DC Comics: The New 52 - What Could Be Cancelled Next?

An up-to-date list of the endangered series of The New 52, and whether you should read them!

US Box Office: 23rd June 2014

Think Like A Man Too vs 22 Jump Street!

Is Dredd Now Over-Rated?

One writer explains how the Dredd sequel movement is making him apathetic towards the cult-hit.

An Open Letter to What Culture

An ex-What Culture writer tells the site what they're doing wrong!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Comic Book Sales: June 2014

Welcome to TEN's coverage of comic-book sales. Every month - starting with this one - TEN will post one lengthy editorial on the month's comic sales figures - followed by smaller, more bitesized analysis straight after. This week's editorial is on cracking the reason why All-New Marvel Now! titles aren't selling. Also, just below the editorial you'll find coverage on DC, the independent publishers, and this month's top ten. Thanks for reading.

All-New Marvel Now: Why it isn't Working

The latest comic book sales figures have been released, and it paints a rather dim picture for All-New Marvel Now. Marvel launched the initiative - a follow up to their original Marvel NOW! line - at the beginning of year, and since then they have seen title after title fall straight to the bottom of the sales charts just a few months after debuting. The new titles that fall foul to this unfortunate fate are numerous: New Warriors, All-New Ultimates, Secret Avengers, Elektra, All-New Invaders, All-New X-Factor and Captain Marvel are the titles suffering most, with other titles like X-Force, She-Hulk and Loki: Agent of Asgard on the brink of following the trend as well. The question is: Why is this happening?


Cast you're mind back to May 2012 and we see a similar trend that may help us answer that question. The New 52 had been launched nine months prior and had succeeded in putting DC Comics back on the map in terms of comic-book sales. With the exception of smaller titles like Men of War, Blackhawks, and OMAC - which had been expected to struggle, and definitely were - business was booming. However, when DC tried to replicate that success, eliminating some of the aforementioned slow-starters in favour of some new titles, they found it more difficult than it had been the first time. Of the six new titles that started that May, three failed miserably (G.I Combat anyone?), and the other three were only moderate successes not capturing the kind of sales numbers that DC must have hoped for considering their strong start.

Things got worse, and by the following year almost every new title DC launched was hitting the bottom of the sales chart just a few months into its run: Vibe, Katana, Green Team, The Movement, The Phantom Stranger, and even Pandora - the mysterious figure that was the centre of so much interest at the beginning of the New 52 - failed to carry a series of her own. As DC has now stopped releasing as many new titles, the haemorrhaging of their sales numbers has slowed somewhat (although a look at the sales of Aquaman and the Others suggests they are still struggling to launch new books).

Nonetheless, it seems that it's mainly now Marvel who is suffering from Wave 2-failure syndrome, as a large amount of All-New Marvel Now titles struggle to find even the smallest of audiences. With books like Ultimate FF and Iron Patriot already cancelled after just five and six issues respectively, and the titles listed at the beginning of this article seemingly not far behind, what could possibly be causing this?

1. Marvel's Prices and Shipping

"Things that DC do better than Marvel" hasn't been a hugely popular list in recent years, however one thing that I always like to credit DC on is their continual support of the $2.99 price point. The publisher still places many of its top-selling titles such as Harley Quinn, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batgirl and The Flash at the competitive price of just $2.99, while Marvel have been aggressively bumping titles up to a price of $3.99 and recently a ludicrous $4.99 in recent months. If you're reading this, you probably like comics, but I think we can all agree that $5 is too much to pay for a comic that has sometimes less than 30 pages of quality content (damn you, adverts!).

And as if this price point wasn't expensive enough already, Marvel have also started the unsavoury habit of double-shipping with many of their titles too. I find double-shipping frustrating personally as while a story may move along faster, the price of this added pacing is a far more expensive monthly pull-list. As a comic reader on a low salary, I have began making an effort to check which Marvel titles are double-shipped so that I may avoid them. If I'm the only one doing this I'd be extremely surprised. These are not good economic times for many people and the rising expense of comic-books is going to be harmful for the medium as a whole if not capped soon.

The immediate effect double-shipping and a higher price point has on new titles, is it makes people more cautious about trying them. Speaking personally, I have wanted to read Avengers World, All-New Ghost Rider, All-New X-Factor and Elektra since they launched but have had to steer clear due to the books either having a high price point, being double-shipped or both. Were just a couple of these titles released at $2.99 and at a manageable rate of one issue per month I would be reading a lot more of them, and this would also free up some cash to perhaps afford one double-shipped title too. Ultimately, that's the strategy I would recommend to Marvel. If they must double ship some titles at a high price point, then it should only be a couple of books. By making their entire line more expensive they're doing damage to themselves, as in these fragile times people simply can't afford an unlimited number of expensive comics.

Looks awesome but I can't afford it!
I think this is a big part of why there are so many struggling Marvel Now! titles at the moment, and a price drop for many of them would do a world of good.

2. Relaunches Produce Too Many Titles!

While DC's New 52 technique of cancelling frequently in "waves" could be seen as aggressive, recently Marvel's technique of fixing low-selling titles - a relaunch - has been seen as just plain annoying, especially when these books come back at a higher price (see All-New X-Factor and Daredevil among others). Recently it has been speculated that comic readers may be becoming apathetic towards relaunches with many of them seeming unnecessary and just a cheap way for Marvel to grab headlines. What the publisher needs to remember is that relaunches are a great opportunity for readers to jump on, but also a great opportunity for readers to jump off (see Secret Avengers). By relaunching so many titles, Marvel may end up reducing their audience - the opposite of what they're aiming for.

Also, by relaunching many titles that really don't need it Marvel end up taking coverage away from their brand new books that do need help finding readers. A book such as Mark Waid's Daredevil did not need to be relaunched - it has a strong fanbase and more critical acclaim than you can shake a stick at. But by bringing more attention to already established books such as this one, new series' like All-New Ghost Rider and Elektra lost opportunities for coverage. All-New Marvel NOW!'s release schedule has been chaotic for this reason with an abundance of relaunched titles trampling over a large amount of new titles with the winner being no one. Instead, we're left with all of the books being damaged in the mayhem.

I worry that many of these titles are now beyond hope, however if any of the struggling books mentioned in this editorial interest you, I implore you to pick them up now. Before it's too late.
____________________________________________________________

DC Comics

As I mentioned in the editorial above, there was a time shortly after the launch of the New 52 where DC really struggled with launching new books. However, to some extent it seems that difficult period may be finishing for the publisher. Don't get me wrong - DC still have struggling books, and you can read our article here on the DC books on "cancellation watch." Additionally, some of the books DC has recently debuted such as Justice League 3000 and Aquaman and the Others have not been any definition of a hit, with those books now selling just over 24,000 and 23,000 respectively. But, the disaster period of Summer 2013 where books such as Vibe, Katana, Green Team and more died on impact with store shelves seems to be over, with DC's current new books at least putting up more of a fight with their competition.


DC's biggest success continues to be Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman which takes the number one spot once again this week selling 130,000 copies. If you weren't already convinced that Gotham City is the most profitable area in the DC Universe, the publisher's second best-selling title was (surprisingly) Harley Quinn with 93,000 copies sold! This was a book that I expected to die shortly after release, as Larfleeze did before it, but I admit I was wrong on this one. Harley Quinn seems to be DC's big success story of 2014. It not only helps their line-up of female-led titles, but it also keeps the bat-presence high in the New 52, something DC will want to do in the run-up to Batman vs. Superman in 2016. Speaking of Superman, his ongoing series sits comfortably behind Quinn at number five with 89,000 copies sold, receiving a solid boost with the all-star team of Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. now attached.

As for DC's recent endeavour into weekly series' with both Batman: Eternal and New 52: Future's End, it has been a moderate success for the publisher, however sales are continuing to drop. Who will be around to witness the end of these very costly titles? Only time will tell, but for the time-being the books look healthy, with Batman: Eternal the best-selling of the two pretty unsurprisingly. The damage for that title was bearable this month - in May, it's best-selling issue peaked at around 67,000 copies, while this month the best-selling issue of Eternal had sold around 62,000 copies. A drop of 5,000 isn't awful for a weekly book, and the drops should stop soon as it establishes a core readership of die-hard Bat-fans.
The less acclaimed Future's End however may struggle more, with last month's peak of 70,000 falling to a peak of just 48,000 this month. A drop of 22,000 copies in one month is going to be a problem for the weekly book if not stopped soon, and with less popular characters and less favourable reviews than Eternal, Future's End may be on low numbers by the end of its run.

Independents

June was a great month for Image Comics, with one title in the top ten and one just outside - and both of which written by Robert Kirkman, securing him as the most important writer at the publisher. The Walking Dead #128 was their best-selling book ranking at number nine with around 74,000 copies sold. Meanwhile, Kirkman's other title - his new book Outcast - was just outside the top ten at number eleven with 71,000 copies sold.

The Walking Dead continues to thrive! Will the craze ever end?
However, Image isn't just a publisher reliant on Kirkman. Another Image hit in June was Brian K Vaughan's Saga which continues to make waves in the industry selling a healthy 56,000 copies. Other stand-outs include the return of the Phonogram and Young Avengers partnership Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Their Image Comics title, The Wicked and the Divine debuted in June and sold an impressive 41,000 copies. In this writer's opinion, if you haven't yet bought it, you definitely should as it's one of the most promising debuts of the year so far. Matt Fraction's Sex Criminals and Warren Ellis' Trees also perform well managing to stay in the Top 100.

As for the smaller publishers, Boom Studios biggest title was Big Trouble in Little China. The series - a spin-off from the 1986 movie of the same name - sold over 24,000 copies, a fantastic number for Boom who are yet to reach the heights of their fellow independent publisher Image. However, a movie deal over Boom properties with 20th Century Fox may change that one day soon.
Dark Horse's top two books are also licensed properties, suggesting these kinds of books may play an increasingly important role in the survival of smaller publishers. Dark Horse's top two books were their continuation of Joss Whedon's cult-hit TV show Firefly in Serenity: Leaves on the Wind and Brian Wood's Star Wars series, which continues to perform well - even if it's days have been numbered since the Disney buy-out of Lucasfilm.

Thanks for checking out this month's comic book sales! Be sure to let us know what comics you're reading on our Facebook page, on Twitter or in the comments below!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

US Box Office: 7th July 2014

In a relatively small week in terms of new releases, Transformers: Age of Extinction has been able to hold the number one spot for the second week running - the first movie since Captain America: The Winter Soldier to do so. The movie had a 63% drop, slightly above average for a Summer blockbuster, but still managed to rake in another $37 million. This brings its US total to $175 million which is a fair amount lower than previous Transformers films had at this point in their theatrical runs, however will still leave the movie with a healthy domestic haul of around $245 million.
The less-impressive performance of Transformers seems in-keeping with the theory that this year's Summer movie season will be the lowest-grossing for around a decade.


None of the three new releases of the week were able to challenge Michael Bay's explosion-fest, however it was Melissa McCarthy and her comedy, Tammy, that came the closest. Tammy opened at number two with $21.5 million made over the holiday weekend. With a low budget of just $20 million, this is another solid performance for McCarthy who was catapulted to stardom after her role in Kristen Wiig's Bridesmaids. However with the reviews for Tammy (as well as other recent McCarthy flicks Identity Thief and The Hangover: Part III) being poor at best you cannot help but wonder if people will come back for her next starring vehicle.

The next highest entry this week was another low-budget and poorly received movie, Eric Bana's Deliver Us From Evil which debuted at number four with just under $10 million made. The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, the man who will go on to direct the upcoming Doctor Strange film for Marvel Studios. The decision to choose Derrickson for the movie was a somewhat surprising move from Marvel, and the negative reception both critically and commercially to his latest movie will no doubt strike fear into the hearts of Doctor Strange fans.

The final new entry this week was yet another low-budget movie, Earth to Echo. The movie is a family adventure which has been criticised for having a plot too similar to that of Steven Spielberg's 1980s classic, E.T. The movie fails to make any waves with a low debut just over $8 million, however, with a small budget of about $13 million the film should be able to make a profit in spite of its underwhelming debut.

Here's the top ten in full:

1. (1) Transformers: Age of Extinction - $37 million
2. (-) Tammy - $21.5 million
3. (2) 22 Jump Street - $9.8 million
4. (-) Deliver Us From Evil - $9.7 million
5. (3) How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $8.9 million
6. (-) Earth to Echo - $8.3 million
7. (5) Maleficent - $6.1 million
8. (6) Jersey Boys - $5.1 million
9. (4) Think Like a Man Too - $4.8 million
10. (7) Edge of Tomorrow - $3.6 million

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

US Box Office: 30th June 2014

Despite continuing fan alienation and some fiercely critical reviews, Transformers: Age of Extinction debuted as yet another strong entry into Micheal Bay's explosion-fest franchise. The fourth movie in the franchise made around $98 million over its opening weekend, a strong debut around the same as that of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film is likely to make around $300 million in the USA over the Summer, while a worldwide total of around $202 million has already been raked in. This suggests that a fifth film in the series may be inevitable.


Transformers' strong entry means that last week's number one, Kevin Hart's Think Like A Man Too is pushed from the top spot, and receives a relatively unhealthy drop of 64.7% sending it down to number four. One comedy which is holding out a lot better is 22 Jump Street which withstands the heat of the competition to keep the number two spot with a 42% drop and another $15.8 million pulled in.The movie has now made more in the US than the first entry ever did, with a running total of $140 million, compared to 21 Jump Street's final total of $138 million.

For the rest of the top ten it was a relatively quiet week with no other new entries making it to the top ten. It seems that the major studios thought it best to stay out of the way of Michael bay's juggernaut franchise. Here's the top ten in full:

1. (-) Transformers: Age of Extinction - $98 million
2. (2) 22 Jump Street - $15.8 million
3. (3) How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $13.2 million
4. (1) Think Like a Man Too - $10.3 million
5. (5) Maleficent - $8.3 million
6. (4) Jersey Boys - $7.7 million
7. (6) Edge of Tomorrow - $5.4 million
8. (7) The Fault in Our Stars - $5.1 million
9. (8) X-Men: Days of Future Past - $3.3 million
10. (10) Chef - $1.6 million

Be sure to send us your thoughts on this week's box office on our Facebook page, on Twitter or in the comments section below!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

DC's New 52: What Will Be Cancelled Next?

Comic books are a wonderful form of entertainment, but unfortunately they are also an increasingly competitive one. DC Comics have been criticised in the years since their New 52 relaunch for being particularly aggressive in cancelling books at the first sign of trouble, most recently cancelling six books: Batwing, All-Star Western, Birds of Prey, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger. While this large wave of cancellations no doubt gives DC's other struggling books a little more time, there's no doubt that there will be more casualties to come.


This article aims to raise awareness for low-selling books, because each cancelled book reduces the already not great income of a writer and an artist. They need the support of the fans, and so if there are any titles on this list you've been thinking of picking up, why not try them now!

1. Constantine by Ray Fawkes and Juan Ferreyra, $2.99

The cancellation of the long-running (and much-loved) Vertigo series, Hellblazer, was met with controversy from many fans. Therefore, it isn't wholly surprising that the New 52 relaunch is currently struggling - DC alienated their audience before the series even began. The book is currently selling around 17,000 copies per month making it the lowest-selling New 52 title that is yet to be cancelled.

If you want to prepare yourself for the upcoming Constantine TV show, or have an interest in the weirder, magical side of the DC Universe, this may be the perfect book for you. In their review of the latest issue, Comic Book Resources said, "Constantine" #15 is a concise, well-executed example of what modern mystical/horror comic books can be with the right creators in place." They continued to say that, "Now is as good a time as any for readers to check in and jump on John Constantine's bandwagon, especially when the stories are this enjoyably riveting." They went on to give the book a four star rating.


2. Swamp Thing by Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz, $2.99

After Scott Snyder's departure from the title many feared what the future of one of DC's most acclaimed titles would be (despite Rotworld's disappointing conclusion). Thankfully, comic-book producing machine Charles Soule stepped in to try his hand at the cult-favourite character and the reaction from fans has been very warm indeed. However, while critical reaction has been great the series is struggling to find an audience with last month's sales figures placing it with just 18,000 copies sold.

Reviews of the latest issue were almost universally comprised of 8's and 9's from critics who adore this title. IGN's Jesse Schedeen said that Swamp Thing #32, "is just another excellent chapter in an excellent series," giving the issue a 9/10. Once again, Swamp Thing seems like the perfect book for those who are interested in the weirder side of the DC Universe.


3. Batwoman by Marc Andreyko and Jason Masters, $2.99

Batwoman was once one of The New 52's biggest bat-books, however after the high-profile departure of J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman things started looking down for the series. Some stopped reading in protest of the decision to remove the pair that had been producing the series since it began, while some in response to DC's always-odd editorial decisions. Whichever reason it was, the result was plummeting sales figures for the title - currently around 18,000 copies per month.

However, by most accounts Batwoman is still a quality title in DC's catalogue. In its review of the most recent issue, Comic Vine praised the book saying, "if you've been wondering what's going on in Batwoman's life lately, this is a great time to check it out."


4. Catwoman by Ann Nocenti/Sholly Fisch and Patrick Olliffe, $2.99

Catwoman is a title that hit headlines at the dawn of the New 52 for its sexual content and nudity, however since that explosive beginning it has faded into the background somewhat. While the character of Catwoman remains an ever-present force in the DC Universe (joining a pre-Trinity War JLA), the series' sales figures continue to drop possibly due to the writing of Ann Nocenti.

While Nocenti gained fans for her Daredevil stories, her recent Catwoman arcs have recieved less than stellar reviews. However, Nocenti seems to be leaving the title soon - or at least sharing it - with writer Sholly Fisch. While Fisch's recent issue was not acclaimed, his upcoming "Future's End" issues promise to bring some interesting developments to the title and the character. If you're interested in this series, and want to try and save it, that might be the best place to jump-on.


5. Worlds' Finest by Paul Levitz and Yilidiray Cinar, $2.99

Worlds' Finest featuring the Earth-2 heroes Power Girl and Huntress has been a relatively low-profile title since its launch despite crossovers with other titles on more than one occasion. However, if you are a fan of books led by female characters - a much demanded feature in recent years - then this may be the book for you.
However, newcomers may be better off waiting until the Future's End entry of this book as well, as the current story arc is currently close to finishing.


Monday, 23 June 2014

US Box Office Top 10: 23rd June 2014

This weekend the US box office saw one of its closest match-ups for some time as last week's number one 22 Jump Street went head-to-head with Kevin Hart's Think Like a Man Too. Ultimately, Hart's comedy sequel was the film that came out on top, however it was close with a relatively small gap of around $1 million between the two pictures. Think Like a Man Too pulled in around $30 million - a little less than the first movie's $33.6 million - while 22 Jump Street settled for $29 million and the number two spot. With a budget that didn't break the bank - around $24 million - Hart's sequel should be able to make a reasonable profit for distributor Screen Gems, and a third entry will be on the table if the movie continues to perform over the Summer.


As for last week's number one, 22 Jump Street, it had a second week drop of just under 50% which is fairly healthy for the relatively low-budget comedy. The movie's domestic haul is now at $111 million, and if it continues to perform this way then it too will be on course for a third entry.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 on the other hand may not be so lucky. The animated feature had a budget of $145 million and is yet to cross the $100 million in the US after two weeks in theatres, although admittedly it is very close. Adding in the sequel's overseas haul brings the movie up to $171 million, however it is looking unlikely that Hiccup's latest adventure will be the smash-hit Dreamworks Animation wants after the disappointing performances of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Turbo, and Rise of the Guardians.

The final wide release this week was Clint Eastwood's biographic of the 1960s rock group, The Four Seasons. The film titled Jersey Boys made a disappointing entrance at number four making just $13.5 million. While it is still very possible for the movie to make back its $40 million budget, it is unlikely that the film will be remembered come the end of the Summer movie season.

On the independent side of things, Guy Pearce's The Rover was released in another 594 theatres to disappointing results. The movie pulled in just $500,000 over the weekend averaging out to around $835 made by each venue.

Here's this week's top ten in full:

1. (-) Think Like a Man Too - $30 million
2. (1) 22 Jump Street - $29 million
3. (2) How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $25.3 million
4. (-) Jersey Boys - $13.5 million
5. (3) Maleficent - $13 million
6. (4) Edge of Tomorrow - $10.3 million
7. (5) The Fault in Our Stars - $8.6 million
8. (6) X-Men: Days of Future Past - $6.2 million
9. (10) Chef - $1.84 million
10. (7) Godzilla - $1.82 million

Be sure to get in touch with your thoughts on the latest box office numbers in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Agents of SHIELD: Season 1 Review

Agents of SHIELD is finally over, and what a journey it was. This show was so up and down for so long that it's hard to draw an opinion of the overall series, but in the end I would say that I have come round to the show in spite of its flaws. Agents of SHIELD isn’t perfect, but ultimately I’m happy that we’re getting a second season. Does that make Agents of SHIELD a success? Well, kind of. There are going to be some major spoilers for the first season in this review so if you’re planning to watch it, then you have been warned. Now lets get into it.

1. THE CHARACTERS

The characters in Agents of SHIELD started off as the most generic archetypes you could possibly think up. You had the young hotshot who doesn’t want to join the team, the cute “will-they, won’t-they” pair who just can’t believe their luck, the unpredictable wild card with issues, and the serious person of Chinese descent.

These characters are not what anyone would call interesting, but I think it was Skye who got the most hate and that’s because it felt like she was being forced on us - or that's my opinion at least. To me it seemed like Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige were screaming in my face, “Look at her, look at how likeable she is. You like her. You can’t believe how cute she is, you just fucking love her, don’t you?” NO! I fucking don’t! Get her away from me.

However, after 22 hours of exposure to these characters I really do feel more attached to them, to the point where I’d say there’s a nice 70:30 split between characters I like, and characters I’m still not thrilled about. Melinda May, Fitz, Simmons, and Coulson are characters I don’t have a problem with. May is a relatively good TV-level substitute for Black Widow and Fitz-Simmons – while I was originally resistant to their adorableness – won me over in in the end and now I have to admit they’re quite a fun couple. As for Coulson, I actually wouldn’t say he’s the best character on the show, but ultimately it’s hard not to like him after his much-loved role in the MCU movies.

Fitz and Simmons began as an annoyance, but grew on me by the end...
On the flipside, Skye I’m still not totally sold on. She has improved since the pilot, but all those little heart to heart chats she had at the beginning have really tainted her for me. Those chats were even lamer than some of the quote-unquote emotional moments from early Smallville episodes. They were that bad.
Additionally, Ward is still very bland even after turning evil and killing Victoria Hand. My main reaction to that can be summed up by, "Meh, he’s still pretty boring."

Speaking of Victoria Hand though, why would you kill her off? In the comics, Hand was such a cool character, and I was looking forward to watching her flourish. And then Ward shot her two times in the chest and I was like oh. Great. The door is open to bring her back Coulson-style, but they can’t just do that for everyone who dies, especially as it wasn’t really fully explained how they brought Coulson back to life. All that was said was Fury got a robot to fuck about with his brain and some alien guy - it wasn’t a hugely thorough explanation. Also, bringing back characters left right and center would simply end up making death as meaningless in the Marvel movies as it is in the Marvel comics and nobody wants that.

2. THE STORY

Let’s talk about the overarching story of Agents of SHIELD: Season 1. The clairvoyant/Hydra. This is a story that I feel was pulled off relatively well, but still it wasn’t great. The fact that we weren’t introduced to the person who turns out to be the clairvoyant until 14 episodes in I feel is a bit weird. Plus it didn’t really come to a huge shock to me when it turned out Garrett was the Clairvoyant, mainly because we’re not really given many opportunities to get on board with the character and find him likeable. There was something about him from the first episode he appeared in that seemed off and I never thought of him as a trustworthy character.

Why is SHIELD so much cooler in the movies?
However, that being said I did like how heavily the series ended up tying into Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because it really had to given the events of that movie. I was also happy to see they didn't back down at the end of Ward's character arc. I had a terrible feeling that at the end of the series Ward was going to turn good again and it was going to be no hard feelings all round. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Like I’ve already said, Ward is boring. I’m glad he’s gone.

Ultimately, Agents of SHIELD’s story was passable, a solid C Grade, however now that the foundation has been laid – and the characters aren’t as bad as they were when the show began – I’m hoping for something a little more fulfilling come Season 2.

SEASON 2

So it was announced a little while ago that we will be getting a second series of Agents of SHIELD, maybe just as a way for Marvel to save face but even so! The question is: What can we expect from the second season?

WELL HERE’S SOME PREDICTIONS:

1.     Fitz will have some kind of brain damage that prevents him and Simmons from hooking up. Hollywood loves to drag out "will they won’t they" scenarios. Everyone knows this. Just look at Friends: How long did it take for Ross and Rachel to finally get back together? Too long. But the pair will probably finally kiss in the season 2 finale.

2.     Skye is going to have some kind of low-grade super power. It’s been hinted at throughout this series that there is something special about her, so there’s got to be some kind of pay off there I would imagine. When it comes to Skye’s ominous looking parent, I would say that it probably won’t be a character from the comics, but if it is it will be a really low-profile one that no one gives two shits about.

3.     Ward will come back at some point, either as a villain or while trying to redeem himself.

4.     May and Coulson are going to hook up because they’re the only two people on the team over the age of 30.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

An Open Letter to What Culture!

As I write this it has been one day less than a year since What Culture - the entertainment website about movies, games etc. - approved me as a contributor to their website. That contributor status was today revoked in, I can only assume, another attempt at the site remaking its image. In the e-mail informing me of my removal from the site, the What Culture editorial explain that they are looking to use a "smaller, more dedicated" team of writers going forward. This I feel is a mistake that is the latest in a long line of changes that I feel may be damaging to the site.


To anyone from the What Culture editorial who may be reading this I say please do not see this as an attack from a disgruntled former contributor, but instead some sincere words of advice about the future of your great site from an outsider's opinion. There were many frustrating events in the last few months of my What Culture career and now it seems unlikely I will be a part of the site going forward, I simply want to voice some concerns and opinions on the site and its recent changes.

"a smaller, more dedicated team"

First, I want to address the biggest change in What Culture's management yet: the reduction of its writing staff. That is, after all, why I'm able to write this letter. When I was accepted into the What Culture community of writers, one of the best things about it - aside from the larger audience than that of this blog - was that it was there whenever I wanted it. Currently I am in full-time education studying to do my AS Levels next month, and as a result I don't have huge amounts of time to write articles. However, on school holidays I would almost always take the time to write an article for the site because I did enjoy it, and I'm hoping to pursue a career in Journalism post-A-Levels.

I am sure that I'm not the only aspiring Journalist on the What Culture team, and I am equally sure I'm not the only writer who is still in education be that school, sixth form, college or university. To bar entry for people in my position who are unable to write frequently for the site due to unfavourable circumstances, I believe is highly unfair. Dismissing a writer from your team should be done if that writer is not writing well, not if the writer cannot post regularly. The saying "quality over quantity" comes to mind.

I feel that it is a great shame to remove these less active, but still passionate, contributors as it not only limits them in terms of what audience they can reach, but it also damages the site's image. One of the best things about the site is that it is run by volunteers predominantly, people who write articles for the site because they love to write with no financial motives whatsoever. While there will still be unpaid volunteers I'm sure, the fact that there will be far fewer is disheartening. It doesn't make What Culture look more professional (I assume that was the idea behind the reduction?), but it does make them seem like they do not care about their writers. And having written a couple of e-mails to the editorial team (who ensure you in their e-mails that if you have any questions, "don't hesitate to ask"), only to have been ignored, I'm not entirely surprised.

Shifting Focus

Another cause for concern in the new era of What Culture has been the website's shifting focus particularly towards what the site is calling "Offbeat" articles. While the website itself still manages to strike a delicate balance between most sections of the site, the What Culture Facebook page has been devoting a lot of its time lately to these offbeat articles. Take a glance at the What Culture Facebook posts of the last few weeks (March 20th to April 10th) and you'll see 2 posts linking to music articles, 3 to TV articles, 9 to film articles, and 21 to "offbeat" articles. This strange emphasis on the "offbeat" section of the site is puzzling. 

I can only assume that this section of the site is being spotlighted as it allows for more mainstream articles, possibly bringing more visitors who do not have an interest in the somewhat niche genre of movies, games and comics. While I don't have a problem with the site expanding its subject matter, it should not be to the detriment of other parts of the site - parts that have given the site the popularity it has today.

Case in point: the comic book section of the site. In my time as a contributor the section I posted to most was the comic-book one, and in the short time I was there I saw it be harshly tossed aside. While a contributor I requested to write many comic reviews, almost all of which were denied to me due to the reviews apparently getting a low amount of views. The frustrating thing about this is that while the section has never been the most popular part of the site, it certainly had its fans and those fans I'm sure would grow had the editorial made an attempt to revitalise the section. Instead they seem to have given up on it. The site currently only posts comic-book articles that are lists, with editor of the comic-book section Noel Thorne the only one with the ability to publish comic reviews, and being only one man the reviews are small in number.

Had the What Culture editorial encouraged comic reviews, they could have been able to grow a comic section the size and popularity of IGN's, or Newsarama's. However, it almost feels like they have a vendetta against the comic book section going so far as to remove it from the list of sections on their homepage. To wrap-up this section of the letter, what I am saying is don't neglect a loyal audience who have long been a staple of the What Culture website, in order to pursue a new audience that frankly seem a little out of place in a website about entertainment.

This time, it's impersonal

An interesting frustration I had with What Culture in my last few months there, was there strong reluctance to include any personal touches to their articles. Using "I" or "I'm" in a review is apparently forbidden and it puzzles me as to why. To put this in context, one of the only comic reviews I was able to write before What Culture's decision to end them was of New Avengers #14. One of my opening sentences in the post I sent to editorial was the following:

"The book went through a short phase where it lacked direction, a phase which I'm happy to say, is coming to an end."

Upon viewing the published article, this had been changed to a more grammatically incorrect, but infinitely less personal sentence:

"The book went through a short phase where it lacked direction, a phase which happily to is coming to an end."

This I bring up only because it is yet another bizarre decision by the What Culture editorial. Reviews are after all the opinion of one person and the use of "I" is common in reviews from many outlets because of this. I could perhaps understand the desire to change the "I'm" to "I am" in order to come across as a little more formal, but to remove "I" completely replacing it with a sentence that makes no grammatical sense is just odd.

5 Great Things About Lists (and a hundred annoying things)

My final and perhaps most significant frustration with What Culture comes from their over-reliance on lists. Aside from a few reviews, and occasionally a news story (if the news is big enough), What Culture is comprised entirely of lists. But why? Lists certainly have their place in a website, and I'm not saying they shouldn't post lists, but it does confuse me as to why they confine themselves so strictly to lists. Why not editorials? Why not more news articles? These would give the site a lot more variety, and would stand it up against more established entertainment news outlets more fairly.

Additionally, some of the lists thought of by What Culture staff for their Unclaimed Assignments page, are so ridiculously esoteric that a writer would need huge amounts of time to research the information necessary for one entry, let alone five, ten or however many they are asking for. This again bars entry to anyone who has other commitments outside of writing for the site, whether that is education, work, children or any other time-consuming things.

I really think that What Culture are doing themselves a disservice by relying so heavily on these lists, and would ask them to consider injecting some more variety into their website sooner rather than later.

To conclude

I once again would like to stress that I have no bad blood with What Culture. They gave me an opportunity to produce writing for a much larger audience than this blog will likely ever give. However, I needed to get the points in this letter off my chest, as I had been bottling my frustrations with the site for a long time. I feel it is likely - particularly after this post - that I may not have the opportunity to write for What Culture again, so I would like to say thank you for the opportunity.

David Craig, Editor of TEN

Is Dredd Now Over Rated?

Is a passionate fan base giving the cult hit too much credit? David Craig presents his view.

Last year I had the pleasure of finally seeing Dredd, the 2012 adaptation of the classic character created by publisher 2000AD. The movie pleasantly surprised me, my low expectations defied with a movie that showed a good understanding for the characters, and great respect for the source material. It was also greatly refreshing to see a studio take a risk in making an R-Rated comic book movie based on a character without a particularly large fan-base - even if the risk perhaps didn't entirely pay off. Yes, as expected by many members of the press, Dredd failed to find a large audience while in theatres and ended its worldwide box office run with just $41 million of its $45 million budget made back.


Some were ready to declare the film an outright failure, however through good word of mouth a fan base for the film steadily grew, and strong home video sales have now given the film a 'cult hit' status. While a sequel is still a long way off, the vocal and passionate fan base is bringing it closer to reality than many could have expected, and at the forefront of that fan base has been the Facebook page "Make a DREDD Sequel." In just a year and a half the page has raised more awareness for the movie and its potential sequel than arguably any other outlet. The page has even teamed up with Judge Dredd publisher 2000AD on occasion moving it from fan appreciation page to legitimate petition. Now, just shy of 100,000 likes, the page is stronger than ever - however over the last few months I have found myself in a strange place. I'm starting to feel the movement behind the movie is so strong now that I'm growing apathy towards it.

Let me elaborate. One of the many Dredd-promoting activities carried out by the "Make a DREDD Sequel" Facebook page is the vigorous promotion of any fan-poll in which Dredd is entered. Granted they've had a few losses here and there, but generally as soon as the page sets its mind on ensuring a win for Dredd, it succeeds. Some Dredd fans would say that this is a good thing, that it is another step in producing a sequel for the movie but I would disagree. The reason why is because I feel the page is taking the fun out of these polls on many occasions.


For example, in March the Movie/TV department of online shopping giant Amazon held a March Movie Madness competition in which movies were grouped in brackets for customers to pick their favourite. Dredd was one of the movies included, and with support from the page went on to beat genuine cinematic landmarks such as the Godfather series, the Lord of the Rings series and Pulp Fiction. Again, some may say that this is great news for the movie and for the cause, but I'm starting to feel that the movie is now being over-rated.

Don't hate me! I like Dredd, I really do. It was a fun action movie, with a nice amount of character development. But let's be real. The character development, while present, wasn't groundbreaking and the plot was light at best. Dredd was very much a movie about the action, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that - in my opinion at least - it shouldn't be challenging such greats as Pulp Fiction and the Godfather I and II.

A repeat performance appears to be happening right now in a poll run by the website Zimbio, who are running a similar contest only this time to find the best comic-book movie of all time. Once again the page have been telling their fans to vote Dredd and once again it appears to be working. Dredd's first contender was 300 which arguably was never going to be a huge threat. However in round two, Dredd moved onto one of the biggest names in comic book movies: Iron Man. But it appears the might of Robert Downey Jr. and the Avengers universe combined cannot topple the passion of the Dredd sequel Facebook page with Iron Man currently losing 60:40.


This could be perceived as a fanboy moaning about how Iron Man is cooler than Dredd, but that really isn't my intention. All I'm saying is that if I - someone who doesn't pledge allegiance to any particular comic book publisher - had to choose between these two movies, I would have to say Iron Man was the better of the two. While Karl Urban and Robert Downey Jr. both put in great performances, Iron Man has a far more substantial plot than Dredd which suffers from a very basic story which can be summed up by "Dredd has to kill all the criminals." Speaking as an aspiring screenwriter, Iron Man is simply the better-written movie, and I feel like its being beaten unfairly by a movie that doesn't entirely deserve all the acclaim its recieving.

It seems likely that Dredd will get to the semi-finals at least, as in round three its only possible contenders are 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man or Thor: The Dark World - two comic book movies with a rather lukewarm reception. But should it get to the finals? Should it win? Other likely bets for the final consist of The Dark Knight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the 1989 Batman movie. These are all worthy winners above Dredd again, because they have something to offer except action, and if Dredd beats these movies then I fear my apathetic attitude towards the movie will only grow.

I don't want to dislike Dredd. It's a good movie. But it's a very basic movie too. I hope we see a sequel to Dredd as much as the next fan, but our desire for a sequel should not result in Dredd being elevated to a point where it can do no wrong, because it is simply undeserving of such acclaim.

Ultimately, whether or not Dredd wins these polls is hugely insignificant when placed in the scope of the wider world and the unfortunate events currently taking place. However as a fan of storytelling, I can't help but feel distressed when I see movies that are written so well be shafted for a movie that at its core is a very basic action film. I'll reiterate again, that I do like Dredd, but I feel my patience for it is wearing thin from the sheer power it seems to hold in our comic-book movie community.

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This was an opinion piece. Please share your opinions on Dredd in the comments, on our Facebook page, or by tweeting us!

Monday, 16 June 2014

US Box Office Top 10: 16th June 2014

This week Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill's comedy sequel 22 Jump Street debuted big at the US Box Office pulling in roughly $60 million. The film had a budget of around $50 million meaning the film is already well on its way to making a profit for Columbia Pictures and MGM. This news will also be a relief to Warner Bros. who have publicly shown doubt over Tatum's upcoming sci-fi movie Jupiter Ascending, most recently pushing the movie from a release this Summer to February 2015. However, even with this success it still seems unlikely that Tatum will have the power to make back that film's $150 million budget.


Meanwhile, the next biggest new entry was Dreamwork Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2 which debuted at number two with $50 million made over the weekend. While this is by no means an awful debut, it is disappointing for the studio, as the film opened in more theatres than Jump Street and had a wider audience. However, this debut is slightly higher than that of the first movie in the series, which made about $43 million when it opened back in March 2010. Additionally as the end of school fast approaches for children across the country, the movie may be able to sustain an audience for an extended amount of time in the Summer.

Behind these two new entries are Maleficient and Edge of Tomorrow which made $19 million and $16 million respectively, meaning last week's number one - The Fault in Our Stars - is pushed far down to number five with a relatively unhealthy drop of 67%. While this drop seems like a bad sign for the longevity of the film's Box Office performance, the film is already a huge success making $81 million in the USA alone with a budget of just $12 million. The same cannot be said for Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow which has made $56 million in the USA, with a huge budget of $178 million yet to be remade.

Here's the Top 10 in full:

1. (-) 22 Jump Street - $60 million
2. (-) How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $50 million
3. (2) Maleficient - $19 million
4. (3) Edge of Tomorrow - $16.1 million
5. (1) The Fault in Our Stars - $15.7 million
6. (4) X-men: Days of Future Past - $9.5 million
7. (6) Godzilla - $3.1 million
8. (5) A Million Ways to Die in the West - $3.0 million
9. (7) Neighbours - $2.4 million
10. (9) Chef - $2.2 million



Monday, 9 June 2014

E3 2014: New Crackdown Announced!

In news that has excited me quite a bit, a new Crackdown game has been announced for XBOX One! Crackdown is possibly my favourite Microsoft franchise, and this new entry looks to be a huge upgrade both graphically and gameplay-wise. Hopefully this will make up for the slightly disappointing second entry, but it will mean that I'm going to have to buy an XBOX One and I'm quite poor! Sad faces all round.

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