Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Best columnist in comics. 

New Permanent Damage up over at CBR, by Steven Grant (naturally.)

The most succinct and comprehensive analysis of the Marvel/DC problem I've seen to date.

Money quote, though, comes from a letter Grant received:

So yeah, I have a hard time getting into DC. But the thing is, Marvel really has the stink of desperation around it these days – you can't help but notice it. I've been trying to pinpoint when this started, and I've got two guesses. The first is the petering-out of Tsunami and the complete implosion of Epic. These showed that Marvel knew it needed to do something new and different but had no idea how to actually go about it. They reinforced the notion that Marvel needs to pillage Vertigo, Wildstorm, Image, and Oni for new up-and-coming talent (your Vaughans and Watsons and McKeevers) and have no viable venue to grow such talent themselves. Moreover, they showed that, the Ultimate line to the contrary, Marvel really has no knack for creating successful new line-sized initiatives.


The second factor in Marvel losing its buzz is WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE syndrome, which started when they put Bendis on ULTIMATE X-MEN. Simply put, as good as Brian Bendis is, putting him on yet another book does not say "We really know what we're doing!" to the fans. A company as big and old as Marvel should have a better plan for reviving its fortunes than switching Bendis from book to book to book for one or two arcs at a time. Regardless of whether there's an actual drop in quality in his writing, and I doubt that there is, it just doesn't seem as special anymore when they announce that he's taking over a book, because they've done it so goddamn many times. In essence, "Brian Bendis takes over!" is no longer big news from Marvel – it's expected news. This goes double when he doesn't really do anything spectacularly different from his norm when he's handed a book – ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR reads pretty much exactly the way you'd think it would read after reading the first arc of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. (Think back on how differently USM, UXM, and ULTIMATES opened, for contrast.) (I think it's also a problem that, to many, it looks like he's watering himself down to please the suits – changing ALIAS to THE PULSE, for example.)

Bam. That's everything right there. The comforting/disillusioning thing about the internet is that there's always someone out there who can voice your opinion better than you ever could.

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