Monthly archives: April, 2008

The Never-Ending Ending

never-ending storyWhat is the fascination with endings in comic books? It seems we just can’t get enough of them, and big comics companies just can’t stop giving them to us. Whether it’s the Ultimate X-Men or Y: The Last Man or the Final Crisis, it seems that endings are popping up around every corner, only, once we get there, it just shows a new path to a new ending, in a never-ending loop.

I don’t know how far back this trend goes, but let’s look at the most recent example of it. When 52 ended, the big tagline on the cover was, “It All Ends Here!” The very next week, the first issue of Countdown had the tagline reading, “So Begins the End!” One Year Later, the last issue of Countdown featured the tag, “The End!” Now, one week after that, DC Universe #0’s cover exclaims, “The Ending Begins Here!”

Aren’t you getting sick of it all? I know I am. I mean, it’s obvious that none of these were the real ending of anything, so why should we believe that Final Crisis will actually be the last Crisis that DC makes? Who’s to say that five years from now, there won’t be some new miniseries titled, “The Crisis of the Future” or something?

I guess I just don’t get the fascination. It’s like Margaret Atwood once wrote: “So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun. True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it’s the hardest to do anything with.”

Breaking down The Big Tease: Part 1

Remember early last year, when DC released this image?

Countdown is now over, so let’s take a look at what all these teaser images were referring to, moving clockwise from the left side, and compare them with Dan DiDio’s comments from last January.

1. Big Barda and Scott Free are dead. They got killed in DONG.

2. The Statue of Liberty is knocked down. Cloverfield.

3. Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy are looking … beyond? They became the Challengers from Beyond in Countdown. Donna changed costumes in the middle of a battlefield. DiDio said “The color is important key to her future and her allegiance.”

4. Jason Todd as Red Robin. Dan DiDio said in the initial Q&A that physical distance could represent emotional distance. Jason become Red Robin to aid Earth-51’s Batman, but ended up not learning a single lesson from that one potentially meaningful episode in the year-long series. He’s still the same jerk he was, hence his separation from his traveling buddies Donna and Kyle.

5. Oliver Queen. Is he separated from Black Canary after getting married? I haven’t been reading that series.

6. I assume it’s a Batman from another earth, as all those Elseworlds books are now in-continuity, but DiDio said “The image is symbolic in natural and it is indeed the Batman you are reading now. As for the sword, it’s not the first time he used one.” I still don’t get this one.

This week in Secret Invasion:
Mighty Avengers #12

Mighty Avengers #12 starts out with the closing to Secret War, in which Nick Fury sent a group of heroes to overthrow the government of Latveria and then erased the event from their minds. He bid them farewell with a little bit of an apology, but an overall defense of his actions before promising to fade into obscurity forever.

A month later, Fury’s girlfriend comes to his hotel room in some remote Mexican city. He asks if she was followed, and then she gives him an update on S.H.I.E.L.D. matters, telling him that basically anyone he knew has been suspended. After a roll in the hay, said girlfriend decides to go out for some food. Fury goes invisible and follows her. He observes her having a conversation with a man in the alley during which she explains that she is slowly gaining Fury’s confidence. The goal is his private S.H.I.E.L.D. files. She tells the man to tell the Queen she’s in place.

She returns to the room to find Fury waiting for her with a gun drawn. He asks who she is. She bluffs and he shoots her in the head, splattering green blood and leaving a Skrull corpse on the floor. He goes invisible again and waits outside for the Skrull cleanup crew to arrive.

Two weeks later, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill awakes to find Nick Fury in her room. The two engage in some snappy banter before Fury tells Hill she’s not safe, and that she is surrounded by those who are looking to take her out. He advises her to make some life model decoys like he has. He also tells her that the first inkling he gets that she’s not what she’s supposed to be and that she’s not acting in the best interests of the planet, she’s not going to wake up. Then he splits, they try to catch him and he gets away.

Countdown to Final Crisis: One

countdown 1How utterly fitting. In a series where absolutely nothing of importance happened over the course of fifty tedious issues, it is only fitting that the finale is similarly devoid of any points of interest.

Still, the series accomplished what it set out to accomplish, I suppose. They killed all of the New Gods, and they established the fact that there are fifty-two Monitors watching over each of the fifty-two universes of the Multiverse. They also made it so that Brother Eye is in hiding, with only one OMAC left at his disposal, which is a far cry from before the series, when Brother Eye was in hiding, with only one OMAC at his disposal. They also turned “Mary Damn Marvel” evil and changed Jason Todd from the ruthless, loner vigilante he used to be into the all-new and improved ruthless, loner vigilante that he is now. Holly Robinson and Harley Quinn and the Pied Piper were also dealt with; they went from being lost and purposeless to being…uh, purposeless and lost. Plus, some supervillains were rounded up and shipped off-world. Oh, and some universes died and were reborn.

Why have I been so critical of this series, then? Simple. The New Gods dying wasn’t really covered here; it had its own mini-series for that. The Monitors were established in Brave New World. Salvation Run took care of the missing supervillains story, and the Challengers never really did anything of note. Well, unless you count going from universe to universe for no reason, fighting big bug monsters, eventually heading to Apokolips, leaving, watching a dead but reborn earth die again, and then going home as “something of note.” Because if that’s the case, well, yeah, sure, I guess they did something. Hit the jump. (more…)

The Numbers: Week 47

Every time I try to make sense of a rise in Countdown’s sales, it ends up being something artificial — a reporting glitch, a change in return policy, or something like that. So this month, I’m not even going to try to justify it. Countdown’s numbers rose slightly. Make of it what you will. The book is still selling way below what 52 did, and overall, it’s still declining.

If there is one success with Countdown, it is this: both titles had a huge jump in week 13, previously attributed to the return policy. Regardless, 52 returned to week 12 levels by week 36; Countdown was able to hold off returning to that previous low until week 40.

Book of Doom: Superman #675

Superman 675It’s been three weeks since the Book of Doom returned with a vengeance, with a 4-day review-thon spotlighting as many books. Since then, we here at haven’t been able to decide on a book that we had enough interest in to sit down and write a review. This week Superman #675, the final Kurt Busiek-penned issue of the series, seemed like it might be a good choice.

Emphasis on the word “seemed.”

Kurt Busiek’s Superman run has been pretty decent, but then again I’ve only been reading Superman solo stories for as long as Busiek’s been writing them. “Up, Up and Away,” the first One Year Later arc, was a great story. “Camelot Falls” was a nice saga that suffered drastically from constant interruptions by fill-in issues to give Carlos Pacheco time to play catch-up. Some of those fill-ins were even pretty entertaining, though.

But since Camelot Falls ended six months ago or so, Supeman just hasn’t been very good. Busiek seemed to be treading water, incorporating elements from the Richard Donner Action Comics arc that I tried my damnedest to avoid. There are only so many stories you can tolerate that involve a generic super-powered alien fighting Superman.

So imagine how overjoyed I was when I started reading this issue and discovered it was Superman versus three generic super-powered aliens. Yes, I said “discovered,” because Superman has fallen so far off my radar that I had completely forgotten what had happened in the previous issue. I thought this was going to be a stand-alone wrap-everything-up send-off issue. My apologies, Jim.

Jim Doom: “I bought this $3.99 issue because I was under the impression it was a standalone conclusion to Busiek’s run on the book. Had I known that it was just part 2 of a story, I wouldn’t have spent the money, extra pages or not. (more…)

Countdown to Final Crisis: Two

countdown 2Sweet, merciful crap, it’s almost over.

Let me ask you an old question: If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody’s around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Now let me twist that question just a tad: If a direct Countdown tie-in features a major plot point months in advance to an issue of Countdown, do you think Countdown will acknowledge it or realize it happened? Let me ask it differently: Does the Pope shit on Countdown in the woods?

I’d usually pause at this point and say that we need to catch up to whatever happened in this issue, or whatever they’re passing off as happening in this issue, but I don’t know if you guys will be able to keep up this week. Take a deep breath to focus all of your energies on this following summation, so that you don’t have to re-read it. It may be worth re-reading; don’t get me wrong. That’s a judgment call that you’re going to have to make on your own, but here it is:

Jimmy Olsen, in the form of a giant-sized turtle, wrestles a giant-sized Darkseid, until a miniature-sized Ray Palmer destroys the soul catcher that was inside Jimmy (the one that has been housing all the souls/powers of the dead New Gods), after which point a Boom Tube opens up nearby, from which a non-dead Orion (who died in DONG #6), comes out to confront and eventually kill a now non-giant Darkseid. And then Orion also dies.

Let me sit here while that sinks in for a second.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your second to last issue of Countdown to Final Crisis.

What was all of that talk, back in DONG #6, where Scott Free says how he felt Orion’s death through the Source Wall, something he couldn’t sense with the other dead New Gods, since Orion’s soul wasn’t stolen; rather, he died and returned to the Source, leaving only his helmet behind. Darkseid felt it too, reaching out from across the span of space, waxing poetic about how their joined story has finally ended. And then, later, at the end of the next issue, Darkseid is confronted by the now fully-reformed Source, at which point the Source notes that Darkseid has pulled something unexpected for their final clash in the upcoming conclusion to the DONG miniseries.

I mean, really, what was all of that? Somebody answer me, goddamnit. No explanation is given and none can be.

Here’s my prediction/prayer-list for the finale next week: Every last one of these characters is killed off, after which every writer and artist involved on this project resigns and goes off to sell auto-insurance somewhere far away.

A skid mark by any other name …


Take a good look at this. You’re staring into the face of the new comic trend. Because of an incestuous circle of mild talent that propogated itself around the time of the forming of Image Comics, we’ve been subjected to the artist as celebrity trumping the much better “book coming out on time every month” trend which was previously the standard. But now it’s not enough to put up with fugly, constantly late and past its prime art. Now we have to have it painted to hide the fact that the artists still draw like a bunch of mid-nineties turds. I discussed it a little bit here in my Ultimates 3 review and tackling the Johnny-always-fucking-come-lately Joe Madureira. For the record, if that’s misspelled, I don’t particularly care. But the king of all turd kings, Rob Liefield, is now having his shit stains painted over. It’s like you can use this to hide the lazy penciling.

PS – It’s about the Bible.

PPS – At least he’s restrained himself on the amount of guns.

NYT piece on Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America

Mr. Simon earned the “legend” title with his partner Jack Kirby by creating Captain America, the superhero who arrived in December 1940, just in time to play a patriotic foil to the Axis powers. The cover of the first issue even has the good captain socking Hitler in the jaw.

For Mr. Simon and Mr. Kirby, though, the biggest blow came when they were dismissed from the series, which had been selling a million copies a month, in a dispute over royalties. The team moved to Detective Comics (today DC Comics), but Captain America stayed with Timely, the forerunner of Marvel Comics.

Read the full article at

Countdown to Final Crisis: Three

countdown 3There are three things I’ve learned in the past twenty-four hours. First, you can get across the border from Panama to Costa Rica with no outbound ticket documentation by giving the border guard a five dollar bill. Second, when a boat driver tells you he’s going to pick you up at a certain time, that’s not taking into account his forty-five minute-long coffee break. Third, not even several weeks in a sunny paradise can make me any more amiable toward Countdown to Final Crisis, the single worst comic book I’ve ever read from start to (almost) finish.

I’m still in Central America, so, off the bat, my apologies for the delayed recap. But, really, what have I missed since we last got caught up? The Great Disaster has come and gone, the Challengers returned to our Earth, and Mary Marvel got a whole lot sexier. Thankfully, Fin Fang Doom picked up the slack last week and I didn’t have to write three weeks worth of recaps; I think just this one will be plenty for now.

So, last Wednesday, Countdown. Three weeks, three issues left. What happened? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

Nothing happened. Nothing ever happens. Oh, and, does everybody fully understand that The Great Disaster had ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT ON ANYTHING? (more…)