Superman Unchained #2 was the bestselling July comic book, and the #2 publisher basically tied with Marvel for selling the most books last month. That’s news, since the last time they beat Marvel was part of a biggest stunt in comic book history: The New 52. DC’s top 10 entries all featured Batman (Year Zero, Annual, Batman/Superman, Justice League #22) or Superman (Unchained). Marvel’s top seller was Guardians of the Galaxy #5, and Superior Spider-Man books took the bottom three slots. Not much room for creativity in the top 10, as usual, but I do very much enjoy Superior Spidey.
The real news is that the top 5 comics all sold more than 100k copies. That might not have been big news in the 1980s, but it’s amazing these days, when a book can stay on the shelves with sales below 15k.
Ironically, last month Marvel beat DC in the area where DC usually wins: The top-selling graphic novel. Most months, Marvel is lucky to crack the top 10, trying desperately to squeeze out space from Saga, The Walking Dead, and whatever Batman books came out most recently. But in July, Hawkeye Vol. 2 was #1! And deservedly so.
And now, news about The Flash on TV, Kevin MacGuire, and lots of other comic book stuff.
AVENGERS ARENA #13. This series, about a group of young heroes trapped by Arcade into a Battle Royale/Hunger Games situation, has in my opinion been pretty good. Not as good as the series it replaced, Avengers Academy, but good enough. The major problem for me has been that I don’t believe all the characters are really dead. In fact, we found out in issue #12 that at least two dead players did in fact survive. Issue #13 will not take place in the arena—it’s written by guest writer Christos “Avengers Academy” Gage, and will talk about how the world outside the arena is dealing with the missing heroes. I highly recommend this book—especially for fans of Avengers Academy, Runaways, Young Avengers, etc. Regular creative team Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker have done a great job creating new characters and giving them enough screen time that we now care about them, and want to see more. The first two arcs are over, and issue #14 starts the “Boss Level” final arc, so this is a good time to pick up the trade and catch up.
KEVIN MAGUIRE NEWS. Kevin Maguire is one of the most underrated artists in comics. He’s probably best known for his amazing work on Justice League International. He’d been signed to a high-profile DC gig (Justice League 3000) but, astonishingly, DC fired him for, according to Maguire, not being “dark and gritty.” Did DC not understand who they were hiring? His work has never been dark or gritty. It’s fantastic, though, and perfect for a futuristic Justice League book. Marvel quickly stepped in to offer an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, but if Marvel is smart they’ll give him a regular gig. He’s tremendous, and he’s actually willing to work with the Big Two at a time when so much veteran talent is going indie.
THE PLANETARY OMNIBUS HC. It’s coming in January 2014. 75 bucks. Start saving now.
THE FLASH TV SHOW…Is on the (ahem) fast track at CW. The character will spring out of CW’s Green Arrow show, and they plan an intertwined universe. Which could be cool, if it’s done right. I don’t watch Arrow (tried it, didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, don’t have the time). One thing is sure: It will be better than the last Flash TV show.
HOAX HUNTERS MOVIE. The comic, about a TV crew that investigates the paranormal, was optioned by Jeff Krelitz for a feature film. Krelitz is also producing TV adaptations of Peter Panzerfaust and Chew. He hasn’t had a big hit yet, but this comic—which is a spin off of cult favorite Hack/Slash—seems tailor made for an adaptation.
DC SHORTS ON YOUTUBE. The best thing about DC’s current DC Nation lineup is the shorts. The actual cartoons, a CGI Batman, a CGI Green Lantern, and a terrible butchering of Teen Titans Go! all suck. Which is a shame, because in the past DC has put out the best supertoons of all: Batman The Animated Series, Superman TAS, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Justice League, even Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes was good. You can still see some of their past glory in the short features that serve as bumpers between DC Nation shows, and now DC is making them available on YouTube and the DC Comics videos page.
SPIDER-MAN 2099. I have a stack of assorted 2099 comics and trades in my “to be read” pile, which I’ve picked up at Baltimore Comic Con over the past three years, but so far I haven’t found the urge to dig in. Maybe Dan Slott can change my mind when Spider-Man 2099 crosses over with Superior Spider-Man in issue #17 of the comic-hijacked-by-Doc-Ock. I know lots of people are down on the “no Peter Parker” version of the book, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You have to let creators play with these properties, or they’ll just get stale. Don’t hate the idea, judge the actual execution of it. And by all accounts (sales and creativity alike), it’s been a success. It’s like Franken-Castle, or the “where’s Batman” after No Man’s Land, or Bucky Captain America, or the time Conan the Barbarian decided to dress in women’s clothing. If you don’t have big changes—knowing full well that eventually, either in years or months, the status quo will return—you can’t sustain 40+ years worth of stories about the same character. Dan Slott has certainly earned my trust—and I was very hard to win over on this.
AND MY 2099 THEORY. This is a wild theory, with no substance to it, but Marvel is probably going to end the Ultimate Universe with their two Hunger/Cataclysm miniseries. The quality of Ultimate comics is rock-bottom, and other than Spider-Man, sales are below 30K a month—with most of the titles barely cracking 10k. This will leave a gap in their publishing schedule, which could be filled by a refresh of the 2099 universe. After all, Age of Ultron cracked open the timeline. They could maintain the Ultimate Spider-Man title, which is still a decent seller for them, either in the 616 Universe or as part of 2099, and restart 2099 with the same mandate given Ultimates when it started (and was really great): Anything goes, anyone can die.