Category Archives: Hobbies

Comics Books: How Marvel is Killing the Industry One Gimmick at a Time

For the last few months, I’ve been in denial. In denial of the slow decline of comics. There, I said it: Comics are declining. Shawn had texted me a couple of times in the past saying as much once he left the hobby behind. I didn’t want to believe it, and in those cases agreed with his observations but not necessarily that the entire industry was in trouble. After all, DC Comics was still putting out quality books. Well folks, the industry is in trouble. DC Comics is still chugging along producing really great stuff (Batman, Batman: White Knight, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Dark Nights Metal), but Marvel Comics has stopped pulling its weight.

If you remember it was only last August that Marvel announced their “Legacy” initiative after Secret Empire concluded, which was essentially just a fancy term for going back to original numbering on their line of books and “bringing the fun back to comics”.

I gritted my teeth and said, “Ok, it feels like a reboot-ish thing but I’ll try a few titles out.”

I fell under the spell of the Lenticular covers, fully aware that it felt all too familiar. It felt like the same mistakes that were made back in ’96, when the industry essentially collapsed and Marvel declared bankruptcy. Gimmick covers, reboots, character deaths,..etc, it turned off both the casual reader and the collector. Cripes, I still remember standing in line just to pick up Superman #75 because it was the end of Superman. At that point we were not yet conditioned to the fact that a death isn’t a death in comics. A little while later after enduring the painfully crappy “Funeral for a Friend” crossover and the god-awful Four Supermen crossover, Superman was alive and well and the industry was, well, not.

So what happened this fall? Marvel puts out their fancy little covers and we all flock to buy them. Wrong. We actually didn’t all run out and buy them. I mean, I did because I’m an idiot but a majority of people realized that a cover doesn’t matter. It’s what’s between the covers that matters. And what was between those covers was of the same quality that existed before Legacy, and that quality wasn’t great in comparison to what DC was putting out. Sure, there were a few good storylines, but as a whole Marvel was in trouble.

One of their most talented writers, Brian Michael Bendis, decided to jump ship and joined the competition. He later revealed that Marvel tried to convince him to stay by offering him a Deadpool or Wolverine book. Typical Marvel. This brings me to my next point: riding the hype wave of a popular character until people stop caring. How many Deadpool books can they pump out? Again, sins of the past..Do you remember how many Wolverine books were around in the 90’s? How many cameos he had in other books? It was mind-boggling. Deadpool is being treated the same way. You can’t base an entire company off of one frickin’ character. I’ll be honest with you, DC is starting to fall into the same trap with Batman. Since Scott Snyder wrote the hell out of the “New 52” series and sold a ton of books, there has been a real focus on Bats in the DC Universe. Are the books good? Absolutely. Just yesterday, I told Shawn to give White Knight a try. However this doesn’t mean that every month there should be a new Bats series, and its starting to be that way. DC just released Brave and Bold: Batman & The Wonder Woman #1 as well as Batman: Sins of the Father #1. That’s two new titles in the same month. So while DC is putting out better quality, I do get worried that they will fall into the same traps that Marvel has.

One thing they haven’t done is raise their cover prices, which in the end is what most people care about. They even lowered the price on their Dark Nights Metal books once they saw that the sales were so great for the first two one-shots a dollar. Maybe it’s just me but that shows that they listen to and appreciate their audience. I read an interview with Marvel chief Joe Quesada where he takes the exact opposite approach and defends the $4-$5 cover prices essentially saying that the fans have enjoyed underpriced books for too long and Marvel charges what they think the creativity in their books is really worth. My guess is that he feels untouchable because Marvel Studios is an absolute juggernaut in the box office, and soundly kicks the bajeezus out of DC. Fun fact: Did you know that Black Panther has already surpassed Justice League in total domestic sales in its first week?! So while, Quesada might feel untouchable in that aspect of the business, he, unfortunately for him, only runs the comic side. The lesson that is being learned as we speak is that movie viewers do not turn into comic readers.

So how does Marvel try to remedy this problem? By rebooting. Over and over again. Y’know to give any new readers a “jumping on point”. So in May, coincidentally when Avengers: Infinity War is due to release, Marvel is going to, yup, reboot again! All that Legacy “bringing the fun back to comics” stuff? Gone! Long-term readers? Eh, go screw! I don’t understand the mentality of this decision. Do they really think that because a gazillion Avengers tickets will be sold that it will translate into a gazillion issues of Avengers #1 being sold? What happens when the second Avengers: Infinity War flick is released? Another reboot? This logic alienates current readers in order to possibly attract new ones, which obviously hasn’t worked.

They are calling this upcoming reboot their “Fresh Start” initiative. (Shakes head)

After many conversations with Shawn combined with the points I’ve made above, I believe that your buddies at 2 Guys has a solution to save the industry, or at the very least, save Marvel Comics.

-Drop cover prices to $2.99 to be even with DC. Your books currently suffer from low quality writing and art, so the excuse of us having to pay for their creative value holds no water.
-For the love of ****ing God stop rebooting.
-Hire some new talent, get some unknown pencillers, some unknown writers, colorists,..etc, who knows? You might discover the next Scott Snyder or David Finch.
-No more Lenticular covers, no more shiny covers, hell, I wouldn’t be sad to see variants go away in general.
-No more cheap gimmicks like mish-mashing ****ing characters like “Weapon H” or “Red Goblin”. Do we really need another Wolverine-like character? No. No, we don’t.

Well, that’s my two cents as far as the comic industry goes, agree? Disagree? Let me know. I think that one thing we can all agree on as comic fans is that our hobby needs to be protected from cash grabby schemes and we deserve better than what Marvel is selling us. DC? Well you’re doing fine, but watch those Bat books and the foil covers, we’ve got our eyes on you….

Rapid Fire!..Random Thoughts 2/19

-To buy a box of M25 or not? I wish the spoilers were flowing a little more freely since the boxes are below $200 at the moment and while the thought of possibly pulling a Jace, the Mind Sculptor out of a pack is dancing in my head, it’s not quite enough to make me jump and preorder. My prediction for the big ticket cards in the set: Enemy fetches, Tarmogoyf, Aether Vial, Liliana of the Veil, Wurmcoil Engine, Force of Will, Mana Drain and Crucible of the Worlds.

-The first DLC characters for Dragonball FighterZ have been announced; Borly and Bardoc. Bardoc is Goku’s pops so it’s essentially another Saiyan which is a little disappointing. While I have gushed uncontrollably about the game, I do wish they would bring in some more non-Saiyan characters. On the other hand Borly should be the largest character in the game so it’ll be interesting to see how powerful the character actually is.

-A Japanese bike company (Khodaa-Bloom) designed a really cool Megaman themed bike. It can be yours for the low, low price of $2700 USD. For that price, it better come with a friggin’ Buster Shot on the front.

-Not sure where I’ve been, but somehow I missed the fact that Gamestop managed to swing a deal to have a Secret of Mana remake for the PS4 be a Gamestop exclusive. Interesting to see if this becomes a thing, (i.e. Target gets exclusive games, Walmart gets exclusive games,..).

-Only 59 more days until God of War 4 is released. But who’s counting?

-For all of my Star Wars fans out there, you can preorder the largest Star Wars toy that Hasbro has ever made, Jabba’s Sail Barge, for a mere $499.99! This monstrosity is 4 feet long, a little over a foot wide, and a 1 ½ feet tall, and comes with either divorce papers or a letter from your child expressing their undying love and gratitude. There is a catch, Hasbro will only start production if they get 5,000 preorders by 4/3 (currently, as of this post, they have 1,259 orders). You can place your preorder at www.hasbrolab.com.

-Finally, I want to thank everyone who follows us on Twitter and/or Instagram!

On Trains and Childhood

Introduction

I’ve talked on my One Guy Outdoors page recently about how much tradition means to me and our family.  We aren’t bound by traditions, necessarily.  It’s just that when we find something that we enjoy doing, we tend to put it into a routine that becomes tradition from year to year.  One of those traditions is the Hobby Railroad Show at the Big E.  I don’t remember how we discovered it.  It was definitely during Liam’s Thomas phase.  Looking for something to do with a train obsessed preschooler during the long and gray months of December and January, we stumbled on the train show.  It didn’t hurt that it was near my birthday and I don’t often ask for anything for my birthday.

Those first years we went as a family.  It was even as recently as maybe 3 or 4 years ago that all five of us took the trip.  Last year or the year before, it was just the boys and I.  This year, the only one that was able to make the trip with me was Aiden.  Christine made plans for Quinn to do a “Cookies and Canvas” event put on by their school’s PTO.  Originally, Aiden was supposed to join him, but he backed out.  She suggested that he come along with me to the train show since I was a bit upset that it looked like we might not make it this year.  To my surprise, he said that he’d rather do that.

Journal

I started to hedge a bit this morning, saying things like that I didn’t want to pay $20 for two people to go since we used to pay $30 for 5 people to go and trying to push Aiden to go to the Cookies and Canvas.  He held steadfast that he didn’t want to go and wanted to go to the train show.  I finally relented as part of my newly found attitude of saying “yes, and…” when faced with a decision like that.  I’m glad that I did.

It started in the car ride.  When it is just me and one of the boys, I try to find podcasts that they will enjoy, too.  Aiden is a pop culture freak and he likes all of the current music, so I could have gotten away with the radio.  I, on the other hand, abhor most of today’s music, so I compromised with the podcasts again.  I chose the “Playing with Science” episode about soccer and the leftovers of an “Only a Game” episode about Gene Mingo, a football player that I had never know before hearing the episode.

He was only slightly interested in the soccer episode, but it was mainly because he was reading a book.  He did laugh a few times.  However, the Gene Mingo episode hooked him and he flipped off the radio when they reported on Mingo’s accidental shooting of his wife.  We talked about guns and the drugs that led to the accident.  It was a good talk.

After the episode, he agreed that it was compelling.  I told him how I like that show because it isn’t like most of sports media.  Chris told me that he was going to go off on sports media in his latest article and he didn’t hold back.  While Chris has a valid point about WEEI, ESPN, and much of sports media these days, that wasn’t exactly my point when talking to Aiden.  I only listen to two podcasts that qualify as sports, “Only A Game” and “Hang Up and Listen.”  “Hang Up” occasionally gets into the regular stories of the day, but they often give a fresh take.  “Only a Game” more regularly goes off the beaten track and tells compelling stories that I’d have never heard otherwise.  I like that.  Much like the Patriots, sports media just bores me.  I’m glad that Aiden was able to enjoy the show, too.

Aside from the ride, it was nice to have one on one time with Aiden.  I don’t know when the last time that happened.  As the boys get older, they become busier with friends and activities and it becomes more difficult to spend any time with them, never mind hours of uninterrupted time.  It was time that he volunteered, at the sake of spending time with his friends, and that makes it even more valuable.  Aside from that, it brought us together with a common interest.

This surprised me.  Aiden is a “cool kid” in the purest sense of the word.  He wants the latest sneakers, listens exclusively to popular music, wants to be with the in crowd.  I never expected that he would be the kid who became the one most interested in model railroads.  But, here we are.  He said that he really wanted a train set and even had plans for where he would put it.  In talking with Christine, I wondered out loud if it might end up being a Paddington 2 scenario where he eventually gets too cool for them and we’ll be left holding all of these expensive train cars.  But, she said that he asked for one for Christmas last year, but waited until the last minute to do so.

He will grow out of them eventually.  He may come back to them after he’s done with his teenage years and when he has kids of his own.  But, and this goes along with why I went to the train show with him even though I wasn’t feeling it initially, he is interested now.  I want to seize upon that interest and have something that we can have together.  Something that will let us hold on to his rapidly dwindling time as a kid for just a little while longer.

Well, that got a bit heavy there.  Sorry.  The show itself was fun and informative.  As soon as we walked into the first building, Aiden started looking at trains and I mentioned how they weren’t very expensive.  The guy at the booth started talking to us about the different kinds of trains.  I suspect that they don’t get much interaction from people outside of the community.  Other than kids who just want to see the trains, when someone comes in and shows a serious effort to enter the hobby, they go out of their way to explain things and welcome them.  We would do well to learn from that attitude, fellow nerds.

For the rest of the show, I was looking at various types of trains to figure out which one I want to get to let him try his hand at building.  Another couple of people made us feel very welcome and answered our questions.  We ended, as always, and as you may suspect, at a Lego display.  I wondered aloud if they still made the powered Lego trains.  He confirmed that they did, so that might be where we start.

Epilogue

I don’t know the last time that Aiden and I had one on one time that wasn’t interrupted by technology.  It was an experience that I won’t soon forget and hopefully it had the same effect on him.  As I stated earlier, you have kids and they are initially with you 24/7.  They get older and go off to school, meet other people, and get other interests.  You never know when that mythical “Cats in the Cradle” moment might happen, but you know it’s coming.

I’d like to put it off for as long as humanly possible.  We have plans to go to at least one hockey game over the next two weeks before the season ends.  I might just splurge and get tickets to both games because they have a buy one get on free deal going on now.  I think Christine might have gotten it via email because she bought the tickets.  A bit surprisingly (but perhaps not because it was Saturday night and college students have better things to do), the game wasn’t very well attended, so they’re pulling out all of the stops to get people to come.

Well, I’ll take advantage of their misfortune and get some time with Aiden as well.  People tend to only take a look at those around them during times of tragedy.  The Facebook posts “Hold your kids extra tight tonight and tell them you love them” only come after a terrorist attack or tragic fire.  I don’t understand why you wouldn’t do those things each and every night.  We only have a limited amount of time and don’t know when it’s up.  Tell the people you love them every single day and just do the damn thing.