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Ring Out the Old: The 2012 Year-End Wrap, Episode Two

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Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012
Splash Artwork from Batman #13
Shathley and Mike, Editor and Associate Editor on PopMatters Comics pick up on Episode Two, exactly where they left off yesterday…with meditations of art versus commerce. But the conversation quickly turns to the breakout Hawkeye, to Batman and on to Marvel NOW!.

@MichaelDStewart: Before we get to that, let me ask you this: This money vs. art talk, in more immediate terms, would you look at the big news of the year, DC’s New 52 and Marvel NOW!, as money grabs or creative revolutions?


@uu3y324rdry: Interesting…
  
I’m in that neither-neither place…
 
@MichaelDStewart: Ah, good call. I did set that up as some sort of fallacy. False choice.
  
@uu3y324rdry: Yes, precisely! That is very much an 80s-era pre-Image pre-Miller’s Sin City formulation.


Here’s how I get there, to that neither-neither—in terms of pure unbidden creativity…it’s gotta be Hawkeye.
  
For me, hands down Hawkeye’s got to be the most innovative book of the year…and yet… it happens without Marvel NOW!.
 
@MichaelDStewart: Considering it was something no one suspected could be good.
 
@uu3y324rdry: Right? That makes it even more of a smash…the fact that no one suspected it would be. [:
 
@MichaelDStewart: But it took DC a whole relaunch to produce say, Snyder’s Batman, arguably their best book. Which of course, Snyder’s Batman didn’t need the New 52. The New 52 needed him.


@uu3y324rdry: Yes!…Batman’s definitely benefitted the New 52 more than it’s benefitted from the New 52.
  
My opposite-ender-the-spectrum point to Hawkeye is both Superman and Green Arrow. Both books (with Superman, I’m talking about prior to Lobdell taking the creative reigns)both books have kinda just floundered, failed to find their groove as it were.


@uu3y324rdry: Oh Arrow’s just sublime isn’t it? [:
 
@MichaelDStewart: As you suggested, I read the Arrow tie-in comics. Very good.


@uu3y324rdry: I do a Boys-Night-In once a week and Arrow’s the first of three shows we watch. So thanks a bunch Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, you ruined Poker Night for me. [;


@MichaelDStewart: Ha. Or made it a less costly affair.
 
@uu3y324rdry: Nah not so much, less costly…my boys were getting predictable [;


You bring it up, but yeah…I really like the digitals of Arrow also.


Promo poster for DC's Digital publications

Promo poster for DC’s Digital publications


For me, with the digitals, it’s got to be a toss-up between Arrow or that Ame-Comi. The Beyond books, the Batman book and the Smallville, Season 11 book are good, but come with a lot of continuity aggregation built-in. So it’s definitely harder to get into them.
 
@MichaelDStewart: They’re really for fans of the shows.


@uu3y324rdry: Yes. Arrow on the other hand, does seem to track as something genuinely transmedia. The issues interlink with the previous week’s TV show episode. But they don’t depend on that episode, as the issues released during the skipped-weeks of the TV show demonstrate. And…and very importantly…the digitals have this beautiful read/don’t-read vibe to them. Like skipping out on reading one week’s issue wouldn’t be the end of the world.
  
The digitals are really a kind of love-letter to the show. The kind that makes you want to be involved in getting and reading every issue. Rather than top-down forcing you through plot contrivance to buy them to keep up with the show.
 
@MichaelDStewart: Yes, they enhance it.


@uu3y324rdry: “Top-down forcing you through plot contrivance”…That really does take me back to those books from the 90s where Superhero #1/2 continues in Random #2.5 and you’d end up needing to buy that one overpriced issue of Random just to get one entire storyline.
  
So to get back to your original question: Is it corporate-grab-or-creative-boom-time?I really think it’s an opportunity…
 
@MichaelDStewart: That’s a good way of putting it.
  
Opportunity.


Interior Artwork from Hawkeye #5

Interior Artwork from Hawkeye #5


 
@uu3y324rdry: look at how Lobdell was able to turn Superman around…look at what Hurwitz is doing with the Dark Knight. Both of those books have got to be somewhere in the race of book-of-the-year for me. And both rely heavily on the New 52 superstructure.
  
And yet…on the other side of the family you’ve got books like Marvel NoW!‘s Re:Evolution Captain America and Re:Evolution Iron Man.


The notion that Cap was a child in a home with domestic abuse just strikes the completely wrong chord thematically for Cap. And Gillen’s new exploratory style of writing Iron Man (which is the opposite of his detailed planning-style he perfected in Uncanny X-Men) is not working at all.
 
@MichaelDStewart: There seems to be a disconnect. As though over-trying to reinvent, as opposed to evolving.


@uu3y324rdry: Yes!


I love what Remender’s doing with Cap both in Uncanny Avengers and in Captain America. He’s bringing back that zany science of the 60s-era books. But the frame of childhood trauma seems deeply at odds with that creative project
 
@MichaelDStewart: That’s almost nostalgic. As if the hyperrealism of the last decade have given way to reintroduction of the zany.


@uu3y324rdry: Agreed.


Brubaker definitely left his mark. And what’s great about Remender’s Cap is that it reminds us that that vision of Cap needn’t bee the only viable one. And with Gillen…I have a deep and abiding love for this grand, operatic scale that his X-Men stories operated on. They were moving and unique and vibrant. Really every bit the equal of Morrison’s New X-Men, but not as blatant about reinterpreting classical story tropes.


Gillen’s Iron Man though…there’s really a downgrade of tech and no parallel exploration of Tony Stark as a character. It feels like Gillen himself is still exploring what Iron Man is About, capital ay.

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