Thursday, September 27, 2007

Unexpected Expense

But this one, at least, is a good one.

You see, I'm a fan of the Anthology in general. A sortof literary smorgasbord of fiction. Not only is it a good medium for untried writers (and in the case of visual fiction like comic books, for artists as well) to produce something, but it's also good for the reader. It helps you sample things and maybe try something new in a small dose.
Anthologies certainly aren't any strangers to serial fiction like comics. I believe some of the earliest comics (including Action Comics and Detective Comics) were originally anthology books that were pretty much swallowed by their most popular respective stories. But even today, Annuals are sometimes produced in anthology format, as are holiday specials. And of course, there's the notion of a 'backup' story which helps titles take a step towards an anthology format, without abandoning their primary focus on one title or set of characters.
Since I've found over the past year that I occasionally love backup stories more than the main event, I'm glad to see a new anthology title that Marvel has apparently comitted to. (One of the stories inside this month's issue of Marvel Comics Presents bills itself as Part 1 of 12.)
So a big thumbs up to Marvel. While I do hope that the book won't consistently run at $3.99 I guess it would be worth it if the page count remains where it is.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Comic Day 9/26/07

Well, once again I find myself on Tuesday night, staring down one more...


What's in store for me?

BATMAN #669 $2.99
BLUE BEETLE #19 $2.99
SPIRIT #10 $2.99 - I think this is toast after Darwyn Cooke leaves.
TEEN TITANS #51 $2.99

CABLE DEADPOOL #45 $2.99 - Stocking up on as much Deadpool as I can get to fill the coming void.
THE ORDER #3 CWI $2.99
X-MEN #203 - Another X-Book bought for the backup story. I shoulda waited for the trade.

I'll grant that feels pretty weighty, but I don't really see anything I can just cut out of there. At least not yet. I know that three of those titles shouldn't plan on sticking around too long.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hulk SMASH lesser comics!

The reading material for the next episode of Comic Club is the incomprehensibly cool Planet Hulk.

I really couldn't be happier.

I was fortunate enough to have already subscribed to The Incredible Hulk via the local comic shoppe before Planet Hulk began. (Peter David's House of M tie-in story had me pretty well hooked.) So today, I've read through Peace in Our Time, the story leading into Planet Hulk, and I've started into the first act of the main event.

I'm trying to think of just why I enjoyed Planet Hulk as much as I did. I think that part of it comes from watching the Hulk fall into a Conan story. The massive, physically powerful character follows the progression that the Cimmerian long since carved into stone, transforming from slave, to gladiator, to rebel, to finally King. But through it all, we're not in the head of a savage barbarian from this fantastic world... we're in the head of a monster from our world. We see things more as he would see them. But like Conan, the Hulk isn't out to be a hero to the planet Sakaar. He hasn't set out to save it's people. His is a mission of vengeance, first against the Red King for hurting him, and afterwards on the heroes of Earth for the destruction of the peace he had found in Sakaar.

I think the second reason I find Planet Hulk so satisfying is that culturally I think we see the Hulk as less of a character, and more of an obstacle or a force of nature. He has a worse reputation than the X-Men and Spider-Man put together, but he deserves it. Where the Hulk goes, destruction inevitably follows. It's nice to see him as the driver of events. And even though World War Hulk returns him to being the obstacle, or the disaster, he's still moving events forward.

Thanks for giving me something worth reading, big guy!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Secret Infinite Final Civil War Crisis on Infinite Earths Wars

I got to thinking about big 'event' comics the other day, and the differences between the way Marvel and DC tackle them.

It all sprang with me trying, again, to pin the tail on why I've found DC to be so disappointing. And mentally, I figure I trace the beginnings of my disappointment back to the end of Infinite Crisis. And the conclusion I think I've come to is this: It doesn't feel like we're getting stories out of DC that could only be told after Infinite Crisis.

Maybe it's just my opinion, but I kindof feel that if you're going to have a massive event for the reason of making massive changes to the status quo then you should follow two fairly important rules:

  1. Have the changes make sense within the context of the story being told.
  2. Ensure that the stories following the event are impacted in some way by the event.

The two most recent, completed events we have to look at are Infinite Crisis and Civil War. Of the two, I liked Infinite Crisis better as a story. But in a turnaround, I'm of the opinion that Civil War was a more successful crossover in regards to it's effects on the status quo.

The events of Infinite Crisis had Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime conspiring to destroy the DC Universe to form it into something they felt would be better. The feeling was that the DC Universe had be come too dark and grim, losing sight of the good and hopeful outlook DC has traditionally held. The powers that be wanted the DC Universe to be a place for heroes again. And yet take a look at Bard Meltzer's first six issues of Justice League of America... Red Tornado tears Solomon Grundy to bits... on panel, very graphically. On top of that, there were a bunch of other changes made with little explanation or use. We know that Bullock's a cop again, and that Jim Gordon has been called out of retirement as Commissioner. We don't even know why these things are the case really. Or at least, I don't. Continuity gaffes and sloppy fact checking seem to abound in the current DC Universe.

The Marvel Universe is a pretty stark contrast. Civil War was a decent story, and a really nifty idea that felt to me like it was adapted to fit an editorial mandate to shake things up a bit. There's nothing wrong with that... things need to be shaken up now and again. And while I didn't like the story in Civil War as much, and it seemed to me that several of the key players were a fair bit off character... I do have to say that Civil War has had definite impact on the Marvel Universe. And it's an impact that you feel almost everywhere. Every hero in the Marvel Universe had to choose a side, and it's messed with all of their relationships with one another. And, outside of the X-Men books, the stories that I'm reading could not have happened without the Civil War. Spider-Man's a desperate fugitive because of Civil War. The New Avengers are forced to hide and keep a low profile because of Civil War. Iron Man's the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Cap's dead because of Civil War. The Initiative and New Warriors are directly spun out of Civil War. I just feel a lot more energy and excitement in the Marvel Universe coming out of Civil War than I feel at all in the DC Universe.

I was a DC fan first. I want to be a DC fan. But I have to agree with those who say that the DC Universe post-Infinite Crisis just doesn't make as much sense as it should.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Comic Day

That greatest of days of the week has rolled around again. And since I got off work yesterday, this is like Saturday for me, which makes it even better. What's Jason anticipating laying down his hard-earned scratch for this week, gentle reader?

I think something like this:

  • BIRDS OF PREY #110 $2.99 - On the chopping block, now that the title is sans Gail Simone
  • CHECKMATE #18 $2.99
  • ROBIN #166 $2.99
  • SHADOWPACT #17 $2.99
  • NEW X-MEN #42 $2.99 - I still feel dirty for paying money for this
  • WORLD WAR HULK #4 (OF 5) WWH $3.99

And I may cave to peer pressure, and pick up a Daredevil trade. A couple of friends were nudging me rather insistently in that direction. Admittedly, a blind guy who kicks all 31 flavors of ass probably deserves watching. I've just never read any of the stories that really made the character. I guess it's at least partly a question of whether to buy trades as I find them, or hunt down and find a way to take this monster home.

On one other topic, I've heard that Exiles will be closing it's doors at issue #100. While I'd really like to say something like the series was cut short, or deserved better, the last truly enjoyable and memorable issue of Exiles that I ran was #54, in which the Exiles save an entire universe with... I kid you not... a cheese danish. How many super-teams can make that claim?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Countdown Blurb

Even though I dropped the book, apparently I can't stop talking about it.

A quote from Dan Didio (courtesy of Newsarama):

The second one – the illness of Karate Kid, and his search to find a cure. That’s also going to take us on a key road that is integral to so much that goes on in Final Crisis also, but there is a definite resolution to his story in this book too.
As someone who dropped Justice League of America until Brad Meltzer left the book, and didn't feel much more for Geoff Johns' revitalized Justice Society, I read none of the Lightning Saga... which is where, to my understanding, a great deal of the Karate Kid story has it's roots.

The problem is that almost none of it was explained within the pages of Countdown. How is he sick? What are his symptoms? Why didn't he make an appointment with Dr. Mid-Nite like the rest of the DC Universe? (Was he too busy, aherm, 'examining' Power Girl again or something?)

As someone who only read what was published within Countdown of this story, I knew almost nothing relating to it. That's kindof a problem.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

DC... Done Right?

I've been pretty down on DC lately. A fan could almost thing that those letters stand for "Don't Care". Look at the mess that the Superman titles have been for the past few months. Look at the fill-ins on Detective Comics and Batman, preventing those from being easy series' to recommend. And look at the nonsensical violence of Meltzer's first arc on Justice League of America, prompting almost everyone I know to drop it like... well, like something you drop urgently.

And let's not even talk about Countdown. It's too soon.

So I can't tell you how thrilled I am to come across DC books that I can't help but rave about.

I know I've talked about Brave And The Bold, so I'll wait until the next story arc on that one comes out to start crowing.

But let's talk about the Blue Beetle. As I've been telling almost anybody who'll listen, I think that the new Blue Beetle fills the 'Spider-Man' niche in the DC Universe. He's a high-school aged kid who doesn't really understand his powers, but is determined to use them to help others. Almost all of the characters (including the teenage sidekicks) in the DC Universe seem, to me, to have this air of immense confidence. I can only think of two who don't... Jaime Reyes and Jimmy Olsen. I don't know what's up with 'Mr. Action' but Jaime's struggling just as hard to make sense of his life as he does against the villains he fights. I think it's good to see that somebody in the DC Universe doesn't really know what they're doing. It gives hope to the rest of us.

And the second book I want to talk about is the new Booster Gold series. Booster went through a transformation in 52. I admit... I bought it. I thought he was toast. But the first two issues of the new series are giving me a tremendous respect for the character. Why? I'm glad you asked.

  • Booster's going to undertake a mission that the rest of the Multiverse can never, ever know about. Never. He can't take the credit for saving the day. He can't use it to get a lucrative endorsement deal. Nada. Nobody can ever know what he's doing. Which leads into bullet point #2.
  • Booster has to continue to look like the biggest, most self-aggrandizing, self-promoting jerk in the DC Universe. He can't even act like a competent hero. He has to publically act like the old Booster so that nobody would ever suspect him of doing anything great. He can't even show his contemporaries that he's taken his life as a super-hero seriously.
  • He's acting like a true hero. In the second (and current) issue, he manages to accomplish his goals in a truly heroic fashion. I'll grant, it's a method that has fallout, but for the first time in what feels like forever, a conflict in the DC universe was resolved through means OTHER than violence. I like violence, don't get me wrong... but sometimes something else is nice. You know, for a change.

I initially dismissed this book. Yet another attempt to cash in on 52's reputation. (And honestly, World War III did enough of that, thank you very much.) My buddy Chad told me about the first issue, and I picked it up at his recommendation. And I'm glad he recommended it.

I've tried to avoid spilling any details, but the book's playing out a bit like Quantum Leap. It was a good enough concept for Judd Winick to create the Exiles, after all. The first issue is a $3.99 title, but it's worth any two issues of Countdown... so it's still a value!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Post Interrupted

I was working on another post yesterday. I was about to sit down and return to it, when I stumbled across this -- the trailer for the forthcoming Iron Man movie.

It plays out remarkably like the footage I had described to me that appeared briefly online following San Diego ComiCon.

I'd like to say that while I'm not a huge fan of Tony Stark, but this was a seriously awesome trailer, and has me very excited about the movie. Awesome!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Day Note? Night Note?

Hey folks!

I'm a bit frzzled after finding myself on the business end of three very empty nights of 'work'. I use the quotes because I wasn't actually required to do anything. But night shifts mess me up so I'm not entirely sure if I should be considering it night or day at this point.

I was surprised to find that my original pick won Who Wants to Be a Superhero. I'm not used to being good at that sort of thing, and my main choice from last season didn't make it into the final two. So I was kindof shocked when the Defuser walked away with the action figure & comic book. All in all, I thought it was pretty good for a second season, but I thought that the people from the first season were, generally, a bit more interesting. This is frightening in a group that included Cell Phone Girl, but hey... what do you want?

Three DC titles got the axe last week. As previously announced, I cancelled my sub to Countdown. I also dropped Action Comics and Outsiders. DC is certainly doing their best to convert me into a Marvel reader. There are a few monthlies with real quality ... but since you can't guarantee that the quality writer is writing it from month to month, even those runs are tainted.

Ah well... we'll see what tomorrow holds.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Comic Club: The Confession

Well, last night was the first comic club I'd managed to attend for a few months.

On the chopping block was Marvel's Civil War. The book definitely provoked a lot of heated discussion due to the inconsistent ways that it handles characters. (That was definitely something that held the event back for me.)

I mean, there's the whole Clor thing... in what universe would Reed Richards think that was a good idea? It's got Tony Stark acting more like Batman for having underhanded plans on dealing with his friends and allies. And I'd think Hank Pym would've learned his lesson about creating things he can't control with Ultron. But I have to agree with what I felt some of the consensus was around Cap, in that he wasn't acting like the super-hero Captain America. He was acting more like Cap from the Ultimates, more like a soldier.

On the whole, I do have to judge the book a success... but not due to it's own quality. It was stated that when considering the story's quality, you have to look at all of the stories that have spun out of it. And that's a point I have to concede. But it's also a success in an editorial way. It shook up the status quo of the Marvel Universe and didn't put it right back. But I can't help but wonder just how long it'll stay this way. I mean, in the Endangered Species backup that's proceeding throughout the X-Books for the past few months, we're already working at opening the 'mutant' floodgates again. How long will the new status quo last, with only a few writers really sticking with it?

Who knows? But I'm psyched for next month's comic club. Planet Hulk is the book, and it was a thoroughly awesome read the first time through. I don't have any complaints with reading that one again.