Monday, April 30, 2012

Avengers Academy Crams For Final Exam

Over on CBR, Christos Gage has given an interview about upcoming Avengers Academy storyline "Final Exam." This is not the final story arc for the team, but a stepping stone towards graduation, self-reflection, and what drives them as heroes. At least according to the interview. It will start after the AVX tie-ins end.

This story will feature heavily on the core team, plus Lightspeed, White Tiger, and X-23. After that, there are comments of even bigger things coming to the Academy like facing off against another iconic team(Young Avengers?).

Preview: Avengers Academy Issue 29

CBR has the preview up for issue 29 of Avengers Academy. The issue will be released this week on May 2nd, 2012. It will kick off the Avengers Academy involvement in AVX. This should include how X-23 feels about current events and how she copes with being around her former teammates that have taken rather hypocritical stances in recent years.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Julian and Laura - Too Cruel to be Kind.

Insecurities. That is the wedge that was driven between them. Everyone has them. They are perfectly natural, but when they start infecting and dictating what you do and how you act, things get bad. They get real bad.

Many people might view it as Laura being self-centered in comparison to Julian who put his heart on the line and was lost. That's not the case. Julian has always been lost in himself and been self-centered. He's always let his insecurities dictate his choices, trying to gain more power, and used others to put himself above someone. He's a bully through and through. While the only reason he got the power boost was to save Laura, he's never shown any real redeeming qualities. Even that act he only did to repay her for the times she's saved him and in many ways had used it in his mind as to why they should be together. He has no self-less nature, he's entirely controled by his insecurities and his self-centeredness. He's the kind of boy who feels he's owed for every good deed he does. That's the problem here too. He's a boy. A litle boy trapped in the body of a grown up with grown up issues to cope with. The first chance he got he goes back to such juvenile antics and bullying of other students to make himself feel better. This just is who Hellion is, with or without his hands.

Laura on the other hand has just gone on a complete journey of self discovery and learning how to dream again. A journey to center herself, find where she belongs, to find a way to love herself, to forgive herself, and to accept herself. During that journey she did care for Hellion. He held a special place in her heart. He pushed though, his impatience dictated too much, he became needy, clingy, and wouldn't listen to her. He showed signs of disrespect though Laura was cutting him slack at every turn as she's grown to be an empathic and understanding young woman. There was a breaking point where enough was enough. That dawning realization that he's just not good for her. That if they stayed together, he would have brought her back to who she was. That person that she's grown out of. A person she refuses to be again. His insecurities infected him to the point it would have consumed everything he cared about. He's just not at that emotional maturity level to handle it yet.

Life is like that. It's dominos. One action will ripple through everything. It can ruin everything you've tried so hard to build in a relationship and continue wrecking everything in its wake including friendships. Laura won't be looking back to Hellion as he is now, she'll push forward to continue bettering herself and making herself whole. Sadly, Hellion won't be. He'll be forever lost in his mind of what did he do, or calling her names to make himself feel better, or staring forever on into the woman that won his heart that he pushed away like he did everything else because of his anger and misplaced need to feel superior.

What Laura did wasn't cruel. The little boy that Hellion always has been is. She'll move on to bigger things in life, while he continues to throw tantrums about what the world has taken from him. She's out there doing something about her predicament, and growing from it. He's not. Not yet at least. It'll take years for him to come to terms with himself and finally grow, but that's real world time. In Marvel time it may be decades.

Monday, April 9, 2012

March 2012 Sales Rank

It seems like the cancelation effect has taken hold with X-23's numbers seemingly dipping further. This does pan interesting though as they still remain above the 20,000 threshold that normally determines cancelation and this isn't factoring in subscriptions, foreign sales, or digital. Looking at the chart, X-23 looks like the highest selling title out of the titles marvel has canceled. It's also roughly still on par with Avengers Academy and selling higher than the still continuing Thunderbolts among others.
This just makes me wonder ever more as to why X-23's title was canceled. A question that hangs without an honest answer while we have essentially a dead month with no X-23 stories in April.

X-23 v3 #21
Cover Price: $2.99
This issue was ranked 90 out of 300 according to ICv2 which is based on Diamond U.S. to comic specialty stores. The issue has sold an estimated 20,281 copies to them.

Disclaimer: These numbers do not factor in digital, foreign sales, subscriptions, or any other avenue of release her title may have.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reminder: Avengers Academy Issue 28 is Released Today!

This issue is part 2 in the War with the Runaways story arc. It's an issue without X-23 but still worth checking out.

Next issue is the moment you've all been waiting for. Avengers vs X-Men will be in high gear and X-23 will be caught in the middle between some of her former teammates and her new teammates.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Was X-23's Comic Not Expected to Last by Marvel?

There have been a few clues that Marvel wasn't expecting to keep X-23's comic going for long. Which seems somewhat odd considering the first issue went to a second printing. The sales had stayed above the 20,000 threshold too that Marvel has stated in the past is the line on which to expect if a comic stays around or not. (Originally that line was at the 25,000 mark, but they've lowered it within the past decade.)

One of the main things that caught me as odd, was the lack of a letters page title, or even it's own letters page section. While some of the comics that were canceled did have this, X-23 never did. All her fan letters were grouped together with those of Daken, and Wolverine. This did work in its favor a little bit as it kept the page count down, but it did suggest a mild lack of faith in the title's staying power.

On that same order of no letters page, most comics that have a large backing by Marvel tend to have design pages in the back for when new characters or ideas are introduced. Considering some of the ideas presented like Alice, and the "Mystery Woman" among other more nuanced and psychology heavy topics, you would think there would be an expanded back of issue page or two to cover some of this to help better facilitate an understanding with the readership. Again though, this would up the page count which could have been problematic from a cost perspective. Thankfully with ample amounts of interviews and con discussions many of these ideas were fully talked about, but not all the readers may have been aware of these. They may have also not had access to them in their entirety.

Then there was the double shipping. This seemed like a nice gift during the holidays, but it also came across with the timing as a means to push more issues out to speed up the run. This could go both ways. On one side you do have a comic that constantly sold at above the 20k mark no matter how many were released in a month with the loyal fans the character has, but it also raises the amount of pages the artists needed to get done and the speed to which the scripts needed to be finished. Things that could have directly caused mistakes in a prolonged run. This especially seems problematic when considering how much effort was put into the comic. The crew on this comic put in the effort to try and put out the best comic they could. There were zero typoes, and overall the issues were handled very meticulously. Something that could have been hampered with the releases being sped up and forcing the quality to faulter above the bar they already set with future issues at this speed.

There's also the question of past solicits. Often the advertised solicit didn't match the content of the issue(which is starting to become more and more common with many Marvel comics though). Not so much an issue since what we got was better than what was advertised, but it still comes across as odd. There's also the question of the misnumberings in past solicits for the tpbs like Volume three that suggested issue 22 would be the last issue and that issue 21 was going to have a numbering skip. Now granted this could work in X-23's favor. 2013 is the ten year anniversary for the character and would be the prime marketing time to do a large event between August and October. This could do a similiar strategy as Venom did with the 13, 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4, and 14. In this instance though they could do 22, 22.1, 22.3, 22.4, and 23 with scheduling the issues to coincide with her animation debute for the first, and ending on October 23rd(10/23/2013 with 2013 being an anagram for 10-23 which can be read as X-23). In 2013, October 23rd falls on a Wednesday(comic release day). This could easily be handled as a 2 issue a month schedule to meet the criteria, or even expanded to longer if it were to be handled weekly. That would require the work to be started pretty soon though to meet that criteria and maintain the same cohesion the ongoing had become known for. Starting on such a prospect relatively soon would also eliminate some of the troubles the Venom event was plagued with due to how the schedule was weekly and seemingly barely had the time for the writers to make sure it was the best it could be throughout.

Speaking of solicit troubles, the final issue also had a slight problem in this regard. It was originally solicited as being a 32 page finale. Now I can understand this as well, as what we got was again better than advertised and didn't need the extra pages. Plus trying to force some kind of closure to the remaining plot threads in that small amount of pages may not have been possible. There was just too much to cover. Doing it justice would possibly need its own 3 issue arc or larger. That's not counting some of the remaining stories that were still left to be told. Things like X-23 interacting with Deadpool, X-23 interacting and dealing with Surge's hypocritical stances(maybe Avengers Academy will cover this), and potentially how X-23 could deal with the telepathic presence without it coming across as a quest for revenge. This same revenge quest issue comes up in dealing with Kimura. How do you solve that conundrum without it seeming like X-23 is actively out for blood and becoming the very thing Kimura is trying to turn her into. In either instance it would prove Kimura has been right about X-23 all along. Sometimes the only way to win, is to live a better life without worry of those that try to claim superiority over you. The second you openly admit to thinking you're better than someone or suggest as much or really even think as much, you've already lost no matter how you try to rationalize it. This would negate the character's empathy building that has been constant throughout the run. A character trait that has brought her more humanity than many of the self-involved arrogant characters she's dealt with. It's also something that truly makes Gambit shine in these issues. His lack of judgement and not trying to tell X-23 what to do is an example of friendship, understanding, and compassion. It humanizes both Gambit and X-23 during the run making them grow as characters you can relate to and want to read more of. Characters you can see the how they live to the best they can without condemning others for how they live theirs. They help where they can, but they don't become insulting or need selfworth by claiming superiority over others. They avoid the entire group mentality that plagues team dynamics by claiming trust in each other as the reason. Instead they have a focus on humanity as their group dynamic. Something that's diverse and refrains from such ego trips as everyone is their brother and sister, not just their teammates. Which is pure truth. Everyone is someone's father, someone's mother, their sister, their brother, son, or daughter.

There's also the question of how the comic was treated by fellow Marvel staff. We had mild amounts of double speak from EIC Axel Alonso when talking about the choice to end the comic. On one hand he praised the comic and the character rightfully so, on the other he perpetuated the sales were under the marigin needed for it to stay afloat in what comes across as a mild offhanded and unintentional insult to it. As the numbers show though, X-23 did stay above the threshold needed to stay afloat. Now granted he was also speaking of Daken when that mildly derisive remark was made. Something that does pan true for Daken's comic as it lost focus and cohesiveness once he made that trip to LA during Bucky's trial. Granted much of that I guess could be rationalized due to how his quest for revenge in the name of his mother was denied him, but I'll leave that to anyone who wants to try and analyze Daken's behavior. This site is mostly focused only on X-23, and to have those two compared and condemned within the same breath is mildy insulting when X-23 was able to stay above the threshold while Daken rapidly couldn't. There's also the question of how defensive the male Marvel staff in the past seems to get when questions of how female employees have been treated and how this compares to female characters that male creatives want to attempt to craft into a female following(which is what makes me wonder if there was some kind of internal kerfuffle when Daken was going to get the axe but X-23 could have gotten a stay of execution). I have no knowledge to this other than the Gail Simone and Bendis public tiff that arose awhile back. So I cannot speak on this subject. It has come to my attention rather repeatedly that there are more women interested in comics, and have creative potential that can be tapped, so I do tend to lean on the idea that maybe it's not the fact there are few who apply to do it anymore. I see it more as a lack of actively seeking the appropriate talents for the titles in question or the appropriate avenues to generate buzz. This also includes a personal friend of mine who gets a kick from yaoi moments in Marvel. Something that immediately made me want to point her towards the Bleeding Cool take on the AvX event to help get her more excited about the event. Sadly by the time I had gotten around to linking her to those stories, a certain male Marvel editor stepped in and complained about what could have actually been a marketing gimmick that could appeal to some female demographics. This could be part of a larger issue of men trying to dictate what they think a female readership wants, but this is an issue that's outside my scope. It is an issue that needs to be talked about though. It's also not the first time that male pride and ego has created issues to Marvel public relations in how they've treated their readership/customer base. Something that does need to be curtailed and if it is, could help bolster the brand to better heights. If these stories pan to be true, I find it personally hard to want to support writers like Bendis or anything Wacker is attached to as an editor. Which is a shame because I've been wanting to talk about the new direction for Captain Marvel for awhile now(loving the new costume and emphasis on the Air Force). As it is, I may pass on it entirely. These kinds of interactions make everyone look bad and do lose much needed sales as well as prospects on new creatives who may not be comfortable working for companies that have these public personas. Thankfully this is where X-23's creative team shines. They were always courteous to fans, respectful, and all around from many accounts a joy to hear from and engage.

There are also hints of points that Marvel tried to push this title forward, and having X-23 appear in the Superhero Squad Show and the comic referenced in it was a good start, as was having X-23 included in Marvel vs Capcom 3 video game. The pretty strong marketing of her addition to Avengers Academy was also a good move. Sadly though, the positive moves don't outweigh the potential negative. These perceived negative moves could have hindered the exposure the positive gave.

I've probably missed a few other details that could be used as proof about this overall idea that X-23's comic was expected to faulter. One of which that's also harder to pin down of course is the type of readers there were, but to analyze that kind of data would mean compartmentalizing what the readership was expecting and desires from an X-23 comic which is a topic I'd rather not dive into anytime soon with what I've personally heard from various fans in other circles about why the character is one they want to read and see more often. I enjoyed the comic as a challenge to those perceptions, but in a male dominated market, it's hard to expect a comic that goes against the grain to last. I have no statistical data to back it up, but X-23 seems to have done well in the female demographic as well as other areas of the readership besides her diehard fans.

Sadly those numbers only seem to be slightly above the threshold for cancellation. Could this be a marketing problem? Possibly, since those same readerships that might have been interested in the comic may not have been aware it appealed to their sensibilities. That problem falls on everyone, myself included. Better marketing would have helped to make awareness of the comic known to those that would enjoy it, but we can't count on just Marvel to handle that. We need to spread the word of mouth too. This kind of grassroots buzz was starting to build though, and if this blog's statistics are any indication, the sales were nearing a point of rebounding back upward as interest was growing(more and more hits are coming in worldwide from google search results, which I also get to see what keywords caused them to come here). The cancelation announcement though may have killed that interest for those who were about to check it out. Why get vested in something you know is about to end no matter the positive things you've heard is the typical mentality there. Hopefully they still gave it a chance as the last issue especially went out on an interesting note, but such an early announcement of cancelation may have been the harbinger of X-23's doom. The Venom event could have led to a spike in the readership alongside those already starting to get interest in checking it out. Plus the Venom event among X-23 fans may have caused a huge spike as they were desperately ready for further adventures where she's handled well. If the decision was held off a little while longer at least, the sales data could have been interesting. Now that's not to say the numbering couldn't be salvaged for later marketing potential as suggested above(which would suggest prolonged hiatus, never canceled, which is an interesting marketing stunt in itself). Overall though sometimes the longer a comic lasts, the more fans it picks up because it reflects a comic that Marvel has faith in and won't cancel on them mid story arc. Something that shows that Marvel is supportive of such endeavors. Something that wider audience recognition would also help create. Now if only there was a way to create that kind of mass appeal, mass recognition, and mass awareness(okay, this one I blame on Fox)...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Secret X-23 Movie in the Works? - April Fools

I've made no secret about the fact I've wanted to see this movie made. Heck I'm pretty verbose about it whenever I get the chance. Probably to the point I've annoyed many a people about it.

Recently I've noticed an interesting trend. I do know for fact that there is an X-23 movie script out in the wild based on her origin miniseries. One that needs many more revisions to fit a better cohesive vision for this feature to nod the ongoing's additions as well. The trend that I've noticed is that the pages on this blog that talk about casting choices and what the problems to a movie of such nature are, have been getting more hits coming in from around California.

Many of these entries list my thoughts on the matter and how much I think Selena Gomez would fit the role needed and random concept work to prove the point. A movie of this nature to meet the talked about desired date would have to go into production soon too. To meet a 2013 release date, it would have to start production literally now or yesterday. More and more I've been seeing fans openly admit on deviantart that they want to see a movie of X-23. That the wide recognition it would create would stop anymore awkward questions they get during Halloween or when they prep costumes for cons. There have been countless comments made all over the web that a movie like this has a demand. The sales of the origin minis and even the first volume of the ongoing had managed to get within the Diamond top ten of their respective months of release. To top it all off, Fox currently has the rights to Daredevil who is also a major player in the second X-23 origin feature mini. Fox does have a Daredevil reboot in the works, but could it meet the deadline they'd need to keep the rights? Using him in an X-23 feature to be released in October of 2013 could guarantee they keep the rights until their reboot is ready.

Recently Selena Gomez herself (who is also aware of the interest in an X-23 feature film, what it could do for her career, how some of her fans do want to see her play the role, and Fox is aware of how her fans could generate endless free marketing for such a feature because of how much of a marketing savant Ms. Gomez is) has tweeted that her part in the movie Spring Breakers has wrapped and she's moving on to her next feature. A feature film that requires her to have straight long hair as tweeted here and here. Summer Glau is also currently slated for no films as her current films are in post production. I've made previous remarks she would be perfect for the role of Dr. Sarah Kinney, which also does open the door for her to play X-23 at an older age in a much later movie or cameo.

Fox has never been one to shy away from making money any way possible. It also opens the door to have an ending scene to show off the potential Deadpool costume for his feature at the end of the movie with an after credits scene of Laura getting off the bus in New York. She could say a line like "It could always be worse." As Deadpool in costume runs by franticly screaming "The bee men are coming, the bee men are coming." and Laura could follow up with "I could be him." On that same notion it helps prep potential Daredevil casting choices by giving an early preview of him and start to create their own combined Marvel Universe similiar to what Marvel is doing with the Avengers.

This also gives Fox a sleeper X-Men tie-in film while The Wolverine is still under development and the next X-Men first class film is a ways off. This would give us a modern day insight into Logan and the modern FoX-Men universe while the other movies continue building to the present.

For such a movie to exist including post-production, filming would have to start this summer if it wants to reach that ten year anniversary release date. So I actually decided to do some digging for once. I can safely announce that all our hopes have been answered. An X-23 feature film is in the works and has been for awhile now based loosely on her two origin miniseries.

Further information I've been able to gather from inside sources is it will have Steve Rogers as played by Chris Evans in it too, though the casting has also called for Agent Alisanda Morales too. Fox has been able to come to terms with Marvel about an equal exchange. A Hugh Jackman Wolverine cameo in the future so long as he is only called Logan or James in it, for the usage of Steve Rogers here. This will give fans everything they've ever wanted as it will directly tie Daredevil, Avengers, and X-Men into the same movie-universe.

The hope is if future such deals can be worked out, we could very well see full on Marvel Events turned into multi-part feature films. The Fantastic Four's reboot is currently also being retooled with this in mind. The decision to not use the Skrulls in the Avengers movie was due to a rights issue initially but has panned out for the best as the Disir have fit better. Fox and Marvel are currently discussing how a Secret Invasion movie branching out of the Fantastic Four reboot could work though. The stakes are much higher here though as Fox has the rights Marvel wants for many things like Dr. Doom, Galactus, the skrulls, Namor, and the Fantastic Four themselves while Marvel only has random oddities for Fantastic Four that Fox would be interested in.

And if you haven't guessed by now. This was all a last minute lame April Fools joke. I have no clue what Selena Gomez's next film is, but if it does turn out to be an X-23 feature I will keep you posted as I would if any actress managed to get that role or a movie of Laura was being made. I'm generally against April Fools day pranks, but I couldn't resist when those two pictures were sent my direction with a note attached using the above headline here.

*I repeat.  This was an April Fools joke.  It is not to be taken seriously and progressively includes larger and larger deliberate mistakes and half truths to suggest as such.*

April Fools Day - No Pranks, Just Some Mental Scarring.

I've never been one to celebrate April Fools day. This year with all the sad news like X-23's ongoing canceled, it felt like we could all use some kind of cheering up.

So here's a video from Youtube of something utterly bizarre and random.

Sometimes you just need that dose of something that cannot be unseen. Something that will haunt you forever in asking why does this exist.