How Licensing Saved the Marvel Universe

Marvel Licensed Comics

by Travis Starnes, CMRO Editor

During the 70s and 80s, Marvel went licensing crazy.  Both bringing properties from other medium, most notably toy manufacturing, into comics, and licensing Marvel properties out.  But why was there a sudden explosion of licensing, and why is it different from other comics, movies, or television shows that license out their work? And how did it save Marvel Comics?

What makes the way Marvel did licensing different is pretty apparent to anyone who read comics from the two or three decades when Marvel was licensing like crazy. From the point of view of licensing out their characters, Marvel isn’t totally unique.  Many companies licensed their characters out to television, DC most notably, and even more licensing comic characters out for merchandising.

What makes Marvel stand out is how much they brought characters from other companies into the Marvel universe.  Sure, DC created comics for other company’s licenses, but they were generally stand alone and not part of the greater DC universe.  Marvel on the other hand, not only brought characters like the Micronauts, Godzilla, Shogun Warriors, and Conan (to a lesser degree) into their larger universe, but they even took the ROM license and put it at the center of a story arc that covered most the major titles at the time.

I’ve done a fair amount of searching and I can’t find any instances of licensed characters becoming the center of another companies shared universe.  And even the other licenses I mentioned had continual, although more contained, connections to Marvel.  Shield and the Fantastic Four tangled with Godzilla, the X-Men bumped into Micronauts and Crystar the Crystal Warrior multiple time, and there is a litany of Marvel UK landing in the pages of licensed comics like Transformers and Doctor Who. They even had licenses cross with other licenses, such as when Godzilla faced off against the Shogun Warriors.

When it came to licensing, Marvel did it in a way no one else did, or has done since.  But why did it blow up so big?

The short answer is, Star Wars.

The comics industry was struggling in the 70s.  The old magazine stand distribution wasn’t working any longer, since magazine stands were starting to disappear.  While Marvel would figure this out in the mid-70s by selling into hobby shops and stand-alone comic stores that started to pop up, the bottle neck caused issues for most comic published.

By 78’ DC hit the wall hard, cancelling thirty-one of its ongoing titles.  It wasn’t until the early 80s when DC came up with new ideas such as limited runs (which many comic fans curse to this day) that they managed to pull out of their nose dive.

At the same time, Marvel was also struggling.  The editorial staff was in disarray with books regularly being finished late and the non-comic magazine part of the company was losing money hand over fist.  Future Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, who was an associate editor at the time, described the company as seeming to be in a “death spiral”.

Stan Lee, who became the publisher of Marvel in 1972 when long time publisher and one time owner Martin Goodman stepped down, wanted to double down on comics featuring original characters.

This was when Charlie Lippincott and Ed Summer, who was a silent partner of George Lucas, talked to Roy Thomas about the idea of licensing Star Wars.  Thomas was known as being a major proponent of licensed comics in Marvel and had been EIC when Conan was licensed into Marvel.

Thomas liked the early artwork he saw, as this was before the movie came out. Thomas pushed the idea of licensing Star Wars, and he had one big thing in his favor.  The license would be free.  Lucas only wanted the first two issues of the adaptation of his script on newsstands before the movie came out, seeing it as a good way to publicize the movie.

To say it was a hit would be an understatement.  It went on to sell over a million copies over multiple reprints.  For context, Marvel’s best-selling book at the time, Amazing Spider-Man, sold just about a quarter of that.

Marvel’s parent company, Cadence Industries, made a boat load of money from this and the idea of licensed comics took hold.  With pressure from the parent company, and editors hoping to repeat Thomas’s magic trick, Marvel began to license comics in earnest.

At first Marvel concentrated on licensing movies, books and TV shows, such as Battle Star Galactica, John Carter of Mars, and Tarzan (once DC’s license had lapsed). But, coming into the 80s, there was a push by toy manufactures to use the now growing popularity of comics as a marketing tool.  US companies like Hasbro wanted to license their toy likes, such as a relaunching GI Joe, while Japanese toy makers were trying to break into the US market.

Thanks in no small part to the cash Star Wars continued to bring in as Marvel published ongoing stories under the license after the movie came out; they were the biggest name in the Comics industry.  DC had a significantly lower market share at this time, so much so that Marvel made a push to license all the DC characters (and imagine for a moment what that would have been like).  The deal was slowed by Bill Sarnoff, who only wanted to focus on the top 7 characters from DC, and then killed by the threat of an anti-trust lawsuit.

This left Marvel open to being the go to place for licensing comics by toy manufactures, and license they did.

The licensing boom only slowed when DC revitalized, using new ideas such as the limited series, and retook dominance of the mark, along with Marvel’s sale to New World Entertainment under Ronald Perelman.

Love them or hate them, licensed comics may have saved Marvel from an earlier sale, a break up, or even a loss of the company entirely.  So for every bad licensed comic you read from the 70s and 80s, just remember that they might be responsible for keeping Captain America and Spider-Man with us.

Market Report – January 2016

10994043_796845617036048_892294495511062759_n

by Chrys, CMRO User



Welcome to the first official edition of Market Report, in which I comment the direct market data for comics released the month before. I’m going to start with some introductory notes:

– The rankings and percentages discussed here refer only to the direct market. That means they’re not about sales to the reader, but about orders made by retailers to the distributor, Diamond. They reflect what comic shops think will sell plus what their customers have pre-ordered. (Retailers also over-order to get some deals, like buying an X amount of comic Y in order to be eligible to get variant Z.)
– The numbers discussed here aren’t actual figures, but estimates made by Comichron based on Diamond’s chart. We don’t have actual numbers for sales or orders – this is all we have.
– Direct market isn’t the only channel affecting a title’s commercial health. There are also the digital market, the foreign markets, trades etc.

Now, I still find it interesting to analyze these numbers, especially comparatively, but please bear these caveats in mind and remember the numbers of orders are the shakiest part of the data. One more thing: this is focused on Marvel comics since it’s what I know best and follow more closely. Okay, let’s take a look at January 2016.

 

Top Comics

1 Walking Dead 150 $2.99 Image 156,166
2 Secret Wars 9 $4.99 Marvel 149,028
3 Spider-Man Deadpool 1 $3.99 Marvel 133,813
4 Star Wars 14 $3.99 Marvel 118,471
5 Star Wars 15 $3.99 Marvel 107,858
6 Old Man Logan 1 $4.99 Marvel 104,362
7 Obi-Wan and Anakin 1 $3.99 Marvel 102,861
8 Batman 48 $3.99 DC 100,962
9 Darth Vader 15 $3.99 Marvel 98,405
10 Uncanny X-Men 1 $3.99 Marvel 93,252

January was another massive win for Marvel: they doubled DC’s market share in both dollars and units, 44% and 48% against DC’s 22% and 24%, respectively. On top of that, they dominated the charts: 22 issues in the Top 25, with DC only grabbing 2 spots and Image, 1. There are 35 Marvel issues in the Top 50 – the remaining are 11 DC, 3 Image, and 1 Boom.

Image grabbed the top spot, though, with The Walking Dead #150 getting an appropriate 150k orders. DC got the 8th spot with Batman and nearly 101k. Marvel got the remaining 8 spots like this: 4 Star Wars issues, 3 debuts, and the last issue of Secret Wars. Secret Wars #9 grabbed #2 with an amazing 149k, cementing their position as one of the most successful event books from Marvel. It was a strong Top Ten, with all books over 90k and 8 over 100k.

Debuts

Marvel’s biggest debut in January was Spider-Man/Deadpool, #3 with nearly 134k, which is no surprise given they’re huge sellers on their own and popular as a pair. Old Man Logan debuted with 104k (#6), which is a 15k increase over Wolverine’s last volume debut in February 2014. Uncanny X-Men debuted at #10 with 93k, down 84k from the last volume in February 2013 – but with a very different cast, premise and circumstances, it still seems a good debut. Issue 2 sold 70k.

Outside the Top Ten, we have:

A-Force at #12 with 65k: down almost 49k from the Battleworld mini last May;
Rocket Raccoon and Groot at #15 with 59k;
Silver Surfer at #17 with 57k: down 7k from the last volume debut in March 2014;
Captain Marvel at #22 with nearly 53k: up 8k from last debut also in March 2014;
Agents of Shield at #50 with 35k: this is the only really shaky debut in January: it’s also down 59k from the previous Shield book’s debut numbers, in Dec 2014.

Marvel Spotlights

Most books haven’t stabilized yet. Mighty Thor #3 got a healthy #13 spot with a near 10k drop. Deadpool and ANAD Avengers both double-shipped with steady numbers: issues 5 and 6 of Deadpool around 59k, and issues 3 and 4 of Avengers around 57k.

More surprising is how well Doctor Strange is doing so far: issue #4 got #23 in the chart and 52k. That’s looking really great for a character that hasn’t had a book in forever – and that’s awesome news, because it’s a great book. One of my favorites in this new batch.

Three other solos doing relatively well at spots #27-9: All-New Wolverine #4 with a mere 1k drop to 49.9k, Invincible Iron Man #5 with an 8k drop to 49k, and Spider-Gwen #4 with a 6k drop to 48.6k.

All-New X-Men #3 grabbed the 25th spot with 50k and Extraordinary X-Men #5-6 got spots #31-2 with 47k. Meanwhile, Daredevil #3 was 36th with 45.8k.

Warning Lights

Now let’s move to the more worrisome titles. Totally Awesome Hulk #2 was 40th with 39.4k. No Hulk has sold well in quite a while, but a 35k drop to below 40k in the second issue might be a nosedive sign.

New Avengers isn’t falling fast anymore, but #5 is already selling in the low 30s. On one side, it’s a low-tier cast, but on the other, it’s an Avengers book, so sales expectations are complicated here. Also complicated is the situation of Captain America: Sam Wilson – #5 sold only 29k, but had a mere 400 copies drop from the previous issue, which might be a sign of stabilization.

Last month I said: “To my infinite amusement, Guardians of Infinity was the big launch with 121k. There’s no way this book won’t drop like a stone.” And will you look at that, #2 had a 94k plunge to 27k sales and a 73rd spot. I love being right.

Here are some more candidates to keep diving: All-New Inhumans #3 got 25k with an 8k drop, Scarlet Witch #2 got 25k with a 32k drop, and Star-Lord #3 got 22k with a 3k drop. Quill is not happening, Marvel.

Relegation Zone

These are the books selling less than 20k and potentially in danger of being cancelled. Last month Marvel only had one book here – now it’s 10. The new books are marked with an asterisk. All of these sold less than a collection of reprinted Deadpool stories. Pretty much none of these are surprising.

*115. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4: 19,923 (5k drop)
*118. Illuminati #3: 19,025 (4k drop)
*120. Angela Queen of Hel #4: 18,917 (2k drop)
*121. Drax #3: 18,837 (4k drop)
*125. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3: 18,424 (3k drop)
*128. Weirdworld #2: 17,759 (12k drop)

*131. Black Knight #3: 17,118 (almost 5k drop) – This is the first (and, so far, only) cancelled title post-Secret Wars. It ends on issue 5 already. No idea why Marvel thought there could be a market for it – pretty much all its hooks are covered by other books that aren’t selling well either.
*139. Hercules #3: 16,310 (4k drop) – Now this is criminal. This is such a great book!

Under 15k, selling less than My Little Pony:

154. Howling Commandos of Shield #4: 14,091 (down almost 4k)
*166. Starbrand and Nightmask #2: 11,677 (16k drop)

And on its second issue, Starbrand and Nightmask is already the lowest seller. From the announcement, this has been a puzzling choice. It’s hard to imagine what the editors thought when they greenlit this title, as the duo seemed to have very little appeal even at the height of their involvement in Hickman’s Avengers. Starring a book many months later, coupling nondescript newcomers with what seemed a cosmic fish-out-of-water kids in college premise? Extremely hard sell among so many shiny new titles.

Cancellation Watch

This is where I talk about DC comics not many people are buying, to people who mostly read Marvel. Last month I said things looked really bad and more cancellations had to be coming. Turns out they aren’t coming, because they’re going to have something called Rebirth – most likely a line-wide relaunch/shake-up.

The Watch went down to 13 issues from 18 in December, but that’s mostly because several low sellers ended that month. In fact, only one title saved itself: Sinestro, with a 3k increase. We have 1 newcomer and 1 returning title, both marked with an asterisk.

119. Cyborg #7: 18,975 (1k increase)
123. Martian Manhunter #8: 18,655 (2.6k increase)
127. Constantine The Hellblazer #8: 17,853 (down 700. Crazy for such a good title)
*144. Black Canary #7: 15,758 (almost 6k drop, debuting in the Watch with a plunge)
146. Gotham Academy #14: 15,023 (down 7k from an event issue. Down only 800 from #13)

151. Catwoman #48: 14,408 (down 600)
157. Secret Six #10: 13,888 (down 700)
158. Justice League 3001 #8: 13,283 (down almost 700)
*165. We Are Robin #8: 12,086 (returning to the Watch after a higher than usual event issue with stronger titles: down 16k, and a 7k drop from the last regular issue, #6)
168. Doctor Fate #8: 11,109 (down 800)
174. Midnighter #8: 10,408 (down 800 – I want to believe this won’t be cancelled, but one look at this and it just doesn’t seem possible…)

183. Omega Men #8: 8,864 (down nearly 400 – the critical darling managed to avoid the Spot of Shame for one more month. Cancelled, 4 issues to go.)
195. Telos #4: 7,735 (a 1.8k drop – mini, 2 issues to go.)

 

And this is it for January. If you have something to say or ask, click the Join the Conversation button and shoot.

 

Invincible Iron Man #6 – Review

Invincible Iron Man 006 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin

Published February 2016

Invincible Iron Man 006 aSynopsis – The War Machines

Doctor Doom is trying to be nice, but Tony is not buying it. Meanwhile Rhodey is off to Japan chasing after Madame Masque and some techno-ninjas.

This is a really packed book, I feel like I have read two comics going through it. We have the full on action comic with War Machine and some ridiculous hardware (seriously, where do those guns disappear to? Right now I think that Rhodey must have one heck a wedgy.) On the other side we have an almost spy-thriller aspect as Tony and his new ‘friend’ are stalked by Victor von Doom.

I really liked the first arc of this book, but I am not entirely convinced about this issue. To be fair it is an ‘in-between’ issue which is closing up some of the threads of the first arc and opening up the new ones, but even still, it is rather disappointing. The artist from the first arc was utterly amazing (David Marquez) and while I like Mike Deodato, by comparison he does not cut it. to be honest there are places in this book where Tony just does not look like Tony at all, if anything, he looks like Doctor Strange. I also find it very off putting that his new ‘lady friend’ appears to have been modelled on Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) when in the last issue she was definitely Indian*.

For me I think that most of my issues stem from the art, or more precisely, from how different the art was to the previous issue. I can forgive the slightly bizarre looking Tony Stark, it is his comic and everyone knows who he is supposed to be, but when you are introducing new characters (face-mask-less Doctor Doom and Doctor Amara Perera) you really need them to actually look like the character did the last time you saw them, otherwise you just assume it is someone else.

Unfortunately I think this issue is spoilt by some very unsubtle photo-tracing, but Bendis is still writing a good story. Perhaps this will improve in the coming issues, or maybe I need to wait for the artist to change before I can enjoy this book again without playing ‘spot the reference.’

Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

* I always fall foul of international naming conversions, by ‘Indian’ I mean – coming from the Indian Sub-continent, not the Native American variety.

 

Nova #4 – Review

Nova 004 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Sean Ryan with Art by Cory Smith and David Curiel

Published February 2016

Nova 004 aSynopsis – The Nova/Miles/ Khan team up is in full swing beating up monsters, fighting with mole-persons and generally wrecking the underground.

There is nothing about this book that could ever top the cover. I don’t care if it was the greatest piece of writing ever, or a complete steaming pile of trash, the cover makes me love this book. If you are not familiar with it I will explain; it is a play on the cover of Fantastic Four #1, the start of the Silver age of Marvel comics, the issue that created everything we now think of as ‘Marvel.’

That cover has specific meaning for me, as well as in its own right. The site I write for is the Complete Marvel Reading Order, it’s there to help people read from start to finish the complete history of Marvel comics. Because this is the first issue in the line, it is an image I have seen 1000’s of times, every time I look at the order, it is the first picture I see. And this cover homages it perfectly.

So onto the issue at hand, the comic inside that modern classic cover; it’s ok. Bit of a let down with that sort of build up I will grant you. It starts off feeling like another Avengers team up, but you start to realise that the other two are merely window dressing. It quickly devolves into the standard Nova getting himself into trouble routine that this book has become, which is not intrinsically bad, but it is getting a bit repetitious. Nova gets into trouble, Nova is rescued/escapes, Nova goes home to learn he has screwed up his family again, Nova learns his lesson and comes back to fight the bad guy. Every arc of the book has followed that exact pattern.

I think my biggest issue is that this series, along with Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man an a whole host of recent series revolving around teenage heroes is that we are crying out for another Avengers Academy series. The X-Men books have had so much success with ‘school’ books where the young mutants can raise havoc without being constantly required to worry about their home life. Of course some of that is entertaining and some young mutants have been left to fend for themselves, but when it happens in every single ‘young’ Avengers series, it gets a bit tiresome.

Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10 (cover gets 10/10)

 

Uncanny X-Men #3 – Review

Uncanny X-Men 003 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Published February 2016

Uncanny X-Men 003 aSynopsis – In their quest to save the mutant healers from the ravages of ‘The Riders’ Magneto has to get his hands dirty.

I am starting to really like this series and that is surprising because I was quite on the fence at first. They have an interesting team that has been pulled together by circumstance rather than by any innate connection between them and that leads to all manner of conflicts.

This is actually quite a dream team up, both in the comic and in the real world. Cullen Bunn is on the cusp of becoming one of Marvels mainstay writers and having an X-team in his hands is a really exciting prospect. On the other hand Greg Land has a terrible reputation, however it has been completely unfounded so far in this series. Gone are the long lingering looks at full frontal female nudity* and in are wide thin panels that focus on the characters faces. However his reputation for ‘copying’ seems deminished in this series as the faces are all character appropriate and very consistent.

This is for me, a perfect anti-hero X-Men series; Magneto doing anything he can to get the job done, a tormented Creed trying to go straight and Psylocke acting as the conscience and heart of the team. Given Elizabeth’s ‘chequered’ past you can understand why having her as the teams conscience makes this quite an entertaining prospect.

What I really appreciate here is the ‘reality’ of what is going on, Magneto is not pulling his punches, he quite literally rips a man in half on panel in this issue. I like it when comics do that and we are not left with the bad guys licking their wounds and running away with the heroes shaking their fists at them as they go. This is the sort of effect that you would get if you put together an arch angel, psychic assassin, master of magnetism and a caged animal into one team; carnage, death and destruction.

This is definitely my favourite X-Men book in print at the moment, although given how few of them there are currently around, that is not as big a compliment as it used to be. I want more of the same and if the epilogue to this issue is followed up on, then it looks like things can only get better.

Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

* Obviously not actual nudity, but when they are in skin tight costumes, its merely the colouring that gives us the illusion of clothing…

Captain Marvel #2 – Review

Captain Marvel 002 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters with Art by Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson

Published February 2016

Captain Marvel 002 aSynopsis – Rise of the Alpha Flight Part Two

Boarding an alien vessel can be problematic, ask any Red-Shirt. But when your whole team is indispensable, it might be a risk too far.

I know I just made a Star Trek joke, but really, that is exactly what this series feels like. The whole space exploration thing has been done to death by something in the region of 750 episodes over 50 years and whenever I see it, that is all I can think about. This is not necessarily a negative comparison, just an unavoidable one.

To be honest, if I was looking at this as an episode of Star Trek, then I would be quite kind to it. The alien craft is mysterious; the action is frenetic and the dialogue is fun, all in, it would be a fantastic episode. However that does not make it a great issue of Captain Marvel. I get the impression that they do not know what to do with her; prior to Secret Wars she had had two series, both quite different and both with rave reviews from half the community and criticism from the other half. I thought the first arc of her first series was fantastic, the second half went down hill quite fast. The next volume of this title was utter garbage and this one is showing signs of improvement. The problem is, Marvel has no idea how to play her.

They have tried showing her softer side, they have tried her going solo and saving the galaxy and now they are trying to give her command (she is a Captain after all.) The problem is that all I get the impression is that Abigail Brand is both the one actually in charge and also the only logical choice to be in command. She has looked after S.W.O.R.D. for the last few years and seemed to do a darn good job, so why would this position not go to her.*

Overall, this is a mixed bag; there are parts of this I really like and parts that just don’t seem to fit. If this had been called ‘Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight’ then it would feel a lot more natural, but as it is the best parts come from the team and the focus on Carol feels forced, but perhaps it will grow on me in time.

Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

* I know in the last issue they tried to explain it away, but it didn’t make sense.

Scarlet Witch #3 – Review

Scarlet Witch 003 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by James Robinson with Art by Steve Dillon, Frank Martin and Chris Visions

Published February 2016

Scarlet Witch 003 aSynopsis – Ireland is dying possibly at the hands of the Emerald Warlock and the Scarlet Witch needs to put things right.

I am utterly devastated by what has happened to this series. We left last issue with the amazing styling of Marco Rudy whose usual hit and miss art was absolutely on full form and it is replaced by… Steve Dillion. I know the guy is a massive name in comics and his Preacher series is highly regarded, but honestly how does this man get work?

To call the characters in this series ‘wooden’ would be an affront to all arboreal lovers. There are close ups of the Scarlet Witch that make her look like she is having a stroke, the human mouth should not hang open limply like that. And then there is her cleavage. Honestly I am known for liking a bit of skin in my comics, heck I wrote the Grimm Fairy Tales and Lady Death reading orders on the site and I am completely unapologetic for that, but there is a time and place and this is neither the time, nor the place. On the subject of ‘places’ an attractive slim woman’s cleavage should not end somewhere below her diaphragm. I completely understand that women of a certain age or size may have cleavage that ends far lower than others, but in this instance it should not go lower than her elbows!

Having felt like I have been visually ‘motorboated’ on every page of this comic there is still a nice surprise right at the end when she enters another world and Chris Vision takes over the art. Instantaneously her bust is at a normal height and there is motion and flow to the art, it was literally like walking into another world.

It is such a shame that the art has utterly sidetracked this issue, but it is such a clear and present problem on every page that it is really hard to avoid. I really hope that we stick with Visions’ art for the rest of the series and then I can get back to enjoying this book. This is a character that has so many possibilities, and has so much history and depth that she deserves so much more than her only depth being between the gigantic glands on her chest.

Story – 7/10
Art – 0/10

 

Deadpool & The Merc$ For Money #1 – Review

Deadpool & The Mercs For Money 001 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Salva Espin and Guru-eFX

Published February 2016

Deadpool & The Mercs For Money 001 aSynopsis – It’s not enough for Deadpool to be bankrolling the Avengers, he needs a little mercenary team on the side just to get his kicks.

Given his recent stature in the Marvel universe this book comes as quite a surprise. Firstly you wouldn’t think that Deadpool would actually have the time to do this, given how integral he is to everything else going on in the Avengers circle. However if I get hung up on that sort of thing then I would never have been able to accept Wolverine’s activities during the 90’s and early 2000’s where he could be found in every second comic from the USA to the Savage Lands.

My real issue is that this just doesn’t seem to fit with what Deadpool is doing at the moment. Don’t get me wrong having ridiculous team ups with mercenaries and doing crazy stuff for money sounds exactly like Deadpool, but he is already doing this in his own titles and the Avengers books where he has set up the Deadpool corps and has loads of other ‘heroes’ running around in his costume.

If I leave aside my general issues with this title and mentally assume this is supposed to be before any of the recent events happened, then this is a lot of fun. It is great to see an uninhibited Deadpool going nuts with some friends who for the most part are even more nuts than he is.

This book carries on the split that there has been between the Deadpool ongoing series and the limited series. Gerry Duggan has been writing the ongoing series and for the most part Cullen Bunn the limited one and you can practically ‘feel’ the difference in the character. It is hard to entirely put my finger on it, but I think the best way of explaining it is this; given a situation with an innocent bystander, in the ongoing series Deadpool would probably save him, in the limited ones, I get the impression he just wouldn’t care. Both of them write good Deadpool, but for the most part Duggan gives him a bit more heart.

This book has  no meaning and no purpose other than to be a really amusing bit of light entertainment and frankly we can all do with a bit of that in our comics from time to time. It doesn’t all have to be about world changing decisions and cosmic entities, for once we can enjoy some stupidity.

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

 

Spider-Man #1 – Review

Spider-Man 001 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Sara Pichelli, Gaetano Carlucci and Justin Ponsor

Published February 2016

Spider-Man 001 aSynopsis – It’s hard being a normal kid in school when really you are a superpowered costumed hero who saves the day and then flunks his exams...

I have to say this issue comes pretty close to perfection. I admit it cheats by having Bendis and Pichelli as the creative team, it obviously has an unfair advantage, but even still its good. I only have three complaints about the issue and the first one is that I am not sure he actually looks like Miles. He looks older and more adult than I am used to, but then that might actually be the point. He is new to this universe, even if Secret Wars retroactively made him always exist here. There might have been an intention to grow him up a bit in this incarnation.

However there is a personal reason why I hate this book. It has made me realise how old I am. The art in the book is utterly gorgeous and as I was flicking through I saw a picture and thought ‘wow, she is utterly stunning’. As I read through the book there is a girl that Miles is hitting on and getting nowhere and I thought ‘not my type, no where near as attractive as the other one.’ Then I read through the rest of the comic and realises that the person I really liked, was his mom. I am officially old and Sara Pichelli, you will always be the person that made me realise it. I hate you.

What else can I say about the rest of this issue. The villain is mysterious and utterly terrifying to behold. Miles’ black spider costume with the red accents is fantastic, the action is dramatic and the jokes are half decent. It leaves me feeling like I read half a comic and I just want more, which is obviously the intention. Basically, I am pretty much speechless.

I did mention that I had three complaints, the last one shows just how impressive the book is. The art is so perfect and so amazing that when there was one mistake, I really noticed it. Miles tears his costume half way through the issue, but by the last page that tear has suddenly disappeared. Its a shame because I was going to give this book 11/10, but it will have to settle for an even 10.

Story – 10/10
Art – 10/10

 

Howard The Duck #4 – Review

Howard The Duck 004 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Chip Zdarsky with Art by Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera and Rick Magyar

Published February 2016

Howard The Duck 004 aSynopsis – Fowl Movement! Duck! Duck! Loose!

Howard has become the nexus of all worlds, a portal to every other dimension. The problem is, that makes him a very valuable commodity, one sort out by the most powerful beings in the galaxy.

Can I say being right is a wonderful thing? Don’t get me wrong I very much doubt that Chip has been reading my reviews and decided to listen to me, although that would be utterly amazing if it were true. No, what I mean is that one very important thing has changed in this series and it turns it from something I hate, into something I can mildly appreciate.

My biggest complaint with Howard has always been that he is a sane and ‘normal’ duck in a world which is mental and crazy around him. This for me has always broken the Marvel universe in my eyes because it isn’t like that in all the other series. However the one change they have made, and it is for me the change that makes Deadpool work but Squirrel Girl fail, is that Howard is now the mad one and the universe around him is sane.

Ok, I will admit for a sane universe it is still pretty nuts, but it is consistent and the other characters in it are consistent with how they appear in their own books. Howard has become this powerful creature (twice over by the end of the issue) and that makes him important. All the insanity around him is caused by his new found powers; much the same as if the reformed Infinity Gauntlet was available he becomes the centre of a massive free-for-all battle to take control of his abilities.

I am well known for my long standing and outspoken hatred of this character, but really that is an unfair statement to make. I don’t hate Howard, I hate the way he has been used. I hate that every time he turns up he slowly breaks the universe around him and destroys my suspension of disbelief. However in this story arc that issue has gone away and for me this is so much better for it. I do not know if my new-found ‘lack of hatred’ will last beyond this brief moment, but while it lasts I hope to make the most of it.

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10