Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meanwhile and Misc.

I've had a couple of articles about comics appear in places that aren't here this week, so let's get links to those out of the way first before I babble about some other comics-related stuff. First, I reviewed the first volume of the new manga series My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko at Good Comics For Kids. That's the cover there. I really rather liked it.

Then I reviewed Justice League United #1, Grayson #1 and New Suicide Squad #3 (the above classy panel is from the last of those) at Robot 6 today. None of those are particularly good; there's some well-drawn action in Grayson, which is probably the strongest of the three, and some poorly-drawn action in Suicide Squad; I couldn't help wondering if the book was as terrible as it looked and read, or if a more competent artist with a style of his or her own might have been able to sell it as something better than it seems now. For other, more expert opinions on Grayson allow me to direct you to Comics Alliance's Batman super-fan Chris Sims, who really liked the book, and to Robot 6's DC expert Tom Bondurant, who tries to contextualize it in the publisher's history and its current shared-universe setting. Me, I think I'm okay with the one issue I read, and, if I continue to hear good things, I'll happily check out the trade.

And, finally, I wrote at some length about Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5 by Sholly Fisch and Dario Brizuela for Comics Alliance. That's the one in which the gang journeys to Paradise Island to help Wonder Woman and her sisters solve a mystery, and it turns out to be every bit as awesome as a Scooby-Doo/Wonder Woman team-up should be.

And that's all the stuff I wrote for other places this week. Couple of other things I wanted to note, though.


First, I woke up to some really good news today: DC is redesigning Batgirl's godawful New 52 costume into something that actually looks cool, and they're putting an extremely promising new creative team on the book. You can real all about it here.

I'm not as familiar with the work of co-writer Brendan Fletcher and artist Barbara Tarr as Sims and some of his fellow Comics Alliance Allies are, but I'm a huge fan of Cameron Stewart, who will apparently be writing, providing layouts and doing covers (The Cameron Stewart tag to the right, you'll notice, is not simply "Cameron Stewart," but "Cameron Stewart Is Awesome").

I really like the new costume, which looks like something that might have come out of a Project: Rooftop redesign contest, and I like the fact that Batgirl looks like an actual teenager girl. I like that there's some style and personality to the artwork as well, and that it doesn't just look like muddied WildStorm art. Everything about this announcement—the new costume design, the new creative team consisting of talented pros who weren't already working on DC monthlies in summer of 2011—seems like the exact sort of announcement DC should have been making when they first announced their New 52 line, not three years into it. But, well, better late than never!


This announcement regarding another DC character made me laugh and laugh though. It's about a new Deathstroke title, which will be the second attempt at a Deathstroke solo book since the New 52's September 2011 launch (that first book lasted 20 issues, even surviving Rob Liefeld's involvement, before ultimately being canceled last summer). Writer/artist Tony S. Daniel, who has hopped around from book-to-book quite a bit the last few years (he was the original, rebooted TEC creator, he wrote the since-canceled Savage Hawkman, he illustrated an arc of Justice League and Superman/Wonder Woman), will be writing and drawing it.

Perhaps I'm just not familiar enough with MTV's style and audience, but the article completely baffled me, right up until the Q-and-A portion, where I quit reading, because I don't really care about Deathstroke and/or Tony S. Daniel.

First, the post is labeled "movies," though it's obviously about comic books.

Then the story is designated as "exclusive," which, to be fair to MTV, is something a lot of entertainment sites do (probably even some that pay me), even though it's ridiculous to do so when the story in question appears on the Internet: I mean, I just linked to it here, and am talking about it here, so how exclusive is it, really? It's not like one needs to buy the latest issue of The MTV Daily News in order to hear that DC is launching a new Deathstroke comic.

The headline refers to Deathstroke as "'Arrow' Bad Guy Deathstroke," so apparently the character is on the TV show Arrow. But then, what gives with this part of the lede...?
The unstable assassin, who once took down the Justice League single-handedly, may be better known to the public at large as the main villain in the second, blockbuster season of “Arrow.”

But his all-new solo adventures may bring him an even bigger audience, thanks to writer/artist Tony S. Daniel and co-artist Sandu Florea, who will team up for the monthly series.
The comic book character identified in the headline as a character known from a TV show is better known for appearing in a TV show than in comics, but now he's getting another new solo ongoing comic, which might bring him to an "even bigger" audience than the TV show?

Is there any comic book in North America in which has a bigger audience than any television show in North America? Like, Batman scores some 100,000 pairs of eyeballs a month, but 100,000 viewers a month would be a terrible statistic for any television show, right? Like, there are infomercials that draw bigger numbers than most mid-list DC and Marvel super-comics, right? And this is just another Tony Daniel comic and another attempt at a title that the market soundly rejected as recently as a year ago.

I also don't really get the sub-head—"Company that sells things to sell a thing!"—or the reference to DC selling a bust of Deathstroke as an attempt by the publisher "to sweeten the pot." What is "the pot" in this metaphor? The Deathstroke monthly comic? How does the availability of a bust sweeten it?

Anyway, this article was stupid and dumb and I hated it, but it made me laugh a bunch, so I also loved it.


I'm not sure where I saw the link that lead me to that weird MTV story, but it was definitely at The Comics Reporter that I saw a link to this article in The Hollywood Reporter-affiliated blog Heat Vision regarding the fact that Marvel is going to be temporarily replacing Captain America with a new, temporary Captain America. Again.

Remember, it was just a couple of years ago that OC (Original Captain) Steve Rogers resumed the identity that his one-time sidekick Bucky Barnes had assumed while Steve was temporarily "dead."

I have no idea how this storyline came about, but I like to imagine Captain America writer Rick Remender in a meeting with a Marvel Editor, pitching the story, and the editor responding, "Didn't we just do this story? How long has it been since Ed Brubaker wrote this same basic thing?"

And Remender replying, "And how long has it been since you relaunched Captain America with a new #1 after the last time you relaunched it with a new #1...?"

At which point the editor nods "Fair point," and signs off on the idea.


I walked into my friend's apartment the other day, and she was watching the direct-to-DVD animated movie Justice League: War, which seems to have been pretty tightly based on Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and company's first six issues of Justice League, the story that kicked off The New 52 and served as the new origin of the Justice League.

I assumed it was very near the ending, given that they were already fighting Darkseid, but it went on a bit longer than I would have guessed. There was a lot more action than in the splash-page filled comic book, which was one of the more notable changes. The most notable change was that they had swapped out Aquaman for Captain Marvel Shazam. That was fine with me; I think Captain Marvel should be part of the nine-hero core for any good Justice League (The first seven you think of, plus Plastic Man and Cap).

I was quite surprised by how much swearing there was. I gasped at the first few hells, damns and asses, and again when I heard "shit;" my friend repeatedly told me it was rated PG-13, so it was okay, and that I had missed the word "douche" or "douchebag."

I was surprised still more by how violent it was. Wonder Woman stabs out one of Darkseid's eyes, this being the gung-ho, brutal warrior version of Wonder Woman (in a new costume; all of the costume designs are slightly stripped-down, better-looking versions of the one's Jim Lee created, with only Wonder Woman and Shazam looking radically different). That wasn't that shocking; but Barry "The Flash" Allen listening when Wonder Woman tells him to take out Darkseid's other eye? And then proceeding to grab a crowbar and jam it into Darkseid's eye? That was shocking. (For a second, I thought he was going to use it to pry out Darkseid's eyeball; instead he just shoves it into his eye and then Shazam uses it as a lightning rod).

The final surprise was how cheap it looked. I guess they used some computer effects in order to multiply the same images of Parademons to fill the skies, and the scenes of them in flight look ridiculously fake and cheap. It's worse when Boom Tube portals are opened up all over, and the Parademons get sucked into them. It looked like an Aqua Teen Hunger Force level of animation sophistication to my untrained eye.

I liked how big Darkseid was, and I thought they did an okay job of updating his look, so it looked closer to that of Jim Lee's than Jack Kirby's, but not as dumb as Lee's did. And I thought it was interesting that they gave Shazam lightning powers. That is, in addition to being the vehicle by which his powers are channeled into him, lightning is something he uses as an offensive weapon, shooting it out of his hands and fists. As presented here, Captain Marvel/Shazam is more of a Black Lightning/Superman hybrid than a magic riff on Superman.

As for my friend's reaction, she said I missed a really funny part with Wonder Woman, and when I asked if it involved ice cream, she said that it did.

She was not a fan of Green Lantern at all, repeatedly saying he was the worst superhero and the worst, and she laughed incredulously at his using his ring to create boxing gloves, catcher's mitts and a bed (on which he caught a falling Flash). She was pretty familiar with all of the characters except Green Lantern, and was I guess caught off-guard by him.

She didn't really understand why Shazam/Captain Marvel wasn't really working right either, despite not being super-familiar with the character (I believe her only prior experience to him was in the Young Justice cartoon, and the direct-to-DVD Flashpoint Paradox movie). "Isn't he supposed to turn back into a little boy when he says that?" she asked, "Why isn't he turning back into a boy?" She also thought it strange that he'd take his magic word for his name, as he shouldn't be able to introduce himself without transforming.

So in your face, DC; here is a relative newcomer to the character who had no problem distinguishing "Shazam!" the magic word from Captain Marvel, the character who appears and disappears when the magic word is said.

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