Monday, January 31, 2011

Man of Steel?

It seems we have our Superman.

I'll admit, I don't know much (or really anything) about this Henry Cavill guy. He's been in a few different things, none of which I've seen. He might be a good actor -- or he may be terrible.

One thing I find interesting is that he's British. Now don't get me wrong; that doesn't bother me. I just think it's an interesting bit of trivia that our Batman (Christian Bale) and our Superman (Henry Cavill) are both from the United Kingdom.

I imagine some people might have a problem with that. It doesn't bother me that Superman is going to be played by a British actor. Others may not be so open minded. I remember how some people were getting bent out of shape when they didn't say "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" in Superman Returns.

But here's the thing: Superman may be an American, but he doesn't belong to America. Superman is far being than any one nation. There are fans of Superman all around the world, from Kansas to Canada to Japan. Superman belongs to the world, and anyone can be Superman.

Here's hoping Henry Cavill is the man for the job. Here's hoping he can be the Man of Steel.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Apparently Flashpoint is going to be a bigger deal than I thought.

When I first heard about Flashpoint I figured it was going to be a self-contained story in The Flash. Maybe a mini-series with repercussions for the rest of the DCU. But fifteen different mini-series? That's excessive even by Marvel standards.

I mean, we got a lot of minis along with Blackest Night. But for some reason that felt more like a big event than this feels like... At least right now. There was an extended build-up for a very long time to Blackest Night. But I don't think we've seen that with Flashpoint, and there are only a few months remaining until it kicks off.

Or maybe there has been build up. Maybe when Flashpoint hits we'll look back at things like Wonder Woman's history change and say "that was a key to Flashpoint."

But right now Flashpoint doesn't feel like anything. Like I said, Infinite Crisis and Blackest Night felt like big events. I'm not sure yet what Flashpoint is going to be...

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Night Thinking #174

Though I can barely find the energy I'm still prepared to bring you... Thursday Night Thinking!

I can't be the only one who finds this cover a little bit creepy...

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Death, Revisited

The guys in the comic book store today asked me if I was "excited to find out who dies." I just sort of looked at them then replied "have you seen my pull list?"

Unsurprisingly I don't care about which member of the Fantastic Four has or hasn't kicked the bucket. But then, I rarely care when a DC character dies either. Usually it isn't someone I care about, and if it is -- like say Batman -- I still can't muster up outrage/sorrow/interest.

I know this topic has been overdone (I almost said "done to death") but I it bears repeating again. Despite what the mainstream media seems to think whenever a comic book character dies, death in super-hero comics is not news. Death is simply another storytelling tool in this genre.

Now, we could argue on an on whether or not it's crass or clever or whatever. But the fact of the matter is that "death" is in the super-hero writer's toolbox. It's not going away and that's fine. And generally I think they use it sparingly enough for it not to get too crazy.

Still, at some point writers need to ask themselves if a major death is really the most effective tool for whatever story they want to write. There are so many tools that nobody uses any more. Just look at the Silver Age... Inter-dimensional criminals, alternate future doppelgangers, super-pets... It's a wide world out there.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wonder Woman Pilot

Most of you have probably already heard that NBC has ordered a pilot for a Wonder Woman series. I'd like to say that I never know what to expect with this kind of thing. But the truth is we always know what to expect. In fact, modern adaptations of comic book properties inevitably follow one simple rule:

Stray as far from the source material as possible.

Apparently this new "Wonder Woman" is a corporate executive in Los Angeles. Of course she is. Does anyone remember the short lived Birds of Prey? television series? Of course not. It was terrible. And it was terrible in large part because it strayed heavily from the source material.

Why do people in TV do this sort of thing? It's as though they don't understand basic things like cause and effect. If something survives for sixty or seventy years with certain core elements intact it must be because those core elements are unappealing to the masses. Right? Right?

Maybe this TV Wonder Woman will be good. I'd love for that to be see. It would be pretty amazing to see a modern Wonder Woman on the small screen. But even it if it is good, I'm not sure it will be Wonder Woman.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

A Quick Post

I'm going to be quite honest with you: I was pretty sick over the weekend and am not feeling fully recovered. As such, you can expect little more than a truncated post about the day's events.

For starters, does anyone really care that Wizard Magazine has shuttered its doors (I mean, other than the people who work there)? I think the demise of the Comics Code was a bigger deal than the death of Wizard. And the Comics Code has been a dead man walking for years.

Secondly: DC hasn't put up anything interesting on their blog today, which is kind of a drag. I always look forward to seeing interesting news and announcements. I guess I've been spoiled by the past few weeks of non-stop news. But today we just got a bunch of previews.

That said, one of those previews was very exciting. We got to see a little more of the Lex Luthor/The Joker encounter that was teased with a single page last week. And it's shaping up to be better and more interesting than I expected.

Also, am I the only person who'll be sad to when Robo-Lois inevitably goes away?

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Friday, January 21, 2011

R. I. P. Comics Code Authority

The Comics Code is dead.

In ancient days the Comics Code almost killed comic books. But it seems that in the the end comic books have emerged from the dust as the victor.

The comics code has been pretty toothless and irrelevant since 2001, when Marvel decided to stop putting it on their books. But it carried on -- albeit in a limited form -- as long as DC (and to a lesser extent Archie) continued to use it.

Earlier this week DC announced that they would stop putting the stamp on their comics. Archie followed suit today. DC is instituting its own ratings system and Archie never really needed such a system in the first place.

What does this all mean? Honestly not a whole lot. In all honesty, the death of the Comics Code will make it easier for people to decide what comics to pick up from a company like DC. The Code had become so toothless and nebulous that there was no way to really tell what its being on the cover boded for the inside of the book.

Still, finding the Comics Code stamp on the cover of your comics was an iconic part of reading for around fifty years. Heck, there have even been Comic Code t-shirts. But in the long run, I'm not sure many of us will miss it. Or even notice that it's gone.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Night Thinking #173

Tonight: a very special Jimmy Olsen Thursday Night Thinking!

Here's the thing: I've seen a lot of Jimmy Olsen stories over the years. This one? Not the wildest by a long shot. Not even in the top ten.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises

The next Christopher Nolan Batman movie is apparently going to be called The Dark Knight Rises. That seems like an odd title to me, as they already did a movie called The Dark Knight. You'd think they'd want keep the names clearly delineated.

Anyway, there's word about the film in the news today: apparently Nolan has picked someone to play Catwoman and -- get this -- Bane. Catwoman is not really all that big of a surprise. She's an integral part of the Batman mythos and it's not surprising that she'd show up before Nolan finishes his little "trilogy."

But Bane is a big surprise as far as casting news goes. I have some difficulty figuring out how he'll fit into the "realistic" world that Nolan has created. I could see Hugo Strange or Black Mask being made to work -- and I figured one of them was going to be the villain. In some ways Bane doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

That said, when you look at it another way it makes perfect sense. When we last left Nolan's Gotham City Batman was a fugitive. He's outside of the law, not trusted by anyone but Gordan. In the process of ostracizing himself Batman has cleaned up Gotham.

But what happens when someone comes from the outside to stir things up in Gotham City? Surely Gotham's "Bat-Man" has become famous by now. I can see Bane as a character who comes in from the outside to stir up trouble, forcing the people of the city to rally to Batman again.

Still, I can't help but think that Hugo Strange would make a better villain, considering the point we are in this story arc. It's very similar to where one of my all time favorite stories Prey starts out. That story, unsurprisingly, features Prof. Hugo Strange.

Regardless, Nolan clearly has some interesting plans for The Dark Knight Rises. As much as I might like certain things, I can say I'll be happier in the long run if I'm surprised...

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jazz Hands

Though we've seen them interact -- as enemies and allies -- many times, it's safe to say that Cornell and Woods' "Lex Luthor vs. The Joker" will make quite an entertaining read.

Cornell has a better handle on Lex Luthor than almost anyone I can think of in recent memory. The calculation... The arrogance... The utter disregard for human life... Cornell (ably assisted by Pete Woods) give me a Lex Luthor that is as perverse and twisted and evil as any character ever. And yet... I can't look away. Because he's also as fascinating as any character ever.

Paul Cornell has proved that he can write villains. In addition to Luthor we've seen Gorilla Grodd, Vandal Savage, and a host of others. But what will happen when Lex Luthor meets his "polar opposite?" The Joker can't be reasoned with. He can't be intimidated. He can't be bought. None of Lex Luthor's usual tricks will work.

So what happens when Lex Luthor meets the Joker?

Jazz hands.

This is going to be a contest for the ages.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Max and Lex

I'm not sure I understand how Maxwell Lord's vaguely defined powers work. I know he can "push" people into believing certain things. He can convince them that things never happened or that they happened in a very different way. The two big examples are the death of Blue Beetle (murder vs. suicide) and the OMAC Project (Max Lord vs. Lex Luthor). My big question has to do with the latter.

If the world thinks Lex Luthor was responsible for the OMAC Project then... Who does Lex Luthor think was responsible? I won't buy that Max can even convince a mind as powerful as Luthor's that he did something he didn't do. That just won't fly with me.

As I see it, the other explanation is that Lex Luthor knows he didn't play a part in the OMAC Project. And that that inconsistency also means that he knows who Maxwell Lord is.

Luthor, of course, doesn't care what Max is up to. He's got his own agendas and couldn't care less at this point what the world thinks of him. He got his pardon and is back in control of his company. As long as Max doesn't butt heads with Luthor there won't be a problem.

Of course, this is all just idle speculation; clearly we aren't going to see any connection between these two stories. But how much fun would it be? After all, Max Lord seems to want to rule the world. And as far as Lex Luthor's concerned that's his job.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Night Thinking #172

Once again... Thursday Night Thinking!

Now here's the thing: the more I see of these old Silver Age Superman covers the more I want to read them. For those of you who have experienced this era: is it all as senses shatteringly awesome as it appears? Or am I better off with my idyllic imaginings?

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Does it bother anyone else that Bane has been remade into a nuanced, intriguing character while I languish in the obscurity of death?

No? Nobody? Okay, never mind then.

Do you think there are two many books starring You-Know-Who and his merry band of bats? I think we've reached the two digit mark here. And know that I'm not counting my successor's soon to be canceled book.

I know that these books sell. They must sell, or there wouldn't be so many of them. But do they really sell that well? Do they sell so good that we need two or three books for each character? I mean, Dick Grayson is starring in three separate books right now. I mean, you think they could find a spot for me to cameo.

Sorry, I got off track there for a second. I guess what I'm really saying is that if popular characters can sustain multiple books where does that leave the rest of us? We know that Azrael will soon be gone. Will it be replaced with another Bat-book? I mean, you know who is only starring in two books right now...

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I'm Skeptical

Okay, so are there actually people out there who like Lobo? Are there people who are honestly fans of the character? I have a hard time believing that.

As far as I understand it, Lobo began as sort of a parody of the excesses of comics in the 1980's (and later the 1990's). But it seems that at some point along the way people started to take the character seriously. And we ended up with what we have today.

I'm having trouble finding the tings that make the character appealing to his mysterious "fanbase." I can only assume that these imaginary people are seriously disturbed. I say this because I can't see why anyone would want to read about Lobo -- let alone a solo story about the character.

In reading Weird Worlds I completely skimmed through the Lobo portion. I was uninterested and mostly bored. I found the Aaron Lopresti Garbage Man story to be really good, though. Then I kind of zoned out during the Tanga tale which again left me cold.

This is frustrating for me, and it's a problem with anthologies. What does a guy do who only likes two out of the three stories in a three story anthology? Does he continue reading it o enjoy the story he likes and just ignore the others? Or does he give up the ghost?

I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. But I am sure that I can't stand Lobo.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

The New (New) Wonder Woman

I was never particularly enthusiastic about J. Michael Straczynski's run on Wonder Woman. I initially had high hopes for Superman, but have since been disappointed. But I never had any particular feelings about what he was doing with Wonder Woman.

Still, I've read and mostly enjoyed the story. I like these kinds of alternate history things, and the time change with Diana seems to be playing into issues with time in Generation Lost and other comics. And you all know how much I like it when things connect.

Things have been changing recently, however. Mr. Straczynski is leaving Wonder Woman (and Superman) before his stories are done. Phil Hester is taking over on Wonder Woman and I'm actually starting to get excited about the book.

I can't say what exactly it is. But a lot of it may have to do with Mr. Hester's enthusiasm. Back when I was reading interviews with Mr. Straczynski about Wonder Woman there didn't seem to be much of that. It almost felt like he was told: "if you want to write Superman then you have to write Wonder Woman too."

I doubt that's how it went down, but there was definitely an enthusiasm gap in regards to the two books. Mr. Straczynski was definitely excited about writing for Superman. And that enthusiasm was infectious for me.

Phil Hester seems to have the same sort of enthusiasm for writing for Wonder Woman. He seems genuinely excited about the opportunity to pull out old Wonder Woman villains and throw them at our heroine. And I'm starting to feel a little of that tingle of excitement again.

To Mr. Hester I say: well done, sir. You've definitely got me on board. And if you give us the return of Doctor Domino I'll sing your praises to the ends of the earth.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

The History of The Batmobile

If you haven't seen this yet, take a look. It's pretty impressive.

For the full timeline of the Batmobile's seventy year history, click on the image.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Batman of Africa?

At approximately 1,700,000 square miles, Africa is the second largest continent in the world. A billion people live in Africa's fifty-four countries. In short, Africa is very big and has a lot of people.

Which is why the "Batman of Africa" is so mystifying.

Now it's true that we don't know what form this story will take. This could simply be a case of crossed wires between the writer and the publicity department. But assuming the statement is accurate, the idea of a single Batman operating in Africa is a little absurd -- even for a comic book about a man who fights crime while dressed as a bat.

There are two thousand languages spoken in Africa. I'm sure Bruce Wayne can speak in a variety of languages but even he can't pull that off. Batman has a lot of trouble fighting crime in one great metropolitan area. How many people do you think live in Gotham? More than a million, I'm sure. Africa has twenty cities with populations of greater than a million. Any "Batman of Africa" is going to need fifty times the skill of Bruce Wayne and a hundred times the money.

I could get behind a series of regional Batmen; maybe that's what we'll get. We could have a North African Batman and a Sub-Saharan Batman. But if France gets its own Batman then why not Algeria? Kenya? Ivory Coast? Nigeria?

Africa is often tragically ignored by people in the Western World. But Africa contains 15% of the world's population. It's the birthplace of the human race. Surely Batman Incorporated can spare more than one man?

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thursday Night Thinking #171

And here I almost forgot about Thursday Night Thinking! If it's getting forgettable we need something short, sweet, and simple. How about a simple thought for the simple (mostly) town of Smallville?

That's about as pure a thought as one is likely to find.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Elementary Japanese

Okay, look: I don't expect the people who write comics to know Japanese. Lord knows they don't know much about real Japanese culture. But at the very least they could check with somebody when they decide to try and use the Japanese language. I've been over this before. This is not allowed:

This is one of the first things you learn in first year Japanese. "San" is an honorific. You never apply an honorific to yourself. It's incredibly arrogant and no Japanese person would ever think of doing that.

Honorifics are exclusively for other people. If this Kodama is supposed to be Japanese he should be saying "Kodama, Legionnaire-san."

And I don't want anyone to pull out the "things can change in a thousand years" argument. The Japanese have been doing this the same way for the past two thousand years. I don't think this most basic of things about the Japanese language will change in the next thousand.

Do a little research, guys. It wouldn't take that much. You can call me, if you want.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Re: Marvel Comics

Okay, this is going to be one of those days where I directly address the "distinguished competition." Now, I obviously don't work for DC Comics. But that's pretty much all I read (at least in super-hero comics) and Marvel's stable of characters has never "clicked" with me.

Plus, I've always had a problem with the way some people at Marvel present themselves. There have always been the backhanded compliments and the snide remarks. By and large DC seems to have avoided this kind of stuff (but they are by no means immune). Marvel, however, seems to love taking potshots at DC. A popular one in the past has been to claim DC is somehow purely "corporate comics" that are solely beholden to their nefarious overlords at Warner Bros.

I had hoped after Marvel was bought by Disney that that crap would come to an end. I mean, it's not like Marvel wasn't "corporate" comics before. A huge amount of their output was geared towards supporting their burgeoning film properties. Which is perfectly fine.

But this kind of crap really should have stopped after Disney bought Marvel. But it looks like it hasn't. Tom Brevoort, a newly minted Senior VP at Marvel was asked what he thought about DC's "Hold the Line at $2.99" initiative. He had this to say:

"I think that if it works for them, and they can run their business and make their money on that cover price, good for them. But I know for certain that we can’t, so I must assume that they’re still in the traditional DC position of not really having to earn a direct profit in publishing, since they’ll get a credit for all of their licensing and so forth on the Warner’s ledgers. That’s not a luxury that we have–or really, that we want."

Unsurprisingly there's another backhanded compliment in there and a snide remark directed toward DC's corporate masters. But then he goes on to insinuate that DC not having to make profits -- an assertion of which he has no proof -- means that they aren't putting out comics that people want to read.

Does Brevoort really think we're buying this? Does he think we've forgotten that Marvel was recently bought up by one of the biggest entertainment giants in the world? And that his publishing company isn't just as much a cog in the machine as DC has ever been?

I think DC's attempt to keep the prices of its comics down is a good thing. Remember, we're losing two pages of story to that price line (which is not necessarily a good trend). As far as I can tell, this isn't simply a case of the company being able to keep around comics nobody reads (if that were so, they wouldn't have canceled Azrael!) but really a case where they've tried to listen to what the fans and retailers want.

But what do I know? I'm an optimist like Superman. And as we know, there is little room for those in the Marvel Universe.