Friday, June 27, 2014

Meanwhile...

I reviewed Archie Comics #656, the issue that introduced the much-talked-about new character Harper, for Good Comics For Kids.

I reviewed Super Secret Crisis War #1, the kick-off of IDW's rather weird characters-from-a-bunch-of-old-Cartoon Network-cartoons crossover, at Robot 6 (Of the shows included, Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack are the only ones I ever watched extensively, but I still found it engaging).

And, finally, I wrote a piece on why Michael Keaton is the best of the live-action Batmen as part of Comics Alliance's coverage of the 25th anniversary of the release of Batman '89 (all of which can be found here).

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Batman: Mask of The Phantasm > Batman '89 and Batman Returns > Batman '66 > The Dark Knight > The Dark Knight Rises > Batman Begins > Batman and Robin > Batman Forever

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I always enjoy the monthly month-to-month sales figures and analysis at The Beat, and this installment on Marvel's May by Jason Enright is a good one.

He compares the sales of the first issue of Marvel's latest big event/crossover story with those of the previous ones, and, as he notes, this particular batch gives us a pretty good idea of how well all of those re-re-relaunched series like, say Wolverine and Fantastic Four are doing holding on to their sales (Surprise! The returns are diminished), and how well some of those quirkier "All-New Marvel Now" launches with interesting teams on relatively minor characters are doing.

A lot of the latter aren't actually setting the sales charts on fire, despite positive reviews, but it is worth noting that, in the grand scheme of things, it's probably not terribly important to Marvel whether Black Widow, She-Hulk, All-New Ghost Rider and Silver Surfer get cancelled at 12 issues are at 42 issues. Even if they flame out rather early on, Marvel will still have enough to fill a trade paperback to sell the material a second or third time (following the serially published paper comics and digital copies), and have a nice little package to shop around for potential movies or TV shows (this volume of Moon Knight looks a lot easier to adapt to a small or silver screen than the last few stabs at an ongoing, for example).

And Marvel does have literally thousands of characters in their catalogue, so replacing a canceled, 12-issue run on, say, Elektra with a critically-acclaimed, quirky new book starring Machine Man or Woodgod or Devil Dinosaur or Fin Fang Foom that only lasts a short while is easy enough.

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So that Red Robin origin story in Secret Origins #3 that I kvetched about the other night...?

I've been thinking a lot—with "a lot" defined of "at all"—about it the last few days, and the fact that its rather radical alterations to the origin and career of Tim Drake really knocks almost everything in Batman history from 1989-2008 out of continuity (Perhaps most weirdly, the earlier chapters of Grant Morrison's multi-year run on the Batman books, as DC allowed him to finish the story more-or-less as planned—costume tweaks and character substitutions aside—even while the post-Flashpoint, New 52 reboot rendered large chunks of it untenable. That whole storyline now seems like Grant Morrison running across a rope bridge that's been set on fire, trying to reach the end before the flames eat up enough of the bridge to destroy its structural integrity and send him and the whole thing plummeting into the chasm below).

Basically, DC threw out every single Batman story except "A Death In The Family" and The Killing Joke, which still happened with alterations (different costumes, Barbara Gordon being much, much younger when she was attacked...Oh God, was she a minor in The New 52 continuity, adding a further layer of icky atop that icky scene?), the two stories they pointedly un-did the effects from, i.e. resurrecting the dead Jason Todd and restoring the legs of the paralyzed Barbara Gordon.

It is weird that the only old Batman stories that are definitely still regarded as being in-continuity are the two that DC definitely changed the outcomes of, right? It's not just me?

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Hey look, Abhay Khosla writing about comics! I love when that happens!

In that particular Savage Critics column, he discusses a bunch of 15-year-old (or thereabouts) comics he pulled out of longboxes in what I take to be his ancestral home, offering up his memories of them (or lack thereof). Also, I nice, sharp Jim Lee joke.

Of the comics he discusses, the only ones I also bought and read were Trencher #1 (of which I remember nothing except the title, Keith Giffen and weird art), Sovereign Seven (not that particular issue; I only read the one that featured Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman, who was horribly out of character in it...although I do have a particularly vivid memory of a DC house ad for S7, as I'm sure someone used to call it, featuring Darkseid sipping espresso from a tiny little espresso cup), Geisha (Andi Watson forever! I am shocked, surprised and alarmed that Abhay doesn't know more about Watson's career; maybe I should write a post about Watson's career in the near future...?), Action Girl (I bought all the issues for the Chynna Clugston stuff in the early 00s, after I read her first Blue Monday series for Oni, at Magnolia Thunderpussy in Columbus, of all places) and the Adam Warren Gen 13, which Abhay sums up rathe perfectly thusly: "Warren had been handed a book people had stopped caring about and just went on a joyride." Between mini-series, fill-ins and a good-sized run on the ongoing, Warren really turned out a quite sizable run on those character, and if you asked me, "Caleb, what's, like, the best super-comic ever?" I don't know that I'd say "Adam Warren's Gen 13," but as I cast about for an answer, I'd sure say it aloud while thinking to myself. It's a pretty great example of taking a tired, maybe exhausted premise or concept or character or IP, one that the creators hadn't really thought all that much of, and handing it to a talented auteur to do whatever with (Another great example would be what DC did with Swamp Thing in the mid-to-late '80s. Also, all of the super-books that became the Vertigo imprint; that was basically Vertigo's business plan at the start, wasn't it?)

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Given the title of last night's post, you might have come here tonight expecting a review of Superman #32 by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. But you got a "Meanwhile..." post instead.

Why?

Because I had to go see the Dinobots in Transformers: Age of Extinction tonight, and that movie was two hours and 45 minutes, which meant the time I would have spent polishing the Superman review post was instead spent watching expensive special effects.

It was, by the standards of 21st century Transformers movies, excellent, but I was rather disappointed by the Dinobots, who are never referred to as Dinobots, are never given individual names and none of whom speak (There was no room for a single "Me Grimlock" in a two-hour-and-45-minute film!).

Given the title, the ad campaign and the opening scene, I expected much more in the way of Dinobots, although they really get little more than an extended cameo (on the plus side, fewer racist caricature-bots than the previous films, with only the Japanese-accented samurai-bot who calls Optimus Prime "Sensei" and recites haiku there to insult large swathes of potential audience members).

What I found interesting about the Dinobots was which ones they used, and which they didn't. There were (again, unnamed) robots that turned into dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, a pterosaur-ish winged creature (it has two heads and two tails, and resembles the two-headed dragon mode of Megatron from the Robots In Disguise cartoon series) and a Spinosaurus.

The original Dinobots featured five dinosaurs, a T-Rex, a triceratops, a pterosaur, a stegosaurus and a sauropod. Those last two don't make the film, replaced instead by the Spinosaurus character. I guess this says something about the popularity of particular type of dinosaurs in pop culture in the second decade of the 21st century? (I would have made the pterosaur a Hatzegopteryx or a Quetzalcoatlus, personally, and included a sauropod, but man, if they asked me for advice, all of these movies would be very, very different).

2 comments:

culturewarreporters.com said...

The Land Before Time was a looooong time ago, and sauropods weren't even close to being the coolest back then.

It's no real surprise to me that they nixed the leaf-eaters for the movie, but not even speaking the name Grimlock, which there is nothing not cool about, seems like an obvious mistake.

Evan Dawson-Baglien said...

I somehow doubt that the entire "A Death in the Family" story is still canon. Remember the part where the Joker becomes the Iranian ambassador? At the very least today they'd probably change it to "Qurac" or some other fictional Middle-Eastern country.