Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday night links

I said links, not lynx, dammit!

(Note: Every Day Is Like Wednesday is getting on the green bandwagon, starting with recycling. Specifically, recycling old jokes).

1.) I could Harley resist: I felt honest-to-God temptation to pick up this week’s issue of Countdown yesterday. Not because it looked very good—Did I see what I think I saw? Batman’s satellite took over Apokolips?—but because the back-up origin did. It was that of Harley Quinn, drawn by Bruce Timm.

That was the second time I had to talk myself out of dropping $2.99 for two pages during the series’ run; the last was Kyle Baker’s Mr. Myxyzptlk origin.

I believe that might have run in the issue in which this happened:

Oh hey, when I just clicked over to to see if they had the Harley origin up yet, I noticed they had The Scarecrow by Kelley Jones already too, and I totally missed it. One of my favorite characters by one of my favorite artists would have been particularly hard to resist, so I suppose it’s just as well it ran in an issue I neglected to even flip through.

Well, I’m sure they’ll collect all of the origin back-ups form both 52 and Countdown into a big Secret Origins trade at some point…

Related: I finally found someone other than an anonymous Newsarama poster or four who likes Countdown. Or at least likes it enough to tell people not to complain about it on his blog: Mr. Dorian Wright.

Wright’s wrong about one thing though—there’s no way in hell Salvation Run is going to have much of anything at all to do with Final Crisis.

If it were, then Morrison would have had a co-plotting or “based on concepts and ideas by” credit in it (and likely Countdown too).

And while I know a lot of us have a tendency to deify Morrison, I’m sure that even if he isn’t the genius I sometimes make it sound like he is, I’m quite confident he’s not so stupid as to come up with a plot like that of Salvation Run’s, which I complained about last Thursday, and probably shouldn’t get into again.

But I suppose we’ll all see if reading SR was a complete waste of time for those just interested in Final Crisis in a few months.

2.) Ask, and I shall receive?: After reading Jeffrey Brown’s incredible graphic novel The Incredible Change-Bots, I wished aloud that publisher Top Shelf had a Top Shelf Direct arm to produce toys based on their comics.

Well, according to Blog@Newsarama, Devil’s Due is granting my wish—and the wishes of Incredible Change-Bots fans everywhere. Click here for Brown’s designs, which call for an eight-page mini-comic to be included (!!!).

3.) Please buy this trade so they’ll keep putting more out: I was pretty excited to see the solicitation for a second collection of the seminal Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run in DC’s solicits on Monday. They’ve released the first few issues as a trade on several occasions, and trade-collected both of the reunion special type series (Formerly Known as the Justice League and the second-best arc of JLA: Classifed, “I Can’t Believe it’s Not the Justice League!”), but the middle of their run has remained some of the best DC comics never collected for a ponderously long time.

If you didn’t read these books the first time around—or find ‘em in quarter or dollar boxes since—I can’t recommend this highly enough. This is from pretty early in their super-long run, back when Maguire was still drawing most of it and the team had yet to transition into a predictable sort of sitcom set-up. It always had a mixture of serious drama, goofy humor and superhero action, but at this point in the run, the superhero action was higher than it would be later in the run.

This collection will include Justice League Annual #1, Justice League International #8-#13 and Suicide Squad #13.

That’s the moving day issue that establishes the Justice League embassies (and has that sweet cover), two issues of Millennium crossovers (Eat it, Secret Invasion!), two issues dealing with The Construct and the fact that Max Lord is a cyborg (later to be Superboy-punched away just so Rucka and company could use Lord as their villain for some dumb reason)*, the crossover with Ostrander’s Suicide Squad (featuring the Batman vs. Flag battle that totally ruined one of Batman’s cowls), and this story

from back when Bill Willingham used to be a penciller. So you’re definitely going to want in on this.

4.) I would have preferred a Welcome Back, Frank adaptation: I was kinda surprised to hear that The Boys was being optioned for a film adaptation, although I guess I shouldn’t be—Hollywood will have to release some incredible flops based on comic books before the current trend subsides for a while. I haven’t kept up with The Boys since the first arc, figuring I’ll read it in trade eventually if I ever find myself without a Garth Ennis book to read (not likely, considering the man’s output).

I didn’t think it was terribly good, personally, but that’s not what surprised me about it being potentially adapted to film. Rather it’s that the book is so heavily dependent on analogues to other superheroes with their own movie franchises. For example, the one arc I did read dealt with a Justice League-type super-team and (a less closely modeled) Teen Titans-type super team.

Movies heavily relying on brand-name analogues have been successfully made before, of course—The Incredibles and Sky High spring most immediately to mind—but I can’t help thinking of Wanted here, which seems to be a situation in which they removed all the superhero analogues from the comic and ended up with a movie that bears very little resemblance to the original.

If The Boys is about the Justice League and Teen Titans being sexually deviant assholes, or Batman and Robin being totally gay, or Iron Man fucking anything he sees (I’m guessing on those last two, as I haven’t read the arcs, just reviews of ‘em), and they take out all the superhero stuff, will The Boys lose that which makes it exciting in the first place?

I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud here. It should be noted that since DC once published the book until they grew uncomfortable with the jokes at their characters’ expense, then there’s not much chance of a movie getting made without their lawyers taking note of any similarities between their heroes and the analogues potentially being lampooned.

5.) Good start, but needs work: This week’s Lying In The Gutters column had an interesting (albeit only “amber,” meaning it’s of the second of three stages of incredulity) dealing with DC’s new approach to dealing with their late book problems:

Sources close to freelancers inform me that DC Comics has a new in house policy for pencillers. Aside from very specific contracted creators…any penciller contracted to work on a monthly book must deliver complete turnaround of 22 pages of work in four weeks. Not a month, four weeks. If that schedule isn't maintained, they'll pull pages and assign them to other creators. And you may run short of future work. A reduction in quality is more acceptable than a reduction in quantity.

Rich Johnston went on to site the recent issues of Wonder Woman in which Ron Randall helped the Dodsons out, with Randall drawing some pages and the Dodsons others.

In theory it sounds like a great idea—if nothing else, putting out there that deadlines should be treated as just that is a step in the right direction—but in practice, the results of those particular issues weren’t all that great. It would have been far better to have simply had Randall draw all 22 pages of those books, and save the Dodsons for a Wonder Woman annual or miniseries or special or something.

I said my piece about how DC should address late books in an illustrated piece last summer, and don’t think anything I can say here now will necessarily improve upon what I said there.

Johnston’s summation that “a reduction in quality is more acceptable than a reduction in quantity” is kinda scary; like I said in response to Matt Idelson’s DC Nation column soul-searching about DC’s late books, the choice between good work and on time work is a false choice.

There are plenty of artists capable of delivering 22 pages a month, and it’s those artist who should be getting the plum assignments.

I’m sure there are some people reading Batman and Wonder Woman because they like Tony Daniel and the Dodsons, but far, far more of ‘em are reading it because of Grant Morrison and Gail Simone and Batman and Wonder Woman. (One of the lessons of 52 and Countdown, I think, is that DCU readers and fans place a greater emphasis on the writers, events and punctuality more so than the quality of the art).

As for the “name” artists with some amount of perceived market heat, save them for stuff other than the regular DCU books that need to keep their schedules.

*According to commenters in the comments for this post, these two issues dealing with Max and the construct aren't actually about him becoming a cyborg or whatever. I think it's the start of the story seed that will eventually lead to/inspire the whole cyborgification story much later on, but this isn't that story at all. Sorry for the mistake; I could have just doublechecked what those issues were actually about if they weren't filed away in plastic bags in a long box in a closet. One more reason why DC should totally trade-collect the hell out of this series!


Mikester said...

Dan Didio had this to say:

"Salvation Run will be key to the early stages of Final Crisis...."

And I've seen other references to Salvation Run/Final Crisis tie-ins, so it's not like Dorian came up with that out of nowhere.

And I like Countdown, too. It's not as good as 52, no, but it's fine as goofy serialized superhero entertainment. It's not the carwreck everyone online seems to think...and I'll note the people actually coming into our store to buy it seem to enjoy it as well.

HotAndCold said...

and the fact that Max Lord is a cyborg

Actually, no, Max was still completely human at this point. His life was being managed by a machine, but he himself was entirely flesh and blood. It was much, much later that Max was turned into a cyborg. I think it was even after the Giffen/DeMatteis run. I've also heard nothing but bad things about that storyline, too.

SallyP said...

I'm so happy that they are finally...FINALLY bringing out more episodes of the early JLI, that I could plotz. I already have the original books of course, but it would be so much easier to just whip out a trade, than to go rummaging through my boxes. I will indeed be picking this up.

Aw...Countdown isn't so bad. It has had its ups and downs, and it isn't nearly as good as 52, but it has been there, week after week, and I've rather liked parts of it. Besides, things are heating up now, that's for certain.

Gosh, I miss Max as a good guy.

Evie said...

After reading all of 52 in about three sittings just after Countdown started, I haven't had the stamina for it. Just reading the tie-ins and hoping I can get through Final Crisis without needing Wikipedia open at all times.

Btw, your blog title is sublime.

Anonymous said...

To verify, no, Max was not a cyborg in the early JLI stories.
That doesn't make his being retconned into a villain any less dumb. I still regard it as the single laziest bit of writing in the history of a medium known for lazy writing. Max is a WASPy, rich Amanda Waller - duplicitious, a manipulator and a total jerk, but Max always had standards. To reduce him to a moustache-twirling villain was just plain lazy - which is, in many ways worse that bad - writing.

Salvation Run was proposed by George RR Martin, and thus likely has little to nothing to do with Morrison's overall plans.

Caleb said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Mike and Sally,

Thanks for sharing on Countdown. I know it is selling like gangbusters (it outsells almost everything else DC publishes), but I never hear anybody online saying how much they like it, just those complaining. I'm glad to hear that some of those tens of thousands of readers are buying it for enjoyement rather than because they feel they have to.

Other Mike and hotandcold,

Thanks for the correction on the Max/Construct plot point there. If I had it in trade, it'd be a lot easeir to double check that stuff.

Re Salvation Run...I just can't buy that it will end up being important to Final Crisis at all, given the weird, rather Amazons Attack-like origins of the series (Pitched as an Elseworlds story by Martin, started by Willingham, finished by Sturges) and the things Morrison has said about Final Crisis and how similar it is to the "Hypercrisis" story he talked about when he went to Marvel to reinvinet the X-Men.

I do hope it ends up being unimportant, because I haven't been reading it, because, man, I don't want to have to read a story in which Monsieur Mallah and The Brain die just to enjoy a story by the writer who outted them...

Anonymous said...

George RR Martin eh? No wonder the original plot seemed to call for random brutal shock deaths.

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