Archive for September, 2011

Everything that has happened with the New 52 has made me think that this whole thing was only halfway thought out (maybe three quarters, AT BEST).  Here’s DC’s online market research survey, provided by the Nielsen Market Research Concern.  Go ahead and take it if you want, then we can talk about it a little.  I can’t just write what the questions are, because it turns out that they’re all copyrighted by Nielsen, so they’ll sue me (!) if I publish any of it, I guess.

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First up, let me talk about Swamp Thing, by Scott Snyder, with art by somebody.  Yanick Paquette (art) and Nathan Fairbairn (colors) (this is what the internet tells me; be advised, DC!  You should start sending me promo copies if you want me to get names right!).  Anyway, Swamp Thing actually IS one of the comics that I’ve read a fair bit of, but mostly Alan Moore’s definitive run from the 90s.  So, I’ve got some familiarity with the character, but I don’t really care that much about him; I was mostly just reading for John Constantine and the freaky gourd sex.

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I don’t think I have to review Batman #1: It was Good. But really, just read the Comics Alliance review, I concur with everything Sims said over there.

So I want to focus on one of the odder results of The Flash screwing up time-travel and remaking the universe (or whatever the hell reason we’re using to explain why Green Lantern hasn’t undergone any changes and yet there never was a Justice League International):

Jim Gordon is smoking again.

And not cigars, or pipes. That there is a cigarette he’s gesturing at the dark knight with. Which is, I guess, a slightly more modern tobacco intake device for a cop to smoke than the others, but nevertheless. In the Nu52, James Gordon still smokes.  (more…)

The First Law of Mad Science

written by Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz

art by Daniel Lapham

Mike Isenberg is a friend of mine, and that always makes for a leery proposition when it comes time to review a comic book.  Of course I’m always happy to help get someone’s name around, but what if the comic isn’t any good?  I have a reputation to maintain here.

Fortunately, The First Law of Mad Science does not present a problem in that regard.

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Supergirl (written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, and drawn by Mahmud Asrar)

I wasn’t going to review this, for reasons of personal bias that I’m not going to go into right now, but I’ve calmed down a little and am willing to take a crack at it.  This was I guess an “okay” book, in the sense that I wasn’t actively infuriated by it, but I do fully expect to have forgotten about it by next week, so I think that’s still a far cry from “good.”

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Some time ago, I read a comment on the internet from some anonymous commenter about Power Girl: the notoriously well-endowed DC comics character. That comment went something along these lines: “I wouldn’t ever say anything about her boobs! She could knock my head off!”

This is obviously stupid, but in a rare moment of restraint I chose NOT to get involved in an argument on the internet. Perhaps my better nature prevailed, perhaps it was really my worse nature, who can tell? But recently, there’s been a combination of new arguments for (and against) more female creators at the major comics companies, and accompanying discussions about just what it means to make exploitative art, and on top of that there’s been some discussion in the news (depending on where you get your news, I guess) about “Mary Sues”, and just what the line between a strong character and a character who is TOO strong is.

Those particular articles were from a while ago and got me started thinking about this, but what really made me dust it off was Laura Hudsons “The Big Sexy Problem With Superheroines and Their ‘Liberated’ Sexuality.”

In a way, this is tangential, but in another I think very important way it’s not, but that won’t be obvious until you get to the end. So, read the whole thing, I guess?
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It seems obvious now that I’m writing it down, and I can just see the words in front of me, but the essential problem with DC and their 52-new issue reboot/relaunch/reinvention is that it was really just a huge publicity stunt.

By which I mean:  they didn’t actually change their *product* in any meaningful way; they just tried to generate a lot of hype and notice for their work, and then just continued to do the same basic thing that they’ve been doing for fifty years.

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Man, I was hoping my only problem with Nightwing was that it just wasn’t as on the mark as Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel’s first issue of the former Robin’s solo adventures from back in 1996. But after a second read, I only WISH that was the problem.

There’s a lot of discussion about what makes a successful superhero first issue. I think there’s a lot of ways you can do it, but however you set about it, ultimately you need three elements: an action sequence (it is a superhero comic, after all) that ideally initiates or ties into a larger plot (preferred over 007 pre-credits action sequences), a concise mission statement (“This is who the hero is, this is what he wants to accomplish”), and an introduction to the forces aligned against him. (A nice fourth element is “A sequence clarifying what his secret identity and/or new setting is like,” but that’s really a secondary requirement that can get set up in issue 2.)

Kyle Higgins’ Nightwing script knows the words, but it’s getting the tune all wrong (or is that the other way around?).  (more…)

I didn’t find this one as offensively stupid as Suicide Squad, so don’t expect a huge and furious rant about it, but I did have some (mostly one) major problem with Deathstroke #1 (by Kyle Higgins, art by Joe Bennett & Art Thibert).  It’s a problem rooted in the spoiler, and I’ll get to it in a minute once I’ve brought you up to speed.

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I’ve never been able to use the phrase “out of morbid curiosity” so sincerely as I was able to when answering the question shouted at asked to me by Braak, “Why are you watching the Two and a Half Men premier?”

Like most people who aren’t the sizable majority of people on Earth, I don’t watch Two and a Half Men normally. I’ve caught a few minutes here or there (more now that FX reruns it mercilessly). I thought I got the basic idea – it’s just a joke machine, where the jokes are Charlie’s a horny lush, Alan’s a sad sack/straight man, and the kid’s too old to write jokes for anymore, I guess.

I had no idea the whole thing was built on utter hatred and loathing of all its characters. But the opening half of 2.5M (as I imagine the big fans call it) – an extended sequence of metaphorically pissing on Charlie Sheen’s (still functioning, somehow) corpse – pretty much locked that one up.

It was one of the most mesmerizingly hideous half hours of television I’ve ever watched.

Going down the list from memory:

- The funeral was almost entirely populated by Charlie’s ex-girlfriends, all of whom he seemed to have given some kind of STD, all of whom just wanted to make sure he was dead and/or piss on the corpse (stay classy, Jenny McCarthy). Oh, and Charlie’s dealer (Martin Mull – always good to see, really) who wanted to know how he was going to get reimbursed for the apparent $38,000 Charlie spent on drugs. (more…)