Sunday, April 04, 2010

So I guess there was another comics convention this weekend.

Hey look, it’s a drawing of a Tyrannosaurus Rex eating a guy, by Frank Miller! The image, which was released a while ago, is apparently going to end up being a variant cover of an upcoming Jurassic Park mini by Bob Schreck and Nate Van Dyke.

I’m sure the Jurassic Park brand still has a great deal of value (particularly in the world of comics, where the numbers are so much smaller than other entertainment media), although I’m not as excited about it as I was as a teenager (and before watching and re-watching the sequels).

On the other hand, I like dinosaurs, I like comic books, and I like Frank Miller drawings and Paul Pope and Art Adams drawings (those two are also providing variants), so this is definitely I trade I’ll be interested in seeing eventually. (Although I think I'd prefer a people vs. dinosaurs comic written and illustrated entirely by Frank Miller, and not subject to studio approval the way I assume a Jurassic Park comic would be).

That was just one of the many comics projects announced over this past weekend, during which WonderCon went down in San Francisco…and it wasn’t even the most exciting one to involve Frank Miller!

Here’s what else caught my attention from the various announcements spilling out over the last few days…

Batwoman re-pre-cancelled: Probably the biggest gossip-y news was that Greg Rucka was, as Comics Alliance rather suggestively put it, “finished with DC,” and that the Batwoman series by he and J.H. Williams III that was already announced won’t be happening any time soon.

Rucka is quoted in lots of different venues saying repeatedly that there’s no hard feelings between him and DC and that there’s really nothing to his leaving at this point beyond him wanting to work on things other than DC-owned properties for a while, but that probably isn’t going to convince anyone who wants to think there’s some bad blood between the writer and the publisher (and/or the new leadership team?) or that Batwoman’s sexual orientation had something to do with it.

After all, if either of those scenarios were the case, it’s not like Rucka or DC would say so publicly, and there’s no way either Rucka or DC could prove to anyone who wants to believe in one of those scenarios that neither have anything to do with it, you know?

I think it’s unfortunate. Rucka’s ‘TEC run has been vastly overrated in my opinion—the early parts that I read just seemed like fairly decent Batman comics with great art transforming leaden scripting into comics gold—but super-comics are better off with a Williams-drawn lesbian Batwoman starring in her own book then they are without it.

I do hope DC figures out just what the hell they want to do with the character and get a Batwoman ongoing going at some point. They announced such a book way back in 2006 in The New York Times, the same week as her first appearance, but it never seems to have gotten out of development (at one point, Devin Grayson was supposedly writing one, and then Rucka).

It sure looks like the company is reluctant to publish a comic book headlining a gay Bat-character, whether or not that’s actually the case, if only because it’s been years between the time they announced their intention to publish such a comic and now.

It’s especially suspicious-looking given that DC will publish comics that seem guaranteed to fail in the current market—The Shield, The Web, Magog, The Great Ten—instead.

And with a Batman line consisting of, let’s see here, Batman and Robin, Batman, TEC, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman Confidential, Red Robin, Batgirl, Gotham City Sirens, Birds of Prey and assorted Batman miniseries and one-shots each month, one could hardly make the argument that the company is being extremely careful about not publishing too many Bat-books at a time. What’s one more Bat-person comic in a line that big, really?

So I hope DC doesn’t wait too long to launch a Batwoman comic, but that they don’t just round up a couple of their go-to, last-minute choice creators to pump one out too fast instead of finding a great team with something to say with the character.

And the silver lining here is, of course, Williams’ schedule should be freer now—give that guy some high-profile, great-paying work, DC!

Happy Easter, Mike Sterling!: Probably the best news from the con that I encountered, read and remember as I type this up is that Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder is going to be concluded with another six-issue arc, set to be released monthly starting next…February?! Really? That long?

This is, of course, fantastic news, as this is the series that not only gave us ripped Alfred Pennyworth hitting the heavy bag, the phrase “The Goddamn Batman” and an entire issue of Batman and Robin making fun of Hal Jordan.

I’m not sure six issues is really going to be enough to resolve the conflicts Miller was setting up—throughout the entire series, he’s essentially been building two superhero armies to eventually make fight, and he’s still introducing players to one another—but six more issues is certainly better than zero more issues.

Perhaps most noteworthy about the announcement was that the title would be getting a name change. Instead of All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, it’s going to be called the more prosaic Dark Knight: Boy Wonder.

I think that’s a pretty lame name personally, as the length and specificity of All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder is many of the many hilarious things about the book, but it’s noteworthy because it seems to be DC severing its final ties to the “All-Star” brand, which was at one point going to be a line of books, if not an imprint of its own. (All-Star Wonder Woman and All-Star Batgirl were announced, but never went anywhere). Short of re-titling the All-Star Superman trades, there’s not much more DC can do to distance themselves from the “All-Star” name (which is, of course, kind of insane, given how universally beloved All-Star Superman is).

It will be interesting to see what Adam Hughes’ Wonder Woman project will end up being called if it’s ever completed and published (perhaps it will be part of the “Earth-One” line), and the same goes for the Geoff Johns’ written Batgirl series, although I’m not sure if it was ever actually begun and worked on to the extent that Hughes’ project supposedly was.

New old Kelley Jones comics: One of the more head-scratching announcements I heard was that Image Comics would be publishing collections of Steven T. Seagle and Kelley Jones’ short-lived 2001 Vertigo ongoing The Crusades.

I found that surprising mostly because I was unaware of the fact that DC hadn’t already collected it (I thought they collected everything published since 2000 or so), or that there was any great clamoring for the series. That DC/Vertigo could come to an arrangement with another publisher to release the collections of it is doubly surprising to me, because The Crusades was a series that fit the original, Sandman-style Vertigo formula of reinventing an older, more obscure DC comic character as a completely different mature-readers project.

At least as a premise, The Crusades is a Vertigization of the basic Shining Knight story, although it wasn’t titled The Shining Knight (which probably makes a big difference), and the medieval knight-battling-modern-crime deal is viewed from the outside rather form the inside, so for most of the series it’s unclear if this is some sort of medieval knight bashing in people’s heads with a mace, or a crazy guy who thinks he’s a medieval knight, or a sane person playacting as a medieval knight, or what.

All of which probably makes it different enough from Shining Knight that I can see why it’s not really a DC comic at its core, the way I thought it was.

Anyway, I mention this mostly because it’s a Kelley Jones comic, and talking about how awesome Kelley Jones is is one of EDILW’s mission statements.

This is pretty different work from the artist, with a lot more slice-of-life, plain clothes scenes and character drama then the gutter-to-gutter monster comics that probably leap to mind when you think of his work.

I read and liked it quite a bit at the time, and thinking back on it, what I remember most is how Jones’ strange staging made even the more mundane scenes seem weird and unsettling, how well he depicted brutal violence so that it was at once horrifying and yet too cartoonish to ever be unsettling, and the fact that he drew the best damn evil horses in this book.*

So check out the trades if you missed the series first time around. If you like cool drawings of people getting killed with medieval weaponry and scary-ass horses, you’ll love it.

Mikaal “Starman VIII**” Tomas totally going to date Obsidian: That’s my guess anyway, after reading this big from a Comic Book Resources article about a DC panel:

Winick, who has a reputation for writing homosexual characters based on one of his early "Green Lantern" story arcs and his "Pedro and Me" biography, was asked which member of the JLI would be coming out. The writer responded, “Who isn’t gay in the JLI?” At that point, Starman Mikaal Tomas was mentioned, whom Robinson had established as homosexual during the "Starman" series.

“He’s going to have a gay relationship in the future with another superhero,” said Robinson.

“Then I’ll have to write about him because he’s gay,” joked Winick.
Well, I can only think of two gay superheroes with ties to the Justice League, and since Robinson already killed off Tasmanian Devil in his Cry For Justice series, I guess that means Mikaal will be dating the other one, Obsidian (Who was part of the League line-up that directly preceded the Big Seven revival in Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and John Dell’s JLA).

Robinson had previously mentioned that Mikaal would have an interesting relationship with the revived Jade. Jade is, of course, the sister of Obsidian, and the latter was always portrayed as super-overprotective of the latter whenever she became romantically involved with anyone.

*Fun fact: My long-in-the-works, currently collecting dust Unpublished Comic Book Project—which is all finished and ready to go, save for the set-back that I moved hours away from the giant-sized scanner a colleague was going to let me use to convert the full-size pages into scans to send to the printer—prominently features evil horses. If I ever get around to publishing it, and you buy a copy of it and The Crusades, you can hunt the latter for evil horse poses and facial expressions that I swiped from it! Also, if you’re looking for cool drawings of evil horses by Kelley Jones—like, in case you got to this site by Googling the search term “cool drawings of evil horses by Kelley Jones”—you may want to check out Vertigo’s adaptation of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Check this out:
That horse is so pissed off! And he’s running so fast, his hindquarters are overtaking his front legs!

**I’m just guessing on the roman numeral there. I’m not sure which number Starman Mikaal would be if he becomes Starman in JLoA. Nor am I sure if you would designate him by his previous number…Starman III, maybe?…or by a new one because he was Starman, then he quit being Starman, and then like fourteen other guys were Starman, and then he starts being Starman again…? Also, what’s up with crazy bearded Starman in JSoA? Did he quit the team and book to go hang out with his Legion friends?


Randal said...

Actually, I think the most noteworthy thing about Miller's Batman is that it's a prequel to the Dark Knight Returns.

About a month ago I re-read The Crusades...and it never once occured to me that it could be seen as a Shining Knight that true or are you just guessing there? I might have to read it again...but anyway, I liked it, but it really fell apart near the end. Guess they were just too rushed to tie it all up in a pretty little bow.

Joe Hennes said...

There's another possibility for Starman's future boyfriend, and that's a character that appeared in the latest issue of JLA (who I'll refrain from mentioning at the risk of spoiling it for anyone else).

JohnF said...

That's not a Tyrannosaurus. Looks like maybe an Allosaurus to me. T-Rexes had two toes only on their front legs/arms.

Anthony Strand said...

When you say "Jade is Obsidian", you mean that she's his sister, I assume.

Debaser said...

No thoughts on the announced JLA Line-up of Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, Jade, Congorilla, Mikaal Thomas, Supergirl, and Jesse Quick?

Supposedly it's supposed to be the first stable team in years and it's supposed to last for at least 2 years.

Caleb said...


My guess that it was a Vertigized Shining Knight was just a had the same kernel at the center, but that's really about it.


Oh, the guy who appeared near the end? I didn't know he was gay, but now that I think about it, I don't know if his sexual orientation was ever discussed in any things I've read, so yeah, maybe.


Yes I did. It's been fixed. Thanks.


No, because I didn't hear/see that anywhere. It doesn't seem very likely though, unless all the other Justice Leaguers that have come back from the dead/will come back from the dead and other crossovers get their own book, and Robinson's JLoA keeps this book, but that team seems unlikely to last longer than your average Titan line-up, sales-wise.

tomorrowboy 2.9 said...

There's been at least one other Vertigo series published by another company. Uhm... That Jamie Delano one. Outlaw Nation! That was collected by Desperado/Image.

Joe Hennes said...

Right, Anthony reminded me that the character in question was never written as gay, but was discussed as being possibly gay (or sexually ambiguous) behind the scenes. So I am quite possibly completely mistaken.