Sunday, November 28, 2010

By the Numbers – November

A look at my monthly pull list from Adventure Comics to Zatanna! These are the books I will soon be receiving for the month of November!

Total comics for the month: 66
Change from last month: -1

Company Run Down
DC: 39
Vertigo (DC): 3
Wildstorm (DC): 1
Antarctic Press: 1
Ape: 1
Archaia Entertainment: 2
Aspen: 1
Boom!: 5
D. E.: 3
Dark Horse: 2
IDW: 3
Image: 2
Oni: 1
Th3rd World Studios: 1
Zenoscope: 1

Average price I paid: $2.16

0 Issues: 1
First Issues: 8
Last Issues: 9

Ongoing: 37
Mini-series: 24
One shot: 2
Half trade thingies: 3

Batman Issues: 18
Brightest Day books: 6
Number of different letters of the alphabet my titles start with: 18

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who’s an angry little rage cat? You are!

My favorite character to come out off all of the different colored Lantern Corps is the Red Lantern Dex-Starr. I mean look at him. He’s an adorable little blue kitty…who vomits blood and will rip your face off. But look at him. He wears his ring on his tail! He’ll probably cuddle you to death!

All great characters need exciting action figures. This was announced at New York Comic Con (here are the other figures in the series):

This is actually his second action figure. His first one was in the DC direct line and was packaged with Red Lantern Mera.

DC recently revealed Dex-Starr’s back story. Like many others I was surprised to learn that he’s from Earth. I assumed he was some sort of alien kitty cat (he is blue after all). Before he turned into rage cat, he was just a tiny kitty named Dexter. I won't spoil what turns this adorable little fluff ball into a ball of rage in case some people are interested in reading for themselves.

My favorite part of this whole thing is the origin story of how this character came to be. In a big group shot of the Red Lanterns artist Shane Davis snuck in a Red Lantern cat as a joke. It was small and off to one side (where normally group shots are done like class pictures with the short people in front and the tall ones behind them). But Geoff Johns saw it and loved the idea. The artist’s only request was that the cat be named Dexter, after his real life cat.

We’ve already been teased that there will be a Valentine’s Day special for Dex-Starr in which he may be getting a showdown with Krypto (although nothing appeared in the February solicitations ;_; ). Now if DC would just make a stuffed animal Dex-Starr I would be a very happy camper.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pilot Season wants your vote!

So yeah, I posted a while ago about the Legion of Superhero elections and hopefully a few of you went out and voted. And now I’m here to bring you another vote that wants your input.

Each year Top Cow runs a competition called Pilot Season. A crop of books are released and the readers vote for which one they most want to continue. More than one can end up winning in the end, but the first place winner is guaranteed to continue as either an ongoing or a miniseries. I’m still really pissed that I am still waiting on the last issue of the 2009 competition to ship (seriously, what the hell!) but the 2010 season came out on time and helped to quell some of my anger (but only some).

So here are the important things. Voting goes through November 30th, so you’ve only got a few days left to go and vote (sorry, I’m a bit slow lately). Also, I’ve only read 2 of the 5 titles so far, so I can’t give you a recommendation yet. Fortunately, you don’t need me to tell you what to think because you can read all five comics for FREE online at Newsarama. See, you don’t even need to spend any money! You get five first issues for free! I’m a little ticked off about that, because I did pay for them and now I kinda feel like I shouldn’t have bothered, but my loss is your gain.

So go ahead and read the books, pick your favorite and cast your vote! Once I read the other three this weekend I will update this post with my thoughts. I’d love to know what you think of the books, too! Which title gets your vote?

UPDATE: Okay, now that I've read all the books I have to make my choice.  I didn't think that any of the titles were bad, but the two that grabbed me the most were Forever and 7 Days from Hell.  Both had great set ups and I'd like to know more about what happens to the characters.  Just on reading the descriptions of the series my gut was for Forever as I like long form mysteries, but I don't feel like the issue was quite enough of a hook for such a strong premise.  My concern with 7 Days from Hell is that the very basic premise is going to get a bit monotonous after a while.  Granted, its up to the writer to be sure that doesn't happen, but the premise itself dictates that we're going to have a guy killing someone every week.  And he can't fail or the series ends so they are going to have to find other ways to keep the story fresh and exciting.  But even with all those problems, I think 7 Days from Hell is going to get my vote.  I was skeptical when I saw so many people recommending this one, as its one of the ones that didn't really hook me with its premise.  But the end product was really enjoyable and they put a lot out there in this first issue.

So that's my thought.  What about you?

UPDATE PART 2:  Well, I'm upset.  Despite being told that voting would go until November 30th, I have just gone to the poll site on the 29th (in America its still the 28th) only to be told that the poll is closed.  What the heck!  I know I was cutting it kind of close, but I still expected to be able to vote.  I'm pretty disappointed and more than a little angry.

UPDATE PART 3: Okay, so we can still vote!  Got to the Top Cow website and scroll down to the bottom of the page to cast your vote!  You have until December 8th.

Tower Prep Impressions

I recently partook of a story that involved a group of kids at some prestigious school. The kids find out that they can’t leave the school and the faculty is mysterious and claims to only want the students to fulfill their full potential or something and all the kids seem to be gifted or special in some way and there is clearly more to the school than meets the eye.

Amazingly all of the above can apply to either the amazing comic book series Morning Glories or to Cartoon Network’s new live action show Tower Prep. I watched the first episode of the show and figured I’d write up my impressions since its at least tangentially comic book related.

First of all I admit that I am very biased. I HATE the idea of a show like this being on Cartoon Network at all. Count me among those who remembers a time when Cartoon Network said they would only play cartoons “forever and ever and ever until the end of time,” and wishes the network would go back to that standard. Their live action attempts thus far have been pretty terrible, and I don’t see why they continue to sink time and money into these projects.

So when I saw that this show was going to be on Cartoon Network I was already against it. But the premise sounded interesting enough to win me over into checking it out (and the fact that Paul Dini created it helped a lot). And as much as I hate to admit it, it’s not a bad show. The first episode did its job introducing the main characters, the challenges they are facing, and the environment. It also introduced some mysteries to keep viewers coming back for more. The plot of the episode was pretty standard pilot fare and I can’t remember ever really being surprised by it.

The acting was passable, although I felt many of the characters had very flat personalities (a problem that could easily be resolved as the series continues I suppose), especially Ian’s bullying roommates. The show did a lot of telling us about what the main characters were like rather than showing us, and that’s a big no no from storytelling 101. Of our four main students I liked Suki the best. She also has the most interesting gift of those we have been introduced to and I already have some thoughts on how they will make use of it down the line.

I felt like this show was trying to give me a sort of Lost vibe, with a group of people stranded and up against something far bigger than themselves with only their wits to help them. But the problem is that this is a kid’s show. I don’t really feel the same stakes as I did with Lost. None of the main characters are going to get killed off and I can’t see the big reveal of what’s really going on being all too shocking. There certainly won’t be anything like the shocking ending of the first issue of Morning Glories (which had a similar pilot structure introducing kids, a school, and mystery). There wasn’t anything that made me feel like the stakes were high. Sure the kids want to leave the school, but why? Other than the fact that the “evil” adults are telling them that they can’t. I didn’t see any indication as to why they didn’t feel safe or what might happen to them if they don’t get away. They’ll have to go to classes I guess…the horror! I get that they are scared and being kept in the dark about details, but I didn’t feel real concern for the characters or even motivation to root for them because I didn’t have anything concrete to root for them against.

At the end of the program I was left feeling like, “Huh…well that was a show alright.” I don’t have a burning desire to see more or to get answers to the lingering questions. I’m not sorry I watched it and I suppose I could see myself watching some more of it if I’m really bored or happen to stumble upon it, but I’m not chomping at the bit for more Tower Prep.

If you like the premise of this show, do yourself a favor and pick up Morning Glories. Most of the things that are interesting about Tower Prep are in Morning Glories and for me are done much better. But if it sounds interesting, check it out. At worst you waste a little of your time, but you might find that you enjoy it.

UPDATE: Yeah I wrote this article after watching the first episode and now I think they are on like 6 or something. I’m not exactly a timely poster… But if you are interested a very nice interview with Paul Dini and a bunch of the writers can be found here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I now have opinions on Superman and Wonder Woman!

I finally got around to reading the previews of the J. Michael Straczynski arcs that appeared in the 700 and 600 issues and were released on the iPod for free. And now that I have actually read part of the story I feel that I can have an opinion!

We’ll start with Wonder Woman. I still don’t like the very idea of this story happening, but the prologue didn’t make me any more upset about it. I still think her branding bracelets are stupid, but the Oracle was a pretty cool character (not to be confused with the Barbara Gordon Oracle). I still don’t understand how this story fits in with the rest of the DCU and I’m to the point of assuming that it doesn’t. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t make me want to run to the comic book shop and pick up the rest of the arc (and this has nothing to do with how far away the nearest comic shop is). It didn’t even really make me want to read the trade when it comes out. It was just kind of a forgettable story. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a huge Wonder Woman fan to begin with, but this story didn’t change that for me. All in all it was rather meh. And that’s actually an improvement for my opinion about the book.

Then there was Superman. Oh, god, that was painful. The whole set up of this story doesn’t make any sense and it proceeds to make less sense the more I think about it.

So the whole story is set in motion when a woman slaps Superman, insults him, and then bitches because he wasn’t around to CURE HER HUSBAND’S BRAIN CANCER. I really wish I was making that up or exaggerating somehow. She cries about how she tried so hard to contact him but he was off in space doing “something important.” And now she’ll never see her husband again because he wasn’t there.

First of all, I think it’s a terrible idea to even suggest that your superheroes can cure real life medical issues. If superheroes can make it all go away it cheapens the problem somewhat. This is why a lot of superheroes didn’t go to World War II, because they didn’t want to cheapen the sacrifice of the soldiers who were fighting and dying over there. This is also why Reed Richards must spend all of his time thwarting Dr. Doom and not, say, curing AIDS.

Secondly, the way she wanted Superman to cure this guy seems kinda strange to me. She wanted him to use his x-ray vision to find the tumor and then use his heat vision to basically laser scalpel it out. She claimed that the doctors said that it was “inoperable” but that it wouldn’t have been for him. You know, because Superman is so well known for his vast medical knowledge… Wait, what? That’s pretty precise use of the heat vision. And speaking of, his vision is HEAT not magic atomizing rays. Sure he can melt metal together and can cause a world of hurt to super villains, but I’m not sure that it’s a practical tool medically speaking. Even if he could somehow laser out the tumor, he would still have to get to the tumor, and “inoperable brain tumor” usually means that you simply can’t do that. Sure he could see the tumor, but his heat vision can’t destroy a tumor INSIDE the guy’s brain without cutting through the guy’s brain (which is something I think we generally like to avoid). So it would seem to me that this lady had insane expectations of Superman and that he wouldn’t have been able to help her even if he had been around. In which case it doesn’t really make sense for him to feel guilty about it.

But let’s assume I’m wrong about that (for shiggles). Let’s assume she’s a genius and has discovered a great medical use for Superman’s powers that no one has ever thought of before. And she can’t get a hold of Superman. How tragic! It’s not like there are any other heroes on Earth who have the exact same power set as Superman. It’s not like there is a family of Super characters who should be well known to anyone who lives in the DCU. Like a Supergirl. To be fair, she was on and off of New Krypton for a while, so maybe she wasn’t in Metropolis when the lady was looking for Superman (although I would have to assume that she only looked for like one day and then sat and cried about it), and Supergirl has gotten a bit of bad publicity lately, so maybe she didn’t want her. (WAIT A SECOND! One of the things Supergirl got slammed for in the media was assuring a boy that she would save him when he was dying of cancer. Clearly she couldn’t so this just adds further support to the idea that this could NOT be done.) There’s Superboy. To be fair with him, his heat vision is the last power he got to work and I’m not sure he has complete control over it yet, so maybe he’s not the best choice. Plus he’s hiding out in Smallville and might not have been easy to contact. But then there is Mon-El. And I don’t have to be fair here, because there is no reason why she couldn’t have contacted him. He was in Metropolis. He has all the powers of Superman. He probably wouldn’t have even been that difficult to get a hold of. And let’s not forget about Powergirl. She’s alternate universe Supergirl so she’s got all the powers. She also managed to be completely untouched by the New Krypton drama, so she would have been a great choice to approach about this problem.

And while we’re looking at other DCU heroes let’s not forget that the Justice League has at least two doctors that this lady could have gone to as well. Either Doc Midnight or Dr. Light probably would have been better choices than Superman since, you know, they have all that medical training and experience. And if Superman’s powers were the ONLY solution I’m sure they would have an easier time getting a hold of him (or any of those other characters I mentioned with the same powers) than anyone else on the planet.

I’m left with only one conclusion to make here. This woman didn’t really try all that hard to save her husband’s life. I didn’t even have to think very hard to come up with the list above, and giving it some more thought I could probably come up with a few more heroes who would have been just as good if not better than Superman in this situation (perhaps the Atom or Soranik Natu). So clearly she didn’t give it any amount of thought whatsoever. And now she is blaming Superman for something he probably couldn’t even have helped her with. Superman shouldn’t be sulking about this. He should be pissed that people are now expecting him to be Dr. Superman on top of all the other crap he’s going through (like dealing with the genocide of his people by the government).

I get that the writer wanted something to make Superman take a step back and say, “Golly, have I lost touch with the people and the needs of my adoptive home?” But this was one of the worst ways he could have gone about it. I would have been more on board with this idea if the lady had hated him because a Kryptonian had killed her husband or if he had been hit by falling debris from New Krypton. Either of those things can at least loosely be blamed on Superman. It’s still a stretch, but a more believable one for a grieving person to make. But maybe he wanted to go for the whole “You weren’t here” angle more than the “It’s your fault” angle. Okay. Well, how about if her husband was killed in Metropolis by a super villain while Supes was away. Or even in something more “normal” like a car wreck or a fire. Since Metropolis is Superman’s city it is not too farfetched to see how a person could wonder if their loved one might have been saved if Superman had been planet side doing the things he normally does. Sure he can’t be everywhere, but those are places you would expect Superman to be on a normal day in the DCU. THAT would be something I think Superman could realistically be expected to feel guilty for. I admit that it still wouldn’t make a lot of sense in the story since it wouldn’t really explain why he is walking AWAY from Metropolis, and if he’s being blamed for something that didn’t happen in Metropolis the question arises about all of the other heroes in the DCU and why we’re not blaming them.

The last couple panels of the preview have a couple of kids who see Superman land in a park and start walking. They marvel at how he is walking at not flying (because I guess that’s never, ever happened before) and wonder where he is going and why. One boy comments, “Whatever it is, it must be important.” Bullshit! If it was important or dire in any way I assume he would be using super speed to get there. There is no reason to think that Superman moving at normal person speed is due to anything important at all. In fact, if I saw Superman strolling down the street I would have to assume that it was the slowest day ever and that there was absolutely nothing to command his attention at that moment.

There’s another thing that really bothers me. While Supes is strolling across the country his Super Hearing is going to be picking up all kinds of things, most notably people in danger or dying. But since Supes is set on staying grounded to “reconnect” he’s going to ignore all of those people in peril. Thanks Superman, but given the choice between you connecting with me and saving my life, I’ll take the later thank you. That’s kind of your job description. If you really want to “connect” try checking in on the people you save after the fact. Make sure they are okay and that their families are okay. Talk to them for a few minutes before you have to run off to the next disaster.

I’ve heard that Superman is going to be facing the “real problems” that Americans are dealing with right now. Why would I want to read a comic book that reminds me that the economy sucks and all of the other problems we are all dealing with? And worse, why would I want to read about Superman not being able to make it all better. I assume Superman isn’t going to sweep in and solve unemployment or some other crisis. So that means, as a reader I am left thinking, “Wow, even a superhero can’t fix our problems. We’re all doomed!” Maybe if he was working to help fix the problems (or even just raise awareness of them) as Clark Kent and making very small dents in the problem as a man and not as Superman I would feel better about things. I could say, “Wow, look at that. Superman can’t do it, but Clark Kent can. We can all be like Clark Kent and work hard to solve our own problems. I feel all hopeful now.” However this wanders dangerously close to PSA territory so there is that to consider as well. I understand that the desire was probably to tell a story that was “relevant” to readers. But the problem is that you are assuming that all of your readers have the same problems (and that you know what they are,) and you are likely seriously dating your story in the process. Not to mention alienating everyone who isn’t in America.

Also, why aren’t the super villains tearing Metropolis up right now? I know that a few are just hell bent on destroying Superman, so they would have no need to attack Metropolis when Supes is very publically not there. But there are a lot of criminals who have targeted Metropolis for other reasons in the past, and I just don’t get why the city would be perfectly safe without Superman for an extended period of time. This time he doesn’t even have Mon-El there as backup and even Supergirl is currently off world. If I lived in Metropolis I would be really pissed at Superman right about now.

This preview cemented my dislike for this premise and this story. I have no desire to pick it up in any form. I hope that it gets better than this and can provide a somewhat satisfying story for those who do chose to follow it, but I hope that it ends as soon as possible and that things can move on.

UPDATE: I just found out that JMS is off both titles and other writers will be finishing the stories with his outlines. I am now even happier that I didn’t get sucked in by the hype. I read an interview with JMS about the whole thing and it really pisses me off. He talks about how he thinks long form story telling is his weak point and how he had been considering leaving monthly comics for a while now. So why on earth did he sign up for two year long runs at all? You’d think if he was worried about the format he would have turned down the assignments or at least only accepted one of them so that he could really devote his time to overcoming his weaknesses and producing something great. I understand that things come up and plans change, but this whole thing rubs me the wrong way.

Apparently the reason he’s off the books is because DC wants to fast track the next Superman: Earth One graphic novel. So in my mind DC shares some of the blame in this situation for ignoring the fans who have committed to a story and focusing on the bottom line. I understand this is business, but I think we all like to think that the companies care just a little about the fans and its sort of a slap in the face when you are reminded that they don’t.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Comic Buzz – Chip ’n Dale Rescue Rangers

Creative Team: Ian Brill (W), Leonel Castellani (A)
Boom!, ongoing, starts in December

Sometimes some crimes go slipping through the cracks but Boom! Studios is bringing back the gumshoes who can pick up the slack. Boom! struck gold with Darkwing Duck and now they are taking a chance on another of the Disney afternoon lineup with Chip ’n Dale Rescue Rangers. I could not be more excited about this.

When I was little I had a Chip 'n Dale themed birthday party. I’m sure I saw every episode multiple times. I was in love with this show. It’s probably one of the reasons I am so in love with detective fiction. I also loved this show because the girl on the team was smart and unique and not just some sort of token female. It was easily my favorite show on TV.

The series is being written by the same writer as the Darkwing Duck comic. So far I have been impressed with the voice and the story in that comic, so I look forward to seeing what he can do here. We have three sample covers from the artist, and I must say that the style seems just about perfect.

The story is being crafted so that readers new to the characters can fall in love with them and those of us who are already familiar with them can fall in love all over again. If you enjoyed the Disney afternoon lineup you should give this one a look, because the success of Rescue Rangers could pave the way for such titles as TailSpin, Gummi Bears, or Goof Troop in the future.

So stayed tuned and check in in December when we are reminded that there is no case too big and no case too small for the Rescue Rangers!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Comics on my iPod

I downloaded the comixology app for my iPod touch right after DC added their app. I’m honestly not all that interested in buying comics to read on my tiny screen. But I don’t have to since many companies offer free comics! Also I was interested in seeing how reading comics on my iPod worked and if it was an enjoyable experience.

Of course, to get the stupid app to work I had to have a wireless internet connection. And those do not exist in Japan. For as crazy future robotic as Japan is known for being, it’s silly that I can’t find an internet hotspot to save my life. I ended up waiting until I went home during summer vacation and then I downloaded a bunch of free comics to be enjoyed at a later date. And that date ended up being MUCH later than I thought it would be.

The past few weekends we had some long car trips and I was in a comic reading mood. I didn’t want to haul a stack of comics in the car. Also the trips were mostly at night where I wouldn’t have much light to read by. I grabbed my iPod and threw it in the car with my DS. After my fiancé and I decided to listen to music on his iPod I was fiddling with mine and remembered that I had comics there. And now that I’ve given an entirely too long back story about how I ended up reading comics on my iPod I’ll get to the meat of the matter.

I really like the portability of having comics on my iPod. I was able to read a bunch of comics on the go without having to drag anything else along. I like that I can easily preview some series that I would not otherwise bother to look at because I can download them easily onto my iPod and read them when I feel like it. I like that I can whip my iPod out at any point in a conversation and say, “You haven’t read The Walking Dead? Well I have the first issue right here.”

See, I have it right here.

 For anyone who isn’t familiar with the device, when you read comics on the iPod the comics come programmed in a set way to help you view them on your small screen. You don’t look at the whole page at once (although I wish that there was an option to be able to do so, since things like panel lay out are interesting to me). You read one panel at a time and swipe the screen to advance to the next panel. You can adjust your iPod at any time to be viewed horizontally or vertically so the panels fit the screen better. When you have large splash pages the app usually starts you in on a close up of the word boxes and then after the swipe it will zoom out so that you can take in the full picture.

All in all it isn’t a bad system. I actually think that it holds the suspense a little better than reading a printed comic. For example, I was reading the first issue of Chew (which I was amazingly impressed by) and there was a panel that was super shocking and came out of nowhere. I think if I had been reading the book itself my eye might have been draw to it too soon and the effect would not have been as shocking. But since I can’t easily look ahead my eyes don’t wander. However, in the same comics was a huge two page spread that I could not zoom in on at all. I was really frustrated because there was a lot of detail to that page that I was missing. I feel that the impact of that page was lost to me. (I’ve heard people mention before about how the two page spread may very well be an early casualty of the rise of digital comics since you just can’t appreciate them the same way, even on an iPad.)

This format works great for some comics, like the strip formatted Night Owls and ones with very traditional panel structures. Artists who took more liberty with layout felt a bit more forced on my little screen. There were a few comics that, while reading, I was clearly aware that I was reading something that was not intended to be read in this format. They still found a way to make it readable, but sometimes it was a clunky experience.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the app and hope to be able to download more comics in the future. I’m still not really on board with paying for pixels, but I’m happy to sample free comics and glad to share some of my favorites with others. I do recommend trying it out if you have an iPod touch or an iPhone and haven’t already. The app is free after all, and there are enough free comics to make it worth the download.

Also, I'll probably be reviewing some of the things I'm reading from the free downloads, so keep an eye out for that.  If you download it and have any thoughts on the app or the comics you read please share in the comments!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Friends, Romans, Vampyres, lend me your ears

I was browsing the January solicitations and I just really needed to share this:

Blood runs in the streets of Rome as mortal and vampyre clash. Resurrected by the blood of the Dracul, Caesar’s ultimate ambition is finally at hand. Valens is pitted against his former master as he, Brutus and Caesar meet in a 3-way battle for the future of Rome in this epic conclusion to the story of the birth of Draculus Caesar.
That’s the solicit for the sixth and final issue of a miniseries called Ides of Blood. I certainly got a kick out of it and I hope all of you did too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pull List Maintenance – Usagi Yojimbo

In November I will be adding Usagi Yojimbo to my pull list…but only for two issues. When I was browsing the November solicits this story really caugh my eye. Usagi Yojimbo is the story of a rabbit samurai in feudal Japan who wanders about helping those in need. This two part story is about a giant taiko drum a group of villagers built to end a drought and another group threatening to destroy it.  Our hero must come to the rescue. I’m a big fan of Japan obviously, and I really like taiko drums. I like watching taiko performances, and I like playing Taiko no Tatsujin.

So I went ahead and ordered both issues of the story arc. But I don’t plan to continue on with the series in monthly issues. Usagi Yojimbo is one of those titles I’ve been interested in checking out (it really looks like a title I should love), but really didn’t want to jump into the middle of since it has so much history (coming up on 200 issues). This story line was an exception because it really grabbed my interest, but I think this is a series that I will have to pick up in trade format. I recently discovered that the first bunch of issues are being recollected in a special gigantic volume (1200 pages!). This seems like a good (though expensive) chance to jump on board and give it a shot.

I’m curious if anyone who reads this blog has read Usagi Yojimbo and what they think about it. If so please let me know your thoughts. I’ll be sure to give my impressions of the issues I am picking up after I get them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why would you do this?

This is a random entry I’ll admit (and a tad bit late to be topical...). But I was looking at the Bat Family one shots for Bruce Wayne the Road Home which came out in October and something just bothers me.

Check out the covers. They are pretty amazing and I like how they all link together and like even more that the only one I’m not getting is on the end so it won’t mess up the flow (and since that is the book I constantly wonder why they even still group it with the Bat books, I wonder if this was done on purpose).

But if you look at the order you are supposed to read the issues in, then things get difficult. According to a recent interview with Fabian Nicieza, who coordinated the event, the proper reading order is Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Outsiders, Batgirl, Catwoman, Gordon, Oracle, Ra’s al Ghul.

That’s a completely different order! Parts are the same, yes, but the simple fact is that they will not read in the order that the covers connect in. This just seems like a strange choice. Did they not have the order set when they asked the cover artist to make these covers? Did the order change at some point? Or was there just a mix up of some kind?

I know it’s a little thing, but I can’t be the only one who doesn’t visit my comic shop every single week. I’ll get all these books together in a week or so. If I hadn’t read this article then I would have just tried to read them in cover order and would have gotten pretty confused when I tried to read the last chapter fourth. I’m hoping that they will make the reading order clear in the comics themselves. It still just really seems like an odd choice to me.

They are awfully pretty covers though, so I’ll let this one slide.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vote for the Legion Leader!

There is an election underway right now that the outcome of which will change the future. I’m not talking about the one all the news stations are covering. That’s for someone else (and probably someone still living in the US) to talk about. I’m talking about the vote for the new leader of the Legion of Superheroes.

In an exciting move DC is having the readers chose who the new leader will be. This is an old tradition that they are bringing back and I’m excited to see the outcome. Readers and fans can go online here and cast their vote for one of the 25 active legion members. The election will last three weeks and end November 10th.

I’ve never read Legion before this new series, but I’m really excited by this whole thing. Letting the readers chose is risky as they could really throw the writer a curve ball. Paul Levitz probably doesn’t have 25 separate results figured out for this event. I’m sure he has a few things in mind for certain characters, but he has no idea who it will be so he can’t devote a lot of time to it. It’s a ballsy move, saying “tell me what you want, my readers, and I will oblige, even if it’s a character I hate (and there is at least one character on the list that Levitz has voiced dislike of in the past…)!” If we do get one of the more out-of-left-field choices it will be really fun to see how he creatively accepts our challenge. I feel more invested in the story now, especially if the character I vote for ends up winning.

If you follow the title I urge you to go and vote based on your own personal preferences. But, if you don’t have a strong preference, or you don’t read the book but would like to vote anyway so that you play a part in shaping the fate of a comic book (it’s cool, I’d be voting even if I wasn’t reading the title) allow me to try to sway your vote in a few of my favorite directions. Here are my top five potential candidates, and I’d be happy with any of them leading the team.

5. The “safe” pick: Cosmic Boy
Character in a nutshell: One of the founding members of the Legion and the first leader. Has magnetic powers.

I see Cos as sort of the Legion’s Scott Summers in that he’s very easily associated with the role of leader. I honestly didn’t know before this election happened that there had been many leaders of the Legion. I thought Cosmic Boy was always the leader. That shows how much I know, but also shows how naturally the character falls into that role. He certainly has experience and would probably serve the team adequately.

This pick isn’t very fun of course, because the whole point of having elections is to create change. And the members have been kind of dumping on Cos’s leadership abilities in the recent issues in order to drum up tension for the election. Also, he recently revealed that one of the reasons he’s always been the “leader” type was so that his best friends Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl could be happy together as they pursued their relationship. And so Cos hasn’t really had that much in the way of romance. The point of rotating leadership is so that all of the miserable responsibility isn’t left to oppress one person for too long. So maybe it’s time for Cos to take a step back and try to do something for himself for a change. I’d be fine with him continuing as the leader, but I wonder if the character would be better served by passing the torch for a while.

4. The gut pick: Mon-El
Character in a nutshell: spent years in the phantom zone to emerge and become a hero of the 21st century, then sent back into the phantom zone for 1000 years until the Legion could cure his lead poisoning. Has all the powers of Superman but is weakened by lead and not Kryptonite.

I realize that I don’t so much have strong reasons to want Mon-El as leader; I just have this gut feeling that he would be a good person to have in the role. Mon-El has been through a lot. Pretty much everyone this guy has ever known or loved is dead (since he’s from our time), except for his Legion family. Not only has he done his share of heroic things, but he’s also had to endure three periods of entrapment in the Phantom Zone, the longest of which lasted for 1000 years of being intangible and lonely. The Legion always seems to need a Superman representative, and Mon-El can fill those big shoes. His role so far in the ongoing has been to exposit about the break up with his long time girlfriend (for which no reason was given), break apart some rocks, and then to go on a fetch quest to retrieve Polar Boy. I’d like to see him more, and being the leader would make that possible.

3. The popular pick: Phantom Girl
Character in a nutshell: longtime member with powers of intangibility.

Several other blogs are throwing their support behind Phantom Girl, and for some very good reasons. She has never been leader, despite her long membership on the team, so many feel that it is her turn. She’s a strong character, and has recently been sort of a confidant/advisor to a number of characters who have been seeking her out for help with their problems. This is a good leadership trait. Also, it would be nice to have a female leader (and surprisingly she's the only one on my list).

She is one of the most deserving members of the chance to be leader. She’s got a lot of support behind her, and I’ll be pleased if she ends up winning (even though she’s only my #3 pick).

2. The symbolic pick: Chameleon Boy
Character in a nutshell: Shape shifter who is the son of the Legion financier RJ Brande

There are a number of good reasons for Cham to be the leader. He’s the son of the man who is pretty much solely responsible for the Legion existing. His father died not too long ago, so it would be a great time for him to step up and take a leadership role to carry on his father’s vision for the future. He just got back from a secret mission to the past to save the bottled cities from Brainiac’s ship and essentially reseed the galaxy with them. This is not just a big deal because it saved many lives, but because many of the worlds they essentially restarted are the home worlds of Legion members a thousand years down the line. Cham even got to release the bottled city from his own planet, essentially restarting his own world. This is no small accomplishment and the Legion owes him a great deal of thanks for this. What better way to reward his efforts than making him their leader?

He’s also a giant middle finger to the xenophobic governments that plague the Legion right now. It would sort of be like saying, yes, here’s our leader. He’s not human. He has orange skin and everything. Deal with it. Cham’s race (the Durlans) are pretty much un-trusted everywhere because honestly, how are you going to trust people who can literally be anyone? But the Legion members do trust Cham and this would be a really nice way to show it. Plus we already know that there is going to be a Durlan assassin group working against the Legion, so I think it could create some interesting story drama.

1. The most interesting pick: Gates
Character in a nutshell: An insectoid alien from the Legion of Earth-247 (the reboot legion) who decided to stay with the Legion of New Earth as they have a shortage of non-humanoid members. Creates teleportation gates.

Gates would be a really fun pick for a lot of reasons. First, he’s a non-humanoid alien and, like Cham, having him as leader would send quite the message in the book’s current climate of xenophobia. It would also probably lead to a very different outlook on things. Gates didn’t want to be in the Legion in the first place. He thought they were a fascist military group but his planet had elected him as their representative and he was forced to join. He grew to tolerate his humanoid teammates and even formed some close friendships…however; he’s left that all behind. You see, Gates isn’t from the same universe as the current Legion. He stayed behind after the Legion of Three Worlds event during Final Crisis.

I’ll admit that his being chosen doesn’t really make a ton of sense in story. The characters have known him for maybe a few months tops (and in story they are the ones voting, not us). They seem to already be making quick use of his abilities, but does that really mean that they trust him? He’s only been in about 2 issues of the new run and his contribution to those has been giving snarky remarks about how he has to do all the work. But I, for one, love his snarky remarks and would love to see how the writer handles the challenge of having him as a leader. I want to see more of him and I think voting for him here is the best way to send that message. And who knows, maybe being from a different universe entirely would give him a unique unbiased outlook on some things.

Plus, just look at him. He’s the coolest looking Legionnaire on the ballot!

By the Numbers – October

Here are the stats of the comics I bought in October, also known as the month of the one shot!

Total comics for the month: 67
Change from last month: +12

Company Run Down
DC: 38
Vertigo (DC): 4
Wildstorm (DC): 1
Ape: 2
Archaia Entertainment: 1
Aspen: 1
Boom!: 4
D. E.: 2
Dark Horse: 1
IDW: 3
Image: 8
Oni: 1
Zenoscope: 1

Average price I paid: $2.20

First Issues: 2
Last Issues: 4

Ongoing: 24
Mini-series: 24
One shot: 15
Half trade thingies: 4

Batman related issues: 19
Brightest Day books: 6

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Comic Buzz – DC Comics Presents

If you looked over the solicitations for DC comics for October and beyond you might have noticed a group of titles under the name DC Comics Presents. These books are each about 100 pages of reprinted material that is hard to find, out of print, or has never been collected in a trade paperback. Ian Sattler referred to them as being “half-trades” at Baltimore Comic Con. And his comment immediately following that statement is why I’m writing up this blurb. “We're doing 3 Young Justice reprints with that,” he said, “Check 'em out when we do them cause we'd like to do more.”

Young Justice is one of those titles that for whatever reason has never been collected in trade. It seems like EVERY convention panel I read about, someone asks about it, but apparently they still think that there isn’t enough interest to print them. So now we have this. And I can only assume that the purpose of these little half trades it to test the waters to see if a trade release would be worthwhile. I’m sure it’s also here to help advertise the new Young Justice cartoon series that will be starting soon (although the show won’t be anything like the old comic or feature hardly any of the same characters…alternate Earth and all that).

Young Justice is a title that I have always wanted to read, but have never had available. I’ve heard so many good things and already really like most of the characters. I’ll be picking up all of these Young Justice half trades for sure to show my support for a trade release.

For those who are interested, the October “half trade” selections are Brightest Day #1 (a collection of Hawkman and Deadman stories from days past), Superman #1, Batman # 1, Green Lantern #1 (focusing on an arc early in Kyle Rainer and Jade’s romantic relationship), Young Justice #1, Jack Cross, and Batman/Catwoman. November continues this trend with Young Justice #2, Batman #2, Brightest Day #2 (this time with Firestorm and Martian Manhunter), Chase, Superman #2, and Green Lantern and Flash #1. December features T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1, Batman Beyond #1, JLA #1, Young Justice #3, Brightest Day #3 (with Aquaman and something from Teen Titans), Batman #3, and Superman #3. January cuts back a bit with only three titles; the Atom, Lobo, and something else about Superman.

You can find out more information (such as specific stories/issues included) on DC’s webpage.

Many of the titles chosen seem to reflect characters that may be of current interest in comics, such as the Brightest Day collections which are just stories about the characters who are spotlighted in Brightest Day. Also they are spotlighting some fan favorite creators.

It’s an interesting format and I do like that DC is trying some new things. I really don’t know how successful these things will be though. The ones that collect a full story or arc should do alright, but the ones that seem to contain seemingly random issues of a series may not fare as well (as some people prefer to read things in order).

The main point here is that if DC is giving this treatment to something you like, by all means support it. There is no “waiting for trade” here as these releases are already essential trades. And if you don’t support it now there may not be further trades for you to wait for.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DC Price Cuts – The Good and the Bad

This past weekend DC announced that come January (almost) all of their $3.99 books would drop back to $2.99. They cite concerns of fans and retailers as the driving force behind the decision. We’re all no doubt cheering for the lower prices and most of us are hoping other companies follow suit. Marvel had hinted at some kind of similar price drop, but it seems unclear exactly what that will entail. But they say that you can’t get something for nothing and this is a true case of that. There’s always a catch and this case is no different.

When I first heard the announcement, I assumed that it pertained to the $3.99 titles that were only 22 story pages such as Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, Batman Inc., and Batman: Dark Knight. These were the books that were the biggest rip offs and certainly seemed in need of a price reduction. These books are included in the line wide price drop, but so are books like Detective Comics, Action Comics, and Teen Titans which had all included back up features increasing the story page count to 30.

I was actually okay with paying more money for more content. I thought the backups were a neat idea and gave exposure to some underused characters. They weren’t all brilliant, but it was an interesting idea and I enjoyed reading them. All of these stories will simply be gone in January. It ticks me off a little because it seems as though the writers were not consulted on this matter, or even warned that it was coming. A day before the announcement I read an interview about Detective Comics and the backup was included in the discussion as normal. I’d have been happier if the backup stories were given a chance to end and then, once the run was finished, the books dropped their page count and price. We’ve been assured that these stories will finish in one shots or miniseries, but since the stories were coming out 8 pages at a time it may take a while for fans to see the rest of it.

A close read of the press release about this matter shows that not only will the price on these books drop; the page count will too. We’re going from 22 pages of story to 20. Now this almost seems like a fair trade, 2 more pages of ads for a dollar less in price, until you realize that this change is LINE WIDE. Yes, that means that every book, including the majority of DC’s books that were $2.99 for 22 story pages, will drop to 20 pages. And further confounding news, books in the Vertigo line will be affected as well.

So while there are a number of books that we will now be getting a “better” deal on, chances are there are many books that you buy that will be losing content. So you’ll be paying the same price for less. And while the price drop on those few titles is great, this part of the announcement it not good news.

Some people have said that the loss of only 2 pages won’t really matter. If anything it will force writers to condense their storytelling and possibly eliminate 2 page spreads (which are already losing appeal due to the rise of digital readers). But we must also remember that the majority of these writers and artists are freelancers and are paid by the page. Now, company wide, everyone will be paid less per month. It may not seem like a huge loss, but 2 pages a month is 24 pages a year. That’s basically an entire month’s pay check that these creators and their families will no longer have. And an entire month’s worth of story that we will never see.

I was initially thrilled by this news and was happy to see DC taking the initiative and recognizing that in the current economy the dollar can only stretch so far. But the longer I look at the situation the more it seems like they wanted to cut content, so they needed something to distract us. If that was the intent it certainly seems to have worked. People aren’t talking about the whole picture as much as I feel they should be. And I’m worried that a lot of people might not even notice…

EDIT:  Okay, I just heard a semi-convincing argument for the page cut and wanted to give it some face time here.  In a video interview with Dan Didio and Jim Lee they point out that with 2 less pages a month books that are plagued by delays may be able to come out on time and they may be able to fix some of their scheduling problems (see October Batman books).  Creative teams who are faster could still be getting that month's worth of pay by producing 13 books in the span of a year (if they produce at the same rate they end up with 2 extra pages a month).  I hadn't considered that there is no rule saying you can't be ahead of schedule and that being ahead of schedule is good news for everyone.  So that is one point in their favor I suppose, though I still think it warrants more discussion.

I'm also wondering what they will do with things that were already in development like the new Batwoman ongoing slated for February.  JH Williams knows he has to get his art done ahead of time to stay on schedule, so how far ahead was he when they made this decision?  Will he have to go back and eliminate some pages now?  And there have to be at least a few other creative teams who have been working ahead.  I wonder how all of this will affect them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

DC has a new Editor in Chief

The announcement has come that DC has a new Editor in Chief, one Bob Harras, the former editor in charge of collected editions and former Editor in Chief of Marvel back in the late 90s. I was surprised by the announcement as I figured that the Co-Publisher team of Dido and Lee were pretty much covering those kinds of things. I expected this kind of announcement to come sooner and when it did not, I assumed that it wasn’t coming at all. But with the massive restructuring going on I guess this was the point at which they finally decided it was needed. And it kind of adds a fresh start feel to the whole thing. I mean now he won’t be blamed for any of the inevitable firings to come (since that was already in motion before he was named). I really wish that I had a long winded opinion on the subject, that I was familiar, at all, with this man’s previous work and reputation, but honestly I know nothing about this man.

I browsed some user comments on the announcement on Newsarama and Comic Book Resources and it seems to be pretty evenly divided between those who are optimistic and those who are gloom and doom about the matter. From the comments I’ve read it seems like this man, like pretty much anyone ever, has made some really good choices and also some really poor ones. He has impressed people and pissed off people. He didn’t have perfect run while at Marvel, but he did so some good things that people remember. He also did some bad ones that have stuck with people.

And no matter what he did at Marvel, I have a hard time judging a man on his actions over 10 years ago. Sure he seems to have made some really bad choices on some things, but the hope is that he learned from those things and many other things in his many years of experience since then. And he certainly seems to have a lot of experience in comics. The comic world is a very different place than it was back then. The customers are different and the economy is different. Yes, if he runs DC now just like he ran Marvel back then things are going to suck, but mostly because they are two very different times and it will require different things to be successful. And since he has been working in comics this whole time it is silly to assume that he hasn’t noticed the changes along with the rest of us.

I know that there are several good points about his time in the collected division, but honestly, I don’t know what that position is in charge of and I don’t have the knowledge to really evaluate that. It still seems like sort of a weird promotion, as, if they were going to promote an editor, it seems like they would have gone with one working on current titles and not collections. But perhaps my thinking there is wrong. This man worked with all the imprints of DC in that job. Now he is not only editor in chief of the DCU, but will also be responsible for Vertigo and Mad Magazine. Perhaps a single group editor would not have had a firm view on the scope of the company. Also, like his past or not, he does have experience in the position, and that should count for something.

The biggest positive opinion I have is that I am glad that the promotion was from within. I’m very happy that someone under another Warner Brothers department was not shuffled into the mix. Then we would all really have something to complain about. This man has worked in comics for a very long time and, to me at least, that makes him a lot better than many other people they could have moved into this position.

I really feel like I should be telling you all how excited I was for the future of DC with this decision or expounding upon what a poor choice it was. But I can do neither. I suppose we’ll all just have to wait and see how this turns out. There will likely be things that people love and people hate. There will probably be things he is rightly blamed for and things he will be blamed for unnecessarily. He’s stepping into a tough job where he will never be able to please everyone and I can only wish him the best of luck. And of course, I selfishly hope that I am one of the ones he does manage to please.

Monday, September 27, 2010

“Wait, they are ending an entire universe?”

That was my fiancé’s reaction when I told him that the Wildstorm imprint of DC comics was closing. It’s always sad to see things like this close, mostly because it will mean a lot of good people will be out of jobs.

I don’t read any of the Wildstorm universe titles (and never have), so I don’t feel personally wronged by any of this. The only thing I’m reading from Wildstorm come the December closing is Victorian Undead II, which is a self contained miniseries. I have to assume that it will continue as is, just with a new logo on it (EDIT: Finally found an interview that mentioned it specifically and it will continue with a new logo as I thought).

But I do feel for fans of this universe. It’s going away for “awhile” before these characters show up again under the DC logo. It’s still unclear as to if they will keep their own universe or if they will be folded in to the DCU. I’m really hoping for the former as fans of the Milestone and Red Circle characters seem to have been disappointed with those characters’s absorption into the DCU (and I really can’t blame them). And really (from my point of view at least), with their own universe storytelling is much easier. I think it would benefit the books and the characters to exist on their own. Of course a mandatory miniseries down the line will be required to cross over the two universes for whatever reason, but I think for the most part it will be better for everyone if they can keep to themselves. I honestly don’t think this is likely and assume they will just be added to the already overcrowded DCU, but I will remain hopefully that someone will see the light on this matter.

I will admit that before this announcement I didn’t really have a clear view of Wildstorm’s place. DC was the superhero place and Vertigo was the place for more mature comics and things that had nothing to do with superheroes. Wildstorm had all the licensed comics, but also its own universe and then some series that weren’t related to that universe. I couldn’t really get a hold on the thread that tied the line together that really said, “This title is a Wildstorm book.” With this closure it seems as though perhaps I wasn’t the only one. I don’t want to say that Wildstorm was doomed or anything, but I do feel like we’ve seen it decline in the past few years and as sad as the announcement was it wasn’t completely surprising.

I’ve seen some people fearing for the continuation of Vertigo after the cancelation of EVERY other DC imprint. But I have to disagree. Vertigo pulls a lot of weight at DC, especially in trade sales. Series like Fables and Sandman sell a lot of books so Vertigo has become pretty well known and brand recognition counts for something. It also makes a lot of sense to keep Vertigo around to have a place for creator owned properties outside the superhero genre. From the looks of things it appears that the focus will now be that DC = superheroes and Vertigo = everything else. If DC is dividing things the way I think they are going to then it would be really stupid to get rid of Vertigo. People who are looking for more “mature” comics in terms of content and subject matter know to go to Vertigo. If you suddenly grouped everything under the DC banner then people wouldn’t know where to look for things and thus you could lose sales. Some might argue that the darker more mature subject matter is creeping into our “fun” superhero comics and I would agree. But there is still a difference between a book that sometimes has dark plots and a mature book that revolves around dark plots. Most of the latter are to be found over at Vertigo. I personally feel like the Vertigo books have a sort of flavor to them that makes them distinct from the DC books. And this is what I feel Wildstorm was lacking.

It will be interesting to see how many of the Wildstorm books that were not in the Wildstorm universe find a home at Vertigo. Now that I think about it, the Wildstorm universe might be better served by continuing under the Vertigo imprint. This isn’t going to happen, but it would keep them separate from the DCU and would allow them to maintain their own universe and stories. It certainly is a situation I will be watching as it unfolds.

By the Numbers – September

Total comics for the month: 55
Change from last month: 0

Company Run Down
DC: 29
Vertigo (DC): 4
Antarctic Press: 1
Ape: 2
Archaia Entertainment: 1
Aspen: 1
Boom!: 4
D. E.: 2
GG Studios: 1
IDW: 3
Image: 4
Oni: 1
Th3rd World Studios: 1
Zenoscope: 1

Average price I paid: $2.13

First Issues: 3
Last Issues: 2

Ongoing: 30
Mini-series: 25
One shot: 0

Batman Issues: 15
Brightest Day books: 6

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trade Buzz? – The Saga of Rex

Creative Team: Michel Gagne (W and A)
Image, released in November, $17.99

This doesn’t quite fit with how I normally do Comic Buzz as it’s not a new series but a graphic novel release. But it’s also not a good Waiting for Trade because those recommendations are of things I have read in their entirety and recommend to those of you who trade wait. But it is something exciting coming out that I want to share and it is in the graphic novel form, so I’ll just label it as both and call it a day.

This 200 page story was originally published a chapter at a time in an anthology comic called “Flight” and will now be collected for the first time. This is also the first time the story will be presented in order as the last volume of “Flight” actually had the first chapter of the story. There is a bit of narration in the first chapter but after that the story relies on visuals to tell the story without text.

The story features an adorable little fox named Rex in his sci-fi adventure for love. Yeah, that’s a lot of genres. Rex is kidnapped by a spaceship and taken to another planet full of wonders he has never seen before. There Rex has a variety of adventures with strange creatures and falls for one of the Blossoms who are capable of mating with various species from throughout the universe. Did I mention how adorable it is? I don’t have to really, just look at that cover yourself! How can you not say “Awwwwwwwwww”?

Michel Gagne created, illustrated, and colored this entire work, so you know it’s been a labor of love for him. When I read that he has done considerable work in animation including two of my all time childhood favorites “An American Tale” and “The Land Before Time” I got the feeling that this will really be something I enjoy.  Rex's first adventure was a children's book called A Search for Meaning: The Story of Rex (which you can read online here), and hopefully we'll see more of this adorable little guy in the future.

So if you like foxes, adorableness, adventure, love, stories told without words, fun, whimsy, or some combination of the above, you might want to track down the Saga of Rex once it hits shelves this November. It’s certainly on my birthday list!

If you really need more in the way of preview go here for massive previews of 6 of the chapters or here for an interview with Gagne!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fan Ramblings – Are two Bats better than one?

*What follows may contain spoilers for Batman if you are not caught up*

DC recently set to rest a lot of the speculation floating around by revealing that once Bruce Wayne returns Dick Grayson will not be stepping down and we will in fact have 2 Batmen in the DC Universe. Dick Grayson will be Batman in Batman, Batman and Robin, and Detective Comics. Bruce Wayne will take the lead in Batman Inc., The Dark Knight, and (the almost always forgotten by anyone talking about the Batbooks) Batman Confidential. Dick Grayson will remain the protector of Gotham City while Bruce takes a more global approach.

I wrote before about the massive number of books in the Bat Family, and mentioned at the time that I didn’t actually want Bruce Wayne back because I wanted more of Dick as Batman. Well, it seems as though DC has helped to settle my trepidation about that. And honestly, it does solve some of the editorial problems I foresaw as well. I think it will be easier to handle two separate Batmen than the same one in every book.

When I first heard that Bruce Wayne was making his completely expected return so soon I immediately thought, oh god, Dick better not just give up the cowl the second Bruce walks in saying ‘Well that was fun.’ If this past year had been nothing but stories with Dick Grayson bumbling around in his father’s clothes, never really fitting in as the Batman role and not really ever getting things right, then I might buy that kind of a reaction. I would also have been royally pissed off and this blog would be filled with a LOT more rage. But that’s not what happened. It is true that Dick Grayson never wanted to be Batman, and at first he felt awkward in the role (and seemingly ever writer working on the Batbooks got his shot at milking that idea). But he grew into it and made it his own.

Here’s an example. In issue 13 of Batman and Robin Dick is riding in the Batmobile with Commissioner Gordon. Now Gordon isn’t stupid and is well aware that this is a different Batman. He points out that Dick calls him Commissioner Gordon while the “other Batman” had always called him Jim. Dick just smiles and tells him that he’ll keep calling him Commissioner Gordon if that's okay. And then Gordon makes the comment that most of the cops in Gotham LIKE HIS WAY OF DOING THE BATMAN THING BETTER. No, I’m not saying that this means that Dick is better than Bruce and that we have no reason to have Bruce around or anything silly like that. But what I do feel it shows is that Dick is doing a damn fine job as Batman, and that he should be aware of this fact. He can’t play the “No one believes I’m really Batman card” anymore. He is Batman. He is a different Batman than Bruce was, but he is a good one nonetheless. After a comment like that (from one of the most respected men in all of the Batman books) it would make absolutely zero sense to me for Dick to just throw off the cowl without a second thought.

Also, it wouldn’t make sense for Bruce Wayne to come back and not recognize what a freaking awesome job Dick has done, not just with being Batman, but with helping to shape Damian as a person. Little shit that he still is, Damian is loyal to Dick. He is Dick Grayson’s Robin. They have a good thing going there. And Bruce isn’t so single minded as to not be able to see that. Come on, Bruce is a strategist. He should be able to look at the situation and say, “hey things are going pretty well. I’ve still got a job to do, but I can focus my attentions elsewhere now that the kids are holding down the fort in Gotham.”

I personally do not feel that Dick Grayson going back to being Nightwing would be a demotion. Dick proved himself a hero outside of the shadow of the bat. That identity is still his, and I’m sure that somewhere down the line that’s what things will return to. I just don’t want it to happen yet. I want Dick to really think about what being Batman means to him. Yes, we ALL know he initially didn’t want to do it. And Bruce didn’t want him to do it. But in true heroic fashion, Dick saw a need and filled it despite his personal feelings. And now, it will change from being an obligation to being a choice. And I think that it makes sense for Dick now to WANT to keep doing what he is doing. He’s found a rhythm and he’s made the cowl his own.

I’m optimistic about things to come. We get more Dick Grayson Batman and people who only wanted to read about Bruce in the cowl have their books too. Things are new and different and it will be nice to see these ideas explored. And this outcome makes far more sense to me than a lot of others would. I know fans are divided on this new idea, and what new idea doesn’t divide the fan base these days? I have no ill will toward anyone who hates the idea of two Batmen. I don’t think I’m right and they are wrong. I simply hope that we can agree to disagree and keep an open mind until we actually see the stories in action. Then we can all react with praise or rage as required.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fan Ramblings – Sherlock Holmes Comics

When I was very young I wanted to be a detective when I grew up. I made my own detective kit and routinely went around my house trying to solve mysteries like “The Caper of the Missing Coffee Cup.” I suppose that it is no surprise that my favorite superhero is known as the world’s greatest detective. I have always loved a good mystery and gravitate toward characters who are great detectives both in comics and out (such as House, Psych, Monk, Detective Conan, the Great Mouse Detective, Rescue Rangers, and Phillip Marlow).

"Where could the cup be?"
Since the Sherlock Holmes movie recently our classic detective has been getting a lot of press. With the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle safely within the public domain there are many different takes on the character available. Some are very traditional, while others seem to be ideas taken directly from a fanfiction forum somewhere.

Recently, a lot of Holmes related comics have appeared and I just can’t help but be tempted by them, even by the really gimmicky ones. I know some of them are just attempts to cash in on Holmes’ current popularity, but I just can’t help but think, “But what if it’s good?” So now, I’ll share with you, some of Holmes’ more recent comic adventures.

Sherlock Holmes (Dynamite Entertainment)
By far the most traditional Holmes story of those listed here, you will gain a lot from this story if you are a Holmes fan. Many familiar characters make an appearance, like Inspector LeStrade and Holmes’ brother Mycroft. In this story Holmes is the only suspect in a locked room murder. It wasn’t the most amazing Holmes’ story I have ever read, although the mystery was complex enough to keep me interested for five issues. All in all though, it never shook off the fanfiction feeling for me. Worth a read, but not necessarily worth buying unless you are a Holmes fan.

Sherlock Ninja (Antarctic Press)
I really wanted this one to be decent. It includes two of my favorite things: Sherlock Holmes and ninjas! Unfortunately this was not the greatest match made in heaven. I was disappointed to find that the art was black and white. Black and white art can be done well (like in Walking Dead) but here it simply made everything muddled. Nothing really stood out. And the fight scenes were terrible. I couldn’t figure out what was going on half of the time. And when you have what should be cool ninja fights, that is a big problem. Overall this was a single issue that was pretty forgettable. I don’t regret buying it, as it amused me slightly, but it’s not one that I would really recommend anyone pick up, unless they just want to say that they own something called Sherlock Ninja.  And yet if an issue #2 shows up I would probably buy it anyway just to see where they go with it...

Victorian Undead (Wildstorm)
In another I-can’t-believe-they-are-really-doing-this premise, this series is all about Sherlock Holmes vs. zombies! Like Sherlock Ninja above, I was suckered in by the pairing of two of my favorite things. And for what it was, I feel it was well handled. Sherlock Holmes DID get called in on his fair share of strange and unbelievable cases in his time, so this isn’t as out there as it could be. I think I would have liked this story a tad better if it had just been Holmes and company dealing with a zombie invasion. But things are, of course, more complicated than that, and it turns out that the zombies are being led by *SPOILER ALERT* Holmes deceased arch nemesis Professor Moriarty. It wasn’t really a surprise, and unfortunately I didn’t feel like it added a lot to the zombie story. In fact, once that was reveled I felt that the zombies took a back seat to Moriarty zombie in importance. The story changed from Holmes vs. zombies to Holmes vs. Moriarty who happens this time to be a zombie. I wanted to read about Holmes fighting something completely out of his element, and it kinda fell short in that regard. But all in all it wasn’t a bad read and had enough Holmes character cameos to keep me happy. Apparently the series did well enough to spawn an October one shot with Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and a second miniseries starting in November with Holmes vs. Dracula! I’m hoping that this time the series can focus on the undead half of the equation a little more.

Muppet Sherlock Holmes (Boom!)
This title isn’t out yet, but based on the preview images I’ve seen I have high hopes for it. It’s a Muppet parody with Gonzo as Holmes and Fonzy as Dr. Watson. Kermit will make an appearance as Inspector LeStrade and by the end there will probably be more Muppets than you can shake a magnifying glass at. Unlike the other items on this list, this miniseries is retelling four classic Holmes stories; The Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red Headed League, and The Musgrove Ritual. The content has been tweaked of course to stay within the atmosphere of the Muppets and to condense the story down to 24 pages, and while each issue/case is a separate story, there will be threads that tie the whole series together. As this is a parody, I have high hopes that it will take what it needs from the source material, but also never take itself too seriously. If you have kids who like to play detective or like the Muppets this might be a good series to pick up for them!

If they make a Lego Sherlock Holmes game I am SO there!

Whatever may befall our favorite detective I'm sure I'll be along for the ride.  How about the rest of you?  Any insane story ideas you would like to see in future comics?  Do you have a favorite character that you are driven to pick things up for, even when you know some of its going to be crap?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting for Trade? – Superboy: The Boy of Steel

Creative Team: Geoff Johns (W) and Francis Manapul (A)
Price: $19.99
Available Now

I loved this Superboy story. Back from the dead (check out “Legion of Three Worlds” if you missed how that played out, it was a fun ride), Connor Kent is trying to figure out where he fits in. Half human and half Kryptonian, he’s torn as to which of his DNA donors he is more like, Superman or Lex Luthor. So he asks himself the questions “What did Superman do?” and “What does Lex Luthor do?” He tries to emulate Superman, but also finds that his actions sometimes stray toward the other side.

Ma Kent and Krypto are supporting cast (honestly, they had me hooked at Krypto) as he settles back into life in Smallville. We meet some new faces in Smallville as well. Along this personal journey we get to see his reunion with his best friend Tim Drake (currently Red Robin) and girlfriend Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl). (His reunion with Red Robin was technically handled in the pages of the “World’s Finest” mini, but this one was better so I chose to conveniently forget about that one). Some other surprise cameos pop up as well, but I won’t spoil them for you here.

The art is AMAZING! I think I have found my favorite comic artist. The art is fresh and fun and seems softer than some of the other artists out there. And there is something about it that just seems to fit the small town setting. The writing is solid, as Superboy comes off as conflicted without getting angsty or emo about it. I’m sad that Geoff Jonhs has left the title and that the Superboy story he planned to tell (that I assume this was only the tip of the iceberg for) will be put to the side, possibly never to be told. The creative team has moved over to the new Flash monthly (and for the first time in my life I was tempted to buy a comic about a character I didn’t care about on the strength of the creative team alone. But I’m still bitter that Wally is nowhere in sight) so if you are a fan of the team and the character it’s probably worth a look (I’m still reluctantly considering that trade).

I will admit that, unlike the Batwoman trade I recommended, this one relies a little more heavily upon previous continuity. That isn’t to say that someone who has never read about Superboy couldn’t enjoy it. But if you are unfamiliar to the character you may find yourself jumping onto Wikipedia in order to fill in some gaps in the back story. Most everything is touched upon in the pages of the comic, but this may be a case where it helps to at least already be interested in the character.

The collection contains Adventure Comics 0-3, 5-6 plus a tale from Superman Secret Files 2009 (which leaves out the Blackest Night tie-in with Superboy Prime in case you were curious about the skip there). A new Superboy ongoing has been announced with a different creative team, but they claim that they will build off of the foundation set here. I’m willing to see how it goes, but am still disappointed that we won’t get more Superboy from this team anytime soon.

I seriously love Francis Manapul's art.  I cannot express this enough.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fan Ramblings – Potential Batman 3 Villains

I’m not the first one to talk about this by any means, but I figured I’d better get my two cents out there while the topic is still relevant. Details are scare about the new Batman movie, but that has never stopped fans from having ideas and opinions on what they hope will happen. As soon as we walked out of The Dark Knight Returns my friends and I were already speculating about what the final chapter of the trilogy would hold.

At the end of the last movie, Batman is on the run from the law, the city turned against the man who wants to protect it. Once you decide that your masked vigilante is a problem, it makes sense to call someone in to help you to get rid of the problem.

Enter Bane. In DESPERATE need of a movie reboot after the Batman movie we all like to not talk about, Bane could be a great villain for this movie. In the previous two movies Batman has faced Scarecrow and the Joker both villains who taxed Batman mentally. But we haven’t really seen anyone pull out all the stops and drive Batman to his absolute physical limit. As the final movie in the trilogy some major fight scenes will be expected and this is a character that could deliver. Bane seems like a better choice than other physical villains like Clayface or Killer Croc as he seems to fit into the movie universe more seamlessly (since he basically uses drugs to power up). Bane as hired by the cops isn’t really a new idea as it worked very well in The Batman Animated Series. There is no shame in stealing ideas from cartoon series. Speaking of which…

Seriously badass

ALL of our villains up to this point have been male. I would hate to see the trilogy close out without showcasing at least one of Batman’s fantastic female rogues. And since our last movie heavily showcased the Joker it makes sense for elements of that story to flow into the final movie.

Enter Harley Quinn. Untouched potential as far as movies go, Harley is a great character and I feel justified in calling her a fan favorite. Her origin could be tweaked for the movie universe if necessary, as the most important aspect is her obsession with and total devotion to the Joker. With the tragic death of Heath Ledger it would be impossible to film scenes of Dr. Quinsel, Arkham Asylum psychologist, working with the Joker, but I’m confident that the writers could come up with a creative way around that or a convincing origin for her. If the movie wanted to stay away from characters that had been previously used in movies, Harley is an excellent choice. She’s recently gotten some out of comics exposure with a very creepy appearance in the Arkham Asylum game, showing that she can be adapted to the needs of the media and can fit a more serious role. And while we’re on the topic of female characters…

Fan made poster of just how awesome it could be

With the death of Bruce’s main love interest at the end of The Dark Knight Returns the door is open for another woman in Bruce’s very complicated love life to step in.

Enter Catwoman. No powers, just a girl who likes nice things and is willing to steal to get them. Catwoman has had a ton of interpretations over the years from out and out villain, to gentleman thief, champion against eco-terrorism, to a sort of anti hero. She has a strong, complicated relationship with Batman. While Catwoman has been in a Batman movie before (as well as her own movie that we also don’t talk about) she is such a strong character that she could be interpreted a completely different way and still fit herself well into the movie universe. Depending on the rest of the cast Catwoman could fill the support to Batman role (since Nolan has said he will never include Robin ;_; ), or she could simply be a bad guy who flirts with him and tries to tempt him to the dark side. All in all, she is a comfortable character and one that many people probably expect to see. However, she isn’t the only woman to be romantically linked to Bruce Wayne.

Look at the possibilities!

With many trilogies you want to tie it all together as a nice little package. While it isn’t completely necessary to the success of the film it is often nice to bring up some unfinished business from the previous or first film. I already mentioned how Harley could tie into the events of the second film, but if they wanted to tie all the way back to the first film a different character could take the stage.

Enter Talia al Ghul. Ra’s al Ghul was a bit of a surprise in the first movie and Talia would be another character than many casual fans might not really know. Talia is probably not the first person people would think of when listing Batman’s rogues, and probably not even in the top ten, but she is full of potential. She is dangerous and sexy, which is probably very appealing to Hollywood script writers. Also, she doesn’t have a flashy costume to try to play with and her father is already well established in universe. Talia’s introduction as a love interest could probably be a bit more natural than other characters, as she would be there to avenge her father first and then things could get complicated or not. Either way, she is a great character who could really tie things together. With the city turned against him, it also makes sense for Bruce to look back into the darkness and reconsider the league of assassins.

I'll be happy as long as she doesn't replace anyone's spine

And lastly, in the previous movies we’ve seen Gotham’s mob families take a serious hit. It makes sense for someone to step in to try to fill the void that this has created.

Enter Black Mask. This underworld boss could quickly find his place in the movie universe. He has the creepy factor (his mask is made from the lid of his father’s coffin) and he is skilled in fighting, weapons, and strategy, making him a viable threat. It also helps that his initial rage was against Wayne Enterprises and Bruce Wayne for the amazing offense of bailing out his failing company (which he then took over of course). This could help show development in Bruce’s public image, maturing perhaps from the plucky playboy of the first film. Or that could be shifted to Luscious Fox; attacking Wayne Ent. is still going to get Batman’s attention either way. There is also his history with Catwoman, and while the movie wouldn’t want to exactly echo the events of the comics, there is potential there for an interesting relationship between the two if paired together in a movie. Unfortunately, Black Mask may not have the name recognition to really sell the third movie, especially with expectations as high as they are.

Even as a lego he is going to kill you

And there you have it. Since the villains have been playing in pairs, it’s also important to look at who each villain could work well in a story with (not necessarily working together on a plan, but making sense in the same story). My ideal choice from the above? All things considered, I’d really like to see Bane and Talia. There are clearly lots of possibilities, and they may come way out of left field with someone and completely surprise us.

What do you think? Who would you love to see in the third and final movie of this Batman trilogy?