Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pre Post Mortem

The news is about a month old at this point, and I'm certain the failure of these six titles of "The New 52" has been assessed far more thoroughly elsewhere, but I have my own thoughts, and I have a public forum to express those thoughts, so like chocolate and peanut butter, let's make some mouth magic (what?!).

If you will recall (and even if you don't, I shall remind you) a few months back I made some guesses as to when certain titles would be cancelled. I will note below with each title what my original prognostication on cancellation was.

So enough preamble babbling, let's talk failure.

Static Shock 

I guess I gave Static more benefit of doubt than DC did, predicting a 16 issue run before cancellation, double that of what he'll actually get.  Original co-writer John Rozum recently spoke out on why he left the title, and it's a truly illuminating read about exactly everything that was wrong with the book, from too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen syndrome, to a lack of clear vision for (and understanding of) the character by DC, it was wracked with problems from the onset.

I love the Milestone books (not unanimously, but generally speaking) and I was psyched to see them brought back in any capacity, but over the past two years, it's really only been Rozum's Xombi series, not McDuffie's JLA, not Static in Teen Titans, that felt true to the character and atmosphere that the Milestone books had. I had hoped his involvement with Static's launch in the new DCU would mean honoring what came before while moving forward (and it certainly sounds like his intent), but I also wasn't sure whether he was the right man for the job. I knew that Scott McDaniel wasn't the right man to illustrate the character immediately upon announcement, but that's because I've never been fond of his style.

The first issue was a mess, and things never got better. With a prime opportunity to reintroduce Static and Virgil Hawkins to the world at large, the first issue was sloppy, distracted, and at times unintelligible.  IT certainly didn't convey to any new reader what was so special about Static, and even more certainly not Virgil. It was obvious from page one that this title wasn't going to make it unless something drastic happened quick. Rozum leaving the title wasn't it. The wrong creator left. McDaniel's ugly, sloppy art, ugly character designs, and malformed ideas have made Static painful reading month after month, and yes, I have stuck with it because I'm that big of a Milestone fanboy.

I'm hoping that Static is just being hidden away for a year while he's retooled and DC get their shit together and find a vision for the character and a writer they can trust to achieve that vision, because Static is a major league player that deserves far better than what he's gotten over the past 7 or 8 years.

Men of War
If there was one mistake made with Men of War it was tagging a crappy 8-page back-up feature onto an exceptional main book, puffing the price up a buck on a cost-conscious public.  Marvel has the idea right, you make people pay a premium for the books they will pay a premium for, your top tier stuff.  The second and third tier books, your quality books you have to keep the price point at an acceptable level to keep cost:value ratio at the right level.  Men Of War had no star character, but instead an all new cast (with the lead being a descendant of Sgt. Rock, but he himself his own man), so expectations and anticipation for this book were already low.  The first issue made a pretty huge impression.  The quality of writer Ivan Brandon`s main feature, and the pitch-perfect examining the grunts-eye-view in a blossoming superhero world sold me on the story for at least the first arc.  But the back-up feature was a patronizing military tale, one lasting three issues, each worse than the last.  I was grateful when it was over.  Subsequent back-ups in issue 4 and 5 have been decent but, again, unnecessary.  If DC want to make an old-school war anthology then they should just up and do so... and if that was the intent of Men of War all along (which I doubt it was since it was originally tagged with a "Sgt. Rock & The.." in many pre-release notifications) they never made it very clear.  With Brandon's departure at issue 6, I knew the end was near, and having already predicted, bang on, an 8-issue run back in October.

There is, however, the new G.I. Combat series in the works, which I think will be the war anthology DC wanted to start with, and it doesn't look to shabby either, so consolation prize?


I predicted Blackhawks would have a generous 9 issue run, 1 more than it actually got.  I dropped the book after the first issue, sourly underwhelmed by the content, and moreover the art.  Despite knowing the art team would be changing (and changing, and changing), the first issue didn't have anything to draw me in for a second.  Unlike Men of War, the ideas running around Blackhawks weren't very stimulating, and the characters didn't entice.  I've heard actually some good things about the series, that it's actually a lot of fun, but it seemed to me from the onset a rushed title, one that DC couldn't figure out and was hoping that it would find its way as it went along (there are a lot of those in the new 52).  While it sounds like it's started to find its path, the audience hasn't followed.  Without any recognizable characters, like Men of War, and no big draw, it was always fodder for cancellation.


The first OMAC series ran 8 issues, and if Jack Kirby couldn't make it work for longer, I knew for certain Dan Didio and Keith Giffen couldn't make it work longer than that either, not without Didio throwing his weight around anyway.  Didio is not a great writer, and Giffen, while an old-timey favourite artist, is an acquired taste.  The OMAC concept, as presented in this series, is a mess of ideas from the old DCU, and very little of it had any purpose or made any sense.  If there was any draw, it was Giffen's art, which was channelling as much of the King as he possibly could, and that kind of thing, without a solid story to support it, really only works as a lure in today's comics market for a couple of issues.  I actually kind of wish it was cancelled with issue #4 so we wouldn't have had to suffer through OMAC dragging down Jeff Lemire's rather excellent Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. series.

Hawk and Dove

Somehow in the early 1990's Hawk and Dove had a series that lasted for, like, 25 issues.  The characters are interesting in concept but they really aren't solid enough to support anything more than an occasional mini-seriesThey're 8th-string superheroes, the kind that are attractive as an idea only.  I honestly thought that Rob Liefeld would still have been enough of a draw to keep this running for 15 issues, for as much as he is maligned, he is also beloved, devotedly, by some people.  Instead, the title's getting cancelled, and Liefeld is being given the reigns to a couple of other series, so I guess he still is seen as a huge draw, and that Hawk and Dove, really, just kind of suck. 

Mister Terrific 

This was in my top 5 of anticipated books for the New 52 and within two pages of the first issue I was let down.  I was so hopeful for super-science crimefighter, the world's 3rd smartest man Mr Terrific to come out of the gates like a new wave Morrison-esque mind-bending creation, and instead we got a mess of bad jokes, terrible characterization, a bevvy of poorly thought out high-concepts, and panel after panel after eye-bleedingly ugly art. The covers by J.G. Jones were gorgeous and filled each issue with promise which it quickly let down.  Like Static, the character deserved a lot better, he deserved a spotlight, rather than a "let's see what sticks" mentality.  There was an obvious lack of vision behind the series, and a creative team not ready for the task.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Totally disagree about OMAC! Love that book so much. I will miss it! Different strokes, I guess.