Thursday, July 27, 2006

American Splendor – The Film

“You might as well know right off the bat, I had a vasectomy”



I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have a mental list of stuff that people consider great, recommendations I’ve been given, things I want to get round to reading, listening to or seeing at some point. And this list never seems to get any shorter, it took me nigh on four years to get around to reading Arkham Asylum after first venturing into comics and being recommended it – sure it got heavy in its religious imagery, but it was certainly a worthwhile read that I wish I had gotten to sooner.

I picked up American Splendor for less than a fiver in the wonder that is HMV last week, it’s a film I had been meaning to watch for a long time, but no one will ever get me to pay £20 for a film, so how could I resist when it was reduced by that much?
And sure I didn’t get around to watching it right away, it’s taken me a week, but today I finally found the time to slip it into the DVD player.

What can I say about it? This film is fantastic, possibly one of my most favourite films I’ve seen this year.

For those not in the know, American Splendor was a comic series written by Harvey Pekar, who wrote about his life, depressing at times as it was, about being an obsessive-compulsive collector, jazz lover, hospital clerk and friend of Robert Crumb among other things – Robert Crumb? You know the underground comic extraordinaire? Created Fritz the Cat? Look him up on a wiki if your still in the dark.



It’s kind of like Ghost World in a respect, in that it’s based on the original comics, but is so much more when stitched together, this isn’t the filmed adaptation of the comics, but rather a look at Pekar, a comment on what he thought his life was then and what it is to him now.

The format of the film is unique, it involves your basic film plot narrative, this adapted from the American Splendor comics and his wife’s ‘Our Cancer Year’ these are the foundation of the film. Yet on top of this we have the inter-cut ‘white room’ interview and conversations with the real Pekar, with him providing the narrative voice over the whole thing. Producing such wonderful dialogue as...

If you think reading comics about your life seems strange, try watching a play about it. God only knows how I'll feel when I see this movie.




And it’s not just Pekar, we see his wife and friends, not just as actors, but in the real people who were them, and I’m telling you some of these actors are so close to the actual people it’s unreal.

Then woven through this are not only the comics he wrote, with us seeing important panels and sequences but also the old recorded interviews of Pekar when he was trying to promote his comic on the talk show circuit.
This postmodernist style really sets up American Splendor epitomising its originality and holding the narrative and commentary together into a very worthwhile film. The filmed footage itself is even blurred into that of a typical Pekar comic, often using captions to set the scene and the time it takes place in, along with depicting Joyce’s uncertainty of what Pekar looks like through the many different artistic representations of him present in the comics.

Reading this through you could perhaps see this as sounding pretentious, and if it does that’s my own fault, it’s not a quality found in a film which simply works so well.

It’s not like the film never received awards either, with it being nominated for an Oscar, winning 27 awards – ranging from characters performances, adapted screen play, director and best feature. It won awards in Cannes, Edinbrough and Sundance.

Don’t be like me, don’t wait on this film, go out and buy it, it really is that good, it’s fresh, touching, tragic and unique. I only got to it three years late this time.

I’ll be buying and reading the comic once I have the money to, but as of right now, I have a cheaply bought DVD that gave me one of the most entertaining film experiences of the year. So the collections on the list, and I’m certainly not waiting 3 years to buy that.



Joyce Brabner: I find most American cities to be depressing in the same way.

Harvey Pekar: And you're OK with the vasectomy thing?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

GENERAL COMIC + LIFE UPDATE -WHAT I'M READING WATCHING AND ENJOYING

GENERAL COMIC + LIFE UPDATE -WHAT I'M READING WATCHING AND ENJOYING

Thunderbolts - I stopped getting this comic when they re-booted it as a "Marvel fight club" circa #76 - I didn't even read it during that period. when the title re-started I was curious but the title didn't hold my attention. I am reading it now purely for the civil war tie-in (as I am a completist whore like that) and it's reminded me how much I used to enjoy the characters, but no matter what they do with this title I know it will never reach the peak it did during those first 25 issues.

Books of Doom - Not so much of a re-telling of Dr Doom's origin more of an expanding and clarification of what is actually continuity canon and what isn't. It focuses more on his tie's with the gypsy community, Latveria and his Oedipus motivations. Reminscent in style of JMS's Stange miniseries, as Brubaker continues to impress at Marvel.
Almost enough to make me want to catch up with my x-Men.

Persepolis ; The complete edition - Both parts (or all four parts if you collected the original French editions) of this excellent bio-mic chronicalling the authors upbringing in war-torn Iran have now been collected into one handy-dandy package. The small touches and off-beat focus is what makes this story great, my attention was drawn less to the rapes, bombings and deaths and more to the Kim Wilde western obsession and the fact her friends had all the Star Wars figures - it's a side of Iran you never think existed and shows starkly how things have changed in the last 25 years. enlightening stuff.

Scott Pilgrim vol. 3 - More of the same, with a book of this quality that's never a bad thing.

Superman Returns - fucking ace movie although I didn't aprove of Jimmy Olsen swearing (hypocrite!). I will get into a review of it soon, but I don't want to spoil it, and lets face it everywhere has their two cents on this movie. I liked it, you might not. But I don't understand why the hardcore comic frat whinge about it.

Deadwood - Only three episodes in and this show inspires me to write better villains. Just a solidly written show by the guys who bought us Sopranos. Very much recommended.

Lost - And I wish I'd never found it. Big pile of balls, but what do you expect but an idiot-fest from the peep's who bought us Alias?

24 series 5 - yeah, now this is how I like my crap TV shows. It is shit, but I love it.

The Amazing Spider-Girl - great to see it has anpother series and all as I really love this book, but I have a pile of the last 26 issues to get through before the relaunch. Better get reading.

Civil War - I love this series to pieces. Okay, I thought some of Spidey's dialogue was a little off in Issue #3, but that can be explained as his nervousness. It's handling a series that very easily could fall flat on its face with enough rteverance to pull it off, and pull it off fucking well. Hat's off to Millar.
Cheap Plug time: We still have some of the Ed McGuiness variants left at £2.50 each, but they are only available to our Standing Order customers on a first come first served basis.

52 - Another great series. I know a lot of friends in other comic stores have a hard time selling this, but its one of our best ever selling books when you consider its a weekly title. No Superman, bats or WW and still our customers buy it. Good work guys - you have better taste than most.

Transformers comics - As with everything TF related, over-exposure is killing it. Some issues have 7 issues, forcing me to order silly amounts just so I can get variants, which is detrimental to the store. And with 4 different monthlies thats a lot of fucking unsold copies. Fuck IDW and fuck their variant cover ploicy for breaking my complete TF run, but I cannot justify 75 copies of a mediocre book for a shit variant cover.

Reprints - Three months ago it was DC, now its Marvel turns. Regular priced variant reprint covers are the name of the day for all the titles that have sold out. Civil War, Wolverine origins, She-Hulk and more - reprints that make sense enabling fans to join in the hype and not wait six months for a tpb - good work Marvel.

Tpbs - Bad work Marvel. Not only are some titles coming out far too quickly (a week after the comic in some cases); Marvel are killing interest with shit "Premiere edition" Hardcovers featuring a measly 6 issues for £18 - this puts the customer off as they know it will be in Tpb in 6 months for £5 less, and by the time the six months have passed, its been so long since the issues were talked about on the 'net and in Wizard, people have forgotten and no longer care. At least when DC do a Hardcover like Infinite Crisis it looks damn impressive, means a lot to the DCU as a whole, and they keep it in print for a year or so before swapping out to Tpb.
Of course, DC aren't perfect, £18 for the Jim lee Superman and Green Lantern Rebirth (6 issues each) was a bit much.
While on the subject of Tpbs, Marvel are seriously overcharging again. £18 for six issues of Excalibur which shouldn't set you back more than £7-8 in back issue form? £14 for a six issue mini that would have cost £13.20 in 1st prints. Reel it in Marvel, or Tpb will never be a viable market..

Green Lantern spin-offs - I don't know if I can be arsed to be honest. They seem to be gathering in a pile of un-read-ness. I don't mind the ongoing, I wouldn't say I love it, but I'll stick with it for the foreseeable, but Ion and GL Corps? They might go the way of the following pretty soon...

Ms Marvel - Stopped getting. There's nothing wrong with it, it sell's well, reads good and is a hell of a lot better than it has ANY right to be but I get enough stuff and something had to give. Maybe its just me, but I can't get my head around the concept of a Ms. Marvel ongoing.

The New DC / One Year Later - stop with the fucking branding already! Oh, they have. well stop with the new titles. IMHO Shadowpact, OMAC, Secret Six, Blue Beetle and Checkmate are all a bit lacking. I guess for a lot of guys who are new to the DCU they are wicked, (and with Infinite crisis we gained a LOT of new DC readers) because the newcomers feel like they are getting in on the ground-floor and something they know a little about through IC, but for an old-school DC fan like me, they don't do much. put it this way: When Spectre is your best new launch and its a 3-issue mini you are doing something wrong.
Even WW and Flash feel lacking compared to pre-1YL. But for every poor title there is an excellent title, like the new JLA or Superman.

That's enough for today. More soon and I will add pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another look at Spiderman: - The Other

Was there anything good in this?

So I’m given the task by Sid of reading Spiderman: The Other and finding the good aspects within it. And I couldn’t come into this without preconceptions because I knew most of the story through either Sid’s sarcastic breakdowns of the issues from a few months back or other fans on the internet waxing lyrically for nigh on 4 months. So with the copy in my hands I casually ask if he thought there was anything good in it, and Sid tells me maybe a bit of dialogue and some of the art, which I guess stems from his enjoyment of JMS’s and Peter David’s writing along with Mike Weiringo’s artwork. I on the other hand am not a massive fan of any member of the creative team working on this, sure I read comics written by some of them, but I don’t follow them book to book, they just happen to write some of the comics I like at the moment.

I tried to dig deep with it, I really wanted to find some nugget of gold, I really did.

First things first, I don’t follow Spiderman monthlies religiously; in fact the only ‘Spider’ book I really enjoy is Spidergirl. So I’m not up to date on all the recent changes before and after this, with the exception of the general gist of the Other, Parkers costume reveal and JMS’s alternative ‘origin’ of powers (I’m not really sure how to refer to it so that’s the way I’ll be doing it from here on in)

I had a very negative perception of the comic before I had even read an issue, if not from what has been written about the story in reviews, but from Joe Q himself who went to say that the other ‘…didn't flow. Let's be honest. When you have that many creators in the room, things are gonna change.’

A really positive start to reading it, right?

Well I did read it, over the course of a couple of days on a canal boat in the middle of nowhere. And while I won’t say I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the worst thing I have ever taken the time to read, in fact I think the story works on an almost so bad it’s good level. I mean we have MJ and Aunt May in Iron Man’s old suits, Time Travel for the emotional sake of it, Tony Stark revealing how great he is at implementing fail safes in his technology, Peter Parker using his Spider senses to win at black jack, Wolverine whining about having to wear socks, Jarvis complaining about cleaning up Spiderman’s Webs and MJ seemingly giving the finger to JJJ in a panel (with the offensive finger being conveniently covered by a birds wing).

So what did I find that I thought was good, well to me it would be some choice pieces of dialogue that stood out most. The majority of which coming from Wolverine, even if it was spoilt in one instance by an over explanation of why he acted to MJ in the way he did. I mean sure, give new readers a hint as to what he’s doing if you want, but don’t dedicate a page to over explaining it; thereby destroying any effect it had. JMS for the larger part, though no way near completely, nailed the balance between the sombre tone often used in this story and the quipping side of Spiderman. As for the art? To me there was nothing that really stuck out, but I didn’t like the mash of the artistic styles, which worked as a constant reminder that this wasn’t a cohesive vision.

So while the actual parts of the whole weren’t fantastic, was what the story attempted to reach for a good aim?

Well here is, what I saw, that we exactly got out of the story

Spiderman’s need for a new costume

Nothing that was really needed, but it may play a larger role in Civil War yet, I’ll reserve judgment on this, I mean we all know that at some point the classic costume will be reverted to, but I’ll see if this one has a significant part to play. Just looking at all those alternative covers we know how much a change of costume tends to stick. I don't think a change of costume can be considered a high point of a story, well unless the costume was awful to begin with, and even then that's a pretty bad story.

Spiderman’s aquiration of new powers

(Apparently aquiration isn't a word according to spell checker, but you get what I mean)
So now he can see in the dark, redundant with his Spider sense right? Well at least in a danger sense, but it doesn’t really add anything new to the character. He can now sense vibrations through a spun web, as much as this was portrayed as new when I read it, it just niggles in the back of my mind that it was probably been done before, as with him carrying the girl on his back through his Spider ‘clinging hairs’. He now has stingers, because in the future that’s what spiders have? Are we seriously meant to think that Spiderman will use these in a fight against his usual rouges? It just seems a little to violent for Peter. It’s a power I would only expect to see used against ‘Spider’ villains, along with an inner monologue about how much more evolved he has become.
I hate the stingers.
In fact the issue where all these new powers were shown off one by one and helped him out of that building to save the girl was cringe worthy to read. One of the many low points of the story in my opinion.

The ‘healing’ also healed his mind so that old problems no longer really bother him

So I guess that sorts out personal continuity, all this old stuff doesn’t bother me anymore so I won’t talk about it? Perhaps it was a needed aspect, I don’t know, but there could have easily been a much more organic way to reach it rather than saying in effect that ‘my mind healed itself’.

It lead into civil war, through a nice bit of dialogue from Spidey about Tony and Cap, with it also showing how much Peter is now connecting with Tony

Possibly my favourite snippet of dialogue in the whole 12 issues

Iron Man:- We’re not blaming you, Peter. We’re just trying to figure out what just went on here today. Our security camera captured the action, but we still don’t have the full picture. Until then, we’re going to have to—

Spiderman:- I know, I know. More tests.

Captain America:- I have to agree with Tony.

Then we wait a beat, they leave and we hear Spiderman’s quiet sarcastic dialogue to himself

Spiderman:- Big surprise

Really not connected to The Other though, just the parts that shadowed what is now current, and probably only mean more now in retrospect. But these I enjoyed --And while I’m on dialogue, it was obvious at one point someone came up with the notion that when someone dies, sometimes you turn to talk to them but their gone. Sure that’s fine and soppy on its own, but it was used repeatedly in issues 7 and 8, now whilst I thought this would be put down to the collaborative effect of the writers, this was in fact in two of JMS’s issues. Great way to destroy a piece of dialogue/thought that.

It tied the ‘alternative’ possible source of his powers more closely to Spiderman

I don’t mind these ideas of ‘two’ origins, I like the juxtaposition of whether Spiderman was a result of science or an ‘endowed by the gods’ power type of thing. But here I feel the two didn’t mesh, seeming more to be a push by JMS to tie his possible alternative ‘origin’ even more closely to the character .

Introduced two new villains, The Tracer and The Spider

Neither were that memorable, but I liked the idea behind The Tracer, god of technology, though the name is a current day rival to that of Paste Pot Pete. The Spider just read as a generic spider themed villain, nothing more to it than that, an arch enemy based around an opposing concept of the hero.

It has a built in story factor that can be used to negate everything that follows

Something that really did grate on me, it’s made clear that Spiderman is possibly not who he was. Possibly not just in his new powers
Wolverine:- ‘Something doesn’t smell right…I mean something’s changed in you’
And whilst we reach a little conclusion of sorts in the last page with Tony saying ‘Yep, it’s him, all right’, we all know how right he generally tends to be in this story. Leaving a perfect opportunity for the events which have followed it to be explained away with the simple excuse of this wasn’t the real Peter if they prove unpopular. That he was something else when he came out of the cocoon. Seems far to contrived to actually be used, but its there ready and waiting if Marvel decide to pick up its reins.

So did I find anything good with in Spiderman: The Other? Just a couple of bits of dialogue, whilst the art didn’t do much for me. Sure there might have been some good aims within this, but the majority of the time it got tangled in its on web (See what I did there? I could write for Wizard with cheesy review dialogue like that) or fell flat on its face.

So in my opinion, Spiderman: The Other is just as worthless as everyone makes out, it’s just that as a whole it’s not across the board consistently awful. This perhaps being the only saving grace of having 3 writers attacking the story, some writers manage to hit at least some of the beats that they were aiming for.

--
A couple of notes

Thinking back I’m not that sure on the whole Spider god JMS thing, I can’t remember the story that well, so excuse my rambling if it was never meant as a possible alternative origin.

What bugged me about the Hardcover- While this isn’t the story itself, for a hardback complete copy with all the variant covers in the back, you would really think that they would include the sketchbook as well, just a stupid thing which bugged me, that’s all.

I need to figure out how to add images to blog posts again

Friday, July 07, 2006

HTML PROBLEMS

It might be apparent to many that I have NO idea what I am doing with HTML, so in the course of re-designing this site, it might go a bit funny for some site visitors.

As it stands, the page is fine if viewed using Mozilla Firefox - and to be fair if you don't use firefox; why not?

But the site looks quite gammy if viewed with Internet Explorer. Bear with me, it will get better.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Variant Covers - a discussion.


So, what do you people think of Variant Covers?

Personally, I have no problem with them. If a variant cover is a nice image and it's of Spider-man or Transformers, then 9/10 times I'll be a sucker and go for it.

Professionally? I fucking hate them. I can see they are an underhanded sales trick with nothing more in mind than inflating sales, and I am quite happy to make my money with them. But they are a real headache. Espceially as Marvel don't list them during the initial ordering phase.

Case in point: Neil Gaimans revisioning of "The Eternals".

Neil Gaiman can sell a book, DC know this, Marvel know this, we know this. This book was always going to sell in good numbers, but more improtantly for Neil's work, this will have a long, healthy book-shelf lifespan with mass-market appeal. The comic will pay for itself, the Tpb however, will be a nice cash-cow for Marvel.

I was initially going to order about 15 copies of this title, as I thought a lot of people (myself included) will wait for the Tpb. So I went with 15.
Then a few weeks later I got a Marvel mailer, and it said "John Romita Jr Variant cover for the Eternals. 1:20". Meaning in order to receive 1 variant I have to order 20 regular. What the hell, its only 5 more than I was going to get, and one of our customers is a MAJOR JRJR fan so it was a guaranteed sale.
Then a week or so later, they anounce that a "super limited John romita Jr Variant Cover Sketch Edition, 1:50". Quite a leap, but the JRJR fan will most likely want it so it keeps a regular happy, and this way we can order another of the 1:20 covers anyway, so what the heck.

Weeks pass, then the order comes through. We have about 30 copies sat on the shelf not doing much, except gathering dust and making it look like I don't know what I'm doing. I've always wondered if customers see a lot of copies of a book, do they wonder "Ah, the retailer has faith in this book. This must be a good book." or do they say "Ah. A turkey, this book must be a turkey. It's just sat there not being bought."
In truth, the customer is probably happy shoping for the things they know they want, and are quite happy to ignore quantity.

So the book sells fairly well, the regular JRJR fan buys the variant covers, we put one on the wall at a reasonable rate all is good.
And then we notice there is a third variant (or a fourth cover), which I had better get for the regular. Even though the cover isn't by JRJR it's become a completist thing now, so I contact the old distributors hoping to order at least one copy.
Andy at Diamond: "Ah, the Coipel Variant. Limited to only 10 per account".
Now remember, I only want one...
..but only ten per account! I must be able to sell all them and make a profit, surely. I place the order, it seems silly not to take full advantage, after all, it's an incentive, right?

So, that's a total of 63 copies of Eternals #1, a title that I had only intended to order 15 copies of.

I'm sure there is a point, or a moral to this. Somewhere.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

ALL-STAR COMICS; HIT OR MISS: OPPOSING VIEWS.

Ryan Says:

So the All Star line has been with us for almost a year now, well nearly past a year, meaning that All Star Batman And Robin The Boy wonder is possibly the slowest comic I’ve ever read, 4 comics over a year. Yet they both sell well, regardless of release, but does commercial success mean critical success?

The whole premise was never aimed to be the ‘ultimate’ DC line, I’m not even sure if DC would ever need it. I mean we have a crisis of some kind every 10 or so years, retconing elements of the past and starting again, while not at the beginning, at an easy place to jump on. I think an ‘Ultimate’ line could be done, and well too, but this was never meant to be it

So what is the All Star line?

Essentially it’s where DC can pair up some of it’s ‘A list’ creators with the icons of DC, without them having to abide by the laws on continuity.

We’ve got Jim Lee and Frank Millar on All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder. Hit or miss?

Well in terms of actual story, we’ve really got no where. Batman has kidnapped Robin after his parents we’re murdered, and then left him to eat rats in the Batcave like a good little sidekick.

But is it entertaining? No question, we have been given some of the funniest dialogue from a Batman comic in an age, with characterisations that really play on the reader’s perceptions of the Batman history along with fantastic art. I’m still undecided if my love of this book comes from me wanting to witness the train wreck if Millar ever meant this to be a serious comic, or if Frank is writing it as a critique on the Batman people thought he was writing in The Dark Knight Strikes Back, as in a this is the Batman you were reading, he was not the Batman I was writing.

Either way it’s a fun comic in my book.

And we’ve got Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely on All Star Superman. Hit or miss?

Hit all the way and there is no doubting it, again a comic plagued by delays, but in far less time it has hit the 4 issue mark. As we looked at a few blog posts ago, Morrison is paying tribute to the Silver age, it’s not a parody like Batman, but rather a homage to all the ‘wacky’ stuff that came out of the 60’s and 70’s. The story itself is shaping up nicely, written in a way that every issue can be appreciated singularly, but even more when read together. Were being told the story of the Death of Superman, but through the issues we are touching on seemingly ever aspect of Superman’s History, so far, his relationship with Lex, the man he is, his love of Lois and his friendship with Jimmy. I think when this is over we’re going to be left with a comic that touched on everything important to a Superman comic, but in a very fun and enjoyable light hearted way.

The arts pretty fantastic to, with careful attention paying off when you see all of the Easter eggs that have been laid out for the observant.

This book is no doubt a success, with it allowing any reader to come in and enjoy Superman effortlessly.

Line wide have the All Star books been a success?

To me, certainly. They’ve offered things that couldn’t be found in the DC line before them. And while ASBARTBW may have its faults, I believe that it’s a highly enjoyable read that may perhaps read better in trade. Whilst ASS, has proven that a mainstream Superhero book can offer a complete story each issue in the current comic medium. But they’ve both offered reads that don’t require the reader to know the past of these two Icons, something that whilst not completely the ‘Ultimate’ line, embodies the reasoning behind it.

Personally I can’t wait for the next All Star book to launch

Sid Says:

When DC first announced the All-star line, it was in answer to Marvels Ultimate line. They stated it categorically, and even though since then they have said that its meant to be different than the Ultimate line, only an idiot wouldn't want to recreate the success of the Ultimate line.
If there are four marketable icons in the history of comics, they are Spider-man, Batman, Superman and (loath as I am to admit it) Wolverine. Followed very closely by Wonder Woman and The Hulk, if only for their TV shows.
The question has always been: "How do we make these characters appeal to the masses, not just 60,000 core fans?" The answer from Marvel was easy: make them more assessable by starting again, make them easy to find, easy to read and with a branding that people can trust. After all, there really isn't much difference between any brand of Corn Flakes, yet Kellogg's far outsell there closest competitor due to one thing: branding. Like it or not, advertising and marketing are the defining parts of our culture today.

Within a year of the Ultimate line up starting, there was an Ultimate Spider-man graphic novel in every comic store, every Borders, every Ottakers, on Amazon, in Wallmart, just about everywhere you would expect to find reading material. With a second volume just around the corner and an imminent Ultimate X-Men Tpb due.
Comics shops had thirteen issues of Ultimate Spider-man, all written and drawn by the same creative team, whom are still on the book even, 98 issues in. Ultimate Spider-man was a vastly different character with today's ideologies but the same core values that always made him a hero. We saw firsthand why Uncle Ben was a great guy, Osborn was his first super-villain Spidey faced - not the Chameleon and Peter even sat down and revealed his identity to Mary Jane, his high-school sweetheart.
These new tales of Spider-man were perfectly crafted to fit in with the forthcoming "Spider-man" live action film, giving casual fans a place to continue the story without having to learn 40 years of convoluted back story.

Within a year, we were six issues into a tight X-Men run by legend in the making Mark Millar, where he had established a core team with a bad-ass attitude, perfect for fans of the previous years X-Men movie, which was becoming a bankable franchise in the making.
By the time Spider-man and X-Men 2 hit the cinemas, there was quite a selection of Ultimate novels on the market for the discernible comic reader.

I guess one of my main points is that any fuck in a suit can throw a load of money at Frank Miller and make a "best-selling" comic appear. But it takes someone who really gives a shit about the industry to recognise talent in Mark Millar - who at the time was working on Superman Adventures and Avengers-bashing on the Authority- and Brian Michael Bendis - who was infamous for his work on Torso and Goldfish. Marvel used unbankable creators, taking a risk and making stars with their own voices for a new generation rather than using pre-established creators. Imagine if Marvel had gone with the All-star creators of John Bryne and Chris Claremont?

What has the All-star line done in a year. 8 issues between two series? That's pathetic.
What was there in book stores for newcomers when Batman Begins hit? What can we, the retailers, recommend to fans of Superman Returns? Man of Steel? Birthright? And then what? What do they lead into?

And what is All-star anyway?

What's All-star if its not Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert on Batman? Or Geoff Johns and Richard Donner on Superman? And these examples are both core universe DC titles. How can All-star Wonder Woman compare against the current creative team?
And All-star to whom exactly? Non-comic readers? Of course not. The entire line is built of the premise that pre-existing fans will want to read these comics because we are selling them on the names of creators they already know. Kids and new readers will not check the creators names on a Tpb in Borders, because the name will have no real relevance to them. At best, the All-star line could be great for bringing back some older comic fans who haven't read anything in a while.

So the question is, will newcomers come to trust the brand All-star? Probably not, and here's why.
When they finally get into Tpb, neither book will feel like you are getting in on the ground floor of something amazing and revolutionary the way the Ultimate line did. Okay, its a tough call on whether or not to start at the beginning, and everyone on the planet has a vague idea of both Supes and Bats respective origins, so do you need to start with the origins? Probably not. Yet the All-star line feels pre-established, like you are coming into a story halfway through, always missing that all important first chapter, which isn't so much of a problem if you are an established comic reader, but if you're a newcomer - kind of important.
The other thing that will affect quality is the changing of creative teams. Frank Miller and Jim Lee are only confirmed for a measly six issues, and by the time that's happened what will have progressed in the story? At best, they have driven from a circus to the Batcave, talked a bit, and Robin will get a costume. Mark Millar stayed on X-Men for 32 issues (with the exception of 2 fill-in issues), and really helped establish the universe before he left to do another Ultimate title, and its very like Bendis and Bagley will break Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's record for consecutive issues on a mainstream superhero title.

So the next question is "Why do I hate the All-star line so much?" The answer is: I really don't. I love the line even if it has been marred by variant covers and retailer incentives to inflate numbers (something that the Ultimate line has really downplayed) and despite not knowing if they are in a shared universe or not.
Sure it's flawed, but the stories keep me interested, and as mentioned earlier on my site: AS Superman is a fantastic read. But are they GAINING new readers on comics the way Marvel acheived it on the back their movies?

I think not.

All-star Comics. Not a hit, but certainly not shit.

These are all my opinions based on the facts as I know them. The proof of the pudding will be - of course - in the long term Tpb sales.