WLG #384: A Slight Thematic Digression

A column article by: Kyle Garret
Go West

If you had told me two years ago that I would be reading not one, but two westerns, I would have said you were crazy. Westerns don’t sell, after all, or at least that’s what we’ve been lead to believe. But The Sixth Gun has disproven that, and I’m hoping All-Star Western will do the same.

If you’re not reading The Sixth Gun by now, I can only hope that Cullen Bunn’s rising star at Marvel will lead you to his creator owned book (with artist Brian Hurtt). This is a series that has grown by word of mouth, which, I think, is a great statement on how good it is. And if that doesn’t sell it, perhaps the fact that Marvel architect Matt Fraction calls it “your new favorite comic” will help.

All-Star Western has an uphill battle ahead of it. While Jonah Hex’s last book had a great run, his new title isn’t being judged by Vertigo sales figures. It’s going to have to appeal to a wider audience, which, I would imagine, was part of the reasoning behind moving him to Gotham. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any real “superhero-izing” of Hex, at least so far. This book is a great example of what DC has really done well with the relaunch: genre diversification.

Teenage Wasteland

Avengers Academy #20 is my first issue of the series and I have high hopes. Not long ago, I was re-reading Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run and wondered why Marvel wasn’t publishing a Mutant High School book. While I’m not getting that yet, this new iteration of the Avengers teen book seems to be going that route by expanding its ranks…and moving to the West Coast. As usual with Marvel, the endless crossovers kept me away from this title, so I’m hoping I can get a few months of uninterrupted stories.

As big of a fanboy as I am, I still have to wonder why Legion: Secret Origin exists. The Legion’s first adventure has been told more times than I can even calculate. I suppose, from a marketing standpoint, I can understand this move: they’re hoping new readers brought in by the relaunch will view this as a point to jump on. Writer Paul Levitz has promised an exploration of new aspects of the team’s origin, so we’ll see.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been hoping for a book featuring mutants in high school. I don’t really think that’s what I’m going to find in Wolverine and the X-Men #1, but there at least seems to be some hints that we’ll get at least a little bit of those stories. I’m actually wondering how this title will even work – if it’s about the school, then why this specific title? And if it’s going to focus on Wolverine and the X-Men who will be fighting the good fight with him, then what about the school?

The Horror! The Horror!

My book of the week is probably Green Wake #6 from Image. Green Wake was originally supposed to be a limited series, but sales were strong enough to warrant continuation. There was some down time, however, between issues, which has only made this all the more anticipated. It’s great to see the horror genre thriving in comics, and Green Wake has a supernatural, mind bending angle that is really entertaining.

And speaking of the health of horror comic books, one of the best horror writers in the business, Joshua Hale Fialkov, brings us I, Vampire #2. There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the first issue, but Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino established the tone of the series, which will make or break this book. I’m a sucker for romance, especially messed up romance, and Sorrentino’s art is absolutely beautiful.

Better Late Than Never

One of the difficulties in being a publisher like Image is that its structure allows for late books. Image’s creators aren’t paid by Image for their work, so there’s no monetary stick to hold over their heads. When an Image book is late, the people it really hurts are the people who made it and, to a lesser extent, the retailers. It’s also a bummer for the readers.

I will not begrudge Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker #7 for being late, not just because this series has been great, but because it looks like it would take a long time to produce. Even a mediocre story is a great issue of Butcher Baker. But, Kyle, you say, that doesn’t make any sense! Go read any of writer Joe Casey’s columns at the back of each issue and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s also been a decent wait for Red Wing #4, the conclusion of the min-series by Jonathon Hickman and Nick Pitarra. This has been an enjoyable series with a nice take on time travel, although the delay in its conclusion has diminished my anticipation. There are just so many other good books to occupy my thoughts that I’ve lost interest. I’m sure I’ll be right back on board when this issue shows up, though.

Slight Digression

If you look through this column – or any of the other ones I’ve written – you’ll notice that I generally organize my picks thematically. On one hand I just think it’s nifty, but on the other hand it’s a not too clear statement on comics, and specifically on retailers. Or, to the point:

Retailers, stop displaying your comics by publisher.

I don’t know of any other industry that does this. Do you go to the Capital section of a record store? The Penguin section of a book store? It’s absolutely insane and it’s hurting the industry, because it’s automatically putting everyone who shops at any store into the mindset that only DC and Marvel publish comics.

Why not rack them alphabetically? I think people can figure out how to find their Batman books even if there’s no DC section. Better yet, this would certainly make it easier for those imaginary new readers we always hear about.

Or, if you really want to be bold, rack them by genre. Sure, this might be an issue for those comics which tend to bend the lines between genres, but suddenly people who love horror comics won’t be limited by publisher.

It is such a simple thing, yet would make all the difference, and could actually help our industry become more about comics and less about the companies who produce them.

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