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BM_Cv17

Issue #69: Death of the Family Postmortem

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Our big topic this week is Batman: Death of the Family, but don’t fret if you haven’t read all of the arc yet. The last half of the podcast is dedicated to the epic finale and the overall arc, but the first half is all of the Talking Comics stuff you’ve come to know and (hopefully) love.

We start off that first part of the show with the crew’s Books of the Week, which include: The Highways, Avengers Assemble, Secret Avengers, Matt Fraction’s Fantastic Four, Batman and Robin, Uncanny X-Men, a little indie book called I’m Crazy (im-crazy.com) as well as Parable.

Make sure to check out our Batman: Death of the Family talk this upcoming Friday February 22. It’s going to be full of spoilers, so if you haven’t read the arc yet, you should do so ASAP because we’ll be joined by a VERY special guest: the one and only Scott Snyder. You MAY have heard of him…

Annnnnnnnnnd… we say it on the show, but just in case you missed it, the Talking Comics crew on Twitter are:

Bobby: @bobbyshortle
Steve: @dead_anchoress
Stephanie: @hellocookie
And Bob’s email is bobreyer@talkingcomicbooks.com

FYI: the crew have gone all superhero on the world, thanks to the wonderful Hanie Mohd. Like them? Make sure to follow her and let us know what you think of our new superhero pictures.

The Comic Book Podcast is brought to you by Talking Comics (www.talkingcomicbooks.com), a blog dedicated to covering the latest and greatest in comic book releases. The editorial staff is composed of Editor-in-Chief Bobby Shortle (Fanboy Remix, Doctor Whocast), Stephanie Cooke (Misfortune Cookie) and Steve Seigh (JoBlo.com contributor) who weekly dissect the releases and give you, the consumer, a simple Roman yay or nay regarding them. Our Twitter handle is @TalkingComics and you can email us at info@talkingcomicbooks.com

15 Responses

  1. Sean Lamont

    Thanks as always guys and gal!

    Quick comment on the first half discussion; is there a way for publishers to make everyone/anyone happy? This is not aimed at you guys in particular, but general complaints in the aether seem to play tug-of-war between ‘there are a slew of Bat/League/X/Avenger titles, we need something different’ to ‘there are all of these low-tier crap books being put out that nobody wants to read, they should focus on marquee characters’. To me, they feel like mutually exclusive situations, but it just seems like a no-win situation no matter which route anyone takes. *Shrug*

    And a quick FYI, Katana was in 15 issues of Birds of Prey before getting her own book, so she had a year+ lead-in prior to going solo. The only cold open books discounting Earth 2 stuff, would be Dial H, Sword of Sorcery, GI Combat (a second attempt to make a military book stick), Threshold, and Vibe. Everything else has had a lead-in or has spun-off with characters from existing titles…just titles nobody talks about that chug along in the background. So I don’t think lead-ins have been their issue.

    As always, just one dude’s opinion!

    -Sean

    • Bobby Shortle

      Sean.

      To be fair I think we addressed the marquee character vs. low tier character argument by breaking down the importance of creators behind those characters. I think we were more miffed that some smaller characters who people want are being ignored (Martian Manhunter) for someone like Vibe.

      On the subject of Katana, yes she was in Birds of Prey, but thats a series no one is particularly excited about, and she is not a character I heard much call for to have a solo series.

      Conversely Talon, while not blowing down the doors, about 30,000 a month, is still around when most of its phase 3 compatriots are already going the way of the dodo. Do you think this has to do with is coming from Batman?

      I think our point was you need to start characters in big, well liked books, that excite people and then give them their own title. I.E. perhaps a Damian Robin book.

      • Sean Lamont

        Completely understood, and as I said, none of the above was aimed directly at the opinions stated on the show. I have just heard both complaints made in the general comics community since I started reading, and it was referenced which put it in my mind.

        Given the option though, I would prefer a book coming from an entirely new angle (ala Katana’s seinen/shonen manga story style), over yet another Batman book (even if it was titled Robin and focused on a character I loved) that is already represented.

        And the easiest way to do that at this point, without causing yet another outcry of character assassination, is to use these relatively blank slate characters as quasi-miniseries to explore these new approaches, while defining the character better to possibly elevate them from the slums of comic respect.

        I think it’s just a matter of opinion as far as my preference; but looking at it from a business/creative side, I can easily see why they would prefer to put out Vibe/Katana #1 before spinning off their higher regarded characters at this time.

        -Sean

  2. Bob Reyer

    Sean,

    Speaking for me, there are too many Bat/League/X/Avenger titles, I need something different!

    To be serious, I want there to be an entire gamut of genres in books from the Big Two: Science Fiction, Horror, Western, War, Romance, Humour, Kids, and Crime stories, just as the Indies are doing. The total focus on “capes” can become self-limiting to audience growth.

    Since we’re on the topic of them, of course I want super-heroes, too–and from Marvel, I happily support books with B-level characters such as Fearless Defenders, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel and XFactor, to the exclusion of umpteen “X-Books” and “A-Books”, particularly as their lighter tone tends to balance out the darkness in the more “adult” titles.

    Perhaps if DC didn’t keep premiering books that mostly seem cut from the same tonal cloth, they wouldn’t continually churn the newer titles through what are probably the same 12,000 readers. Any “dark” hero will pale next to Batman, the distaff characters suffer in comparison to Batgirl, and so on, so why should readers even sample these other books. Beyond finding new strategies to garner attention for them (spot-lighting them in “hot” titles, or through a digital or print Showcase to gauge audience interest) , DC could also look to newer or older characters in various genres and sub-genres who might be able to address a demographic that they are not currently servicing. In that way, if a book sells that same 12,000 copies, there would certainly be a larger percentage of new readers, and would give DC a solid foundation to build on, and create a long-term fan base for that new book.

    Just a thought,
    Bob
    ps) As one of those “outcriers”, I’m not sure “character assassination” is strong enough; “decimation”, maybe? (I kid because I care, Sean!) rrr

    • Sean Lamont

      Bob,

      I’m in the same boat; variety is the spice of life and all that!

      Marvel has done a great job of creating sub-genre’s in the cape family (they are arguably uncontested in the intrigue/spy-thriller subset), but DC has also been making a concerted effort, even at the cost of their own success, to broaden the field even more over the last few years. Continuously pushing for war books, sci-fi books, practically the last bastion of westerns, and now also trying their hand at manga-structured stories.

      Have they been successful in the execution of all of these? Not by a longshot. But there is enough there to warrant interest in some cases, and their determination alone is commendable in my eyes. They could just as easily follow Marvel’s lead and create ~15 Justice League titles, ~12 Batman titles, a handful of Superman/GL titles, and only put out 8-9 unrelated side character/team books. Instead, they try to diversify and get lambasted incessantly for making unpopular books before they have even been read.

      It’s a strange dichotomy to me is all. I prefer Marvel’s delivery on a lot of items, but I prefer the cajones that DC shows in actual diversification by giving no-name characters/themes a real shot. 🙂

      -Sean

      • Bob Reyer

        Sean,

        In my “first draft” I had a paragraph extolling the continuance of AllStar Western and the gamble on the War books, but I went more “general” instead, as I was beginning to ramble!

        While I applaud DC’s attempts with these, my larger point is that they’ve staked out their ground in a somewhat narrowly-defined way, and where a book like Sword of Sorcery could have been positioned as a book for tween readers, it played a little “grim”, so much so that after cancellation, Amethyst will appear in Justice League Dark. (Mentioning that title, I’m thinking that the lighter antics of the “Old 52” Zatanna [or Power Girl or the JSA!] would seem like a breath of fresh air!)

        Bob
        ps) Is it me, or does AmeComi Girls seem more like “Super-Heroines as Japanese Schoolgirl Fetish” Comics? Maybe there’s a message in the stories, but I couldn’t get past those drawings of Wonder Woman in the first issue! rrr
        pps) I counted! There are 13 Bat-related titles in the April DC solicitations! rrr (Robert, you obviously have way too much free time, darling! Audrey)

      • Sean Lamont

        Bob,

        No worries at all, and I agree they have looked at the 18-35 age bracket and built their line specifically around it with the initial launch.

        Sword of Sorcery was their play to jump onto the Game of Thrones style medieval political intrigue bandwagon. While it could have been aimed at the tweeners successfully (see the DC Nation animated shorts to accentuate your point even), I can’t fault them for trying to emulate a currently super-hot setting in their over-arcing world plans either.

        My main gripe with it all is that the problem doesn’t seem to lie with the publishers, but rather the current mindset of consumers. New ‘real’ books do not need to spin off of existing tomes, movies come out in the hundreds each year with no link to previous films, and television dumps another load of new ideas on the public every year.

        What makes comics so different that people cannot roll the dice? In the same vein, how do independent publishers exist by cold starting fresh ideas and titles into the public, but the Big 2 are frowned upon when they try to do it?

        Finally, why do I keep asking so many rhetorical questions when trying to make a point? 🙂

        -Sean

        ps) I actually haven’t read Ame-Comi yet. My manga reference was in regards to Katana’s storytelling structure and delivery.

      • Bob Reyer

        Sean,

        Quickly (as we’ve run out of lateral space!), as comics universes are now so heavily linked into “families” of books, it’s hard to get the now-indoctrinated customers to drop a title that ties into a larger story to sample something new. In their attempt to maximize profits, the Big Two have created this mess for themselves, whilst the Indies, free of such “linkage” concerns, can release those more out-of-left-field titles!

        Bob
        ps) I think I’d best leave it here, before there’s one word per line! rrr
        pps (added 2/22) *DING* DC has just added another Bat-book, Batman/Superman for June!

  3. Adam Shaw

    Bob,

    Yup, Ame-Comi girls is supposed to be Japanese anime/manga style. Ame-Comi is what Japanese people (comic geeks in particular) would use to describe “AMErican COMIcs.” 🙂
    It’s much the way that we comic fans say “manga” but the everyday people say “Japanese comics.”
    Have a great day!

    • Bob Reyer

      Adam,

      Thanks for the definition; I wondered about the derivation of the title!

      I do get the style that they’re attempting, but something more Sailor Moon in tone might have been more to my taste than re-imagining DC’s super-heroines in near-Hentai imagery!

      Bob

  4. Walt

    As someone who just got back into comics last year after a 20 year absence (!?!) I don’t feel I can weigh in on the too many/not enough debate yet (though the blurring list of X/Avenger and Bat Books have made finding what to read a bit confusing) – I’ve been relying on the great advice of my local comic book store and you guys and gals. I do find myself gravitating to the non “super hero” books like Saga and Revival, but Mark Waid did a great job to pull me back to Daredevil after 20 years and got me reading The Invincible Hulk.

    I just wanted to say thanks for aiming me towards Uncanny X-Men and JLA this week. I was also convinced to pick up issue 2 of The High Ways based on the discussion on the podcast. Great advice.

    I did follow Death of the Family through all the Bat Books (I was using it as 101 course to get to know the Bat-Fam again – though I was already reading Gail Simone’s Batgirl) and really enjoyed the extra-disturbing Joker and look forward to the possible affects on family dynamics. This weekend I’ll read through Batman one more time to soak it all in.

    So a final thanks for a great podcast/website and in helping me navigate through the comics jungle.

    • Bob Reyer

      Walt,

      Thanks for listening, and even more for taking the time to check in here!

      In your previous incarnation as a comics reader, it was easier to follow super-heroic characters, as they would appear in a limited amount of books each month. In this new “inflationary era”, it’s much harder to do that, in terms of both time and money, so your example of searching out antother Mark Waid title is something many of us are now doing–following creators whose work we love and respect, as I do with John Byrne. I do hope you enjoy The High Ways #2, as I wouldn’t want to have steered you wrong!

      Bob

  5. thisjohnd

    There’s already quite a discussion going on already, so I’ll try to keep this brief. I cut a bit out of my e-mail to avoid it being too longwinded but Bobby summed up what I was going for quite nicely: It’s not that DC puts out too many or too few books, it’s that they strangely limit themselves to 52. As Sean has said above, it’s great that DC is trying new things but I feel like by limiting their publishing line to 52 books, they create that “line of death” of low sales numbers and axe series’ that don’t have a chance to find their audience.

    Sean’s rhetorical question of, “What makes comics so different that people cannot roll the dice?” feeds into the point I came here to make. As simple-minded as this may be, I’m definitely a “judge a book by its cover” guy when it comes to picking out new titles and DC has this problem of not making its characters LOOK interesting when I’m glancing through the line of new titles at my LCS. I might have been interested in Katana or Vibe or Sword & Sorcery but to me, because the covers look so similar to titles with heroes I’m familiar with, I usually just stick with those titles.

    Speaking of which, how vanilla is that cover for Jeff Lemire’s issue #17 of Green Arrow? I freely admit that I began picking up Green Arrow partly because of the show (but mostly because of the writer switch) but I was completely in love with the art inside the book. Why can’t they showcase that unique style on the front cover of the book? I know the comparisons between Hawkeye and Green Arrow are not apt, but in this case, I would have loved for a Hawkeye-like cover. Hawkeye #1 immediately drew me in because the cover looked so different and I couldn’t care less about that character. Now I’m reading him, bro.

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