Saturday, February 04, 2012

This week's link post...which may or may not mention the Watchmen prequel a whole lot

Wow, How the Elephant Got his Trunk: The Graphic Novel is being published to read right to left, manga-style? That's kinda weird.

Seriously though, I wonder why they didn't just flip that image? I notice things like that as an adult, but as a child they used to drive me crazy, knocking me out of whatever cartoon I was watching or newspaper comic strip I was reading while I tried to figure out if the people who made it got it wrong or I was mis-remembering how books worked or what.

I saw that image in this post at The Beat, by the way. A lot of the book in there look fairly terrible. I like the look on that crocodile's face in the background of the Kipling GN cover above a whole lot though.


This treasure trove of quotes from people at Marvel talking about Marvelman made for some pretty interesting reading. Is it just me, or does it seem like Marvel's due to make a big announcement about that soon, maybe something to try and get an excited/anguished response of the sort DC earned for their crazy Watchmen plans?

Or is Marvel better off just keeping their head down, making their same old comic book, and letting DC keep being DC, in the hopes that the Distinguished Competition's grandiose plans come crashing down around them in flaming, toxic rubble?


There are some interesting books among DC's plans for Fall collections.

I was a little surprised to see this one:

Writers: Barbara Kesel, Chuck Dixon, Jai Nitz, Terry Moore, Geoff Johns, Jimmy Palmiotti, Judd Winick,
Artists: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
$39.99 US, 304 pg
Mostly because DC doesn't do a whole lot of giant artist-specific collections like this, and the ones they do do tend to focus on Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and other legendary or classic artists (For example, this same slate of books includes a book entitled Adventures of Superman: Gil Kane).

Looking at the contents, that's a very broad collection, covering a very long period of time and a rather wide-ranging amount of material. I'm not sure—is that everything Conner's done for DC, outside of the Power Girl monthly? It sure looks like it is, or, if not, is very close.

The one I was most excited to see, however, was this:

Writers: Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohen
Artists: Ernie Colon, Ric Estrada, Pablo Marcos, Alex Saviuk, Bob Smith, Gary Martin, Romeo Tanghal, Kurt Schaffenberger and Karl Kesel
$19.99 US, 648 pg
I do so adore DC's Showcase Presents reprint program, ad this is a series I've been curious about for years. I've held off on back-issue bin books in the hopes of something very complete and very cheap, just like this.

Finally, there's this:

Writer/artist: Joe Kubert
Collects: Covers from various DC war comics
$24.99 US, 208 pg
It's awfully pricey, and more than I'd probably be willing to pay for something that doesn't contain actual readable comics stories in my current circumstance (i.e. not being rich), but I suppose that's a nice price point for a coffee table, and if I could afford it (and a coffee table on which to place it), I'd certainly be into it.


So I've been thinking about Captain Marvel a bit more than usual this week, on account of Geoff Johns letting it be known that he and DC are going to be changing his name to his catchphrase because, and I quote, "everybody thinks he's Shazam already, outside of comics."

I was trying really, really hard to think of another example of a popular character who is better known by something other than his real name by society in general, so as to think of an example on par with the move on some sort of ridiculousness spectrum.

The best I could come up with Frankenstein's monster, whom a lot of folks refer to as Frankenstein, even though that was the name of the doctor, not the monster, in the book and original films. That's a particularly powerful mix-up, I think, because even those of us who know better tend to think of an image of the monster when we hear the word "Frankenstein." (I know I can picture Karloff and the Karloff-inspired takes on the monster a lot more easily than a I can put a particular actor's face to the scientist, for example).

Increasingly, I've heard the proper noun used like a common noun to, as in "a Frankenstein" to refer to any reanimated, patchwork monster brought to life with lightning or electricity.

But that's not really that great an analogy to Captain Marvel/Shazam. There are a couple of comic book versions of the monster who have taken the name Frankenstein for themselves, explaining that it was the name of their father (The Grant Morrison/Doug Mahnke Seven Soldiers' Frankenstein, currently starring in DC's Agent of SHADE series, and the Wachowski Brother's Burlyman Entertainment one both renamed themselves Frankenstein; I think the lead character in the graphic novel adaptation of Dean Koontz' Frankenstein prose novels did too, but I can't recall, having tried to block the reading of that book out of my mind).

Friend Troy Brownfield—who has a new webcomic with artist Sarah Vaughn set to debut in just 13 more short days—pointed to the widespread belief that Darius Rucker from Hootie and The Blowfish was actually named "Hootie" as a good example of similar name confusion.

So I guess Captain Marvel changing his name to Shazam would have been a little like Darius Rucker legally changing his name to Hootie, because everybody thinks he's Hootie already, outside of his friends and family."


One thing I've seen commenters in comment threads under stories about the Cap name change mention is that the character went by the name "Captain Marvel" in his appearance in Justice League Unlimited (If I recall correctly, that was an entire episode of Cap and Superman just beating the living daylights out of one another) and in Batman: The Brave and The Bold and, I think, Young Justice (He's appeared in Young Justice, hasn't he? I haven't seen any of it yet).

I know DC's direct-to—DVD cartoons have featured the character, too. He's on the cover of one and, depending on how closely it followed the story arc it adapted, he should also have appeared in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. I haven't seen either, but I assume he's Cap in those too, right?

So any confusion over his name being "Shazam" instead of Captain Marvel, who, exactly, is suffering from that? Is it a symptom of the 1974-1977 live-action TV series (which debuted when Geoff Johns was one year old, and ended the year I was born?), or from the

Because it seems like kids who like superheroes, or young people who were until recently kids who like superheroes, would have had ample opportunity to meet "Captain Marvel" already. The people who know him as "Shazam" are the people who who are in their 30s to 40s and don't read comics. I think the former is probably the demographic DC should be reaching out to at the moment, not the latter.


In general, the "New 52" reboot probably would have benefited enormously from reshaping the DC Universe to better resemble the various characters and franchises as the DC cartoons of the last decade or so reimagined them and introduced them to a new generation, rather than seeking aesthetic inspiration from the early '90s boom in the hopes of reclaiming the lapsed fans of that era. Many of those shows found rather remarkable ways to make some pretty stale and complicated characters fresh and accessible, and to find rather elegant solutions to some of the problems the comic book producers have gotten hung up on over the years (Like, for example, which version of which character to use, and if so-and-so is alive or dead or in the same universe as another character and so on).


I thought about Spawn more this week than I have in a few years, on account of writing up this tidbit for CA.

It got me thinking about Medieval (and/or Dark Ages) Spawn's horse there. Who created that horse? Who owns that horse? Do McFarlane and Gaiman own it jointly now? Did McFarlane make any—or a lot—of money off that horse?

I really like animal sidekicks to superheroes, and never really thought about that Spawn's horse (but then, I read that comic once in 1992 and then never thought about it again).

I think I'm going to add "Medieval Spawn's Horse" to my list of dream comics I wish I could write some day (right below a Legion of Super-Pets series for DC and a G.I. Joe series for IDW featuring Polly, Timber, Freedom and the other Joe pet-partners). And as long as I'm dreaming and wishing, I think I'd want Kelley Jones to draw Medieval Spawn's Horse; that guy draws the very best bad-ass, scary and/or evil horses.


I love this panel from Spawn #9, as it looks like it's Medieval Spawn's Horse that is saying the line, "Where is this ogre?", rather than Medieval Spawn.


So I was all set to link to this big, long, thorough discussion on The Mindless Ones about this week's big publishing announcement, but then a few hundred words in, I saw that their post linked back to one of my posts here, and I had second thoughts. Can I link to posts that link to my posts? Will it look weird, like maybe I'm just saying I agree with them because one of them said they agreed with me?

Then I decided to go ahead and link to it anyway, because one of the Ones so succinctly dismissed two of the more frequent—and more annoying—defenses of more Watchmen made by anonymous commenters below industry sites and blogs discussing the project (And those in defense are almost exclusively anonymous, or being paid to write the prequels. Say what you will about Lucas Siegel of Newsarama's piece defending, even praising DC for deciding to pull the trigger on doing more Watchmen, at least he had the guts to sign his own name to a very unpopular set of opinions, despite the anger offering them so publicly is going is going to bring his way from just about everyone who isn't involved with making the prequels, I imagine).

Writes Bobsy:

Arguments in the Watchmen debate (not here, elsewhere) I’m finding specious:

* Moore can’t bitch because he ripped off the Charlton characters. [He didn't, the Charlton characters inspired him to make new ones. If there were any traction in this line of reasoning then the big comic announcement of today would be 'New Blue Beetle Sequel']

* Moore can’t bitch because he rips off Robert Louis Stevenson et al in LOEG. [Stevenson is dead. His kids are dead. His grandkids are probably dead. He can't be ripped off by anyone.]
Yes. There's a difference between "inspired by the Charlton characters" and "The Charlton characters," and it's about as wide as that between Fawcett's Captain Marvel and Alan Moore and company's Marvelman...actually, maybe it's wider. And there's a difference so big between public domain characters adapted millions of times in dozens of media and the characters from Watchman that I want to find a cure for baldness just so I'll have hair to rip out anytime anyone anywhere in the world compares Moore writing an Alice in Lost Girls to DC publishing a JMS-written Watchmen prequel.


Here's a post on the prequel announcement that the Mindless Ones linked to too. It's by a Mr. Lance Parkin. And it's really good.

This bit caught my eye especially:
I do have to say that I do look at what Brian Azzarello – writing a ‘visceral’ Rorschach series – says and roll my eyes a little:

‘It’s 25 years later. Let’s make them vital again.’

Let’s not kid ourselves here, let’s just look at some numbers. The bestselling individual comic of the last ten years, by miles, is the Obama inauguration issue of Spider-Man, which sold about half a million copies in early 2009. The same year as that, twice as many copies of Watchmen were sold. It had a cover price five times higher.

So don’t anyone delude themselves that this is DC taking moribund smelly clapped out old Watchmen and pouring in energy and lifeforce, hoping a bit of magic will rub off. It’s exactly the opposite.
It's weird because that fact seems like both a rationale to try to make more Watchmen and an indictment on attempting anything that might mess with the success of Watchmen. Sales-wise, Watchmen is still the top of the heap by most metrics, isn't it? Looked at form certain angles, 25 years later, that 1986-87 limited series is still the Big Two product that the majority of people who want to read superhero comics want to read, isn't it?

Keeping that in mind, DC deciding on prequels seems a little like the publisher trying to get the goose that lays golden eggs to increase her shaking her vigorously. Maybe more eggs will come out faster, or she'll be so traumatized she lays less eggs, or maybe her neck will break and that will be that.

There are times when Dan DiDio terrifies, depresses and impresses me all at once. If Paul Levitz was a ship captain, DiDio is like a daredevil motorcyclist. I mean that more as an insult than a compliment, but I do find something admirable in his brazen recklessness. (But then, I'm watching the way he and co-publisher Jim Lee and others in positions of power and influence at DC these days run the company from a very safe, very far-removed distance).


Abhay has been killing it this week. Here's his first post responding to the announcement, in which he repurposes a notorious quote from Jason Aaron. (I must admit to being pretty disappointed that Jason Aaron isn't one of the people writing a Watchmen thing. Just as I am that Grant Morrison and Rob Liefeld aren't involved. I kinda wish it was all people who have trash-talked Moore before makign these. Like I said a long time ago, I would have preferred DC have been as punk rock about more Watchmen as possible—or, barring that, as sarcastic as possible—instead of this weird passive-aggressive thing where they seem to be half-assing it, getting a mostly mediocre line-up of creators that, when all their names are assembled, reads like a list of The Best People We Asked Who Didn't Turn Us Down, and then everyone from DC's PR folks to the people actually making the comics sounding rather reluctant to be doing so and rationalizing their actions. JMS especially seems to be talking himself into writing Watchmen prequels every time he say anything about the endeavor in public).

Abhay then made his own prequels to Watchmen, 100 Bullets and New Frontier.

And then he made his own "fanpage for Watchmen 2 creator Darwyn Cooke" which makes me want to laugh and cry (with sadness, not joy) at the same time.


I just wanted to point out that Lucy's eyes in this image from Boom's Peanuts #1 really freak me out:There. I'm glad I got that off my chest.


TheRailwayMan said...

I think it'd be fairly reasonable assumption that the Captain Marvel name-change is probably more due to the issues DC's had since Marvel's own Captain Marvel emerged. What better way to stop all of that copyright nonsense by renaming the character something people have calling him for years? Now they can do what they like with the character without Marvel throwing an awful auld hissy-fit.

Michael Hoskin said...

DC bought up Captain Marvel after Marvel's version already existed, so they knew what they were getting before Geoff Johns was even born.

That Darwyn Cooke fan page... damn. Funny and depressing.

matthew. said...

I tend to agree with you, Caleb. I wish DC had been more eff you about the whole thing. Watchmen wasn't about adoring the past but showing how ridiculous superheroes are. These prequels will only serve as mindless worship that doesn't fully understand what made Watchmen so good in the first place

collectededitions said...

As RailwayMan said, you're taking Johns at his word that it's the reason they're changing Marvel's name, when I think it has more to do with being able to put on the cover whatever the character's name is, and also not having a major character in their stable with the moniker "Marvel."

Another pop culture-y example of this is Mark Foster originally calling his band Foster and the People, but enough listeners misheard it that he renamed the band to Foster the People. "Shazam," as it were.

Andrew said...

No, it's not everything Conner's done but it's a HUGE chunk of it. Off the top of my head, I can think of the 4-issue Terra mini-series, the illustrated letter pages she did for several issues of Mark Waid's Legion Of Super-Heroes, a section of the Harley Quinn: Our Worlds At War special, part of an issue of Robinson's Starman (which is collected in the Omnibus edtions for that series anyway), and for Vertigo she did several issues of Codename: Knockout.

Oh, and don't forget that IDW also has solicited an Art Of Amanda Conner book too. It's a good time to be a Conner fan!