January is traditionally a quiet month in the book industry, the relentless torrent of autumn releases and Christmas gift books swept aside by diets and wishful thinking texts of the new year, but nobody seems to have told the comics industry. Thank goodness.
With such a wealth of intriguing new titles on sale it's easy for some of the smaller fish to get lost in the gigantic pond, so without further ado here are some choice pickings on the shelves this month - indies, graphic novels, and floppies alike!
The world of superheroes is a funny old place, home to some of the craziest and most imaginative storytelling of the last century, but eternally trapped in a constantly regressive rut. Long time fans simultaneously demand change and uniformity, for heroes to evolve and remain the same age forever more.
This month Marvel announced three key upcoming changes in its comics line, which was met with familiar outrage and increasing mainstream press interest towards this medium that has given the public their favourite superhero movies. But what was most interesting to many onlookers were not the announcements themselves, but the chosen method of broadcast.
The View, a US daytime talk show, exclusively announced that Thor was to be female in an upcoming title. "It’s a huge day in the Marvel Universe," revealed Whoopi Goldberg. "Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up. He is no longer worthy to hold that damn hammer of his. And for the first time in history that hammer is being held by a woman."
If there’s one thing that’s changed in the word of comics, for both readers and critics, it’s the huge market shift towards digital over the last decade. As comics have become more and more mainstream, from superheroes on our cinema screens to award winning graphic novels in book stores, the medium has embraced the potential of digital distribution in a way that took many by surprise.
As an ex-bookseller, comics as physical objects are something I’ve been quite stubbornly defensive of. But as an avid webcomic fan, and someone rapidly running out of space in my house, I was starting to come around to the idea of digital comic reading. I’d tried a Kindle for reading books and it hadn’t quite stuck – yet another piece of tech to lug around – but the iPad seemed pretty attractive, with the added bonus of being able to read full colour comics on a screen that did them justice. And the iPad mini looked particularly tempting.
So I figured, why not give one a whirl?
A spoiler-free farewell to my beloved favourite, and a note of regret from an ex-fan of the New 52.
I almost didn’t pick issue one off the shelf. In a year saturated with vampires, the cover suggested that this would be one more silly dark romance yarn but with added naked and fanged women: not always what I look for in a comic. Still, in the spirit of being one of the rare new New 52 readers – previously I had only bought the trade collections – I had a quick peek within and immediately added it to my haul. Settling down at home with my spread of Batmen, ex-Vertigo characters, Morrison-penned heroes, and random picks, I came to I, Vampire last. And was immediately delighted. This was it, this was the comic I’d been waiting on. I foisted it upon my friends, “read this,” I instructed, and begged them to ignore the cover.
The official trailer for upcoming movie R.I.P.D. hit the internet last week, and sparked a stampede of people rushing to label the supernatural buddy cop romp as stepping a little too neatly into the swanky shoes of the Men in Black. Some went so far as to write R.I.P.D. off as a poor MiB rip-off. Here’s why they’re wrong.
Okay, so looking at the actual trailer, the argument for R.I.P.D. being a MiB clone is actually pretty strong. Dagnabbit. But wait. There are two reasons the comparison is flawed. But let’s look at the similarities first.
When it comes to Wonder Woman, the headlines suggest that we only seem to care about three things: what she’s wearing, what her latest TV attempt is wearing, and who she is banging. Basically, it’s all about her pants.
This week I sat down and caught up with Wonder Woman. She’s a character I’ve never quite got on with as well as I feel I should, her blankness never quite being filled despite tremendous efforts from Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, and more. Unlike Superman and Batman ,DC’s foremost female hero has no secret identity to ground her, no strong motivation to steer her path. And yet, just beyond tantalising reach is surely some of the greatest stories never told.