Archive for September 2011
A poor cover for Batman #1
I don’t know why they make it so hard. You would think that on the DC Comics site you could find good versions of their current comics, but no, all I could get for Batman anywhere is these small pictures without the logo.
If you have been following this blog, you know that I got a special deal from Samurai Comics in Phoenix that got me all 52 of D.C.’s new 52. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I couldn’t pass it up. Thus, I get to comment and kvetch on their entire new line as they come out.
I’ll take them in alphabetical order again.
Batman #1. Of all the different DC continuities, Batman seems to have changed the least. The Bat family seems to have their act together at the moment. Bruce and Dick work together to quell (yet another) uprising of the horrible kind in Arkham Asylum. Tim Drake and Damian Wayne are also shown in tuxedos at the mansion. An improbable murder mystery is set up that implicates Dick Grayson as a killer and a threat to Bruce Wayne’s life. I can’t help but feel that writer Scott Snyder has gone off on the wrong path with this mystery. With D.C. starting Dick off on a new Nightwing series the same week, the Batman story line seems very weak. Greg Capullo’s art is medium good–very moody, a bit blunt. Overall, I liked the comic–it has classic Batman feel to it, and some great scenes. I will probably buy #2, unless a scan of that comic shows it has totally lost it.
IMHO, the variant cover was better, and I got that one.
Birds of Prey #1. This Bat team book has a symbolic cover showing that our new Birds of Prey teamup will be Black Canary, Starling, Katana, and . . . Poison Ivy! Say what!!!!!! It can’t be easy to keep turning out interesting new story lines, but clearly writer Duane Swierczynski has lost his mind. Artist Jesus Saiz does a nice job with the art, and there’s a good cliffhanger ending. Barbara Gordon, now that she can be Batgirl again, turns her back on the team. The comic is well done, but the characters are not my favorites by a long shot. I won’t buy #2.
Blue Beetle #1. This book features a new origin story for Jaime Reyes–is that his name? It has good art, a natural feel to the story, and is set in El Paso–certainly a likely place to find a hispanic superhero. Blue Beetle is starting over from scratch, but the characters and setups are all the same. It’s ok, but I won’t buy #2.
Captain Atom #1. Captain Atom has a new and punkier look. He’s now somehow connected to the infamous Dr. Megala, instead of the unscrupulous U.S. Air Force. The art is kind of washed out and distorted, but maybe that’s the look they wanted. I lost interest in the book by page 3. I won’t be buying #2.
Catwoman is upside down more often than Spider-Man.
Catwoman #1. I don’t care much for this artist’s version of Selina Kyle, but the writer carries on with Catwoman, in trouble as usual–super acrobat and butt-kicking femme fatale. What is not to love about this comic, except perhaps the scenes where she sits around and talks or her new face? Writer Judd Winick has provided us with a great title: “… and most of the costumes stay on …”. It would be too much of a spoiler if I told you what that refers to, but just remember that this is a Batman book. I probably won’t buy issue #2, but I will definitely skim it on the stands.
Deadman #1. The cover shows Deadman (Boston Brand) in chains. The story is mostly origin story. Writer Paul Jenkins and artist Bernard Chang are trying to make the comic socially relevant. I hated it. It wasn’t real bad, but I still hated it. I won’t buy #2.
Green Lantern Corps #1. I do believe that rebooting the DC universe would have been the perfect opportunity to get rid of Guy Gardner and John Stewart. As Green Lanterns go, they were always the least interesting. But, it doesn’t look like Green Lantern continuity has changed at all–they just won’t mention all those places where Lantern continuity and DC universe main continuity were the same. Unable to fit in on Earth, Gardner and Stewart wander off into space where horrible things are happening (as usual), and other Green Lanterns are dying. You know, for a force with the most powerful weapon in the universe, the Green Lanterns sure die very easily. I have to think their training stinks. They really have very little idea of how to best use their rings. I won’t be buying #2.
Legion of Super Heroes #1. Here’s a fresh take on a bunch of old heroes. I have to ask, why in hell should we care what happens in the 31st century to these guys? The Legion was a cool idea once upon a time, back in the 50s and 60s when it was new. It wasn’t really about the Legion in those days–it was about Superboy and his friends. We cared about Superboy back then. It’s going to be real hard to care about the new clone Superboy the killing machine. Now the Legion is just another gang of super-powered cops in outer space. There are so many legionaires that it’s hard to develop much feeling or sympathy for any of them. I won’t be buying #2.
Mister Terrific #1. Michael Holt is the world’s 3rd smartest man, and he uses those brains to create super scientific gizmos and to play superhero. In additon to being super smart, he’s also an olympic class athlete. He dazzles his foes with science and a great right cross. Let’s face it, Mr. Terrific is a black Batman without the history or the baggage. Did we really need a black version of Reed Richards in the DC universe? Come to think of it, he already has a blond girlfriend. Shades of Sue Storm, she even dresses in blue! The art is good; the story is boring. I won’t be buying #2.
Nightwing #1. I’ve always liked acrobat Dick Grayson. I still do. He’s a likeable guy. But does the world really need another crime-fighting acrobat with a bat on his chest? I don’t think so. Oh yeah, somebody mysterious is trying to kill him. Hmm, they’re trying to kill Bruce Wayne in the Batman title, and trying to kill Dick Grayson in the Nightwing title. Is this a conspiarcy? I won’t buy #2.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #2. Jason Todd, Roy Harper, and Koriandr are the Outlaws–a super team that works on both sides of the law. Roy Harper looks younger and has got his arm back. Koriandr is now a super-powered space ho. Even so, she is the main reason to read this book. Bimbo or not, she’s hot. I won’t buy #2.
Supergirl #1. Michael Green and Mike Johnson, are the new writers for Supergirl. They took the whole issue to cover Supergirl’s arrival on Earth. Complete continuity reboot here. In the past, DC covered her arrival in a page or two. And she arrives catastrophically in Russia. Good art, a nice costume redesign, no plot. It’s probably one of the best of the releases for this week, but I won’t buy #2.
It's too easy to make jokes about a cover like this one. Supergirl is hot!
Wonder Woman #1. Yes, it does have a crummy symbolic cover. All those arrows are surely phallic symbols and one goes right through (or behind if you see no symbolism here) the vital spot. And why is she carrying a bloody sword? Ouch! So, forget the front cover. Once you get inside you’re in the best story of the week. The Greek gods are up to trouble again. Zeus is still fathering demigods on the world. Apollo is counterplotting, in a nasty, heartless sort of way. Divinely created centaurs arrive to assassinate a young woman named Zola. Hermes tries to save her. Diana (aka Wonder Woman) gets involved. You don’t see the title of the story or the credits until the very last page, and they are very modestly done. Kudos to Brian Azarello (writer) and Cliff Chiang (artist) for what is, imho, the best DC comic of the week, perhaps of the month. I don’t ordinarily follow Wonder Woman, but in this case I will make an exception. I will buy #2.
She fends off the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune now instead of bullets.
And that’s this week’s report on DCs latest batch of failures–I mean comics. Lots of cliff-hangers. lots of new mysteries being launched. On the whole, the new DC line shows little evidence of connectedness from title to title. It is unclear where we are in time and space most of the time. There was nothing as completely worthless as the new Hawk and Dove or Frankenstein, but there wasn’t much to get excited about either. The Bat books and Wonder Woman are the best of the lot. Your mileage may vary. If you have comments about DC’s new line, please feel free to sound off below.
Continuing my evaluation of DC’s new 52 line-up–Samurai comics only got 12 of the 13 that were supposed to come out this week. Mr. Terrific failed to show. I’ll tackle them in alphabetical order, and insert cover pictures later.
How many zillion times has this cover been done? Competence but no originality in this art.
Batman and Robin #1. There are so many Batman titles that they are practically a separate universe inside DC. I wonder how Batman even has time to breathe, much less cope with all the relationships involved in the Bat-family.
And family is the key word here. Bruce Wayne–Batman finally partners up with Damian Wayne–Robin, and finds the kid abrasive, rebellious, and none too impressed with his father. The ten-year old kid is all about kicking butt in the fastest way he can. Batman likes to think about what he’s doing. Conflict ensues.
It’s a typical Bat-story–the crooks are smart and tough–Batman is smarter and tougher. But what interests and bothers me about all this is how little Batman has been changed by the reboot events. The stories just continue from the same point where they left off. Damian still refers to his history with Dick Grayson as Batman back when Batman was “dead”. It feels like they didn’t do anything at all to the main Batman titles except change the numbering–these stories were in the can months ago, and they just continue. What worries me is Batman’s previous relationship with Superman and the Justice League. Brother Eye is in the universe. Considering how some of the characters have changed, can we assume that the whole Crisis of Conscience sequence took place in the new universe also? Green Arrow was very important to that sequence, but Green Arrow is totally changed in the new universe. I’m really interested to see how DC wriggles through this.
Batman and Robin #1 was a good story, but not good enough to get me to buy #2.
Seems like just last year we got this take on Batman and Robin. The story hasn't changed--just somebody else under the Batman mask.
Batwoman #1. Because the Batwoman title has such a dynamic, stylized look to it, I was buying and/or looking through it before the big change. Being renumbered hasn’t changed the new Batwoman a bit. This is a story written about women for women. I’m not a woman. Newsarama gave this comic a 10 out of 10 review. I wouldn’t be so generous–maybe 7 out of 10, which is still a lot better than most of this week’s releases. The art is good, bordering on sexy in places, but the story doesn’t grab me at all. I will not buy #2.
This cover is kind of murky and you can't really see the title that well. They did it better the fist time., imho.
This is how they did it right last year.
Deathstroke #1. Slade Wilson is the world’s greatest assassin. He has been beaten by superheroes a few times, but no prison can hold him. He likes killing people. He hires himself out as a mercenary to do assassinations and bodyguard work. He used to spend a lot of time messing with the Teen Titans. Slade Wilson is a villain, pure and simple. It disturbs me that DC would create a book about a villain as cold and nasty as Wilson/Deathstroke. They have created villain-centered books before, but they all had short runs. I wish the same for Deathstroke. I will not buy #2.
Demon Knights #1 serves as an origin story for Etrigan the Demon. It takes place in the Dark Ages shortly after the fall of Camelot, and has a Swords and Sorcery feel to it. I love Swords and Sorcery. Story by Paul Cornell, art by Diogenes Neves–this is good stuff. As long as it stays in the Middle Ages and doesn’t cross over into regular sci-fi superhero continuity, I’ll probably follow this title. I will buy issue #2, but I wonder why DC is doing Dark Ages swords and sorcery.
Best new book of the week. DC's immortals as they were 1000 years ago.
Grifter #1. We get something of an origin story here for a character that crossed over from the Image line of comics. A whole new evil conspiracy of immense scope is hinted at. The book kind of feels like the old tv series called the Fugitive. It’s not bad, but I won’t buy #2.
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1. Hire a monster to slay monsters–now there’s an original idea. Evolve the Frankenstein monster into an intelligent futuristic James Bond style of agent licensed to kill. Guess what? Ray Palmer isn’t the Atom any more–or maybe he is–but he’s still the master of size control technology and teleportation, and is employed by the super secret S.H.A.D.E. organization. Shades of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. or is it S.H.I. E. L.D. Oh, and let’s bring back the old Creature Commandos–a loser idea from the fifties. Apparently writer Jeff Lemire thinks they were cool and managed to talk some of the D.C. top brass into agreeing with him. Retch. Puke. I will not buy issue #2.
Green Lantern #1. Take away Hal Jordan’s ring. Assume that the Green Lantern history of the universe didn’t change at all for the reboot. Grab Sinestro, who is fresh from saving the whole universe in the Darkest Night crisis and reinstate him under the principle of “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.” I waffle back and forth on Green Lantern all the time. I like the Green Lanterns as a group. I want a power ring for myself. I think I could do a hell of a better job with one. But the writers do wander off and do the stupidest things to the universe some times, and I just can’t stand it, and quit buying them for a while. This relaunch puts Hal Jordan and Sinestro back together again. I won’t put it on my pull list, but I probably will buy #2.
Legion Lost #1. A small subset of the 31st century Legion of Super Heroes gets stranded in the past–presumably 21st century Earth, although you really can’t tell for sure. It’s not the group I would have chosen if I were going to do a Legion spinoff series. The only really interesting or likable ones are Lone Wolf and Dawnstar. Average art and forgettable story–I won’t buy #2.
Red Lanterns #1. This is an origin story for Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns–and it’s just what we need (not!)–more blood and senseless violence in the D.C. universe. Yes, let’s follow the adventures of a bunch of ugly aliens dedicated to killing things in the bloodiest ways possible. Retch. Puke. And there’s even a Red Lantern kitty cat who wears its ring on its tail. Projectile hurling at this point. No, I won’t buy #2.
Resurrection Man #1. Both Heaven and Hell want this guy’s soul, but he won’t stay dead, and he keeps reincarnating every time he’s killed. He also comes back with a different super power every time. Some kind of supernatural mystery is being played out here. It has a good gimmick, and some good computer-assisted art. Kudos to writer Dan Abnett and artist Andy Lanning, but I’ve never cared much for supernatural mysteries. I won’t buy issue #2.
Suicide Squad #1. This gives us an origin story for the Suicide Squad and this time it contains both Deadshot and Harley Quinn along with 4 other B villains. We know the universe is different here because the Amanda Waller in charge of this group is a sexy young black woman, not a fat old black woman. Much as I enjoy the maniacal Harley Quinn, I won’t be buying issue #2.
Superboy #1. Back in the old universe Superboy was an artificial being, cloned from the combined DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor and created by Cadmus. In the new universe, he’s an artificial being cloned from the DNA of Superman and a mystery donor (want to bet it’s still Luthor?) by a super secret evil organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. He was designed to be a weapon. (Some writers are too influenced by Wolverine and Marvel I think.) Is it giving away too much to tell you that Superboy’s first act in life is to kill the scientific team that created him. They deserved it, but still . . . is this our super hero’s way of solving problems? The last page tells us that Superboy is going to be used against the Teen Titans. Okay, that blows the whole continuity of the Teen Titans part of the new 52. I’m marginally interested to see where they go with this, but not enough to buy #2 when it comes out.
That’s it. 12 titles reviewed. 10 losers, 2 possible winners.
What do you think of D.C.’s new lineup of comics?
I’d like to know what’s going on. Suddenly (within the last year) not one, but two companies are publishing John Carter of Barsoom comics. The movie doesn’t come out until next summer, and 99% of America has no clue who JC is, nor do they care.
- The essence of Barsoom in one picture–swordsmen, naked women, and monsters in an exotic setting.
Dynamite Comics has been doing a lot of licensed properties lately. They got Red Sonja away from Marvel and have been running the swordswoman through all sorts of fantastic adventures with onlyt the sketchiest connection to Howard’s Hyborean realms. They picked up Vampirella, and Zorro, and the Lone Ranger, and the Green Hornet, and I didn’t really care about any of these titles. I followed Sonja for a while because I’m a raving Robert E. Howard fan, but Dynamite’s Sonja was so different from Marvel’s Sonja (and neither was much like Howard’s Sonja who never met Conan at all) that I eventually let it go. But then they announced that they were doing a John Carter of Mars adaptation, and my heart sang, and I vowed to get them all. The only science fiction/fantasy author I like as much as Robert E. Howard is Edgar Rice Burroughs. (Heh! I guess middle names were important in the first half of the twentieth century when these writers flourished.)
The Dynamite books feature cover art by Joe Jusko. I talked to Joe for a few minutes at ComiCon in Phoenix last year (2010), and told him I admired his art, and had collected his trading cards featuring Tarzan, and expressed the wish that he would be the interior artist for John Carter. Joe said “no way” to that. He would get bored if he had to draw sequential art, which is often basically the same picture seen from a different angle–the same character again and again and again. Joe likes the splashy stuff like the picture aboev, and I don’t blame him.
The Dynamite series about John Carter seems to have done well enough. They just released issued #9 which ends the storyline for A PRINCESS OF MARS–the first book in the series. The previews in the back say there will be a #10, but featuring Dejah Thoris in a murder mystery–who killed the guardian of the Atmosphere Factory? Tfhey are also doing two other series. One features Dejah Thoris, and the other is a mini-series about the destruction of the old white Orovar Martian race and the creation of said Atmosphere Factory.
Dejah Thoris just lounging around.
Even though it means I’m spending more money, I’m really happy that Dynamite is doing multiple Barsoomian titles. Barsoom is by far my favorite location for Sword and Planet fantasy adventure. Then, a couple of months ago, I see an announcement that Marvel is going to do a John Carter comic. What the . . . (I avoid gratuitous profanity, but you know what I mean.) Dynamite is doing a fine job with John Carter. Why is Marvel horning in on the act?
Marvel had a John Carter comic once before. (So did D.C. and Dell even earlier.) Back in the seventies Gil Kane and Dave Corcorum created an outstanding comic that lasted for some 28 issues–not nearly long enough, with original story lines that really expanded the scope of Barsoomian adventure. It looked like this:
You can see that Gil Kane and Joe Jusko were on the same wavelength. Swordsmen, naked women, and big green monsters--the combination for happiness.
Now Marvel has gone back to Mars/Barsoom. I bought the first issue of the Princess of Mars 5-issued limited series yesterday. I’ve forgotten who the scripter/adaptor is, but he takes extreme liberties with Burroughs’ story. Dynamite didn’t follow it letter for letter, but was a lot closer to the original. They have brought in some new artist name Filipe Andrade to do the art. I won’t say it’s bad–apparently Andrade is gaining a good reputation for his work on Captain America and Onslaught Unleashed. But the art is nowhere near the quality of material currently appearing in Dynamite or previously appearing back in the 70s when Marvel did it before. Instead it is twisted and distorted–gives the impression that the whole adventure is a drug-induced hallucination. Tars Tarkas comes out as an 8 foot pickle for andrade. Dejah Thoris is malnourished and rather pitiful–hardly the indomitable figure that Jusko portrays.
Marvel's latest version looks like this. I prefer the Gil Kane version.
I have done a little digging for info on the internet. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the bottom of the story yet, but this is what I’ve learned. Dynamite decided to do John Carter when they found ou t the original novels were in the public domain. So did IDW comics, but they didn’t get nearly so good a start. ERB Inc. had a licensing deal with Marvel in the past, but they pulled it, and killed the 70s comic. They weren’t happy that independents were making money off the John Carter property–I’m sure Disney has paid ERB Inc. handsomely for the rights to do the movie next year. If there is going to be a John Carter comic, ERB Inc. wants a part of it. So they went back to their old pal Marvel and licensed it to them again. Marvel knows that the movie is coming, and they love to capitalize on such events–so they agreed to the deal. However, Marvel is overtaxed with producing the huge line of comics they are printing already. John Carter is a rush job for them. They signed up a production team that’s ok, but doesn’t really have many credits–big opportunity for the unknowns doing the production of John Carter, but small loss to Marvel if the series flops. A story that took Dynamite 9 issues to tell is being crammed into 5 issues for Marvel. The art is not very realistic, and so can be rushed to get it all done before next summer’s movie release. Marvel also got the license to do the movie version of the comic–that starts next month in October. This one they care a little more about, so they got Peter David to do the adaptation. There is not a better script writer in all of comics than Peter David. It will look like this.
What's wrong with this picture? The sky of Mars should be pinkish-red, not blue.
The art on this one will be better (imho), but that’s because the artist is going to try and make it look like the actors in the film. Based on the trailers, the John Carter movie won’t be any closer to Burroughs’ John Carter than the Conan movie was to Howard’s Conan. Still, i will buy it. It could still be a good movie and a good comic. With Peter David scripting, I’m sure it will be a good comic.
While I was gathering material to do this blog, I saved several pictures. John Carter is the nominal hero of this series, but it is Dejah Thoris that we’re all in love with. It is Dejah who haunts our dreams, and it is Dejah that we pay to see. At least that’s who the heterosexual guys in the audience like. Like Tarzan, there is a strong homo-erotic undercurrent to the Barsoomian tales of naked swordmen running around, male bonding, and carving their way from one side of the planet to the other. John Carter and Kantos Kan were imprisoned together in Zodanga for months and became great friends–read whatever you want into that. Carter spent a lot of his time naked on Barsoom, and though our politically correct artists always draw him with his loins covered, that isn’t what Burroughs wrote. Burroughs was apparently an equal opportunity erotic dreamer–the nudity and sex appeal is there for both men and women. So, let me close with some pictures of Dejah Thoris for those of us who like women to dream on.
Dejah Thoris in chains. Nudity, bondage, swordplay. Kinky.
Where did all those clouds come from on Mars? Dejah Thoris with sword and pistol. The chains are part of her clothing, but the suggestion of bondage is still there. Very big breasts on that lady and in royal purple. Still kinky.
Andrade's Dejah Thoris. Malnourished, sad (and who could blame her--the Tharks just killed all her friends and imprisoned her) and still in chains. Still kinky.
Ted McKeever did some Barsoomian art for IDW before that series got cancelled. His Dejah Thoris is totally raping that green warrior. Is he in agony or ecstasy? That pistol in his hand is about to go off. It's a combat scene, but it is also an amazing eroitic image. Kinky.
Ah, well, no matter what ciriticisms or observations I may casually hurl in this blog, I am very happy to see John Carter and Dejah Thoris appearing in comics once more. If you like this kind of stuff, you should not miss out on the John Carter comics–I don’t think they will last more than a year or two.
Sometimes I miss a movie that I ought to see. I missed this one on its first time around. The previews weren’t very good. I heard about it, but I didn’t go see it. Well, yesterday I got the chance to see it. Some friends invited me to go along and catch it at a discount theater. Discount theaters are good. I wish there were more of them. Movies cost too damn much nowadays. I don’t want to spend $7 to $10 to watch the latest movie. I miss a lot that I would have seen if the price were more reasonable. C’mon, Hollywood! Would you rather get $5 a shot from me four times a month, or $8 once a month. Yeah, I know, you want the $8 four times a month, but that isn’t going to happen. Not even three times a month. I may pay that price twice if you’re lucky. You’re losing money, Hollywood.
- Best train wreck sequence ever. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but was all I could find.
Super 8 is a Spielberg production–another tribute to the joys and pains of childhood–in this case I’d say, young adulthood. He warns you what the movie is when you see the bicycle flying across the moon as a production logo. That image came from the movie E.T. Well, guess what! This movie is E.T. redone–same plot, alien stranded on Earth who needs some help to go home. The help comes from children. Only this time it is a big powerful scary alien–not a cute little child alien. You don’t get to see it until the end of the movie, but here’s a good look at it.
This is one tough monster of an alien–big, fast, ruthless, and totally pissed off at a planet that has kept it prisoner for years. As the facts of the situation come to light, the viewer comes to share the alien’s viewpoint. Like E.T., it just wants to go home. Only, the government got this critter first, and they won’t let it leave.
Like all of Spielberg’s science fiction, Super 8 really isn’t about the alien. It’s about the kids who are trying to grow up. It’s about friendship, and first love, and family in crisis. It’s about understanding and the lack of understanding between parents and children. It’s about dreams and aspirations. Spielberg packs a lot of emotion into this film.
And the kid actors carry it off. I honest believe that kids are much better actors than adults. They live their roles and make them real in a way adults can never quite manage. I doubt if any of the kids in Super 8 will get best actor or best supporting actor for their roles here, but they were absolutely great.
So, go see the Super 8 if you can find it. Or get the video on CD. The train wreck on tv isn’t going to be quite as spectacular as the one on the big screen, but you do want to see it. You really do!
And there is a bonus. The kids in the movie are trying to make a movie on super 8 film–hence the title. At the end of the movie while the credits are running, you get to see the kids’ zombie movie–which contains a very nice tribute to George Romero within it. The kids movie deserves some award recognition too.
(I compose these reviews for Atroll spontaneously, and go looking on the internet for pictures from the film that I can use to illustrate my points. I have to say that the pictures generally available are lousy–dull, publicity shots staged by zombies with no idea what the best images in their films really are. The Super 8 publicity is gawdawful bad, imho. That means I couldn’t find on the web any of the scenes I really wanted to show from the film. Oh well, this is the best I could do.)
This one kid got to be the zombie in the move. He was great.
I am a comics fan. Not a big fan, just a long-time fan. Although my favorites have always been Tarzan and Conan, I have also followed D.C. and Marvel superheroes since the beginning of the Silver Age. Yeah. I’m that old, and I never gave up my youthful habits.
Samurai Comics is the best comic store in Phoenix, Arizona, and when they offered a deal on the relaunch of the D.C. universe–all 52 of the numbers 1s for only $100, it was too good an offer to pass up. $100 is a big purchase for me in comics, but I talked myself into it.
Now, I’m not so sure it was a good idea. In terms of comics prices it’s a steal. Every new title retails for $2.99 or $3.99. But would I have ever bought them if left to my own devices? Probably not.
If ever there was a crummy generic Justice League cover, this is it.
The very first comic in the new line is Justice League number 1. I’m old enough to remember the very first Justice League of America which featured Starro the Conqueror–a starfish from outer space. The first appearance was in The Brave and the Bold Comics and looked like this.
How convenient! Five heroes and five arms to the starfish from space.
Which of the two covers is superior? I think the old one from the 50s beats the new one to death. The heroes are doing something–not just bursting out of the artist’s pen.
Story for story the old one has the new one beat also–it’s just a better, faster-paced superhero story. The new Justice League isn’t of America any more–patriotism has gone out of style. Neither Aquaman nor Wonder Woman is technically an American. Superman is an immigrant. Green Lantern is a space cop who spends way too much of his time on Earth. Yeah, it’s a Justice League.
I have collected Justice League off and on over the years. It has always been my favorite superhero team-up book, even more so than Avengers. This rather unlikely team-up of Batman and Green Lantern who go looking for Superman because Batman thinks a new menace is coming to Earth from outer space has lots of pretty Jim Lee art but really no inkling of Justice League connectivity. I suppose Geoff Johns will put it all together in another 5 or 10 issues, but it seems kind of forced.
Big spoiler: the menace from outer space big enough to require all of Earth’s greatest superheroes to team up and fight it is Darkseid and the New Gods. I suppose he has become the ultimate D.C. villain. I’m sick of gray-faced Darkseid and his minions of pain and sadism. How I wish Jack Kirby had never come up with that idea! Hey, Geoff, that’s not really a new or exciting idea. All the old DC fans are sick of the New Gods. They are just a bunch of humanoid aliens with a bit of kinky technology.
I’m not real impressed with the new Justice League. I may buy number 2 just out of a certain loyalty to the title, or I may just page through it while standing by the new comics next month.
Here’s a bit of a rundown on the other 13 titles that came out this week.
IMHO, the best of the lot was the new Action #1. Here we see a very young Superman–perhaps 20 or 21 taking on the corruption of Metropolis. Shades of Gotham City–the new Superman is an outlaw. He’s a lot like . . . you guessed it . . . Batman. Superman and Batman meet for the first time in Justice League #1. How contemporary the two stories are is not really obvious from the text.
You have to wonder why, if Superman is basically wearing jeans and t-shirt--then why did he keep the cape?
It’s kind of a generic cover. Rags Morales is a terrific artist, but I don’t think his cover inspires the same kind of awe that the original did back at the beginning of DC history.
The first appearance of Superman.
Let’s compare what the covers give us. Morales is, in my opinion, the better artist, but the actual picture needs to be considered. The first Superman had a full costume, property destruction, and terrified humans in the scene. The latest Superman has a kid running through a hail of bullets in the sky, no property destruction, and no full uniform, and a bunch of people in cars. Seems to me that the first old cover delivers more wonder than the new one. Both have Superman and cars, however. Is there some sort of subconscious association of Superman with automobiles?
I have read the first Superman stories. Siegel and Schuster originally saw him as a kind of outlaw, like Batman, who made justice prevail when the authorities were either helpless or corrupt. Morrison’s new Superman is a kind of outlaw, interested in making justice prevail, when the authorities are definitely corrupt.
We all know the authorities are corrupt these days, don’t we. Show me the man who really trusts government, and I’ll show you a fool.
And yet, I believe the Action #1 is the best thing DC released this week. It manages to hit the high points and start a new Superman legend. Most of our old friends are in place–Jimmy Olson, Lois Lane, General Sam Lane, Lex Luthor, the Daily Planet. Luthor already knows that Superman is an alien, and he’s out to get him. The new young Superman isn’t quite the unstoppable force that he became in the past, although there are indications that he will become that force.
Remember the old Superman tv show? The intro said: “more powerful than a speeding locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. Interestingly enough, the new script works both of those references into it. At one point Superman has to escape the authorities by leaping over a tall building. At another point near the end of the story he has to try and stop a speeding train. It’s not an old locomotive from the thirties, but a futuristic bullet train of the 21st century. Still, a train is a train, and jumping over buildings is jumping over buildings. Clever, Mr. Morrison! I wonder how many new readers will see how you worked those old references into your script.
I will buy Action Comics #2–the story is strong enough and the writing is good enough to compel me to buy the next one.
Alas, that cannot be said for any of the other titles. I won’t do all the covers, but I will make some comments. My comments are only my opinions and may be completely wrong.
Animal Man #1. This is a wasted title. The art is ok, and Buddy Baker is a likeable fellow, but the Animal Man stories are supernatural in nature. I don’t think Animal Man will last for more than a year. He’s a second-rate hero in a world where even first rate heroes have a hard time keeping their audience. I will not buy issue 2.
Batman Detective Comics #1. They started off with a classic confrontation–Batman vs. the Joker. It’s the second-best story of the month. It has a horrifying cliff-hanger ending. I will buy issue #2.
Batgirl #1. Barbara Gordon was Batgirl in the past. Then the Joker shot her and broke her back. She survived and became Oracle. Well, Oracle never happened. Barbara somehow recovered from getting shot, and after 3 years she put on the old costume and became Batgirl again. Hmmm. That implies a lot of continuity with the old DC universe. It’s a good story. Barbara Gordon is one of the most likeable characters in the DC universe. I will want to know how she is doing, but I doubt if I’ll follow the comic for long.
Batwing #1. Yawn. A black Batman as a member of Batman International. I guess that idea carried over from the old Batman universe. We get a confused story that ends badly–quite a cliffhanger. I will not buy #2.
Green Arrow #1. Shades of Smallville! This Oliver Queen is not the old rakish Robin Hood–Errol Flynn figure of the previous DC universe. He’s a high-tech vigilante who uses his wealth to build a crime-fighting team. He’s Batman in green with bow and arrow. Obviously the DC universe has taken a radical swing away from the old Green Arrow. Good. But I won’t be buying #2.
Hawk and Dove #1. Puke. Retch. This Hawk and Dove revival carries on from where Brightest Day left off. I think these stories were probably in the can before DC even decided to relaunch the universe. Doesn’t work for me. Will not buy #2 and don’t expect the series to last long.
Justice League International #1. It has the same kind of generic heroes coming at you cover as Justice League. However, in this title, the Justice League is fully established. Booster Gold is the leader. Guy Gardner is the power. Say what? Why the hell is Guy Gardner even in the new 52 universe? DC tried a Justice League International before. It flopped. Why are they doing it again? Probably won’t buy #2, but will browse it on the stands to see how the first story goes.
Men of War #1 is an origin story for Sergeant Rock in the new universe Ordinary soldiers versus some kind of supervillain. Bad cover. Boring story. High price–this is a $3.99 title. Will not buy #2.
OMAC #1. Confusion. OMAC portrayed as a kind of 2nd rate Superman. Cadmus is a super-secret base for the New Gods under Darkseid on Earth. Did I mention how much I hate the New Gods stuff? Most interesting point in the story–OMAC makes contact and is controlled by the intelligent satellite that the old disgusted Batman created–Brother Eye. How can Brother Eye be in the new universe where Batman is much younger and the events that led him to create Brother Eye and the OMAC corps in the first place didn’t happen? DC has a continuity screw-up of potentially epic proportions here. I want to see what they do with OMAC–a lot of mysteries are hinted at–but I probably won’t buy #2.
Static Shock #1 comes straight from the television cartoon and the pages of Teen Titans. This character switched to the new universe without any trouble at all–the story is a direct continuation of everything that came before. It’s not bad, but it isn’t a title I have any interest in. Static Shock is another one of those B list heroes that have no real reason to exist–the black kid hero. Hooray for political correctness! Won’t buy #2.
Stormwatch #1 came to DC from Image Comics. Image had several superhero teams with a grittier approach to the genre than DC. Stormwatch is a Justice League group that plays dirty and faces more dangerous threats. It’s a title I only looked at once in a while. DC integrated it with their regular line by having J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter, be a member of the team. Well, he was dead, but Brightest Day brought him back to life. It’s hard to tell what will happen with Stormwatch. I will probably follow it for a while. Will buy #2.
Swamp Thing #1 features an Alex Holland–the human–who is back from the dead. He isn’t Swamp Thing any more. He has a long visit with the grown-up, no longer an outlaw, Superman, implying that everything that happened to Alex in the old universe, also happened to him in the new one. Weird! Potential for continuity screw-ups enormous. But then, Swamp Thing always was weird. I didn’t buy the comics in the old days, and I won’t be buying them now. Will keep an eye peeled for the occasional crossover with the rest of the DC line. But I won’t buy Swamp Thing #2–just scan it on the racks when it comes out again.
That’s my reaction to the first wave of new DC releases. I liked a couple of them despite their weaknesses–Action Comics, Detective Comics, Stormwatch. I’m pretty unimpressed with the rest of them. Your mileage may vary. If DC was going to do a universal relaunch, I expected a whole new universe, with different ways of looking at it. That’s not what we got. It seems to be a confused hodge podge of old and new–I really think they did minor modifications of stories that were already bought and drawn–and just stuck a number 1 on them, figuring they could straighten out the continuity later. Or, to hell with continuity. It’s just comics and people will buy and follow whatever they like. Thus, Hawk and Dove fans, if there are any, will follow the new Hawk and Dove series. Smallville fans will follow the new Green Arrow. Etc.
The opinions expressed in this blog are all mine. Feel free to comment and tell me why any particular issue was actually better or worse than I said it was.
When my children were small we had a game that we played when we were riding in the car. A simple game–just count the fire hydrants on your side of the street. We called them yellow dwarves. The yellow dwarf was a magical figure who had the ability to be anyplace he wanted to be–sometimes he could be in more than one place at the same time.
Children grow up and forget about childhood games. It is the parent who remembers them. But fire hydrants are forever, and to me they will always be the Yellow Dwarf. I sometimes greet them as I pass by. “Hello, Yellow Dwarf. I see you are still watching over me.”
- I see my old friend, the Yellow Dwarf, standing tall as a Dwarf can stand and greet him.
- He comes out to meet me at a corner and I get a strange feeling.
Is the Yellow Dwarf talking to me?
Yes, the Yellow Dwarf is talking to me. He doesn’t have much to say, but he’s friendly, and sometimes I don’t have any more to say than he does. Thanks, Dwarf. I will have a good day.
Silent again, and back on guard, the Yellow Dwarf stands near a taller friend this time. It is good to know that the Yellow Dwarf is my friend.
Have you had any magical experiences in the real world? Feel free to tell me about them in the comments.