Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ha ha ha.

I read three comics today: Batman #650, Gotham Knights #74, and Legends of the Dark Knight #200. They were all pretty good, and they all addressed -- either directly or indirectly -- the question of why Batman doesn't just kill the Joker and be done with it.

Of course, none of them were able to provide a satisfactory explanation. There really is no logical reason why Batman shouldn't do the deed (or if he really can't bring himself to kill, why he doesn't let someone else do it). The only real reason why the Joker won't die is completely out of continuity. The Joker is just too good of a character to finish off.

And he's not just a good character in a story sense (though he is that, especially if used sparingly). He's a good character in the money sense. He's probably the most recognizable comic book villain in the world. No one but Batman has such an iconic adversary. The Joker's rictus is something that everyone is familiar with on sight. And that translates into sales both in and out of the comics.

What I'm saying is that they should stop trying to rationalize it in story. It always comes off sounding hollow (as Jason makes clear in Batman #650). They just need to use the Joker to his best effect with a wink and a nod and no mention of the fact that no one has tried to off him yet. That's much better than a "Batman, why don't you kill the Joker?" story every few months.

Monday, February 27, 2006

One Year Earlier, Part 7

Wow, it's been awhile since I've done one of these. And now I'm way behind! One Year Later is only days away. That means 52 will be hot on its heels! Must finish pseudo-retrospective before time runs out!

33. Monster Mash: Lex Luthor changes the face of humanity forever through a series of experments on Monster Island.



Where the heck is Monster Island? Why haven't I heard about it before? Oh well. What this seems to indicate is that Lex Luthor is definitely being returned to his Pre-Crisis roots as a full on mad scientist. And surprisingly, I'm okay with that.

34. Family Drama: A rift forms between Steel and his niece when she makes a decision affectng the entire DCU.

Hmm... So Natasha Irons does something that will affect the entire DCU? That seems far-fetched. Maybe she decidse to join up with the evil version of the Justice League. Or maybe she kills someone. Someone important. Not much to go on here.

35. Black Adam: Choosing a Side: Black Adam has walked the line between hero and villain for the bast 3,200 years. 52 will provide the most in-depth look yet at what motivates this complex character and his sense of honor

Oh goody. More Black Adam is always okay with me. He really is a fascinating character. At least he has been since Goyer and Johns went to work on him in JSA. And evil Captain Marvel isn't all that interesting. But what Black Adam has become is far beyond that. 52 will probably determine once and for all if he is hero... Or villain.

36. Rising Star: Don Kramer came out of nowhere to wow fans as artist on JSA for the past two years -- now he'll get to ply his knack for drawing sprawling casts on an even bigger stage.

Always good to see more of Mr. Kramer's work. I bet his Question will be awesome.

37. The Main Man: Is Lobo going back to basics? We've heard whispers, but it's too soon to say...

And I've heard that Grant Morrison is writing the Lobo bits. I think that's all that needs to be said about that.

38. Mr. Versatile: Greg Rucka can write anything from superheroes to comedy to espionage drama, and he'll be tested in every area over the course of 52.

Greg Rucka really is one of the best writers in comics today. He managed to tackle Wonder Woman beautifully, and she's widely regarded as one of the most difficult characters to write in any medium.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The End of an Era

You should know that the reason I haven't been posting is because I got that online role-playing game City of Heroes. So I've been superheroing on my own the past couple of weeks. I'm sure whatever slim readership I may have had has vanished into the ether. C'est la vie.

Anyway, I did find time out of my busy schedule to watch the series finale of Justice League Unlimited. JLU was in many ways the culmination of the Bruce Timm DCU Animated Universe. It began with Batman, grew to Superman, took a detour into Batman Beyond, and then absolutely exploded with Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. And now it's over.

Its ending brings with it the end of that animated universe. As far as I know, there are no plans to to make any further series set within that continuity (though I do hear that there will be a Legion of Superheroes series before too much longer). This of course, makes me sad. Because the series I've mentioned represent the best of what American animation has to offer.

All too often American animation is eclipsed by its Japanese counterpart. Anime is increasingly popular in the West. In many ways this parallels the incresed popularity of manga at the expense of more traditional Western comics.

Of course, I don't think the cancellation of Justice League Unlimited represents an end of American imagination. But it is the end of something that I've been watching grow over years. Batman: The Animated Series got me into superheroes. And that's what got me into comics. So I'm saddened by its end... Though I have hope that we'll see more in the future.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I present to you the face of our new Aquaman:

Yes, it's true. According to this site this dude will be playing Arthur Curry on the upcoming series Mercy Reef.

What do you think? Is this good? Or is it a tragedy for all things?

Oh, and Ving Rhames is gonna be in the series too. As a lighthouse keeper. Insanity!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Love Gail Simone

I'm just going to come right out and say it. I really love Gail Simone. Here we see her being clever and witty and getting me even more excited for Secret Six than I was before. Which is hard to do, because after the hardcore rockingness that was Villains United, how could I not be excited about Secret Six?

It may appear that I am gushing like a starstruck fanboy right now. That's because I am. I was geeking out to the max after reading the afore linked interview. I just love the stuff that Gail Simone does. Birds of Prey continues to be one of the coolest books on the stand. Pure cool. And not cool like 90's cool. I'm talking old school cool. Y'all know what I'm talking about.

The stuff that Gail Simone writes is really, really fun. It makes me smile big, goofy, toothy grins. There aren't a lot of things that make me do that anymore. And that's always something that I enjoy. The pure fun in her comics makes me happy. Being happy is fun. You see where I'm going?

So in conclusion, I love Gail Simone, look forward to the eggs, and must consider not stalking her, as that would be unfair.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Death to the Golden Age"?

Whew... It's been awhile since I've posted. That's due to the fact that I recently got the online game City of Heroes. Needless to say, it's been consuming me. But that's neither here nor there.

Regarding the title of this post, I should assure you that I do not hate the Golden Age. Far from it. I love every tasty morsel of it. The Golden Age is a delightful feast that I will enjoy until I die, sprawled out like a beached whale.

Hmm... My similes and metaphors may be out of hand. I digress.

What I really wanted to talk about is something I see a lot on the ComicBloc message board (see sidebar) that I frequent. A lot of fans there are decrying what they see as the gutting of their favorite Golden Agers. They place this blame squarely on Dan DiDio, claiming that he hates the Golden Age and wants to see it destroyed.

I think that those people may be a little off base. What DiDio said is that eighty year olds shouldn't be running around fighting crime unless there's a damn good reason for it. And he's right. But to prove my point let's take a look at a few things (warning: spoilers to follow). First, the preeminent Golden Agers:

The Flash: Still going strong after all these years. Stars in JSA and co-starred in JSA Classified the past two months. Covers prove that he survives the Crisis.

Wildcat: See The Flash. The same circumstances a appy.

Green Lantern: Still kicking, and playing a major role in three (!) books come the One Year Later jump.

Obviously Dan DiDio hates these characters. He also must hate Ma Hunkle and Rex Tyler, two Golden Agers who were recently returned from "presumed death."

Ah, but what these people are really upset about is not the death of Golden Age characters. It's the death of the sometimes tacked on legacy characters from Infinity Inc., a series that came long after the Golden Age ended. Here we have a number of characters -- often only tangentally connected to the Golden Age -- being killed left and right.

The foremost example of course is Jade. But it could be that Dan DiDio simply hated Jade. That's not hard to do. I hated Jade. Lots of people hated Jade.

Then there's Hector and Lyta Hall, two characters so pointless that not even Geoff Johns knew what to do with them. Good riddance. (As as aside, Hector's removal from the stage leaves things open for a more Golden Age style Dr. Fate to move in. Truly they must hate the Golden Age!)

Of course, for every Infinity Inc. character that's been destroyed in recent years there are a spate of Golden Age legacy characters that are being rejuvinated, created, or brought back to their roots. Just look at Obsidian, Manhunter, and the Spectre.

So that's all I really have to say. DC doesn't hate the Golden Age. They're using it more now than they have since, well, the Golden Age (and incidentally much more than when the Multiverse was around).

Now since you're done with this post go read Ragnell's blog. She just got back and her blog is a lot better than mine anyway...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Were You Aware...

Were you aware that famous Batman scribe Dennis O'Neil was also the man who gave the even more famous Optimus Prime his name?

Now you are aware!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Love is in the Air

I don't care what the rest of y'all think. I'm glad it finally happened:
Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Process

This is more me related that comics related, but we all have to be a little self-centered sometimes. Though it does relate ever so slightly to comics, in that it has to do with mine.

Anyway, I was looking back at some of my sketches from about a year ago. And I was struck as to how completely utterly awful they are. And the scariest thing is that I thought they were really good at the time. Is it possible for someone to improve that much in that span of time?

I often wonder where I'll be in another year. I should say that I've reached a tipping point. I'm at the point where I'm good enough that I now know when my drawings suck. I think that's quite an accomplishment.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Poor Bushido

Not only does he lose his, uh, torso, he's also reduced to talking like a shy female librarian.

I don't mean to brag, but I do speak a fair bit of Japanese. And reading the two panels from Teen Titans #32 where Bushido speaks in Japanese was a bit disconcerting for me. Take note of the way that Bushido is speaking in this panel:

Now you see, Japanese people don't really speak that way. Sure, if you opened up a textbook and looked up how to say "Where is the Justice League" it would probably give you "Justice League wa dokoa desu ka?" But almost nobody would actually say it. Unless they were female and trying to be really polite. As a young male, Bushido would be more curt and rough. He'd say something like "Justice League doko?" or "JLA wa?"

Now don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to give Geoff Johns a hard time. Obviously he doesn't speak Japanese. And that's okay. I give him props for trying. I just wanted to mention how off it seems (and let Geoff Johns know that I'm always available for Japanese dialogue coaching).

Oh, and it's probably best that I don't get started on this panel:


Saturday, February 11, 2006

I Shouldn't Have Been Worried

Not with Grant Morrison on the case. Here I was, all concerned about the apparent destruction of DC's Asian characters. But there's Grant Morrison, doing his crazy thing and creating entire teams of Chinese and Japanese superheroes.

I love you Grant Morrison.

Friday, February 10, 2006

One Year Earlier, Part 6

Here we are again, inching closer to 52. Another batch of "One Year Laters" this week. Plus the answers to some of the tantalizing questions that I've already failed to answer (hero getting married, anyone?). But enough self pity; on with the countdown!

28. Fortune & Glory: One character's long-fought quest for respect comes to an end when they become the beloved leader of their own country.

Hmm... This is truly a conundrum. We already have a character who is the leader of their own country. But if rumors are true, Black Adam may soon be without his beloved Kandhaq. So who else could be getting their own country? Will it be hero or villain. I honestly have no clue.

29. Ralph Gets Some: Mr. Dibny finds himself getting busy with somebody other than his beloved Sue. Who's the lucky lady (or fella)?

I'm striking out tonight. Again, no thoughts. No clue other than that it will probably be someone that we haven't seen before. I can't see Ralph hooking up with an established hero. It just doesn't seem like his style.

30. Fate: With Hector Hall out of the picture for the time being, someone new will step up to the golden mantle of Dr. Fate and become the world's most powerful sorceror.

It seems that they're going the Kyle Rayner route with the new Dr. Fate. The good doctor will be chosen -- appropriately enough -- by fate. Again, we won't be seeing the new one until 52 begins.

I know I've said that a lot, but I think that with this series they can afford to set things up long haul. We may see the new Dr. Fate in the very first issue. But we won't know his (or her) destiny for a long while. With a weekly series, they can afford to build things slowly. Like anime.

31. DC Encyclopedia: Nobody knows the DCU better than Mark Waid, and he'll be putting every ounce of his trivia knowledge to good use redefining everybody from Superman to Ambush Bug.

Sounds good to me. I was hoping that 52 would cover the entire breadth of the DCU. Why, I even...

Wait a second... Did they say Ambush Bug?

32. From Beyond the Grave: Having seen Superman, Green Arrow, and now Hal Jordan return from the dead, a former Justice Leaguer attempts to resurrect an old friend.

Now here's an easy one. Dead guy: Ted Kord. Former Leaguer: Booster Gold. Nothing else makes sense. Now move along.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Does Brad Meltzer Get It?

I'm worried that he doesn't. When I first heard that he was going to be writing JLA (actually "Justice League of America," but I'm not going to type that every time). I was pretty interested. When I heard that Ed Benes would be the artist I was very interested.

But a little while ago I was flipping through the issue of Wizard where he discussed what characters he'd like in the League. I took another look, as I couldn't remember where he'd placed Martian Manhunter. When I saw where he did place J'onn, I was appalled.

Brad Meltzer placed J'onn J'onzz in the longshot category, and had this to say:

"Believe it or not, has not always been my guy. I don't see him as the center point of the League."

To me, that statement says something about Brad Meltzer. It says that Brad Meltzer doesn't get the Justice League.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter is the JLA. He's its heart and soul. The Justice League exists because of J'onn J'onzz. I get that. Hell, even Chuck Austen gets that. How can Brad Meltzer not?

Look at these last few issues of JLA. The League is falling apart. Piece by piece it's collapsing. Say that it's the Trinity's fault if you want to. But the League has survived their absence in the past. The true deathblow to this incarnation of the League was that assault on the Watchtower -- which led to Martian Manhunter's abduction.

As long as there is a Martian Manhunter, there will be a Justice League. But can there be a Justice League without Martian Manhunter? I'm not so sure...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

He's Back

Come now, did anyone really believe that we'd seen the last of the Cyborg Superman? I'll admit that he hasn't really had a good appearance since The Death and Return of Superman. But what an entrance he made. Terrifying in countenance and maniacal in schemes, he was more than a match for the Man of Steel. And the Emerald Gladiator as well.

We recently saw Hal Jordan go toe to toe with Mongul II. Jordan's rage was palpable. Here he was, facing the son of the monster who was the secondary schemer behind the destruction of his beloved Coast City. Even that far removed from the true mastermind we could see Hal Jordan's anguish. Imagine what will happen when he comes face to face with the true villain behind the Coast City tragedy.

Kudos again to Geoff Johns for taking a villain who has lapsed and making him cool again. Though I guess in this case -- seeing as we haven't actually read a word of the issue -- it's brilliant artist Simone Bianchi who deserves the credit. One bit of cove art and I'm already sold. That image is beautiful and terrifying -- just the way villains should be depicted.

Some, of course, will balk at the Cyborg being back in the Superman costume (something that was probably Geoff Johns' idea). I say to those detractors that this is how it should be. By wearing the face and colors of Superman, the Cyborg becomes -- in a Bizzaro style -- a perverse mirror image of the world's greatest hero. It's the sickening irony of it that makes the Cyborg so effective visually. Without that costume he becomes nothing more than another Metallo. But with it, he becomes a truly frightening and effective villain.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

One Year Earlier, Part 5

Ah, the first real covers for 52 have been released. It's about time. One Year Later is almost upon us. I've already hit the "final" issues of three books this month. I guess my mind hasn't been processing the fact that it's February... But enough talk: on with the countdown!

23. Wedding Bells: One of the DCU's most eligible bachelors finally meets the super-woman who can tame him enough to settle down.

Two possibilities here as far as I'm concerned -- and neither of them who you probably think. I'll say it right out: Bruce Wayne is not getting married. He's not marrying Catwoman, he's not marrying anyone.

Who is getting married? It's either going to be Oliver Queen or Hal Jordan. Why would it be one of them? Precisely because they seem the least likely. DC's doing all they can to pull the rug out from under us. Bonus: if Ollie gets married it won't be to Dinah Lance.

24. The Mad Genius: Writer Grant Morrison will be unleashed upon the DCU once more, bringing with him the seemingly endless fountain of new concepts and characters he displayed in JLA and Seven Soldiers.

Oh, this is a very good thing. It took me awhile, but I just love Morrison's stuff. Seven Soldiers freakin' rules. As long as I see the new Shining Knight and Bulleteer at some point during 52, I'll be happy.

25. Final Farewell: Some members of the team Donna Troy took into space during Infinite Crisis won't be back by the first issue of 52, and some won't be coming back at all.

Please be Donna Troy, please be Donna Troy. I just want that bitch to die.

26. Wind of Change: A new Red Tornado unlike anything that's come before will ride the eye of the storm into 52 and possibly beyond.

This is unsettling, as Reddy is one of my favorite characters. Still, I could totally handle a new Red Tornado. Especially a female one. In fact, that's what I predict. DC seems to be constantly expanding their ranks and adding strong female characters (of course, the also seem to be killing some off, but that's another story entirely). So yeah, I think the next Red Tornado will be a girl. I hope she's hot.

27. Booster Gold: The Big Time at Last: Booster Gold was considered a joke as a member of the Justice League International, but 52 sees him take a shot as an A-list hero.

Good luck with that, Booster. It seems that something is going to happen during Infinite Crisis that will really boost Booster's profile (I can't believe I just typed that).

But his chances as an "A-list hero" are doomed. If what we've seen is true, Booster hasn't learned anything. We see him shilling for corporations and playing up his status as a hero. That's not what heroes do. Until Booster Gold starts doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing, he'll never be a real hero.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Single Panel

Comics continue to be a unique medium. The combination of words and pictures can be exceptionally powerful. Many times I'll come across a single panel and find myself staring at it, in awe of how perfectly the pieces come together into a coherent whole. This image, from Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's JLA is just such a panel:

One determined look and two sentences are all that are needed to prove that Superman is still the world's greatest hero. I could go on and on analyzing why this panel is so great, but I don't need to. It speaks for itself.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Fatal Five

Recently, the Great Scipio spoke about the terror that is The Emerald Eye of Ekron. I had just watched the most recent episode of Justice League Unlimited, and had been thinking about The Fatal Five myself. And I just have one thing to say to Mark Waid: your Legion of Superheroes is pretty kick ass. But it needs more Fatal Five.

Scipio's not the only one who finds these guys scary. Though I'm a relative latecomer to the world of comics, from the very beginning I recognized the pure villainous power represented by by what the DC Comics Encyclopedia calls a "Quintet of Evil." For those who do not know, their membership consists of:

Tharok: His body destroyed, Tharok of Zadron was rebuilt into a powerful cyborg by the cutting edge technology of the 31st Century. Strong, incredibly intelligent, and unbelievably evil, Tharok would be dangerious alone. But he is joined by

Validus: A childlike giant under the complete control of Tharok, Validus wields a vast array of powers and can face off against even mightly Kryptonians. Validus stands with

Mano: Possessing anti-matter hands, Mano can disintegrate anything he touches. Metal, flesh, bone... All will melt into nothingness at the cruel hands of Mano! But even more terrifying than that killing touch is

The Persuader: Wielder of an an atomic axe that can cut through anything. Anything. But even the Persuader pales compared to

Emerald Empress: "The Eye! The EYE! THE EYE!"

So yeah, I love my villains scary. And they don't get any scarier than The Fatal Five So c'mon Mark Waid. Give us some Fatal Five. Please. I'll do whatever it takes. I'll mow your lawn. I'll paint your house. I'll scrub your toilets! Just give us The Fatal Five.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

For Your Entertainment

Circumstances have me being without a copy of the Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special. Since it directly concerns the fate of one of my favorite characters (several of them, actually) I have to stay away from blogs and news sites and message boards. And it kind of sucks. And since I have nothing else to talk about, I'll just take a picture from a recent comic and post it without major commentary:

Aww... Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

One Year Earlier, Part 4

Here we are again. I'm still trying to figure out what DC's going to do in 52. It's too far away!

18. Ralph Dibny: The Next Step: Nobody in the DCU has suffered more in the past two years than Elongated Man, but in 52 Ralph Dibny moves on in ways that will shock you.

I don't know... I think Tim Drake's suffering in the past two years has equaled (or exceeded) Ralph's. But what do I know?

As for the shocking: Ralph's going to get a new love interest. Number twenty-nine on this list speculates that it might be a guy, but I don't buy it. They're just trying to trick us. I imagine that Ralph will be hooking up with a new civilian love interest. He seems like the type to keep his work and love life separate...

19. On The Edge: A respected former member of the Justice League hits bottom and contemplates suicide. Will this beleagued Leaguer pull the trigger?

Heh. "Beleaguered Leaguer." Oh, Wizard. How clever you are.

Seriously, though: I think that this is going to be Ralph. He's one of the featured players, after all. He'll start 52 on the backslide, having trouble dealing with Sue's death. He'll hit bottom, and then someone new will come into his life.

20. Real Time: Like on TV's "24" this number-titled series unfolds week by week at the pace of real life, putting fans right in the thick of things.

This really is the most exciting aspect of the series for me. The idea of a comic that runs real time is just so cool. And the fact that I'll only have to wait a week between each issue is just fantastic. I've never been known for my patience...

21. Bad As He Wants To Be: With the White House way behind him, Lex Luthor gets back to basics and pushes the envelope, becoming more evil and ruthless than ever.

When they say "back to basics," they mean it. Lex is reverting to his old Silver Age persona of maniacal mad scientist. And though I have a general distaste for some of the things that existed in the Silver Age, this one I tend to applaud.

"Ruthless Businessman Lex" was a brilliant character reinterpretation. It's left its mark on pop culture. But it's also run its course in the comics. The evolution of Lex from buinessman towards a mad scientist type is fascinating. It adds lots of interesting layers to the character. Regardless, I can't wait to see what Lex Luthor cooks up.

22. Big Break: After years of toiling in relative obscurity, Chris Batista made his mark on JLA last year -- now he'll try to cement himself as one of the best artists around.

Nothing much to say about that. Though I look forward to seeing what he's got for us. His JLA stuff was aces. He can draw a wicked Despero.