Friday, January 30, 2009

In Depth Final Crisis

I said a little bit about Final Crisis #7, but I wanted to go a little more in depth on my thoughts about the series as a whole. There were some questions about my declaration that I "liked" issue number seven. Well I did like issue seven. But I also didn't like it.

The final issue had a lot to like. It had President Superman, Wacky Japanese Guy, Aquaman, the Zoo Crew, Flash Facts, and 50 Supermen. Those were the panels that made me smile. But those were just a few pieces of one part of the series. As a whole? Final Crisis was a bit of a mess.

It seemed to have a lot of those Grant Morrison "let's throw crazy shit in and see how people flip out" moments. But by and large, it didn't make a lot of sense. Or it makes sense, but only to the fevered brain of one deranged Scotsman. And that's okay. Those are the kind of stories he wants to write and there is a place for them.

But are those the sorts of stories we need in our big blockbuster crossovers? (if we need big blockbuster crossovers at all!) As much as I am loathe to compare my beloved DC to their competition I'm afraid must. Because sometimes you have to give some tough love.

Let's compare some of Marvel and DC's recent crossovers. Now we're not going to compare the minutiae because for these purposes those things aren't important. Civil War may have been a mess as well, but the point I want to make here is about ease of transmission. To the casual reader (if he or she exists), to the lapsed fan, and to the outside world. Consider these sentences:

Civil War tells the story of two factions who fight over the right of the government to regulate super-heroes.

Infinite Crisis tells the story of a number of refugees from a twenty year-old series, two of whom are alternate universe Supermen who along with an alternate universe Lex Luthor decide that our world's heroes are corrupt because they let magic get out of control, chaos erupt on a distant planet, villains unite, and Batman builds a crazy satellite.

You see how complicated that is? I haven't even scratched the surface of Infinite Crisis there. You cannot describe it in one sentence. The title doesn't really mean anything. Civil War -- much to my chagrin -- does a better job of telling you exactly what it is in once sentence. And in a single two word title.

Next up:

Secret Invasion tells the story of a secret invasion of Earth by shapeshifting aliens.

Final Crisis tells the story of a war among the gods which leads to the universe falling apart and... I got nothing. I can't do it. Maybe if I threw in the word "metatextual" it would make sense...

This is the problem with what DC has been doing with its crossovers. They are far to insular. They cannot be understood without being steeped in years of DC history. I won't pretend that I don't like that stuff sometimes. I'm one of a select number (probably including all you reading this) who do know that DC history. But a casual reader couldn't pick up Final Crisis and keep his head on straight. He or she could pick up Secret Invasion and know what it's about simply by reading the cover.

Now, this whole thing has very little bearing on the actual quality of the stories. Final Crisis wasn't my cup of tea, but I thought Infinite Crisis was a rollicking good yarn. And I understand that Civil War was as much of a mess in the eyes of some as Final Crisis turned out to be. But again, you can pick it up and know what it's about by reading the cover.

If DC wants to recover some of that market share that Marvel dominates they need to reevaluate the way they do big crossovers. Maybe Blackest Night is a step in the right direction. After all, "Blackest Night tells the story of dead super-heroes rising from their graves to take revenge upon the living" is both concise and kickass.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Night Thinking LXXXII

This is Thursday Night Thinking, and here's an interesting thought for you:

Try and guess which DC comic gave us these fantastic thoughts. For bonus points guess which panel made me giggle like a Japanese schoolgirl...


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Re: Final Crisis #7




Seriously, what?

I have no idea what just happened there.

But I liked it.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The "Brave" and the "Bold"

Many have informed me that a "Doctor Polaris" made an appearance on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This was already known to me, as I spend much time each day googling my own name.

I watched eagerly and was mildly disappointed to find my animated doppelganger had very little screen time. My thoughts are thus:

Pros: My entry into the stage was glorious. nothing could be more impressive than magnetically blowing a door off of its hinges. I routinely enter and exit buildings in this fashion.

Additionally, the dialogue was more than suitable. "Fools," I said. "Your bullets are useless against my awesome power to repel." That sounds exactly like something I would say.

Cons: Gold is not magnetic! If those has been blocks of steel that scene would have been plausible and likely. But gold is not magnetic!

Also, I would never wear a helmet that hides my hair. It deserves to be free so that it may be tousled by the wind.

Gold is not magnetic!

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Life Imitates

So you may or may not be aware that there has been some "news" in the "real" world. There was an election and then an inauguration and then as I understand it change!

One bit of change is that the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba is being closed. As all things do, this has proceeded to cause some people to "freak out." Among them is House Minority Leader John Boehner. Boehner's brilliant idea is thus: send them to Alcatraz.

Number one: what's Boehner been smoking? Alcatraz has practically been a national monument ever since Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery saved San Francisco from disaster. And secondly: stop stealing ideas from comics!

As you all well know, Alcatraz in the DCU was not long ago converted into a supermax prison for the express purpose of housing super-villains. Which also begs the question of whether or not Boehner thinks Khalid Sheik Mohammed possesses some sort of amazing super-power.

Still, it doesn't really fly. I mean, we've safely contained Charles Manson in a regular prison for quite awhile. And he's got those Doctor Psycho mind-control powers going on...


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Night Thinking LXXXI

Welcome to the 81st installment of Thursday Night Thinking! (At least I think it's 81st... These Roman numerals are tricky!)

Wherein the great Len Wen supplies us with thinking... And impossibly powerful robo-bugs!

God bless that man!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You Do Not Mess With the Stranger

Seriously. Don't even try. I mean, his mortal soul is long since condemned by an authority far greater than yours.

What are you gonna do?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Power of Change

Greetings once again, loyal readers. If you are like many you have spent the day celebrating the inauguration of the new President. That is well and good. But why does President Obama deserve such adulation?

Indeed, he has inspired millions and brought renewed hope to the world. But have I not done the same? So many have read my books and bought my CDs and understood the power of magnetism! Am I not deserving of a piece of multi-hued street art to celebrate my greatness?

I am.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

April Solicits

Sorry about taking the weekend off... I'm caught in one of those disturbing turns where I have nothing to do each day so I do nothing each day. And it creeps into the things I usually do.

Luckily, the DC April solicitations are out, giving me something to talk about! Quite a month it's looking to be. Final Crisis will be over, Battle for the Cowl will be humming along, and Trinity will be winding up. And to top it all, Blackest Night is right on the horizon. Oh, and don't forget The Flash: Rebirth.

Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
Cover by Andrew Robinson
“Deathtrap” Part 3 of 5! Straight from the pages of VIGILANTE #5, the team gets roped into Jericho’s insane plot to take out both Titans teams. But how can they fight back against a menace who can possess their bodies? Continued in TITANS #13, on sale in May!
On sale April 29 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Dammit. I hate it when a book I do buy (such as Teen Titans) crosses over with books I do not buy and have no intention of buying. Am I going to have to buy them anyway? Am I going to have to sneak a peek in the store? Will I have to imagine what happens?

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art and cover by Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott
“The Deep” part 3 of 6! While The Outsiders find their hands full dealing with a new group called the Thrashers, a battle of the minds between Jack Ryder and his Creeper persona shakes the group to its core. And in the shadows, The Insiders make an offer to Deathstroke that he can't refuse. All this plus Owlman tries proving himself to the team!
On sale April 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Don't ask me why, but I loves me some Outsiders. I only wonder if Batgirl will still be around... She's on the cover of Battle for the Cowl, but I don't think she's in here anymore. Is Halo a fair trade off?

Written by Kevin VanHook
Art by Don Kramer & Jay Leisten
Cover by Guillem March
The Calculator will go to any lengths to save the life of his daughter Wendy – even if it means using remnants of the Anti-Life Equation to do so! But when Oracle intervenes, she soon finds out that the Calculator has been killing Internet hackers from across the globe to get his hands on the Equation, and the final name on his list is hers!
On sale April 15 • 2 of 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
I'm really torn about whether or not to buy the Oracle mini> I'm not real familiar with VanHook's work, but I love Don Kramer. If they can manage to do an Oracle/Calculator story that hasn't already been done (no easy feat) I'll give it a whirl.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver
Through the decades, many heroes have taken the mantle of The Flash, but they all ride the lightning that crackles in the wake of the greatest hero the DC Universe has ever known, the man who sacrificed himself to save the Multiverse: Barry Allen!
Following the events of FINAL CRISIS, Barry has beaten death and returned to a fast-paced world that a man out of time wouldn’t recognize. Or is it a world that is only just now catching up? All the running he’s done before was just a warmup for the high-speed race that he and every other Flash must now run, because even though one speedster might have beaten death, another has just turned up dead! From Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, the visionaries responsible for the blockbuster GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH and THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR, comes the start of an explosive and jaw-dropping epic that will reintroduce to the modern age the hero who single-handedly birthed the Silver Age of comics! DC history will be made, and the Flash legacy will be redefined!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Ethan Van Sciver), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Ethan Van Sciver). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale April 1 • 1 of 5 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Here's the big one, folks. Geoff Johns did the impossible in making me tolerate Hal Jordan. He's got an easier road here, but not by much. Here's hoping it's half as successful as the first Rebirth... And leaves all the Flashes alive.


Friday, January 16, 2009

The 700 Club

This is Title Undetermined's 700th post. You'd think I'd have come up with a title by now...

I know I've said this before... But I can't believe I've kept this up this long. Most days I come in here and write about comics and people -- most of whom I've never met in person -- read what I have to say. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I guess I'll keep doing it, title or no. Some things never change. To celebrate that, here's a picture of Batgirl breaking a man's arm:

Thank God for the little things in life...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Night Thinking LXXX

You think Grant Morrison's off his rocker? Try staring at an the cover of an issue Oof Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane. Them thoughts'll make you go blind.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Most Excellent

Sometimes Grant Morrison gets it right.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

The Governor is a Super-Villain

Like nearly thirteen million Americans, I live in Illinois. We the people of the state of Illinois are under siege. We are in the grip of a madman who can only be described as a crazed super-villain. I speak of course of Milorad Blagojevich!

With every passing day Blago reaches new heights of comic book super-villainy. He's like something out of the Golden Age. He defiantly declares that no one can defeat him. He claims schemes are really for the public good. He hides behind innocent civilians who have been mesmerized by his powers. And he keeps running his mouth and quoting British poets.

Like most super-villains Blago started small. He blackmails a major metropolitan newspaper. He holds a children's hospital hostage. Then he moves on to bigger things like scheming to sell a senate seat on his way to the presidency. Like a Golden Age bad guy he delights in his villainy and takes every opportunity to flaunt it in public. And like all super-villains he seems impossible to stop.

Illinois is under siege. We the people cannot last much longer beneath the yoke of this 1940's-style mastermind. We need help. We need a hero.

Save us, Superman!


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thursday Night Thinking LXXIX

Once again we find ourselves at Thursday Night Thinking! Not only that, but we find ourselves going back to the fantastic well that is Final Crisis Secret Files. This week? Superman's thoughts:

Thank you, Len Wein. There's such a dearth of good thinking these days...

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Secret Six #5

Six great things about Secret Six #5!

1. The moral code of Bane.

2. What grenades are for.

3. Deadshot's idea of what's amusing.

4. "Get the Shark! Take the Shark out!"

5. Scandal says "please."

6. The expected, yet entirely unexpected identity of Junior.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Battle for the Cowl

There's something I've been wondering about when it comes to this Battle for the Cowl thing. Writers and editors have been talking about how (and I'm paraphrasing here) "when criminals discover Batman is gone things go to hell."

Basically I think they're saying that Batman serves as a deterrent to crime more than anything. There are plenty of costumed heroes running around Gotham, but it's Batman that really makes the baddies stay in at night.

The question then becomes: what about the year of 52? Batman was gone for a whole year. Heck, not only Batman but Nightwing and Robin. And I don't think Batgirl was around either. Basically the only people there were Batwoman and Harvey Dent.

But as far as I can tell the crime rate didn't shoot entirely through the roof. At least no more than usual. Apparently Harvey Dent (Harvey Dent?) did a decent enough job of keeping things running smoothly with the help of Kathy Kane.

What I'm asking is: do they really expect us to buy the fact that everything is going to fall apart now? Or is this different? Is it a matter of the 52 period being "Batman's gone but watch yourself because he's coming back" while Battle for the Cowl is "Batman's dead, feel free to go crazy"?

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Es Verdad

Know this: I am pleased. I am not entirely pleased, but by and large the comics this week featuring iterations of "Polaris" have pleased me.

The comics in question were Trinity -- which featured an alternate timeline where I, the true Doctor Polaris yet reign -- and Blue Beetle, starring "Doctor" Polaris M. B. A.. In Trinity audiences were thrilled by brilliant dialogue and a raw, emotional display of magnetic power. In this, I was pleased.

Blue Beetle, unfortunately, was not nearly as appealing. Is it possible that that M. B. A. could keep the color of his costume from changing from issue to issue? Perhaps even page to page? And know this, Mister Polaris: I do not need sympathy or tribute from the likes of you.

I will give my pathetic successor some due: his dialoguing is superb. He knows what to say and his word balloons outclass all others. He thinks big (in the aforementioned Green Lantern murdering). But nonetheless, Mr. Nichol, your appearance in Blue Beetle shows how much you pale in comparison to the true Polaris:

Yo hablo español.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Thank You

I just want to thank Alfred. Do you know when the last time I was mentioned by name in a comic was? It's been a long time. But this week in Batman: Cacophony I got mentioned by name.

It was Alfred who mentioned me. He's always been a nice guy. But it was Kevin Smith who wrote the script. So I guess I should be thanking him too. Still, would it have killed him to give me a walk on? I'd even take a flashback...

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Not Pleased

I haven't been pleased with the way Superman has been acting lately. Yes, he's done some things right (like demanding that Alura hand over the Kryptonian murderers). But he's been far too willing to bend over backwards on behalf of the Kandorians. He's been spending all his time focused on Krypton. He hasn't been paying a whole lot of attention to Earth.

I guess I can understand how he feels somewhat. But I don't think anyone can really understand it in a way that isn't theoretical. None of us have ever been the last of a civilization that suddenly came back from the dead.

But I just don't feel that that really excuses the way he's been acting. He hasn't been much of a leader. He's been flying around telling people what to do. And when they don't do that he tells them again. Superman is smarter than that. At least I thought he was smarter than that.

Thank God Earth's other heroes are picking up the slack. Superman doesn't seem willing to acknowledge what a potential threat the Kandorians are. Someone should be grabbing him and yelling "Think, man! Think!"

I've never been so happy to see Zatanna...

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Thursday Night Thinking LXXVIII

Aaaaaand we're back!

It's been a while, hasn't it? I've been through Christmas, New Year's, and Gastrointestintis. One of these things is not like the other. That one nearly ruined the other two. Guess which one?

But that's all behind me. It's a new year. A new dawn. And that means fifty-two more weeks of comics and Thursday Night Thinking!

Really, is there anything more classic than the Flash spinning really fast?

I didn't think so.

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