Posts Tagged ‘DC Comics’

Hm. How embarrassing – I’d assumed I’d posted this months ago.

Anyway, I intend to get back to more timely reviewing – I really want to talk about Saga, and Hawkeye, and Superior Spider-Man – but before we do, I should probably tell you guys about some more DC New 52 collections I’ve read and possibly enjoyed.

This time around, we’re going to look at some of the edgy/weird titles, and this time, I’m pretty well shocked to find two books I really really liked. Positive reviews! This will probably not be a trend.

Demon Knights Vol. 1: Seven Against The Dark

Demon Knights manages to pull off in six issues, using many of the same ingredients, everything that Justice League failed at. It’s a team book with some recognizable characters thrown together by chance, many with conflicting motivations or attitudes, each with a particular skill set, tasked with defending against an invading horde, finding a mission and reason to stay together after the initial events.

But unlike Justice League, it does so by being exciting, good-humored, and intriguing in its teases of future developments and possible betrayals. And unlike Jim Lee’s shiny and shallow art style where poses trump storytelling, Diogenes Neves (who improves with each chapter) focuses a lot of attention on the physical acting of each character.

With an ensemble book, probably the best thing a writer can do to ensure the audience returns – more than upping the ante, though there are some great cliffhangers in here – is develop characters the audience wants to spend more time with. And this is a quirky batch – Vandal Savage’s good-times barbarian, the intriguingly lusty Etrigan, and the downright hilarious Sir Ystin among them – are a lot of things, but mostly, they’re just fun to watch. Even when they are doing terrible things, I find them more sympathetic and emotionally recognizable than any single member of the Justice League.  (more…)

Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology remains a frustrating read for me because it’s nowhere near as fun as it should be when you look at the parts making up its whole:

  • It is drawn by J.H. Williams…
  • Starring a lesbian punkabilly socialite with military training who runs her Batwoman operations as combat missions with the help of her version of Alfred, her army colonel father…
  • Missions that usually involve monster-men, ghost-ladies, the Religion of Crime and an Alice-in-Wonderland themed crazy who is actually Batwoman’s presumed-dead twin…
  • While trying to evade the eyes of the Department of Extranormal Operations, which is headed by a skeleton in a suit who smokes cigars.

Honestly, how is this thing not better?  (more…)

Let’s dive into the next batch,

Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Midas Touch

This was actually what I feared most when the reboot started taking shape and it became clear that some characters’ histories were essentially being jettisoned in favor of a movie-ready high concept pitch.

Green Arrow as a character is someone who benefits from having a long, entrenched history within the DC universe – his growth from a Batman knock-off to that of a social crusader; his friendship with Green Lantern; his hot-and-cold relationship with Black Canary; his complicated mentoring of Speedy/Arsenal; his Mike Grell urban-hunter period, etc.

These milestones greatly inform and enrich his character, so if you cut them out, you damn well better have something solid to replace them with.

Unfortunately, J.T. Krul managed none of that, instead sticking the newly en-young-ened Oliver Queen (who would now be way too young to have mentored the Roy Harper currently starring in Red Hood and the Outlaws, but nevermind that for now) in a status quo that probably sounded clever at the outset: Oliver is essentially Steve Jobs, globe-trotting manhunter.  (more…)

Like a lot of long-time comic readers, I tend to wax and wane on whether I’m a DC guy or a Marvel guy. As a kid in the 80’s, Spider-Man, X-Men and Captain America held my attention. But in the 90’s, during my formative comic buying years, it’s clear I was more in the DC camp – looking through my collection I see some long, uninterrupted runs on JLA, Flash, Impulse, Robin, Nightwing, (though not a lot of Batman runs, oddly enough) – and James Robinson’s Starman had a huge impact on me.

It was only in the 2000s that my buying habits returned to Marvel as they started employing all the writers I like and essentially let them do what they wanted (Bendis’s Daredevil, Morrison’s X-Men, Ennis on Punisher, Ellis and then Fraction on Iron Man, Brubaker’s Captain America, etc ).

And DC at this point had become so mired in death and grimness that around this time last year, I was actually (cautiously) looking forward to the upcoming reboot/New 52 rebranding, in hopes that maybe I could get back onboard with a few titles here and there.

Of course, I hadn’t counted on the fact that the DC editorial staff had no fucking clue what they were doing, resulting in rebranded properties that were even less appealing to me than before.

And with little rhyme or reason. Part of the reboot was to state that the DC universe was only 5 years old, not the 10-15 sliding timeline. Which actually ended up wreaking havoc on the previous continuity, as writers and editors had to attempt to explain which previous books “counted” now – and just how Batman had gone through five Robins and three Batgirls (one of whom was previously a Robin!) in five years.

The answer: arbitrary subtractions and reassignments.

Which is why in the current DC universe, Green Arrow’s old sidekick Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow is only about five years younger than him – and his biological son Connor has winked out of existence entirely; the Flash for a generation of readers, Wally West (who was in the costume for over 20 years) was also erased in favor of the previous generation’s Barry Allen; and now the latest news, that Tim Drake was never an “official” Robin, having gone by the moniker “Red Robin” this whole time.  (more…)

So, remember that DC market research survey I talked about a while ago?  Well, the results are in, and they’re over here.

Quelle surprise, DC has not significantly altered its demographic in any way, just like everyone said they weren’t going to by doing basically exactly the same thing that they’ve always done.

Moreover, no information is available about WHY PEOPLE DIDN’T PURCHASE BOOKS.  Not only THAT!  Not only did they not ask the question!  But it turns out that they didn’t even count surveys in which the respondents didn’t actually purchase a title — which means they have ZERO statistics on the people who looked at, but didn’t BUY any of their comics.

When I was in the 10th grade, I took an anthropology class and we decided to get statistics on the people who came into our classroom by accident (a pretty frequent occurrence), in the hopes of gleaning useful information about them.  Halfway through proposing the study, we realized it would be completely fucking useless if we didn’t check to see how many people DIDN’T come into our room by accident.

In the tenth grade.  Before we even started the survey.

Above all, this was plainly a survey that was not designed to find out what the problems were (because if it had been, they would have asked clear questions about the things they knew were problems), but one that was designed to affirm what DC wanted to believe:  it was commissioned as a way to PROVE THEIR SUCCESS, not to figure out their failures.  Bad science, DC; not only did you not succeed at your goals, but now you don’t even know why.

You guys.

Nielsen is just a bad market research company.

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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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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