Posts tagged “DC Reboot

“Epic Fail”

The Nielsen ratings are in for DC’s New 52, and the results are … pretty depressing, though not surprising.

Read about it here.

Kind of rips you apart a little, doesn’t it?

 


Turkey Day Reviews

Captain America #4Captain America #4
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve McNiven
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

Awwww, Marvel.  Why?

I started picking up this series because I adore Steve Rogers as a character, and I’d heard such great things about Brubaker’s writing of Cap.  When I read that McNiven was doing the pencils, I jumped all over this like the obsessor that I am.  I looooooooovvvvveee McNiven’s stuff, and to me, him and Cap are a match made in heaven.  This book made me so happy.

I speak in the past tense, because apparently McNiven is no longer on this title as of issue #7.  His replacement?  Alan Davis.

I don’t know if this is a permanent change or if Davis is filling in for a couple of arcs; the solicitations aren’t clear, and the switch doesn’t appear to be addressed in detail anywhere.  I couldn’t give less of a fig for Alan Davis.  I have nothing against him personally and I’m sure he’s a gentleman; it’s just that his art does absolutely nothing for me.  At ALL.  I simply dislike his style, and that’s really gonna kill this book for me.  It’s a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed the four issues to date.

Don’t be fooled by the odd cover (Marvel seems especially preoccupied with phallic concepts lately); what lies beneath the title page here is good stuff.  Brubaker pairs together past and future in a seamless and engaging way, introducing old characters and new to propel the story forward and keep the engine humming.  What makes me particularly happy with Brubaker is his track record in writing female characters—basically, he knows how to.  You might laugh at that, but let’s take a look at his record—Selina Kyle, Black Widow, now Sharon Carter—it is, sadly, shockingly rare to write a string like that without some blunders along the way, but the man does it seemingly effortlessly.  Yes, I’m in love with his Cap, but watching Sharon Carter spar with Baron Zemo and lay an eloquent dropkick on the guy is, let’s face it, pretty damn awesome.  And having McNiven illustrate that wonderfully-constructed scene?  Icing on the ass-kicking cake, my friends.

I’m not sure how long I’m going to stick around once Alan Davis comes aboard this book.  A part of me wants to drop it out of principle alone; it feels like Marvel can never get their act together as far as keeping creative teams on titles for any longer than a story arc at a time, and that’s bothersome.  Things shouldn’t be that difficult, and as a consumer, I’m looking for consistency.  There are some exceptions—no matter how late Avengers: Children’s Crusade is, I will always buy it, and no matter how many artists come and go on Journey into Mystery, Kieron Gillen will always have my dollar—but this should remain the exception and not the rule.  I wouldn’t want to be accused of enabling.

We’ll see where Cap lands in a couple of months’ time.  Maybe Davis will be off before I know it, replaced with someone else’s work to lure me in against my will, but in order for me to continue buying Captain America at four bucks a pop, I’m gonna need both pieces and I demand better.

 

Birds of Prey #3Birds of Prey #3
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Oohhh … ouch.  My pride.  God. I’m so ashamed and my pride is so sore, because … because … I am LOVING THIS BOOK!
 
There—I said it.  And I KNOW what you’re thinking … and I’m so ashamed.  *Hangs head to the floor*

I just … it’s … it’s actually really good.  I read the first issue and I was all begrudging about it, and then I read the second issue and I was like oh … uh oh … maybe this could go somewhere, but NO!  I’M NEVER GONNA ADMIT IT!  And then I read the third issue and … and … oh, Swierczynski’s won me over completely and now I’m scum.  *Sobbing*

What convinced me to keep reading were the rumors that Barbara Gordon would wind up on the team.  If you read my bitter condemnation review of issue one, a huge reason why I decried this book was because the relationship between Dinah and Babs was seemingly being downplayed/ignored/retconned.  But then I kept hearing such positive reviews of the title from critics whose opinions I respect, and all might not be as it seems within the next few issues.  So I read #2 and #3, and … here I am, eating my words.  Mr. Swierczynski, I owe you apology.  Your book just kicked me in the face, and it feels so good.

And wow, Jesus Saiz … I can’t compliment him enough.  His artwork is so skilled and GORGEOUS.  It’s so wonderful and clear and … you know, there’s a scene in this issue with an explosion and Black Canary, Starling, Katana, and Poison Ivy are flung through the air from the force of it.  And—can you believe—not a single contorted spine, not a single sleazy upskirt or shot of cleavage, not a single broken back.  I … I didn’t know comics like this could actually exist!  I LOVE YOU, JESUS SAIZ!  Never, ever change!

So I humbly retract my earlier assessment of this title.  It’s not quite the Birds of Prey I once knew and hoped for; it’s not the team I fell in love with.  But I’m having an easier time now taking THIS team of Birds for what they are, and it’s legitimately good, enjoyable, and fun to read.  With each issue, I’m learning to drop my preconceived notions and favoritism.  No lie, it’s been tough.  I’m all set in my comics ways and stuff, you know?  But for at least the next few issues, I’m on board with this book.  Please, please don’t let me down, Swierczynski.

 

Supergirl #3Supergirl #3
Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Illustrated by Mahmud Asrar
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hello, Supergirl—it’s nice to finally meet you.

The Super family of books have always been tough sales for me.  I was never one for Superman; he’s always felt flat to me, and I’d mostly steered clear of his side of the comics racks until last year when I started picking up Jeff Lemire’s Superboy (which I miss desperately).  But Powergirl has never lured me, and Supergirl’s (re-)introduction in the Superman/Batman book a few years ago flew right over my head.  For whatever reason, I just never cared enough to give Kara much of a chance.  With the New 52, I decided I’d change that.

So I picked up the first two issues of this title, and for the most part, I really enjoyed them.  A large reason for that is in thanks to the artwork—Mahmud Asrar is, if I may say, pretty incredible.  I don’t think I’ve seen any of his work prior to this, but his soft, watercolory style is a pleasure that leaves my eyes wanting more at the end of every issue.  It’s fluid and beautiful, and I can’t get enough.

Story-wise, this book is conflicting.  On the one hand, I want to say that I’ve enjoyed each read in the moment I’m reading it; on the other hand, I take a step back to think about it and the three issues to date have been extraordinarily decompressed.  I feel like “decompressed” is a word everyone likes to toss around in the comics world these days, so I generally try to avoid it, but it’s very true here.  The first two issues of this title were about Kara crash landing to Earth, being confused, and fighting Superman.  TWO ENTIRE ISSUES of that!  Don’t you think that could have all been accomplished in just one issue?  How many times must we witness Kal and Kara fight and try to “figure things out”?  This aspect of the book—the redundancy and stretching out the story for no reason—bothers me.  If I were a diehard Supergirl fan, I’d be extremely annoyed, because what’s happening to Kara mirrors what’s happening to Barbara over in Batgirl—which is more of the same.  A seemingly unoriginal take.

Despite these criticisms, though, this title is still okay with me overall.  I’m still reading.  Why?  Because I am a new reader of Supergirl, and although I know this story has happened before, I’ve never previously read it myself.  As an experience, it’s still new to me.  I’m finally getting to know a version of Supergirl, and it’s admittedly kind of exciting.  I really want to like her.

So issue three opens up with some backstory regarding Krypton, and we’re finally introduced to a villain for Kara to face on Earth.  I want to say this villain is a bit generic, but Green and Johnson have already managed to make me hate his guts in the span of one issue, so I guess that’s successful.  While we sputter a bit here thanks to that D-word, I’m cautiously optimistic that things will pick up after the first arc.  Green and Johnson always come across well in interviews, expressing enthusiasm for Kara and it sounds like they have some great ideas for this title.  It’s their chance to make her shine, and it’s my chance to let them.  I want to like this—I am liking this, mostly—and I’m hopeful that it only goes upward from here.

 

Until next week, everyone—be safe, and eat lots of turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving


A Mixed Bag of Reviews

I guess my Monday deadline somehow morphed into Thursday….

Hello, readers. Guess what? I read some books! And I have opinions about them! Shocker, I know. Also, I totally lied with half those covers I posted last week. Sorry about that.

 

Batgirl #3Batgirl #3
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I’m sad. :(

I’m sad because I really want to like this title. I really, really do. But it’s so … it’s so … I don’t know how to explain why it isn’t working for me. I guess, when it comes down to it, honestly … it doesn’t feel like Barbara. It just doesn’t feel like her to me. This new role of hers, it’s so … “forced” is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s not Barbara—not the one I know—and that’s kind of shocking considering that Barbara Gordon is Gail Simone’s bread and butter. If anyone at all understands that character, it’s Gail—they’re practically interchangeable. Yet, as much as I want this to succeed, it just isn’t firing for me.

I wish I could explain it better … it’s just not right. It doesn’t feel right. And the writing style … there’s so much narration. That worked in Gail’s Birds of Prey when you needed the POVs of several characters, but it’s not clicking here. There’s too much of it; there’s too much telling and not enough showing. It’s so flat, and I … I don’t know how much more of this I can back. And that makes me so, so sad.

You know what else? I have read this story before. I think that’s what’s really bothering me more than anything here, is that it still feels like we’re going backwards. Which, we are—literally, we’re dialing back the clock in terms of character ages and whatnot, but I also mean to say that we’re going backwards allegorically. The stories and the progressions of these characters have taken giant steps downward. This idea of a character called Batgirl finding her footing—I have read this before. I read it in Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl run, and I even read it in Chuck Dixon’s Batgirl: Year One. Why am I reading it again? I’m not getting anything different this time, not one bit. Barbara healing and regaining use of her legs is only influencing this story on a very minor level—it isn’t enough to make these issues feel fresh or different. This issue was all about reuniting Batgirl and Nightwing. I should have been moved by it, but I wasn’t. Not even close. I put this book down, blinked a few times, and wondered what was wrong with me for leaving it feeling absolutely nothing.

So … what does one do in this situation? Do I keep reading this in the hope that once the groundwork is laid and some of the setup “fluff” is out of the way, I might have a more interesting story? Might I feel more for this character by issue #13, as opposed to issue #3, and is it even fair to have to wait that long? Ardian Syaf’s artwork has been great. Other than that, I haven’t got much. A part of me doesn’t want to give up on the title, because I do love Barbara and this is apparently the only Barbara that I’m going to get for the foreseeable future. I also have a certain level of faith and respect for Simone, and I want to be able to lean on that. But with every issue of this so far, I’ve only left feeling disappointment. And I never thought I’d say that.

 

Infinite Vacation #3Infinite Vacation #3 (of 5)
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Christian Ward
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50

 

…And with that, an interesting idea turns into utter horse poop, as Nick Spencer fills this issue with preachy drivel and a needlessly despicable downturn that I guess is meant to be humor. Biggest waste of $3.50. To say I was mortified while reading this on the train is a massive understatement. And to top things off, I read the solicit for #4 to find it isn’t even due on the shelves until April. Buhbye; I’m OUT.

 

 

 

Magneto: Not a Hero #1Magneto: Not a Hero #1 (of 4)
Written by Scottie Young
Illustrated by Clay Mann
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

 

I was a little worried when this was first solicited, because with a title like “Not a Hero,” my immediate thoughts were that they were turning Magneto into a villain again. That would be the worst thing you could do to the character in my opinion, and just as bad a regression as Barbara Gordon re-donning the Bat cowl. Magneto has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and I’ve always enjoyed him as a villain, but I find I love him even more on the side of the angels. His presence is still so very grey—he’s so ambiguous, and in the hands of a writer who knows how to use it, that’s an invaluable quality. And so I shook my fist at the sky for a bit at the thought that this wonderful drama might be taken away for something as utterly boring as Magneto turning “bad” again. Happily, upon reading this issue, I find that this is not the case. Not yet, anyway.

Our introduction to this story centers around what is something of a storytelling cliché—Magneto is being framed for murder. Exciting, right? Bet you’ve never read anything like that before. It’s okay, though, because there are things here that make up for the questionable originality, and by the end of issue one, we can see that ultimately the story is going to deal with much more than who’s framing Magneto. I have to hand it to Skottie Young—everyone knows him for his great artistic talents, but he’s making a transition to writing here, and he’s not doing a bad job of it at all. It most certainly beats out a majority of the crap you see on the Marvel shelves these days, and rather easily at that. Young has a good handle on the characters in issue one, particularly in a scene that involves Captain America and Iron Man calling out Cyclops and Mags to get their act together. The cliffhanger reveal at the end—I really should have seen it coming. I can’t believe I didn’t. It’s some good stuff.

And Clay Mann on art duties … wow. What can I possibly say to do this guy justice? In a short couple of years, he’s hands-down become one of my favorites, and every book he’s on makes me drool a little bit. He’s wonderful. He’s coming to Boston Comic Con next year, and I am getting a sketch from him if I have to wait in line all weekend. Outstanding.

Did this book blow my mind? No, but it did some things well, did other things great, and was all around an enjoyable read. I wasn’t asking for much more than that.

 

Princeless #1Princeless #1 (of 4)
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Price: $3.99

 

More happiness! Have you seen this little bit of WIN called Princeless #1? Well if you haven’t, then you’re sorely missing out.

It’s soooooo great. It’s so great. I remember reading about this on the internet somewhere and I wasn’t really planning on checking it out, but then I found it on the shelf and read the first three pages and was like OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. Three pages—that’s all it took. And, you know, that’s kind of a big deal in a situation where you’re paying four bucks for a book when you weren’t anticipating having the expense at all. But this was so worth it, and I absolutely can’t wait to have the next issue in my hands.

This is a story about a princess named Adrienne who grows up being read stories about other princesses who get locked up in towers and have to be rescued by handsome princes who slay dragons and ultimately win the princesses’ hearts. Adrienne is baffled and outraged by this idea, criticizing and belittling the stories, and makes her mother promise her not to lock her up in a tower, only … of course you know that’s exactly what happens, right? The resulting scenario is nothing short of hilarious, adorable, brave, and pretty much unlike anything else on the comic racks right now. Whitley’s writing is beyond clever, and I found myself laughing at something on every page of the book. It’s smart enough for adults to enjoy, yet still written with a young audience in mind. This is exactly the type of thing you should be giving to the little girls in your life. Introduce them to comics now, with this. And actually, I take that back—it isn’t just for little girls; not even close. Adrienne is not the only character in this book—don’t let the “princess” thing fool you. Boys will enjoy this as well, and I encourage you to pick it up to find out why.

If I could get you to read one book and only one book this week, I would give you Princeless #1, and I wouldn’t even blink.

 

Uncanny X-Force #17Uncanny X-Force #17
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Jerome Ope
ña
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

 

Since the debut of this title, I’ve had nothing but praise for Uncanny X-Force and Rick Remender. That hasn’t changed yet, and I don’t see it on horizon any time soon. Just when I think the story has reached a plateau and couldn’t possibly get any better, another issue comes out and BAM—I’m smacked in the face with the awesome.

The problem with loving a book this much is that it makes it insanely difficult to review. When you have no criticisms, there isn’t much left to say beyond shameless, unabashed gushing. And you have to admit, that’s kind of boring to read.

But I literally have nothing bad to say. There is nothing I would change about this book—not a thing. Not the writing, not the pencils, not the pacing, not the colors. Well … I suppose I might change the price … and maybe I’d make it ship twice a month, because I can’t get enough of it. But that’s all. Not much to ask.

If you’ve been subbing to this title, you know that Remender has been building up the Dark Angel Saga for quite some time—since day one, in fact. It’s some of the most well-timed and patient writing I’ve seen in recent memory. The thing I love about this book is that when I pick up an issue, I can tell that Remender has taken his time with it. He isn’t writing with collected editions in mind or decompressing the story, as one might accuse of Bendis’ Avengers titles. No; there’s a level of thought and care and precision to what Remender does, and it comes through in his scenes and character interplay. It’s harmonious. It’s a melody to which I never want to stop listening. If even a quarter of the other books Marvel puts out demonstrated this much attention to their craft, I’d be a much happier comics reader.

Jerome Opeña on art is no different. You look at these pages, and you know instantly that these babies were not rushed to meet looming deadlines. Opeña is careful, crafty, and deliberate, and the results are a joy.

On the surface, this is a black ops book. It’s assassinations and unspeakable deeds; it’s an X-Men book that’s not very X-Men-like. But read deeper, and you know these characters are about much more than that. This isn’t just about taking out threats before they become threats; this is a story of addiction, inferiority, self-worth and self-hate, fear and perceived altruism … and so much more. But Remender lets you figure that out for yourself; it’s underlying, and he doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I love that. The mark of a good writer.

Big changes are coming up for this team, and I can’t wait to find out what Remender has planned for the next year of this book. Best one on the X-shelf.

 


Some Griping, Some Reviews

Man.  I’m really kinda hatin’ on DC right now.  At some point after my post a couple of months ago about how I was going to try to be all positive and optimistic about DC, I read a bunch of crap that I didn’t like, and I’m back to being all cantankerous again.  The latest thing to get me riled up into a ball of rage is the news about Wonder Woman.  They’re changing (read: retconning) her origin.  I was all ready to jump on the Brian Azzarello band wagon here and proclaim him Wondy’s savior until I heard this.

I think this is all part of the cause of my not reading comics lately.  I’m just kind of sick of all the hype, and it’s EVERYWHERE.  Running to the Marvel shelves is no different, as almost everything I see is slathered with a “Fear Itself” label.  Can we come right out and admit that the story is awful?  It’s not a good event, if there is such a thing.  It’s just plain bad, and reeks of being haphazardly put together.  The only thing tied to Fear Itself that I’m even remotely interested in is Journey into Mystery, and that’s because that book is awesome no matter what.  Kieron Gillen is writing the heck out of that.

I have to think aloud and wonder if perhaps the fight against the hype is a losing battle—it’s essentially become the nature of comics, but I’m not convinced it should be.  Just tell a good story, guys.  That’s all anybody wants.  Amirite?

No?  Okay, fine, I’ll shut up.  Reviews!

 

Huntress #1Huntress #1 (of 6)
Written by Paul Levitz
Illustrated by Marcus To
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

HUUUNNNNTTTRRREEESSSSSS.  I love the Huntress.  What’s not to love about her?  She’s Italian, she has pretty black hair, and she’s a total badass.  I was eager to get my Huntress fix when they announced this six-issue mini.  Gotta admit, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down—the frightening Guillem March cover leaves much to be desired, and I wasn’t hugely confident in Paul Levitz behind the pen despite being her creator (kinda).  It was kind of a “YAAYYY HUNTREEESSSS … oh, wait.  What?” reaction, which seems to be the case a lot with DC and me these days.

Anyway.  I read this, and you know what?  The art was AWESOME.  It’s the first thing that hit me and it’s the best part of the book, hands-down.  Marcus To, I had no idea who you were before this, but count me amongst the legion of fans I’m certain you’ve secured after KILLING IT on this.  Helena has never looked so good.  Like, literally—and I’m wicked going to be a girl here—some of the outfits To draws her in are simple and elegant and fashionable, I was like “Where can I buy that?  That’s awesome.”  Then he throws on her Huntress uniform and she’s another person entirely, and it brings even more of the awesome.  Especially when she’s kicking some dude in the jaw.  Kick it, Huntress!  The choreography in one of the fight scenes is so perfectly illustrated—along with Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman #1, I would say they’re the two best fight scenes I’ve seen in a while.  Top this book off with a head nod to the colorist, because the colors were beautiful and makes To look that much more talented.

So the art’s great.  The story?  Meh.  Okay, it’s maybe a little better than “meh.”  It’s actually not bad at all, it’s just not particularly ground-breaking.  Huntress goes to Italy to break up a slave ring/drug ring/what-have-you.  We’ve read this story before, right?  So it’s really not baaaddddd, it’s just … well, it’s just what it is.  I will say that the first issue lays a groundwork that’s full of potential, and the next five issues could very well turn up the heat and hit us with a surprise or two.  I hope they do, because I’ll go as far as to say this was one of the New 52 I’ve actually really liked.  In a sea of mediocre, I liked this.  Let’s build off that, please, Mr. Levitz.

 

Mystic #3Mystic #3 (of 4)
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by David Lopez
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Mystic.  We continue where we left off in number two, with lessons in the mystic arts and that witchy mean girl whose name I forget trying to sabotage the main character at every turn.  I enjoyed the heck out of the first two issues of this, but issue three seemed to hit a lull somehow.  Actually, that’s not really fair … it’s not so much a “lull” as it’s just that I can tell the story is being rushed and condensed to accommodate the fact there’s only four issues in which to tell it.  The snag was bound to be somewhere, and it feels like it’s right here.  When you reach the last page and realize the conclusion is coming up next, it’s kind of hard to take.  There’s SO MUCH MORE we could be reading here.  You can tell that G. Willow Wilson has put a lot of thought into this world and these characters, and it feels terribly unfair that we won’t get to explore any more of it as of next month.

So that makes me frown a bit.  I know it’s all going to unravel too quickly as of issue four.  I wish that weren’t a basis of judgment on this issue, but it is.  Still, as little story as we’re getting, I’ll gladly take it over no story at all.

Not to mention there is always the saving grace that is David Lopez.  I can’t get over how wonderful his stuff is here.  Forget about all of the mechanics of drafting a comic book page—forget about all the transitions, the backgrounds, the panels.  Let’s just talk about facial expressions, because that one skill alone is what absolutely MAKES this book.  Lopez is an undisputed master of facial expressions, and as such, the emotions of each character come at you unapologetically.  And it’s so, so good.  You know something?  If you were to take out all the speech bubbles and all the text on every page, I bet you’d still know exactly what was going on in the story.  That is the mark of an excellent artist, and Mr. Lopez is at the top of his game here.  I adore him for it.  If the narrative of the next issue were to completely tank, I’d still love this for the artwork alone.

I’ll be sad when it’s over, but after Mystic concludes, I’d follow these two creators anywhere.

 

Rachel Rising #2Rachel Rising #2
Created by Terry Moore
Publisher:  Abstract Studios
Price:  $3.99

 

I remember reading an interview with Terry Moore that announced Rachel Rising as his newest project.  In the interview, Mr. Moore discussed his desire to do a horror book—something scary and haunting, and I remember thinking to myself … really?  Terry Moore doing a horror book?

I wasn’t convinced it would work.  Nothing against the guy—in fact I have proclaimed my undying love for him here before—but I just couldn’t picture it based on his previous work.

I stand corrected.

This is creepy as &@%$.

Wow.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s creepy in a good way.  In an excellent way.  Aside from one or two things (Walking Dead), I generally despise horror as a genre.  But, this is Terry Moore, so of course I gravitate to it.  And rightly so, because Rachel Rising, thus far, is great.

I’d typed up this whole big thing summarizing the greater parts of this issue, but then I re-read what I’d typed and couldn’t think of a way to get it across to you without ruining some of the suspense and build up.  So I’m going to completely dump that and just let you judge for yourselves.  Hopefully you’re picking this up.  Unlike some of the stuff by the Big Two, it’s actually worth the $3.99.


A Bunch’a Stuffs!

The weather is changing and it’s turning to that time of year I despise—COLD.  Cold means that the battles between Captain Couch and I have intensified.  We’ve thrown down a lot since September and he’s just been out of control.  I’m way out of shape.  Dude has been beating me senseless every single night, and no amount of comics can hold him at bay.  As a result, my nights lately have consisted of bad television and passing out unconscious by like eight p.m. (if I make it that far).  Reading comics has fallen distressingly by the wayside.  One of these days I’ll take a photo of my “to read” piles of issues and trades and post them here for your viewing horror.  “Piles” probably isn’t even a fair word.  More like “mountain chains.”  Some people dream of climbing K2.  I just dream of scaling down my comics.

Let’s get some stuff out of the way.

  • Here’s what Star Sapphire looks like in the upcoming animated movie, Justice League: Doomhttp://www.comicbookresources.com/prev_img.php?disp=img&pid=1317735495
    After the debacle a few weeks ago about Starfire, it’s good to see we’re moving forward, DC.
  • On the flip side, Robot 6 has a rather humorous strip wrapping up the New 52 from the perspectives of the characters.  Very fun.
  • Speaking of strips, do you like web comics?  Have you heard of Max Overacts?  No?  Well you should check it out, because it’s absolutely wonderful.  The creator, Caanan Grail, is brilliant, and I’ve been addicted to this since I stumbled upon it last month.  Many have compared the strip to Calvin & Hobbes—there’s definitely an echo of that there—but it’s its own thing and so much more.  Start at the beginning and read through the strips; I can’t imagine you’ll be let down.
Max Overacts

A strip from Max Overacts, by Caanan Grail; click to enlarge.

  • Lastly, I hope everyone’s seen the newly-released Avengers trailer, because it’s awesome.

… And that’s all I got!  Back later with some reviews.


It’s a crisis there’s no Crisis!

So apparently Dan Didio said something over Facebook about how none of the Crises ever happened.

Didio on Crisis

Can anyone else make any sense of this?  I must be missing something.  If Final Crisis never happened, then what caused Bruce to “die” and Dick to take up the mantle of Batman?  That’s already been referenced in several books, and Grant Morrison’s run is still technically happening and referencing itself as it goes along, so we know it’s still canon … yet it’s not?  Can anyone help me out here?

He went on to “clarify” (I use the term loosely):

Didio on Crises

Ohhhh, I get it now.

… Except that I don’t.

I would say, given that the entire initiative of the New 52 was to wipe the slate completely clean in order to erase and/or make continuity “less confusing” for new readers, the fact that now we have even MORE of a convoluted backstory to all of this, where neither reader nor editorial apparently knows what’s sticking and what isn’t, means that after only one month of the reboot, it’s already a failure story-wise.  None of this makes any sense.  I can’t say I really expected it to, but it’s making even less sense than I thought it would.  And it’s just plain annoying.  Way to make this stuff up as you go along, guys.

On the bright side, at least Gail Simone still makes me laugh.

Gail Tweet


More of the New 52

I’m having a rough go of this DC stuff, guys.  A real rough go.  If I had to pick one book this week to tell you to avoid like the frigging plague, it would be Teen Titans.  Don’t do it to yourself, readers.  You deserve better.

Aquaman #1Aquaman #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Price:  $2.99

 

While That’s E is my LCS, occasional place of employment, and all-around hub of awesome, working in Boston can make it difficult to swing by store hours during the week to pick up comics.  That activity is typically reserved for the weekend when Boyfriend and I—now Fiancé, hip hip!—have the time to chat with our friends behind the counter, praise the latest works we’ve enjoyed, or talk smack about that week’s failures (at which point hilarity and raucous laughter ensue).  But when Wednesday rolls around and the excitement of new comics fills the air, it can prove hard to wait those extra few days.  That’s when I usually wander around Harvard Square during my lunch hour and inhabit Million Year Picnic, a quirky little hole-in-the-wall shop with cozy shelves and some super nice people running the register who clearly know their comics.  And when I went in there this week, the item I immediately grabbed for a quick read-through was Aquaman #1.

Laugh at me all you want, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Aquaman.  His was the first comic I’d ever read when I was a kid, secretly borrowing my brothers’ comics to read whenever they were out of the house.  I can get into the myriad reasons why I love Aquaman and will defend him ‘til the end, but that’s a topic for another post (which I’ve been working on for like six months and might never see the light of review day).  When DC announced this title, I was actually excited.  Aquaman!  What!?  And not belligerent old hook-hand Aquaman either—no!  This was the young, sexy blonde Aquaman that had made my tiny toddler heart skip a beat (he was so pretty!).  As I flipped through the pages gawking at the beautiful artwork and reading the story, I knew immediately that this would be one of few keepers for the New 52.

Geoff Johns loves Aquaman.  He’s proclaimed as much time and again during interviews, but you don’t need to hear him say that in order to get it.  Reading Aquaman #1 felt very much like Johns’ love letter to Aquaman.  He cares about this character, and we see that from page one.  The entire issue is devoted to building up Aquaman—first with a display of brute strength in the opening pages, followed by a glance at his reputation and insight to what’s in his heart, ultimately ending with a declaration of intent.  And in between it all, it is funny as heck.  I’m not sure a New 52 book has given me as much enjoyment yet as Aquaman did.  I loved this, and if Geoff and Ivan Reis (whose art was ridiculously great) can keep the momentum, I’ll be hooked for the long run.

Uh, no pun intended.

Batwoman #1Batwoman #1
Written by J.H. Williams & Haden Blackman
Illustrated by J.H. Williams
Price:  $2.99

 

I hate it when this happens.  You hear so much hype about a book—it’s built up and talked about everywhere and every review you read is like “THIS IS AMAZING!” and you think, oh my, I can’t wait to be hit with the awesome.  Then you get the book and … the balloon has popped.  To smithereens.  You’re deflated and your pieces are scattered everywhere, and you don’t feel like picking yourself back up.

That’s kind of how I felt after reading this issue.  Despite how gorgeous it was for the eyes—as though anyone would expect any less from J.H. Williams on that—it left me deflated.  Yet, I’m not really sure what my expectations were.  Story-wise, I had none.  I’m not a huge Kate Kane follower, but I liked her enough to sample this.  The only thing I left the issue with, though, was a sizeable dose of confusion.  I haven’t read Greg Rucka’s acclaimed run on Detective—the only Batwoman I’d read was the “zero” issue that came out last year or so—and as such, I had no frame of reference for a lot of what was happening in this book.  Whatever happened to “new reader-friendly”?

Could I follow along with this?  Yes.  I could piece together most of what I think I needed to know by the end of the issue.  But was it easy, or even rewarding?  Not really … I didn’t leave it feeling as such.  I’d like to blame that on the fact that J.H Williams, like many on the New 52, is artist-turned-writer.  That’s not an easy transition to make.  I’d also suggest that this title was never actually meant to be part of the New 52—it wasn’t written to entice new readership or be part of this comics-holy endeavor.  It was just a title that kept getting delayed and kept getting delayed and eventually found its way to being a part of this.  I think it’s done some harm.

I’m going to read issue two.  I’ll likely stick out the entire first arc, because I think whatever nitpicks I have with this can certainly be overcome.  I will say that the opening scenes in particular were incredible, and I’m looking for more of that to come.  Overall, the book just didn’t hit me the way I was expecting, and so much of that I’m sure has to do with the internet hype.  Drowning it out for next month.

Birds of Prey #1Birds of Prey #1
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Price:  $2.99

 

Ugh.  I really … I didn’t want to do this.  I staunchly and adamantly shot down this book before it came out; very loudly voiced my hatred at the concept of a new Birds of Prey without Oracle or Huntress or Gail Simone behind the board.  I was NOT going to give this a shot.  But in a week where Catwoman and Starfire were degraded and exploited beyond all comprehension … suddenly, a female team book felt more alluring.  And really, let’s face it—I’m a masochist.  Comics fans in general are absolutely masochists.  We know it’s going to be bad—we know it’s going to hurt, but damn it, we just can’t look away.  We just can’t stop.

So I picked this up.  And … it broke my heart.

First of all, let me get this off my chest:  Dinah’s outfit is absolutely dumb.  Dumbest thing ever.  I will say that I’ve never minded the fishnets in her previous getup—I thought her outfit was fine, and no, I didn’t think she looked like a hooker.  I thought she looked like a badass biker chick, though much of fandom had complained that the fishnets were tacky.  DC’s answer to that, apparently, was to re-tool her costume and add even MORE fishnets?  Up her ARMS, no less?  What the hell, guys.  This is the stuff that makes me want to cuss my head off.  (I’m trying to tone it down—it isn’t easy.)  It’s just the most senseless outfit of all the redesigns, and that’s saying a lot considering there is some genuinely BAD stuff out there.  My eyes … they bleed.

Okay.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about this book.  The Birds of Prey, to me, has always been about friendship.  Well, it’s about girls kicking ass too, but mostly, it’s friendship.  The unfailing, strong-in-the-face-of-all-danger, love-you-no-matter-how-many-times-you-screw-up friendship between Dinah and Barbara.  Then Huntress eventually came along and stirred the pot, and the book became even more amazing because the relationships built between the three women was not something that was found in any other DC book, or any other comic book period.  Add Zinda Blake to the mix, and things still kept getting stronger.  Four ladies, four unshakeable ties.  A family.  That was the Birds of Prey.  And I came back for it month after month after month, because it felt like these were my girls.  You find things you relate to and after so many years of a book like this, you build these immensely personal ties and attachment to it.  Not having the Birds anymore—my Birds—is heartwrenching.

This?  If they had called Duane Swierczynski’s version anything else—anything at all other than “Birds of Prey,” I might have actually been able to swallow this.  But I can’t.  I keep looking at this book hoping that it’s what it was—what I want it to be, but it’s not, and I’m not MEANT to look at it that way.  We’re supposed to look at it as something new.  It’s its own thing.  DC is asking us not to compare it to what came before.  But that’s really unfair, and it’s just not something I can do.  DC built this attachment of mine; they gave me a security blanket that I loved and loved, and they can’t expect me to throw it away for some new toy.

I’m genuinely sorry about it, too, because the artwork on this was flawless.  One issue and I am already a huge Jesus Saiz fan.  And as much as I wasn’t crazy about Swierczynski coming on board, I have to give credit where credit is due—he writes a pretty damn good Black Canary.  Maybe even second best to Gail.  Unfortunately, I won’t be sticking around to see what he can do.  He screwed that up for me the moment he introduced Barbara Gordon in this issue for no apparent reason whatsoever outside of raising a million continuity questions that he doesn’t proceed to answer.  I can’t look at this with the new eyes that it needs.  Maybe some day … but for right now, looks like I’m out.

Wonder Woman #1Wonder Woman #1
Written by Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by Cliff Chiang
Price:  $2.99

Yeeaaahhh … I have to say, I was really on the fence about this one.  I had no idea what to expect until a few weeks back when I watched this hysterical interview with Brian Azzarello about his run on the book.  He has such utter disdain for the interviewer in it and he’s so frank with his responses that I couldn’t help but be oddly endeared.  Suddenly, any worries I had about the title just kind of fell away.

Despite being turned off by the idea of yet another revamp for Wonder Woman, after over a year of horrible, pedantic, pointless WW issues during the “Odyssey” story arc of Straczynski’s ill-conceived run, I was suddenly DESPERATE for a title re-launch.  Time to kick the lame pants and jacket, adolescent writing, and cheesecake artwork to the curb.  Cliff Chiang on art duties?  GODSEND.  Brian Azzarello writing?  Er … I hadn’t read the guy.  There was a 50/50 chance this could work.

I liked this issue.  It took me two reads, but I liked it.  The first read through was a little rough—Azzarello wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to introduce a “horror” element to Wonder Woman, and at first, it just seemed like a whole bunch of violence and gore.  But on the second read through, the issue took a much better shape, and I caught things I didn’t catch the first time around.  The tone was different, and I actually liked it.  It was hard, but in a good way.  Azzarello re-introduces some of the Greek gods, and for the first time in a long time—maybe ever—they actually come across really cool, powerful, and scary.  When was the last time the gods were actually scary?  They SHOULD be scary.  It’s refreshing to see.  Especially interesting is the fact that this doesn’t feel as “mythological” as it actually is.  You’re not watching the gods walk around in togas and hang out on Olympus the way you did during Greg Rucka’s run (which I loved as well).  It’s not in-your-face ancient mythology.  It’s modern day, and it WORKS.  So much so that I’m surprised.

The story involves a human girl named Zola who has unknowingly gotten herself mixed up in godly affairs—literally—and it’s up to Wonder Woman to protect her from the wrath of who we presume to be Hera and Apollo.  I was very concerned with how Wonder Woman would come across under Azzarello’s pen.  Would she just be a violent Amazonian?  Would she retain any of her compassion?  Would she wear pants?  (Just kidding.)  My favorite renditions of Wonder Woman have always been the loving, empathetic ones—Simone’s and Rucka’s.  An overly violent Wonder Woman goes against the grain of everything the character represents.

That said, she isn’t afraid to kick ass when ass needs kicking.  She isn’t afraid to kill if it’s what must be done (see Maxwell Lord).  And in this issue, Wonder Woman kicks a lot of ass in what is one of the most well-choreographed, beautifully drawn fight scenes I’ve read in ages.  Cliff Chiang kills on this book, illustrating a Wonder Woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, but can also show concern where it’s called for.

Did this completely fire on all cylinders for me?  Not entirely.  I have a few nitpicks, to be sure—for example, this being her own title book, it felt oddly as though Wonder Woman somehow wasn’t in it very much.  I also wasn’t crazy about the use of her lasso in one scene, and I feel like some of the dialogue can be tweaked as we move forward.  But overall, this is a HUGE improvement over the garbage Wonder Woman fans have had to suffer through over the past year.  I am most definitely on board here, and the creative team has set my expectations high.  For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait for the next issue of Wonder Woman.


And they wonder why “girls don’t read comics”?

Actually, I should probably change that title to “why MORE girls don’t read comics.”  Clearly, many of us do, although it’s getting increasingly more difficult….

No reviews from me this week, as I haven’t had a chance to read the stuff I wanted to review.  Instead, I leave you with this very striking post from Laura Hudson at Comics Alliance about DC’s latest fail.  It’s worth a read.  Warning that it contains spoilers to Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 and Catwoman #1.  I would also say that some of the imagery might be deemed “NSFW,” which is telling when you figure that the images have only been taken from the aforementioned books.  Kind of messed up, no?

Have a good weekend, all.  Pick up Wonder Woman #1 and the latest Children’s Crusade.


Reviews: Another Round of the New 52

Lots to talk about this week, and lots of changes happening the DCU.  I’ve been torn between what books to try and what to leave on the shelf, and have had to pick and choose what I think might be good enough to mock enjoyable.  I haven’t picked up the latest stuff from this past Wednesday yet, although I am looking forward to Batwoman.  I’ve heard some horrible things this week—namely about Superboy and Suicide Squad (and this about Amanda Waller, which honestly disappoints me to no end), not to mention the latest fuss over the new Birds of Prey, and that flat out makes me want to cry.  I’m trying not to cry, but it might happen.  I’m all cantankerous ‘n’ stuff.  I’ll try to make this quick:

 

Action Comics #1Action Comics #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Rags Morales
Price:  $2.99

 

Well now.  Who’d have thought I’d ever pick up this book?  I’m not a Superman fan, and I’m not really a big Grant Morrison fan either, so it was kind of startling to find myself actually interested in giving this a shot.  But then, how could you not be interested?  After all the controversy of rebooting this title, winding back the clock on Superman, and turning him into a “Bruce Springsteen” version of himself (creator’s words, not mine), it was kind of impossible to shy away.

So I read it.  And … it was weird.  And I don’t really know what to think, other than it feels like I was reading Batman.  Superman comes off extremely belligerent, and it’s just so strange compared to the image of him I have in my head.  I mean, what’s THIS about?

 

Superman Action Comics

(Click to enlarge.)

Right?  Huh?  I don’t know.  I get what’s happening, and I get what Morrison is trying to do, and I fully understand that this is meant to be a “different” Superman or whatever, but I’m not sure it works for me.  I’d give you a plot synopsis, except that I’m on the fence right now as to how much more I’m going to read, so I’ll just say this:  if you’ve been following along in the solicitations and previews, the plot is pretty much what you’d gather.  Mostly.  There are one or two interesting changes I didn’t anticipate, but I’ll leave them for you to discover.

Really undecided here … at the moment I’m leaning toward sticking around to see how it plays out.  I wonder how the standard Superman title will fare in comparison.

 

Animal Man #1Animal Man #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Travel Foreman, Dan Green
Price:  $2.99

 

The only reason I had even a remote interest in this was because I had read a four-page preview quite a while ago that sounded very well-written.  I liked Jeff Lemire’s Superboy a lot, and once I’d heard some praise for this issue after it hit the stands, I grabbed a copy.  I’m glad I did, because this may easily be one of the sleeper hits of the New 52.  I didn’t know squat about Animal Man before picking this up, but Jeff Lemire can apparently write the heck out of an intro issue to a book, so it easily passes the “new-reader friendly” test.

Flat out:  I loved this.  It’s the one and only thing I unsparingly love so far from the new batch of DC.  It’s heartfelt, creative, intelligently written, dark, intriguing, and a host of other things.  Right away, you think to yourself—okay.  It’s a guy who can call upon the characteristics of any animal—that’s neat.  But then you read it and, as a newbie, you realize it’s going to be about so much more than that.  His powers are almost completely secondary.  I don’t want to say any more than that.

Please go pick this up.  Just go buy it.  It’s so freaking cool.

 

Batgirl #1Batgirl #1
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Price:  $2.99

 

Oh man.  This … this was tough for me.  I can’t believe what I’m about to say, but I was actually disappointed by this first issue.  I never thought I’d have reason to utter that about a Gail Simone-penned book, but … I guess there’s a first time for everything.  Ouch.

The thing is, I’m not sure I can even explain to you what it is about this that’s disappointed me.  It hasn’t particularly failed in anything.  It hasn’t really done anything wrong.  It’s actually a very good set up issue, and both Gail and artist Ardian Syaf do a lot of things RIGHT.  So why do I still come off it feeling so lukewarm?

I guess it’s a problem of the lead-up to the book having set up some very high expectations.  I think Gail was put in an impossibly difficult position in being responsible to appease all the fans who are heartbroken over what we perceive to be the loss of the Oracle persona.  But speaking only for myself, I definitely went into this expecting—nay, demanding, answers.  I wanted all the information right off the bat (no pun intended) as far as why/how she’s Batgirl again, how she was healed, was she ever with the Birds of Prey, and whether or not she ever actually was Oracle in this new continuity (supposedly the answer is yes, but we haven’t found out for sure yet).  So when I read through this issue and received basically none of those answers, it was pretty deflating.  That’s not say that Barbara’s past won’t be addressed—I give Gail way more credit than to think she’d brush it all off, and knowing her writing style, she’s going to take her time setting us up.  We’ll get there, sure, but I’m having a hard time being patient.

That disappointment aside, I will say there were definitely things I loved here.  I love the fact that Gail Simone is writing Barbara as a sufferer of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, thereby acknowledging her accident and fleshing out the reaction time between what has happened from then until now.  I love the new villain she has created for Barbara, who comes across seriously dark and awesome.  I loved the artwork, and let’s face it—it’s pretty damn cool to see Barbara Gordon swinging around in the Gotham night again.  I have a few reservations about one of the plot choices—Barbara and her new college roommate—but that’s nothing I can’t get past.  So I’m keeping my head down and I’m chugging along with this at least for the remainder of the first story arc, if not more, but I still feel a little twinge of sadness for the Oracle that I knew and miss.  I suspect that will always be there, regardless of how good this title winds up being.

We’ll see what happens next.  I’ll try to abate my sadness in the meantime.

 

Hawk & Dove #1Hawk & Dove
Written by Sterling Gates
Illustrated by Rob Liefeld
Price:  $2.99

 

… BWAHAAHAAHAHAHAAHAAA.  Next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swamp Thing #1Swamp Thing #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Yanick Paquette
Price:  $2.99

 

Swamp Thing.  Another surprise for me.  I’m a fan of Alan Moore and have always intended to go back and read his Swamp Thing, but it’s a little low on the priority reading list at the moment.  When this title was announced, I figured it would be a good introduction of the character for me, and I have a certain level of faith in Scott Snyder’s writing abilities.  I’m please to say he didn’t disappoint here.  The story opens up in a captivating way, and even a new reader can tell that there’s a history to this character.  I have to wonder how much I am actually missing out on by not reading any previous stories, but at the same time, I’m getting enough information here where I don’t NEED to read the earlier stuff.  I don’t need to, but the urge is certainly there.  This is comics done right—this is the way to pick up those “new readers.”  You needn’t ditch years of that “scary” and “intimidating” continuity, because a book like this is what makes you want to go back and learn and read everything you can get your hands on.  It’s really a shame more comics aren’t written in this manner.

The talented Yanick Paquette was clearly made for a book like this.  I was a little disappointed to learn that he’ll be utilizing some fill-in artists in between story arcs, but I’m hoping it won’t detract too much from the book.  Paquette’s style is definitely suited to this book—while his Superman cameo came off kind of weird-looking to me, his version of Swamp Thing is awesome.  Looking forward to issue two.

 

 

Okay, kids, that’s all I have for today.  Be thankful that that crazy Comic Junkie is out of his mind enough to be reading and analyzing every issue of the New 52 over at his blog.  Really, we ought to be thanking him for sparing us some of the torture.

One final thing before I go—don’t forget the Craig Thompson signing is this week at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.  If you’re interested, get your ticket early, and be sure to say hello to me if you’re going to be there.

Until next week!


Review: Justice League #1

Justice League #1Justice League #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Jim Lee
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $3.99

Hmmmmm …  Well, I can tell you that excitement of mine didn’t last too long.

Man.  This was so … it was …

… Hmm.

Okay, here it is:  this was average.

So I’m having a very difficult time forming the words to adequately summarize the issue.  I reiterate—it’s average, and you know, that’s kind of a big problem you don’t want to have when you’re pitching yourself and your entire line of comics very hard to those elusive new readers.  What this should have been was MIND-BLOWINGLY EXCELLENT.  This should have kicked things off with a bang, knocked me out of my chair, and had me smiling like a Cheshire cat for the rest of the day.  But instead I’m … I’m just kind of … confused.

Let’s start with the great:  the artwork.  I am a complete and utter sucker for pretty much anything Jim Lee does, so having him draw this book is a sweet, delicious treat for my superhero-hungry eyeballs.  While I wonder about his ability to produce on a monthly deadline, I will bow to the fact that he delivers here.  I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is only 24 pages of Jim Lee goodness, and I’m all over it.  If I were a smoker, I’d need a puff after staring at the panels in this book.  The final page … oh my God, yes.  I want THAT.  You go, Jim Lee!

Now, unfortunately, the not-so-great:  the story.  You know, only the second most important thing in a comic.  I have not read very much Geoff Johns in my time—I skipped over all that Blackest Night, Brightest Day hoo-ha, so I don’t have a lot to compare this to in terms of his varying levels of talent.  I can only go by what I have in front of me, and what I have here is average.

It’s not necessarily that the story is even that bad.  I just question the route taken here as far as using the first issue to “form” the Justice League.  The story opens up with Batman chasing/being chased by minions of Apokolips.  That’s all well and good, until Batman starts firing some weird missile/projectile weapons from his arms.  I know, right?  What is that about?  We all know Batman doesn’t use guns, and although these are technically not handguns, the page spread certainly brings them to mind.  I’m going on a tangent, but it’s just kind of a weird scene, and it honestly got me off on the wrong foot right away.  Batman eventually meets Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and the two verbally spar as they flee the oncoming authorities … or whatever.  This is five years in the past, you see—a time when vigilante superheroes are not so adored by the public.  We also transition to a couple of separate scenes featuring Vic tor Stone, but frankly, I have no love for Cyborg, so he’s completely unimportant to me.  I’m actually a little peeved that he’s even being set up as a “founder” now.

The reason I wonder why Johns has chosen to tell this story immediately is because, let’s face it—this issue is the Batman/GL show.  That’s entirely all it is.  And while that may be fine for readers like ourselves who know these characters and this history, think about the new reader coming off “the street.”  If this is meant to be accessible to them—if I’m not a comics reader and I decide to wander into a comic shop looking for Justice League #1 because I saw it advertised somewhere and I’m intrigued by this cool-looking cast of characters—how am I going to feel when I pick up that first issue expecting to see a team and not getting one?  How am I going to feel expecting to see Flash or Wonder Woman and not getting either one?  Seasoned comics fans know how misleading covers can be.  Newbies don’t.

So, to me, the way this could have been remedied would have been to open up the first issue with the team already established—maybe they’re fighting some giant dude or whatever, I don’t know—and they’re quipping with each other back and forth, and Batman is his usual brooding but badass self, and Flash is cracking jokes left and right, Superman is eye-beaming something to smithereens, and Wonder Woman’s punching a dude through a wall.  Wouldn’t the action taken here and the dialogue provide the perfect vehicle to demonstrate to you exactly who these people are and how they get along?  Meanwhile, if you so choose—or perhaps you can leave this for the next arc—you can have “flashback” scenes showing all these important first meetings and the formulation of the team.  The best way to learn about these characters and their relationships is to actually see them in action.  It’s all about show, don’t tell.  Johns didn’t need to give us the step-by-step in order for us to get it.  Heck, we could have understood this team without ever seeing them come together at all, and to me, that would have been so much more interesting to just piecemeal it on my own by watching them.

So, it’s not that this was all bad—just that it was average storytelling.  Is that really the best that Geoff Johns has?

I have one more major nitpick here.  When this reboot was announced, we were told that we’d be reading all new stories.  Yes, it’s the story of the Justice League coming together, but it was going to be a new one.  Something we hadn’t read before.  Well, I ask you—doesn’t this

Justice League GL

kind of remind you of this?

AllStarGL

Batman getting blinded by GL’s light.  No?  Okay, how about this

GL Batman

and this?

All Star GL2

GL thinks Batman’s pretty much a jerk either way.  Still not convinced that we’ve seen this meeting before?  I have one more for you.  Take a look at this

GLBats2

against this.

AllStarGL3

Why, look at that.  Green Lantern gets his RING stolen … TWICE?!  Yeahbuhwhaaa?!?!

The first photos in each set are from this week’s issue of Justice League.  The second photos in each set are courtesy of Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman & Robin from just a few years ago.  It’s déjà vu all over again, and I’m afraid you’re going to have to do much better than this to keep my interest, DC.  I suppose I should expect Superman’s first meeting with Wonder Woman to be a ridiculous fight that ends with an even more ridiculous kiss, based on what we’re going for here.  I mean … that’s what happened in All-Star, isn’t it?

By the way, I bought the standard shelf issue of this comic book, as I will with any other.  The polybagged combo pack with downloadable copy just isn’t for me.  I have a huge stigma against the idea of digital comics, but that’s a post for another day.  Ultimately, Justice League #1 was an okay read, but it didn’t blast through any ceilings.  Here’s hoping the following 51 offer something better.


And so it begins…

This week, I found myself surprisingly excited for Justice League #1 … and that’s kind of weird.  If you read my teary-eyed, rage-filled rant over the New 52 when it was announced a couple of months ago, then you know I was heartbroken and angry.  DCnu?  What?  I didn’t want new.  I wanted the old stuff—the good stuff.  The stuff that got me into this publisher in the first place.  My Wonder Woman and my Catwoman, my Birds and my Bats.  Except that DC claimed that the old stuff was NOT good stuff anymore (despite all their earlier statements otherwise), and they now needed something new and fresh.  You, dear comics fans—you, who have loyally and perhaps misguidedly been there from the very beginning, were being told it was time to let go … again.  The search for “new readership” deems that we also become readers of the new.

So I ranted and raved and pissed and moaned, and got myself all worked up over this like the fangirl that I am, because hey—I care about these characters.  And frankly, it didn’t feel like DC cared as much as I do.

But that’s kind of silly, right?  Of course they care.  It might not feel that way on occasion—when you are reading about gimmick after gimmick, event book after event book, tie-in after pointless tie-in, you kind of start to question the ideologies behind these companies, don’t you?  Are they doing these things because they genuinely think it makes for a better story, or is it solely about being a big business—a bit of a heartless machine?  Well, it’s a combination of both, and that can sometimes cause the line to blur.  But at the end of the day, the people behind the scenes live and breathe comics the same way that we do, and I am trying hard to give them the benefit of the doubt.  They seem pretty excited about it.

So I want to be excited for this, too.  I want it to work.  I want it to be good, and FUN.

Some of you—many of you—hopefully attended the midnight release of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1.  I won’t be getting my copies until late tonight, so it’ll be a few hours yet before I can form some thoughts on the debut of this initiative, but the excitement is there.  It’s hard not to be after getting texted at quarter to 8:00 this morning with a lovely spoiler from my friend Phil (thanks a lot).

(Skip over these images if you don’t want to be spoiler’d.  Really.)

<Update: Deleted!  He’s had enough embarrassment.>

I’m the one in the green, obviously.  Please ignore my friend’s deplorable use of grammar and punctuation.

So, yeah.  It’s 2:30, which means I have another four and a half hours or so before I can get to the comic shop.  I’m excited and I’m giving this a chance.  I hope it doesn’t let me down.


Pants: Never a Good Decision

…at least where Wonder Woman is concerned.

Why hello there, comic shop peeps!  If you’ve been trying to reach me via e-mail and I haven’t replied, please know that I’m not intentionally ignoring you (unless your name is Dario*)—rather, my e-mail has not been working lately.  And by “not working,” I mean “forgot my password.”  Don’t ask me how I managed to do that, but I did, and thus haven’t been able to log in for about three weeks or more now.  I’m waiting for Hotmail tech support to reset my password and let me in.  Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be in any great rush to get back to me.  Until I can get that working again, here’s a temporary address where I can be reached: ravenhaired1(at)live(dot)com.  I promise not to forget the password for this one.  EDIT:  fixed!

I am staggeringly behind on my comics reading and haven’t picked up any new stuff in two weeks, so I ask your forgiveness for the lack of reviews.  In the meantime, some notes/commentary:

  • As the final cover and variant cover for Justice League #1 come out, the great pants/no pants debate rages on, and it’s absurdly amusing if not very depressing.  For the record?  I’m pretty thrilled to see the pants gone (although that David Finch cover makes me want to cry).  DCWKA has a pretty great post that rather nicely sums up most of my own feelings on the topic of female character uniforms.
  • Oh.  I finally saw the nixed David E. Kelley Wonder Woman pilot.  To say that it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever watched would be paying it a compliment.  Thank goodness this thing didn’t get picked up.  As I sat there twitching and staring at the television in disbelief, Boyfriend fearfully turned to me at one point and said, “I can actually feel the rage coming off of you right now.”
  • Because I am completely obsessed with comics to the point I spend my … um … “lunch break” (heh heh) reading about comics news on the internet, I just saw that The Source has a first look at Henry Cavill as Superman in the upcoming new movie.  It looks very good, wouldn’t you agree?  And as the article mentions, Laurence Fishburne now has the role of Perry White.  Are we following in the footsteps of a Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury?  Not a bad decision, if you ask me.
    Rachel Rising #1
  • Another thing that’s not a bad decision is Marvel’s reveal of who the new Ultimate Spider-Man is.  SPOILERS here and here.  The character’s debut issue hit the stands on Wednesday in Ultimate Fallout #4, so snag a copy while you can.
  • The first issue of Terry Moore’s new book, Rachel Rising, also came out this week.  Is anyone checking this out?  Because you should.  Terry Moore is legit amazing—I would hate for his awesomeness to be eclipsed by the latest Marvel and DC hype.  Really looking forward to getting my hands on this.
  • Speaking of amazing—oh my goodness, Craig Thompson.  I love him.  His new book, Habibi, is coming out in just a few short weeks, and the previews I’ve seen are unbelievably gorgeous.  It makes me feel better to know I’ll have something to look forward to in September when the “New 52” inevitably lets me down.  Also, Mr. Thompson is doing a signing at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square the day after the book comes out, so if you’re in the area, let me know because I will most certainly be there.  PSYCHED, PSYCHED, PSYCHED!
  • Saw Captain America the other week.  It was awesome.  Avengers trailer after the credits brought out my squealing fangirl.  ‘Nuff said.

Okay, that’s all I got!  It’s gonna be a three-day weekend for me, so I’ll catch you punks later!  Happy comic reading!

*Just kidding, Dario, you know I love you!


Reblogged: DC Comics SDCC panels: uncomfortable questions about female creators/characters

Reblogged from DC Women Kicking AssThe DC Comics panels at SDCC have been filled with what I’m being told are uncomfortable and awkward moments around the issues of female creators and characters… [read more].

That’s some seriously screwed up stuff right there.  I wish I were at that panel to cheer this woman on.


Poll Results & Miscellaneous

Hey, y’all.  I haven’t gotten my comics in a couple of weeks, so I’m a little behind in the reviews.  I should have some Flashpoint stuff up by next week, if all goes well.  In the meantime, we were in a stalemate in the poll results until someone pushed option number two over the bump into a total of four votes and gave it the lead.  Looks like I’ll be picking up some DC books in September, per your requests.  That said, I am a little surprised that only eight of you voted—given that I know how many page views I’m getting per week, that’s a pretty low number.  Oh well.  Eight of you have spoken, and I shall listen!

Did anyone see Green Lantern last weekend?  I’m hearing some bad reactions to it but I haven’t gotten to the cinema yet.  I wonder if this is one that’s better left for the Netflix queue?

Photo from boston.com article

In other news, I hope you all checked out the comics article on boston.com today.  Worth a read.

Some sad information I’m sure you’ve all heard by now—R.I.P., Gene Colan.  If any of you have “Liked” the That’s Entertainment Facebook page, you’ll find a note posted from manager Ken that’s a lovely testament to what a nice guy Mr. Colan was.

That’s all I got for now.  Until next week….


It’s Poll Time!

As I slowly work my way back off the cliff I was teetering over during DC’s 52 title reboot announcement (I don’t care what DC’s saying—it’s a reboot), as I read the news and solicitations and interviews, I’m torn between some bleak feelings of negativity/disenchantment/anger, and feelings of minor interest/hope/reconsideration.  I ask myself—is this in fact the final straw for me as far as continuing to follow DC books?  I look over these 52 new titles and there are so few, if any at all, that I can say 100% interest me or excite me.  I troll over the list, and I’m really not excited.  The books and characters that make me love DC—Birds of Prey, Stephanie Brown Batgirl, Classic Wonder Woman, Jeff Lemire Superboy—have either been taken away or mangled into something completely unrecognizable to me in the favor of gaining this elusive, ever-sought-after “new reader.”  I still feel betrayed and heartbroken.

But then I hear about other people getting excited.  I read interviews with guys like Scott Lobdell, who are so genuinely psyched about what they’re doing, and seem to have given it the thought it deserves, that I begin to wonder if maybe I should re-think my stance.  Should I, at the very least, give these new books a fighting chance to grasp me?  How much time/money/enthusiasm do I want to put into this, given the high potential of being let down?  Do I risk that in the hope of coming across something—anything—that I’ll like?  Do I need to be less picky in general?  Will the only way to enjoy this be to lower my expectations—and is that even fair?

It’s so easy to be negative.  It’s easy to make light of everything and turn it into a joke.  It’s also easy to maybe take things too personally, although I’m not entirely convinced of that being wrong.  If anything, to me, comics should be personal.  Like any other work of art, it’s worthless without the effect of the personal.

Writer Jason Aaron (Scalped, Wolverine) has a column he does on Comic Book Resources where he gives advice to aspiring comics writers and people who want to break into the industry.  In the latest installment, he asks:

“Have you lost your joy?  Please don’t lose your joy.  Presumably it was that joy, that love of comics, that got you chasing this dream in the first place.  Don’t ever lose that.  We need more of that.  Don’t let it be eaten up by negativity.  What we don’t need is more people standing in front of the new release rack on Wednesdays, complaining about every other new book that’s coming out.  We’ve got that job pretty well covered. I used to write film reviews, so I know, it’s always easier to write a review of something you hate than something you like.  Don’t fall into that trap.  Don’t let your passion […] be defined solely by the negative.  At least pretend like you still take some sort of joy from this industry.  If you don’t, then ask yourself, ‘Why am I still here?’”

He kind of makes a good point, huh?

On the one hand, I want to stand my comic book moral ground and refuse to support what I think is a disrespectful way to treat a cast of characters and their fanbase; on the other hand, I don’t really know what’s going to happen here, and I’d really like to be able to shrug it off my shoulders, take it slightly less seriously, and just enjoy it.

And so I find myself at an impasse.  And so I turn to you, dear readers.

Tell me what to do.


1988 called. It wants Rob Liefeld back.

Hahaaha, oh my.  This is getting worse and worse.  Rob Liefeld on a new Hawk and Dove series?  I just might have to buy that.  The 90s are coming … I’m getting my suspenders ready!

As I try to quell my heartache over all of the DC news this week, I offer you some blurb reviews.  I didn’t realize until I was finished that they’re all Marvel.  There’s a chance that’ll become more often the case in the coming months.

And also, let me clarify one thing:  despite what the last issue of the newsletter said, “Suicide Girls” was damn well NOT my pick of the week.  You can thank my comic shop colleagues for that loving display of antagonism and embarrassment … but I suppose I had it coming.  :)
  

The Mighty Thor #2The Mighty Thor #2 – I was surprised to like this book.  Given my tendency to dislike Matt Fraction’s writing, my expectations for this title weren’t very high.  The main factor that convinced me to pick it up is Olivier Coipel pulling art duties, and I was right to fall for it, because he shines as bright as ever.  His crisp style does the same wonders for Thor here as it did during Coipel’s run with JMS not long ago, and his representation of the Silver Surfer is seriously awesome.  Story-wise, it’s nothing particularly ground-breaking yet, but entertaining enough without feeling as lethargic as I usually find Fraction to be (more on that below, unfortunately).  The plot involves Thor getting hurt while retrieving the World Seed, while the Silver Surfer warns earth of Galactus’ impending arrival.  So far there’s a nice split of focus between Thor, Odin, Loki, and Sif (my favorite—I bet that doesn’t surprise you), and it’s just fallen into this groove of “light reading” for me.  The title doesn’t seem to cross over much into Journey into Mystery so far, which is the better book of the two, but I wonder if that doesn’t have to change at some point.  I’m sticking with this and drooling over Coipel’s artistic candy for now.
  

Fear Itself Book ThreeFear Itself #3 – **SPOILERS**
I knew I shouldn’t be reading this.  I knew I shouldn’t have bothered, but here I am, never one to resist the horror.  My warm feelings for Matt Fraction don’t extend far beyond the above Mighty Thor post, readers, because—I’m sorry—this is some lazy, dumb shit we’ve got going on here.  Okay—I’m going to completely avoid all the other nitpicks I have with this issue and just focus on the one big one, which is BUCKY.  Poor, poor, dear old Bucky.  It’s a testament to the languid storytelling here that by the end of the issue, I wasn’t even sure if he was actually dead.  I had to take to the internet and get other people’s reactions in order to know for sure what was going on.  Even the incredible Stuart Immonen couldn’t save this for me, and from what I’ve read, I wasn’t the only one left confused.  But, yes—it’s confirmed that Bucky is very dead.  Again.  And I cannot for the life of me understand why they thought this would be a good idea.  So Marvel wants Steve back as Cap?  Okay, fine.  Let’s do it.  But that is absolutely no reason for Bucky to have to die.  Marvel brought him back against a bunch of pissing and moaning from the fans, gave him to Brubaker who turned him into a really great character and let the spotlight shine on him for a couple of years, won all the fans over and now they’re taking all that and throwing it away just for one poorly-constructed scene in an event book.  It makes no sense.  It doesn’t sell any extra copies of the book, it didn’t add anything to the scene, and it didn’t take away from how blah and boring the rest of the story has been.  It was nothing.  Just a nothing scene.  Despite my love for the character, I felt absolutely nothing reading this.  Not to mention it made no sense at all to keep him completely out of the first two books, then turn around in issue three and off him out of nowhere.  WHAT?  That is damn LAZINESS, Matt Fraction—LAZY.  YOU MAKE KITTY CRY.
  

Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1 – Rob Williams writes this issue in place of the tag team of Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu.  I’m not sure if this is a permanent change or just a fill in—I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Marjorie Liu won’t be co-writing anymore, but I could be wrong.  At any rate, the title’s been a little hit and miss for me.  I enjoyed most of the earlier stuff, but as soon as the crossover with X-23 happened, I got a little turned off.  With that done and over now, all of the attention is rightfully back on Daken.  Despite the “point one” suggestion that this is a good jumping on point to read the book, it really wouldn’t hurt to go out of your way and pick up the stuff that came before it.  It’ll only give you a fuller sense of the story and a better understanding of Daken as a character.  Issue #9.1 mainly deals with Daken ascertaining his dominion over … well, himself, really—who he is, what he’s about, and the fact that he’s not Wolverine.  As the issue opens with one of Daken’s victims chastising him with the reality that all he ever does is destroy—never does he create anything—Daken actually takes it to heart and decides to act.  How he acts, I’ll leave it for you to see, but something kind of falls flat this issue.  While the story idea isn’t terrible, it’s also not particularly strong, and just feels a bit recycled.  That said, the impression we’re left with is that Daken will be launching into something better moving forward.  Ron Garney on art is, like the story itself, hit and miss, but I haven’t given up on this yet.  Let’s see what the next few issues bring.
  

Uncanny X-Force #11Uncanny X-Force #11 – The Apocalypse personality continues to cause trouble for our dear Warren Worthington in the lastest issue of what has easily become one of my favorite comics on the shelf, and it’s up to the rest of the X-Force team to cure Warren of what ails him.  Unfortunately, curing him means trusting in Dark Beast of the AoA and following him back into his own time in order to procure the life seed (what’s with the “seed” theme this month?) that will temper the Apocalypse personality within Warren.  The character interaction here is great, not only among team members, but also with the surprise guests that pop up from the Age of Apocalypse timeline.  You know when I said that X-Men: Legacy was the best X-book out there right now, and that the rest is toilet paper?  Well, at the time I said that, I’d apparently forgotten about Uncanny X-Force.  This title has been oh-my-word good since issue one, and Rick Remender is showing no signs of slowing down.  This is the quality of writing—character, plot, and setting—that I look for in every book I pick up each month, but only seem to get in a handful.  If that.  I’ll take this over the 800 Fear Itself tie-ins any day.


Catching Up on Comics, Big Bang Theory, Crying in My Morning Cheerios, and More

A lot going on lately (I hope everyone in the MA area was safe and sound last night during the crazy storms). I’ve desperately been trying to catch up on a pile of reading, but it’s going slowly, as Captain Couch has been wailing on me pretty hard the last couple of weeks. Our skirmishes have been truly terrible and I have some bruises to show for last night’s fight. My weapon of choice lately has been Chew—I’ve had the first three trades for a while and only recently cracked open the first one, and I LOVE it. Oh man, it’s so good. I’m halfway through volume two right now.

Who’s excited for X-Men: First Class opening this week? I want to be able to check it out some time this weekend; it looks like it has some good stuff going for it. My hopes are high. They’d better be playing it in 2D locally or I’m going to be very depressed.

DC Reboot

Speaking of depression … how about that big ol’ DC reboot that’s coming? So much of me wants to avoid acknowledging it because I’ll probably be reduced to a blubbering mess of tears in my cereal as more information comes out this morning, but EVERYONE else is saying something—despite my avoidant tendencies, I guess it can’t be ignored. That’s right, DC is starting all over again (YET again, yet again) and changing a heck of a lot of stuff. How much/what exactly? We’re still learning; so far I hear talk of a new Hawkman book, Aquaman, Captain Atom, and some other stuff that doesn’t interest me. The most depressing info by far is the fact that Gail Simone will no longer be writing Birds of Prey. I can’t even believe that. Ouch, it hurt me just to type. DC, why can’t we leave well enough alone? I guess Gail is teaming up with Ethan van Sciver for a Firestorm book instead (comicjunkie, you lucky bastard). And I don’t even want to know what the fate of Batgirl is going to be.
Also, this news, if true, is pretty stupid. Ugh. I’m currently an awkward amalgam of rage and despair.

And yet—one thing that’s offsetting my misery is The Big Bang Theory. Friends have been hounding me for ages to watch this and I finally subbed to it on Netflix a few weeks ago. I’m currently on season three and loving it. If you’re a comic book fan, you should be watching this show. Thank you, comic shop peeps! You know who you are!

Umm… what else did I want to touch on? Oh—that NBC Wonder Woman show has been canned. I’m not particularly heartbroken. If anyone happens to find a copy of the unaired pilot somewhere, please share—I’d like to see just how much pain I’m being spared.

Bazinga.”


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