Monthly archives: June, 2006

The Superman Returns problem

The opening credits really revealed the true agenda of this movie: Returning the Richard Donner Superman franchise. This was a love note to the first two Supes movies instead of a love note to the characters that inspired those films. On that level, it succeeds, because like those movies, Superman Returns is boring, stilted, awkward, and generally just gets things very very wrong.

No i’ll admit: i harbor a very strong pro-batman bias. And there were signficant changes in character backgrounds in Batman Begins, but the reason the work is because they still stay true to the motivation, and by extension, the predictable actions of the characters that were adapted to the film. Sure, Ra’as Al Ghul might not have been a 1000 year old bedouin genocidal maniac in BB as he was in comics, but his basic character attributes were still in tact: feels humanity is inherently evil and that it is his moral duty to purge it perodically, and he feels so because he tragically lost his wife. This same consistency between the film and comic verisons was executed in every character in Batman Begins. Except for Rachel Dawes, who never existed in comics, and that’s why you see her nipping out in every scene.

And yet in “Superman Returns,” we have a number of glaring inconsistencies. Firstly, Superman abandons earth for selfish reasons. Sure, anyone would want to see the remains of their home alien planet, but I don’t think anyone who’s ever read a single comic book would tell you that Superman actually would leave earth, however temporarily, without leaving another champion to carry the torch. Like a Superman robot or Jimmy Olsen aided by the power of mystical Nordic artifacts.

Lois would not bone the boss’s nephew apparently days after Superman left. And don’t give me that business that Richard White may have been her rebound guy–if there’s one single female character that’s shown repeatedly she can get along fine without any man, it’s Lois Lane, the embodiment of piss and vinegar independence.

Lex Luthor was too gaudy. Sure, he’s a smartass, but the kind that makes you terrfied of what he can do with a phone call, not the kind who provides comic relief via wigs. The most accurate Lex Luthor moment in the film is when, after the guy from “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” drops the sun stone (excuse me, crystal) in the train set sea. And once it starts bubbling, Lex quietly steps back, not warning his cronies because he’s curious what exploding crystal will do to supervillian stooge who shops at Urban Outfitters.

So I guess it all boils down to this: “Superman Returns” excelled at recreating the “Superman” movies. And yet it fails utterly as a Superman movie. “Superman Returns” brushes over the most compelling charater trait that has made Big Blue a Superarchetype for the past 60 years, but beyond that, just a fascinating character that is so easily misunderstood. Superman is three people.

There is the hero, Superman: confident, loved by the people of Metropolis, but burdened by the guilt that even though he’s freakin’ Superman, he can’t save everybody all the time.

There is Kal-El, the last son of Krypton, whose heritage exploded millions of lightyears away. And no matter how much he tries to fit in, he knows he’s not human and can never relate to anyone he will ever meet.

And then there’s Clark Kent, the bumbling, polite product of a romanticized Kansas but with the sharp intuition, instincts and reasoning skills befitting a reporter of what is basically the world’s capitol.

But that’s not what “Superman Returns” is. It’s a guy looking like Christopher Reeve with personal problems like Peter Parker. And that’s why “Superman Returns” isn’t a good Superman movie.


Superman ReturnsI managed to catch Superman Returns Tuesday night at a 10:00 showing. Two and a half hours later, I left the theater decidedly underwhelmed.

Colonel Doom summed it up the best after the movie: “Meh.”

There were two main problems I had with the movie. The first is the casting. The second is the story.

Brandon Routh does not look like Superman, although he does look like Christopher Reeve, who also doesn’t look like Superman. Plenty of guys that actually looked like Superman have played the part, and plenty of guys that look like Superman could have played this part, but instead Bryan Singer and company decided to go with the guy that looks like the guy who looked the least like Superman of anyone that’s ever played Superman. Since Brandon Routh is a relative unknown, they can’t even use the excuse that they cast the wrong guy for name recognition (*cough*Schwarzenegger*cough*). One positive is Routh’s acting in the role was good, and I’d rather have someone that doesn’t look like Superman and can act than someone who looks like Superman and can’t act (like, say, Dean Cain). Routh excelled as Clark Kent, although part of the appeal of that character has always been the big burly guy as the bumbling loser. But it all boils down to this for me: there’s plenty of actors that can act and look the part, so there was no reason (other than he looks like a guy that doesn’t look like Superman) to cast Brandon Routh in the part.

Kate Bosworth was just not right for Lois Lane. First of all, the hair. Think about it. That is not Lois Lane hair. Second, she should not be wafer-thin. Kate Bosworth should have been dead after the pounding she took in the plane. It seems to me that the part was written correctly, but Bosworth just didn’t make the role what it should have been. And everyone say it with me: worst. mom. ever!

Don’t get me started on Perry. House would have been so much better.

Of course, the casting wasn’t all bad. Jimmy was good. In fact, Jimmy seemed just about perfect. I actually liked the Richard White character, and I’m glad they didn’t make him unlikable so Lois would leave him to be with Clark or Superman.

Lex LuthorKevin Spacey was good (big surprise), but he wasn’t used enough, and he was way too much like the Joker than Lex Luthor has any right to be. He even had his own Harley Quinn for god’s sake. Parker Posey was great in that role, though, and sometimes stole the spotlight from the other (much) more important characters.

My other disappointment was the story, a standard “Lex does something evil and Superman stops it” plot, which has been done hundreds, if not thousands of times before. It had the standard formula: Lex devises something evil; Lex causes collateral damage that Superman must rescue people from; someone (usually Lois) figures out Lex’s plan but it’s too late; Lex seemingly defeats Superman; Superman returns (get it?) and saves the day. It’s not an original story, but anyone that reads comics knows it can make for a great story (take “Up, Up and Away,” for example, which just ended in the Superman books). This time it didn’t.

The action was good-ish, but not great. I did not feel sorry for Superman at all when he got the crap kicked out of him, which seems like a failure on the part of the filmmakers. And can someone explain to me why Superman can be so depowered by the kryptonite island to get his ass kicked by normal thugs, but then somehow have the kryptonite not affect him enough to prevent him from throwing a several billion ton chunk of rock into outer space?

And the kid was stupid. They should have left him out of the movie. He had one good moment in the newsroom when he realized Clark was Superman and then served no worthwhile purpose. Having not seen the first 2 Superman movies, I had no idea Supes and Lois did the horizontal tango, so Lex’s comment about who the boy’s father was seemed ridiculous. When he displayed his superpowers, my appreciation of the movie dropped a lot. Then I thought “poor Robert Kirkman,” because now when his Invincible movie comes out everyone’s going to think he got the idea from Superman Returns. The movie would have been better, and shorter, without the inclusion of Superboy.

So poor casting choices and bad story choices turned what could have been a good to movie into something that was just so-so. It didn’t stand a chance of rising to Batman Begins or X2 levels, but the quality certainly could have been closer to Spider-Man than The Punisher.

When I stared actually reading Superman comics a year ago, I developed an appreciation for the character I never had before. Superman could be interesting. Clark Kent could be very interesting. Despite the fact that Superman was invulnerable, he could still be hurt. Ruin showed me that. Maxwell Lord showed me that. Batman showed me that.


But outside of comics and the Animated DC Universe, he’s never shown as anything more than a one-dimensional character, despite the fact that he’s two characters (which would seemingly necessitate a two-dimensional character at the very least). That’s why I used to hate Superman.

Superman Returns reminded me of that.

Week Eight

In week eight, we find out, conclusively, that John Henry Irons has been infected by Lex Luthor’s metagene, which is slowly turning his body into stainless steel, an ironic joke on Luthor’s part, which eventually turns Natasha, Irons’ niece, into Luthor’s hands, where she’s also going to be given the gene, since she thinks her uncle’s a hypocrite for having the gene in his blood stream. Meanwhile, Ralph Dibny visits Star City to have a chit-chat with Green Arrow, since it seems that the Cult of Conner has set up shop (and quickly taken down shop) in one of the back alleys of said city. Out in space, Adam Strange and Animal Man search for Starfire, only to find her hung up in a net of some sort. Once they come to the conclusion that it’s merely bait, it’s much too late, and they’re strung up with the same fate.
I like this issue a lot. One of the nicest touches comes with the introduction of Green Arrow, when he shoots down a store vendor, rather than a “thief,” since the vendor is charging thirty bucks for diapers in a disaster zone. Nice set-up for Ollie running for mayor OYL. The odd part about their meeting is how shocked it seems Ralph is, when he realizes that Ollie was once raised from the dead, just how the Cult of Conner is trying to raise Sue. Does Ralph fail to realize that many of his friends have been raised from the dead? I mean, think about it. How’s it such a shock? Superman, Ollie, Carter, Hal? Ralph shouldn’t be all that surprised.

Another interesting note from this issue is that Steel mentions that he was a member of the group that took down Brother Eye. Go re-read Infinite Crisis #6. I’ll give you a second. Ok, now we’re on the same page. No, he wasn’t. Is that an editorial oversight, or part of the New Earth? I’m not sure, but it seems silly. Unless he was on a cover of one of the Perez variants, I don’t recall Steel being anywhere near IC. I’m not wrong. Look it up. I’ll wait.

See ya in seven.

Week Seven

booster and blue
Let’s get the nitty gritty out the way first. In this issue, Renee Montoya goes to a private party where she hopes to find some clues on the case they’ve been working on. At the party, she meets with an ex-girlfriend, named Kate Kane, whose family owns the warehouse on 520 Kane Street in the Harbor District where Montoya and the Question met the big monster with the crates of futuristic guns. Montoya asks for help, sexual tension, blah blah blah, help is granted, good-bye, see ya next week. Meanwhile, in space, on the paradise planet, Adam Strange is trying to fix up the zeta beam thingy, still, while the other two refugees are eating forbidden fruit and getting complacent. Finally, Starfire leaves Strange and Animal Man to “clear her head.” In the end, she’s confronted by a giant with a staff. That being said, let’s get to the real meat and potatoes, so to speak, of this issue.

Booster Gold and Ralph Dibny.

Ralph comes to Booster to ask him for help about the Cult of Conner, since he’s suspicious about the upside down Superman logo graffiti on his wife’s grave, etc. Booster blows him off, since Skeets keeps reminding him that they’re mere moments away from a disaster. It’s at this point that Ralph remembers that Booster and Skeets are from the future, and they should’ve been able to prevent his wife’s death. Booster explains that he’s a bad history student, they don’t teach that in school, etc, but Skeets remembers it all. Ralph is, justifiably, upset.
The scene switches, Booster saves the citizens of Metropolis from some stupid disaster, and Manthrax, the guy that Booster paid off to act as a supervillain last week, comes out and tells reporters that his check bounced, and Booster Gold is a fraud. Ralph, being on the scene, is singled out by Lois Lane, who asks him if Booster’s capable of this. Ralph says, “Absolutely.” He brings up Sue, again, and Booster’s long-time bff, Blue Beetle aka Ted Kord. Booster could’ve prevented all of that, but he didn’t, because he’s selfish and money hungry. The world is shocked, Booster is ruined.

This is unacceptable to me. Booster Gold is stupid, sure, and he should’ve been able to prevent Sue and Ted from dying, but, as we have seen in “52,” it’s Skeets that has the historical database. It’s Skeets that tells Booster whenever something is coming up. Without Skeets, Booster’s just like the rest of us. Who cares if he came from the 25th century? When he lived there, he was a jock cocksucker. We can’t possibly expect him to remember everything that happened back then, can we? Especially if this stuff isn’t common knowledge in the distant future. Who here remembers the Countdown to Infinite Crisis? Who remembers Booster, when he’d just been blown up in an explosion, trying to get out of his hospital bed with third degree burns over a quarter of his body? Why’d he do that? Not because he knew Ted was going to die. He did that because Ted Kord was his best friend he’d ever had. Calling that into question is wrong. Booster Gold, beneath that NASCAR advertising exterior is still a good man. A hero. A superhero. And I can’t wait for him to prove it to all of us.

See ya in seven.

Bad idea

Last week, Civil War #2 arrived with the shocking moment of Spider-Man revealing his secret identity to the world (well, shocking if you don’t read Amazing Spider-Man or didn’t have Thunderbolts before Civil War in your reading order or don’t use the internet). And for the first time in a long time, I became angry reading a comic. Revealing Spider-Man’s secret ID is stupid and short-sighted, and could go down as one of the worst stunts in comics history. Here’s my beef:

Civil War #21) It’s not undoable. Well, that’s not exactly true, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Iron Man can reveal his secret identity, no big deal. He’s just a guy in a suit. It could be any guy in there, because it’s the suit that’s the super part of the superhero. If Tony Stark wanted to take back his secret ID, all he’d have to do was put someone else in the suit for a little bit to convince everybody that he wasn’t Iron Man anymore. Same thing could work for Captain America, since he’s just a really fit guy in a flag suit. But Spider-Man can’t do that. There’s no one else in the superhero world with powers like his. You might be able to fool the public with Daredevil or someone in the webs, but eventually they’re not going to stick to a wall.

Speaking of Daredevil, that’s another case of an undoable secret ID reveal. Being exposed is one thing, because there will always be plausible deniability. Revealing yourself is another. The media isn’t going to see a guy wearing a Spider-Man costume and not make him prove he’s Spider-Man.

The thing is, even though it’s undoable, we all know Marvel will eventually give Spider-Man back his secret identity. It seems impossible that Peter would be able to convince the public that he was lying, and even if he did he’d be the biggest dick in the world for “lying” about being Spider-Man (and no Spidey fan wants to see that). So we’re left with a bevy of deus ex machinas (machini?): worldwide mindwipe courtesy of a member of the Grey family; “it was all a dream;” or a very special appearance by Wanda Maximoff, the Staus Quoer (© Colonel Doom).

And even if it does happen, and Spidey’s ID goes back to be secret, one thing will be left in it’s wake: proof positive that Marvel crossovers never (pardon me while I channel Chris Jericho)… eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever amount to anything in the grand scheme of things.

Civil War #2 variant2) It goes against character. If one quality has driven Spider-Man throughout his entire career (besides that old “great power” schtick), it’s his desire to keep those he loves safe at all costs. All of his greatest failures have involved harm coming to his loved ones, be it physical (the comatizing of Flash Thompson, the deaths of Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, Jean DeWolfe, and of course Gwen Stacy) or mental (Venom terrorizing Mary Jane, Norman Osborn kidnapping Aunt May at least twice). Of those failures, the ones he actually could have prevented would have been prevented if his enemies hadn’t discovered his secret ID.

But now any Joe Schmo with a computer can go online and find out where he lives, where his friends and family live, where his friends and family work. How is Spider-Man supposed to protect his loved ones if literally anyone that holds a grudge can find them? Not just supervillains like Electro and Vulture, but street thugs that Spider-Man put behind bars years ago could want a piece of him, and go through his loved ones since they know they can’t get to him directly. Someone could abduct Aunt May while she’s going to the library, or murder Mary Jane while she’s doing her play.

The only way Spider-Man can protect his family now is to keep them under 24-hour lockdown inside Avengers Tower. And who would his that sort of a life on those they love?

Don’t try to give me any of this “Aunt May told him to do it” crap, either. She said she wanted the whole world to be as proud of Peter as she was, but she failed to take one thing into account: a large section of the population does not consider Spider-Man a hero. In fact, a lot of people probably blame him for a lot of the bad things that happen in New York (look at Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5 if you don’t agree).

If MJ and May want to be prisoners in their own home, more power to them, but based on the 15 years or so I’ve been reading Spider-Man stories, that’s something Peter Parker simply would not do.

My apoloies to the original artist.3) Joe Quesada is a hypocrite. About a month or so ago on Newsarama’s Joe Fridays, Joe Quesada was making a big brouhaha about Spider-Man’s marriage, and how it’s the worst thing to happen to Spider-Man in the history of the character. Besides the stupid idea that people won’t relate to a guy that’s married (I guess because comic fans are losers that never have any chance of getting laid, let alone married?), his main argument was this (and I’m paraphrasing as the old Joe Fridays links are down): you can tell better stories with a single Spider-Man than a married Spider-Man.

I’m not arguing that point, even though I could if I wanted to. But answer me this Joe: can’t the exact same chain of thought be applied to revealing Spider-Man’s secret identity? Could anyone argue that you can tell better stories with a Spider-Man without a secret ID than a Spider-Man with a secret ID? I sincerely doubt it.

Quesada criticized the Peter/MJ marriage as a publicity stunt that was done for the wrong reasons. But wasn’t the ID reveal a publicity stunt? Wasn’t it done to create an immediate interest with no concern for what this might mean to Spider-Man in the future?

Unless, of course, they already have the deus ex machina lined up. Which may actually be a record for the fastest Marvel has ever made a major story point meaningless (move over “Magneto is Xorn”). Congratulations Marvel, you’ve done it again.

Now give it a rest, okay?

Week Six

In this week, we see that Booster Gold finally stoops so low that he actually hires a “villain” whose plans he can easily thwart, thereby pushing him from greedy, camera-hungry entrepreneur to underhanded sleaze-ball. Hal Jordan and John Stewart (the Green Lantern, not the comedian without the “h”) capture Evil Star over Chinese airspace, which, since the Crisis, has become a no-fly zone for any Americans, apparently (a fact that’s backed by the OYL issue of Green Lantern). The Chinese have also entered into an agreement with Kahndaq, which brings Black Adam into the mix to tell the emerald duo to piss off. Professor Morrow gets all of his stuff confiscated from his cell, leaving him in total isolation, save for a video camera which will now monitor his every movement. We must wonder who the “Great One” is that’s monitoring him, as I’m sure he’ll be back someday soon. Finally, on day two of week six, Booster Gold visits Dr. Rip Hunter in Arizona, where he finds an empty compound full to the brim with crazy scientist notes and ramblings and experiments, most notable of which being a wall graffitied up with insane scrawls reading, “It’s all his fault.” Think Ace Ventura, with Rip’s notes in place of the, “Laces Out” nonsense from Ray Finkel’s room. Whose fault is it? Booster Gold’s.
52 week 6
I think the most important part of this issue is Rip Hunter’s lab. The lock on it is a time lock, set to open on January 1, 52 B.C. After this plus Red Tornado’s last words last week, I’d say it’s a done deal. 52 is more than just the title of the issue or the number of weeks in a year. This is big. Inside the lab, we see even more clues and hints as to what is going on in this series. Here are a few samples. Most obvious, time is broken. What else? Find the last, last being underlined, “El.” Time Masters (arrow) Time Servants. The Scarab is Eternal? Further time is different. Dead by lead? Man of Steel. It hurts to breathe. 2,000 years from now. The Tornado is in pieces. Where is the Curry Heir? Who is Super Nova? Secret FIVE! Where is the Batman? Who is the Batwoman? What happened to the son of Superman? Te versus (Au+Pb). World War III? Why? How? The Lazarus Pit RISES (btw, awesome!). When Am I? I’m supposed to be dead? Immortal (with the “Im” scratched out) Savage. Who is Diana Prince? Someone is monitoring. They see us. They see me. The old gods are dead, the new Gods want what’s left. Khimaera lives again. Find the sun devils. What is spanner’s galaxy? Silverblade. Casey the cop. Infinity Inc. 520 Kane (already seen in the Question/Montoya arc!). There’s a strange blade on the floor with a twisty handle. There are cards on the floor with the numbers 51-56 (sans 52) splayed out. The number 52, circled, dozens of times, all over the big board.

It’s worth another look. It’s worth many, many looks. This series just got a whole helluva lot more interesting.

See ya in seven.

Fifty Toot

As the new self-appointed defender of The Books That People With Internet Connections Poop On, I will now take address the rapid abandonment of “52.”

And when I say “rapid,” sure, the book has been around for 5 issues already, but it’s only been 5 weeks, and less than 1/10th of its full story run.

And sure, the book can be defended on its editorial merit. When so many comics fail to come out on their predetermined monthly or bi-monthly schedules, putting out a book on a weekly basis is quite a feat.

But I think the comic is actually good, for several reasons.

1. It’s an introductory point for new readers.
I know one of the things that kept me out of reading DC Comics for the longest time was the huge number of characters I knew nothing about. Everyone has a grasp on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, but there were all these people like Elongated Man and Captain Atom and Booster Gold, and the midcard was just too big and too intimidating for me to get into.

52, by nature of the Crisis aftermath, makes the midcard the central part of the story, and it does it in a way that re-introduces the characters. You join them in their already-established character lives, yet the story handles them in a way that you can quickly understand who they are and what they’re about.

The history of the DC Universe backup story, which has also been heavily ridiculed, has done a fine job of re-telling the pre-1986 version of the DC Universe through the context of 2006’s revised timelines. Critics of this have argued that it’s boring and there’s nothing new. I don’t even know where to start on the criticism that a history offers nothing new.

That said, in issue 5, we’re still just getting through Crisis on Infinite Earths. I am actually looking forward to where this goes from here. Yeah, I know this stuff so far, but as someone who has only been reading DC since 2005, I’d much rather read this as a backup story than on a wikipedia page or something. And it’s such an unintimidating format for new readers.

2. It’s a fleshing-out point for old readers
Most of this point was already covered above, but rare is the comics reader who has bought every issue of every comic since 1940. I knew who Steel, the Question and Booster Gold were, but for the most part, I’d only witnessed them in cameo roles. I’m guessing I’m not the only one. And while some of these characters might be second or third tier because of their nuances and limitations, I love that DC is using this opportunity to elevate them in the eyes of readers who’d previously only seen them marginalized.

3. It’s more than just a real-time story
DC could have just done a real-time “Here’s what happened in the last year” story. And a lot of it is probably going to be just that. But they’ve done a nice job of leaving hints that 52 is much more than just the number of issues or weeks in a year.

The first hint I caught was in “Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes” #17 from a month or so ago. Those angry aliens are out in space, and the 1-page side story closes with the lines “Existence is a loop. Time is a circle. And hate is eternal. Remember the fifffffdee-tu.”

Then this week’s issue of 52 included Red Tornado’s last words before being destroyed in space during the Crisis: “It’s coming! 52! 52!”

Using the logic that the aliens in the future were not referring to DC’s comic book series as the source of their hate, and that Red Tornado was not fearing the editorial challenge of putting out a weekly comic book on time for a year, The 52 is something big that’s going to happen that’s going to mean something.

It was a way for DC to build in something to the series that they really didn’t have to. 52 could have worked as a serial anthology.

I don’t know if Jean-Claude stopped his weekly review after issue 3 because he’s given up, but I guess I can say I’ve got more than enough faith in DC to get me past 5 issues.

It Makes Me Wonder

After picking up and reading the first issue of Wonder Woman today, I’m left wondering why she’s one of the “Big Three” players in the DCU. To put it simply, she’s never interested me, and I don’t understand how she can interest anybody. She has a lasso that makes people tell the truth, bracelets that deflect bullets, an invisible plane, and a sword. She’s also invincible, isn’t she? Honestly, I know next to nothing about this third of the Big Three, and I care so little about that that I don’t even feel like bothering with a quick search on Wikipedia. If she is invincible, though, then she doesn’t really need those bracelets, and her sword would be kinda pointless. Maybe she’s not. It doesn’t matter, either way.

In order to get past these vague generalities of why I don’t care about Wonder Woman, it’s going to be necessary to get right into the issue and talk about it, so, here’s your warning. If you don’t want to know what happened, blah blah blah.

Wonder Woman is Donna Troy.

Immediately, though, we find out that Diana is still alive, but she’s still on her little vacation from the hustle and bustle of breakin’ necks and cashin’ checks. Because of that fact, that she’s still alive, I mean, we’re forced to be introduced to each character with a small chunk of dialogue on one page and a full splash intro on the next. After four or five teases, we see Diana on the last page, sans Wonder Woman garb. Is she going to reclaim her role? I don’t really care, because, eventually, she’s going to have to. The reason Wally West worked as Barry Allen’s replacement was because after B.A’s death, we weren’t left with much of a choice, and the writers treated Wally as the Flash from there on. If they’re going to try to make Donna Troy a full-time replacement, they’re going to have to get rid of Diana. That’s probably not going to happen.

In his weekly editorial page, Dan Didio says, this week, that, “while you’re picking up your copy of 52 Week Five, don’t forget to grab a copy of Wonder Woman #1. Trust me, it’ll be well worth it.” C’mon, Danny Boy, don’t spit on my cupcake and tell me it’s frosting. The issue closes with Donna Troy being held captive (a fine replacement she was) and Diana, along with some bozo, are going to go look for her and uncapture her. Yawn.

So, really, why is Wonder Woman one of the Big Three? Why not Green Lantern, or Flash, or Detective Chimp? Oh, but Wonder Woman’s a strong, empowered female lead, and it’s so important for young girls to be able to find role models, and blah blah blah. Y’see, my intelligence is already insulted. I know comic books are ridiculously fictional, and I can handle guys flying around, I can handle people walking through walls, and I can understand some dude being able to use a highpowered ring capable of battling any enemy merely by using his sheer willpower, but, come on! A strong, empowered woman? I ain’t buyin’ it, so quit sellin’ it.

Week Five

Last week, if you’ll recall, my biggest gripe was that week four seemed to go by too quickly, that by putting every one of the individual stories into the same issue made it so that none of them were given ample time to develop anything. This week, the story focuses on one of the smaller stories, rather than skipping all around. It focuses on Steel and the return of the lost space heroes almost exclusively, save for a couple pages for us to see Montoya drinking beer and being a lesbo, which, hey, that’s cool with me. There’s one part I picked up in there, where they mention that her stake-out from last week took place on Kane Street, and it got me to thinking. Vic Sage, the Question, told Renee to call him Charlie last week. Charlie Kane. Coincidence? I don’t know, but I think that’s pretty damn cool and yet another reason to think that the Question may be the biggest badass in this series. We’ll have to wait until it’s all over to decide if he can out-cool Black Adam (who is yet again missing in week five).
52 week 5
What exactly did happen to the heroes who were out in space during the Crisis, though? Glad you asked. They answer it all in week five. During the aftermath of repatching a gigantic rift in space (where Alex Luthor was horsing around with the Multiverse), a lot of the heroes were killed or exploded, like the Red Tornado. A bunch of the others, however, were teleported using Adam Strange’s zeta-beams. Alan Scott lost an eye, Hawkgirl became twenty-five feet tall, Firestorm and Cyborg were fused together, and that one guy from the Titans got a voicebox belonging to the Red Tornado fused into his chest. This issue, Steel and Alan Scott are trying to help out at the hospital to fix these unfortunate metas. While at the hospital, the Red Tornado voicebox activates and reveals his final words before ‘sploding. “It’s coming!” it says. “52! 52!” Since it makes no mention of One Year Later, it makes me really pumped that there’s more to the title of this series than the number of weeks in the missing year after the Crisis and before One Year Later. That it has significance beyond that is AWESOME.

The conclusion of the story shows us that Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange (sans eyes) are actually still alive, on some sort of paradise planet. The only catch is that they’re not alone. Whatever else is there is ominous and evil. If they don’t eat any apples, I think they’ll be fine. Starfire’s also naked in this scene, for all you sick degenerates out there that get your jollies from that sort of thing.

This week is a large step forward from last, and after only five issues, I’m excited for the future of this comic. After it’s all said and done, I think we’ll finally see what they meant when the DC editors said that this was the most ambitious series ever. Either that, or we’ll look back on week five and say, “Why’d that voicebox say that ’52’ is coming?”

Either way, see ya in seven.

Bipolar Preorder

I can’t really explain it, other than maybe it’s due to overexposure.

Mere weeks ago, I was more excited about comics than I had been in some time. Civil War was starting, Infinite Crisis was ending, One Year Later was launching. It was an interesting time to be buying comics, especially for people who’d been consistenly paying attention over the past few years.

But now, the level of apathy I feel toward new comic book day is almost at the same level it was in the mid 90s when I gave up for six years or so. And I’m not really sure why.

I don’t feel like the quality of the books has dropped off. I’ve been very pleased with the seamless handoff from Bendis to Brubaker on Daredevil. I’m intrigued by the challenge of 52. I’m one of the many readers, few of whom use the internet, who is enjoying New Avengers.

But I didn’t really notice my lack of interest until two weeks ago, when I purchased an all-time personal record of 13 issues in one week. It took me 6 days to force myself through all of them, even though it included new issues of several of the aforementioned titles, in addition to some of my other recent favorites like X-Factor and Dead Girl.

This week, I only picked up 3 books and it was a chore to get through them. Not that they were bad or that I didn’t enjoy them for what they were – I just had no real desire to read them. It felt not like the joy of digging through the week’s haul and prioritizing what to read first and what to save to the end. More like when you get assigned a reading for homework and are pleased to find out that it was good.

I think I’m still buying comics out of a sense of obligation all of a sudden.

It’s a peculiar enough feeling that I don’t entirely trust it. I’m not going to stop going, because as soon as I do that, I figure I’ll get interested again and then I’ll have missed a couple weeks. And with my luck, it will be a couple of really important weeks.

But is anyone else going through this? Is quality slipping and I’m just being too easy on everything?