You’ll instantly recognize Krista Allen from so many great roles, ranging from X-FILES to LIAR LIAR to her latest, the buzz worthy comedy SIGNIFICANT MOTHER on The CW. She talks about her journey and her appreciation of smart TV writing. Plus we begin our look at the new television season with NBC’s THE PLAYER. Wesley Snipes and Phillip Winchester talk about the high concept thriller, created by former DC Comics writer, John Rogers.
Tagged: Blue Beetle
Warner Archive Collection and The Paley Center for Media, in conjunction with New York Comic Con, proudly present a special event celebrating Warner Archive’s upcoming Blu-ray™ release of Batman: The Brave And The Bold on Friday, October 11 at 7:00 pm. The popular animated television series will be celebrated with an episodic screening and a lively panel discussion featuring Diedrich Bader, the voice of Batman, at The Paley Center for Media in New York City (25 West 52nd Street).
Extremely popular on Cartoon Network, Batman: The Brave And The Bold teams the Dark Knight with some of DC Comics’ favorite and more eclectic heroes, including the Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, Green Lantern, Kamandi, Doctor Fate, Jonah Hex, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Mister Miracle and The Atom. The combinations create a perfect mesh of fast-paced action and humor for the first season, which spans 26 episodes.
Batman: The Brave And The Bold is Warner Archive Collection’s first-ever animated release on Blu-ray™ disc. Anticipated street date is early November 2013.
Fans attending the October 11 event will have the opportunity to watch an episode and select clips of Batman: The Brave And The Bold, and hear from a distinguished panel that will include Bader, producer James Tucker, 8-time Emmy Award-winning dialogue director Andrea Romano, and Warner Archive podcasters Matt Patterson and DW Ferranti. Moderator Gary Miereanu might even have some unique prizes waiting for a few lucky audience members.
A limited number of free tickets are available for the general public. Fans wishing to receive free tickets to the New York event on must RSVP via email to BatmanBATB@gmail.com.
The body of all fan RSVP emails MUST include the following:
- Name of the entrant
- A valid email address
- The name of the media outlet/website by which the entrant learned of the screening
Tickets will be distributed on a “first come, first served” basis, and fans will be notified via email.
I’m tempted to be cheeky. I was considering writing this whole article in a faux-eulogy for our newly departed (departing …) series from the New 52. But, let’s be honest, I’ve done it before. So, how about we cut through the pretense and figure out why – beyond the obvious – these series are headed back to the scrap pile.
For those not in-the-know, Blue Beetle, Grifter, and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E have been given the axe. Ask Bob Wayne, Sales Guru of DCNew, and he’ll proudly produce the following PRSpeak:
“There’s always going to be some pressure on whether or not the new idea being pitched is maybe more exciting than another series we have that may have already told its story,” he said. “That might mean it’s maybe time to put that title on the shelf for a while or have the characters migrate into some other title. So there’s not really a hard and fast rule where there’s a line in the sand where if it falls below this point on the Diamond chart or doesn’t make this percentage of X, it’s gone. It’s really very story driven.”
So, there you have it kiddos. Blue Beetle, Grifter, and Frankenstein simply told their story. And they needed to sit out for a while so some new books can grace the shelf. Well, that’s sort of true. As ComicBookResources properly reported, all three of the titular characters here will all show up in new books. Consider then, if you will, the following conundrum: If a title is canceled in the forest, and no one cares, can you just move the important pieces into another book and call it a day?
I’ll be honest. Out of those three books, I’ve only read one. I purchased the first 10 issues of Blue Beetle. I gave up after one too many crossovers and false starts. This is after I reviewed the book, positively, over at MichaelDavisWorld. Simply put? The series has yet to find solid ground to stand on. Akin largely to the now defunct Static Shock series, I felt the editorially mandated ‘must-see-teevee’ issue drive has tanked the series. Over the course of just a year in publication, Blue Beetle has received his super powers, fought his best friend (who became a villain Beetle), moved to New York, got in the way of the DEO and Director Bones, fought his best friend again, fought Kyle Rayner’s rainbow brigade, and will end his series fighting the Reach, creators of his bug-suit. I’m pretty sure before the end of this volume, he may fight his best friend again. Is it any wonder the story is ending? It never started!
Over at Frankie and the Slim Shadies? Different song, same dance. On paper, it’s actually a bit baffling. The series has enjoyed a nearly consistent creative team – and a cursory look over several review sites even show that the book was consistently entertaining. But as I glazed over the 13 available covers, I saw a schizophrenic book. One week, the mean green machine is slaying the rot. Another week? An underwater monster. Then some insects. Then OMAC. Obviously, Jeff Lemire knows how to write well. And it appears he tried to breath as much life into the book as the lightening bolts would let him. But what I didn’t see there in all the reviews … consistency of story. I guess when you have to change gears like Frank swaps limbs, it’s not an easy task to stay alive. Heh.
And how about Grifter. Much has been written about the Rob Liefeld production. Suffering from the same repeated editorial mandates, and shoehorning of the Wildstorm Universe into the DCU … is it any wonder that all of the WU books are tanking on the sales sheets? Ooops. Sorry. I mean “story sheets.” Because all of this is really story driven, folks. Keep the simple facts in mind. They had a team in place at launch. Nathan Edmondson and CAFU. It didn’t take even six issues for the carousel of artists to fill in and out of the book. Then at issue nine, enter Liefeld’s typewriter. And three issues later? Another new penciler. Is it any shock to you that when a book changes artists this much, it’s circling the drain? Go look on your shelves right now, and count for me the number of creative team shifts that occurred in the best runs of your favorite books. Yeah. I thought so.
Ultimately, these three series each have had high points and low. By their very nature of being DC titles, they see sales indy guys like me and my kin would kill for. They are distributed far and wide. They are reviewed on countless sites. They are picked apart and debated for their merits. At the end of the day though … the powers that be want to see success. And put any spin on it you want … if the book isn’t banking beaucoup bucks (or I surmise … banking enough to be above water, or carrying the possibility of future licensing deals), the grave is dug in the ditch next to the road. Let’s not be unrealistic; we knew that the New52 was not going to deliver 52 critically-acclaimed sales-powerhouses. The zeitgeist would never have been able to sustain that much hype, love, and attention. What this is … is what it’s always been; the nature of the comic industry is to die and be reborn at the right place and the right time.
Mourn not for Grifter, Blue Beetle, or Frankenstein, kiddos. They’ll all be back, and be canceled just as quickly, when we cover the New52 NOW next year.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
In an effort anger the Internet – and save me the time of writing too much – I figured this week I’d take a trip into Fantasy Land. Here is a list, simple and to-the-point, of five books I’d love to see hit the stands. This probably won’t happen unless we’re on Earth 29.
The Avengers: Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Peter Krause.
With his ability to handle a multitude of characters (see his run on Justice Society, or to a lesser degree, Justice League) and draw from countless years of continuity to craft original tales, John’s would deftly deliver a truly epic arc for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Peter Krause (of Irredeemable fame) has an amazing ability to show emotion, and a wide range of your more traditional superheroes. Put together? I think the fans would assemble in droves for a chance to see the premier Marvel team run through the proverbial wringer. And with John’s latent ability to hone lesser villains (see Captain Cold, or his subtle shifting and deepening of Sinestro), no doubt this impossible title would be one for the ages.
Green Lantern: Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Mike Norton.
Brian Michael Bendis could do perhaps what no other writer has done for Hal Jordan in the last 10 years of his comic booking career: he could make me give a damn about Hal. Bendis, master of the talking head page, could instill the much-needed pathos to what has basically been a cardboard cutout of a hero since his “rebirth.” Given his pedigree and ability to craft subtle, nuanced characters, I’ve little doubt his emerald knight would finally be a human being, akin to the Ultimate Peter Parker, with far more years under his power-ringed belt. And with Mike Norton’s clean, concise, and emotive style? Well, I think the book would look as sharp as it read. Norton’s often forgotten runs on Blue Beetle and Green Arrow proved to me long ago, he’s the go-to guy when you need stalwart presentation.
DC Kids Cavalcade: Written by Art Baltazar, Franco, and Keith Giffen, Art by Katie Cook, Art and Franco, Jill Thompson, and a Troop of Others.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. “Anthologies don’t sell.” Well, maybe they would if the stories and art in them wasn’t always a crap shoot, maybe it’d have a chance. I’d kill to see a monthly rag where the funniest minds in comics met with an endless parade of the most kid-friendly artists. Give us a chance to see Katie Cook’s Batman saga or “Tails From The Litter Box: The Midadventures of Dex-Starr.” Pair Giffen’s sharp wit with Art’s never-not-cute style. What could be more perfect for young readers, than a never-ending series where each issue packs in a brand new kid-friendly (but with plenty of Easter eggs for adults) tale? Nothing that I can think of, darn-it.
Thunderbolts: Plotted by John Ostrander, Scripted by Gail Simone, Art by Ethan Van Sciver
No, I’m not just pandering for my close and personal friend John Ostrander. OK, maybe I am a little. But hear me out. Ostrander’s original run on the Suicide Squad is just an amazing piece of sequential fiction. His ability to mine realism in the face of the absurdity of comics is unparalleled. Match this with the wit and charm of Gail Simone? You get yourself one fancy-assed book about ne’er-do-wells. It stands to note I found Simone’s Secret Six to be the sleeper hit of DC in the mid-aughts. Certainly her pitch-perfect evil side would pair well with John’s, and together they could craft a story about Marvel villains trying to change the world. Since Marvel doesn’t really have an “evil only” book per say, I’d think this’d be an interesting one to see. Pair them with Gail’s buddy Ethan Van Details? And you have a gory and beautiful mess on your hands. Van Sciver’s meticulous style would be great to see, when there’s no forced lighting, constructs, or fire being forced into every panel. When its time for poop to hit the fan though? There’s no one better for the art duties.
Metal Men: Written by Matt Fraction, Art by Chris Burnham.
Last but not least, a title so impossible to exist, 14 editors just burst out laughing over how unsellable it’d be. This iteration of the Metal Men would be a mash-up of sorts. Fraction has proved he’s got the uncanny (natch) ability to build slow, methodical tales without boring his audience to tears. And based on his most current work on the Defenders, he’s proven he can be witty to boot. Pair him with the “in-the-prime-of-his-career” Burnham, whose carefully crafted dynamic figure work is second to none, and you have a book that’d look as sharp as the titular metallic men in question. Fraction could world-build around the odd duck Doc Magnus, but not lose the fun always associated with the franchise. Toss in some climactic battles with new versions of Chemo, Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, or Monsieur Mallah and the Brain… and you have a perfectly unsellable train wreck – that I’d buy 10,000 copies of.
BONUS! GrimJack: Written and drawn by Unshaven Comics.
What? Boys are allowed to dream!
OK, Internet. Time to tell me how wrong I am! Or better yet? Pitch your impossible book below. We’ll take a vote, make a petition, and incite riots for the best idea. Now, go do that voodoo that you do so well.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
It seems everybody has his or her tits in a wringer over this upcoming Before Watchmen thing. I’ve made a few comments here and there, but now that these books are about to come out, I’m going to weigh in officially.
I’ve been reading the solicitations in the Diamond Catalog and to be sure there’s a lot of great talent involved on these efforts. Really top-notch people, some of whom we haven’t seen much from lately. Most of these folks are basically if not emphatically pro-creators’ rights. Aside from the latent listings, I’ve read the thumbnail descriptions as well as DC’s press releases. There’s a lot of comic books involved here, and I approach Before Watchmen with the same question I approach any new effort: “Does this seem like it’s worth my time?”
Obviously, sometimes I make the wrong call – particularly when it comes to television. I’ll decide to pass on something and within short order all my friends, most of the reviews, and complete strangers at conventions will excoriate my witlessness. That’s fine; endorsements from people whose opinions I respect carry a lot of weight. Of course, if I try something and I don’t like it, I take a hike. I haven’t tried a second bottle of Moxie in three decades.
So as I gaze upon all these Before Watchmen comics, I ask myself “Does this seem like it’s worth my time?” And I hear myself say to myself “Well, no, it doesn’t.” Oh, I’ll probably check out a few produced by friends. But, by and large, unless I’m persuaded otherwise I’ll be giving the overall effort a pass.
Here’s the beauty of Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: it was a true graphic novel, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. They created it, it came out the way they intended it to (or very close to that), we all read it and it went on to become one of the best selling graphic novels of all time. I suspect that latter part was for a reason, that reason being I was not alone in my assessment.
They left no room for sequels, and they really didn’t leave any room for prequels. Those prequels were already done. They were published by Charlton Comics during the Dick Giordano reign, just as Watchmen was published by DC during the Dick Giordano reign. The characters were called Peacemaker, Blue Beetle, Peter Canon Thunderbolt, The Question, Captain Atom, and Nightshade. Without these characters Watchmen either would not have happened or would have been based upon other characters DC owned but didn’t care all that much about – most likely the Fawcett or the Quality heroes.
So in my mind, Before Watchmen is unnecessary. Been there, read that. Your opinion may vary, and that’s totally okay by me. In fact, these friends of mine would like the opportunity to earn themselves some Watchmen royalties.
Then there are the moral issues.
Legally, nobody knows where it stands unless they’ve read the contract(s). I haven’t, but I was an executive at DC Comics at that time – actually, about a month later – and I can tell you that, in my professional opinion – DC didn’t commit in writing to anything but money, and maybe a few artistic oversight issues. Maybe. It just wasn’t done then; it’s barely being done now, and it was only sort of done from time to time in between. Somebody might have given his or her word about how merchandising, licensing, promotion, prequels, and sequels would or would not be done and Alan and/or Dave might have trusted those people… but those people are no longer around. Well, they’re not at DC Comics; they’re still around.
What it comes down to, for me, is respect. It makes absolutely no damn sense to alienate anybody in the creative arts, and it’s really, really stupid to go to such lengths to alienate people of the highest caliber. It’s bad business, it’s worse human relations.
I’ve read much if not all of what Alan has said, and I while I disagree with some of his sentiments there is one thing that is unimpeachable: as a creator, as a writer, as a source of wealth for the publisher, Before Watchmen shits all over him.
Some of my friends disagree, and I respect their positions. This isn’t clear-cut in the least: morality is a personal thing, and what is immoral to one person is just ducky with the next. You can react emotionally and that’s fine. Sometimes that’s all you will get.
Thus far, nobody has picked up a gun and started shooting up the place. I’m not being sarcastic. It’s happened in other media. Google “Marvin Glass” and “shooting” and find out how it came down in the toy design business.
So, yeah, I think Alan was treated badly here. But that’s really not the reason I’m planning to avoid Before Watchmen. I’m avoiding it because, when everything is added up, it just doesn’t seem to be worth my time.
THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil Passes The Test
Seriously, it happened so slowly, I never saw it coming. It’s long been a fact: Marc Alan Fishman is a card carrying member of the DC Nation. But then, something changed. Flashpoint was one epic-crossover-super-event-that-changed-everything too many. With the New 52, I’d made a steadfast rule: In order to conserve money and my sanity, any book that delivered two issues in a row that left me bored or was just terrible I would remove from my pull list.
Like every red-blooded nerd worth his salt, when a book is dropped from my box, I can’t help but seek to replace it with something new. And now that I look across the board, Marvel is now on equal footing, book-for-book with my pull list for DC.
More important, every Marvel book on that list is one that when I see it on the shelf, I get truly excited. Truth be told, I get Blue Beetle, Batgirl, Justice League Dark, Green Lantern Corps, and Resurrection Man – and they are good comics, but none of them excite me anymore. I’m slowly coming to terms with it; New 52 be damned… Make Mine Marvel.
Simply put, right now Marvel is putting out better books than DC. I welcome the flame war and argument from the interwebs. Based solely on the Marvel books I’ve read in the last three-four months, DC pales in comparison in story depth, quality, scope, and clarity. A few examples, you ask?
Take the Fantastic Four. Jonathan Hickman’s run on the title has been compared to Kirby and Lee’s initial run; and said with sincerity. His “War of the Four Cities” multi-year arc was as epic as any DC “Crisis” without the multitude of mini-series. While it did spawn a second book, FF, the grandeur has been well contained. Even better, FF brings the ideology of the family and creates an excuse to explore more of the Baxter Building collective without over-saturation. It’s a riff, not a rip-off. Compare this to the four Green Lantern titles being pumped out at DC and you can see how a little consolidation can really tighten up a title’s overall quality.
How about the newly relaunched Defenders? Matt Fraction’s “vacation” title is a glorious send up to an old and mostly forgotten secondary team… dusted off, polished up, and presented wonderfully in the modern age. While only five issues in, I’ve been nothing but impressed up until now. In fact, Defenders #4 easily tops my list of best comics I’ve read for the year. The year is early, yes, but amongst dozens and dozens of issues, I’ve little doubt it won’t falter from my top ten by years end. It’s a comic not afraid to be written with a smirk… that knows when to be deadly serious, or just go for the nut shot. Something Justice League International tried to do, and fell on its face for attempting.
For those following my reviews on Michael Davis World, you’ll no doubt also note my recent jaunt into Spider-Land with the Amazing Spider-Man title. With the promise of the “Ends of the Earth” storyline being a good jumping on point for new readers, I dove into a title and character I’ve always wanted to read, but never did because of the bad mojo that came with the book. Ask anyone about Spider-Man’s most recent bullet points and I doubt you’ll see a face light up when discussing One More Day, the Other, or even Spider-Island. That being said, the series thus far has been a joyous romp. A Saturday morning cartoon concept with a hidden maturity, that has a perfect balance of comic-book-quirk with well thought out plot development.
And over in Invincible Iron Man? Well, Matt Fraction is proving what a truly potent writer he is by shaking off the grime of the horrendous Fear Itself crossover crud and taking his baby book back to form. His long-winding plot of Mandarin’s careful and calculated destruction of Tony Stark has been a slow burn that’s been a long time coming. And when everything recently came to a head, we got a moment in comics I’ve dreamed of reading since I finished The Watchmen – an arc where the hero loses because he’s been out-matched. It was bold, ballsy, and has me chomping at the bit for more.
All this, and I’ve not even mentioned Daredevil or Ultimate Spider-Man. I’d love to, but well… I’ve not read them yet. But they are high on the list for me to catch up on, the second the next DC book takes a dive in my box. Resurrection Man? I’m looking at you.
Now, of course, Marvel isn’t perfect. Just a few weeks back on my podcast, a lifelong X-Men fan told me he’d literally given on comics all together because of the terrible decline of his favorite mutants. And let’s give credit where credit is due: Fraction and Hickman’s bold pacing is very much in-step with Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison’s work on Green Lantern and Batman over the last 60 or so issues. Anyone who read “Batman R.I.P.” can see what “The War of the Four Cities” or most of the run on Invincible Iron Man is being inspired by (not directly mind you… but certainly in conceptual scope). And DC is not without its own amazing titles. Action Comics, Batman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Green Lantern always float to the top of my reading pile when I pick them up.
This of course leads me to ask the bigger questions. Was the New 52 not powerful enough overall to keep me from being lured away? Is Marvel just in a great rhythm right now? Will X-Men vs. Avengers cause some major crisis to interrupt all the goodness coming out in their top titles? Or with the second wave of new books (Dial H and JSA are both looking mighty fine to me…) hitting shelves soon, will DC reclaim me?
Don’t worry, I’ll let you know.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander Feeds The Chickens
That being said, I love Spider-Man. I loved his cartoon in the 90s. I loved the Sensational Spider-Man cartoon even more. I owned Maximum Carnage for the Super Nintendo. I played about 8000 hours worth of Spider-Man 2 for the original Xbox. So, with all the love I have for the character, why don’t I subscribe to a single web-headed book? Well, consider it a barrier to entry. Never found the right jumping on point.
Until now. Dan Slott’s upcoming in-book epic “Ends of the Earth” looks to be as good a point as ever to jump on. Given my recent love affair with the Fantastic Four… I figure why not roll the dice on the House of Mouse one more time. You see, deep down my love of the character stems from the fact that he’s generally been written to think his way out of problems – and that’s something I’m finding more and more keeps me reading comics.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” This we know. When I think of other classic (and current) comic book heroes… their books always come down to the best use of a super power. It’s akin to the ‘85 Bears victory in the Super Bowl: it’s all about brute strength. In Blackest Night? It was collection of rainbow raiders and a deus ex machina in the form of “It was Black Hand all along! Now shoot him!” In Fear Itself? Solved by a ton of punching, and Odin getting off his ass. Even in the non-epic books, I see too many stories solving their problems with mindless fighting, and sheer force-of yelling. Hell, Avengers Vs. X-Men is essentially based on that entire 13-year-old wet dream of a concept. And frankly… it’s really old hat.
When I was first getting into comics, no doubt it was all about the fighting, and punching, and super powers. A grand excuse for violence and gratuitous action sequences. And the books at that time gave in to the gluttony. Spawn was belched out of the machine that demanded insane amounts of gore, and detail, and splash pages… And the reason why his stock (and its four-barreled-thigh-pouch kin) sits somewhere a thimble above “wait, that’s still a thing?” is because the book never grasped for more than a climax built on banality.
When a movie, a book, even a song reaches for the middle, our brains turn off. The reason why Karate Kid is better than Sidekicks (aside from the obvious….)? Because Danny Larusso defeats Johnny with his mind more than his body. Yes it was about perseverance, but I contest that it was that moment when he realized the crane kick could win him the match… we as an audience collectively feel like the win is earned. It’s the reason why Batman is always better than Superman. Because nine times out of ten, Batman saves the day because he figures a way out to do so. Superman, nine times out of ten, uses one of his 1,000,000 powers.
I recently reviewed Blue Beetle #6 over on MichaelDavisWorld. In said review I was elated by the book’s choice to have their azure-hued bug boy save the day not by commanding his alien armor to make a bigger-better-bug-zapper… but by out thinking his opponent. The whole reason I’m looking forward to this Sinister Six arc in Spider-Man is because my first thought is “in this modern take on Spidey, how is he going to think his way out of being pummeled by sextet of sinister sleeze-bags?” Don’t get me wrong, I want to see plenty of quips, punches, web-shooty-balls-of-justice, and kicks-to-the-mush – I just want the day to be saved by Peter Parker’s greatest power… his mind.
In comics, we build up an antagonist – an alien race, a long lost angry god, a crazy man with a gun and a diaper – and pit our titular heroes in combat with them. Whether the Avengers are fighting the Kree, the Skrulls, Ultron, Enron, or the X-Men… only those with a short attention span and a “most-posted” badge on a message board are truly salivating on just the outcome of a fight. As a reader, I genuinely feel like the best stories give us an arc that introduces us to something we didn’t think of in the first place. When the only thing that stands in the way of a happy ending is a well placed punch we end up with Michael Bay’s Transformers… pretty to look at, and not much else.
That being said, I’m going to go look at my script for the Samurnauts. My original page of notes for the climax literally says “use some mega-super move… lots of photoshoppery.” Looks like I better get thinking…
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
You’re lovin’ it already, aren’t you?
For those of you who have never been Catholic, here’s a quick definition of patron saint, via the invaluable Wikipedia: “A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person…(They) are believed to be able to intercede for the needs of heir special charges.”
I mean, when you think about it superheroes and patron saints have a lot in common. Both are dedicated to helping the good guys (though the definition of “good guys” is liable to change) and both have powers that help the aforementioned good guys. You’re Lois Lane falling from a window, you yell and here comes Superman to prevent you from splatting. You’re a Giants fan, you want your team too win the Super Bowl, you pray to the appropriate saint and – yay Giants.
Okay, maybe your saint didn’t affect the game directly – though who knows? – but he or she obviously had some influence on the final score. I mean, saints obviously have a lot of clout. And these things are, by their very nature, mysterious.
Now, I don’t know if there is actually a patron saint of football, or a patron saint of the Giants, or of the New England Patriots, but if not, these surely are blanks easily filed in. If we can put a man on the moon, we can give he Patriots a patron! And by the way, there is a patron saint of athletes: St. Sebastian. So what if a Giants fan and a Patriots fan both prayed to Sebastian? Gee, another darn mystery…Maybe whoever prayed loudest?
We’re going to ignore “pagan” deities, who had a lot in common with both saints and superheroes because…well, this is a Christian country! (I believe I heard a guy wearing a suit on television say that, so I know it has to be straight.)
And that brings us to patron superheroes, though there really isn’t much to say about them, once you acknowledge the similarities between saints and superdoers. It’s just a matter of dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s, and you can manage that on your own.
But to help you get started, here’s a brief, off-the-top-of-my-head list of heroes and what they might be patron of.
Superman – immigrants.
Plastic Man – politicians.
Spider-Man – entomologists.
Green Arrow – acupuncturists.
The Human Torch – arsonists.
Invisible Scarlett O’Neil – wallflowers. (No relation, in case you’re wondering.)
The Flash – athletic shoe manufacturers
Captain Marvel – electricians.
Captain Marvel Junior – electricians’ assistants.
Hoppy the Marvel Bunny – fertility.
The Shadow – sundials.
And to make it an even dozen –
Blue Beetle – unhappy rock stars.
FRIDAY: Martha Thomases
For those following along with all of the columnists here at ComicMix, no doubt you checked out Michael Davis’ article “Why I Like The New 52”and Michael made some great points. DC’s reboot of their entire line of superhero comic books was, as he so eloquently put it, ballsy. Oh, but the self-proclaimed Master of the Universe sadly is mistaken. To have completely rebooted 60+ years of continuity would take serious juevos. The fact is, DC hasn’t done anything close to that. It’s a point I’ve been jumping up and down on now for months… and who am I to disregard my own nerd rage over the issue. Let me get my soapbox, megaphone, and crazy pants. It’s rant-time, kiddos.
DC didn’t reboot much. In fact, they merely slapped #1’s on all their issues, and placed a gigantic asterisk besides nearly every single one. To call this the “New 52” is akin to calling Gus Van Sant’s Psycho completely original. You see, DC may have changed the numbering, but they haven’t reset their backstories. That is to say, they did – to a point.
Nearly every book they’ve put out has carefully chosen to pick events, mannerisms, and relationships established over the last half a century… and take us into their continuity mid-stream. You know David Copperfield didn’t actually make the Statue of Liberty disappear, he used a sly game of bait and switch. DC did the same thing. Whenever the fans asked the powers-that-be if a major event from continuity occurred in this new DCU or not… they waved their hands, misdirected us, and said “just keep reading.”
As Michael said, that takes serious balls.
Break it down. The New 52 reset a handful of the major players. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman were all spit-shined and given a thorough makeover. And their books are better for it. Superman’s series had been crushed under event after event. From his “death” to the his “electric blue and red” days, to the rise of New Krypton to its eventual fall, casual fans could hardly hit the shelf and feel like they could relate. Wonder Woman’s title was bounced from several amazing writers, who all tried in their own ways to add depth, class, and angst to Diana’s stories. But aside from murdering Maxwell Lord, what kid on the street could tell you what she did since?
And Aquaman? Where do I begin? Water-hand, squid-head, Sub-Diego. I rest my case. Putting a #1 on those books and forgetting the last 10-15 years, isn’t such a bad idea when your parent company starts clamoring for more widespread appeal, is it?
And other books? Still confusingly convoluted beyond reproach. In the Batman corner of the DCnU, there’s Bruce’s bastard son-turned-Boy-Wonder, Nightwing, Tim Drake, a Black Batman, Batman Inc., a Joker with a misplaced face, Batwoman, and Babs “Miracle on 34th Street” Batgirl. You can put all the #1’s you want on those books, but find me a kid who bought them who didn’t immediately take a stroll down Wikipedia lane to make sense of the countless callbacks to continuity which is now unconstructed. In Batgirl alone, all we know for sure is there was an accident, she lost the ability to walk, she got it back. Did the Joker shoot her? Well, all DC says is “keep reading.”
In Green Lantern’s sector, we have no less than four active Earth Men wearing the emerald ring. For those who picked up their shiny #1’s of GL, GL: Corps, and GL: Emerald Knights were treated to the following backstory: At some point there was this thing called Blackest Night… maybe. Hal Jordon killed a Guardian of the Universe, who had a Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet power set… maybe. Kyle Rayner was the last GL… at some point? Sinestro now has a Green Ring. Again, these plot points were all in their respective #1’s. If you had no knowledge of these characters before starting these books, how would you approach getting your bearings on all this backstory? Ask DC, and they’ll gladly tell you “keep reading.”
Now, let me be clear and fair here. I read a ton of DC books. I love many of them. Of the New 52, Action Comics, Batman, Batgirl, Green Lantern, Animal Man, and Justice League Dark barely make it home before they’re read with near rabid fervor. As a fan of all of these characters, I have a great understanding of their mannerisms, backstories, and relationships to fill in the gaps that their respective books have yet to cover. Because modern comics are written more cinematically, their creative teams bank on the fact that their fan base isn’t coming into their books completely cold. In the case of newer characters, or transplants from Wildstorm, these books aren’t fairing so well. With 3 issues in, November’s top sellers were Justice League, Batman, Action, and Green Lantern. Blue Beetle, Omac, and Voodoo? 89. 104. 105. Without the allure of “read and see what continuity we kept, and which we threw out with the bathwater…” fans weren’t as kind.
Before the books all came out, we fans debated hotly how much of our continuity would be thrown into this potluck reset. DC cleverly keeps moving the target on the answers. The truth of the matter is this: The allure of a universal restart in comics is a pipe dream at best. At the end of the day, comic books are a business first. The DCnU was a stunt that paid off in spades.
To end 60+ years of backstory, and start all over simply will never happen. The industry thrives on the soap-opera format; keep what works, and forget the rest. If you pay close enough attention you’ll just go mad. I started this out as a rant on Michael Davis’ kudos to the DC’s testicular fortitude, but in looking at the stack of their books, and my dwindling bank account? It tells me Michael was right all along.
DC, you made me madder than hell, and took more of my money than you ever did before… all so I could make a grand sweeping point. And now, after I’m done shouting from the rafters, I realize that’s all you ever wanted me to do in the first place. Good for you. That took serious balls.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
And those are just the characters he created for DC. We won’t even mention Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, the Question, Mr. A…
But who, you may still ask, is Steve Ditko? By a handy coincidence, there was an hour-long documentary four years ago asking that very same query…
Long may he wave.