So, there I was, doing what I suppose I do far too often… scouring Facebook for status updates. A quick refresh, and there was an update from a friend saying how “This is not my Bucky Barnes.” He was referencing a purchase he’d recently made of a golden age Bucky figure, and how he hated the new Winter Soldier-era Barnes figure. Suffice to say, after seeing his umpteenth remark how a modern interpretation of one of the classic comic book heroes he loved so dearly rubs his rhubarb the wrong way, I had enough.
Call it being cantankerous in my own “Hey, I know you think I’m too young to form a real opinion, but screw you, I can anyways” way… but I’d like to say that this kind of general malaise towards interpretation and experimentation grinds my gears to a screeching halt. In short? Quit your bitchin’ gramps. It’s 2011. Your childhood memories remain intact, in spite of your fear that they won’t.
It’s this common thread amongst the older comic book fans that I truly find offensive. Maybe that’s not the right word. I’m not implying it’s anyone here on ComicMix mind you, but the conglomerate of silver/golden-age dick-chuggers who poop their pampers anytime anything changes in the fictitious worlds of their youth, drags us all down. We’re all entitled to our opinion, mind you, and I don’t deny anyone their right to express that opinion. See folks, I’m young, under-appreciated, and don’t know shit-about-nothing; But I’m taking this time to start a large debate. Mind you no one will answer my call, but I’ve never not had fun at screaming into the black abyss of the internet before.
This notion, that the creators of today can’t reinterpret a character because it’s not their version of the character, is a waste of breath. Ed Brubaker’s retcon of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier was an amazing feat. He took a character that was long gone, and brought him back in a story that got real attention from new fans. Here was this relic of another era, repurposed for modern times, done with a deft hand. His origin remained intact. He never took away from the character who he was. Yes, he turned a once chipper, bright-eyed innocent kid (who had no problem murdering Nazis with guns) into a cold and ruthless killer.
Welcome back to ComicMix’s resident snark machine. So far, I’d taken a nice big steaming load all over Barry Allen, Hal Jordon, and the X-Men. Last week, for those counting, I shilled for my own book. Based on the lack of comments, I realized ya’ll don’t care bout that. I figured I needed your love back, so I should turn my attention back to being a mean so-and-so.
I wanted to folks, I really did. But wouldn’t you know it, I’m still all fuzzy inside from last week. Since it’s rare I’m not completely bitter about something, it’s high time I send up some praise for something I’m reading. Simply put, of all the books I’ve read in the past four to five years, none have been more consistently good as Secret Six. Now that’s it’s over, this article is my way of uncapping the twist-off to my bottle of Old Milwaukee, and pouring it out on the street corner. My last week of cheerful glee is dedicated to you, Catman and company.
Let’s get the wiki-notes on the series here first, for those eternally late to the party: Secret Six used to be a hero book back in the late 60s. I didn’t read it. It was retconned/updated in the late 80s. Didn’t read that one either. In 2005 though, the team was brought back as a villainous mercenary team (by way of Gail Simone) in Villains United. I read it. I liked it. A year later, the team surfaced again, in a mini-series. Bought that one too. Loved it. And in 2008, the book was given on-going status. And into my subscription pile it went.
Oh, Secret Six… how I love you. Let me count the twisted ways. First and foremost? The characterization. The book has always followed a cast of ne’er-do-wells, and it knows that. They kill. They maim. They slaughter. But it’s never violence for violence sake. Unlike the bloated 90s where villainy became a trend, here it’s used to drive the book. I’ve never liked the idea of a mercenary book. It’s akin to playing D+D. Just because your character wants money, doesn’t make it interesting. Simone, with her cast of cretins keeps the book running on a near existential exploration of what bad is. But never is that drive just there to run the book through it’s paces. Only in a single set of issues did I ever find myself musing on if the book was on cruise control. But I digress. Gail Simone’s best asset throughout the three year run was never forgetting that a team book is best served through its characters.
The heart of the book began with Catman. Once nothing more than a complete joke (see Brad Meltzer’s run on Green Arrow), Simone put the claws back on, so-to-speak. Driven by a moral code, but knowing his own strengths… he rooted the book firmly as a natural leader. By the final stand of the Six in #36, one could picture him going toe to toe with any of the cape-and-cowled, and easily being top cat.
Over time, the focus of the book shifted to many others on the team. Simone never left a teammate as just a warm body. Ragdoll, Deadshot, Scandal Savage and badass banshee Jeanette all took turns in the limelight. More than any of them though, it was the treatment of Batman B-Lister, Bane, that stole the show for me.
Once relegated to his “oh, the guy who broke Batman’s back” status, and then a brief (and terrible) turn as an anti-hero left him as a carcass of a character. Placing him at first as just the “big guy who looks good standing in the back” on the team… it was a beautifully slow burn Simone lit under the character that ultimately ended the book. It was a thing of beauty. Spoiler alerts be damned. With the books cancelation upon them, Simone and her team (including the always fantastic, and forever underrated Jim Califiore) let Bane close the book. Driven by the idea that his own moral code would bring him 666 feet under heaven, Bane snapped.
In spite of his better efforts, Simone had hid his truly evil ways under layers of humor, sincerity, and near genial moments since his addition to the book. With literally nothing left to lose, the beast hands out viles of venom to the team for a last stand in Gotham. Ten years ago, it would have been fodder for “hulked-up villains” for an issue, devoid of depth. Here? Gail lets his heart bleed out on his sleeve; It was an emotional catharsis for a character I’d grown to honestly love reading every month. If someone at DC is reading this, I only pray they don’t let this get shuffled in the impending star-wipe.
For all I’ve bitched and moaned about in my column thus far, Secret Six represented every counter argument to my problems. Barry Allen? Milquetoast personified. Try out Ragdoll, who can’t deliver a single line in 36 issues that didn’t equally creep me out, make me laugh, or give a glimmer of depth when most writers would relegate him to just comic relief. Hal Jordan? Once a cocksure ring slinger turned “just another heroic white guy.” Give me Deadshot any day. In 36 issues, he was rarely without a quip, and a “I’m here for the fun, seriously” attitude. Brilliant.
And the X-Men? They change teams more than I change polo shirts. Secret Six has too, but somehow they never lost their core. And when new members entered the team, Gail hasn’t just thrown them into the background to fill out an action sequence. Hell, with the addition of King Shark (a mort if I ever saw one) just a handful of issues before their demise, she still managed to make him a hilarious and awesome addition. I think that bears repeating. She made king fucking shark a character I liked. While Johns, Lee, and DiDio continue to de-pants its women, Gail, Nicola Scott, and eventually Jim Califiore opted to display their women with class, grit, and nuance. Class. Grit. Nuance. Someone please pay attention. This is how books need to be written.
I tried to find a counter point to the love-in kiddos. I really did. But Secret Six for the last three years has been nothing short of wild entertainment. Simone and her excellent artists brought balance to a team book that focused its time and efforts in who they were as much as what they were. I for one will miss them, and honestly, because she’s not attached to the newly minted Suicide Squad (a sister concept to this one) I have little plan to return. They say go out with a bang. Gail went out with a nuclear explosion to the nads. Until her name (or maybe Ostrander’s…) graces a villainous page again, I’ll nurse my new-found cancer left in its wake. Ain’t that a shot of Tabasco in the eye.
Please note… I don’t actually have cancer. But there’s a hole in my soul where this book dug its claws in. Knowing that it’s replacement is a book with Harley Quinn dressed as a psychoslut is such that I cry myself to sleep at night.
Hello all you crazy-awesome ComicMix fans. For those who don’t know me (and when you share a space with guys like Mike Gold, John Ostrander, Martha Thomases, Michael Davis, Denny O’Neil, and Mindy Newell? I don’t blame you!) allow me to introduce myself by way of witty, snarky banter. I figured if I am to come out of the gate anew with a comic focused op-ed piece, I might as well start by swinging for the fences. So, let me point to the rafters over center field, and take the biggest swing I can.
Simply put: DC’s Flashpoint is a ten-pound turd in a five gallon bowl.
I use this nasty language, mind you, because I “covered” the event for a podcast I do from time to time… and have spent my hard earned dollars on this bloated excuse to sell toys, and piss off fans.
In June, DC boldly told the world they are “star-wiping” their universe to engage the next era of fans, by removing that pesky continuity. So, while those new and shiny number ones are getting printed, why not release yet-another-epic-that-will-change-the-universe-as-we-know-it™ event? “Flashpoint” was to turn the DCU on its ears. It chortles in every issue with its logo emblazoned on the title card, that it gives us a world where “everything you know has changed in a flash…” My ass. What they’ve done instead, is created an unnecessary mega-crisis for no better reason than “going out with a bang”. So for all us fans who don’t mind a little history to go with our comics… we’re treated to DC choosing to end their current universe’s life on yet-another-Crisis.
In a nutshell, Flashpoint is DC’s attempt at taking an obvious Elseworlds story and shoehorning it into continuity. I honestly don’t care how many well-produced interviews they have Dan DiDio do celebrating the ‘ground breaking’ idea. I don’t care how many Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, or Bleeding Cool articles are written kissing the ass of all the creators involved (and yes, all three have since reviewed many of the series’ minis very poorly). To tell the fans that this event will matter, is akin to the DCU toking up a massive joint, and blowing the Funion fumes right in our face in hopes we’ll get the munchies. I’ve not seen better hype for a dumber product since The Phantom Menace.
On DCU’s “The Source” blog, they asked some hard hitting questions to this effect:
What do you do when you’re NASA and comedian Stephen Colbert wins your contest to name the new wing for the International Space Station? You name an orbital exercise machine after him.
NASA will name an orbital exercise machine after comedian Stephen Colbert.
The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT, is expected to keep astronauts in shape.
With the help of a legion of fans, Colbert got the most votes in the space agency’s online poll soliciting names for Node 3, which will be called Tranquility after the Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
Astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams revealed NASA’s decision on "The Colbert Report," which aired on Comedy Central on Tuesday.
Barry Allen was rushed yesterday and couldn’t be reached for comment.
It wasn’t that long ago we told you that Xbox LIVE added a DC Comics Network channel to its lineup of videos for download on the Xbox 360 gaming console. Well, they’re not wasting any time adding more programming. They’ve added The Flash to the lineup of superhero television shows.
1990’s The Flash, starring John Wesley Shipp, was one of those shows that never got the recognition it should have. It was caught in an unfortunate network struggle for Thursday night between The Cosby Showand The Simpsons. Taking a cue from Tim Burton’ first Batman movie, it was playful but took itself seriously. Comics author Howard Chaykin was on board as one of the program’s writers so the show maintained the right shout-outs to appease comic fans. Amanda Pays perfected the hot, brainy scientist helping Barry Allen with his mysterious powers. And let’s face it, that suit looked cool moving at super-speed.
All that quality was expensive, though, so CBS canceled it after one season when it failed to become a runaway hit. But the show lived on in reruns on the SCI-FI Channeland on DVD.
Visit the official page to see some great previews of each episode — especially episode #12, if you want to see Mark Hamill hamming it up as the Trickster.
Keep ’em coming boys. Maybe you’ll be the ones that will finally distribute episodes of the Adam West Batman series from the ’60s.
Everyone at the racks this week is probably in agreement that Iron Man rocks and Speed Racer, well… doesn’t. But the opinions are much more divided on the topic of DC’s decision to apparently return Barry Allen to the land of the living. There are more clues to what they have planned in this week’s batch of new comics, which we cover, plus:
— Boom Studios plans a benefit project
— Eric Stoltz lands on Caprica
— Eli Stone is coming back
And then there’s Jim Bowie. No, really! Press the Button and we’ll show you…
And remember, you can always subscribe to ComicMix Radio podcasts via or RSS!
Born in Hibbardsville, Kansas, in the early 1920s, Jason Peter “Jay” Garrick had an uneventful childhood. It wasn’t until he went to Keystone City for college, studying chemistry and physics at Midwestern University, that fate singled him out for greater things.
Garrick was a junior in 1940 and working on an experiment to purify hard water and remove all radiation when a test tube dropped. The fumes knocked Garrick out and breathing the vapors all night somehow changed him, granting him the ability to run at super-speed (later evidence suggests Garrick always had this latent ability and the vapors simply activated it).
At first, he used his new powers for personal gain, becoming a college football star, but his integrity would not let him walk away from those in trouble, so Garrick donned a stylized winged helmet and a red shirt with a lightning bolt and began to fight crime as The Flash.
Garrick joined the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron and became a well-known and well-respected crimefighter. Though he briefly retired and focused on his scientific career in the 1950s, Garrick could not stay away, and returned to heroics in 1961, just in time to meet his Earth-One counterpart, Barry Allen.
He has been active ever since, and is once again a key member of the Justice Society of America. Most younger heroes consider Garrick the elder statesman of superheroes, and all of them admire and respect him and appreciate his calm manner and his sage advice just as much as his flying fists and speedy feet.
Born in Fallville, Iowa, Barry Allen grew to be a meticulous man and an excellent police scientist with one notable flaw—he was always late.
That changed, however, on the night that he was working late in his lab in Central City and a lightning bolt shattered a case full of chemicals and doused Barry with the supercharged contents. After that accident, Barry discovered that he could move at superspeed. He adopted a costumed identity, donning a red costume with a gold lightning bolt motif, and became the Flash, the Fastest Man Alive!
Barry would become one of the greatest heroes in the world, a founding member of the Justice League of America, and Central City’s protector, before his untimely death during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Even death could not stop the Flash, however, and he has reappeared several times since to aid his family and friends.
It’s important to note that the Flash is one of the DC heroes whose birthdate has been changed. Before the Crisis, his official birthday was six days later, on March 19. Now that’s fast!
At the NYCC “DCU: A Better Tomorrow – Today” panel, DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio may have let the cat out of the bag.
DiDio was asked if in the Countdown teaser image The Flash was Barry Allen and Red Robin was Jason Todd. DiDio got flustered before answering “yes.”
This drew icy stares from the rest of the panel members and applause from the crowd. DiDio’s mic was taken away for the remainder of the panel. The final question for the panel was “Who would you like to kill during Countdown?” and Greg Rucka closed the panel by looking at DiDio and saying, “I’m looking at him.”