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Monday, April 14, 2008

Titans #1: The Agony And The Ecstasy


My mind is slightly blown from the amount of things I have to do to prepare for New York Comic Con, so 'scuse me if I ramble.

Wow, so now even Matt Brady gets attacked on his own website for trying to keep the peace, huh?

When Matt tells the poster "Booster Gold" on the Newsarama Titans #1 review thread to tone down his criticism of reviewer Troy Brownfield, hilarity ensues.

Matt: "You did not like the review. Fair enough. YOU liked the book, the reviewer did not. Fine. You are now treading perilously close to making personal insults about the reviewer ("he isn't as smart as he thinks he is"), which will not end well."

At this point, a number of posters including "Booster Gold" come in to criticise Matt for threatening to "boot" Booster. One poster, "Hawkangel," writes to Brady:

"OK, well let me say this then Matt. I suggest you choose your reviewers more wisely next time. This whole post obviously got a bad reaction from the majority of people that have posted here and if they are one step away from name-calling and insults as you say, doesn't this tell you something about the original review? Hmmm...what was that? No, I wasn't insulting or name-calling. I was just giving you a friendly warning (as you were doing to so many people here), so there's no need to ban me."

Now Matt is on the defensive, put in the position to defend over and over again why he warned "Booster Gold." He is being attacked for trying to keep things civil on HIS OWN WEBSITE.

Another commenter complains:

"Newsarama is not a democracy. They do not encourage free thinking or permit free speech (outside of their accepted forum guidelines). Name calling and disputing dictator commentary will get you banned from NewsaramaLand."

God, you know, this all sounds rather familiar. Didn't Blog@Newsarama post something on this several weeks back? What was the topic again? Oh yes: should I be allowed to moderate comments on my own blog. Now I remember.


Well, should Matt Brady be allowed to moderate comments on the forum on his own site?

Of course he should.

As for my own opinion on Titans #1...

I've decided to skip it. Yes, instead of picking up a book that, let's face it, I can see right off the bat will not be my personal cup o' tea, I'm going to skip it. And read the two volumes of the new Blue Beetle -- a book that I have been assured I would really like -- instead. I mean, what could I possibly add to the Titans #1 conversation that hasn't already been said?

Titans #1 seems to be a particular type of book going for a particular type of audience, and either that particular audience is going to buy it up in droves like they do books like All-Star Batman and JLA or they won't. DC seems to be particularly pushing Green Lantern and Geoff Johns lately. That would seem to be a better direction to go in than what little I've seen and what volume I have heard about Titans.


I think DC should just stick with the "Johns Genre" books, stick with the upcoming "Trinity" comic, and then concentrate on books like Robin, Blue Beetle, and Birds of Prey as ones with good stories that teenagers can read and enjoy as well as adults -- their version of Marvel's Runaways or Ultimate Spider-Man/X-Men. Because females as well as males are very receptive to those titles, and I think anywhere you can maximize and diversify your readership base, you should take advantage of it.

27 comments:

  1. I think it's a growing conceit. they expect every MB to be unmoderated like the DCMB.

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  2. i didn't mind Titans #1 to be honest.

    I didn't think it was that bad.

    I also liked seeing Churchill do Supergirl again!! ;)

    But the rest of the art was really the only part I didn't like.

    But Blue Beetle is great, it's like the new Spiderman, and since I am boycotting the short lived crap they are doing in Spiderman right now, I read it instead.

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  3. Wow. Reading through that whole thread depressed the hell out of me. While it's always good to see people passionate about what they love, people need to get lives and realize that mudslinging on the Internet, and then crying about getting called on it is not the best way to spend your life.

    I read that review of Titans #1 and quite frankly, thought it was pretty funny. But then again I have an odd sense of humor.


    fistfightatthearthouse.wordpress.com

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  4. I've had problems on my message boards. (To the point where I rarely visit my own boards these days.) And whenever you take action, people always cry censorship.

    I'm strongly opposed to censorship. But this isn't it.

    As a friend of mine once put it, censorship would be coming over to your house and taking your computer away, or preventing you from logging onto any message boards.

    But if you have a party, and someone gets drunk, starts wearing a lampshade, and dumps guacamole on the head of another guest, then the host is well within his or her rights to ask the person to leave. (Okay, I guess technically you have a responsibility to make sure the surly guest doesn't drive drunk, but ....)

    It's a bit sad when rude message board posters think they've been dragged before HUAC or something.

    Allen

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  5. If you're DC, do you count it as a positive that people are defending the book with that much vigor?

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  6. I can certainly appreciate where puckrobin is coming from...

    And yes, if a message poster is clearly stomping on the rules and in general makes a spectacle out of themselves, then you can and certainly should swing the ban stick.

    It's also far too common for some to swing the bat when the situation is a lot greyer.

    Your party analogy isn't that apt. Starting up a message board invites commentary. That commentary may or may not agree with the board host, and their right to disagree should be respected. It's pretty sad to invite debate then ban then because it's not the debate you like; that the person isn't a spineless "yes" man mirroring your every utterance.

    A better analogy would be inviting people over for a beer then kicking them out because you don't like the same beer they do.

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  7. I think disagreement is healthy, but I'd hope that's not what leads to banning or moderation.

    Of course, if the moderation did begin over a civil disagreement on the merits of Titans... I guess it's the right of the moderator to control things that closely. But I suspect people might eventually drift elsewhere. Except for morbid curiosity about a certain comics creator, I don't think people would stick around for such draconian treatment.

    But some posters can be abusive beyond disagreement over an issue. Some can get threatening, or hijack every conversation to one particular topic that no one else wants to talk about. That's when rules, moderation and occasional banning become necessary.

    Allen

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  8. I think DC should just stick with the "Johns Genre" books, stick with the upcoming "Trinity" comic, and then concentrate on books like Robin, Blue Beetle, and Birds of Prey as ones with good stories that teenagers can read and enjoy as well as adults -- their version of Marvel's Runaways or Ultimate Spider-Man/X-Men.

    The fact that a Teen Titans book can't be considered as a book with "good stories that teenagers can read and enjoy as well as adults -- their version of Marvel's Runaways or Ultimate X-men" shows a profound lack of direction on the part of DC editorial.

    The Titans had a cartoon series targeted at 8-12 year olds just a few years back. Those kids are moving into the teenage years and, in a sane business environment, would be exactly the group being targeted for a Titans comic book.

    Instead we get something written by Judd Winick with art by Ian Churchill that is targeted at the same 30+ year old comic book fanboy demographic that almost every other book on the shelves is aimed at and that is shrinking with each passing year. Crazy.

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  9. In fairness, Newsarama lets all messages get posted and THEN deletes messages if they cross the line. That's more akin to how your blog was before moderation, not after.

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  10. Jer, one small point: I don't think the Winick book is meant to be a substitute for the current Teen Titans book.

    The larger problem is, what do you call the "Classic" Titans characters when they're currently so spread out among the rest of the DCU? Is it time for them to get a new team name?

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  11. re: Newsarama "censorship." If the site were that concerned with niceties, it'd never host a thread about Countdown.

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  12. I had a lot of things to do today. Housework, school work, etc. I clicked on that link and already an hour of my day is gone. Thanks, Val!

    Seriously, reading that gave me a headache. I may be arrogant, but my arrogance pales in comparison to some of these posters.

    And, as for Newsarama,the rules are spelled out for you when you sign up for an account. No name calling is one of it. Everyone who signs up knows this. So, if they resort to name calling and are banned, they shouldn't moan about it.

    And Matt didn't ban Booster Gold. He just warned him that if he does get into name calling, he will be banned.

    If you sign up for these boards and are alerted of the rules, you should follow them. Simple as pie.

    As for personal blogs, they are personal blogs! It's up to the blogger to decide who he/she wants to ban or what type of comments to allow.

    I'm all for freedom of speech. But posting insulting comments on a message board because someone doesn't think the way you do isn't a good exercise of that right.

    As for Titans #1, I, too, avoided it. Thanks in part to Winick and Churchill being the team, partly due to Val's review of Teen Titans East #1.

    The comic companies seem to be pushing a nostalgia trend, I guess because the age of their current readership demographic. I, in theory, have no problem with that. But if you are trying to invoke memories of the Wolfman/Perez Titans with this new book why do you, I don't know, get Wolfman and Perez to create it? They are still active and working at DC. Why settle for a cheap imitation?

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  13. "In fairness, Newsarama lets all messages get posted and THEN deletes messages if they cross the line. That's more akin to how your blog was before moderation, not after."

    I had an abusive commenter get irate BECAUSE I did exactly what you said -- let the post go up unmoderated and then deleted it. How is that better? Then the commenter crazily starts posting the same post over and over and over again in a row, hoping I will just give up and stop deleting.

    If you have a blog or forum with any sort of decent traffic at all, trolls are eventually going to find it and you are going to be faced with how to moderate. You can moderate by deleting, by moderating posts beforehand, by warning, or by banning. No matter how you choose to moderate, the trolls will not be happy with your decision.

    And now more than ever before, they really feel that they have a "right" over your blog or forum in some way. Hence the commenter on the Titans thread who gave Matt "a little warning." IT'S MATT'S SITE!!!! Who is this person to give HIM a warning?

    The only other option is to do like Harry Knowles does in Aint It Cool News and just let everything through and have a whole bunch of posters call him a dumb fatass and other abusive shit.

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  14. "A better analogy would be inviting people over for a beer then kicking them out because you don't like the same beer they do."

    No...in this case it would be like kicking them out because they started mouthing off and accusing you of being an idiot because you supplied a beer they did not like for consumption.

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  15. Seem now I'm bummed that you didn't read Titans 1. Did you look/page through it at all to see what all the hubbub was about?

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  16. "Seem now I'm bummed that you didn't read Titans 1. Did you look/page through it at all to see what all the hubbub was about?"

    You know, I went to the store and picked the comic up to look at -- and the very first scene I saw is the one where Starfire is naked and a big phallic worm is towering over her.

    And I said to myself,

    "Self, no good can possibly come from you reading this book. Read those damn volumes of Blue Beetle at home you've been putting off instead."

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  17. I read the comic (in the shop of course) and, quite frankly, the Newsarama reviewer was spot on in my opinion.

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  18. Wow. Good choice.

    Also has to be kind of depressing for DC to look to pick up and keep new readers of a book only to have them

    1. page through the book at the LCS and decide 'not for me', especially when they look at 1 (one!) page.
    2. read the book when they get home and regret spending the money in the first place as they decide to never look at the series again.


    My favorite review is still of Outsiders 1 from a few years ago... I think it was on Pulse or something. I kept it and read it from time to time to get a good laugh.

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  19. Comments published on Newsarama are evaluated based on the terms and conditions forum users must have read and agreed to before having their account activated - Brady's not stepping out of line by making forum users adhere to standards of courtesy they've already agreed to.
    It'd be another matter if he just deleted comments that didn't agree with him, but that's not the case.

    Instead we get something written by Judd Winick with art by Ian Churchill that is targeted at the same 30+ year old comic book fanboy demographic that almost every other book on the shelves is aimed at and that is shrinking with each passing year. Crazy.

    Very true. Trying to get teenagers to read comics is a false economy - instead, get kids to read comics and they'll become teenage readers in the course of time. Market research suggests that it's only teenage girls who are likely to 'get into' comics (more specifically manga) without previous interest in the form, but DC is aimed at a primarily 30+ male demographic, or teenage boys who seem to want lots of gore, death, and confirmation that realistically-proportioned women are somehow a bit wrong. The two are at odds.
    Also, despite it being a generalisation, I think it's true female readers are more interested in characters and a strong ongoing narrative, but how can you sustain either with a constantly-rotating creative roster?

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  20. Can you please tell everyone just how awesome Blue Beetle is after you finish? Its sales in singles were never that good and it could use as much publicity as it can get...

    ...that, and I like it when I have my taste value judgements validated. ^_^

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  21. Hi Val,

    I hang around your site alot and proclaim the merits of Blue Beetle whenever you ask for recommendations.

    And now I'm going to do it again.

    You will love Blue Beetle. I'm not sure when Vol 4. is released but the most recent story arc was one of the most bad-ass (yet also feel-good) comics I ever read. I can't say enough good things about Blue Beetle.

    Walk, nay, Run, to your local Forbidden PLanet and pick Blue Beetle up with great haste.

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  22. New Blue Beetle series is pretty good. There are some seemingly slow parts between the two trades but, it all leads up to something...and makes the story climax all the better.

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  23. Yay! You've come over to the Blue Beetle side. I hope you like it. Its one of the best most under apprettiated series, imho. I hope you post your thoughts on them once you try vol. 1-3 out. I'm interested in what you think of it.

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  24. But hasn't Matt Brady and Newsarama as a messageboard community cultivated the whole screaming malcontent shtick? That's their gimmick isn't it? Every message board has their own personality, and newsarama's is the home of volatility and nerd riots. Half the point of the weekly New Joe Friday columns seemed to be the fifteen odd pages of comments full of people screaming their heads off about how Quesada was ruining Marvel, comics, America, their own personal childhoods, and then murdering puppies on the side just because he could. Then you come back next week, Joe does his thing again, and the nerd riot begins anew.

    This is how newsarama made their bones. Here's a news article and now here are a few pages of volatile reactions and mudslinging. Can they really be that surprised when the reaction they cultivate turns around and bites back at them?

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  25. "This is how newsarama made their bones. Here's a news article and now here are a few pages of volatile reactions and mudslinging. Can they really be that surprised when the reaction they cultivate turns around and bites back at them?"

    That's the thing. It's like a Frankenstein they unwittingly (I would like to think) helped create -- and which they partially owe their success to.

    The problem comes when they try to get more mainstream (I think they were bought by some science-oriented company or something), and now they have message boards filled with hateful stuff. That scares off legitimate investors. That scares off a lot of potential participants, too.

    I remember checking out the IMDB forums for a while -- they were REALLY bad. And I think Yahoo as well. And they had to clean those things up. Because it got to the point where it was just constant abuse. And as a site gets more "legit" and mainstream -- it looks bad.

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  26. "That scares off legitimate investors. That scares off a lot of potential participants, too."

    I really couldn't have put it much better. I can't tell you how many various boards or communities I've just stopped reading because they become vitriolic pits.

    I think as comics move from an alienated niche, to a sub-genre of pop culture at large, (as I think they have to in order to survive) things like this are going to become a larger and larger issue. Part of getting the comics audience to expand is getting the comics fandom to expand along with it. If I'm a new reader, why would I want to participate in something that's so irrationally hateful? Hell, I'm an existing reader and I don't want to be a part of it.

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  27. Re:Titans #1.Didn't read it.Not on my radar.

    Now... as far as the Newsarama drama, I don't think it's any worse than anything you could read on any message board picked at random, and that's pretty sad(YouTube is a good example.How can a video of a guy getting hit in the crotch with a football cause so much hatred?).That said, it can be fascinating to watch people flex their "internet muscles".

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