Monthly archives: May, 2006

Week Four

You know how you can sit down on the toilet and read an issue of a comic book by the time you’re done? Well, with this issue, I think you could finish it up before finishing up a whiz. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’m just saying that it goes by extremely quickly. Part of that is due in part to me trying to get used to this juggling of stories thing, I’m guessing. Giving four separate stories a bit of space in a single issue (plus, throwing on that epilogue stuff about the DCU’s history) makes it so that we aren’t allowed to focus on anything for more than a couple of pages at the most.
52 week 4
Stuff does happen in this issue, though, so let’s address that stuff. Steel was poisoned by Luthor last week, it seems, and, in this issue, judging by the cover and the weird reaction his body has during the issue, he is going to turn into a man of steel, literally. Aside from that, Ralph Dibny meets with Power Girl and some weirdos in cloaks, who supposedly are using ancient Kryptonian ideas to resurrect dead people (probably using Sue as a precursor to the eventual resurrection of Conner), and they steal his wedding band. Meanwhile, Montoya’s on a stake-out, and she, along with the Question, run into a big monster who doesn’t even feel it when she hits him with four well-placed bullets. The monster tosses some cargo at them, though, and, inside, there are a bunch of futuristic looking guns, so Montoya shoots him and the thing evaporates. Cool. At the end, some NASA jerks find that a zeta beam landed in Africa. A bunch of the heroes who were lost in space during the Rann-Thanagar War are back, and quite a bit worse for the wear. Hawkgirl’s huge, Alan Scott’s got an eye out, and the rest of them are totally screwed.

Like I said, that seems like a bunch of noteworthy stuff happens in this issue, but, believe me, it doesn’t feel like it takes you more than a minute to read through. Is that good or bad? Beats me. I like it. I like it a lot.

See ya in seven.

The Batman Problem

Another week and another issue that seems to unravel the tightly-knit fabric that was DC continuity before and during Infinite Crisis. This time, the blame falls on another member of the holy trinity of DC superheroes, Batman.

Batman 653This isn’t quite so major as the The Superman Problem. If you blinked, or just weren’t reading very closely, you very easily could have missed it. In fact, if you take it out, the story would have read just the same. But writer James Robinson felt the need to answer the question “Why would Batman put Harvey Dent in charge of protecting Gotham knowing Dent doesn’t have the skills he does?”

Personally, I never questioned Batman’s decision. Dent was an old friend of his, and I just figured Batman trusted him, despite his villainous past. Of course, I’m not a long-time Batman reader. Robinson probably wanted to explain to those fans why Batman would do it. And his answer was “Batman spent a month training Harvey Dent.”

Except Batman left town right after Infinite Crisis. Okay, so it was probably a few days after the big Metropolis fight, but it certainly wasn’t a month. Or else they’d have to call it 48. Two weeks and two flubs with two major characters. If the DC editors can’t keep track off their biggest guns, how do they expect to keep track of the little ones?

Tune in next week when Wonder Woman has coffee with Ted Kord and discusses the time Blue Beetle and Booster Gold had to work at a burger joint in hell.

Week Three

A day late, but a dollar short? Never.

Apparently some of you liked the second issue of 52 much more than I did (as I said, it was confusing and fleetingly exciting) but I think we’ll all agree that the third issue kicks serious ass. And it succeeds for all the reasons that the second issue didn’t.

First off, the latest issue starts with a bang, the discovery of Lex Luthor’s dead body. Now, of course we know he’s not really dead from the gate, but this is the type of mystery that gets my nerdy blood going. It’s the type of thing that even a casual reader (which I believe DC is trying hard to lure in) will be able to follow. A smear of paint on an extremely minor character’s grave? Not so much.

Next, a steady dose of Black Adam and Steel. I figured from the gate that these two would be the most enjoyable characters, and that holds true here. It makes me wonder if, in a DC writers’ meeting, they all agreed that Black Adam has to be written as the most baddest ass in the universe, because that’s what he’s been during the Crisis, OYL and 52. I mean, as a journalist, I can say it’s not every day you get to cover a press conference and be covered in the smoldering flesh of someone.

The Booster Gold mystery continues, and he continues to be made to look like the biggest a-hole around. Much like the first issue, Booster’s in real action here and at top mugging-for-the-cameras form.

This issue was close to, if not better than, the first one. I just hope the series isn’t so uneven from here on out.

The Superman Problem

SupergeographyOn any normal day in the DC universe, Superman flying over Wyoming and noticing a huge red orb covering the town of Riverrock wouldn’t be remarkable. It’s the kind of thing Superman would do. It even make s a strange bit of sense that Superman would be so geographically-inclined to know precisely where Riverrock, Wyoming is located, despite having no reason to need to know it. Superman would fly down and investigate it. He’d use his X-Ray vision, maybe even try to zap it with his heat vision. If that didn’t work, he might call in a buddy, like Green Lantern.

So why is all that remarkable on this particular day? Because it happened one year ago. By the current DC timeline, that means it happened shortly after Infinite Crisis ended. Which means there is no Superman, just Clark Kent.

One of the most impressive things DC has done in the last year is holding together the concept of a cohesive universe in which all their stories take place. With so many writers, artists and editors working on so many different books, that was no easy task. With elements from story A impacting titles B, C, D, and E (and sometimes even more), it’s a wonder there weren’t any major screw-ups. There were a few minor bumps in the road, but for the most part, nothing ever contradicted what was taking place in a different part of the universe and nothing was unexplainable.

Shadowpact 1Until now.

In the beginning of Shadowpact #1, Superman’s flying around. We know it’s post-Infinite Crisis. The Shadowpact has formed, the Spectre has rampaged, Detective Chimp even had time to be fitted for a new costume. The Shadowpact was involved in summoning the Spectre in Infinite Crisis #6, and they’re seen fighting in the big Metropolis battle in IC#7. There’ no denying that this takes place after the end of Infinite Crisis. Yet Superman is flying around as if nothing has happened.

How is it that the biggest character in DC Comics can show up in a book, an appearance which so clearly contradicts the continuity that has been the cornerstone of the company of the last year, and no one associated with the book could notice that there’s something wrong with it?

Just when I think I’ve got this all figured out, they go and throw me a curveball. Marvel’s supposed to be the ones with glaring continuity errors, not DC. What’s next, a likable Joe Quesada?

Week Two

Another week, and what have we here? DC is batting a thousand and so am I, with the latest 52 (OK, it’s just the second one) reviewed below.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The superstar creative team didn’t hit the ball out of the park last week, so I was hoping to see something this week that would allow me to refer to 52 as something other than “the most ambitious comic book project to date.” Was that hope fulfilled? No. Not even close. First off, I’ll break down this issue fully, then wrap it up with larger thoughts.

The cover to week two takes a monumental step down from week one. Last week was the kind of cover that gets non-fans to pick a book up. This issue was the kind that makes me say, “Oh, isn’t that clever, it’s Clark Kent in the corner,” then go back to being non-excited by Booster Gold.

The issue starts with Ralph Dibny investigating the mark on Sue’s grave. We don’t learn what it is until the end, and that mystery is supposed to hold my interest. It didn’t. The whole cemetery scene was just awkward between Ralph and the groundskeeper. Ralph just comes across as annoying (yeah, I vacation all over the globe. Suck it!!!) and the groundskeeper is one of those standard poorly written young adults of the comic book world. Oh, and the mystery isn’t intriguing. Did I mention that?

Our next mystery is what happened to Skeets, the Robot Who Had a Perfectly Acceptable Name Until Dave Chappelle and Lil John Came Along. Anyway, Dr. Magnus gets him working again without much happening. Booster is remarkable for having less personality than his robot. Mr. Magnus then visits Professor Morrow in prison. It’s revealed that scientists are disappearing. Why? Not a clue.

One mystery is solved. Lesbians sleep in lacy panties with no covers and their arms and legs tangled up all sexy-like. The Question intervenes, leading to scenes of nearly naked women looking very serious. Later, a fully clothed Montoya visits him and he hires her as a personal detective. Why? No clue.

Booster Gold tries his hardest to kill an airliner full of people but fails, and apparently Skeet’s future cast says the airliner crashed.

The week ends with Dibny accusing Wonder Girl of painting Sue’s grave with an upside-down Superman “S.”

So, the macro review: This book is failing for two key reasons, all of which tie into a central problem. First, as is abundantly clear if you’ve read this far, the mysteries aren’t very compelling, and second, the characters aren’t very interesting. We already know that Wonder Girl doesn’t resurrect Conner, since he’s still dead OYL. We don’t know enough about Montoya or the Question to be curious as to their goings on. Booster Gold probably can’t read the future because the future was messed with by Alexander Luthor in IC. And there’s no reason to be more than mildly curious about scientists disappearing.

If this issue had featured more of Black Adam or Steel, maybe I’d be more engaged. But then again, maybe the problem is that there’s not a tight enough focus. It’s hard to become interested in a character in two-page spurts. Of course, the over-arcing problem, so far, is that this is a series that takes place when all the big shots are gone. Like it or not, people read DC because of the famed characters. This series needs to make the undercards interesting, but so far it hasn’t. Luckily for it, there’s still a whopping 50 weeks left.

P.S. I don’t know why they bothered with the “bonus” story of Donna Troy looking through DC’s history. In this first edition, all she does is look over ground that was covered in IC. The ridiculous-ness is capped off with a fish-eye reflection focused on Ms. Troy’s boobs. Groan.

Kings in Disguise, back in print

I know this is a superhero site, but I’m going to keep boring you all with these stupid “intellectual” comics.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting “Maus,” “Watchmen” and “Love and Rockets” are the books that typically come up when discussing the early graphic novels that boosted the form to new heights. But, as Neil Gaiman writes in a blurb for the new printing of “Kings in Disguise,” the book had just as big a role as any of those three.

“Kings in Disguise” follows the travels and travails of 12-year-old Freddy, who’s forced into hobo life during the Great Depression. Author James Vance balances coming of age with historical fiction, but sticks closest to the personal tales. It reads a little like Mark Twain, but a much harsher Twain: Freddy’s first adventure is fighting off a hobo pedophile.

The stories are unrelentingly bleak, but the obvious research helps point out that it took place in an unrelentingly bleak time. The book touches on race riots in Detroit, protests at Henry Ford’s factory, socialist communities, and how they all broke into violence between the haves and have nots.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The art, by Dan Burr, is consistent and detailed, most comparable to Harvey Pekar’s collaborators (as Alan Moore points out in his introduction). There’s nothing exceptional in terms of layout, no large spreads or anything too inventive. But every panel is strong and Burr gives his characters characteristics.

I’m not sure I’d hold it aloft with the books that Gaiman did. The story covers only a small portion of Freddy’s life and the ending feels almost hollow. Since Vance created the book as a backstory to a character he had included in an early play, that makes sense. But since I, and most comics readers, aren’t much for theater productions dealing with the Great Depression, it might’ve been nice to color the edges in a little more thoroughly.

Of course, it’s hard to judge “Kings in Disguise” now, as opposed to 1988 when it first appeared. Vance writes in his introduction that the book resonated for him with the dire straits people found themselves in during Reagan’s administration. However, even if it’s 16 years too late, for only $16.95, it’s well worth a read.

The Daredevil Problem

There was a lot to discuss and critique about Civil War #1 last week, including inconsistencies with characters and the forced-application of “real world” events to a fictional universe. That’s all fair game and everything. But my enjoyment of Civil War, and my assessment of Marvel, is hinging upon The Daredevil Problem.

Daredevil, in his own series, is in prison. But in Civil War #1, he’s at the superhero cocktail party, twirling a quarter in his fingers.

So let’s look at the possible explanations for this.

1. It’s Matt Murdock.
Either Daredevil exists outside of current Marvel time, and Civil War happens before or after the current DD series…or there was an editorial feeling of “Eh, it doesn’t matter, the readers will forgive us.”

If I’m going to accept this as a huge event, I need to believe that it’s really happening in the Marvel Universe in a way that affects the entire Marvel Universe. The fault I think we at the LOD see in Marvel big events is that they happen, but in the greater scheme of things, they didn’t really happen. They’re not really there. They’re essentially What Ifs or Elseworlds stories. This very site included Fin Fang Doom’s deconstruction of the “major impact” of the Decimation storyline.

So by putting Daredevil there, this suddenly isn’t a real story in the real Marvel universe. It becomes an exercise of “What would it be like in the Marvel Universe if this happened?”

But I don’t think it’s option #1.

2. It’s not Matt Murdock
We know from Daredevil that another guy in the Daredevil costume is running around doing the superhero thing. But we also know from Daredevil that the big guns in the Marvel Universe know Matt Murdock is in prison.

So any “secret” substitute is out the window. Captain America would know Murdock’s in jail. Luke Cage would know that’s not Daredevil. Wolverine would sniff him out.

Fin Fang tells me there are rumors that it’s Hawkeye or Taskmaster. Calvin Pitt makes an informed case that it’s Bullseye. Bureau 42 is on the bandwagon too. The history is there, and Daredevil’s quarter tricks definitely seem like a hint, but, as stated above, if Bullseye was hanging out at the party, somebody’d get him. I refuse to buy any excuse that, well, maybe in the tension dominating the scene, people aren’t as vigilant as normal or as sensitive to those things.

That’s ridiculous. If I’m in an important meeting with a lot on my mind and somebody farts, I still smell the fart. If Wolverine’s in a room talking superhero registration and Bullseye’s doing coin tricks in the corner, something’s going to happen.

Let’s say it’s Hawkeye, and some Avengers know, but nobody wants the secret out. Well man, at this point, when there are huge governmental actions threatening to change the way the world works, who is going to care about Hawkeye’s charade? The people who don’t know it’s Hawkeye, or whoever is secretly sanctioned to wear the costume, are going to say “What’s Daredevil doing here?”

It’d be a stupid plot twist that serves the audience at the expense of the story. And those are never good.

I’m keeping my mind open that there’s a good explanation for this. It’s possible. For his flaws and political heavy-handedness, I usually enjoy Millar’s ability to think out his stories. But right now, it seems like an oversight or a cheap gimmick, neither of which speak highly of the editorial direction at Marvel.

Civil War might end up as a good self-contained story, but ultimately it will be devoid of meaning if there isn’t a good solution to The Daredevil Problem.

I like Ed Brubaker

I think the first Ed Brubaker comic I read was Captain America #1. I might be wrong.

I think I bought Captain America #1 because I thought “Ooh, series relaunch. I will see if it’s any good.”

I think I was just as intrigued by the art as I was the story, but I kept buying it. Captain America became my self-surprise series of the year.

So then that X-Men mini series came along. Deadly Genesis or something like that? I bought it because I was picking up all the post-House of M series, hoping some would stick. Some did. Deadly Genesis was one of them. I was, at the very least, intrigued.

I was a Marvel loyalist, but a burnt-out one, so these days, for a Marvel series to get me to continue buying it, it has to demonstrate some intangible “I will be worth your continued investment of both money and attention” quality.

Then the day came that Brian Michael Bendis left Daredevil. Several titles got me back into reading comics again, but Daredevil was the first book that came highly recommended by multiple people I trusted and also got me looking forward to New Comic Book Day(s).

Now that Ed Brubaker has taken over the book, I don’t feel like there’s been the slightest bit of drop-off. In fact, I am every bit as excited, if not more excited, to pick up the new Daredevil. Because now there will be snappy dialogue and plot advancement.

So Deadly Genesis wrapped up this week. I think I was most pleased that it managed to be revisionist history without re-writing what was already known; it managed to fit into the gaps of what was never told. I always admire that.

I don’t know where this Brubaker guy is going, but he sure will take me with him. It’s been over a year now, but I am now a subscriber to the Brubaker brand, and this guy could write Speedball Monthly and I’d probably buy it.

Week One

Today the first of 52 issues of DC’s 52 has been released. After the Countdown, after the Infinite Crisis, before One Year Later… and still it’s billed as the most ambitious comics project ever undertaken. Well, we’ll see. And, since I’ve been slacking so much lately (I got married, OK!), I’m going to attempt an extremely ambitious (for me) reviewing project of sizing up each and every issue of 52 as it comes out. Will the issues come out on time? Will I actually get content posted? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by tuning it, same bat time, same bat channel.

First impression? I could have done without the “It starts here!” on the front. No crap. We all know. We’ve all been waiting for it. Only detracts from a brilliantly illustrated and designed cover. Oh well…

The swirl of crystal images, coming together into the new world is cool. But, I would’ve liked to have seen some scenes of the largescale destruction wrought by the crisis. All we get is close-ups, and it doesn’t lend enough scale to the damage.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That’s enough nit-picking, at least for the moment. The best compliment I can give is that it’s really, really hard to tell this was written by more than one person, let alone four. It’s smooth, clever, touching, grandiose, all when it needs to be. It’s a little choppy at times between all the different locales, but that’s kinda hard to avoid.

Booster Gold may very well take over Guy Gardner’s spot as the hero it’s the most fun to despise role. Man, what a pompous asshole. Yeah, it’s a bit hard to imagine how he shifted from a dour “my buddy Ted just died” to “Yee-ha, I’m going to be a JLAer!” (and it’s ever so strange that he was able to find numerous sponsors only days after the crisis), but he’s interesting, engaging for all the wrong reasons, pompous, fun… And the issue nicely sets up the mystery of how his future casting has gone awry.

I’m also looking forward to more of Steel, who I, for one, really enjoyed when he first came around. He seems to have the Superman thing down better than Superman, for what it’s worth. Not much intrigue has been raised with him so far, but I’m patient.

The Black Adam moment seemed like a bit of a forced metaphor for international affairs in the ol’ real world, and I don’t know who Doctor Sivana is or why I should care about monsters kidnapping him (do I need to turn in my geek card?)

The Question, of course, is awesome, and I hope more people realize it with this series. He’s not given much to do, yet. I’m really hoping he keeps on in the vein of last year’s mini-series, which gave him an ethereal, supernatural bent.

The other main characters, Montoya and Ray Dibney, are just depressing at this point. Luckily, they weren’t around for too many pages.

For a starter issue, it was good. Got lots of setup out of the way and established the cut-rate heroes we’ll be following. The memorial scene was a gem. Nothing remarkable yet, though, and we still have no clue what kind of threat will surface that merits 52 issues worth of conflict (oh yeah, make that 51, now). But, then again, there’s a whole year left. Almost.


Generation MI realized today at work that it’s been six months since Decimation hit the Marvel Universe and 90% of the Earth’s mutant population was de-powered, which using Marvel’s fuzzy math left only 198 mutants on the planet (198 remaining is closer to a 99.99% loss using Marvel’s claims that there were millions of mutants on Earth pre-M-Day). Last November when we X-Men fans were reeling from the news, it seemed enormous. Perhaps all the work the Marvel Hype Machine did promoting House of M as the crossover that would impact the Marvel Universe like no other was justified. However, now that there’s been time to put it all in perspective, it really doesn’t seem like it did much.

Yes, a lot of mutants did get depowered on M-Day. Yes, a lot of those mutants had actually appeared in the Marvel Universe at some point. But nearly all of the mutants that lost their powers were not appearing in monthly books. The cast of New X-Men took a big hit, but nearly all the characters were brand-new so depowering them didn’t make an impact for anyone that didn’t read the title. Most of the well-known de-powered characters had prominent roles in the X-titles 5 years ago (Chamber, Stacy X, Jubilee, Beak) but had since dropped off the radar. Out of the all the depowered mutants, there were only five someone could consider “big” names: Iceman, Polaris, Quicksilver, Professor X and Magneto. Let’s take a look at those.

IcemanIceman- Depowered for two weeks. Repowered in the very first Decimation issue of X-Men. He continues to play a major role in Peter Milligan’s X-Men and will be a part of Mike Carey’s X-Men this summer.

Polaris- Depowered for 5 months. Repowered by Apocalypse in the latest issue of X-Men. She remained a major role in Peter Milligan’s X-Men while depowered, including starring in her own story arc, and will be a part of Ed Brubaker’s Uncanny X-Men this summer.

Quicksilver- Depowered for 3 months. Repowered by the Terrigen Mists in Son of M. He got his own mini-series out of Decimation, and is set to appear in X-Factor after it’s over.

Professor X- Still depowered, but Deadly Genesis still has an issue to go. It’s hard to imagine the founder of the X-Men going away. Short of killing him off, even if he doesn’t regain his powers, Professor X will remain a big part of the X-books.

Magneto- Still depowered. He’s only made a handful of appearances since he was depowered, but is anyone actually deluded enough to think the greatest enemy of the X-Men will never be a threat again?

So out of the five big names that were depowered, three have powers again less than 6 months later, and the other two will almost assuredly get them back eventually.

X-Men 178At least twice yearly, the Marvel Hype Machine promotes something as the biggest crossover of all time. In 2004 there was X-Men: Reloaded and Avengers: Disassembled. Last year there was House of M, Spider-Man: The Other and Decimation. This year we already have Planet Hulk, Annihilation and Civil War, with Onslaught Reborn (the return of the Heroes Reborn universe) yet to come. But less than a year later, it’s always painfully obvious that nothing really has changed at all.

And Marvel wonders why comic fans are disillusioned with them.