I haven't read a Wizard in years - probably for close to one hundred issues. I picked up issue 228 about a month after it came out, after running across some online articles about Mark Millar's upcoming new character, "Superior." As an aspiring writer myself, Superior is a name I had been developing for a book, so I was a bit crestfallen to see that the name was being used. Especially since I was seeing images very similar to what I had envisioned my own character to look like. It's complete coincidence, of course. I'm sure that similar paths of thought are what led to such similarities. Still, I am always intrigued when someone beats me to a character name and it's so close to what I had thought of, so I rushed out to pick up a copy of Wizard #228, where Superior made his debut, thanks in large part to Mark Millar being the guest editor for this issue.
Of course, I flipped right to the article on Superior - the first eight pages of "The Money Shot" feature - and was highly disappointed with what I found... or didn't find. There was actually very little about this character at all. In fact, the actual text in this article probably could have fit in two pages. The first two pages were a double-page spread proclaiming the Wizard Exclusive First Look at Superior, with an image of the hero flying. The next six pages have a sidebar article running across the bottom third of the page, talking about Kick-Ass 2 and other Millar projects. The rest of the article space is taken up mostly with black-and-white headshots of Superior, one color shot towards the end, and a partial color view of Superior's nemesis, Abraxas. Three huge pull quotes took up about a page worth of space, including a quote about Abraxas that I couldn't find in the actual article. Overall, I didn't learn anything about Superior that I hadn't already learned online. The only new information I got from the article was Millar's opinions on the industry, himself, and what he thinks he's done for the "Superman archetype."
So, with the fluff piece out of the way, I looked at the rest of the issue, wondering what has changed with Wizard over the years. First and foremost: the price guides are gone, which I was glad to see, for two reasons: 1) it had to be maddening for the magazine to keep up with pricing fluctuations on a monthly basis, and 2) it didn't seem to do much except fuel the speculator's market.
Something that disturbed me a little was that this issue had two covers. Why? This isn't a comic. Is this magazine about comics itself collectible? That sickened me a little. Especially since the alternate cover featured Superior, but all the cover text was done in magic marker and pencilled double lettering. A few of the interior pages were done in this pencilled lettering also, and left me wondering why I paid $5.99 for this magazine.
A bright spot was that Stan Lee was answering questions about himself in the reader mail section, which unfortunately (in this instance) had dwindled to one page, from its past days of two or three pages. This bright spot was later dimmed by the presence of two pages of "Body by Romita," a Toybiz Theater type of gag that wasn't very funny. There were also four pages of "twaddle" - a Twitter-esque fiction between villains about sandwiches, whether they are still imposing, and "tentacle porn." That is directly followed by two pages of "Spastic Plastic," a spotlight on five of the worst action figures ever made. I get that it's supposed to be funny, but I'd really rather see an article about cool action figures. There were four pages of creators answering Millar's question: "What was the first image in a comic book that turned you on as a kid?" Seriously? There were five pages of a wasted "Casting Call" feature, where the Wizard Staff picked actors to play people in the comic industry. The last page was "From the Desk of Mark Millar," which was a full page picture of article copy from this issue, laid out on a desk, with quippy sticky notes all over them. There were also ten full page ads in this issue, which isn't really a bad thing (they do have to pay their bills, after all) but it just seemed like more filler, after the eighteen pages of nothing mentioned above. So altogether, that's twenty-eight pages of mind-numbing pablum in a single issue. Twenty-eight out of eighty. And that doesn't include the one page editorial, or the splash pages and double page spreads that introduced the articles, which I didn't count, but were also filler.
The main articles were nice, compared to everything else. There was an interview between Millar and several "Hollywood Heavyweights," an interview with "Scott Pilgrim" star Michael Cera, an article about the "Green Hornet" movie, a short piece on the "Batman: Under the Red Hood" DVD, and a very decent artice on Wally Wood. There was a two page spread on five up-and-coming creators, which I wish had been longer. Just when the articles were doing well though, there was a six page article on stories that never made it to print. I usually like this kind of article, but this one had stories I had read about before, and although I don't recall for certain, I'm pretty sure I had read about them in Wizard. The articles accounted for about thirty pages of the magazine, not counting all of the filler intro spreads.
If this is what Wizard has come to, it will certainly be at least another hundred issues before I read another one. If this issue is indicative of Wizard's normal level of quality, I seriously doubt that it will last that long. I wouldn't focus so much on the page counts, but it was striking to me that fully half of this magazine was filler and fluff. So like the page counts, I'm going to split this issue's score right down the middle, and then deduct a little further for my own disappointment. I'm giving this issue a 2 out of 5.