Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Object Of Desire - Fear Itself #1

This week sees the release of the first issue of ‘Fear Itself’, Marvel’s latest big crossover event. I hadn’t even heard of this event until last week, as Marvel publish so many bloody comics these days that I gave up even looking through their online solicitations about a year ago because it was becoming too much of an effort, but now that I have heard of it, I’m tempted to check it out. I haven’t bought a new Marvel comic for quite some time – I think the first issues of the Heroic Age versions of the Avengers and the New Avengers may have been the last new Marvel comics I bought, and I regretted buying those – and I don’t even really know what this is about, but I’m a glutton for punishment so I think I might give it a whirl – just the main series, not all the tie-ins – even though I spend about 90% of my time moaning about how crossover events have killed comics.

A couple of years ago, I got very excited about the prospect of Civil War, which eventually turned out to be a big letdown (nice art, weak script). Then, the following year, I got even more excited about the prospect of Secret Invasion, which also turned out to be a big letdown (great build-up but the actual series was very disappointing and I’m not sure that Leniel Yu was the right artist for the job). Then I kind of lost interest in Marvel comics altogether, because some genius thought that making Norman Osborn / the Green Goblin head of national security in the Marvel Universe was a good idea – this made about as much sense as making the Yorkshire Ripper head of MI5 – and I don’t particularly like Norman Obsborn, plus I was getting really sick of all those storylines that just never seemed to end, even in otherwise good comics like Captain America. I did read Siege, and remember it being okay, but I didn’t buy it, and like I said, the last new Marvel comics I actually bought were (I think) the first issues of the current Avengers and New Avengers titles, both of which I regretted buying. I kind of thought my relationship with Marvel Comics was over for good, and was pretty certain that my days of buying new periodical comics were over, too.

However, I have recently started to see a positive side to buying these big crossover events. I mean, if nearly every Marvel comic published since Siege has been leading up to Fear Itself, and if nearly every Marvel comic being published at the moment ties in to Fear Itself, then I should be able to catch up on everything that’s happened in the Marvel Universe since I last bought a new Marvel comic, and everything that is currently going on, just by buying Fear Itself, right?

Fear Itself has the benefit of not being written by Mark Millar – who is over-rated, in my opinion – or Brian Michael Bendis – who is a talented writer but out of his element writing stuff like this – and is instead written by Matt Fraction, who I understand is rather good, even though I have never read any of his comics. It is drawn by Stuart Immonen, who I know is rather good, so this should at least look nice. The biggest downside to buying this that I can see right now is that I will be breaking blog rules if I pay any more than £1.20 for it, but I’m beginning to think that blog rules are a bit stupid anyway, and may need to be re-thought, or even abandoned altogether.

I am a price-sensitive consumer and nearly always try and get my comics and graphic novels as cheaply as possible. Most of the books I get I buy from either Amazon, the Book Depository or eBay, as these tend to be the cheapest places to get stuff, but everyone online already knows this, and I am starting to feel a bit stupid telling everyone how much I paid for stuff at the end of every review. I have really enjoyed writing all the reviews I’ve written over the last six or seven months, and fully intend to continue writing about comics, but I’m starting to think that the ‘ration’ format is holding me back, and possibly even alienating readers who aren’t such stingy bastards and may want to support their local comic shop. I am happy to say when I think that something is good value for money, or even poor value for money, and I am even happy to boast about books I’ve managed to pick up really cheap in charity shops, but I have no great desire to promote Amazon (which everyone already knows about) over comic shops and think it may be time for a change of format - possibly even a whole new blog or website. Any thoughts?

Coming soon (probably): Fear Itself #1 reviewed by a 42-year-old man who hasn’t read a new Marvel comic in about a year.


  1. Well, I think you know what my opinion is. The format of On The Ration doesn't prevent you from supporting local comic shops. It simply encourages you to think about how much your paying for your comics. If you wish to pay full price for a GN or non-Diamond-exclusive comic then you can.

    It's only strict in regards to slim/periodical comics such as Fear Itself. The rules discourage you from paying full retail price for this for a very good reason - You will almost certainly hate yourself if you do.

    However, I can see the appeal of a reading one of your reviews where you've paid full wack for a comic like this and are talking about how you wish you hadn't.

    On the matter of mentioning where GNs have been bought from and for how much. I think it should be refered to even if it's as an after thought. For example, "Amazon (with link), retail = £xxxx, bought for £xxxxxx".

    What do you and others think?

  2. I think I was just having a bit of a crisis of confidence this morning, which bumped into my constant desire to run away and start over again somewhere else, and I will probably just stick with doing things the 'Ration' way. Having said that, I just ordered Fear Itself #1 and the prologue comic, Fear Itself Book of the Skull #1. Take that, rule boy!

  3. I'll be buying it, but then I still read quite a lot of Marvel books, despite agreeing with much of what you say above. I'm hoping it's better than Siege and Invasion and Civil War because most of those ended in disappointment. Fraction is a good writer, though I'm not convinced he's any better at writing a big superhero crossover than Bendis or Millar (his best stuff, like Iron Man, is very character focussed).

  4. I am still interested in what is going on in the Marvel Universe and would probably be buying lots of Marvel Comics myself if: a) most of them weren't $3.99; b) there weren't so many of them to keep up with; c) they cut down on the crossovers a bit; and d) the storylines had a satisfying ending occasionally.

    I really hadn't heard of this until last week, as I haven't spent very much time at all on the various comic sites since we started this blog. I may have to go back to Ace Comics and start buying Previews again.

  5. I'm a big fan of doing this particular blog the 'On a ration' way. Otherwise its in danger of becoming just another cool review blog that well... reviews stuff 'cos you have it. The 'ration' bit gives it a focus and a purpose unlike so many other blogs out there.

    Also while it may not promote going to your comic shop, or local independent book shop it is a mighty roar for libraries which (and I do have a bias here) is a very very good thing.

    Seriously recently my job was at risk (bias towards libraries, job at risk, isn't too hard to put together!) and I was thinking well comics are the first thing to go. My read pile will last me a good long time but then... but my thoughts turned to this blog... it can be done on the cheap, there is a way I can indulge my habit by flipping burgers.

    This sir is a great blog and I for one hope it stays just the way it is.

  6. Thanks, Colin. In that case, I will stick with the current blog and format, with perhaps just the odd change here and there. I had no intention of changing my spending habits - although I have just spent £2.55 on Fear Itself #1 - I was just getting a bit sick of saying I got this on Amazon for £££, etc., and making myself sound stingy (which I suppose I am).

  7. No need to buy Previews - that really is a waste of money. Just pop by the various Comics Sites on the 2nd or 3rd Tuesday / Wednesday of the month and read the previews for free.

  8. Do you know any websites that also list the solicitations for Fantagraphics, D&Q, etc.? The problem with looking at the solicitations at Comic Book Resources and Newsarama (and I haven't even been doing that recently, which is why I didn't know about Fear Itself) is that I only get to find out what is being released by the Diamond exclusive publishers.

  9. Good point. And no, I don't know of any sites that cover those solicitations. Which is why I generally end up finding out about any such books long after they've been published (and probably miss out on some gems along the way). I still don't like buying Previews though... costs too much, wastes too much paper, makes me spend more money on comics than I would do anyway.

  10. I dislike Previews for the same reasons, plus it weighs a lot and I resent paying postage costs for a catalogue full of toys and games that I have zero interest in, so I probably won't start buying it again - especially not now that I've discovered that Comixology ( has the Previews listings for ALL publishers online. Now I just need to remember to go there once a month and see what's coming out.

  11. Ah, thank you for that. I'm sure it'll come in useful.