Monday, April 23, 2007

Comic Book Ramblings: Conan, X-Men

I had some friends over last night, and one of them grabbed a copy of "Conan" I had lying around as we waited for supper to be ready. It got me thinking that "Conan" from Dark Horse is really one of the easiest comics for non comic readers to get into. There is no convoluted continuity that would prevent you from diving right into the story, but read sequentially the plots do flow into one another. Every issue offers the reader what he or she wants from Conan. Sword and sorcery, Conan fights something, and sinister plots unfold.

He sat there reading without looking up to ask me "Who's this guy?" or "What's that?" as other books would have caused him to be lost in the narrative. Aside from that, Cary Nord is a brilliantly gifted artist, whose work has really evolved whilst on Conan and just makes it that much easier to slip into.

So if you're not reading it, why not? It's fun, it looks great, and it's easy to get into.

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I used to be such an X-Junkie. Now, I'm only reading "Astonishing X-Men" and that only comes out once every couple of months. What happened? How did such a fan of the series drop the books without remorse?

I'll try and break it down.

Saturation. Too many damn x-books out there made it too hard to follow what was going on from month to month. Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Men Unlimited, New X-Men, Excalibur, X-Factor, Wolverine and Cable/Deadpool are just too many titles to follow. Even at my peak, I wasn't able to pick them all up.

Quality. I'll be damned if the books didn't take a nosedive over the past five years in terms of their quality. Rotating creative teams and a lack of a-list talent on many of the books sapped my excitement from month to month, eventually losing their spots on my pull list to titles that seemed to give a damn. I would be on the message boards commiserating with other fans about how much we longed for the good old days and invariably someone would appear in the thread and say "Then why are you still reading them if they leave you so unsatisfied?" Why indeed.

Characters. I say "X-Men" to the people in my office, and they think "Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm." They don't think "Polaris, Mystique and Bishop." There is a place for second-tier X-Men, but you have to keep the marquee players in play, or else the branding fails. The books have the teams watered down to a point where there are so spread out, it's hardly worth it to read about them any more.

Marvel, if you want to steal me back to the X-Books, you had better realize that Astonishing has it right, and that once it's over, if you don't have the big hitters lined up to replace Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, I'll be long gone.

My suggestions: Cut back to three team books and Wolverine and Cable/Deadpool. Uncanny X-Men, X-Men and New Mutants. Get one of your top writers on one of the books. Bendis, Heinberg, Vaughn or Millar. Get a stable artist on each of the books. Regulate the look of them and lock them in for a couple of years. Have editorial stop all the roster changes. When I read Spider-Man, I know Spider-Man is the star. X-Men should be the same. Don't be afraid of Wolverine, but don't overdo it either.

That's all for now, folks.

4 comments:

Shade said...

I have a question largely unrelated to this post but related to comics. As someone who is currently outside of the loop, can you tell me what happened to Captain America? What does that means for the comics as a Universe and as a company? What should I read to catch up on this PR extravaganza? Is it just trying to kill Superman again? I have lots of other things I'd like to have explained to me in a nifty column type format if you're willing to fan-service a small subset of your readership.

Scott said...

No problem. I'll write something up by the end of the week.

Elgoomgnizalb said...

I agree on Wolverine. It seems they either overuse him, or he just plum dissapears for ages.

I hear Ultimate X-Men handles it well and proper, bringing him to a level from the movies.

Ultimates in General, I hear, are a breath of fresh air, but none of them are on your comics roster; why is that?

Scott said...

The Ultimates are a good read, but are chronically missing deadlines, and I prefer just to wait for the trades to be released.