Sunday, March 14, 2010

So there was a comic book convention this weekend.

That’s the cover of an Image one-shot written and illustrated by Ryan Ottley, shown as part of a slideshow at this weekend’s Emerald City Comic Con. Let’s hear it for high concepts! (Also, please note that there appears to be a baby’s head in the mouth of the Grizzly Shark. Perhaps Tucker Stone was on to something after all.)

What other news came out of the convention? And, more importantly, what do I think about that news?

Or, “Power Girl to be cancelled in a few months”: Well, perhaps that’s overly pessimistic, but it’s the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw the headline “Palmiotti, Gray and Conner off of Power Girl.” I’ve only read a handful of issues of the series, but Amanda Conner’s art was far and away the most appealing aspect of the book—it’s what got me to read those few issues, it’s what would get me to read a few more, and it’s usually the thing I see praised most when the book is being praised by anyone (Her art, and the general tone of the book).

If Conner couldn’t do more than twelve issues, and wanted to move on rather than take a break before returning a month or three later, I could sort of see why co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray would also want to move on too, but, on the other hand, I always got the sense from reading Palmiotti’s columns and posts around the Internet that he was super-enthusiastic about the character and the book and was going to be on it until it was pried from him.

Certainly someone somewhere should be able to replace Conner and bring much of what she brought to the book. Kevin Maguire is probably the most obvious choice in a lot of ways, and I know J. Bone could do deliver big, fun, funny, cartoony and sexy on a monthly basis, or maybe there’s a newcomer out there somewhere.

I will be curious to see what DC does with the title next. The Comic Book Resources article I linked to above ends with Palmiotti giving advice to his successors, which gave me the impression he wasn’t sure who they would be yet. Power Girl sells poorly enough that changing the entire creative team and possibly direction of the title only 12 issues in seems sort of radical.

The last Beat analysis had PG just below 22K for the eighth issue, below Supergirl and Wonder Woman, as well as both Titans books and Booster Gold. Unless DC ends up bringing in some pretty big names, it’s hard to imagine a Power Girl monthly being around this time next year.

Best news of the weekend (that I heard): Boom Studios, the comics publisher which has been cranking out some great kids comics of late, will be doing a Darkwing Duck miniseries starting in June.

I was a longtime watcher of the “Disney Afternoon” block of after-school cartoons, with Darkwing Duck following a close second to Duck Tales as one of my all-time favorites. Let’s see, I would have been…14 when the show debuted, which was right around the time I started getting into comics and superheroes, so it clicked with my waning interest in Duck Tales and waxing interest in superheroes.

I haven’t tried re-watching it since—despite having taped some of my favorite episodes on blank VCR tapes—so I’m unsure of how well it holds up, but I remember liking the premise (What if Batman were a Disney duck?), the lead actor’s voice a lot (as well as that of his evil opposite, Nega-Duck) and that gun he had that you could stick anything in and it would shoot it out the front. (Hmm, I guess I should check Youtube for old episodes…)

I, uh, I thought I might have more to say about this then simply, “Neat, I’m looking forward to this comic book!” But I guess not. Oh well, this sounds neat; I’m looking forward to this comic book.

I’m not at all surprised that Ian Sattler isn’t familiar with the term “women-in-refrigerators”: Considering I wrote a bit about the fact that DC killed off a little girl in Justice League: Cry For Justice (and read a ton about it over the course of the last week or so), I figure it’s worth following up on what Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler and writer James Robinson had to say on the matter.

Here’s a bit from a Comic Book Resources report on a “DC Nation” panel:

Sattler said he disagreed with the assessment that the character was “fridged” (i.e. that her death was pointless). Robinson (the writer of the story) quickly added, “The decision has been controversial and one that I know has been greeted with displeasure by some. I'm sorry if it upset people. In all honesty, they wanted to kill Speedy too, and I said no, so give me some credit for that."

It appeared that Robinson was joking about wanting to kill Speedy, although some in the crowd were unsure. Sattler jumped in and said, “I’m proud of the story and stand by it. I'm happy it upset people because it means that the story had some weight and emotion.”

Robinson and Sattler also added that this story needed to be told to get Green Arrow to a specific place story-wise, as the character is going to have a “big” year. During the panel, Robinson also noted, “If you see what DC has planned for Green Arrow; Star City (Green Arrow’s hometown) will be one of the greatest cities in the DCU.”

Two quick things.

First, there’s the repeat of the “I’m happy it upset people because it means that the story had some weight” bit. That’s…a peculiar take away. Were some readers upset specifically because Lian Harper, the child of Roy Harper (a.k.a. Red Arrow, a.k.a. Arsenal, a.k.a. Speedy) died? Sure, I’ve read reactions from fans specifically upset that that particular character had died, at least one of whom described herself as a Lian fan.

I read far more people reacting not to the fact that a character died, but to the fact that DC killed her, or the way in which DC killed her. You know, how crass and exploitive it is, how meaningless and pointless it is, how out of place it is in a Justice League comic that barely mentions her dad, let alone Lian herself. What it says about the publisher, the writer, the reader, and what the publisher must think of its readers. Where it fits in the pattern of superhero decadence and so on.

I’m sure we’ll see when sales analysis of the issue is released that, dead kid or not, it’s nowhere near as successful as Blackest Night or Sieige or Batman and Robin, and, more likely didn’t even sell as many copies as it’s parent book, Justice League of America, which didn’t feature any dead kids that month (Future issues of Green Arrow following up on that plot point may see an uptick, but then, Green Arrow sales are so low almost anything would have caused an uptick in interest and sales…)

Apparently Sattler subscribes to the “no such thing as bad publicity” school of thought. But even if that is true, it doesn’t mean people approve of whatever is generating the bad publicity.

Secondly, I thought it was kind of funny how the report says Sattler and Robinson went on to explain that “this story needed to be told to get Green Arrow to a specific place story-wise, as the character is going to have a “big” year.”

Something terrible happening to a female supporting character in able to motivate a male hero is pretty much the text book definition of women-in-refrigerator-ism, isn’t it?

(Oh, by the way, the above image of Green Arrow cradling the lifeless body of a little girl he and the rest of the superheroes of the DC Universe were unable to save is part of a splash page. Standing immediately to the left of Green Arrow is his wife, Black Canary. She looks like this in the same panel: Is she covering her face because she can't bear to look upon the body of her kinda sorta step-fake-granddaughter? Or is she slapping her forehead because she can't believe DC even put her in a stupid scene like this?)

File under Things That Probably Should Not Be: Star Wars burlesque…? Um, hmmm. A sexy storm trooper and a Jaba the Hutt balloon dance thing seem so, so, so wrong, and yet I couldn’t look away. They definitely gets points for creativity, including some of the last characters you’d expect to see (Chewbacca, the aforementioned Jabba, both droids), and only using slave Leia and none of those ladies with two tentacles for hair like that one dancer of Jabba’s. The photo gallery linked to above is at CBR, and they use black bars to cover up the pasties for some reason (does that make looking at a photo set of a Star Wars burlesque show at work more acceptable?); LA Weekly has a slideshow sans bars…and another of the same troupe’s video game themed show (Sadly, no Pac-Man, as the poster for the show suggested).


Michael Hoskin said...

I'm pretty sure Black Canary is nursing a hangover.

Randal said...

Pretty sure I saw that Image comic as a Saturday night Syfy movie.

Anthony Strand said...

Darkwing Duck was voiced by the great Jim Cummings, who you probably know from a thousand other things. And I agree, he was typically terrific there.

Justin said...

By a strange coincidence, I bought a season of Darkwing Duck on DVD about a week before the announcement was made, so let me just say, this show is probably as fun as you remember it. Clever set ups, and there's an episode that's basically a Dark Knight parody.

The thing that stands out to me, though, oddly enough, is the opening credit sequence. That thing is a *masterpiece* of editing. It should be taught in film school - "Okay, you'll probably want to be a *bit* less flashy with editing unless you're actually directing the opening of a first-run syndication cartoon, but just take a look at what you *could* do--!"

Matt said...

Given being what they were, Power Girl might not have made it anyway.

People say they want to read fun comics that aren't tied to big events but the direct market obviously disagrees with a vengeance.

Avi Green said...

You know, reading about Lian Harper, I was thinking of something:

Her death was definitely bad and gratuitous, but what if she hadn't died, and only all those unnamed citizens of Star City did? Would there be as much of a reaction? The answer is probably "no" and if so, that's troubling. Even the idea of slaughtering thousands of unnamed people in a comic book story can be going overboard, and DC has been a major offender with stories like those, including Zero Hour.

In fact, was there this kind of outrage when Geoff Johns wrote Rogues Revenge a year and a half ago, and depicted Inertia slaughtering Josh Jackam? Why did it take until the travesty of Cry for Justice to get a wakeup call about how R-rated violence has gone overboard in mainstream comics?