1996: The Crow: City of Angels

The Crow: City of Angels (1996) #1-3 by John Wagner and Dead Ormston

Wow, those are some ugly covers. Especially the first one — it’s not even all that legible what it’s supposed to be. Is he getting a really vigorous golden shower or something?

(Reading this comic, I guess it may be the guy appearing out of the water… which is yellow for some reason…)

So this is an adaptation of the (flop) movie, which I may have seen back in the 90s, but remember nothing of. Did they really introduce the concept in a way like this in the movie? As if it were a TV episode? But I guess Buffy was big at the time, and they had a voiceover at the start of the episodes, so why not.

There’s 24 story pages per issue, so they only have 72 pages to do the entire movie. So things get a bit choppy.

Wat. That’s supposed to be Iggy Pop? He played the eeevil henchman in the movie, but that does not look a lot like Iggy Pop. Was this drawn before the movie had been cast? It takes a while to draw a comic book, but surely it takes longer to make a movie than to draw 72 pages…

Ormstom’s artwork is quite attractive. It owes a lot to Mike Mignola when it comes to rendering, and to Ted McKeever when it comes to figures and poses, I guess? It’s pretty cool.

Except when it goes all The Jokes.

Heh heh. That’s the guy they got to do the Avenging Spirit role this time around? Is he broody enough, though?

Sorry about the reflections… Anyway, what I wanted to mention here is that this comic reaches levels of ridiculousness never before seen in a Crow book. And they’re pretty ridiculous! The Avenging guy shooting himself in the head, just to impress some two bit punk he’s gonna kill three seconds later anyway? Sure, why not.

Yeah. Think about it.

This shit is deep.

The book mostly reads like a recap. I guess if you’ve seen the movie, you can go “oh, there’s that scene”. But reading the comic book now, there’s no mood, no excitement, no nuthin. It’s really, really bad storytelling.

One thing they do retain from the original Crow comic is all the pretentious quotations. But where O’Barr was able to get some goth nerve going, at least, here it’s the most basic, normie, boring things. It’s just literally un-believably bad.

Yeah, it’s not like Love Will Tear Us Apart Again.


A poor adaptation of a bad movie, The Crow: City of Angels is an incredibly disappointing follow-up to James O’Barr’s epic graphic novel.

And here’s part of what drove Kitchen Sink to the brink of bankruptcy — this stuff didn’t sell. Kitchen Sink had been surprised by the success of the first Crow movie, and were unable to capitalise in its success (beyond printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the trade paperback). They weren’t going to get caught flat-footed again, and had a huge amount of junk I mean valuable merchandise made in time for the premiere of the second Crow movie — which bombed.

In addition, Denis Kitchen had done the morally right thing in going exclusive with Capital City Distributors (in its fight with its dominant competitor, Diamond), and had expected to get some backup from other people in the comics publishing industry, but nope: They preferred to remain on the fences. As a result, Capital City went under, and was sold to Diamond. And this was happening right as Kitchen Sink was trying to shift this merch — but orders were missed or mis-handled, and even the stores that wanted this stuff couldn’t get it. (The previous deal with Capital City was that stores couldn’t buy stuff directly from Kitchen Sink, and most assumed that that still applied (which it didn’t), so they didn’t even try to order things directly from Kitchen.)

So: One bad bet (on the success of the Crow movie), one unsuccessful gambit (supporting Capital), and unfortunate timing of the two led Kitchen Sink to almost go bankrupt (again).

We have a handful more blog posts to go before we get to what happened next.

This is the two hundred and second post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

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