Tagged: Infinite Crisis

Joe Corallo: Brief Lives

DeathThis past week has made me reflect on life and death. Some of it has been personal, some of it has been David Bowie related, and some of it has been comic book related.

Despite never having met David Bowie, he’d been a part of my life for a while with his music, movies, and other works. And a celebrity of his status is hard to not be reminded of, regardless of if you’d like to avoid him or not. From his music being in a many films, to just hearing his songs in played on the radio, bars, and grocery stores, Bowie is just so entrenched in our pop culture that he’ll live on for the rest of my life, even though he physically hasn’t.

Comic book story lives and deaths are a little different. I probably didn’t need to tell you that, but it sounded like a good segue so here we are. Character deaths in mainstream comics are becoming more and more a staple of the medium. The increase in character deaths is leading to an increase in characters coming back to life. Oddly enough, characters who would sell a lot of books with their deaths get killed off (see Superman, Batman, Phoenix, Wolverine and more!) or characters that no one seems to know what to do with (see Coagula, Kraven The Hunter, and more!). Just like real life!

When it comes to characters coming back to life, it’s a bit harder to suspend your disbelief. At least for me. And I’m not saying that to mean in these worlds with alien worlds, alternate dimensions and time travel (just to name a few) that someone coming back from life is where I draw the line. It’s more just sad how these fictional characters we know and love seem to put more effort into bringing back their pals that sell books than bringing back all of their good friends, relatives, and innocent bystanders they’ve watched die over the years. Always comes down to the bottom line with these superheroes. It’s a damn shame. I know I’ve plugged X-Statix before, but if you haven’t read it the book does touch on that point.

Anyway, the big two used to at least try to take a break between ending lives in their comics and starting up lives again. Currently Marvel is advertising that they have a character coming back to life and a major character death coming up soon. The line between life and death in mainstream comics has become so blurred, with brief lives and briefer deaths. All as the ultimate gimmick to keep you wanting more.

This hasn’t always gone off without a hitch. Alexandra DeWitt’s death in Green Lantern sparked enough outrage to create Women In Refrigerators which helped to launch Gail Simone’s career. More recently, Joshua Fialkov quit a gig writing Green Lantern because they planned on killing off prominent black superhero John Stewart.

These two instances do have similarities. Yes, they’re both controversies in the various Green Lantern comics, but that’s not what I was getting at. It’s that both instances involve killing off characters that are not straight cis white guys. In one they’re killing off a woman, and in the other they’re killing off a black man. In both, the idea was to kill off a character that would have motivated at least one straight cis white man to take action and do the right thing. In one, Kyle Raynor was pushed to stop Major Force at all cost, and in the other different Green Lanterns would have been motivated to solve the mystery of who killed John Stewart. The latter of which caused such an uproar that DC cancelled its plans to kill off John Stewart.

And all of this got me thinking about deaths in comics and how it’s linked to diversity. Death in comics can be a double edged sword when it comes to diversity. On the one hand, if you’re only killing straight cis white guys, isn’t that implying that the only characters worth killing off, the only characters that could elicit a strong emotional fan reaction straight cis white guys? On the other hand, if you kill off a woman or minority character, wouldn’t you just be depleting from the already small (albeit growing) pool of women and minority characters in comics, and possibly using it as a tool to push a straight cis white guy to action?

I’m sure we can all think of a lot of potential examples in our heads right now. What if Marvel killed off Steve Rogers (again)? Sure, that’s making room for Sam Wilson to really assert himself as Captain America even further, but in a way doesn’t it have the implication that Steve Rogers is more important? What if Marvel killed off Sam Wilson? Wouldn’t that lead to Steve Rogers somehow probably taking the role of Captain America back, taking a step back in diversity as the cast of characters gets just a little more white and a little less black? It’s something to think about. At least I’m thinking about it.

If they would just come back anyway, then that’s not great for diversity either. In DC Comics 52 series showcasing the aftermath of Infinite Crisis, we got characters like Batwoman stepping up, and The Question passing the torch from Vic Sage to Renee Montoya, as Batman and Superman and some others are out of the picture. It was a flirtation with diversity that ended with our beloved white heroes Superman and Batman coming back from obscurity as Batwoman and The Question fell back a bit. The Question has even went back to being Vic Sage after The New 52 reboot. Go figure.

DC has other examples of this, like bringing back Hal Jordan as a Green Lantern instead of maybe delving more into John Stewart, and more. Over at Marvel, they killed off Wolverine, and now X-23 has taken the reigns in her own book All New Wolverine. Speculation of Wolverine coming back (Not Old Man Logan, who is already back, but the real deal Wolverine) in 2016 has been high. If he comes back, isn’t that a step backwards for diversity? Even if they still try to push X-23 as Wolverine, won’t it eventually just move back to Logan? They must know that over at Marvel, and that makes it a little troubling to think that they would be willing to undermine their own progress. Maybe they won’t though, but it’s something that’s more than possible, it’s likely.

Often character deaths in mainstream comics lead to brief lives of those that take their place. The Death of Superman brought us Steel, but since Superman’s return he’s often been used very sparingly and rarely with much thought or creativity outside of his original creative team. These are all just some examples of life and death in comics, and how they can work against diversity or hold diversity back. If Marvel and DC are really going to take diversity seriously, they may need to let the dead rest in peace.

I understand it’s complicated, I know that no one wants to throw away an opportunity to make a few bucks, and work for hire contracts keep many creators from wanting to invest their hearts and souls into characters they don’t own. However, something needs to change. Some of the current ideas in mainstream comics need to be allowed to die, and new ones need to be born and thrive.

The Law Is A Ass # 301: Wonder Woman: If Lookers Could Kill

You know that whole Wonder Woman is the Themyscrian  Ambassador whose mission is to bring the Amazonian message of peace and love to the “Man’s World” shtick?

Psyche!

Or so we learned in “Sacrifice,” the four-part story that started in Superman #219, then crossed-over through Action Comics #829, Adventures of Superman #642, and Wonder Woman #219. I thought the “sacrifice,” would be Superman’s. Silly me. Turns out the sacrifice was mine, in reading the story.

And after I tell you that –
SPOILER WARNING!!

no discussion of “Sacrifice” is possible without my telling you the ending of the story, so if you’re waiting for trade paperback to read it, you should stop reading this column. Now. (more…)

Which is the Real DC Earth?

Characters of the Multiverse duel in an issue ...

Image via Wikipedia

 

Recently, DC Comics has made a big deal over the fact that the Earth where the New 52 comics have been telling stories is the Main Earth. This is to clearly separate it from the Earth-One seen in the hardcover graphic novels – the first of which, Superman: Earth One came out to great acclaim last year and the next, Batman</em><em>: Earth One is due out later this year. It also paves the way for people to understand that the Main Earth is not the same homeworld as the events seen in two second wave releases in May: Earth-2 (featuring the Justice Society of America) and World’s Finest, which features Power Girl and the Huntress of that world trapped on Main Earth.  And while we were initially told this Earth-2 would be the home of World War II’s mystery men the reality seems far from it.

 

So what, you wonder, became of New Earth which resulted from the events of Infinite Crisis? We were told that it was altered through the events depicted in the Flashpoint event last summer, which in turn revised reality which gave us Main Earth.

 

Except…

 

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Is a Live-Action Blue Beetle TV Series on the Horizon?

Is a Live-Action Blue Beetle TV Series on the Horizon?

 

When Geoff Johns, DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer, disclosed on his Twitter page that DC and Warner Bros were “hoping to develop a live-action show” starring the Blue Beetle, the news spread aggressively quick. To alleviate fans’ growing excitement and curiosity, Johns posted photos and more news about the proposal on DC’s official blog, The
Source
. The site has indeed been the source of Blue Beetle related hubbub, as screenshots of Blue Beetle’s transformation sequence have spread widely across the net. Johns and his team created a clip showing Jamie Reyes’ scarab activating his suit, a clip that Johns will showcase at the San Diego Comic-Con.

With Smallville ending after its next season, WB could replace it with another DC Universe television series. However, would a Blue Beetle live-action show be received as well as Smallville was? Superman is an iconic character, while Blue Beetle is comparatively lesser known. There is also the issue of the Blue Beetle comic book cancellations. Some speculate that if Blue Beetle comics ultimately get canned due to poor sales, then how well would a television series fare? On the other hand, Blue Beetle gained a loyal fan following after Infinite Crisis back in 2006. Reyes also made several appearances in Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Johns tweeted, “Blue Beetle’s going to appear in most of the Brave and the
Bold’s this year,” which is promising news for the superhero. The new publicity may give Blue Beetle a chance to make it to the small screen.

Perhaps we shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves. Johns stated in his post on The Source, “This isn’t final. This isn’t greenlit. It’s only a test that was done.
We still have a long way to go to see if we can get this off the
ground and a lot of people to jump on board.” While it’s exciting to witness superheroes come to life, maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up just yet with this teaser alone?

‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ DVD details released, including the Spectre!

‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ DVD details released, including the Spectre!

In case you missed the preview on Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Warner Premiere has offered up complete details including the announcement of an exclusive Spectre short for the special edition. Here’s the release:

BURBANK, CA (November 23, 2009) – To save our world and all those like it, SUPERMAN, BATMAN and their caped colleagues must go toe-to-toe with their evil mirror images in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the seventh entry in the successful ongoing series of DC UNIVERSE Animated Original PG-13 Movies coming February 23, 2010 from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation. The full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def for $24.98 (SRP) and $29.99 (SRP), respectively, as well as single disc DVD for $19.98 (SRP). The film will also be available On Demand and Download.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League) rooted in DC Comics’ popular canon of “Crisis” stories depicting parallel worlds with uniquely similar heroes and villains. Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer. Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) are co-directors.

In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” LEX LUTHOR arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the JUSTICE LEAGUE to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the JUSTICE LEAGUE. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a diabolical plan launched by OWLMAN, puts the balance of all existence in peril.

The movie features an all-star voice cast led by Mark Harmon (NCIS) as SUPERMAN, James Woods (Ghosts of Mississippi) as OWLMAN, Chris Noth (Sex and the City, Law & Order) as LEX LUTHOR, William Baldwin (Dirty Sexy Money) as BATMAN, Gina Torres (Serenity, Firefly) as SUPERWOMAN and Bruce Davison (X-Men) as the President.


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Review: ‘Batman’ #681

Review: ‘Batman’ #681

The nature of super-hero comics (and serial storytelling in TV as well) has become an incestuous thing, one that feeds on its own cast of characters, no matter how wrongheaded it might seem. In any given story arc, the reader (and the viewer) has been trained to expect The Last Person You’d Ever Expect (fill in the name of your favorite Beloved Supporting Character) to be revealed as the villainous mastermind. And/or salacious details about Our Hero. Dark secrets that threaten the very underpinnings of the lead characters’ being. The promise of certain death for players who’ve existed for decades. (No, really. We mean it!)
 
The pleasure in last week’s wrap-up to Batman R.I.P. was in the way Grant Morrison mocked all that. Consider yourself under a Spoiler Warning for the duration of this column.
 
At its best, the story was a love letter to Batman as he ought to be — prepared to a degree that anyone else would find ludicrous (as in a terrific flashback sequence) and uncompromising in the face of threats against the reputation of his family name. Watching him emerge from an inescapable deathtrap and wade through all comers was quite satisfying after months of questioning whether Batman had lost it.
 
Just as 1993-1994’s Knightfall arc gave us the ultra-violent Batman that a fringe of fandom imagined they wanted, R.I.P. delivered the story formula that readers have been conditioned to expect. And then, in the final act, Morrison pulled the rug out from under them. Think that the Black Glove was going to stand unmasked as Thomas Wayne, the father of Bruce who’d faked death and became a criminal mastermind? Lies. All lies. Waiting for the culmination of Batman’s mental breakdown? Didn’t happen (at least not to the degree it seemed). He was acting! (Thanks, Alfred!) And that caped-and-cowled, ready-for-slabbing corpse? No body.
 
I can’t help but think, too, that Morrison’s treatment of the Joker reflects a bit on the villain’s usage in the wider DC Comics line. In Morrison’s first issue (#655), the character was casually defeated by a nut in a Batman costume who shot him in the face. And in this climax, his fate was even more dismissive: He was accidentally run off the road and killed (yeah, right) by a speeding Batmobile driven by the deranged Damian. The two scenes struck me as a statement of sorts on the sheer over-saturation of the Joker, a villain who’s appeared in 44 comics in 2008 alone! A character that almost anyone in the DC Universe can hold their own against is a character who can be sucker-punched by nutty Batman wannabes. Couple that with his ubiquitous presence in Bat-books proper and the persistence in characterizing the Joker as the biggest and most unstoppable mad-murderer in history and you have a Batman who’s rather ineffectual, too. But I digress.

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Crisis on Infinite Mortal Kombat

Crisis on Infinite Mortal Kombat

We’ve seen a lot of cool gameplay footage showing the combat, villainous fatalities, and heroic brutalities for Midway’s upcoming Mortal Kombat Versus DC Universe. But we’ve only heard scattered reports about the story, which was massaged by comic writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Well an official trailer has been released.

It bears a striking similarity to DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis. Mysterious force is causing two universes to merge. Champions and villains team-up to protect their reality but try to figure out what is going on. But really, is there any other way to do an inter-company crossover without the corny ‘pretending they’ve lived in the same universe all along’ route? “I’ve heard of you. Surprised we haven’t crossed paths before.”

Superman addresses the power difference problem some fans questioned. After getting kicked by Scorpion he mutters distastefully, “Magic.”

Also a nice sequence showing Superman laying the smack down on Chinese thunder god Raiden. Best watch your mouth Thor, unless you want some of that.

The Theory of Webcomics: Dead Comic, Living Archives

The Theory of Webcomics: Dead Comic, Living Archives

I’m a chronic re-reader/re-player/re-watcher. Combine having a lousy memory with a love of the familiar, and you’ll find someone who loves re-reading old comics, re-playing his old collection of Super NES games, and re-watching TV shows of years past. This carries just as much with webcomics: I’ll discover a comic, read all the archives, keep up with it regularly, and periodically go back and read the archives again. It’s like a chunk of my comic collection that I can use to procrastinate at work.

Webcomic archives mean that there’s never a continuity lockout: You’re always able to go back and learn what came before. If DC doesn’t reprint a Martian Manhunter story from 1992 and I wasn’t reading comics at the time, then I’m totally lost when it gets referenced in Infinite Crisis. If Fred Gallagher wants to reference a previous storyline in Megatokyo, he can just put a link to it in that day’s news post and rest easy.

As an aside, a few comics make the most recent strip freely accessible, but make the archives pay-to-view. This model is okay for low-continuity gag-a-day or newspaper-type strips, but effectively locks out much of the new audience if you’re very storyline-focused. But then, if there’s no storyline, you don’t have the same desire to go back and read older strips. Garfield liking lasagna and hating Mondays gets old fast(err) if you read 200 of them in a day.

And oftentimes, even when the comic is finished, the archives will stay. Often, the author has another project in the works, so it contributes to his online presence and, as the occasional new reader discovers it or an old reader like me re-reads it, it might even bring in a little ad revenue or a few new book sales. The old comic, typically completed intentionally, rather than having faded out, is archived like a classic novel, available in its entirety. (Expect a few of these to show up in my Webcomics You Should Be Reading columns.)

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On the Road to a Crisis

On the Road to a Crisis

So right now, we’re halfway through Final Crisis, a crossover involving the weakening of space and time and all of reality being endangered. In the prelude one-shot DC Universe #0, readers were recapped about the fact that this is the third universal crisis to happen to the DCU (which isn’t entirely accurate and we’ll get into that soon).

But some of you folks may want a little more detail about what happened before this. Why is this the "Final" Crisis? And considering the fact that the previous two crises both involved history being altered, what do the heroes involved truly remember about them?

So here is not only a rundown of the previous crises, but the major events that have led into them and certain side stories that writer Grant Morrison may refer to again very soon.

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