Month: October 2008

DC’s bad, but Marvel ain’t so good either

It’s always fun to listen to a back and forth between J.R. and Casey over the major crossover events of both DC and Marvel. If you could not tell, J.R. is a DC fan, while Casey’s firmly with the Marvel line. And thus, sides are chosen and the conversations begin. Casey’s argument is easier to both make and support, as the company has had a constant string of crossover events that began back in 2004 and still have some time before they wrap up. Identity Crisis to Infinite Crisis to Final Crisis with at least one countdown mini series (or numerous ones together) – it’s fairly obvious that DC has been completely wrapped up in this.

But don’t think that Marvel hasn’t been just as bad about the major event crossovers – they’re just a little more sneaky about it. The first big one was House of M, followed by a lead-up to Civil War, then the event itself (which was delayed over time), then World War Hulk and finally Secret Invasion, which seems like it has been going on forever. But unlike DC, Marvel was also running crossover events elsewhere – the two Annihilation series for its cosmic characters and Endangered Species and Messiah Complex for the X-Books. That’s quite a bit as well.

Think about all the tie-ins Marvel events have gone with as well. For each of the three major arcs, side mini-series have been released to flesh out the story – just like DC did with each of its books. Alongside that, several books have gotten absorbed for several months while the event was going on. House of M claimed numerous titles (from my collection, New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Cable & Deadpool spring to mind) aside from its minis. Civil War did the same thing, tying up New Avengers while putting out several side minis and launching Front Line, which ran 12 issues during the event. World War Hulk tied up Hulk (of course) as well as having its minis and another Front Line. Secret Invasion? Both Avengers titles have been tied up FOREVER, numerous minis have been released and of course, Front Line. From what I read, X-Factor, Captain Britain, Deadpool and others have given issues to the event.

On the other hand, no DC books I’m reading (Booster Gold, Green Arrow and Black Canary, JLA, JSA, Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes) have tied into Final Crisis. For that matter, neither have the Batman books (which have a story of their own going). That might give cause for arguing the overall importance of the event, to which I would point to the Marvel events which have their mini-series so the titles themselves do not have to reflect the event. The argument can go back and forth until your head starts spinning. Trust me – I just got mine to stop.

My point here is not to bash Marvel or DC. My point is the show that one cannot justifiably argue about the crossover events of one company using the other as a defense. Both companies are just as bad about them and the sheer number of titles they put out with them. So shut up about it and go read what you enjoy. It’s just easier that way.

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This Post Was Originally Scheduled for July

So I just saw this, posted about a week ago that says that J.G. Jones won’t be drawing the last issue of the much ballyhooed Final Crisis. I can’t say much about the series, since I gave up on it after reading the first issue. I haven’t even heard much about what’s going on in the book or in the slew of related mini-series that seem to come out every week. It may be a convoluted mess or it may be the single greatest DC story ever told, I can’t say. If it turns out to be the latter, I’ll read it. The former, I just saved myself some time. That’s the lesson I learned after Infinite Crisis.

But enough complaining about DC. The point of this post is about punctuality. Specifically the punctuality of artists. Even more specifically, the punctuality of artists who happen to be working on heavily hyped series that were announced and being worked on long before they were scheduled to hit the shelves.

Now, if I’m not mistaken, J.G. Jones had around a year’s worth of lead in time for his work on Final Crisis. In fact, I think I mentioned that in this post I made a while back:

GM: Well, the way it worked out was that I started writing Final Crisis #1 in early 2006, around the same time as the 52 series was starting to come out…Final Crisis was partly-written and broken down into rough issue-by-issue plots before Countdown was even conceived, let alone written. And J.G. was already working on designs and early layouts by the time Countdown started.”

So Grant Morrison (That’s what GM stands for, in case you were wondering) started writing the book in the spring of 2006. Jones began drawing it in the spring of 2007. The first issue of Final Crisis came out in May of this year. And it’s not like Jones was drawing anything else at the time. Sounds to me like he had a year to work on it. He made it through the first couple issues okay, but then issue number three was delayed. It was announced that issues four through six will feature Carlos Pacheco as a fill-in artist. And now the seventh and final issue will be drawn by Doug Mahnke with no J.G. Jones at all.

Over on the Marvel side of things, Joe Maduriera is just as guilty. He was announced as the artist for Ultimates 3 in the fall of 2005. It was his first work for Marvel since 1997 and his first comics work in five years. Since Maduriera’s last comic, his creator owned Battle Chasers series, was often severely delayed until he gave up on it after nine issues fans questioned his ability to get a series out on a regular schedule. In an interview with Wizard, series writer Jeph Loeb assured everyone that since there would be a several month break between the last issue of Ultimates 2 and the first issue of 3, he and Maduriera would have plenty of time to get issues done and keep the book ahead of schedule. Even if he Jeph Loeb couldn’t finish his scripts until the last issue of Ultimates 2 came out in the spring of 2007 (And it’s not like Ultimates 3 relys heavily on what happened in one and two. Actually, I don’t think Loeb read either of them.) Maduriera still had around six months to work on a five issue miniseries which was the only book he was doing at the time. And still there was a four month delay between issues three and four. What gives?

In an email to Comic Book Resources, Jones summed up his situation thusly:

“Any problems completing the series are my own,” he wrote. “I love Doug Mahnke’s art, and he would have probably been a better choice to draw this series in the first place.”

Wow. Jones either seems disappointed that he couldn’t finish the series or bitter than he was taken off of it. Or both.

What problems could have come up that would get these artists so far behind schedule? How could you have approximately a year or better head start on a project and still fall behind on it? Are they sick, distracted, a perfectionist, or just plain lazy? Or is it the comic companies they work for having unreal expectations?