Blackhawks960119829.85714The Ravagers
Men of War968218809GI Combat

The assumed replacement is basically the loose guess based on the above charts of which will be the highest sellers (personally I think Batman Inc will be the highest, but I'm going with group averages for now). If the title achieves the same or above the average levels of their predecessor, I would mark them as a moderate success, a 3 stars out of 5 kind of victory. Ranging between #7 to average would be a 2 stars or okay ranking. Ranking below the #7 sales of the predecessor title would be a decisive failure.

Naturally these levels will adjust after the first issue sales... for the most part, the method of ranking will remain the same, only I will begin to compare the average of the new title to the average of the old... so good luck to the Second Wave... I know I'll be buying... let us hope that the retailers will be doing so as well!

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TheOptimist's March Report

March Report

DC: 62 Comics

Vertigo: 10 Titles

Marvel: 10 Comics

Other Publishers: 3 Comics

Total: 85 Comics

Top Vertigo: American Vampire #25

Don’t take the consistency of this title as an indication of the value of other books within the Vertigo branch, but rather of the awesome staying power of this arc featuring young rebel heartthrob Travis Kidd. There were many solid books this month, but the showdown battle followed by Kidd’s hyper-badass final confrontation really set the bar at a new level.

Honorable Mentions: Fables #115, Izombie #23, Sweet Tooth #31, The Unwritten #35, Fairest #1, Saucer County #1

Top Marvel: Wolverine & The X-Men #7

While this book takes my top spot, it also ends up earning my highest frustration level this month, with the turn that Broo’s character has taken. A lot of the value of this title is held in the writing, the piece that has elevated it to consistent top spot status has been the artistic style and quality. Next month returns to a form less appealing to me, as well as the conflict of a crossover. Next month’s top marvel spot may be an interesting battle.

Honorable Mentions: X-Factor #233, Avengers Academy #27

Top Other Publisher: Saga #1

As nearly every critic alive has already noted, the return of Brian K. Vaughn to comics itself is a near epic event, and fortunately Saga managed to meet all of the hype and expectation. It really, truly, was a lot of fun, with an interesting layered play on the genres of fantasy and science fiction, all the while grounded in the believability of his characters. I had planned on trade waiting most issues of this book, but actively find myself needing to keep the story rolling next month.

Honorable Mentions: Morning Glories #17, Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #6

Top DC: Batman #7

If you had told me in the first week of the month that there would be a book that could contend with Swamp Thing for the top spot of the month, I’d have told you that you were crazy. And then a couple of weeks passed… and there were three very serious contenders, one which managed to knock the spot out from Swamp Thing’s feet, retaining the throne once more… in 2011, Swamp Thing was my undefeated top pick of each month… 2012, it seems, has become the territory of the Batman.

My DC Top 10 For March

1) Batman #7- A thrilling tale that exposed the secret mythos we never knew existed.

2) Swamp Thing- A book of transformation, heralding the beginning of war.

3) Batman and Robin- A shock we always knew was coming, but didn’t think would ever truly come.

4) Nightwing- A title that retroactively upgraded the quality of each previous issue by two ratings levels.

5) Aquaman- A chilling start to the expansion of the Aquaverse and a sharp new storyline.

6) Wonder Woman- A somewhat controversial, but nevertheless awesome development in the history of the Amazonian culture.

7) I, Vampire- A consistently vibrant horror story that managed to up the apocalyptic ante without losing the strong focus on character.

8) Justice League Dark- A true representation of the value of a crossover well done.

9) Justice League- A nice done in one follow-up to the lengthier precedent, with a touch of tease towards the future.

10) Green Lantern Corps- A somewhat predictable but nevertheless effective tear jerker, that some might find cheesy, while I found it heart wrenching.

Overall Pick of the Month: Batman #7 (DC Comics)

Next Month’s Anticipations: The Night of the Owls begins! What changes await the Justice League roster? The Justice League Dark joins with Andrew Bennett to defeat the Rise of the Vampires! How will Bruce deal with Damian? The Other League debut continues! Will Wolverine join the Avengers or the X-Men? The Runaways and the Avengers Academy and dinosaurs!

And My Questions for You!

Now that the day has arrived: AVX, are you in and for how much of it?

Was the Vertigo mini-launch effective?

As the first group of cancelled New 52 books conclude, which has been your favorite?

Which upcoming crossover are you most or least anticipating and why?

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New 52: Cancellation Jeopardy

So I thought I'd do a run down of sales, to see which New 52 titles are the closest to the jeopardy line of cancellation... I still wouldn't be chucking any of these kids to the curb just yet, particularly because I'm also going to be commenting on their potential for rising back up again... my method for selecting these titles was placing any title that has ranked in the "Bottom 13" during the first six months of sales, as well as the 13 books that had the greatest percentage losses... then I trimmed out books that had showed relative degrees of improvement, either shifting relatively upwards or indicating smaller losses each month. I ended up with 8 books, which I'll run through here, from least to most likely cancellation levels, providing my rationale for their jeopardy status, as well as what might end up saving them from said fate.

1. DC Universe Presents: This title hit the red 3 months into the relaunch but has since recovered... it still has a relatively high loss rate, both in overall sales and in percentage ranking... but not a completely devastating one... the real challenge of this book will come with the rotation of characters and creators that run the gamut... James Robinson will soon be inheriting the book, along with the return of Bernard Chang, for a tale of a (non-Scandal) Savage daughter... it certainly seems like the arc will be designed to at least ride the title to issue 12... if the book is to survive past a year, I'd throw in a heavy duty creator with a character that could sustain their own book in the right circumstances... maybe even tie it into a mini-event that could use a solo character flourish.

2. Voodoo: This book has ridden the red from the start. While it had the first creator change, the results were not that of an instantaneous recovery... however, if it can actually stabilize at its current level, that'd be a significant (relevant) accomplishment... this time last year, Xombi's #1 sales were less than Voodoo's current sales... other titles below the line were steadfast books like Jonah Hex and R.E.B.E.L.S., while critical darlings like T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Knight & Squire were even further down... Voodoo is certainly holding a higher level than Doom Patrol, Freedom Fighters or the Second Wave books were. A Wildstorm-theme event might not do much harm, although we'll see the first hint of that power in Grifter's next month delivery...

3. Grifter: Speaking of which, I'd say Grifter is in nearly the exact same boat. With the addition of just a couple thousand units each month, Voodoo would be at Grifter's exact same level... I guess the real investigation should be if it is the same people reading these two books, or whether the reader's market is split between the two... if it is, they could do some damage with an element of crossover or combination.

4. Blue Beetle: Now we get to some of the rougher patches. Beetle started well enough, but has since taken a turn in sales. Ironic, considering my reception of the title has improved with time. But there is no denying that the book is selling at less than 30% of the #1 sales, having lost nearly 37,000 units. This isn't the first time the title struggled, but before it was offered a significant pocket of air to sustain the title... a GL: New Guardians crossover is on the way, could that pump the book up a notch to last it a little longer? Let us hope. (*wink*)

5. Legion Lost: The rationale for this one is also a tad thin... having been a mostly midrange title... but the question is whether the story will be able to last throughout the purpose of the title... or whether it would be better to close this book early. Again, if it stabilizes the book could be a consistent midlevel seller... the best shot for that though is going to be the temporary boost offered by the upcoming Culling storyline. I wouldn't be surprised if that offered an extra half year or so of life, as happened to books like R.E.B.E.L.S. or Doom Patrol following their Blackest Night tie-ins...

6. Savage Hawkman: As articulated by Rob Liefeld, the book's sales have dropped off a cliff. They started pretty darn high and have plummetted radically... now, the sales still aren't in the "bottom 13" yet, but it does have one of the most astonishing percent losses of any book on the market... the answer at this point was to stick the Liefeld name on it... something that might work given Liefeld's penchant for the excessively muscular brute style story that would fit Hawkman... but that mentality already tanked a Hawk... the question is whether a Hawkman will do better...

7. Fury of Firestorm: On top of a temporary drama flare-up (most of the evidence of which exists currently in the minds of a handful of fans), the book is not exactly faring all that well. A drop that rivals Hawkman's, while making the Bottom 13 of the titles... it doesn't look like the book has any upcoming shifts either in creators or tie-ins... a blessing, some might say, but not one that is likely to add to sales. There also aren't too many people at this point stepping up to bat to defend the book... we can only guess at this point what might turn the book around. The book is even below the numbers it held 5 years ago... a rarity, when you actually start making the comparisons. Back then it was doing better than Aquaman.

8. Captain Atom: And then we come to Captain Atom. Somehow it managed to avoid the first wave of cuts, despite having lower sales than another of the dropped titles, and a significant drop of percentage points...the numbers haven't improved since... no crossovers or creative shifts are on the horizon... and Dr. Manhattan is shortly to be on the way, effectively duplicating the current form of Atom based stories... I greatly admire both Krul and Williams... and perhaps the book is cut some extra slack, for unknown reasons... he'll certainly pass the bar he was afforded in the Wildstorm-verse, with 9 issues... but mirroring his 56 issue volume from the mid-80s does not look all that likely at this point.

If you want these series to survive... advocate for them! Recommend them! (Buy them!) Only YOU can prevent title cancellations!

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TheOptimist's February Report!

The fun continues! And I’m actually managing to keep this going two months in a row! Our first five shipment-weeks month of the year, this February brought with it a good handful of comics… and some real surprises. Some unexpected titles made it into my favorites list and some new directions make me more excited for the future of comics than ever before!

February Report

DC: 66 Comics

Vertigo: 8 Comics

Marvel: 15 Comics

Other Publishers: 3 Comics

Total: 92 Comics

Top Vertigo: American Vampire #24

Once again this title takes the top spot; once again it does so with bold conviction. I’m continually surprised by what this book has to offer, particularly in the development of new characters and the expansion of the mythology of the series. Skinner Sweet is a compelling character on his own, but the developing history of young Travis Kidd was compelling and flat out awesome. I would love to see a capable writer take the character off on his own course after next month’s completion of this storyline.

Honorable Mentions: Fables #114, The Unwritten #34

Top Marvel: Wolverine & The X-Men #6

It almost seems disappointing that a majority of last month’s top books repeat the feat this month, but I honestly could not see any other title as being this worthy of the spot. The artistic style is one of my favorites; the characters are both hilariously endearing and at the same time empowered beings, not by their mutation but by their personality. The fact is that this title is a true “fun adventure” style title, full of wacky hijinks, exciting action scenes, all without diminishing the value of the title characters. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite reads; (history suggests that we must thus look for its participation in crossovers to dilute the quality and lead to the book’s plummet towards cancellation). If the book can stay this course for the long term, it will lock its place not only in the Marvel universe, but in the greater history of the X-Men mythology.

Honorable Mentions: Avengers Academy #25, Thunderbolts #170, Wolverine & The X-Men #5, X-Factor #232

Top Other Publisher: Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #5

Normally this would be a giveaway spot for the Morning Glories title… but the game was raised this month with this crossover, which not only provided an engaging story but also featured some major twists and turns. The truth is that this spot is really awarded because of the two-page splash that turned this issue into the ultimate crossover. It is much to wish for in the future, but I can only hope that the page symbolizes the continued possibility that these many universes (and franchises) will find opportunities to collide.

Honorable Mentions: Morning Glories #16, Kevin Keller #1

Top DC: Batman #6

Clearly this book has hit a solid stride, taking the momentum of last month’s issue and rolling with it to perfect completion. I could not be more excited by this title and cannot wait for what comes next. This issue not only serves as a stellar piece of work on its own, but also functions as a proper example of how to lead into a mini-event without forcing the subject or diverting the strength of the title’s core purpose. While it falls into the category of the more recognizable super-hero titles, I would not for a moment hesitate to recommend this issue (along with the preceding installments) to any reader of comics.

My DC Top 10 for February

1) Batman #6- A phenomenal chapter leading to desperate anticipation.

2) Green Lantern Corps- A brilliant closeout that returns the title to the top of my stacks.

3) I, Vampire- A shocking twisting yarn, leading to anticipation for a hopefully stellar crossover epic.

4) Resurrection Man- A surprising done-in-one, providing a perfect jumping on point for the character.

5) Aquaman- A strong one-shot character analysis, with the first hints of a larger web of intrigue.

6) Red Hood and the Outlaws- A piece of the past that proves to be enlightening and reflective.

7) Penguin: Pain and Prejudice- A brilliant ending to an under read character study that leaves me begging for similar projects.

8) Justice League- A simple blockbuster that served its purpose, with an enticing tease of things to come.

9) Swamp Thing- A horrifying installment of a consistently brilliant title.

10) Blue Beetle- A perfect example of the character’s potential.

Overall Pick of the Month: Batman #6 (DC Comics)

Next Month’s Anticipations: The bottled city of Metropolis! Will the Rot claim the Animal Kingdom as it did the Parliament of Trees? Batwing and Massacre in Gotham City! What is the secret of the Huntress? Night Force debuts! Who is the new Swamp Thing? Batwoman against the world of urban legends! What is the secret of the Indigo Tribe? Resurrection Man also in Gotham City! How will the Owls strike the Bat next? Catwoman in her own Fast and Furious! Who else will join the Justice League? The Rise of the Vampires! Will the Titans succeed in rescuing Superboy? The new wave of Vertigo titles debut! Will Gus save the day? Travis Kidd’s finale! Will the Children’s Crusade actually end this month? Thunderbolt against Thunderbolt! Will AvX’s tease thrill or fizzle?

And My Questions for You!

What books are you thinking about adding or dropping?

What books from the Vertigo launch are you considering?

What effect does double shipping have on your buying patterns?

What low selling title would you beg to save?

Start the Conversation

TheOptimist's January Report!

To allow for an evolving schedule, I’ve decided to devote my efforts to a monthly analysis of comics, with some statistics, mini-reviews and rankings. Future installments may feature additional commentary, features or categories. For now, here is what comics looked like for me in the month of January. Included in the following numbers are purchases of variants, combo packs and multiple copies.

January Report

DC: 66 Comics

Vertigo: 7 Comics

Marvel: 12 Comics

Other Publishers: 2 Comics

Total: 87 Comics

Top Vertigo: American Vampire #23

Not even remotely surprising, American Vampire tops my month of Vertigo. With the phenomenal script and stunning artistic talents, how could it not? Due to shipping delays, I received last month’s book just a week before, which is a good thing considering how eager I was to get my hands on the next issue of this new storyline. I thought I would be disappointed to see time move forward in this series (after all, as time progresses it comes closer to the modern day and the potential end of new story opportunities) but I absolutely adore the perfect capture of the period in the context of vampire mythology.

Honorable Mentions: Sweet Tooth #29, The Unwritten #33, The Unwritten 33.5

Top Marvel: Wolverine & The X-Men #4

A surprise, to be sure, this series really illustrates the value of the ideological split between Cyclops and Wolverine in the schism by allowing the personalities of the mutant children to shine. While a book featuring several of my fanboy favorites would be enough to carry my interest, the development of new kids like Genesis and Broo not only serves as intriguing story, it also accomplishes that rare feat of generating interest in relatively new creations. My hope is that these newbies will be allowed to flourish, rather than to wither and die under “flash in a pan” syndrome, as has befallen similar characters.

Honorable Mentions: Alpha Flight #8, Thunderbolts #169, Wolverine #300, X-Factor #230

Top Other Publisher: Morning Glories #15

This series continues to entertain and intrigue me, while certain pages of this issue even seemed like a small advice column. The ending was a frustrating shock. I only wish this series came out more often, to cater to the story’s Lost-style pacing. The characters are truly memorable, their storylines live up to their potential and the surprises haven’t stopped coming in this book since I turned the first page.

Top DC: Batman #5

This series grabs my top monthly spot for the first time since the relaunch, and does so with powerful gusto, raising the value of the medium without diluting from its contiguous purpose. Immersive and innovative, the story exemplified hybrid-class literature by providing accessibility while working with intelligence. On multiple levels the story blossoms, with perfect timing to naturally invite and excite readers into coming chapters. Without a doubt, this book earns a contender’s spot for Best of the Year, only one month into it.

My DC Top 10 for January

1) Batman #5- A modern classic of intrigue and ingenuity.

2) Batwoman- A gem of story and art, closing out a perfect story arc.

3) Swamp Thing- Action & Romance, Life & Death, Horror & Beauty.

4) Aquaman- A solid done-in-one, while leading to a new epic.

5) Animal Man- A horrifying twisted tale that entraps and devours.

6) Green Lantern- A favorite that still manages to excite and surprise.

7) Demon Knights- A strong character analysis in classic D&D format.

8) Green Lantern Corps- A return to strong form with an intriguing ensemble.

9) I, Vampire- A lesser read, but worthy book, holding itself to a new high standard.

10) Flash- A fast paced read on heroic character, with several teases of the future.

Overall Pick of the Month: Batman #5 (DC Comics)

Next Month’s Anticipations: Animal Man as an indie film star! Will Alec Holland become the Swamp Thing? Amy Reeder debuts on Batwoman! How will Hal Jordan regain his ring? Harley Quinn goes nuts! Will Bruce turn the tables on the Owls? The Justice League faces off against Darkseid! Will Jonah Hex survive the Batcave? Mera takes center stage! Will Batman become a vampire? Batman Beyond Unlimited debuts! Skinner Sweet or Travis Kidd? Tommy Taylor fights depowered! How is Kitty Pryde pregnant? The conclusion of Children’s Crusade! Will Fantomex survive to snark another day?

And My Questions for You!

What were your top picks for the month?

What titles are you dying to recommend?

What are you looking forward to next month?

What will be my next pick of the month?

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