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RobotKeaton said on August 23rd, 2013 at 11:52 am

Age of Ultron is quite possibly my favorite event comic, simply because it didn’t inexplicably crossover with every other book Marvel’s publishing. I didn’t even read Age of Ultron, and I love it just for that reason.

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I don’t really get what Marvel is doing most of the time either. They occasionally put out something that is a fun, action-filled romp reminiscent of the older comics I like, like Dan Slott’s Spider-Island, but those are few and far between.

There’s clearly a big market for superheroes in general, because the movies are doing great. But the movies are mostly based on storylines from half a century ago, with a few nods to great stories from around 10-20 years ago. No one is looking at today’s comics output and thinking, yeah, that’s what people want. I just can’t figure out who Marvel thinks their current comics audience is.

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R.A. Bartlett said on August 23rd, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Marvel’s actually a bit better on this than they were even seven years ago, (The X-Men stuff is still kind of “edgy”, but to be honest, that’s the climate the X-Men most succeed in) and seems to at least kind of be reflective and tongue-in-cheek about “big events”. I mean, it’s no more doom and gloom and asshole behavior than the late Bronze Age stuff.

However, I just want to say, I think the whole “People love superhero movies but not comics” problem is not one that can be solved, and people need to stop trying to assume there’s some kind of way it can be cracked. Personal taste isn’t really based on consistency or formula, otherwise all works would be objectively good or bad, or at the very least, factions of people would agree or disagree all the time.

Let me put it this way, the Doctor Who has a fandom that is one of the most intense out there, but indifferent to everything before the 2005 revamp. And that’s the same MEDIUM, never mind the differences between a communal, social, occasional acivity, and an intimate, routine one.

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IF you’re looking for two fantastic series that have no relation to the metaplot or cross over with them whatsoever and are very strong on the individual issue front, you should really pick up Hawkeye and Young Avengers; they’re the two best things Marvel’s putting out right now and can be enjoyed guilt-free (YA is downright progressive).

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Potomac Ripper said on August 23rd, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Superior Spider-Man is standalone and really original right now.

But so is Hawkguy and Thor. Jason Aaron’s arc of Thor that just finished is amazing.

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John, I’m curious to hear what is it you are looking for in a comic these days because there are some Marvel books that are pretty good and don’t fit the mold for the type of comic you described above (Fraction’s Hawkeye and Gillen’s YA as well as Waid’s Daredevil and Hulk are all pretty good reads.) DC however is pretty much a lost cause.

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Mr. Whiskas said on August 23rd, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I enjoy Waid’s Daredevil. While it often has an extended storyline going on each issue is relatively self contained and well done, and Waid seems to be able to show DD within the overall Marvel Universe without it ever feeling like it is forcing some Cosmic Event/Crossover/Hot Character of the Year. I like DC’s Flash for some of the same reasons-he seems (in his own magazine) to have ‘escaped the radar’ of DC’s own Crossover/Cosmic Event stuff and this allows Manapul to do some good work (except for the current six part storyline that should have been done in three).

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Patrick C. said on August 23rd, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I like Hawkeye a lot, even if I think it welds indie comics/action movies/traditional Marvel together in a way that is occasionally labored or awkward. Still a great book.

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I have enjoyed both of Waid’s titles, Daredevil and Hulk. Fearless Defenders has been all right. Not great, but a halfway decent read. I was ready to drop Thunderbolts but a new writer has taken over and this guy actually gets the idea that Deadpool is supposed to be, you know, funny.

Notice which titles aren’t on my list? All the Avengers titles, all the X-Men titles. Because yeah, reading one sort of makes a person feel like you should be buying ‘em all.

Here is what I find truly sad. Last week I dropped Justice League Dark, the last DC Comic I was collecting. For the first time in thirty two years I am not reading any DC titles.

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If we’re doing recommendations, then I’ll put one up for Superior Foes of Spider-Man. It’s just a fun, funny book, and it covers a lot of the same ground that Secret Six used to, without (so far) the same amount of blood and thunder.

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Whelp, this was an eye opener. First, many thanks for responding to my question, it cleared many things up.
Second, I had a horrible revelation that I was ‘that guy’, mainly due to reading daily scans and bugging people in comment sections about how bad superior Spider-Man is, despite not having bought a marvel comic since Avengers academy was shut down.
Always a bit of a shock to realize that I’m being a jerk, but at least I can learn from the experience, so I and the people I will no longer be bugging thank you.
Next time you feel like talking about comics, however, could you drop some titles of independent comics you are reading? For me, ps238, Atomic robo, empowered, love and capes, gold digger, and many more have done well to help me find new joy in comics.
Thanks again.

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Marvel does have some really great books now. All the praise people give Hawkeye and Daredevil is true. Superior Foes of Spider-Man is the ongoing super-villain crime book I’ve been wanting for ages.

Then there are the guilty pleasures. Scarlet Spider feeds my 90s nostalgia. Wolverine and the X-Men is better than it has any right to be since it’s the X-Men in the style of the old JLI. Superior Spider-Man is a good series that constantly fails to be a great one but its still the best Spider-Man ongoing since Jenkins’ Peter Parker run. All New X-Men is a stupid idea that is surprisingly well-executed.

Unfortunately there are WAY too many redundant books. The whole premise of Uncanny Avengers is showcasing mutants as Avengers even though most of the other Avengers teams have mutants. Speaking of which, they have a LOT of Avengers teams. Granted New Avengers isn’t really the Avengers (it’s the Illuminati) but most of the case of the main Avengers book (which has the entire movie cast) show up in Avengers Assemble (which also include the movie cast) and Secret Avengers. Secret Avengers, Thunderbolts, and Dark Avengers are all the same remixed “Black Ops Avengers” concept with different casts. As much as I like Superior Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider – between them, Spider-Man Team-Up and Venom – there are FOUR books about darker versions of Spider-Man. I stopped trying to count the actual X-Men books but I’m astonished by the fact that Marvel thinks the market can support two X-Force comics.

Plus there are way too many books that range from disappointingly mediocre (Hickman’s Avengers) to just plain bad (Avengers Arena).

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Thomas Wilde said on August 24th, 2013 at 3:15 am

They do do a lot of event books and crossovers, but they’re pretty good right now about ensuring you don’t have to read anything other than what you want to. Most of your complaints seem quite outdated.

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Marvel’s far from perfect right now but to be honest even accounting for arcs and lines I have no interest in they’re batting wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better than DC is right now, holy shit. Like, I don’t generally think of myself as a “Marvel guy” or a “DC guy,” I’ll read whatever comics I think are good when I read comics, but DC is like a colossal infinite trainwreck made up of tinier trainwrecks these days, from their constant hemorrhaging of talent to the actual output of their books to pretty much anything Dan Didio says, DC is bad and should feel bad.

I don’t really care much about many of the ongoing arcs…I thought what I read of Age of Ultron made it look as dumb as a box of particularly dumb rocks, none of the X-titles excite me, Superior Spiderman is ehhhhh (but good for getting dumb internet nerds het up, so that’s fun)…but then you have stuff like Hawkeye, Scarlet Spider, Journey Into Mystery, the latest Thor arc with the godbomb where pretty much every panel could be airbrushed on the side of a van, Superior Foes is pretty fun so far…at this point if you put a gun to my head and forced me to swear allegiance to one of the big two I would have to side with Marvel because for all the stuff they do I don’t like I can find more stuff that I do than I can over with DC.

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I’m not reading a whole lot of Marvel anymore. As you say, the constant cross-overs are…wearying at best…and hopelessly convoluted at worst.

The Marvel books that I AM reading, are Hawkeye, Journey Into Mystery, Young Avengers and Daredevil. Oddly enough, they are all the ones that are lighthearted, and fun and clever and not as bloody.

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I find it fascinating that no one has mentioned Captain Marvel, which is pretty much the only thing recent that I’ve touched in Marvel, besides trades of Ultimate Spider-Man. I love Deconnick, I love her writing, I want her vision of female superheroes to succeed. But other than that, I haven’t bothered with any other titles.

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John, do you have a scar on your left side? Because I’m wondering if we were separated at birth. You articulated everything I’ve been feeling about Marvel lately: not too thrilled about the crossover overload, kind of drifted away from collecting recent and new titles, not really up on what’s coming out lately and totally fine with that. Like you said, Marvel doesn’t owe me anything, and I’m not going to be one of those fans who insists everything must conform to my tastes. Besides, there’s such a long list of older titles and books I haven’t even gotten to yet (many from the years I was a major Marvel reader, 1985 to 1992 or so), why even bother getting upset over current day stuff I might not like?

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SIlverHammerMan said on August 24th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I’ll also add FF and X-Men Legacy as two good books right now, and it sucks that Fraction will be leaving FF, though it rules that Allred will stay on.

I think at Marvel currently, the more insulated a series is from “important” stuff, the better it is. The “big” books, like Hickmans disapointingly po-faced and overblown Avengers and yet another X-Men series based around infighting, are utterly uncompelling to me.

It feels like the important books are a bit closer to being the dread corporate IP farm, whereas the stuff onthe periphery can actually try new things and have fun.

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The Crazed Spruce said on August 24th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

‘Til recently, I hadn’t read any new Marvel comics, either, though that’s mostly because they stopped carrying comics around here a couple of years ago. (Roughly just before A vs X and just after Spider Island.) But for years before THAT, all I could get was Fantastic Four (and later FF), Amazing Spider-Man, and Uncanny X-Men, so I can appreciate your frustration with their focus on megacrossovers. It’s especially frustrating when you’re only getting the side tales, and missing out on the main story.

That being said, I picked up a tablet last Spring, and one of the first apps I installed was ComixOlogy. Now, I haven’t picked up any new stuff (’cause I still haven’t cottoned to the idea of paying more than two bucks a pop for a digital file that’s probably gonna be marked down in a few months anyway), but I have gotten some recent titles lately. Just yesterday, I downloaded the first Hawkeye trade,and it was pretty damn good. Well written, clean yet detailed artwork (think George Perez or Geoff Darrow, with a healthy dose of Mike Allred), and very entertaining (not to mention self-contained) stories, with a great mix of action, drama, and humour. Definitely worth checking out.

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I forgot about FF. FF is the kind of series that I’m surprised they’re allowed to have in modern corporate comics. The artist doesn’t draw like he wishes he was Jim Lee. The cast are such minor characters that She-Hulk is the biggest name on the team. They forsake ‘earth shattering” crossovers that won’t be mentioned again in five years for character-driven stories that only take an issue or two while still feeding larger plots (like Doom’s plot and Future Johnny).

If I have one complaint it’s that the series isn’t as fun as it could be if the Richards kids had stayed. Bentley is fine on his own but he’s better with Val.

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It’s always a good idea to be very selective with your pull list. Hawkeye and Young Avengers are fantastic comics, well worth reading, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone, even people who take a hardline “Nothing from Marvel, ever” stance. (I also dig Captain Marvel and Daredevil, but I reserve the right to recommend them only to people I think they’ll click with. They aren’t must-reads the way Hawkguy and YA are.)

And I’m not entirely sure what I’d recommend for a “Nothing from DC, ever” hardliner, mostly because I am very nearly that guy myself. I used the last reboot as an excuse to drop pretty much everything except All-Star Western and Batwoman, and I probably wouldn’t miss either of those titles if I dropped ‘em, to be perfectly honest. Is DC doing anything amazing these days, or is it pretty much as bad as it looks from the outside?

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“Is DC doing anything amazing these days, or is it pretty much as bad as it looks from the outside?”

No, it’s actually worse.

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I was going to say that Wolverine and the X-Men is very fun, then I remembered that the middle of it got horribly side-tracked by the Phoenix Force event nonsense. Yeah.

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I know what you mean about Avengers or X titles, and I’ve steered away from them a lot for the same reason.

But right now I’m reading Avengers Assemble, despite the crossovers, because I’ll read anything by Kelley Sue, Avengers Arena, where the whole point is that they are disconnected from the Marvel universe, and Adjectiveless X-Men, because I like the premise and the dynamic it brings, and it hasn’t done anything to annoy me yet.

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“What exactly is their business plan right now?”

Movie prep. Kick-Ass was optioned for the movie before the first issue of the comic was published. What would The Avengers have been like without The Ultimates? Publishing comics is a small price to pay for a laboratory for visuals and story ideas that might or might not work on the big screen.

More seriously, I agree with the critiques of Marvel. I can’t take it as far as Seavey, I enjoy Superior Spider-Man and I’m still giving a few other titles a chance, but he’s right that they’re stuck in a rut and not using their well-known characters well at all.

I think the problem is just that they don’t know how to get there from here. It’s so easy to juice sales with reboots and crossovers that they can’t justify going too long without them. They need to keep the big-name characters recognizably similar to the movie versions. More kid-friendly comics (less grim or continuity-heavy, for example) might get comics out of the comic book shop ghetto and make them sell better in regular bookstores, but it’s not like regular bookstores are doing all that well either.

Better a bird in the hand than two in the bush. Change is scary.

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In fairness, the reason their market tops out at a hundred thousand or so is because there’s really only so much product you can push through a few thousand comics stores across North America. The direct market seems to be limited by nature, and though I’m sure it could be doing better than it is in purely logistical terms, there’s also the whole “our product is mostly available in stores frequented by people who are already fans of our product” issue and various other oddities of the current comics model.

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kingderella said on August 25th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

the one criticism i would disagree with is that marvel is dark, adult, and edgy, and full of tortured anti-heroes with internal conflicts. i actually think marvel is quite joyful these days. wolverine & the x-men and hawkeye, for exaple, are very “light” books, in the best sense of the word. bendis’ x-men books are angsty, but not more so than the x-men usually are.

im mainly an x-men reader, and i have to say, the books theyre publishing right now are pretty good. all-new x-men, uncanny x-men, wolverine & the x-men, x-men V4, and uncanny avengers are all enjoyable (if admittedly flawed). im also enjoying hawkeye, young avengers, and thor god of thunder. and ive been hearing good things about FF, superior spider-man, daredevil, and captain marvel.

i think the crossovers are kept reasonable in size and frequency, but i guess thats really subjective.

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“…they’re still so bound and determined to do psychological exploration of the damaged psyches of their characters that they’ve forgotten to make them sympathetic and likable, they’re still making story after story that’s about heroes fighting each other instead of villains…”

I had to chuckle a bit here because yeah, there’s more than a bit of that in Astonishing X-Men, one of the two X-Books I’m currently buying (and enjoying, mind), and while the second bit is usually justified by various types of mind control, I could really do with less of the former. The book since Liu came on has been an exercise in unpacking just why most of the team is so screwed up without explaining to the folks just tuning in why we should like them anyway. It’s decent character exploration if you’re already attached to this crew, but I’d never hand this book to someone wanting to get into comics, and I can certainly see why the numbers keep going down.

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Marionette – Kelly Sue is, in fact, the bomb. I wanted to support her CM books just on her challenge alone, but better than that is that she’s actually exciting and fun, and a good writer. I wish she’d do more with Monica Rambeaux, too.

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I’m reading both Hawkeye and Young Avengers (and this is coming from a guy who hadn’t bought a Marvel comic in *well* over a decade out of general indifference to their product).

No interest in the rest of the line, but the number of people whose tastes I know are similar to mine telling me I was missing out broke me down.

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I feel you, JS. I do still read a number of Marvel comics, but the only ‘big’ titles I get these days are the Spiderman ones. I don’t get any Avengers or X-Men, and it’s primarily because of all the crossover hijinks. I *was* getting Captain Marvel, but I dropped it as soon as they had some crossover with another Avengers title.
That was the problem I had with the previous Ms. Marvel title, too. I was really enjoying the character and storylines, and then everything would get put on hold for Civil War, and then Dark Reign, and then bla bla bla.

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Heh. Fellow Greg with no ED: while it’s certainly true that CM had a crossover with another title, I’m not sure it really felt the same as other crossovers. For one thing, the entire run had only one writer, KS Deconnick, rather than conflicting people each with their own story to tell. And that’s actually important, because in both the Avengers crossovers, the titles were entirely concentrated on the story at hand: if there was a difference, it was that the Avengers books had the Avengers feature more prominently, where the CM books tended to bring in a lot more of that books’s supporting cast. No metaplot, just Carol’s story from beginning to end. And another interesting note: I read somewhere people asking about whether the upcoming CM title was going to require people to read the ‘Infinity’ crosover, and Sue’s response was a resound ‘no’. Which is good, because unless Infinity sounds really interesting, I’ll just stick with Carol, thankyewverramuch.

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I love Marvel right now. Almost the entire line. There are books here and there I don’t like such as Nova and Thunderbolts but I understand they’re for an audience that’s not me and they’re crafted well enough for what they are. We’ve hit a new generation of writers who grew up fans as opposed to the old “I read comics til I found girls and then got back in with Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns.” that we had in the early 00s and there’s a lot of love and diversity in the line. Yes, there are twenty Avengers and X-Men books but Uncanny X-Force feels completely different from Uncanny Avengers from Uncanny X-Men. Totally different styles.

If a comic is good, who cares what it’s called and what “family” it’s in.

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kind of have to take issue with the idea that grim, “realistic” is way limited audience-wise because the general population just wants fun superhero stuff. The Nolan flicks were not fun, silver-age-style romps, and even with all the Joss Whedon quips, the Avengers resembled the ultimates a lot more than anything George Perez did. (not taking a swing at Perez or anything, just that he’s the one that comes to mind when I think classic Avenger artist)

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@Matt D: Awesome! Glad you’re loving it.

@gnosis: What I’m really into is fast-paced, high-energy books where each issue is filled with a lot of stuff happening. I just read “Essential Captain America Volume Seven”, and I was amazed at how much Stern and Byrne packed into each issue. Brubaker’s Cap, for all that it’s a good series (and I could level this same criticism of Fraction’s Iron Fist as opposed to Claremont and Byrne’s, or Bendis’ Avengers as opposed to Jim Shooter’s) has less happening in a six-issue arc than Stern does in one issue of his run. That pace is something I don’t get in any comic published these days, even if I could find one that was guaranteed not to cross over into a Big Event. (Which is impossible; for all that titles like ‘Hawkeye’ have been free of that so far, it only takes one Mark Millar deciding that this summer’s big title is going to involve Hawkeye being turned into a cyborg demon, and Fraction suddenly has to rework his title to fit or be replaced by an author who will.)

@tenken347 et al: I always find it funny that when I say I’m not doing Marvel or DC anymore because I just don’t care anymore, it always seems to be met with a flurry of recommendations. Not funny in a bad way; it’s just weird how it always happens. :)

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