Thursday, November 06, 2008

Weekly links:

—I liked this headline a lot.

What if The Black Panther really did get a sex-change? That would be a completely unique, exciting, envelope-pushing comic book. Particularly compared to something like, oh, T’Challa seemingly dying or being dethroned by his kid sister—something Hudlin was teasing since a year or two back when I still reading his Black Panther—who will become the “new” Black Panther for maybe a year or so.

I didn’t like the last exchange in the interview, where the interviewer was basically like, So, a lot of critics say you kind of suck, and Hudlin’s answer was a snide, “Critics? Who? Did The New York Times Review of Books do a review? I must have missed it.”

Ha ha, if you don’t write for the NYT you’re not even a real critic. I guess that’ll teach me to bother reviewing Hudlin’s Black Panther comics again, as I have for at least two different altweeklies on several occasions (And I bet a reviewed a solid dozen or so issues of Hudlin’s BP for, but I’m pretty sure Hudlin doesn’t consider online criticism criticism, since that’s where the bulk of people writing about his comics, positively or negatively, do their writing about them at).

—So, did you hear about DC axing Robin, Nightwing and Birds of Prey?

It apparently has something to do with the ending of “Batman R.I.P.” and rumors about the various members of the Bat-family temporarily switching costumes and codenames again, since of those particular books, BOP is the only one that seems to sell so few copies that it could conceivably be cancelled for poor sales alone.

It doesn’t really affect my own reading, as Nightwing is the only title of the trio I’m currently reading, and I guess I’ll drop that too after the last issue of the current, hilariously awful story arc ends. None of these titles was every really all that great.

As a teenager, I was really excited about Robin, having been a fan of the Chuck Dixon/Tom Lyle minis that preceded it, but dropped the monthly about two issues in, and over the years have never read it for longer than, say, the first story arc by each new creative team (They’ve all been pretty bad).

I’ve never managed to read Nightwing for longer than an issue here or there until Tomasi started writing that, and that had more to do with artist Rags Morales’ occasional presence more than anything else.

Likewise, I only read Birds of Prey sporadically, usually depending on the guest-stars or storyline, but managed to read it the longest during Gail Simone’s run, which seems like the high point of the series, although it lost some momentum after the artificial Batman/Barbara Gordon feud of “War Games,” and still more momentum after the “One Year Later” jump, when the title just got…random.

I don’t really see any reason for fans to freak out about this move, as all three will probably be relaunched with new number ones, probably as Batman and Robin, Oh Shit Jason Todd Is Nightwing Again!!! and Oracle’s Super-Sexy All-Girl Action Squad and tying in with whatever tomfoolery the Bat-office is cooking up (Will Dick Grayson become Batman, like during “Prodigal?” Will Jason Todd deliver rougher justice as Batman, like Azrael did during “Knightquest?” Will Robin become teenaged Batman because hey, we haven’t tried that one just yet?)

The oft-linked to Tucker Stone has a pretty great write-up about the move here (the headline of which made me laugh; was Obama’s first act as president-elect to call Dan DiDio and insist that , for the good of our union, that the surviving Bat-family titles join Batman Confidential and Catwoman in the wastebasket?).

I’m a little more generous towards mediocre DC comics than Stone tends to be, but I think this sort of publishing stunt is a lot riskier for DC than they might be thinking it is, particularly during the Great Depression II.

See, every jumping-on point for theoretical “new” readers is also a jumping-off point for old ones (Look: Proof), and I really can’t imagine a reconfiguration of the secondary Bat-titles that will be any more interesting to their few current readers, who have seen all of these potential stories before (Unless something really crazy goes on; like Aquaman becoming the new Batman, Robin becoming gthe new Nightwing, and Bat-Mite becoming the new Robin or something), so it’s hard to imagine the temporary gains of new #1 issues and curiosity-seekers turning titles that sell 20 to 30K a month into ones that sell 40-60K a month. At least, not for longer than a month or four.

Of course, DC could always just make books starring Nightwing, Tim Drake and Barbara Gordon be good comics, but I don’t have much faith in an office that thinks Tony Daniel is the perfect artist for Grant Morrison’s Batman (I know, I know, I’m a broken record, but my incredulity at Daniel drawing Morrison’s Batman is fresh every time I think of it).

Regarding Stone’s article, he makes some very good points among his snarky takedowns, particularly the lack of organic connectivity among the various Bat-books (remember Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon getting engaged? What the fuck ever happened to that, beyond Marc Andreyko’s annual where they decide that they’re not the love of one another’s lives after all, because of Dick’s latent homosexual relationship with Batman or whatever?). Stone brings up Robin’s desire to join the tennis team as probably the most inspired Robin story, and he posts a picture of Prince of Tennis to illustrate that portion of the piece and, man, that’s one great way forward for Robin: Looking to manga.

Not just as an art-style to graft onto the same old Robin-as-a-short-Batman stories (which has been tried), but an inspiration for how to tell stories that a) someone other than thirtysomethings might conceivably be interested in and b) actually feature teenagers that at least seem like a vague, pop culture approximation of a teenager (I’m reminded that DC super-teen comics should be more like manga every once in a while; most recently I was reading School Rumble and thought, Wow, what if Teen Titans was School Rumble with costumes and codenames?).

It would be nice if Robin could someday approach the visual consistency, tone, addictive melodrama and (dare DC dream) popularity of a series like Prince of Tennis which, after all, is just a comic about a kid who plays fucking tennis. Not, you know, the world’s most iconic sidekick who’s a teenage ninja whose dad is Batman.

Or hell, at the very least, if Robin could someday balance supeheroics and teen melodrama as well as Ultimate Spider-Man. Would that be asking too much?

—So now that Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States, and the Democrats increased their hold on congress, does that mean the Superhero Registration Act is going to be done away with in the Marvel Universe…?

If Obama and his allies want to close down Guantanamo Bay here in the real world, then surely they’re not cool with the Marvel Bush Administration’s Negative Zone Guantanamo for super-powered people accused not of terrorism, but of having superpowers and not joining the army to fight for their country with them.

Or is the 616 Obama to the far-right of Earth-Prime Obama on these issues? I say go ahead and scrap the SHRA; it’s not like anyone ever gets arrested for breaking it except whatever scrubs The Thunderbolts get to fight anyway….

—I’m embarrassed to say that it took me a little while to even notice because as an unmarried dude in the Midwest, state issues in California affecting marriage law don’t really affect me directly, but as great a night as Tuesday night was for the country, at least one really terrible thing occurred at the polls.

California’s Proposition 8, which proposes amending the state constitution to re-define marriage as between one man and one woman, passed, forbidding same-sex couples from getting married.

This was pushed and voted for by a lot of folks who support family values like, um, committed couples getting married and raising children in two-parent households. I even heard some jackass on the radio today talking about how the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman, which surprised me, as I immediately thought of Abraham taking a second wife, Noah’s daughters fucking their passed out drunken father, and the polygamy, incest and arranged marriages found throughout the Bible.

Anyway, here’s friend of the site Brian Anderson’s cartoon on the subject:

No, it's not really that funny. But then, there's nothing really funny about Prop 8 is there?

I’m really kind of surprised it passed in California, given the state’s progressive reputation.

One of the many hopeful signs about the future of the country that emerged on Tuesday was the lack of gay, guns and god cultural issues dominating voters’ minds, and the amount of younger, new generation voters joining in the process. These new voters all tend to be more accepting/less frightened of gays, so it may only be a matter of time before the marriage issue is resolved for the better.

—I forgot, forgot that yesterday was the fifth of November.

—I didn’t have much leftover material from the interview with Bill Kelter about Veeps: Profiles In Insignificance I did for (Although I did manage to spell “Kelter” with an “-on” at the end a few times, and I renamed Top Shelf publisher Brett Warnock “Brett Warncock” on a few occasions. Sorry!)

Anyway, here are a few exchanges I cut out…

Caleb: Because Top Shelf is primarily a comics publisher, I was wondering on your thoughts of this as a traditional prose book versus a graphic novel. Do you think it could it have been done as comics?

Kelter: I suppose it could have been done as comics, but even though we have a lot of fun with the book, it’s a lot weightier than that. I think we struck the right balance with my prose and Wayne’s elegant portraits and fantastic illustrations.


Caleb: Why the title “Veeps” instead of just “Profiles in Insignificance?” Was it to honor Alben Barkley? [Truman’s V.P., who originated the term that his grandson thought up]

Kelter: God bless Alben Barkley and his brilliant grandson who coined the title “Veeps.” “Profiles In Insignificance” came second. This was all about the Veeps. I don’t know if anyone would pick up the book if we hadn’t stressed that. They might not pick it up anyway, but as the theme of “insignificance” seemed to be a recurring element throughout the book, we settled on the subtitle as a play on “Profiles In Courage.”

Oh, and I liked this bit, in which he describes his bathroom floor, which Veeps is kinda sorta (but not really) an adaptation of:

It mostly existed for the amusement of myself and my friends. One female friend remarked how it was both comforting and creepy to have Nelson Rockefeller’s smirking, grandfatherly mug staring up at her as she peed.

—Finally, speaking of me, I have a short review of Garfield Minus Garfield in this week’s Las Vegas Weekly.


mordicai said...

We ARE talking about the same Obama who voted twice for the Patriot Act, right? SUUUUURE he'll repeal the Registration. He'll get RIIIIIIGHT on that.

MrCynical said...

Got to agree with Mordicai.

Also, when we are talking about the "SUCESS" of the Initiative...well...not to toot my own horn, but this is kind of a speciality of mine

See here, here, and here
for samples

Anthony Strand said...

I really liked Birds of Prey under both Dixon and Simone, and I was pleased to see that Tomasi's first arc on Nightwing was all kinds of old-fashioned fun.

That said, I won't miss any of them to any great degree at this point. If BOP had been canceled after, say, #93, I would have been very sad indeed.

LurkerWithout said...

While it didn't get a lot of mainstream news attention, 3 other states passed anti-gay legislation. Florida and my home state of Arizona both passed Constitution amendments defining marriage (Prop 2 for them, 102 for us). And Arkansas passed something to stop gays from being able to adopt...

Tucker Stone said...

Re: Robin/Ultimate Spider-Man

That's exactly what a comic like Robin should be--it should be like Ultimate Spider-Man, and yet it never has been, in 15 years. 15 years! How hard is it to build a supporting cast and tell rip-off stories from teenage soap operas? You just sit down and watch Beverly Hills 90210 and The OC, copy it, then insert portions where Robin gets in fights. (And, because it's Tim Drake, ensure that it's all completely humorless.)