Monday, August 27, 2012

(links)

This week's links post appears on a Monday night, rather than a Sunday night. And I didn't do one at all last week, because there weren't very many links saved up that week. So let's see what we've got, and how old and out-of-date some of 'em are!

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Here's a Ross Campbell drawing of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles battling a horde of quadrapedal mouser robots. It is awesome. They've got their variously colored masks on, and clearly visible eyeballs with pupils in them underneath their masks (something I usually don't like), but note how cool those masks look, and the way Campbell's perfectly defines their various personalities through their expressions. Every night after I brush my teeth but before I get in bed, I kneel in front of my bed and pray to God that IDW gives Ross Campbell his own TMNT monthly comic to do whatever the hell he wants with.

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I hate this headline like Lex Luthor hates Superman. The article itself is fine though, but it doesn't seem to support the headline. So maybe the headline was just a joke, and just not sharp enough to be really funny...? I don't know.

Should the headline prevent you from reading the article beneath it, here's the Brian Hibbs column that the article links to, and here's Tom Spurgeon linking to and commenting on the same.

I found Hibbs' discussion of the DC backlist interesting, as it was one of the first things I began wondering about when they announced their plans to reboot their universe/continuity to such an extreme. That is, say you're a young person watching cartoons and you see the Blue Beetle in Batman: The Brave and The Bold and/or Young Justice and want to read a Blue Beetle comic book. There are now two tradepaperbacks featuring the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle out there now, both called Blue Beetle Vol. 1—one set in the pre-New 52 DCU, one set after, but both telling very different versions of how Jaime Reyes got the scarab and became the Blue Beetle.

Likewise, I just finished reading the first volume Batman, Inc, and found myself pretty confused about whether the book even "counts" anymore, given how many of the characters don't exist in the same configuration any more, and it seems like it would be difficult to explore too much of DC's impressive backlist when the publisher is making such a big deal about how that stuff is the old, failed universe, whereas the stuff that is just now coming out in trade is the DCU done right, you know?

Another point Hibbs made that jumped out at me was how the (fairly arbitrary) number 52 can and will serve as a drag on DC as a line, since they've committed to publishing at least that many comic books month in and month out, whether there's an audience for that many or not. It would be nice to see the publisher look to that large number as an excuse to go a little crazy and try out different genres and tones—like, if you know you have to cancel a book or six every eight months and replace them immediately anyway, why not use that opportunity to experiment?—but I suppose the fact that those 52 comics all have to be set in the same superhero universe will hinder that.

On the other hand, Earth 2 is part of the New 52, and its set in a parallel universe to the rest of the New 52iverse, so perhaps DC can carve out some wiggle room in their line for something a little different. Not that I'll hold my breath or anything.

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I quite reading Brian Michael Bendis scripted comic books on a regular basis a long time ago, but I was interested to see Paul O'Brien note the prolific writer attempting "a curious little storytelling device" that doesn't really work quite right in his review of the Bendis-written Avengers #28-29.

I say interested because it seems to confirm a theory of my own about Bendis's Marvel work that I developed a long, long time ago (like, the first few issues of his Mighty Avengers, which were in about, oh, 2007 or so, I guess).

Basically, Bendis seems to obviously bored by his work that he is constantly experimenting with little variations of technique that don't always serve a particular story well or play to the strengths of the artists he's working with, but rather just read like a smart guy screwing around, trying to alleviate some of the tedium of his day job.

I began wondering about this five years ago. That's 567,000 Brian Michael Bendis-written scripts ago.

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This is gonna bum a lot of people out, particularly those of us who blog about comics and comics news (and, often, comics "news"). Stephenson's blog was kind of special in that he was able to generate coverage and stories through his posts on it, simply by being who he was and saying the things he said in the way he said them.

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This is a very well-written review of one of the Before Watchmen comics, one of the particular comics that seemed like it had the best chance of being a decent comic book, based on the fact that it was written by Brian Azzarello rather than Len Wein or J. Michael Straczynski or Darwyn Cooke or whoever.

It seems to be in line with almost all of the reviews I've read of the various Before Watchmen projects, in which a common complaint emerges: They're just generally well-crafted comics that aren't only not living up to the reputation of the original, but apparently not trying very hard to justify their existence either, reinforcing the idea that it's empty money-mongering (on the parts of the publishers as well as the creators).

Maybe the next round of Watchmen comics—now that they've broken the taboo and moved a lot (well, a lot relative to comics in 2012) of paper, it's going to be very, very easy to do another round (UPDATE: Hey, they just announced a new series! Link below)—will be the one where we'll get Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on a JLA crossover, "Crisis on Earth-Watchmen!" and Rob Lifeld Rob Liefelding about on Alan Moore and David Gibbons creations (UPDATED AGAIN: Probably not!) about or other real, serious attempts to do more personal, more brash, more punk rock versions of Watchmen.

We'll see. So far, though, it all just sounds very, very dull, and if you're going to do something so massively controversial, it seems a shame that it's not more exciting.

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I liked the three comics of this suite that I read back in the day. Like a few other, similar events DC did in the past—the villain-focused "New Year's Evil" being one that leaps immediately to mind—this is something I always wished the publisher would do again, and on a regular basis.

It's a good way to get characters in the spotlight who can't carry their own titles (and renew their trademarks, while you're at it) and it can be used as an extra issue of a popular comic (as the JLA and Starman specials were), and can be made to seem important to readers so that they want to read them, by using them as lead-ins or prologues to storylines in upcoming titles or big story arcs. I belive The Secret was more or less the launch of the Young Justice title, for example.

So, if DC did seven of these books, like, today, they could do another Lois Lane, pull felmale characters from team books to reveal something important (Like, Ice from Justice League International, Harley Quinn or Amanda Waller from Suicide Squad, Katana or someone from Birds of Prey, the new Hawgirl from Earth 2, etc), or they could take a female character from the most popular comics, and it would serve as an extra issue to sell to that sizable fan-base, so you could have a Green Lantern: Star Sapphire, Justice League: Element Girl, Batman, Incorporated: The Black Bat (pretty please) or (more likely) : Talia al Ghul, et cetera.

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Hey, did you hear about this series Gail Simone apparently pitched repeatedly? It's funny. At the end of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers suite of interlocking miniseries, when The Shinking Knight was about to be enrolled in a girl's school or whatever, I kind of hoped a book like the one Simone was pitching would exist. Not with those particular characters, of course. As the though occurred to me while I was reading Seven Soldiers, I was thinking specifically of "Sir Justin" trying to get used to modern life/being a girl, with a few teenage, female superheroine handlers at her private, all-girls school. I believe the characters I was thinking of at the time were Shining Knight, the teenage apprentice from the Seven Soldiers Zatana series (Mindy, I think her name was...?), Steel's niece Nat and the semi-retired Arrowette from Young Justice.

But hell, DC has an awful lot of female, teenage super-characters sitting on the bench at the moment, so it wouldn't be too hard finding enough of them to fill a whole student body, let alone the cast of a single comic book set in a school.

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I can't decide if this makes that cover of the Green Lantern in a ski mask pointing a gun at the reader more hilarious or less hilarious, or has no effect on the hilarity of the image.

I'm going with no effect—That DC is publishing a cover featuring a Green Lantern of color with ski mask and gun is always going to be funny, whatever the precise ethnicity of the Green Lantern in question.

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I don't have an exact link to accompany this tidbit, but I suppose you could just start reading Rob Liefeld's Twitter feed—which is still using that funny picture of Hawkman wearing what appears to be a golden football helmet with wings, despite his upcoming departure with DC—until you hit the funny, shocking, weird and sad stuff.

As you've likely heard, Liefeld will be leaving DC shortly, where he is writing or co-writing three books, as well as providing shitty covers for all three—and has been talking all sorts of smack about at least one of his editors, and, more recently, Tom Brevoort and Scott Snyder.

It's a strange thing to watch.

Myself, I find it fascinating that he got editorial interference over his writing (almost as fascinating as the fact that DC hired Rob Liefeld to write three books for them), but not his art. Like, every single month when the publisher released its solicitations and I'd see a new handful of Liefeld cover images, I think, "I can't believe no editor ever says no to the stuff that guy turns in."

When you look past Liefeld's tweets though, surely there have been enough examples of writers leaving DC's "New 52" complaining of editorial interference and last-minute changes that a pattern can be determined. Very little of what Liefeld complains about, after all, hasn't also been complained about by other departing writers.

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Gross. Here's Newsarama's Vaneta Rogers asking the same half-dozen questions that get asked in every single interview with a comics writer on a Newsarama-like site of Before Watchmen's J. Michael Straczynski, who has just added another Before Watchmen comic to his plate.

She does add a bonus softball, regarding the controversy of the Before Watchmen project, which JMS has quite loudly courted, mostly by being an asshole about it in public:

Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the Moloch series or the Before Watchmen series overall?

Straczynski: When the furor hit the interwebs we all said that, in the end, the books would stand or fall based on the quality of the work.

The hype, the PR, the he-said/she-said...in the end it’s meaningless and irrelevant. What matters is what ends up on the shelf. If it works, it sells, and it continues living. If it doesn’t, it’s fishwrap. What the books have shown through the sales and the overall reception is that these are really good stories, by some of the best writers and artists in the business (and me, bringing up the rear), and I think they will stand the test of time.

In the end, what else is there?

Like I said—gross. That was the first thing I read on the Internet yesterday morning, too. Not the best way to start one's day.

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Geoff Johns' second Justice League book, which will be called Justice League of America, has an appealing oddball grab-bag line-up of characters. That makes it the sort of team comic I would have been all about in the old DCU, but given that they've rebooted all of these characters and I literally know nothing about any of them anymore, I'm not terribly interested in reading about them at all, let alone seeing how they interact with one another.

In essence, the reboot has made them all completely new characters with familiar names, so there's little about this that is any more appealing than any random superhero team book would be.

I'm quite surprised to see Stargirl on the team, as she shouldn't really even be able to exist in the New 52. She's the step-daughter of Golden Age superhero Stripesy, who took the name and legacy of Golden Age superhero The Star-Spangled Kid, before later adopting the name Stargirl in honor of the Starman legacy, even using Starman Jack Knight's energy weapon. In the New 52, of course, The Kid, Stripesy and Starman never existed. So I suppose it will be interesting to see how they work a legacy character like her into the new, legacy-less universe. (And how weird is it that her costume hasn't changed at all?)

I'm also surprised to see that in the New 52 Martian Manhunter wears a loin cloth over those new pants he got when he came back to life in Blackest Night/Brightest Day.

This comic is apparently going to be drawn by David Finch, which kills my curiosity. It doesn't seem like Finch is capable of keeping a monthly schedule, so putting him on this doesn't seem like the greatest idea, as then we'll have two Johns-written Justice League books with popular artists who need tons of fill-in artists attached.

I suppose it also signals that Finch finally gave up on "his" Batman book, Batman: The Dark Knight, which was conceived of and sold as Finch writing and drawing the Batman stories he wanted to tell, but soon he was getting co-writers and fill-in artists. I wonder if they'll cancel Dark Knight now, or if it will just keep going because it's a Batman book, and it doesn't matter overmuch who doing those (see also the Grant Morrison-launched Batman and Robin, which continued after Morrison moved on to a different book, and didn't need it anymore).

2 comments:

Patrick Adair said...

I have never understood why DC has stuck with 52 as their defining number after '52' the series. I did think of an easy way for them to make sense of it, use their tremendous back-log of characters, and give creators the chance to experiment: You've got 52 titles, divide them into 'seasons' - spring is kid-friendly (but awesome!) titles, summer is action-adventure, fall is darker action-adventure (where most of their current titles skew), and winter is just full-on dark ('mature readers.') You've got 13 titles in each season. DC could be publishing an all-ages 'Krypto and the Legion of Super-Pets' book, a a 'Teen Titans' book that teenagers might actually read, keep Snyder's 'Batman', and do a mature readers 'Viking Prince.' *sigh*

jheaton said...

I think it says a lot of David Finch's commitment to his craft that the American flag in the background of that Justice League of America image appears to be a 48-star flag. Obviously, the full field of stars isn't visible, the from what we can see, the pattern of stars doesn't match what you'd find on a 50-star flag.