§ Steven Grant found the year 2008 in comics “dreary”:

I won’t bother repeating my “best of 2008” list – you’ll have to check the Journal in a couple months for that – except to say it was two items long, and both were reprints. Worst of list? Why waste the time? There are two levels of “worst”: amateur work that either aspires to nothing, or whose reach exceeds its grasp, and professional work (and there’s no clean demarcation between amateur and professional anymore, given the propensity of publishers to gravitate toward warm bodies rather than talent) that’s incompetent or competent but listless. What’s the point in commemorating any of it?

Dtwof-600§ Yesterday’s NY Times has a glowing front page-of-section review of the new Dykes to Watch Out For collection:

Plenty of readers, however, needed no introduction to Ms. Bechdel. For more than 20 years she has been the creator of “Dykes to Watch Out For,” a weekly comic strip, printed mostly in college-town alternative newspapers, about the fractious lives and loves of an articulate group of lesbians in a city that resembles Minneapolis. The strip is sexy, sometimes in an R-rated way — imagine “Doonesbury” with regular references to sex toys — and it’s political, in a feisty, lefty, Greenpeace meets PETA meets MoveOn.org kind of way. Ms. Bechdel’s lesbians wanted to impeach the first George Bush.

§ England comes to grips with the Manga Threat in a long, well-written piece that interviews many creators on the UK manga scene:

“A couple of years ago, the comics scene here really felt stagnant,” says John Aggs, an established comic-book artist based in Brighton whose work is heavily influenced by manga. “You would go to events and there would be the artists and a few 30-year-old nerds. Now you go and there are thousands and thousands of manga kids, and scantily clad anime girls wielding giant plastic swords, and they’re all jumping up and down and screaming and buying stuff.”

The story mentions that the recent London’s Movie Comic Media Expo attracted 31,000 attendees, up from 20,000 in 2007, and credits manga fans with the rise.

§ Wow, there are TWO Jimmy Aquinos in comics???

§ A “today’s area woman story” is a sad one. A Hoboken woman mourns her stolen comics:

It’s no laughing matter though that 600 of her family’s comic books, valued at $80,000, were stolen last month from a basement in Hoboken. Along with the comics, packages of unopened Batman gum and baseball cards were taken.

It seems she had moved and couldn’t take the comics with her, so she left them in a communal basement storage area…and a year later…gone. A hoarder’s worst nightmare.

Clink on the link just for the picture, which we’re too kindhearted to reproduce here.

§ EW has named Family Guy creator and multibillionaire Seth MacFarlane the smartest person in entertainment.

§ Today’s NY Times totally spoils the ending of SECRET INVASION. We mean it! TOTAL SPOILER. Just like this…in black and white:

The Marvel comics mini-series “Secret Invasion” concludes Thursday with a twist ending: The world has lost faith in Iron Man, who was unable to prevent an infiltration by shape-changing aliens, and turns to Norman Osborn, the Spider-Man villain known as the Green Goblin, who delivers the final blow to the extraterrestrial threat. The events put Osborn and a cabal of nefarious allies in charge of the Marvel universe. The “Secret Invasion” series has been a best-seller for Marvel; its first issue sold more than 270,000 copies. So what will its author, Brian Michael Bendis, do for a follow-up? “What we really need to do is spend some time with the characters and deal with the aftermath of all that’s happened,” he said in an interview. “We need to dig deep down and see what they’re made of.”

Can they do that?

They just did!


  1. Not that I don’t sympathize with the woman who lost her comics, but…

    She’s 46 years old. She started collecting as a child, i.e. the 70s (or late 60s), and her *son* continued the collection (presumably in the 80s or 90s).

    And the comics in her collection are worth an *average* of $133 each??

    Color me skeptical. Like I say, I sympathize, but I have to think the value was closer to $1000-$2000 unless she was an extremely savvy (and lucky) collector.

  2. So, basically, Norman Osborn is this year’s President Luthor?

    Could be interesting… comparing the good intentions of the Illuminati with those of this “star chamber”…

    Big deal, says my inner fanboy… Washington, DC, gets conquered by Kang (back during “Nuff Said” month) but what effect did that have? The U.S. refuses to return a religious artifact which is the centerpiece of the Inhuman’s culture (imagine if the U.S. did that with the Black Stone of Mecca), and when the Inhumans fight to get it back, the U.S. NUKES Attilan on the Moon. Again, what effect does that have on the Marvel Universe? (Or was that in some other parallel universe? “Silent War” didn’t specify.)

    What would I like to see? A whole group of Watchers show up at some mega-event. Something so bad-ass that it effects the entire universe. Then end it all by showing a Watcher blogging about what he saw afterwards.

  3. funny, fistful of soundtracks jimmy acquino and i used to work at the same radio station, a fact that has entered into nearly every conversation i’ve ever had with comics jimmy acquino. the latter once told that dana synder and myself were the two people who always get our jimmy acquinos mixed up. honestly, i consider it all fodder for my fistful of acquinos fan blog.

  4. The SI spoiler doesn’t bother me at all, because, from the editorial standpoint, there was no storyline. The premise was fatally flawed. Bendis seemed to start out with the idea of making the Skrull impersonators sleeper agents, like Skrull-Captain Marvel (see the Skrulls’ dialogue in NEW AVENGERS #40), but then abandoned the idea when he (et al.?) realized what that would do to tie-ins. The change in direction resulted in a self-contradicting, senseless mess of a storyline that rendered the impersonations pointless. Mind control would have been far more effective.

    Given the basic problem with the premise, Bendis’s displays of technological (“alien” computer virus) and scientific (mishandling of DNA) illiteracy didn’t damage the story as much as they would have otherwise — (although, if one tracks current genetics research, he’ll realize that real-world research has rendered M-Day and all the plotlines concerning the X-gene obsolete. Researchers at the NIH could recreate the X-gene, if it existed, and theorize about creating new “power” genes).

    Perhaps the most irritating stylistic problem with SI was Bendis’s oscillation between the extremes of ignoring powers in fight scenes and trying for other realistic effects, but then using contrived plot devices (e.g., Reed Richards’s Skrull-unmasking gizmo) to advance the storyline.

    What does a reader do when a story isn’t a story? He can’t substitute his own ending, much less rewrite the miniseries; he can’t take over the characters and handle them better in his own stories (not for profit, anyway); perhaps all he can do is curse at the people involved with the non-story and try to publicize their failures.


  5. Why people get so caught up in Batman and Secret Invasion and New Krypton and why Blue Beetle floundered and drowned when there are so many really, really GOOD comic books out there, such as the just completed Tor, and the ongoing Fables, Scalped, Madame Xanadu, Justice Society of America, Northlanders, DMZ, Jonah Hex and Sgt. Rock, not to mention the soon to be complete 100 Bullets, is beyond me. I just listed 10 good comics (all published by the heavily maligned DC Comics, by the way)! Worth buying, worth reading, worth rereading, worth talking about. I just don’t get it. The quality is right there!

  6. I’m halfway through Alison Bechdel’s “Essential Dykes to Watch Out For,” finally a way for me to catch up on the whole thing without feeling overwhelmed by all the different collections. And–what with the overwrought character Mo railing against Bush, environmental destruction, big-business bailouts, failing economy, global warming, anti-gay rights legislation, war in Iraq, lack of health care reform, and did I mention Bush?–I keep forgetting much of this was written 20 years ago.

    Beyond that, I love all the characters, the art is brilliant and honest and effortless, but Bechdel sure does make it hard to read the book on the subway with some nosy creepy guy leaning over your shoulder on one side and someone’s little underage wide-eyed kid plopped down on the other.

    But it’s a wonderful, funny, ordinary/extraordinary world to slip into, if you don’t mind creepy guys leaning over your shoulder on the subway. The coffee shops and hangouts in Bechdel’s universe are way cooler than mine. Of course, I mostly just hang out at my desk, so I probably should just get out more.

  7. To that poor woman in Hoboken – JOIN THE CLUB!

    I left all my Spideys (including # 129 with the first appearance of the Punisher worth $400 at the time) in a basement in New Jersey when I packed up and moved to California and my mom one day informed me on the phone that they all got stolen along with some early Tales of Suspense.

    Yeah – it sucked just as much as my roommate who took all my McFarlane Spidey issues and sold them for smack.



  8. Having read SI #8. . . I can say that the piece of @*&$ is the worst fiction I can recall reading in any format, by anybody, pseudonymous porn writers included. While Heinberg’s YOUNG AVENGERS issues were notable for lacking plots, he didn’t try to provide them. Bendis did, I think, but failed disastrously. Nothing that happens in SI #8 makes sense in the context of a dramatic plot. Jan’s transformation and demise had nothing to do with her character, per se; Iron Man’s solution to the virus “problem” could have been devised by a seven-year-old; the rationale for keeping the human abductees alive makes real-world biologists more skilled and knowledgeable about DNA than Bendis’s supposed Skrull super-scientists were; lumping Mockingbird in with the abductees was senseless. The defeat of the Skull armada, as written by Bendis, made practically the entire miniseries filler and superfluous. Marvel could have gone directly from “Civil War” to “Dark Reign.”

    I defy anyone to explain what made either “Secret Invasion” or SI #8 specifically good. The only subtext “Secret Invasion” has now is that Marvel’s superhero comics are junk that people shouldn’t buy.


  9. I have to agree, Steven, Secret Invasion was pointless and dreadfully written. I do wonder how things would have gone had this just been an arc in New Avengers, the way it was intended to. As you said, Marvel could have gone from Civil War to Dark Reign without missing a beat. Maybe the transition would have been much more organic. If that’s the case, then Joe Quesada is partially to blame for turning something that wasn’t viable as an event comic into one.

    Oh, on another note, didn’t Bendis say something about the lone Skrull in his Avengers Disassembled issues designating the start of his plotlines that all led up to Secret Invasion? So… What was the deal with that Skrull? Why was he there and why didn’t anyone notice him? It seems out of the question that it’s a simple art error. You don’t accidentally draw a completely different character. Did Bendis think this counts as proper foreshadowing?

  10. There was much made of the notion that “Secret Invasion” had been planned years ago, but the miniseries as written didn’t bear out the claims. The Skrulls had nothing to do with “Avengers Disassembled.” Examples of weak plotting: The Skrulls posing as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were supposedly mining the Savage Land’s vibranium so that humans couldn’t get it (never mind that the useful vibranium was in Wakanda), and Skrull-Elektra supposedly allowed herself to be killed, “knowing” that the revelation that she was a Skrull would send the New Avengers and other heroes into paranoid funks. Neither of those rationales was believable; they were more indicative of a writer (and editor) trying to reinterpret old material.

    The material in SI #8, though, refutes the idea that there was a grand plan, and/or simply shows that the storyline was badly conceived from the beginning. Humanity’s prime weapon against the Skrull forces was Thor, whom Bendis had ignored. As mentioned previously, the handling of the abductees was nonsensical. Who was supposed to care about the kidnapping of the baby, except Bendis groupies?

    The multiple plotting failures in SI #8 demonstrate that a weak ending can ruin an entire storyline.


  11. how did i miss this post? oh yeah, crazy and busy week. yeah, ive known about that other Jimmy Aquino with Fistful of Soundtracks for awhile. and contrary to the Highlander motto, there CAN be more than one. :)

    to be fair though heidi, you coulda showed a brotha some love and linked to MY site as well. now all of my minions will be converted to his side. :P

    i went to his blog and he actually has “(I’m not one of the hosts of the “Comic News Insider” podcast. That’s a different Jimmy Aquino.)” sweet shout out! and he mentioned how he has an entry in the Asian American Superhero Anthology which is awesome. my lazy ass didnt get an entry in on time. but how funny would that have been if BOTH of us did?

    stay tuned, CNI will have the meeting of the Jimmy Aquino’s soon enough! worlds will collide! :)

    (p.s. heater, drop that “C” from our last name. it’s AQUINO, not aCquino. we filipino’s dont like the letter “c”. haha.)