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One Year Later

A couple weeks ago, I hit the one-year mark of having a new post for this blog every single weekday (Mon-Fri). Over 52 weeks of at least five posts per week.

What started as a personal “experiment” in seeing if I could do a month, then several months, then top my previous “record,” eventually turned into me deciding to keep up the daily schedule to hit that year mark. Then I decided to finish out the month.

When I found myself with nothing prepared Wednesday night, I used that as an excuse to finally ‘break’ my trend. Now I’m free of that…less pressure to put on myself to keep it up.

And while I’m not going to specifically NOT post…I’m probably going to (try to) allow a bit more time between posts for awhile. Take a break from writing ABOUT comics and comics-related stuff and spend more time just simply reading and enjoying them.

This blog will still be here, I’ll still be here, and even if I’m not posting daily for awhile, I expect to have stuff here and there.

Vampirella/Aliens #1 [Review]

aliensvampirella001Writer: Corinna Bechko
Artist: Javier Garcia-Miranda
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Colorist: InLight Studios
Cover Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Cover Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Published by: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Date: N/A (September 2015)
Cover Price: $3.99

In twenty-seven years, throughout the entirety of the ’90s and the ‘bad girl’ craze and all that…I never bought even one single issue of Vampirella. That impressive run has now come to an end, thanks to a cover and crossover…with Aliens.

Some cloaked/hooded figures in some sort of underground temple on Mars are attacked by Aliens, and quickly revealed to be vampires. Even their enhanced abilities are no match, and they’re wiped out. Some time later, a ship arrives at the station on the surface, carrying an individual with special expertise…Vampirella. She and the station crew investigate stuff and–of course–encounter the Aliens. They also learn that vampires are not the cause of the strangeness but victims. After fending off an attack that left most of the group unconscious with creatures having attached themselves to faces…we see that even Vampirella isn’t immune to Aliens and their larval Facehugger forms.

I don’t honestly know what I expected from this. I’d known the series was coming up, probably even knew this first issue was due out, but I forgot about it all the same, until I saw it on the shelf.

Despite the presence of Vampirella…the cover looks like an Aliens comic. Aside from the ridiculously unnatural near-lack-of clothing on the female, this could be any Aliens comic, by the looks of it. And that suits me just fine, simply being interested in something new with Aliens. I also like the way the two publishers’ logos are…neither one seems out of place, and the way they appear with the issue number and creator names, if one didn’t know better it’d be quite possible to think that one’s an imprint of the other rather than two “competitors.”

I’m not familiar with the creative team, so nothing prior to compare this to in that regard. But in terms of being “an Aliens story,” this is pretty formulaic and familiar…which I actually appreciate and enjoyed as I read this. (That’s what Aliens crossovers ARE, too, to me: something entertaining despite formula…because it’s Aliens vs. ______ [insert character/property]!) So there’s not much story-wise, to me. I’m aware OF Vampirella but know basically nothing about the character or her past stories/continuity. Ok, so she’s a vampire? Cool…that means she’s at least “tougher” than “regular humans” (as we see in this issue). I don’t really “need” anything else…I’m entertained at “Aliens vs. Vampires” here.

Visually…I like the art. This looks and ‘feels’ like an Aliens comic. And that’s more than good enough for me. I’m especially impressed with the cover, though. Different artists, but the styles work well together–the interior art isn’t a match to the cover, but it’s not a jarring difference or anything. And surprisingly–almost shockingly–despite one particular glimpse of a “classic” look to Vampirella herself, we’re treated mostly to a far more feasibly-dressed female figure that doesn’t make me feel dirty for buying an issue with Vampirella in the title.

I’m not sure if this is 4 or 6 issues for the mini-series, but right now (particularly given the issue’s cliffhanger) I’m very interested in the next issue, and will be keeping an eye out for it next month, whether or not I stick with the single issues for the entirety.

Not being entirely familiar with Vampirella, I don’t know if fans specifically of the character will enjoy this (at least for this issue alone), though I can’t imagine (so far) that it particularly contradicts basic stuff with the character. As an Aliens fan, coming to this because of that side? I really enjoyed this.

The $3.99 for one story chunk is off-putting as ever, put I’ve been pretty much beaten into submission on the fact that all the comics I buy are basically $3.99. While this is certainly an issue worth picking up to try the series, to get to read the story now and as it unfolds, and whatever other usual motivations are present for buyiing a $4 single issue.

Based on this first issue alone, I suspect the eventual collected edition will be of definite interest to Aliens fans, and as we get further into the mini, I won’t be surprised if there’s more material with what will appear to be a distinctly Vampirella tone, for those fans.

Some Raw Thoughts to Start September

[This is a rather raw/unedited post. No fancy formatting, no strategically-placed images. Just some worn-out thoughts from a guy worn out with the ongoing comic-buying thing.]

I’ve seen (but not read many) articles about the apprent “failure” of the DC You campaign, the support remaining behind it, ways it failed readers and ways it reinvigorated ’em. Stuff like that.

But not having read MUCH (going mostly off quasi-clickbaity headlines and links to VIDEOS rather than text), here are some of MY thoughts.

For me, to me, it’s been a failure. I bought the first issue of Batman Beyond, based on learning it was now Tim Drake behind the mask, that Terry had died during Futures End or such, and having an interest in the Tim Drake character, as one of my (pre-New 52) favorite characters. As I type this, I do not recall issue #2, if I even bought it (I’m pretty sure I passed on it). Despite interest in the future Batman, interest in Tim Drake, and having a soft spot for Dan Jurgens’ work…it wasn’t enough to hold me. Sure, the $2.99 price is appealing in an overwhelming sea of $3.99 books, but I just do not have faith in DC keeping the book going longer than 6-12 issues, which would make for a couple of collected editions, likely accessible in a bargain bin in a year or two’s time…or single issues in a bargain bin for 1/4 to 1/3 on the whole cover price.

I’m forcing myself to try a few issues of Constantine, missing the Vertigo Hellblazer incarnation. While the first two issues (I’ve bought but not yet read the third) seemed a lot more in line with that…again, I haven’t a clue how long this incarnation will last; whether the creative team will bail or leave or be let go, or the book will be cancelled, etc. There’s no “history” to it, with “only” 3 issues, while there are 3 HUNDRED issues of the Vertigo series…plus assorted guest-starring roles, specials, and so on.

Pretty much everything “continuing” from before Convergence just simply doesn’t interest me–especially as serialized graphic novels rather than monthly episodes in any sort of truly ongoing story.

And perhaps is was misunderstanding on my end, but the notion that ‘continuity’ doesn’t matter and that ‘story’ is more important REALLY put me off to some of the truly new things (as well as–again–the lack of faith in any true longevity to the series beyond what I can eventually get in bargain bins or discounted collected volumes in a couple years’ time).

And maybe that’s the thing, too, in the face of stuff that’s otherwise just “the latest” thing or the most current in a series of things that puts me “off” of new/current comics while leaving me totally embracing ’90s stuff and older stuff.

Ten years ago, maybe eleven, I was railing against $2.99 comics, up from $2.50 or less. The last seven or so against $3.99 comics, having gone straight from $2.99 with no stops at $3.25, $3.50, or $3.75 between.

And for wanting to follow entire continuities, entire universes…at the rare/occasional $3 and mostly $4/issue anymore, that’s just not possible for stuff like Marvel and DC. Even for sub-groupings or “families” of titles. Marvel double-ships a bunch of titles last I paid attention, and DC…has just really lost me with the New 52, beyond however much they’d “lost” me prior.

Valiant was manageable with only about 9 titles/month, but in terms of single issues for “everything they publish,” they blew it big-time with LotG (see anything I’ve posted in the last couple months about Valiant).

Which leaves me with my old fallback and readily-admitted exception to most anyother “stance” or “principle” I’ll take in comics: the TMNT. 2 books/month (1 ongoing, 1 of whatever the ‘current’ mini-series is), 1 book/month based on the cartoon, and about 1 book/month reprinting classic material…four books/month. I can handle that, and I get the entirety, pretty much, of comic book output of TMNT.

I might try something different here or there–Thom Zahler’s Long Distance, giving in to nostalgia with X-Men ’92 or Age of Apocalypse (with the added benefit of knowing these are mini-series and not an ongoing ‘investment’).

But at this point, I’m sick of the event-into-event-into-event-into-EVENT model. I’m sick of renumbering. I’m sick of the “seasonal” model of Marvel, and I’m sick of a crappy Superman.

I’m sick of the speculator-collector stuff, I’m sick of variant covers, and I’m entirely sick of shrinking pagecounts with increasing prices.

I’m sick of comics being nothing more than serialized graphic novels, where shocks, surprises, and “key” story elements have to be taken in within larger groupings of issues and not simply as the latest unfolding chapter of an ongoing continuous series. An X-Man dies in chapter 2 of a 6-part story, there’s no TRUE bearing on the series until at least the next arc–she might be back or the death undone in 4 issues as the larger story for the “graphic novel” resolves, or the very next “arc” as part of a larger 2-volume thing.

And I don’t like the unpredictability of most “indie” comics…and particularly WITH the serialized graphic novel bit…either I have no idea when/if I’ll get a second issue if I trie a first, or the thing’s geared toward the graphic novel. The “guaranteed-to-be-collected-into-a-single-volume” thing dooms most single issues for me.

Raiding quarter bins, I can buy a 16-issue (more than a YEAR)’s run of something for the price of a single current issue. I can sample smaller runs of various series. For only SLIGHTLY more than buying a 6-issue arc, I can buy a HUNDRED issues from 20 years ago. From a period of definite nostalgia for me, of a time when I simply enjoyed comics for what they were, and following ongoing stories with little regard–outside the occasional in-title “event” or “crossover”–for any notion of collected volumes.

And while I absolutely will NOT knock it–with Marvel Unlimited, I can read 40 issues for about what ONE would cost me, and I can truly “binge-read” series without laying out a small fortune.

So, bringing this stream-of-conscious post to a close: yeah. DC You was a failure for me. It has not drawn me ‘back’ in, it doesn’t leave me at all reinvigorated toward DC, and I’m desperately chasing alternatives to the former “joy” of the weekly/monthly comics-buying experience.

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