Every month when I receive my comics from my comic shop back in Chicago (Mike Shin and Amazing Fantasy, still #1 after 10 years and 3000 miles!!!) I also receive comp copies of Previews and Marvel Previews. Now, these are not things I would pay for, but they’re interesting bathroom reading material. Strike that – the Previews is interesting, the Marvel previews is… an eye-rolling masterpiece of pure ridiculousness. I grew up reading many a Marvel titles and still think the company has WAY better characters than what DC has (sorry, Blue Beetle? Booster Gold? No matter how ‘dark’ you make these guys, they still suck) but seriously? Every title or big character is a ‘family’ of titles these days and it’s just gotten fucking ridiculous. Don’t agree? Let’s go through this thing page by page and see…

Ooo, Venom has his own book now. That worked well before, what was it, Venom: Lethal Protector? This attachment with phasing murderous bad guys into reluctant heroes got lame a loooong time ago. It’s the same, ‘Do we have him on a short leash or does he have us right where he wants us?’ tension over and over and it’s OLD. Have Venom drop in on Spiderman and gut one of the useless characters hanging around over there and maybe I’ll be excited by a character that was once, back in like ’89, cool as hell.

5 Ronin: Another elseworlds time-displacement story. Why is it every good idea from the house of ideas gets beat to death? Can’t anything just shine on it’s own merit without being quickly and relentlessly applied to EVERY character possible? I guess not, judging by this excerpt of the description: “It is 17th Century Japan, a time and place of violent upheaval, wandering Ronin, bad copy, and Geisha. Into this strange and yada yada world come Wolverine (because he just has to be used in every book Marvel puts out each month) Psylocke, Punisher, Hulk and Deadpool.” As Charlie Brown would no doubt say, “Good Grief!”

Crossgen reimagined by Marvel: I have no knowledge of Crossgen so I’ll skip this. Might be a good thing. Not something I’d read, but I like the idea that they may be giving Crossgen fans (?) back something they lost.

Stephen King stuff and other pre-existing literary tie-ins: The Dark Tower stuff has been pretty damn good but somewhere in the middle of the last series the production feel a couple pegs and I’ve been dawdling on catching up since. The only Marvel I buy (other than the Icon stuff). The Anita Blake, Scott Card and Oz/Jane Austen stuff is beyond my ability to critique as well ‘cuz I’m unfamiliar and as of now don’t really care.

The Death of Spiderman: Oh, yeah, because now that it’s worked so well for Cap, and Batman*every major, iconic superhero character at the big 2 has to die. “Oh my god, will Spidey come back?” Of course he will. You want a good death of Spiderman tale, read J.M. Dematteis’ and Mike Zeck’s amazing Kraven’s Last Hunt. I read it when it came out in 1987 – it changed my view of comics at the time and it was well worth the hardcover price when I bought it two years ago – dark, phasmagoric ectasy.

Ultimate comics – I was so excited by the streamlining of titles and Mark Millar’s return to the Ultimate stuff but the proliferation to make what was once a grand re-boot of Marvel’s icons has become a pissing contest to see who can make them edgier. I’ll probably check in on these from time to time but I canceled Ultimate Avengers from my pull list after two arcs, a big African Hulk covered in ‘bling’, a vice-president as ghost rider and just two issues of that terrible Blade story. ‘Oooo, Blade’s in bed with three women – edgy’. C’mon, this was Loeb’s approach and it sucked. the comics code has been irrelevant for decades, this is unnecessary.

Avengers ‘family’. Five avengers titles? Infinity Gauntlet? 1990 called and it wants its crossover back! And really, Avengers academy? Oh wait, what’s this? Avengers: The Children’s Crusade? Pardon me while I go somewhere to cry.

We’ll round this first one up with the unfortunate Captain America ‘family’ Guess how many Cap titles are solicited here for March 2011? Nine. Nine fucking Captain America books. Nothing like overdoing it to rev up for a major motion picture (which despite my sarcasm I have very high hopes for). This overpopulation has killed many species of comic and animal alike, and its eventually going to bottom out what started out as a near renaissance for Marvel at the beginning of the last decade.

Next time we’ll pick up with The Mighty Thor! Guess how many titles he gets for his countdown to Hollywood-ization? And, as advertised, Ryan Reyn… I mean Deadpool. Tune in next time for the answer kiddies, same Cap time, same Cap channel.


* Love Morrison and have blogged my love for his overall Bat-stuff here before, but the whole death of Bruce Wayne thing smelled suspiciously of DC chasing the success of the Brubaker Captain America stuff, which I have to admit I rolled my eyes at at first and then read and found to be absolutely wicked. Morrison did what he could with what was probably an editorial directive and made it good.