Tagged: Watchmen

Marc Alan Fishman: Help! I’m A Marvel Zombie!

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

 

Marc Alan Fishman: Avengers Vs. Dark Knight Rises – The Battle for the Multiplex

This past week on my podcast (which you’re not listening to, but totally should), a debate sparked that was left largely unresolved. Since I have this digital soapbox, might as well use it to bring said debate to you.

In a few weeks, the mega-multiplexes of America will be screening the culmination of years of work by the House funded by the Mouse. The Avengers will see the fruition of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger in one massively multiplayer action adventure flick. About a month or so later, Warner Bros. unleashes the end to Christopher Nolan’s bat-child, The Dark Knight Rises. There’s no doubt in my mind that both of these movies will be amazingly profitable. But the debate is this: which will bank more bucks? Which will be a better movie? Let’s look at the tail of the tape.

First up? Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes. Behind the scenes, we have the consummate king of the nerds… Joss Whedon as director. His writer team? Well… Whedon wrote with Zak Penn. Penn you’ll note wrote the successes such as The Incredible Hulk and X2, and the failures such as X-Men: The Last Stand and Electra. On the screen itself, the cast is of course a veritable galaxy of stars. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scartlet Johansson, and Gwyneth Paltrow will all be in the film. Unlike any other franchise in history, The Avengers will coalesce four franchises into a single picture. From here? It’s all but a given that the there will be a sequel, as corresponding sub-sequels for all the individual characters. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of money growing on trees. Trees that became paper. Paper that became comic books.

The Dark Knight Rises, as previously mentioned, is helmed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s career has been nothing short of a meteoric ascent to directorial gold. Nolan also helped pen this end to his triptych with his brother Jonathan, and David S. Goyer – who, as you will recall, helped pen Batman Begins and Blade 2. And Ghost Rider: Spirit of Bad Acting. But you can’t win them all, can you?

Under the cape and cowl will once again be Christian Bale, joined by series stalwarts Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman. The villain this go-around will be played by Tom Hardy. You’ll recognize Hardy as the mildly funny Brit in Inception. While not as big in scope as Marvel’s upcoming blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises is the follow up to the single most profitable comic book inspired movie of all time. For those who don’t recall, The Dark Knight did so well in the movie theaters, comic retailers reported sales of The Watchmen had gone up in response (which is nothing short of amazing, if you ask any retailer these days). With TDKR, Nolan puts his series to an end. Speculation on the plot, and how things will resolve has most everyone around in a tizzy.

The question then to ask: Which movie will make more money? Needless to say, both will bank boku bucks. For the sake of this argument, I’ll remove revenue from merchandise. Why? Because face it: Nolan’s Bat-Flicks haven’t spawned successful lines of toys; Marvel’s has. Specifically speaking on ticket sales? This is quite the toss up, is it not? On one hand you have the obvious ultimate popcorn movie in The Avengers. From the trailers we can safely assume there’s going to be wall to wall action, explosions, the Hulk, fighting, one liners, and boobs. Opposing that mentality, Nolan will nab those looking for a bit more substance. Whereas Marvel’s flicks were squarely targeting tweens and teens (with a side of general comic nerds and action geeks to boot…), DC’s Bat-Franchise has been nothing if adult in its complexity.

Gun to my head… if you asked me to choose, I’d end up with the nod to the Avengers making more moolah at the end of the day. The Dark Knight had the death of Heath Ledger, on top of the oscar buzz for his performance, on top of previous audience gained from Batman Begins. But TDKR features a villain most people aren’t familiar with (Bane ain’t exactly a household name now, is he?), and a star whose potential is only just now being noticed. And if other comic book trilogies are to be looked at (Spider-Man, X-Men, and previous Bat-Incarnations), the end of an era does not always translate into positive earnings. With The Avengers, we simply have too many stars to not draw an amazing crowd. Fans of any of those feeder movies no doubt want to see a team up. It’s the whole reason books like The Avengers and Justice League always sell so well!

Now, I would give The Dark Knight Rises the edge ultimately in terms of potential film quality. Not a knock on The Avengers mind you… I think from what we’ve seen, Whedon will deliver the goods. But The Avengers has more chance to pratfall than ascend to nerdvana. With so many stars on screen, there’s a real chance too much time will be spent assembling, mocking, and joking. And we can tell much of the movie will be dealing with a Loki-lead invasion fight scene. And just how much CGI action can we effectively sit through? Given the spectacle (and disappointment) of the last Matrix movie, suffice to say I’m fretful.

With Batman, Nolan seems to have been methodically building a dramatic arc. Bruce Wayne by way of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight has been an evolving force of nature. But Nolan’s best job has been grounding that force in reality. He’s delivered where so many others have failed: comic book movies without heroic quips and a knowing wink to the camera. When that theme of the dissonant chords let us know the Joker was at work, it was truly chilling. To think that Nolan is ending this series, one must postulate he’s had an ending in mind since the start. On that knowledge, I give the edge over to DC. Simply put, I’m more excited for their flick because I genuinely do not know what will happen.

In The Avengers? I’m almost certain we’ll have the following: Loki attacks. Avengers assemble by way of initial in-fighting. Disaster. True assembling. Fighting. Explosions. Boobs. Victory. Open ending for more sequels. Not that it’s a bad formula… but it’s just that: a formula.

So, plenty of points to discuss. Flame me, Internet, for I have opinions. Will Bats take more money? Will Avengers be the Return of the King for Comic Book movies? Discuss!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


DC Comics July 2012 Solicitations

It’s that time again… okay, it’s a little past that normal time, thanks to the Mix March Madness wrapup, but here are the preview materials for DC Comics releases for July 2012.

What’s on tap this month? More of the Before Watchmen books, with the debut of Ozymandias from Len Wein and Jae Lee, the conclusion of the Court of Owls storyline and crossover in all the Bat-books, and the debut of the done-in-one book, National Comics, featuring the New 52 Debut (coming right at you) of Eternity.

And in the white elephant of desire category, there’s the $300 statue showing the climactic scene from The Dark Knight Returns.

Once more, into the breach? Banzai!

 

As always, spoilers may lurk beyond this point. (more…)

MINDY NEWELL: Who Pays For The Watchmen?

Before I begin this week’s column, I need to correct an error from last week’s Music to Write By. Daughter Alixandra let me know that it’s Ewan Mcgregror who stars in Moulin Rouge, not Ethan Hawke.

Onward.

Unless you were vacationing in another dimension last week, you know that the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate for heath insurance contained within the Affordable Care Act, popularly known – or “unpopularly,” depending on which side of the aisle you sit – as Obamacare.

Which got me to wondering about insurance for the übermenschen.

The cost of cleaning up after the supermen give each other black eyes – something that seems to occur on a daily basis in the various comics universes – must be astronomical for the city, state and federal governments in which these manos a manos take place. Not to mention the individual cost to the poor schlubs who either work or live in these battle zones.

Imagine what it’s like living in a world where the odds of getting caught in one of those battle zones is over 50%. There are all sorts of “pre-existing conditions” or “Acts of Superhero” clauses in insurance company contracts, otherwise they would be either constantly teetering on the brink of bankruptcy – or after just one good fight between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, out of business. Add another deduction for SBHI (Super Battle Health Insurance) and your paycheck is a joke. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers “Fight Insurance” for those living in a “Fight Zone” – areas known to periodically sustain damage from the clashes between ultra-powered enemies.

By the way, why does anyone live in the Metropolis of DC or the New York City of Marvel?

What insurance do the superheroes and super villains carry?

I bet Stark Industries has a subsidiary that writes insurance for them in the Marvel Universe. I don’t think it makes money, probably loses money in fact, but accounting creatively writes it off as a business expense, and the rest of Stark Industries makes up for it anyway. And it wouldn’t surprise me that the company does a mean business in insuring the villains, either. After all, if Saudi Arabia can do business with Israel, why can’t Stark insure Magneto? Or perhaps Wilson Fisk has an insurance company among his holdings from which the bad guys can buy policies. With exorbitant premiums, of cause.

Harder to figure out how the übermenschen do it over in the DC universe. Perhaps the Justice League has incorporated itself and has created its own insurance carrier that it offers to the good guys. But I can’t see the JLA offering insurance to their evil doppelgangers – I don’t think they’re quite as business minded as they are over in the neighboring universe. Maybe Superman squeezes some coal now and then to make some diamonds to feed the pot. (But isn’t that illegal? Or is that like the Fed printing money?)

Who pays for the Watchmen?

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Justice League Light Vs. Justice League Dark

This past week, I read both Justice League #5 and Justice League Dark #5. To say they are worlds apart is a bit on-the-nose, but suffice to say… it’s the truth. Justice League proper is loud, dumb, and thin. Dark is the polar opposite.

With an issue left to finish its first arc, Justice League needs a near miracle to turn my opinion around. In issue #5, Dark completed its first arc and I’m amazingly sold on it. Funny then that I didn’t bring that book home. My wife, and mother to our newborn son, bought it cause she loves Zatanna. Trust me, I have a millions reasons to thank her everyday. Now? I have a million and one. But I digress. This here column is meant to compare and contrast just why JL: Prime is poop, and Dark is dynamite. I hope Geoff Johns is taking notes.

Let’s start with the good. Both Leagues assemble a pretty stellar line-up. I know there are those out there that have a soft spot for the less-than-great Leagues of the past (like when they were in Detroit, or the amazingly crappy team from right-before-the-flashpoint), but let’s be honest: The present day roster takes its Magnificent Seven approach ala Grant Morrison’s run, and it was damned smart to do so. On the Dark side, we get a team-up that’s a veritable who’s who of the mystic arts.

With the Vertigo imprint now a part of the DCnU proper, we get to see stalwart mystic go-to characters like Deadman team up with John Constantine, amongst others. All in all, the teams work on paper, quite well. And John’s use of Cyborg as the would-be-everyman makes me forget all about the obvious affirmative action. The only character I wish they’d put on the Dark team would be Detective Chimp. Face it, monkeys equal sales.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s dive into the bad, shall we? Justice League takes too many cues from the worst part of comics from the 1990s. Jim Lee is delivering amazing work, but at the cost of quality narrative. Splash after splash, action panel after action panel, and everyone always screaming, wincing, and punching. Also, all of it is on fire. Now, is Jim to blame for this? I don’t know. Geoff Johns is the man behind the script, so one might ask him if he intended the first arc to be so… typical.

For a guy who built a career on amazing origins, here he delivers his first disappointing one. Think of all the stereotypical team-forming storylines you can think of. Heroes meet, and think each other is the villain? Check. Egotistical in-fighting for control? Check. The evil-villain-from-out-of-nowhere who can only be defeated by having the team form? Check. That basic premise has been done to death in just about every team book, and funny enough? JL: Dark uses it too! But somehow, they pull it off. I’ll get to that later.

As I recall comics of my youth (those pesky ‘90s), it was always about the pop and sizzle, never about the words. It was all about who could beat up who and how, never why. Then I grabbed Watchmen, Sin City, books by Scott McCloud, and Kingdom Come and learned that comics can be stellar cape and cowl adventures… and use nuance and subtlety to end a story. Justice League throws all of that out the window, so we can make way for everyone taking time to ask what Batman’s powers are. Snicker.

Justice League Dark takes that same convoluted plot and smartly dampens it for characterization. The first arc is the antithesis to the uniting of individuals for the greater good. Instead we have severely independent agents being routed to stop something against their will. Over the course of the book, characters do fight one another, but it’s done with nuance. When Deadman threatens John Constantine, it’s because he cares for June Moon, who Constantine is obviously hurting in order to save the greater good. No puffed up chests and snarky dialogue.

And the big bad of the book? Well it turns out to be the misguided Enchantress, who lost control due to Madame Xanadu’s misguided tinkering. And at the climactic battle, when the score is blasting, and characters shout… it’s not the uniting of the mystical mavens of the greater DCnU that saves the day. It’s just Constantine doing his job. When the dust settles, the team, as it were, stand as independent as they were at the books’ beginning. It’s a bold move by Peter Milligan, who opts to dose his Justice League with a bit of realism. Realism, is a comic featuring a guy who has a super secret all-powerful vest? Yup. And it’s pretty darned cool.

I’ve merely scratched the surface here. Now, before you fire up the engines of hate, let me act as my own Devil’s Advocate. Justice League has had some great moments. As I mentioned before, I think Cyborg has been a real highlight of the book, and Johns’ Hal Jordon is a cock-sure treat, especially when he gets his ass whooped. And truth be told, the sales figures put me in my place pretty quickly. And Justice League: Dark isn’t exactly narrative fiction perfected. Over five issues Milligan utilized the “two characters show up somewhere, and spend their time questioning why they’re there scene” about 27 times. And as ComicBookResources’ Chad Nevett noted in his review of issue #5. Milligan may need to do a ton of back-peddling to assemble his team for the next arc.

Overall though, I think it’s clear: Justice League thus far has been far too busy trying to bring the “oohs and ahhs” while Dark spent its time trying to develop its characters beyond witty retorts, and punching. The books are clearly targeting different audiences, but even those who prefer eye laser blasts and Batarangs to backwards spells and Photoshop glow effects…clearly see where the flagship of the DCnU is aiming only at the lowest common denominator. If the DCnU is to make those who don’t read comics pay attention, modeling their mainstay book off of Michael Bay mentality isn’t the way to do it.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

DC Announces “Before Watchmen”

Watchmen 2: Watch HarderIt’s official… From the DC Source blog:

This summer, DC Entertainment will publish all-new stories expanding on the acclaimed WATCHMEN universe. As highly anticipated as they are controversial, the seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original WATCHMEN, the bestselling graphic novel of all time. BEFORE WATCHMEN will be the collective banner for all seven titles, from DC Comics.

“It’s our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told. We sought out the best writers and artists in the industry to build on the complex mythology of the original.”

Stepping up to the challenge is a group of the comic book industry’s most iconoclastic writers and artists – including Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS), Lee Bermejo (JOKER), Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL), Darwyn Cooke (JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER), John Higgins (WATCHMEN), Adam Hughes (CATWOMAN), J.G. Jones (FINAL CRISIS), Andy Kubert (FLASHPOINT), Joe Kubert (SGT. ROCK), Jae Lee (BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE), J. Michael Straczynski (SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE) and Len Wein (SWAMP THING).

(more…)

MIKE GOLD: Stupid Logo Tricks

Sometime around 1987, DC Comics’ then-publisher Jenette Kahn told DC’s next publisher Paul Levitz that it was time to change the DC logo. Paul protested and pulled me in – I gather I was handy, or perhaps I was least likely to look like a plant. I chirped in “No, too soon. Branding takes time. Some people have just started to spend money on that logo with Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen.

It was painful for me to say this because I hated the DC Bullet. It was designed by Milton Glazer, and those in-lines of his were everywhere. But on cheap paper with those silly putty printing plates, his in-lines either dropped out or boogied up like a crack fiend drawing an arrow with his feet. Still, I supported Paul’s decision. If it worked for Coca-Cola for some 110 years, it should work for DC Comics for 30.

That’s about how long Glazer’s Bullet was in, and on, action. It was replaced by the one you see at the upper left-hand of the graphic above. Even after 30 years, many fans initially hated it. But I think even the most cynical liked it on the big screen… and even on the teevee screen. After a short while, it dawned on me that this was probably the best DC logo ever – except that, even though it is worthy, that particular distinction wasn’t much of a compliment.

Some five years later, DC is being rebranded. No, I’m not talking about The New 52: that’s rebranding in the sense that M&M added blue candies to their package while removing the light brown ones. The DC Spin has been sent to the glue factory, to be replaced by that which you see on the upper right of the graphic above.

I’ve started at it for a couple weeks now, taking time out for meals and New Jersey Devils games. And three words come to mind:

Boring. Stupid. And Needless.

Not to be eclipsed, the folks at Bongo Comics – represented by the logo in the lower left of the above graphic – decided to do DC one better. Their new logo is boringer. Stupider. And needlesser.

Both logos replace something that incorporates a bit of the energy and feel of the product itself. Both logos are bland at best; Bongo’s looks like an old Whitman title from the 1970s, and DC’s… well, I don’t know what the hell that thing is. It reminds me of the old toy I had back when milkmen still walked the Earth: it was sort of a pad with one plastic sheet on top of a black something or other. Kids scribbled on it with a wooden stylus, and when we got tired we’d pull the plastic sheet up off the black background and the scrawlings would disappear.

If only.

The most meaningful line in any movie was uttered by the character Governor William J. Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles: “Gentlemen, we’ve got to protect our phony-baloney jobs!” That sentiment is what makes the world go ‘round. If designers and art directors left well enough alone, we would have less work for designers and art directors.

Comics should stir some sense of wonder within the breast of the reader. These logos do not. They probably look real good on the thick glass doors that front their reception rooms, they certainly look real good in the corporate annual report (should Time Warner actually acknowledge they publish comic books), but as a device that inspires attention and attraction, they suffer from the worst sort of sanction: death by dullness.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

REVIEW: Kamala Sankaram’s “Miranda”

What do you get when you take a dystopian who-done-it, three suspects, a composer-soprano-instrumentalist-victim, set it to music that is part Baroque opera, tango, Hindustani classical, and hip-hop, add multimedia elements (including a projected big, singing head and funky fake commercials for deadly fashion accessories and wacked-out news broadcasts), dress it all up in steampunk sensibilities reminiscent of Watchmen, include a bailiff ringmaster of a TV show (The Whole Truth) that would make Tim Curry’s Frank-N-Furter proud, add Rocky Horror-like audience participation, a libretto written by the composer with director Rob Reese, and swirl in six avant-garde new music veteran musicians-singers-actors a la the most recently retooled Sweeney Todd?

This is the hybrid lovely beast that is Kamala Sankaram’s Miranda, which opened in preview (tickets $20, 9 p.m.) on Thurs. Jan. 12th, opened on Friday the 13th, and makes its final performance on the 21st as part of HERE’s 3-year composer-development HARP (HERE Artists Residency) Program. Grandly ironic sensibilities. And it lived up to all its promises despite a few technical nits.

Jerry Miller as the Bailiff plays it larger than life—he sells it, with power, and controls the audience with aplomb: a bravura performance. Sankaram is a soprano worthy of Puccini, in demeanor and vocal timber and skill, plus able to carry her ethnic classical tropes with equal grace, yet still be convincing in the more contemporary milieu of the infectiously heavy hip-hop grooves of the show’s theme she writes for her mini-orchestra (guitar, cello, violin, tenor sax/clarinet, bari sax/bass clarinet, accordion—it needs a viola to round out the dark tones and support the violin and guitar—but I am a violist). Sankaram’s writing is lush, inventive, and dramatic, seamlessly slipping between the genres, and the staging, choreography, and projected imagery do it justice in the appropriately dark and industrial HERE main theatre (holds 100, capacity crowd). Her portrayal of the poor-little-rich girl is at once ditzy (when she speaks) and noble (when she sings), highlighting the dichotomies of her character and her struggles, once she discovers a wrong that shatters her protective bubble, to Do The Right Thing. She and Miller are the stand-outs of this production, along with the behind-the-scenes artists. The other voices: Muchmore’s reedy tenor, Fand’s mezzo, Fleming’s baritone, and those of the supporting cast sung by the multi-winds, were serviceable and had moments.

(more…)

MIKE GOLD: The Batman Family Feud

I’m enjoying the back-and-forth between my fellow columnists Marc Alan Fishman and Michael Davis regarding DC’s New 52, but now it has come to the point where I must give Marc, ComicMix’s own Snapper Carr, some love.

(Hey, Snapper, just swallow it. We’ve already got Johnny DC writing here. No kidding.)

For a third of a year Marc has been singing the praises of the New 52 Batman to me. I’ve been reluctant to read it despite the fact that I enjoy friends’ recommendations and I respect Marc’s opinions. I’d respect Michael Davis’s opinions as well, if he ever had any. No, my problem is that Batman was one of my favorite characters until the rank and file turned him into a guy who was just as psychotic as his cadre of evildoers. That created a domino effect: the villains became psychoticer. This is the exact opposite of what happened to Mickey Mouse in the 1930s.

Fans of this stuff attacked me as an old fart who wanted the Bat to be like the 1960s teevee show. No; I’m older than that. I grew up a precocious reader during the waning days of Bill Finger and Dick Sprang and stories that were geared to a solidly pre-adolescent audience. If I had my druthers I would wipe out the past 10+ years of Bat-tales and go back to the approach best presented by (in alphabetical order) Adams, Aparo, Englehart, O’Neil, Robins and Rogers, et al. Barring that, I’d take my lead from the Batman of the animated show as professed by (in alphabetical order) Burnett, Dini, and Timm, et al. Of course, some of those efforts were adaptations of the works of Adams, Aparo, Englehart, O’Neil, Robins and Rogers, et al.

Besides, I thought “the New 52 Batman” referred to the number of Batsmen who currently inhabit DC’s new universe. How many Batmen are there today? I have no idea. I can’t count how many were there the day the previous DCU got itself ignored. Evidently, somebody thought Photoshop was for ideas and concepts as well as art. So, with all this hoo-hah between Messrs. Davis and Fishman, I decided to read the New 52 Batman. Keep in mind: I italicized “Batman,” so I’m onlyreferring to the Batman title per se. I have yet to read Detective Comics, Batwing, Wolverbat, or Batpool.

Damn. Score one for our Earth-ComicMix Snapper Carr. Batman has a Batman that isn’t an asshole. That, alone, goes a long way to restoring my faith in the character, DC Comics, and the concept of “the child is father to the man.” Like the rest of us, I have no clue how this ties into that which may or may not have gone before, but Bats is more human and less lunatic. He – or rather Bruce Wayne – is the subject of a deadly conspiracy by something called the Court of Owls (please don’t tell me that’s going to tie into the forthcoming and ill-advised Watchmen prequel). He seems a bit high-techier than he was before, and Alfred has less need to play off of Batty’s psychoses and is a better character for that.

Most important, the Batman Batman is a hero. Hero is a term of respect we bestow upon those who have earned it. A hero need not be a nice guy, but he/she/it should be, at heart, a decent human being. So far, after four issues, this Batman is a hero.

Thanks, Marc. Michael… your turn. Make a heartfelt recommendation.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

Watchmen 2: Watch Harder

Oh No: “Watchmen 2” is Quickening

Watchmen 2: Watch HarderThe rumors have been kicking around for a while, and we’ve even made jokes about it in the past, but now Rich Johnston reports that there’s a possibility that there may be more stories set in the Watchmen universe.

I was told before New York Comic Con that it might be back on and that DC were drawing up a wishlist of creators for a series of Watchmen prequel comics.. Well, I’ve now heard a lot more. Darwyn Cooke’s name is at the very top, linked to drawing two mini-series and writing another, followed by the likes of JMS, JG Jones, Andy Kubert and Brian Azzarello. Whether or not they have been approached, I don’t know, and no one’s talking, but it gives you an idea of the scale. I would also expect Dave Gibbons and John Higgins to be involved in some way.

via The Return Of Watchmen 2 Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors.

In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends…