6.06.12 Reviews (Part 2/2)

Secret #2 (Image): I’m going to go ahead and say that Secret is the best Jonathan Hickman project since Pax Romana, which I really liked. Ryan Bodenheim’s work has also never looked better. These two facts intersect to create a very direct and intense story. It’s pure and crisp and distilled down to its core elements, which Bodenheim washes out with gray tone flashbacks and then punctuates with bursts of crimson or Earth tone sepia sequences. “All Behavior is Predictable. All Communication is Threat.” Yeah. This is the Jonathan Hickman of old, who burst onto the scene with activist works like The Nightly News, followed them with sci-fi-meets-graphic-design social commentary in Pax Romana, coupling the believability of real world elements with insanely huge hooks. Roger Ebert has this theory that a good movie is not about what it’s about, but about HOW it’s about what it’s about. To say that the plot here involves Steadfast Security Solutions (S3) and a scheme involving a key client isn’t enticing all by itself, but seeing how Hickman and Bodenheim lay down the corporate espionage tale without exposition, with style and grace that doesn’t insult the reader, and the attitude of restrained confidence makes all the difference. The only thing that really prevents me from giving this the “+” mark is that this specific issue feels like the middle chunk of a singular chapter, with no connective tissue to what I remember from last issue, and of course, haven’t yet seen in the next issue. It’s also over lightning fast, something that’ll surely be rectified in the eventual collected edition. Grade A.

Bleeding Cool Magazine #0 (Avatar Press): Judging by the style and quality of the content, this print version of Rich Johnston’s infamous gossip/news site seems to be aiming for the gap between the vacated market positions of Wizard Magazine and Comic Foundry. Unfortunately, it leans a little more toward the former than the short-lived latter. Most of the material reads like regurgitated hyperbolic press releases, which reveal Johnston’s conflicted interest relationships with publishers like Boom! and Avatar. There’s also a lot of attention being paid to the Valiant relaunch. While I admire the story of the company owners and everything in these interviews sounds swell, the actual content of the Valiant books I’ve sampled isn’t very good. I think people are being swayed by nostalgia for these properties. The X-O Manowar first issue was dull and derivative, while the Harbinger sample was just plain boring and almost impossible to slog through. Anyway. I certainly like the idea of a print magazine too, and I applaud Johnston for flipping the paradigm and going from digital to print, instead of print to digital, but it’s also hard to avoid the content feeling dated the minute it hits the street. Most of the stuff in this issue is stuff you could find online with just a few mouse clicks. And a fucking price guide? C’mon. Is it 1993? Because as soon as I sell you this complete set of Limited Edition Chromium-Plated Spawn Pogs CGC’d at 9.8, my kids will surely be attending Stanford University. I probably wasn’t going to buy this, but then I saw it contained a piece on The Massive with a Brian Wood interview. And it’s only $1.49, which goes a long way toward swaying my interest, so what the hell? I bought it! Big surprise, I didn’t find a whole lot of value to the majority of the banal pieces. The one article I enjoyed was that Brian Wood interview, where I think Johnston and Co. actually got some type of scoop-y info that hasn’t been revealed elsewhere. Wood has another rejected Vertigo project tucked away called Starve, which he intends to repurpose as a sequel to The Massive, involving a land-based water shortage, something I can assure you he’s done extensive research on. Of particular note in this issue of BC Mag is the Len Wein Before Watchmen interview, which I’m sure people will be trolling around to glean salacious information from, and it’s definitely there. Wein essentially toes the company line, focusing on characters and property building and DC having done nothing wrong legally, while completely ignoring the business ethics end of the discussion, which is basically the whole point of the debate. He plays a lot of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc logic games with his answers, but does point out one often overlooked fact, that Moore is still making substantial amounts of money off of Watchmen residuals, he just doesn’t own the property outright. I guess you can certainly understand Paul Levitz’s former position of frustration that Moore was out there badmouthing DC while they’re cutting him “checks every year that would choke a horse!” at the same time. I’m not sure if forthcoming 100-page issues of BCM will also be $1.49, but I’ll probably check out at least the first issue because I’m intrigued by the promised "Top 100 Most Powerful People in Comics" list. Grade B-.


At 4:41 PM, Blogger Rich Johnston said...

Thanks for the piece, very valuable. There will be a price guide, if I have any say, there is a demand for it that isn;t met by the market. It's something retailers tell me is really missing. And it's an empowering thing, letting people know that comics they have bought could pay several months rent. You could find this out online but it could be laborious.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks for stopping by, as well as the civility in the face of a less than glowing review, which teh internets could certainly use more of!

Best of luck, and if you need any additional columnists, you know where to find me. ;-)



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