Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Comic shop comics: August 31

Justice League #1 (DC Comics) This one’s kind of hard to review, even (particularly?) under the rubric of these little type-up-my-thouhts-right-after-reading reviews.

There’s been so much hype built up by DC, the most I’ve seen them produce in my 20 DC Comics-reading years, and so much speculation by everyone who pays any attention at all to DC Comics (and plenty of folks who don’t) that it was virtually impossible for this to live up to or surpass exoectations. It could have been the 21st century equivalent of Watchmen #1 or Dark Knight Returns #1 and it probably still would have seemed disappointing.

So, worth the wait? Able to support the countdown, the controversy and endless analysis?

Hell, no.

It is, however, Jim Lee at his Jim Lee-ist, and Geoff Johns at his Geoff Johns-iest. It does feature Batman and Greeen Lantern, the DC superheroes with the most recent feature films, and there’s a panel f Superman and a few pages of high school football player Vic Stone.

It is, in other words, probably good enough, something perfectly acceptable for fans of either creator and probably most people wanting to get in on the ground flooer of the new Ultimate DCU. And that’s exactly what this reads like, a straight, Ultimate-style reboot, right down to fussier, more “realistic” costumes.

Some thoughts:

—Brand new DCU, brand new comic book, brand new creative team, brand new Justice League line-up, same old bullshit. Despite repated, right up until within the last 24-hours, talk of “holding the line at $2.99”, and Co-Publisher Dan DiDio making digs at Marvel’s Fuck you, fans pricing, this is practically a $4/22-page book of the sort Marvel publishes.

There are only 24 pages of story in this book (two of which are single-page splashes, two more of which are a double-page splash), which DC is charging $3.99 for ($4.99, if you get the combo pack which comes with, um, a digital version of some sort too, I think).

There are four bullshit sketch pages, in which we’re shown even worse costume desgins for four of the characters than the one’s they ended up with, perhaps so the new, terrible costume designs don’t look quite so bad in comparison.

—There's no credit assigned to who wrote the text that accompanies those sketches—editor Eddie Berganza? His assistant Rex Ogle? Writer Johns? Lee?—but I hope it wasn't Dan DiDio, if only because it contains a sentence reading, "This would not be your dad's JUSTICE LEAGUE."

Fun fact: DiDio is a year older than the Justice League, and old enough to have gone to high school with my dad. As for DiDio's dad's Justice League, that would make it the Justice Society, wouldn't it? (Jim Lee is a four years younger than the League, and Johns is 13 years younger than the League).

—I was surprised that they didn't change that previously previewed caption placing this story "Five Years Ago" into something more vague like "Years Ago" or "Some Years Ago." A five-year timeline pretty much makes this a hard as hard comes reboot, and ditches, um, pretty much everything you'd think DC might wanna hang on to. Even if the only thing they wanted to keep was, say, that Dick Grayson was Batman's partner Robin, before growing up to become Nightwing (and there's a new "New 52" version of Nightwing on the schedule), this kinda makes that impossible.As it stood pre-Flashpoint, Grayson became Robin during Batman's third year, according to "Batman: Year Three," or Batman: Dark Victory, are those out now? Because that would leave only two years for Dick to be Robin, quite being Robin and get replaced by Jason Todd and then become Nightwing. And then Todd has to be Robin for a bit and get killed during "A Death in The Family" (is that out?) and come back to life during Infinite Crisis (And that?). They also have to fit in Tim Drake's years as Robin, maybe Stephanie Brown's months as Robin, and Damian Wayne's months as Robin. Oh, and then there's the entire year that Batman, Tim and Dick took off during the post-IC "One Year Later" jump (Is 52 out, too?).

Based on the solicitations for other book's we've seen, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Roy Harper are all still around as the grown-up former sidekicks of Batman and Green Arrow. Less than five years (Or are Batman: Year One and Year Two out now too...?) isn't much time for a kid to have a career as a kid sidekick and reach adulthood. (Note that some of the story arcs I've referred to above are in print as trades, and have always been evergreen sellers; I can see DC overwriting bad, unpopular stories like War Games or whatnot, but Batman: Year One...? That seems crazy).

If DC was fiddling with Wonder Woman's bottoms all the way up until release, it seems kind of weird that they didn't knock that number 5 out of there.

—I was quite surprised at how Marvel-like the new DC Universe is apparently going to be. The book opens with Batman on the run from the Gotham police, who try to take him down with lethal force, and when he and Hal Jordan talk, they reference how few superheroes there are, and that they are misunderstood and feared by the populace.

The whole protecting a world that fears and hates them is such an X-Men thing that I think it's actually in their charter, and a large swathe of the Marvel heroes fit into that concept of trying to do right by people who fear and misunderstand them (Spider-Man, The Thing, The Hulk, etc.)

It's early yet, but I wonder if Geoff Johns and company have a compelling reason for this angle, and whether or not it will be a unified approach. The Marvel heroes, whether by coincidence or not, seem to have emerged from various forms of radiation, delivered in various ways, and, retroactively at least, the dawn of the Marvel heroes seems to have been a reaction to the fears and anxieties of the atomic age. Looking at the Justice Leaguers they've chosen, their origins aren't nearly as unified—alien, guy with alien ring, guy who survives crazy accident involving lightning and chemicals, guy dressed like bat, human/mermaid hybrid, lady with pagan god-given powers—so I wonder if the new DCU is Marvel-esque just because the folks at DC know readers seem to think Marvel is cool and are trying to ape an aspect of that universe, or if there's a story-reason for it.

—Jim Lee's section depicted Cyborg's football game is especially weak, and confusingly laid out:

—Those costume still aren't growing on me, and while I can kind of sort of understand why DC thought giving everyone new costumes might be worthwhile—signallng how big a deal the reboot was—it seems like a move done primarily to signal to current comics readers, DC's current readership in particular, that this was going to be a big deal, rather than something that was done particularly to attract new readers.

If the idea is to make the DC heroes new reader friendly, why oh why oh why would they make the costumes look so much different than the ones that everyone knows from decades worth of cartoons, TV shows movies, video games, toys, lunch pails, halloween costumes and so on...?

I suppose Batman's is the only change that really makes much sense to me; the costume looks worse, and a lot harder to draw (which seems at odds with the publisher's new emphasis on shipping their books on time and producing art that's not as shitty as it usually is), but I suppose it does look closer to what the Batman in the Arkham Asylum games and the Christian Bale movies wears.

But man, what were they thinking with Superman? He's no longer wearing red shorts over his blue tights, he's now wearing a pair of blue metal panties over his blue metal pants.That's...better...?

Gambit and The Champions: From the Marvel Vault #1 (Marvel Entertainment) I've always liked the idea of Marvel's Champions team, which, like their Defenders team, doesn't really seem to have any sort of unifying principal or reason to exist, beyond the fact that some Marvel editor somewhere decided they could use another team like The Avengers, so who did they have lying around? (Two old X-Men, a Russian spy lady, a Greek demi-god and a guy with a flaming skull who rides a motorcycle all the time? Sure, that sounds great!).

I've always liked the idea of Gambit too, although I can't recall ever actually liking any comic book I've read with him in it. I basically just think he's a funny character, based on how hilarious he was on that '90s X-Men cartoon (everyone on that show was hilarious).

This is a comic book in which a pre-Gambit, in-the-(mutant) closet Remy LaBeau is hired to steal a whatsit from The Challengers, a whatsit that MODOK also wants to steal. Oh, and it's drawn by the late George Tuska, this being another From The Vault special where Marvel apparently found some old artwork and had someone come in to figure out a story to go with it so they could publish it (Here, it's Scott Lobdell).

It's nothing special, really, and beyond the pleasures of Tuska's crazy, rough, primal facial expression, there's little to recommend it. I liked the way Tuska drew Gambit's skull as if it were trying to push its way through his skin, and seeing Tuska draw the rather lunatic designs of several of these characters (This Ghost Rider, for example, wasn't yet a skeleton-on-fire, but a normal dude who had a crazy face that looked like a rubber mask of the Red Skull, bleached white. And set on fire. And he als always wore cowboy boots. And drove his goofy-looking motorcycle indooors).

Sadly, Lobdell doesn't go Full Claremont with Gambit's dialogue, so it's much harder to laugh at the character than usual and, well, laughing at Gambit is the only real pleasure I take in the character.

Anyway, this is a comic book that you can buy if you want. I did.

Bonus! There's a five-page ad for The New Avengers #16 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, and did you know that Brian Michael Bendis still does that thing where he pretends like the Avengers are characters on The Real World, that ur-reality show from when I was in high school and Bendis had yet to write anything from Marvel, and they act like they're in the confessional booth?Yes, he still does that!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Comics shop comics: August 24

Captain America & Bucky #621 (Marvel Entertainment)As far as I can tell, the art in this comic is probably second only to that in Daredevil, in terms of what Marvel is currently producing. The writing ain't too shabby either, although I found myself a little surprised by the Bucky's brutal killing of a Nazi agent. Captain America talks to him about how hard it is to kill a man, and that he'd probably have to kill some people because they are at war, and then Bucky totally does—he hurls a knife through the throat of a bad guy.

I'm not sure of the legality of the act. For one, the U.S. and Germany weren't at war at the time the story takes place, but then, we haven't had enemy soldiers representing a foreign nation attacking Americans on American soil in such a manner in modern times, so I don't know if it's, like, "cool" to throw knives through the throats of foreign agents about to gas American soldiers by feeding poison shaped like statues of lions into the engine of a locomotive.

It mainly struck me as strange because Bucky's a kid, not a grown-up, and Captain America himself wouldn't have done it. He would have tossed his mighty shield, bonked the guy on the head with its blunt edge and saved the day without knifing anyone. It's weird that Captain America has a Batman-like code of not totally killing dudes all the time, but his boy companion just cold ices dudes.

It's not really a problem with the story or anything—it's quite clear that the writers intend to address the effect of such acts on the character—but it stands out as kind of odd, and makes Cap seem pretty weird.

Anyway, great art, fairly great story.

DC Comics Presents: The Metal Men #1 (DC Comics) Okay, I finally found a copy of this that wasn't printed poorly. It's very, very good.

It opens with a page-filling reprint of Silver Age: The Brave and The Bold #1, a Bob Haney-written, Kevin Maguire-drawn chapter in DC's bizarrely uncollected 2000 event/series The Silver Age, which fits in with the theme of Maguire-drawing-The Metal Men, but otherwise seems kind of out of place here, and the story seems rather random out of context (The Penguin is inhabiting Batman's body, while Green Arrow and Black Canary are in Felix Faust and Catwoman's bodies; the Metal Men are trying to take down the villains, who are actually the heroes in the villains' bodies). Great to see Maguire drawing Batman, Catwoman and The Penguin though!

As for the bulk of the book, it's all of the Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Maguire Metal Men back-up strips from the recently cancelled volume of The Doom Patrol, during DC's short-lived experiment with back-ups or, as they called 'em, "co-features."

The creators are in their familiar and fairly popular "Bwa-ha-ha" mode, and these characters are particularly well-suited to it, given that each has a single, easily exaggerated for comic effect personality trait that Giffen and DeMatteis have no problem infinitely riffing on. The fact that they are robots with artificial personalities makes the sitcom humor all the more effective, as robots never really seem to behave unnaturally, since there's nothing natural about their possession of personalities in the first place.

As with the collection of Nick Spencer and company's recent Jimmy Olsen strip and Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul's Superboy comics, I felt pretty bummed out as I neared the end of the book. It was a comic I was really enjoying reading, which offered a take on some particularly-hard-to-"get" characters that seemed just right, and I would love to continue reading more like it, but I knew that there wasn't any more like it—this is all there is.

DC Retroactive: Justice League of America—The '80s #1 (DC) This actually came out a few weeks ago, but the new shop I've been going to has had trouble getting me and it in front of the cash register at the same time. They finally did so this past Wednesday, although DC Retroactive: Justice League of America—The '90s #1, schedule for release that day, didn't show up. (Example #4,363 of the direct market not really working all that great!).

This one's by old-school Justice League writer Gerry Conway and artist Ron Randall, and focuses on the post-Satellite Era "Detroit League" of Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Elongated Man and then-new heroes Steel, Vibe, Vixen and Gypsy.

There's a real, almost palpable defensiveness in the story, which I don't recall being present from the back issues of this period of Justice League comics I've read. Back then it seems the comics asserted repeatedly that these new guys were the real deal, they were here to stay and that they were the next generation of the World's Greatest Heroes; essentially, they were a whole team of Firestorms.

Obviously that didn't work out; half of those characters have been dead a very, very long time, and the other half have come and gone as members of various short-lived ensembles. Conway seems to be retroactively (Ah! Like in the title!) defining the characters and the team as they've since come to be perceived: A bunch of scrubs who don't really deserve to be the Justice League.

That perception doesn't really work within the story, as the conflict involves Felix Faust attacking the entire team with a trio of magically created monsters. If it was just the Faust versus the new kids, that would be one thing, but night omnipotent Zatanna and Superman+ powered Martian Manhunter are right there with Elongated Man, Aquaman and the rookies.

Randall does a nice job on art, although the coloring seemed excessively dark and murky.

Quick aside: The story made me think a bit about Vibe, and whether or not he will still exist or have existed in the "New 52" continuity. As a decade-specific character, created to capitalize on the popularity of break dancing and '80s hip hop culture as understood by DC Comics at the time, can Vibe make much sense in a new DCU? Like, if we're working from a five-year time line, the original Justice League line-up would have formed in 2006 (Oh hey, that explains why Superman didn't stop 9/11!). So the Detroit League would have been in 2007 or '08 maybe...?

Not that Vibe couldn't work in a 21st century context, of course; I thought the brief appearance of an evil Vibe in that direct-to-DVD Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths worked just fine. (I never wrote about that movie, but it has a lot of great animated action, some of the best people-with-superpowers-beating-the-hell-out-of-each-other-on-film action I've ever seen; I had watched it about a week before Dwayne McDuffie, who scripted it, had died, and it just felt weird writing blogging about it at the time). (I don't know how long this link will work, but, if you haven't seen it, you can see evil Vibe attacking Superman and then dancing at about the 30-second mark of this clip; later on there's also evil Black Lightning, who has embraced his '70s origins to the extreme, making him look like a deliberate, retro fashion choice on his part, rather than simply someone with a dated name and costume).

I think the book is most notable for its inclusion of a little boy character, trapped in the JLA HQ with his classmates when Faust attacks their field trip. Although the various superheroes repeatedly express doubts about their abilities, worth and likelihood of success, the kid is unflappable:Who is this wise, inspirational, cute and no doubt great at sports child?Now that's how to kiss the Chief Creative Officer's ass!

DC Retroactive: Superman—The '90s #1 (DC) See that guy on the cover? Who do you think that is? I assumed it was Dr. John Henry Irons, AKA Steel, given that he appeared to be brown-skinned, bald, and to have a goatee. Also, this comic is written by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove, the co-creators of the Steel character.

It's not. The goatee is actually just the shadow around his grimace, and he's apparently not brown-skinned, just a heavily shadowed.

After reading the first page, in which the clone body of Lex Luthor is radically deteriorating, I thought that maybe it was actually Luthor, who would give himself Superman powers at some point in the story, and the cover was meant to be symbolic.

It's not Luthor either, though.

It's actually Superman himself.

One thing many readers may think of when they think of Superman in the '90s, around the time Simonson and Bogdanove was working on the character, is undoubtedly Superman's long, hideous hair—As Superman, he wore it in a free-flowing mullet, and as Clark Kent he pulled it back into a ponytail. I didn't pay very close attention to the comics Internet at the time, so I'm not sure just how widely reviled Superman's haircut was at the time, but I do remember Grant Morrison had The Flash and Green Lantern talking smack about it in an issue of JLA, and Garth Ennis had the patrons of Noonan's bar signing a petition to Superman to have him cut his hair in an issue of Hitman.

At any rate, Superman's '90s hair is literally attacked in this story, in which Superman faces a monstrous foe that excretes an acid so powerful that it's able to badly burn the Man of Steel, singing off all of his hair (If you're wondering why you don't remember a bald Superman from the '90s, it's because the rays of the yellow sun can cure super-hair loss super-fast).

The story picks up and plays with a few story threads from the era, and thus functions a lot like a "lost" issue. The extent to which it slides comfortably into Simonon and Bogdanove's run is evidenced in the back-up reprint of Superman: Man of Steel #12, which features Superman battling a giant burrowing worm monster that the monster in the new story is a recreation of.

As with the '90s Batman special, one of the most interesting aspects of this one-shot was seeing how much the artist's style has changed in the intervening years; Bogdanove's noticeably a much stronger and better artist. His work looks smoother, a little more elegant, and he seems to be having a bit more fun exaggerating the designs of some of the background characters. Like Norm Breyfogle, Bogdanove is another artist I'd like to see more of in the new DCU.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just another links post

1.) As you my have heard, Grant Morrison was featured in Rolling Stone magazine, which resulted in a rather lengthy feature article by Brian Hiatt, a slideshow highlighting the best of his work (limited to 13 DC-published works, and New X-Men for Marvel), and an amusing Q-and-A headlined "Grant Morrison on the Death of Comics".

In it, a rather tired-sounding Morrison takes some shots at Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Brian Meltzer and his signature work and, most randomly, Chris Ware and "those Comics Journal guys."

Dan Nadel, a Comics Journal guy, and David Brothers both slapped Morrison around a bit for his statements in the piece. Regardless of the contents of Morrison's statements about the above, it is kind of refreshing to hear someone in the comics industry offering his honest opinions about his peers in the industry. You just don't see that kind of thing anywhere, ever, really, at least in Morrison's corner of the comics industry (Well, you do, but it's usually just Tom Brevoort talking trash about DC as a publisher).

Nadel, Brothers and others already called Morrison out for his pretty ignorant statements about Ware and his apparent forgetfulness regarding all the rapes in his own body of work, so I won't bother rehashing any of that. Here are a few things that grabbed my attention though:
Was this done in consultation with a bunch of people?

DC came to me in March and said they're relaunching all this stuff, and did I want to do Superman, and I didn't, but then when he said, "Would you do Action Comics #1?" I said, 'This is a nice ending to Supergods," so I agreed, and I was quite surprised that they let me do everything and let me change it so radically.


Given that Morrison is their top writer (or top writer who isn’t Geoff John,s anyway) and Action Comics features their flagship character, you would assume that "What will we have Grant do?" and "Who is going to write Superman?" would be among the first two questions the folks behind the realunch would want answered. Did they really not ask Morrison to start working on Superman for "the New 52" until March?

That doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time to completely rethink and reboot a character and a title that’s been around since 1938.

If DC comics still take about six months to produce between the writing of a script and new comics day (and they probably don’t, since so many of them seem inked by a staff of 14 credited inkers the Tuesday night before Wednesday release), then that would mean Morrison was writing the script for Action #1in…March of this year, the same month DC asked him about it…?

Now, Grant Morrison has probably put a lot of thought into Superman already, having written the character during his late-nineties JLA series, having put together a high-profile but ultimately rejected pitch to relaunch the character along with Mark Waid, Mark Millar and Tom Peyer shortly after that, having written All-Star Superman and writing the character during Final Crisis and the Superman Beyond tie-in series (in addition to writing a book about Superman and superheroes), so, sure, maybe he can pull off reinventing Superman for a new generation as part of a once-in-a-lifetime DC Comics reboot/relaunch with only a few months worth of thinking about and working on it.

But if they asked everyone else to start pitching in March of 2011 or later (Grifter and Demon Knights not being as high a priority as Action Comics, after all) well, I have a lot less confidence in Scott Lobdell’s ability to completely reinvent Superboy and The Teen Titans in less than a month, you know?

Morrison spoke rather frankly about his work with Mark Millar, saying the pair was essentially co-writing everything with Millar's byline right up until the start of The Ultimates. If true, and that takes a lot of Millar's best writing out of the By Mark Millar column and into the By Mark Millar and Grant Morrison column, then that was awfully disingenuous of DC to publish comic reading "By Mark Millar" if Morrison was co-writing, wasn't it?

Another bit:
Were there actual comic book groupies?

Yeah. I didn't do anything with them. I was always very nice to them. They would send beautiful letters and give them a peck on the cheek and it was all very romantic. There were some people in the business who were fucking every girl in sight. I just couldn't do that. I love the little girl-ness and the whole idea that they were really bright and they read Batman and Robin or they read Death from the Endless. It meant something to them and you don't want to ruin that and make them think that the guys that do this stuff are sleaze bags and mess up their lives. There are some amazing smart beautiful girls but I never had anything to do with it. We would go out and dance for a while, things like that but just that then put them in a taxi and say have a nice time.
Who are these people in the business fucking every girl in sight? Let's name some names, Morrison!

As much as I'm looking forward to reading Supergods, I think after reading this Q-and-A I'm looking forward to Morrison's memoir of his career in comics in another twenty years or so...

2.)In that Q-and-A, Morrison talks about how gross Meltzer's Identity Crisis rape scene was and how Alan Moore is obsessed with rape, and states " I managed to do thirty years in comics without any rape!" That's the statement Brothers slapped around. The above panel is from the Grant Morrison-written Final Crisis #5, and while I suppose one could argue that the character's aren't definitely talking about raping Supergirl instead of, say, throwing pies at Supergirl. But if the latter, why say Supergirl instead of the name Lex Luthor's archenemy, Superman...? (That panel appeared the exact same week as another panel in which two villains also discuss raping Supergir, by the wayl).

That one line of dialogue in one panel of a comic isn't really as bad as Meltzer's on-panel rape scene of The Elongated Man's wife by Dr. Light on the Justice League meeting table in the middle of a Justice League comic with Superman crying on the front, but, on the other hand, the casual, off-handed, never-responded-to remark makes it seem worse in at least one way. Meltzer at least treated the rape as a big enough deal to build his stupid murder mystery on; in Morrison's comic, it's just something dark and gross tossed off and ignored by everyone.

3.)Brian Bolland sure has drawn a lot of pictures of The Joker. I actually had a lot of trouble picking out which one to use for that post of Bolland’s depictions of various Batman villains on comic book covers from yesterday.

I ultimately went with the cover from The Killing Joke, given that’s the cover of the book that is no doubt the main reason that Bolland is assigned to draw so many Joker covers, but there was no shortage of options:

4.) I was glad to see well Mark Waid and company’s new Daredevil placed among Marvel’s July 2011 books, at least according to The Beat’s sales analysis. It apparently sold higher than both of the flagship Avengers titles, and right below the latest issue of Fear Itself, Marvel’s current publishing priority.

Why am I glad? Well, it’s not simply a matter of Hey, everyone likes the same thing I like, therefore I feel validated. Actually, I’m glad that such a well-made comic with such great, hand-drawn, relatively innovative, contrary-to-Marvel’s-“house”-style art has been so widely embraced. That, and the fact that Daredevil boasts a lighter, brighter tone than the series has in…what, 20 years? Thirty?…and, so far anyway, is fairly self-contained and being sold on its own merits instead of on some more nebulous marketing along the lines of Don’t miss this new book, spinning out of Whatever, and paving the way for Something Else!

Also of note among Marvel’s July sales? Fear Itself doesn’t even seem to be moving the needle on its many, many tie-ins; the book itself is selling okay, but the books tying into it seem to not be selling any better at all because of their association with it.

On the other hand, the “Spider-Island” story taking place in Amazing Spider-Man is selling like gangbusters, although the weird, IDW’s Godzilla-like order-a-whole-bunch-of-copies-and-get-a-variant-cover-with-a-photo-of-your-shop-on-it scheme is likely responsible for a whole bunch of those sales.

Perhaps that’s the future of comics sales? Not Fear Itself-like event crossover events, but weird-ass sales gimmicks…?

5.) One of the many unresolved, even nagging questions about DC’s reboot/relaunch (just three days away!) is what will become of the Justice Society of America, which, in the Silver Age, were posited to live on an alternate Earth (Earth-2, for those of us who count) that included Golden Age Superman, Golden Age Batman and Robin and Golden Age Wonder Woman, in addition to the other minor Golden Age characters like Wildcat, Hourman and so on.

After Crisis On Infinite Earths, when DC collapsed their various alternate earths into a new, more streamlined shared setting, the duplicates were done away with, and the Golden Age heroes were active in the actual Golden Age of the ‘30s and ‘40s, but disappeared for a while before returning, most of ‘em elderly but still ass-kicking due to various magical maguffins.

They were almost all absent from the “New 52” solicitations though, save Mr. Terrific II, and the repeated references to Superman being the first superhero and the Justice Leaguers among the first generation of superheroes made it sound as if the JSA never existed in the ne post-Flashpoint DCU.

So, what gives?

Now DC has given official word that the JSA will return in some form, and, um, that’s about all they’ve said.

I hope it won’t be on a new Earth-2 or some sort of pocket universe or even part of their own, standalone comic (although I like that idea better than a return of the multiple earth cosmology).

If the JSA has been subtracted from the DCU in its new construction though, that’s…damn, that’s gonna be awfully confusing. I don’t see how you can subtract all of the JSA from current DCU history and the changes not mark a hard reboot of DCU history/continuity.

Heck, barely a post-Crisis crisis has passed that didn’t prominently features The Spectre stomping around doing big, cosmic things.

And if you subtract various aspects of the JSA from the DCU…Oh, man…if Ted Knight never existed in the DCU, how did his son? And did Starman happen…? ‘Cause Golden Age supervillain The Shade is gonna have his own series…did supervillains predate superheroes by decades…? And did the Seven Soldiers of Victory exist? Because if they didn’t, did Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory occur or not? And if not, do we lose those characters, at least one of which appears in the solicitations for Demon Knights, and….AUUUUGHH! So! Confusing!

Please just give a Who’s Who and an all-new New History of the New DC Universe already, DC!

Oh man, if Johnny Thunder and The Thunderbolt didn’t exist in the new DCU, does that mean Jakim Thunder doesn’t exist? Because I really liked him…

Anyway, Robot 6-ers point out that James Robinson and Nicola Scott, two fairly prominent creators of the current DCU who are mostly, conspicuously absent from the new one, are both said to be working on something for DC. And sometimes doing so together. And also something set on Earth-2…? Brian Cronin connects the dots and makes it sound official-ish.

I’d read a JSA comic by Robinson and Scott.

That same Robot 6 post re-posts some Jill Thompson art from The Source; Thompson is working on the eighth issue of The Shade. I’m really looking forward to seeing that, as it seems like a very, very long time since I’ve seen Thompson drawing in a “serious,” more representational style of the sort she drew her contributions to Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series (mostly “Brief Lives”) in.

I really like Thompson’s work, and the various styles she employs, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen new work from her that isn’t a carefully calibrated style like the shojo-esque stuff she did for her two Sandman-related digests, or the cartoonier designs of her Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie stuff, or the representational-but-unnaturally-expressive animals of Beasts of Burden.

Anyway, Jill Thompson! In the DCU! Get excited! (Fingers crossed that Shade #8 leads directly into a Wonder Girl: Wonder Woman’s Adventures When She Was a Girl and Legion of Super-Pets minis…)

(Oh, and I couldn't upload the Thompson image The Source released form her work on The Shade, so there's a Thompson image of Wonder Woman, just because).

6.) Hey, have you seen this new video for rock band and funny music video stars OK Go’s cover for The Muppet Show theme song?

If not, here it is. (What’s that you say? How is this comics-related? The Muppets are comic book stars, duh).

It’s a pretty sweet video, and I was kinda surprised at how effective a lot of it was—has no one ever done that Muppets-controlling-humans-as-if-they-were-Muppets gag before? (I was a little disappointed that the old heckler dudes were familiar enough with the band OK Go to use their name as a proper noun, and not as a potential pun to stop watching The Muppets on YouTube…)

The song, by the way, is on The Green Album, which features a bunch of bands and musicians I’ve heard of but haven’t necessarily heard music from because I am an old (Other than Weezer and Okay Go, I guess; and I think the band covering "Mahna Mahna" is the band that wrote the annoying theme song for Grey's Anatomy) covering various Muppet-related songs.

7.) I knew a whole hell of a lot of civilians had died in the course of DC’s Flashpoint miniseries, which takes place on a world where Aquaman sunk Europe, but I guess I had no idea of how many hundreds of millions of civilians had died, nor that DC was dropping alternate versions of so many name characters like so many flies. (I’ve only been reading a handful of Flashpoint series though, and most of those reluctantly).

Chris Eckert has been keeping count though, and provides a list of the various events that resulted in the deaths of millions, as well as the ways various characters have died. For example:
Alfred the Butler: Beheaded in England by invading Amazons
Amethyst: Murdered either by Enchantress or Shade
Animal Man: Framed for the murder of his wife and children, made a prison bitch by Atomic Skull, nose bitten off and subsequently curb-stomped by Heatwave
I got bored reading by the time I got to the F’s, after which point I just sort of skipped around looking for familiar names. If reading a list of the casualties is that dull, I can’t imagine having actually read all the comics in which these deaths took place, and paying for the privilege as well.

I imagine this is DC getting all the death and destruction out of their collective system in preparation for the new DCU, as they probably won’t be able to kill people willy-nilly anymore . Not if they want to maintain the illusion that this universe is both new and permanent, anyway. Like, if you have Stephanie Brown tortured to death with power tools now, new readers will be all like, “Hey, who the hell is this lady, and why should I care? Also, comics are gross and make me feel sick.” And then DC will have to do another reboot of some sort to bring her back to life again.

The above image, by the way, features Plastic Man's first appearance in Flashpoint: Legion of Doom. Fun fact: Plastic Man's creator Jack Cole not only drew an infinitely better Plastic Man than whoever had to draw this scene for DC, but he also drew infinitely better scary crime comics and violence. As gross as the image of an evil Plas climbing out of Cluemaster's mouth might be, as much red stuff as it has in it, it ain't ever gonna show up at a congressional hearing on how fucked-up comics are.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011