Friday, April 27, 2007

Not Another DC Rant... I Promise!

While I was in ye olde local comic shoppe this week, I was struck by whimsy. Well, more realistically I was struck by my amazingly positive feelings about the Blue Beetle in last week's Brave And The Bold. So whimsy struck, and I found myself purchasing not one, but two issues of DC's current Blue Beetle series. And you know what?

I enjoyed them.

The Blue Beetle is apparently being written to fill the 'Spider-Man' niche in the DC Universe. He's an awkward teenager, not completely at ease with his powers, in awe of the superheroic community he's been thrust into, and generally flying by the seat of his pants. And I really think DC needs that. So many of DC's more widely-known heroes are so confident and secure in their roles as heroes that they just can't seem awkward or unsure in quite that same way. I mean, even the Teen Titans have that air of infallibility around them. Well, except for the Titans that died in World War III. (Sorry... it was impossible to resist that shot.)

And that's the whole reason Spider-Man's been around as long as he has. Because since his beginning, he's had problems and issues that readers could relate to. He's just as messed up as the rest of us... and because of leading a double life, maybe a little moreso. I've only been reading comics for a few years, but even DC's C-list heroes seem to have a firm, commanding grip.

I started looking into the new Blue Beetle when the title launched after Infinite Crisis. I dropped it after about six issues. I think I'm regretting that. The title's survived over a year, and it fills a second important niche for DC. It doesn't take itself too seriously. There are a few books that stand out clearly in my head for that one fact alone. I think I'm going to add this one back to my sub form.

I'm still working on what I'm going to remove. But that can be saved for another post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

52 #51

Nope, it's not a preview of Countdown, it's my thoughts on the penultimate issue of DC's weekly series.

I want to start off by saying here that overall I've enjoyed 52, and I don't feel that DC has somehow scammed me out of my money without providing a decent book. I'm a fan of 52. But whether it's my own nature, or just the nature of fans in general, I'm probably going to speak a bit more about the things that I wasn't happy with than with what I like about the book.

Having read issue #51 a few hours ago, and having just skimmed over it as I wrote a plot synopsis for's online comic book database, I have to say that the overall impression that I get is one of missed opportunities. This is something my neighbor Chad and I have discussed some. 52 had a lot of plots flying around, but in all honesty the thread that feels the most ignored to me is the one that seems to have been the main plot.

Which story do I mean? Ultimately, I guess I mean Booster Gold and Skeets' story. Why do I think this one was meant to be the main story? Skeets actually seems to have some idea of what '52' means. When 52 first came out, monthly books, taking place One Year Later would occasionally have references to the number 52, including the Guardians of the Universe all saying '52' at the same time, referring to something that Hank Henshaw might know. Red Tornado, one of the heroes who fought in space during the Infinite Crisis spent the missing year with the number stuck in his voice box. DC's even teased us with advertising asking us if we've figured out the mystery yet! Umm... what mystery? That Renee Montoya is the new Question? Yeah, I figured that one out a few weeks ago, thanks.

I like Renee Montoya as much as the next guy, and I know she was always meant to be one of the main characters in the series... but was her story always supposed to be as large as it turned out to be? As near as I can tell, she appeared in 28 issues of 52. That's over half of them. The previous Question, Vic Sage appeared in 20 issues. Now I know Montoya/Sage's story wasn't the feature story in every issue, but that's a large portion of the series.
Some could say that I've just got a case of sour grapes that my favorite storyline in the series didn't get quite as much attention. I'd answer by pointing out that this story was important enough that apparently the book was titled after it, and it was mentioned elsewhere in the DC Universe. That's more editorial attention than World War III got, and we got five books full of World War III in one week.
I just caught myself saying that I wish we'd get four one-shot issues to wrap up the Booster/Skeets story. But after having read World War III, maybe I should be glad we haven't. But then again, maybe we're about to. The first issue of Coutdown is scheduled to hit a week after 52 ends, right?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

If you can't say something nice...

The past few days, I'd been thinking of the last meeting of the Comic Club here in Columbia, SC. One of the things that stood out the most did so because it happens fairly regularly. My friend
Chad, among others, was accused of hating modern comic books because a lot of what he has to say at our meetings is critical.

I'm pretty sure that everybody was kidding him... but it's a fact. The more you like some form of entertainment, the faster you become a critic of it. I love movies, but my fiancee hates to go to movies with me because as soon as the lights come up a little and the credits roll... my mouth opens, and a torrent of criticism rolls out. I seem physically unable to talk about anything I liked about the movie, if there was even a single thing that held it back in my eyes. And I got to thinking about the wave of negativity these past few days that was the result of 52, and moreso the sloppily executed World War III. So I thought a nice, easy post for today (on account of being exhausted) would be to try to think of three comics that left me with positive impressions this week. I bought a ton of books... three good ones shouldn't be too hard... should it?

Brave and the Bold #3

This first one's an easy call. I picked upt the first issue of the new Brave and the Bold series on a whim. I think it's probably the most energetic and purely fun DC title I've read in at least a year. (Probably longer, and certainly going back prior to Infinite Crisis.)

Batman teams up with the new Blue Beetle, who's coping with a big case of literal hero worship. Batman's portrayed seriously, but not all full of grim darkness. Meanwhile Blue Beetle adds something that's generally sortof lacking in the DC department... inexperienced teenage heroes.

The two team up to retrieve a weapon called the Haruspex, which scans probability and launches an attack most likely to incapacitate/kill it's target. This goal crosses their path with the Lord of Time and the Fatal Five. There's a lot of action, and fun to be had. It's not much of a thinker, but it's a good time.

This next one involved a little more thinking. Peter David's current X-Factor series is kindof like a guerilla commando. It's not frequently at the top of my pile when I sit down to do some reading, but it ambushes me, causing me to remember that it really is a good book.

It takes characters who aren't Marvel's top-tier mutants, and spins a good tale with some pretty decent surprises included. This is also quite possibly the only Marvel title that hasn't forgotten that just a few months ago (in the Marvel Universe) that a whole lot of mutants recently lost their powers for no easily explainable reason. (You'd think people would still talk about that some.) This book's letting us see some former mutants trying to get by without their gifts, convinced that the government is to blame.

On top of which, though Jamie Madrox is the group's leader, the whole team frequently follows the instructions of young Layla Miller, because she "knows stuff". Stuff that leads to a lot of 'happy accidents'. Now if I can just remember that I like this book when the next issue hits.

I think I'll finish up with Cable & Deadpool.

The fact that I ever read the first issue of Cable & Deadpool was a happy accident. I'd been subscribed to Gail Simone's title Agent X, so the folks at the local comic shoppe I frequent added this to my sub form after Agent X's sad cancellation.

I should fall to my knees and thank them.

The title has focused primarily on Deadpool lately, and I don't regard that as a bad thing. He narrates the entire book to the reader through his caption boxes in a rambling stream of conciousness that frequently has me laughing out loud. The intro page of the book frequently has Deadpool breaking the fourth wall to bring the readers up to speed, sometimes with special guests. I can't recall an issue of Cable & Deadpool that's failed to bring a smile to my face. It might not quite be bear-punchingly good, but watching Deadpool fight an enemy who knows how to counter his every move... including his caption boxes... made for a fun read.

Well, I made it through a post that was, by and large, positive! And having said something positive for the week, I now feel entirely justified in being as negative as I want. It wasn't even too hard to manage. If you disagree with my thoughts, feel free to post your comments. I may cry like a little girl, but when I'm done, I'll try to see about responding.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Post All About World War III

I originally posted this over on my Livejournal blog at . But deciding to start a blog here specifically relating to comics, it felt like I should re-post it.

I've read a few friends' opinions specifically on World War III, and the way that 52 shifted away from it's stated goals on their blogs, and like any schmoe with something to say, I feel compelled to put my own thoughts out there. That's what the internet's for... right?

I'll start by saying I'm disappointed that 52 was off-track by it's second issue, as stated by Dan Didio. Seriously. Two issues down, fifty to go... and you're already veering away from your stated goals? And you said nothing about this until week 50? That doesn't seem a smidge... dishonest? To be perfectly honest, I'd probably have still bought the book. I've generally found it to be an enjoyable read. I've had some of the plots that I've enjoyed more than others, true, but for the most part my impression of the weekly series had been a good one. And it was good enough that I don't plan to drop it.

But let's talk for a minute about the train-wreck that is World War III.

Conceptually, I suppose I could be alright with it. Since 52 has veered away from what it's supposed to be, DC wanted to put out a small series (or in this case, strangely, four single-issue one-shot series) encompassing an event that would address most of the changes made to the DC universe over the missing year. I'd even be alright with the notion of showing us what a superhuman World War would be like... but that might be due to the fact that I've never read Grant Morrison's World War III arc in JLA. I might have to rectify that in order to get the taste of this from my palette.

So... I'm alright with the concept. But the execution... wow.

Just... wow.Let's start with a comment by someone calling themselves michael rocketship on Chris' Invincible Super-Blog. They pointed out that Ralph Dibny and Felix-Faust-disguised-as-a-piece-of-headware got help obtaining a mystical artifact from the Dweller in the Depths several weeks ago. And yet, during week 50, we clearly see blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aquaman raise the city of Sub Diego, and as a price for that act, being transformed into the Dweller. But we're not done there. Not only did this little gaffe slip by Michael Siglain, but apparently nobody let word out to either Kurt Busiek or Tad Williams that Sub Diego was no longer submerged. In Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #51, which hit the stands on the same day as WWIII, Sub Diego is still submerged.

The timeframe on this is all messed up too. Aquaman was missing a whole TWO WEEKS, prompting legends regarding his disappearance? Maybe time just seems to pass a lot more slowly underwater... but my parents don't freak out if I don't give 'em a call for a couple of weeks. Heck, even your average bill collector will give you a month or two before they start harassing you.

But I think the thing that disappoints me the most about World War III (the 52 one... not the Grant Morrison JLA run that I haven't read... remember?) is that it's ALSO off target for what it's supposed to do. Let me put this in a seperate paragraph to try to break it down clearly. I've got the feeling this is going to be confusing.

52 was planned to address the changes between the DC Universe at the end of Infinite Crisis to the beginning of One Year Later. It went off course as of the second issue, when the writers decided to write something else, so the editorial staff planned a big event for the end of 52 to address the changes between the DC Universe at the end of Infinite Crisis to the beginning of One Year Later, and that's World War III. And it did it really well... if the only change was Martian Manhunter freaking out.

But there were a lot of changes that were completely ignored or were left sorely undertreated. We got a couple panels of Harvey Dent fighting Killer Croc. Now I keep a database of my comics, and one of the things I try to be good about is tracking character appearances. I don't recall ever being shown Batman telling Harvey Dent that he's leaving Gotham in his hands for the missing year. Am I wrong? I mean, with Montoya, the Question, the new and late Batwoman and Nightwing running around for the past 50 weeks, it's not like he's been needed. So Harvey was Gotham's guardian for two weeks before OYL, and he's pissed off that Batman's not more greatful?

Speaking of stuff in the Batman books OYL... what about this case that gets Bullock reinstated as a police officer? Something about corruption in the ranks, leading to the return of Jim Gordon as comissioner? I sure as heck never saw anything about that story. Did I miss something?

We got a couple of panels of Deathstroke talking to Batgirl... the one member of the Bat-Family apparently not invited to the Bat-cruise. I thought we were moving away from homo-erotic subtext in Batman comics, DC. We got a couple panels of Jason-Todd-as-Nightwing killing a few muggers. We got a couple panels about Supergirl.

That's just it... all of these things got 'a couple panels'. Each one of those plots deserved more, in my opinion. The fact that they apparently couldn't take the focus off of Black Adam fighting lots of people to explain these OYL changes... which was the goal of both 52 and World War III... it's sad. And it's expensive.

Before I close things up, I want to also talk about Nightwing Annual #2, also released this week. Why? Because this does, at least for Nightwing, what 52 and World War III couldn't do for anybody except J'onn Jonzz. It explained why Nightwing went from a bright young hero who had rediscovered his own sense of heroism who proposed to Oracle on the eve of his greatest battle to a guy without anybody, living in New York. It could have done it better, but there was a story there, and they told it. Wouldn't it be nice if DC did that for Batgirl, Jason Todd, Jim Gordon & Bullock, Harvey Dent, Aquaman and a whole host of other characters?

My reaction to World War III isn't as sharp as some of my friends, but I'm definitely re-evaluating my DC comics purchases. I swore off the new Justice League and Justice Society series' a month or so ago. I think I'm about to add to that list.