The Middle Ground #49: When Is A Tease Not A Tease?

The teaser image is a hard thing to get right. Case in point: I praised, awhile back, Image's teaser campaign for what turned out to be Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker, because it seemed to do exactly what I think a teaser campaign should do: Offer visually attractive images that allow for a taste of what the project is about without giving so much away that you have no desire to find out anymore. At the time, I remember thinking to myself, "Between this and Robert Kirkman's fake Guardians of The Globe teases, Image really know how to make this kind of thing work!"

And then I saw the tease for Mysterious Ways.

Now, Mysterious Ways - a series in which a serial killer turns out to be actually doing God's work with his murders - was always going to be a hard sell, considering the both blasphemous and morally questionable elements at the core of its story. But there are multiple ways to handle those elements, including something subtle and interesting, questioning ideas of "right" and "wrong," where the line between faith and delusion is, or how easy/hard/necessary it is to consider "the greater good" in your actions. Lofty ideas, right?

Of course, maybe it's not a lofty ideas kind of book. Maybe it's more of a grisly supernatural thriller, in which case ads could focus on the art - The kids like Tyler Kirkham, right? He's the artist for this, apparently -and dynamic images from the book alongside teasing text.

Or, you know, you could do this:

It's not just me that thinks this is an incredibly bad teaser, right? Never mind that it could be considered offensive - or, at least, in very poor taste - to have any of these real life serial killers described as a "savior," it doesn't even make sense, because the character in the comic - the savior the tease presumably refers to - isn't even one of the options (Also, the teaser doesn't identify any of the serial killers on show, so it's presumably assuming the viewer will recognize them and put it all together that they all share one particularly narrow interest). Maybe the suggestion is that all serial killers share a potential for divinity?

There's just something... lazy, perhaps, about this teaser, ultimately; it uses sensationalism instead of smarts, offering up something that shocks but doesn't work, either visually (The layout and choice of font is fairly generic) or textually, beyond the "they're all serial killers" link. It's such a poor attempt that it makes the series seem tacky and needless by association - which, let's face it, is the last thing a series about a man who serial kills for God needs before it's even started. Here's hoping for something better next time.

(Talking of next time - and of Top Cow comics, which Mysterious Ways is, for that matter - Next week: FINALLY, what happened when I tried to deal with my prejudice and read Top Cow's Artifacts, Witchblade, Velocity and Magdalena. Will my uneducated disinterest survive? Seven days until all is revealed.)

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