Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Courtesy of Chris Roberson, Rich Ellis, and Michael Wm. Kaluta.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 12: Here Comes The Groom!

In case you haven't been reading the comics blogosphere, Marvel's first officially gay superhero, Northstar, just proposed to his love Kyle, and the two are getting married in June. This is officially the first same-sex superhero wedding in comics.

The reaction to this milestone event, both inside and outside the commics community, has been mixed, with some readers in favor of the upcoming nuptials, some doggedly against, and many more saying "Who?"

For the latter group, let me give you some basics: Northstar (aka Jean-Paul Beaubier) was introduced in the late 70's as a member of the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight and later went on to co-star in the group's ongoing title. He came out in 1992 in that same series.

Also? He can fly really, really fast, as our final round of Friday Night Fights: Maxim will demonstrate.

Tonight's Canadian combat occurs in Alpha Flight#12, written and illustrated by Northstar co-creator John Byrne, who had intended for Jean-Paul to be gay all along but was nixed by Marvel editorial. Synopsis: Alpha Flight is battling for their lives against Omega Flight. One of the Omegas, Wild Child, is about to kill Northstar's twin sister Aurora, but Northstar isn't going to let that happen.

However, he doesn't stop there.



Tonight's fight music is this bouncy little tune by Sugarcult.

For more fast and furious free-for-alls, click here. And don't forget to vote!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Let's Be Honest: Idelson Hasn't Let Clark And Lois Happen FOR YEARS

There are times when I really don't envy Sue at the DC Women Kicking Ass tumblr. Part of this is because she constantly deals with trolls, much like many outspoken female comic bloggers do. But more of it is because she often has to be the messenger for some really ill-conceived thoughts, opinions, and decisions on the part of DC management.

The latest piece of bad news was this. The post was titled "Lois and Clark back together? Not on my watch! says Superman editor", and it included Superman Group Editor Matt Idelson's response to a reader named Will Jones on the Superman Homepage.

Reader Will: After reading the latest interview with Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens, whose plans honestly gave me a sense of ‘been there, done that’, along with the disturbing implication that Lois and Clark are inevitable,which to me is another word for lazy and unimaginitive, I’m wondering why there seems to be such an aversion to taking chances with Superman. In a previous "Ask Matt", one fan brought up the possibility of another book in the Superman line, in which you questioned him starring in it, and I’d like to know why Bruce Wayne can have four books of his own but it’s too much for Superman to even have three. And I can already see the whole sales argument coming, as valid as it might be, so what about a miniseries for Superman fans who aren’t fans of the traditional trappings of the character, in my case the Lois and Clark nonsense.

Matt: Hey, Will! Despite what you took away from that interview, Clark and Lois are NOT inevitable, and in fact it isn’t going to happen, at least while I’m on watch duty. There will be romance of varying degrees in both characters’ lives in the months to come, but not with each other, so you don’t have to sweat that.

Coming from the lead editor on the Superman line, the guy overseeing the Man of Steel's destiny, this was really aggravating.
But it wasn't surprising. Not to me. And not just because of Idelson's earlier comment at an SDCC that the "New 52" Supes didn't have a "trophy wife" (which I also heard via Sue.).
It's because, let's be honest, folks:
 Clark and Lois hadn't really happened much on Idelson's watch while they were still married. At least not since 2008, anyway.
When Idelson first took over from Eddie Berganza as Superman Group Editor in 2006, he worked with writers Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns for his first 2 years, and together they produced some great characterization of the nature of Clark's relationships not only with Lois, but with the Kents and other members of his family. We even saw Clark and Lois working together to raise Chris Kent as a surrogate son. But then....
Exit Pa Kent. Exit Busiek and Johns. Enter New Krypton. And, as it turns out, exit any development of Clark and Lois as a married couple.
First there was Clark....oh, away from Lois on New Krypton for a year. Then he was off fighting "The War Of The Supermen". Then, when he finally gets back to Lois and Earth, what happens?

Yep, Superman walks around America for a little over a year. Spending even more time away from Lois.
Even more time Idelson got to spend not dealing with the Clark-Lois relationship. Hell, the Lois Lane robot in Paul Cornell's concurrent Lex Luthor arc got more panel time and characterization than the real Lois did!
Here's an experiment for you fellow married guys out there: Try going away for an indefinite length of time and giving that exact same response to your wife when she asks you about it. On second thought, better not!
The reality is: If Clark and Lois had been written like a real married couple, "Grounded" would never have lasted more than one issue. But apparently, Idelson didn't want to deal with how a real marriage works. I'd attibuted much of this avoidance to the writers in the past, but Idelson has been the constant, the one who's been steering the ship, since 2008. I'm not sure when or how he got soured on Clark/Lois, but the proof is in the stories.
So let's not kid ourselves, folks: Idelson wasn't letting Clark/Lois happen before the reboot.
But the silver lining here is that, in the end, Idelson is dead wrong: Clark and Lois are inevitable. They were inevitable before Idelson arrived.
And they'll be inevitable long after he's gone.

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 11: Prom Night!

Tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Maxim celebrates the approach of prom season by showcasing a very special Marvel teen superhero prom.

The festivities come courtesy of Avengers Academy#13, courtesy of Christos Gage, Sean Chen, and Scott Hanna. Synopsis: Avengers Academy is throwing a special prom to help the students unwind after surviving a tense battle with Michael Korvac. In addition to the Academy members, other teen heroes like the Young Allies and various former members of the Initiative have also been invited. However, as with many teenage events, things don't go 100% smoothly, as Hardball starts a fight with Academy team leader Reptil after the former's ex, Komodo, flirts with the latter.

Here, Academy teacher and prom deejay/chaperone Speedball steps in to break up the fight, and is met with some resistance.

Lesson: When it comes to energy balls, volume beats size every time.

But don't worry! It all works out in the end, and everybody has a good time, as you can see below.

Also, don't worry, Katy Perry isn't our fight music tonight. This song by Love And Rockets is!

For more high-energy ballin', click here. And don't forget to vote!

Monday, May 14, 2012

My DC Comics "New 52" Pull List: THE CULLING!

This week I bought the first issue of the new Image comic Mind The Gap, written by Jim McCann and illustrated by Rodin Esquejo (Morning Glories cover artist) and Sonia Oback. That's another independent title added to my pull list. (Spoilers: It's wonderful!)

One side effect of the DC Reboot that I'm sure DC never intended is that I've been adding an increasing number of independent titles to my pull list in recent months. I just added Smoke And Mirrors last month, and I started buying Irredeemable trades the month before. The thing is, I was only purchasing one regular indie monthly (Invincible) until the first week of the "New 52". I purchased my first "Morning Glories" trade the same week as I bought the disappointing Flashpoint#5 and Justice League#1.

I've also been reading more Marvel comics recently. After becoming really disenchanted with much of Marvel in the wake of "events" like Avengers: Disassembled, Civil War, and One More Day, I've been dipping my toe into their waters more in the last 2 years or so. Jonathan Hickman has been giving us two great Fantastic Four books, Ragnell clued me in to Avengers Academy last year, and Mark Waid's Daredevil run has been nothing short of incredible. Schism and the subsequent Wolverine And The X-Men comic actually got me liking Wolverine. I'm even considering buying a Punisher comic thanks to Greg Rucka.

This is kind of a change for me. My pull list has been predominantly DC and predominantly superhero comics for a long time. Why the shift? Well, for one thing, I have to strongly agree with what Sally P recently wrote here because, frankly, I share many of the same feelings. Much of it has to do with the rebooted continuity, but the seeds had been planted since "Identity Crisis", and the steady stream of one "shock" death after another over the last few years and the current exile of many beloved DC characters to limbo has caused me to lose much of the emotional connection to DC I once had. Worse, we lost too many of the relationships we enjoyed reading about before the reboot. The marriages. The parental relationships. The romantic relationships. Hell, even the friendships.

I may be an old fart at 46, but I don't feel it's me that's changed in this case. For the most part, I enjoy many of the same older stories like I used to. I get the feeling that, rather than reaching out towards a wider audience, many Marvel and DC superhero comics keep aiming toward a narrower and narrower target demo, one that I fear I am no longer a part of. There are many rebooted DC superhero comics I still love (ex: Scott Snyder's Batman) but in general they've lost much luster. Rather than embrace the sense of fun, wonder, silliness, and occasional sheer insanity that comes with their vast universe, DC seems to be trying to deny it and clamp down on it. Take this last issue of Justice League, for example. I would've preferred to see more scenes of a pitched battle against an uber-powerful killer robot with the powers of the Justice League, but I guess Geoff Johns thought the readers would prefer scene after scene after scene of the League being complete dicks to Ollie Queen.

More importantly, I'm having a kid in the fall. That's expensive in terms of both money and time. I'm not sure if I'll be picking up many comics period after this fall, and I definitely can't jack up my weekly budget to accomodate the indies. So some "New 52" titles have to go.

And that means it's time for....


Let's start by recapping the New 52 series I've already culled, meaning that I either never purchased or I purchased but chose not to continue purchasing:


GI Combat
Teen Titans
Batman And Robin
Batman: The Dark Knight
Detective Comics
Justice League
Justice League International
Red Hood And The Outlaws
Red Lanterns
Green Lantern: New Guardians
Captain Atom
Fury Of Firestorm
The Savage Hawkman
Legion Of Super-Heroes
Legion Lost
Blue Beetle
DC Universe Presents
Suicide Squad
Hawk & Dove (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Men Of War (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Blackhawks (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Mr. Terrific (already culled prior to its cancellation)
Static Shock (already culled prior to its cancellation)
OMAC (formerly "Untouchable" until its cancellation)

Here are the "New 52's" I've deemed "Untouchable",which means it will take a dramatic change in creative team, direction, or quality for me to put these series on the chopping block:


Animal Man
Dial H
World's Finest
Demon Knights
Swamp Thing
Justice League Dark
I, Vampire

Next are my "Safe For Now" books, which are not "untouchable" but not on the bubble yet. Some of the books are here because they have some aspects that may lead me to put them on the chopping block, while others are there because of a potential future unknown factor (writer change, etc.), and others are there for arbitrary reasons:


All-Star Western - Historically, I've never been a big western comics guy. The only western comic that's ever held my interest for any period have been Jonah Hex comics, in part because it's featured talents like Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and the recently-deceased Tony DeZuniga. The western milieu is the only small detail keeping this book from "Untouchable".

Batgirl - I was heavily against the Batgirl reboot, as it seemed a step backward and sacrificed a lot(Stephanie Brown, Cass Cain, and Oracle BOP) for what seemed like a redundancy (didn't we already have a 20-something adult red-haired Bat-heroine?). Plus, it took Gail a few issues to get her sea legs on the book. But one fact won out: it was Gail Simone writing Barbara Gordon, and she does it really well, no matter what form. I like the weird Rogues Gallery she's developing for Babs. However, I'm not sure about bringing James Jr. back (I'm generally leery of anyone handling him other than Scott Snyder).

Batwoman - J.H. Williams generally hasn't missed a beat picking up where Greg Rucka left off on this book, and when he's drawing the book the art is beautiful beyond belief. When he's not drawing the book? Well, I've got my reservations about Trevor McCarthy, whose art briefly drove me off Nightwing years ago, replacing Amy Reeder as the book's resident Not Williams. Plus, I hope the gore porn in issue#8 was an aberration for Williams and not a recurring aspect.

Action Comics - I really liked the Earth 23 story, with the sole flaw being the absence of a black Lois analog. (I'm holding out hope that the White Lois in the story does not become romantically involved with Calvin, and that his "Lois" is waiting to be revealed.) However, I have to judge this book by the regular DCnU Superman, and there I'm mixed. Rags Morales is a great artist, but he's had fill-ins galore of varying quality. And the Brainiac finale felt...padded.

Wonder Woman - Cliff Chiang's art has been perfect, and Brian Azzarello has given us a compelling story thus far, but I swear to God, I can't take too many more "shocking revelations" about Diana's history. Also, while Diana's warrior side has been played up wonderfully here, there are other facets of her (*cough* Steve*cough*) that Azzarello should also not neglect.

Resurrection Man - I like the "Heaven and Hell are both gunning for Mitch" storyline. I like the art. I like most of the villains and situations Mitch has had to face. But for heaven's sake, DnA, get more creative about the powers Mitch gets. He gets energy and/or electrical powers way too damn often. Change it up! And please don't cross over with DCnU Suicide Squad again!

Birds Of Prey - Like Batgirl, this book is handicapped by our memories of the pre-Flushpoint DCU. Which is a shame, because it's a damn fine book in its own right. It's a textbook example of female characters done right. The team members are pretty but not hypersexualized, there are no thrusting Escher Girl poses, and each woman has her own unique and interesting personality. Plus, they are a kickass fighting unit. Even the recasting of Katana as Janeane Garafalo's "The Bowler" does not detract from my enjoyment of the book. However, while I loved Travel Foreman's creepy Animal Man work, I'm not sure how he's going to do on BOP, especially since he's replacing Jesus Saiz. (I'll probably be proven wrong for being worried, though.)

The Flash -  This book had a lot of strikes against it. There's Barry and Iris being OMD'd, no Wally West, and  Carlie Cooper Patty Spivot as Barry's girlfriend, for starters. But Brian Buccalato and especially Francis Manapul have done a wonderful job winning me over. However, things like Captain Cold's now-organic powers and this news give me great concern about the book being hampered by too much editorial mandate.

Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE - There's only one reason this book is not in the "Untouchable" section: Writer Jeff Lemire is leaving the book, and his replacement is someone whose work I have never read before. Then again, I could have said that about Lemire two years ago and Scott Snyder until 2011, and look how that turned out. Everything I've heard online seems to indicate that Matt Kindt will pick up where Lemire left off without skipping a beat, but Kindt remains an unknown until I read his work. But I will give him a fair chance.

Finally, and most importantly, here are the "On The Bubble" books. These are the ones that are in immediate danger of being eliminated from my pull list. And this is where I want your output:


Aquaman - Let's face it: There are two main reasons I've kept the book on my pull list this long, and their names are Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. They draw and ink the hell out of this book, and it looks beautiful. But on the writing end? It's like a complete checklist of standard Geoff Johns flaws. Decompressed storytelling? Check. Cynical depiction of so-called "heroes" as assholes? Check. Heavy-handed characterizations and dialogue? Check. Defensiveness regarding Johns' prized childhood icons (i.e. "Aquaman IS cool, dammit!","Barry IS interesting, dammit!")? Check. Needless death and gore (see: Black Manta as an aquatic Jason Voorhees) in order to establish the villains as EEEE-vil? Check and double-check. Oh, and did I mention the complete racial cluelessness? Yes, the guy who gave us the "Ape-Controlled Africa" map in Flushpoint introduced the first Iranian superheroine in DC Comics history....and then immediately killed her off in her first appearance in a decompressed snuff scene written for the sole purpose of showing us that Manta is "edgy" and "badass". And why is Johns already flashing back to stories about Arthur's original super-team when we've barely seen any adventures with his current super-team in the new continuity. Is he bored with the "New 52" already?

Green Lantern - As with Aquaman, Johns is blessed with a fantastic artist, this time Doug Mahnke. In terms of writing, this book is the best of Johns' 3, but even here the story seems too decompressed. Also,  I'm suffering from some serious Rainbow Lantern fatigue right now. In fact, I'm suffering a bit from Geoff Johns fatigue, to the point where I'm tempted to give my pull list a complete Johnsectomy.

Earth 2 - Only two reasons this book's even getting a look through even issue#2: A) Nicola Scott art, and B) Potential introduction of interesting heroines like the new PoC Hawkgirl. But even the new Hawkgirl has apparent problems. Guns? Really? Where's the Big Fucking Mace? And James Robinson's writing on Issue #1 doesn't give me much hope for #2.

Superman - Keith Giffen seems to have the best handle on how DCnU Supes should be portrayed. So, of course, he's leaving the book and being replaced by Scott Lobdell. I admit, I did enjoy some of Lobdell's X-Men work years ago, but I've got to go by his current stuff and.... I'm not exactly floored. Admittedly, the art on two of those books (Red Hood, Teen Titans) are not to my liking, which may unfairly bias me. However, on the third (Superboy), Lobdell had the advantage of Jimmy Olsen artist R.B. Silva and I still dropped the book. Lobdell's New 52 stuff has been horrible at worst (Red Hood) and mediocre at best.

Green Arrow - Ann Nocenti did a fine job with her first story arc, but the art by Harvey Tolibao is just a fucking chore to read. There's no storytelling flow to it, and the more detail he puts in, the worse things get. It's like everything in each of his panels is just one congealed, overly-rendered...thing. Someone like Marcus To or Nicola Scott would give Nocenti the art she deserves.

Green Lantern Corps - The only reason the book's lasted this long is my love of Guy and John. But it's losing my interest fast.

Well, those are the books on the bubble. I'll have to cut at least one or two of them. I may even decide to cut ALL of them. I'm still deciding.

And now it's your turn, dear readers. Which "bubble" books would you suggest I cut, and which ones would you suggest I keep? More importantly, why?

Which comics should survive....THE CULLING????

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

From Ellen Baker, one of the most kickass moms in the DC Universe.

Unfortunately, she's one of the only remaining kickass moms in the current "New 52" DCU, thanks to Flushpoint.

Read this article at the DC Woman Kicking Ass tumblr, where Sue gives us a full recap of all the great DCU moms we had before the reboot and the ones we've lost because of it. If you're a fan of DC Comics and motherhood, it'll depress the hell out of you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 10: What Happens To Vegas...

Did you know that Superman once fought a guy named Les Vegas?

No, really! I can prove it!

See, I told you!

My proof is also my entry for tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Maxim. We're going all the way back to 1977 for this Friday fracas from Superman#315, written by Martin Pasko and drawn by Curt Swan and Dan Adkins.

Who was Les Vegas? He was the second incarnation of Superman's sometime rival/enemy Blackrock.. However, as you can see below, he was obviously inspired by Martin Pasko's Saturday evening TV viewing habits. Which 70's comedic celeb was the source of Pasko's inspiration? Here are a few clues.

Let's start with the story's title...

OK, if that's not enough of a clue, here's the name of Vegas' TV show...

Let's see... a show called Saturday Night Live Friday Night Revue.....

....featuring a cast of talented comedic actors known as the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players Unready-For-Nielsen Ensemble. Do I even need to mention that this story features a pratfall-laced Gerald Ford impression?

Here's the synopsis: The president of Galaxy Broadcasting's rival, UBC (yet another clue), has comissioned the network's Chief Inventor (it's the Bronze Age, just go with it) Peter Silverstone to create their own superhero to match Galaxy's Superman scoops, which led Silverstone to create Blackrock. Silverstone's first pick to fill the Blackrock suit was the UBC president. His next choice is the aforementioned president's comedian nephew, who also happens to be the aforementioned Les Vegas.

Here's the Superman-Vegas showdown, which ironically takes place on the set of a casino-themed game show...

Oh, did I mention Blackrock's penchant for horrible television-related puns?

Comic book science, everybody!

Now, for the big finish....

In the New 52 continuity, Les goes on to co-star in the NBC UBC sitcom "Community" "City College", where he is currently engaged in a highly-publicized feud with series creator Dan Harmon Dave Harmony.

Haven't figured out who "Les Vegas" is, yet? The answer is also in tonight's fight song.

For more late-night lunacy, click here. And don't forget to vote!

Friday, May 04, 2012

DC's Second Wave Rankings: The Two-Third Mark

DC just released four of its six its "Second Wave" of Nu52 books. I'll be ranking these four books using the following key:

All In - I'm hooked indefinitely. Or at least until they change the creative team.

Probation - This book's good enough to buy through the first story arc, based on this issue, but not good enough to give it an "All In". Yet.

Double Secret Probation - This book didn't do it for me overall, but there's just enough going for it (i.e. strong art or a writer with a great past history) to give it one or maybe two more issues before dumping it.

Drop It Like It's Hot - This book is now dead to me. You couldn't get me to buy this at gunpoint.

Look Closer - I may not have given this book a fair shot. I'll check it out again next week. Maybe.

The two remaining unreleased "Second Wave" books are Batman Inc. by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham and The Ravagers by Howard Mackie(!) and Ian Churchill, and I'm about 99.99999% sure how I'm going to rank each of them. So let me present my feedback on the rest:


Dial H - Writer China Mieville and artist Mateus Santolouco give this Silver Age concept a creepy new spin. And unlike some of DC's superhero books, here that's actually a good thing. These are the weird powers that "New 52" Resurrection Man should be getting instead of receiving energy/electrical powers for the umpteenth time.
All In.

Earth 2 - While we knew the art would be good, the big speculation on this book was which James Robinson was going to show up to write it. Unfortunately, we have our answer: It's James Robinson the lazy, shock-death-obsessed hack of "Cry For Justice" and "War Of The Supermen" infamy. What a colossal failure of imagination this book is. Let's examine this issue's death count, shall we? Not only did Robinson start the book off with Earth 2 Lois, Hippolyta and most of Metropolis dead, he also managed to kill off the Trinity, most of the Greek Roman pantheon (did I mention Robinson being lazy?), and even Al Pratt. Not content to stop there, Robinson also de-aged and OMD'd the Garricks, turning Jay into a slacker and Joan into Silver Age Lucy Lane. And screw the Speed Force, why not just have Jay's power come from the Greek Roman god Hermes Mercury instead? Except for the fact that this story led to the creation of the World's Finest book (see below), it was just a damn waste.
Double Secret Probation....and it's even that high only because of the beautiful Nicola Scott artwork.

GI Combat - Yeah, this comic didn't do anything for me when it was called Men Of War, either. Sorry.
Drop It Like It's Hot.

World's Finest - Forget the awfulness of Earth 2 or the strangeness of debuting the spin-off mag the same week as the debut of the comic it was spun off from. This comic was damn good. Paul Levitz gave us everything a first issue is supposed to have: intriguing premise, strong characters, setup, plot progression, and, of course, action. Having George Perez and Kevin Maguire as artists didn't hurt either.
All In.

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 9: The Blind Beating the Blind!

I've been raving a lot this week about how wonderful Mark Waid's current Daredevil run is. So for tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Maxim, I thought I'd present another example.

Synopsis: Matt Murdock's latest client is blind linguist Austin Cao, whose former employer, Midas Industries, thinks he knows too much. Their solution: Send six armed mercenaries in night-vision goggles to kill Austin. Their problem: Austin is in Matt Murdock's apartment.

And it's "lights out" for the mercs. Or should that be "lights on"?

Tonight's illuminating arse-kicking comes from Daredevil#5, written by Waid and illustrated by Marcos Martin. Tonight's fight music is by John Wesley Harding.

For more devil-may-care donnybrooks, click here. And don't forget to vote!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Pop Quiz: Which One Looks More Painful?

A) This panel from Swamp Thing#9?


B) This panel from Red Hood & The Outlaws#1?

While you're deciding, check out Ami Angelwings' Escher Girls tumblr.