The events in Oakland the last few weeks have been the ugliest, most depressing events in America that I've read or heard about in quite some time...perhaps since the end of the Bush Administration (the treatment of Bradley Manning, the occasional government-conducted murder of a U.S. citizen by flying death machines and President Barack Obama's failure to keep so many campaign promises like getting me some damn healthcare and shutting down the legal black hole torture prison camps aside). But wait, it gets even grosser!
Start at Tom Spurgeon's article on Comics Reporter for some links to Susie Cagle's experiences with the Oakland police and "justice" system. Like it's not bad enough the police are basically just cold attacking protesters, they went ahead and arrested an accredited journalist, and then charged her with a crime for doing her job? Ugh...
Have you seen women's shoes inspired by and somewhat branded by DC super-women? I'm hardly an expert when it comes to ladies footwear, but some of them look really great, and are a lot nicer than the DC Comics-branded Converse All-Stars, which see the mascots of one corporation being used to decorate the products of another.
Of these, I really, really like the Wonder Woman flats (flats are the shoes that aren't heels, right?), especially the ones with the stars and the one with the Wonder Woman logo on the side. The Wonder Woman boots, which are the same ones she wears in the comics, only made out of a real-world shoe material, are nice, and the Catwoman line has "evil" versions of them, in black. Of the Catwoman ones, I like the ones that have a cat face on them, although none of these seem to say "Catwoman" in quite the same way that the Wonder Woman ones say "Wonder Woman."
Do note the fact that the images of Wonder Woman and Catwoman that Andre are using to promote the shoes are images of the two ladies in older, pre-reboot costumes. Wondy is wearing her standard costume, the one familiar from Superfriends, while Catwoman is wearing the purple dress and green cape from...the '70s, I think. I maintain that the ultimate test of the new costumes that accompanied DC's September reboot will be if and when they ever start showing up to sell things like this to lay people. That's when we'll know for sure that the costume changes are more along the lines of New Look Batman rather than that of Electric Superman.
Here's another link to DC Women Kicking Ass: A re-posting of a Nicola Scott Justice League cover that the artist, one of the best DC has had working on a monthly for them in the last few years, did "just for fun."Serious question: Is Scott's "just for fun" cover the best Justice League cover we've seen since the series relaunched in September? Jim Lee has been providing the official covers for the the first two issues of the series, and will apparently be providing them for each of the upcoming issues that have already been solicited. Variants by other artists have been mentioned in those solicits, but the only variant I've seen hit the stands so far was the one by David Finch.
Lee's have been particularly phoned-in for the artist, basically just groups of characters posing before minimal to non-existent backgrounds, the same sorts of covers Lee was cranking out in the '90s for his pre-DC WildStorm stuff, rather than the more elaborate covers he's produced since (The cover for All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder #1, for example, was also just a pose shot, but look at that background!)
And as for Finch's cover, it looked like this:So I think Scott's may be the very best cover we've seen so far, even if it's not slated to grace the cover of any upcoming issues.
Her Hal Jordan looks so young that he looks a lot like George Perez's Kyle from the JLA/Avengers crossover, and all of the costumes on all of the Leaguers still look pretty awful. Man, NO ONE can make Superman's new costume work! No one!
If it were in my power to do so, I would immediately commission a "New 52" Superman Gallery #1 and hire all of my favorite artists—Paul Pope, Mike Allred, Richard Sala, Adam Warren, Brandon Graham, Ross Campbell, Norm Breyfogle, Kelley Jones, Jan Duursema, Rags Morales, Jill Thompson, Matt Howarth, John McCrea, Marcos Martin, James Kochalka, Stephen DeStefano, Kyle Baker, Ronnie del Carmen—to contribute their best drawings of Superman in his new suit. Just to see if there was anyone in the whole world who could draw it and make it look cool to me.
Chris Sims recently wrote up a long-ish article in which he ranked the top ten best episodes of Batman: The Animated series.
My three favorite episodes, the ones I remember as being so good that they would immediately come to mind if anyone asked me about the best episodes of that pretty damn great series, would be 1.) The "Two-Face" two-parter in which supporting character Harvey Dent finally becomes a villain, 2.) "Mad as a Hatter," which introduced The Mad Hatter, and 3.) "Heart of Ice," The Mister Freeze episode (and the only Mister Freeze episode they really needed to do). Sims covered two-thirds of my favorites.
I also liked every single Joker appearance on some level, although I'm afraid I can't think of a single one that I liked more than any other one (Sims' choice of "The Joker's Favor" might be the best; I'm afraid I don't feel that strongly about any of them to rate them from memory. Mark Hamil did an incredible job on the voice, and the producers did an excellent job of synthesizing a single, ultimate Joker from the various interpretations from the character over six decades (at the time), coming up with one that seemed true to the best aspects of all of the Jokers, and yet was still kid-friendly enough to appear in a cartoon.)
I actively disliked a couple of Sims' favorites, like "The Forgotten and the Ra's al Ghul one, "The Demon's Quest." I've never been a fan of Ra's al Ghul in general, though. Of late, my aversion to the villain had more to do with his ubiquity (even after he died for a few years, Talia and his other daughter and his League of Assassins seemed to be appearing in at least one Bat-book every month), but even back as a teenager when B:TAS was airing new episodes, something about him seemed off to me. I think it's simply because "my" Batman is the urban crimefighter, not the globe-trotting espoinage guy. Ra's is an awesome villain, but compared to the rest of Batman's rogue's gallery, I think he's kind of lame, and more a second or third-tier villain then a first-tier one, although he's often played (particularly by his co-creator Denny O'Neil) as Batman's arch-enemy, second only to The Joker. In my opinion, Ra's al Ghul was the Hush of the seventies (I actually have no idea what that means).
Other episodes I remember hating were the one with the ninja, the two-parter "The Cat and the Claw" and "Tyger Tyger." Sim's article was a great read though, and a nice walk down memory lane (Save for the movie Mask of the Phantasm and the direct-to-video Superman/Batman team-up, I haven't seen any of these shows since the nineties...in fact, I haven't seen a bunch of the episodes from the second season, or the post-Tim Drake season/s.
Sims' article also reminded me how much I loved those title cards. Those things were awesome.
I will say this for Kevin Smith: He played a pivotal role in my development as an apsiring writer in the mid-'90s, as I distinctly recall seeing Clerks for the first time (a movie I loved and still like, by the way, and his next two films, each of which I liked progressively more than the last), and thinking, "Hell, I could do this." Not make movies like that, of course, I could just barely work a Polaroid camera, but the scripts? The dialogue? That didn't seem all that hard after all. Maybe writing for public consumption didn't have to come in the form of high-brow, beautiful literature type writing. WIthout that realization, my writing would likely be confined to laboring over poems and novellas no one would ever buy, and I definitely wouldn't be making comics or have ever started writing for newspapers and on this Internet thing.
I was thinking about Kevin Smith and his career a lot this week, as I saw Red State early in the week (a movie I didn't even know existed until I saw it at the library), and then read this piece article on Slate, which takes a hard look at Smith's evolution as an artist, and finds it wanting (Personally, I think he stopped growing with Chasing Amy, and remained in a rut until Red State, which is a seriously flawed movie, but the best thing he's done in years in either comics or film).
The headline of writer Sam Adams' article kind of tells you what to expect from it: "Kevin Smith's Army: How his loyal fans prop up a stunningly mediocre career."
At one point, Adams writes that, "For his core audience, though, it seems Smith can do no wrong." And I'm not so sure that's true. After all, I'm certainly a member of core audience (at least core target audience) and he gradually began to lose me with Dogma and, especially, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, in which he plagiarized his own comics writing for material (Sections of that movie are based on comics that are based on his movies which is...weird), Jersey Girl (the welcome presence of Liv Tyler and George Carlin aside) and Clerks II, which had it's good points (I do love the sound of Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran's voices, and was glad to be able to spend some time with them again).
And as for his comics-writing career, it's been careening downhill since his short Green Arrow run (Batman: Widening Gyre being a contender for Worst Comic Ever Created).
I can't speculate on how well his loyal army keeps him going, money-wise, but I imagine the same folks who are his core audience are among the harshest critics in the world—harsher than professional film critics, for sure. Nerds of any kind—and that is Smith's audience, whether they prefer the term "geeks" to "nerds" or not—are harder on each other than they are on anyone else.
Aside from Smith's secondary career as a comics-writer, I thought the article worth noting for the business model that Adams seems to suggest Smith is employing. Essentially, building up an extremely loyal fanbase that will by whatever you sell them, regardless of artistic merit or even quality, and then exploit them for all they are worth, wring every dollar you can out of them, rather than trying to reach a wider audience. That's essentially the business strategy employed by The Big Two and far too many direct market-conscious comics publishers over the last five-to-fifteen years, isn't it? Marvel more so than DC at the moment, as the former has been pretty open about it's "We charge $4 instead of $3 because we know you'll pay it" pricing strategy, and the latter has at least talked the talk (incessantly) about reaching out for new readers, even if their idea of "new" readers is lapsed old readers and Marvel Zombies.
Speaking of which: The one new Marvel book I was very much looking forward to, the one by a fantastic artist of the sort who works well beyond the bounds of modern Marvel house style and who has plenty of fans who don't normally read Marvel books but would probably be willing to follow her to one, has been canceled.
I recently moved, from about an hour away from this comics scene to about 20 minutes away from this comics scene. So I'll be reading this article with great interest. You should too.