Monday, March 9, 2015

Comics this 'n' that

I spent some time lurking on a couple of message boards I don't usually frequent over the weekend, once I picked up on some folks being concerned with the chronic, and surprising, tardiness of Archie Comics' two horror series.

After launching in October, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina hasn't had issue 2 arrive in stores. Likewise, Afterlife With Archie has seen the bloom fall off its rose, as issue 7 was the last issue released, part 2 of the current story arc. It was noted that there was a few months gap between issues 6 & 7. Meanwhile, the reprint magazine version of the series, promoted that Sabrina 2 would be out "soon". That was a couple of months ago.

The blame can easily be laid at the feet of writer/creative director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who has been too busy lately trying to pitch TV ideas to the networks for Archie, and has fallen way behind on his writing. In addition, artist Francesco Francavilla is working on outside projects, mostly covers for other companies' titles, having become very much in demand over the last nearly year and a half, and his particular style can't be duplicated. So where does that leave Sabrina artist Robert Hack? No clue, effendis. The fear, of course, is that the books will end up cancelled without any resolution to the storylines, and that would be SO unlike Archie.

The delays aren't just in the horror line. Betty & Veronica's much-publicized farewell to Riverdale storyline has run into delays as well, with the next chapter, as previously noted, now solicited for release next month.

In the 80's, one local shop would put press releases from, say for example, DC, out near the racks so that customers could see some rational explanation behind a book or two being delayed. Would that Archie, or any other publisher, for that matter, could find it within themselves to do so today.
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I'm sure by now you've seen actress Melissa Benoist (ex-Glee) in her new Supergirl costume. Where I have a quibble is with the fact that the Girl of Steel has been given knee boots. Yeah, I get that they're still all the rage in terms of fashion these days, but come on! DC made a similar mistake with Zatanna a few years back, and gave her the same knee boots, while still dressing her in her signature fishnet stockings. Speaking of legwear, notice, too that Benoist/Supergirl has dark colored tights, perhaps in an attempt to emulate the attire of Superman (Henry Cavill) in "Man of Steel" 2 years ago. That doesn't bother me as much as the knee boots do.
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On a lark, I scoped out Marvel's 2015 Thor Annual. The theme seems to be future, present, & past, in that order.

The opener, set in the distant future, imagines Thor as the new King of Asgard, with Odin having long passed on. It seems that the Thunder God is destined to marry at some point, as he's joined by the Girls of Thunder, who are his grand-children. What helps is some beautiful art by veteran Tim Truman.

The current, female Thor is showcased in the 2nd story. Let's just say she's earned her stripes as it relates to the Warriors Three (Hogun, Fandral, & Volstagg), and leave it at that. We'll learn who she is in another couple of months, but with the remake of Secret Wars right around the corner, she might not be around much longer.......!

Finally, CM Punk, in between leaving WWE and signing with UFC, makes his comics writing debut, spinning a humorous yarn about a young Thor, before he could gain the use of Mjolnir, drinking Marvel's personification of the Devil, Mephisto, under the table. Rob Guillory, the artist behind Image's Chew, has the honors here, and keeps it rather simple. Punk crosses over to DC's Vertigo division for his next assignment, as he's contributing to the revival of a forgotten 70's book, Strange Sports Stories, which is being relaunched as a miniseries later this month. It's not the first time Marvel's had a wrestler write for them. Raven (Scott Levy) crafted, with help from Brian Azzarrello, a Spider-Man's Tangled Web issue 13 years ago that didn't get any play on WWE programming, as Raven was with WWE at the time.

Obviously, the Punk story was the lure, as he got top billing among the creators credited on the cover. Once again, he gets to be in the main event, and makes it count.

The Thor Annual, on the strength of the bookend stories, gets a B+.

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