Monday, October 02, 2006

Mister Fanboy Comics Commentary: Cover Lies


Mister Fanboy Comics is all fired up and joins us today for a commentary on comic book covers.

When I was younger, looking at a comic book cover I could reasonably assume that the individuals on the cover would be central to the story (or at least be introduced as a new character). Often, the covers had some gibberish like "Wolverine vs. Captain America" written over them. Gibberish because somewhere in the story they temporarily come to blows over a misunderstanding, which is in itself not all that different from an episode of Three's Company when Mr. Roper or Mr. Furley "misheard" something and assumed that Jack was trying to hook up with Janet or Christy or her gaggle of replacements. During this time, covers at least alluded to the story within.

Somewhere in the 90s covers transformed into pin-ups for the characters within the book. That's not all that bad as it introduced to me a whole number of artists that were just starting out. Then that gave way to featuring characters that, although they are not in the book, are on the team so therefore deserve the exposure. Marvel is particularly guilty of this when it comes to Wolverine, and DC to a lesser extent with Batman.

But then a few weeks ago I ran across something that at times seemed to come full circle, but also insulted my intelligence. I am referring to Civil War Files, a book that gave us back history on many of the players, like Goliath (one week before he was killed), and was filled with text and images from previously published comics. The conceit of the book is that we are looking at Tony Stark/Iron Man's personal files on these individuals or groups. Besides the fact that there were numerous errors within the grammar and layout of the text (yes, we know we do it too, but it's not like you are paying for this product), the cover included 2, and possibly a third character, which were not even mentioned within the text.

I am speaking of both Captain Britain, who is being featured in New Excalibur, and Union Jack who is starring in his own series and was most recently in an arc of Captain America. The third character was some sort of miniature Chewbacca that may or not have been a horrible rendition of Wolfsbane, who was featured. And then there's a redhead that may be Lorelei (of X-Men: 198) or Medusa of the Inhumans, both of whom are referenced.

Let me be honest with you. Since I have been following Civil War pretty closely, there wasn't any real reason for me to pick up the book. However, in the back of my mind, I have been wondering how the folks over in Britain were seeing what was going on in the U.S. in regards to the Registration Act. So when I saw both Captain Britain and Union Jack on the cover, I thought I would finally get an answer. But not only did I not get an answer, both men were not even referenced. That's right. I am not even talking about a full blown narrative about them, which I was not expecting since both men were missing from the back cover that listed the folks that would be featured. Nope. Not that. They were not even mentioned in passing. Nada.

The whole thing pissed me off. In a way, I felt cheated by Marvel. The cover made certain representations about what would be inside and didn't deliver. There were plenty of characters mentioned that were not on the cover that could have been chosen for the cover image rather than CHARACTERS WHO ARE NOT EVEN MENTIONED. Further, there were only passing references to Guardian, Puck, and others (perhaps the Chewbacca-looking creature was Sasquatch - again, only briefly referenced). In most books, I could quickly scan through the pages to see what's coming but in this case were are talking about pages and pages and pages of not much more than text. It took hours to read that thing as it was.

So, what's the recourse for a fan like me? Who makes the decisions about what should be featured on the cover (artists, writer, editorial)? What do you think about all of this? Is this an issue or am I just making it all up in my head, which, if you know me, is not that far from the realm of possibilities, but a hell of a lot closer than Reed Richards participating in a pogrom.

--Mister Fanboy Comics

1 Comments:

Anonymous carla said...

Nope, this is just another example of people not paying attention. Of the higher-ups saying who should appear on covers to promote future books and drum up sales while the writer is on Mars doing something else entirely.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

10:00 PM  

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