This is the end, my friend.

And so, we reach a crossroads.

Readers, I bought ten comics this week. I don’t want to review any of them.

Of course, that’s not to say that I found them bad. On the contrary, I found most of them to be very good! I mean, the last week of the month is usually very good to me. Flash, Young Avengers, Wolverine and the X-Men, Avengers Arena, Morning Glories…this month even had an American Vampire anthology! But…none of it moved me.

Wolverine and the X-Men saw a romance that had been set up from the beginning finally reach its (awkward) culmination; Young Avengers answered some burning questions, while setting up a new arc full of even more questions set to drive us crazy; Morning Glories sort of revealed exactly why Irina was the way she was; FF had the perfect blend of funny parts, heartwarming parts, and wait-what parts; Flash…

A friend of mine who runs a podcast got to interview Brian Buccellato earlier this year. Like, February. I’ve known the identity of the new Reverse Flash since February, you guys. And even before then, the person who it ended up being was my #1 suspect from the get-go. I inherited this ability from my gram, who can tell you who the murderer is within five minutes of them being introduced.

Actually, I feel like I should just admit this now: superhero comics are starting to lose my interest. Don’t get me wrong, I still love them. I’m going to be chained up in DC’s sex-dungeony sub-basement until the day I die. The best proof of this is that I haven’t not bought an issue of a Titans-related series since I started buying comics regularly in 1998. Drink that in, then think about what it means.

My love for Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Animal Man are still going strong. I’d love Vibe more if I was actually able to get my hands on copies of it; my comic shops (plural) always under-order, and sell out the same day. I still haven’t read issue #5, and am putting off reading #6 and #7 until I do. Supergirl and Suicide Squad are in danger again, if only because they’re walking that fine, thin line between confusing and boring. When I’m confused by something, it means my brain is at least willing to give untangling it a try. When I’m bored, you can just forget it.

And Marvel! I’m buying more Marvel books now that I have since before Civil War; Avengers Arena, Avengers AI, FF, Hawkeye, Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Men, and Young Avengers. With the exception of Wolverine and the X-Men, I started all of these books on either their first issue, or within the first five. I’m finding them all to be enjoyable, even Avengers Arena, to an extent. But are they anything new? No, not really. They’ve all got interesting concepts, good to excellent writing and art, and even occasionally show character growth. I like that. But just like with DC, it’s not enough.

I’ve been buying a lot of Image, Vertigo, and Oni Press stuff, lately. Last week, the latest trade of Chew came out, and Saga has started up again. I’m also buying Morning Glories, and plan on buying Rocket Girl, Pretty Deadly, Deadly Class, and Sex Criminals when they come out later this year. Aside from the interesting premises and thoroughly intriguing previews I’ve seen of them, the titles are being done by creators I hold in quite a high regard, such as Amy Reeder, Matt Fraction, and Kelly Sue DeConnick. From Vertigo, I’m currently devouring American Vampire, Fairest, Trillium, Collider (sorry, FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics), and The Wake. Within the next few months, I’ll be adding Sandman: Overture, Hinterkind, Dead Boy Detectives, and Coffin Hill to my regular pull list.

I’m still just as in love with comics as I’ve always been, I’m just going back to my first love. Long before the Flash adorned pretty much everything I wear, I was reading about Will Eisner’s idea of New York City. Ross Campbell’s Wet Moon is still the book I recommend to people who want to read comics with human proportions in them.  Los Bros Hernandez have spent almost 30 years crafting a world where hammer-wielding women become mayors and perfect-bodied eccentrics become superheroes. And frankly, I love it.

Again, I’d like to issue a formal apology. My love of cape comics has waned in such a way, I don’t know if I can continue to regularly update. I will try, god knows I will try, but forcing myself to come up with witty things to say about books I don’t entirely care about was killing me. Hopefully, this feeling will pass, and I’ll be back at the same Bat time next week, encouraging you lot to buy Batwoman. If not, well.

I think we had a decent run, don’t you?

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Lay down your arms, lay down your lives.

The word of the week is ‘sacrifice’, ladies and gentlemen. It’s more trendy than you think, in superhero comics. But sacrifice can come in many flavors, and not all of them are obvious the first time around.

As always, we’re kicking ladies’ week off with the cutest little lady in comics, Maxine Baker! Okay, her dad’s here, too. His sacrifice was that of blood, blood unwillingly given to Brother Blood, which gave him access to the Red. Meanwhile, Maxine continues her search for her brother’s soul. While I can’t say that I’m losing interest in this book, the inclusion of the media, truly America’s greatest tier of leech, has been rather irksome. I mean, I go out of my way to ignore celebrity junk in real life, I don’t need to be reminded of it in comics.

Self-sacrifice is a Supergirl tradition, it seems, but this time was different. This Supergirl was different. Honestly, the New 52 Supergirl has been…grating, at times. She’s quite hard to like, and I think that was deliberate. To match her family, I suppose. In this issue of Supergirl, Kara (again, unwillingly) makes the ultimate sacrifice, her flesh dissolved, scrubbed clean of the Kryptonite poisoning, and reconstituted into the flesh of the man the Cyborg Superman once was, Zor-El! Heh. I just…I don’t even know who I’m trying to fool, here. Ever since the H’El on Earth stuff, I’ve been so lost. That’s the thing with crossover books, you get so lost so easily if you don’t follow everything, it’s absurd. I’m not going to drop Supergirl again, not just yet. But this issue has officially sparked warning bells, and that’s not a good thing.

There’s self-sacrifice, and then there’s sacrifice of self. Ignoring your own ideals for the greater good is one of the hardest things a person can do, and that’s why I’ll never take heroes like Batman seriously. The sheer amount of self-righteous bullshit that writers have managed to stuff into one character over the years is overwhelming. Diana knows that there are other answers, ways to stop an enemy without ending their life, but sometimes…sometimes killing is all that’s left. The Firstborn still lives, but barely. The God of War is dead, long live the Goddess of War. 

You can never empathize with a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Kate Kane gets that. That’s why she turned the needle on herself. Dosed herself with Fear Toxin in order to fully understand what she’d put Maggie through. All the heroes I’ve talked about today have sacrificed their bodies in one way or another, but Kate? Kate sacrificed her mind. Well done, girl.

I’d like to issue a formal apology. I’ve not done a whole lot of reviewing, lately. My mind has been other places. My heart hasn’t been in it. Sometimes, I’ve just had nothing worth reviewing. These are, of course, excuses. But here is a promise: so long as I am able, there will be new content every week. Have a good weekend.

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DC: Please stop focusing on Batman

What has two arms, two legs, one head, and no day off this week? This guy! So, uh, good news and bad news. Good news, I got my hands on the latest issue of Saga. Bad news, I don’t actually have anything to review this week. So, in the time-honored tradition, have a rant.

So there’s this guy, Batman. Been around for almost 80 years. Kinda broody, parent issues out the wazoo. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Actually, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard of him, at this point.

Batman, for those of you who might be having delusions otherwise, is DC’s biggest character. He’s been the subject of eight animated television shows over the years, over a dozen live-action and animated movies, and in the New 52, his ‘family’ has more ongoing books than any other section, and none of them have been cancelled yet. Batman Incorporated ended, but it was always meant to do that. The Batman section of the New 52 has 12 ongoing books. That leaves 40 ongoing books for the rest of the DC Universe. Not to mention how, in the digital-first comics, we’ve got Li’l Gotham, Batman Beyond Unlimited, Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman ‘66, and Batman: Arkham Unhinged.

As further proof to Batman’s near-total domination of DC, allow me to present the crossover events so far since the reboot started: Night of the Owls, The Culling, Rise of the Third Army, Rotworld, Death of the Family, H’El on Earth, Throne of Atlantis, Wrath of the First Lantern, Batman: Zero Year, Trinity War. That’s one Batman crossover event a year, guys. Not to mention that Zero Year crosses over with non-Batman titles, like Flash and Green Lantern Corps. Why? Who cares! Batman! DC, please. And with the reality of a Batman/Superman movie in the not so distant future looming over us, it’s only bound to get worse.

So I implore you, DC. Take a look around your vast kingdom. Toy with some of your other properties, for once.

“But Batman sells!” You protest. “Kids love Batman! Adults love Batman! Everyone knows Batman!” No. Let me put it this way. 

If you have hamburgers once a week throughout your childhood, you’ll have fond memories of hamburgers. You’ll also like hamburgers a lot, provided you only had them every once in awhile. And then, when you hit adulthood, suddenly, hamburgers are everywhere. There are a million variations on the same hamburger, and in order to feel like you’re getting the best hamburger experience, you decide to try them all. Eventually, it becomes too much. You’re drowning in hamburgers. And the worst part? Most of them are terrible, with wilted lettuce and moldy bread. Every now and then, you find an excellent hamburger, cooked exactly how you like it, with the freshest ingredients. However, when buying that burger, the server informs you that you’ll need to buy a whole bunch of other hamburgers, many of them rotten, in order to properly enjoy the burger you wanted. DC, you are the server. Batman is the hamburger.

I’m getting a little tired of hamburgers. Let’s get a salad, or some tomato soup, or hell, some tacos. You’ve got a big universe, DC. Capitalize on it.

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The Flash: The Movie; is Barry Allen the right choice?

So, good news and bad news. Good news: I totally got comics this week! Bad news: You really don’t want me to review them. I just spent about an hour rolling around on my Animal Man and Sweet Tooth issues, basking in how good Trillium is. Instead, you’re getting another rant. So turn on, tune in, drop out, drop in, switch on, switch off, and explode, folks, because today I plan to talk about the Flash movie.

No, not the one that I just reviewed. The one that was falsely reported at SDCC a few weeks ago. As it turns out, there will be no Flash movie in 2016, though there will be a Flash TV show, probably as soon as 2014. Barry Allen is going to be a recurring character on Arrow starting in the second season, which is set to be hilarious, as Barry and Ollie get along about as well as two cats in a sack, unless Hal is between them playing Switzerland. “In brightest day, in blackest night, I’m going to punch the both of you in the face if you don’t stop this shit right now.” It goes without saying that, should there be a Flash movie, the man in the red suit would most likely be Barry Allen, as he’s the Flash DC has been focusing on for the last few years. But truthfully, I really think they could make a Flash movie with Wally in the lead, through the long-held DC tradition of blending.

In JLU, Wally was a police scientist, his uncle’s career. He lived in Central City, and was the only Flash. He had a museum dedicated to him. And yet…he had an excellent sense of humor, something that hadn’t really been present with the last TV Flash, Barry, in the live action show from 1990. JLU Wally was the comedy relief with a heart of gold. JLU was, in my opinion, the best example of character blending that there could be.

A few years after Flash-Wally first appeared on the small screen, Teen Titans showed us a Kid Flash-Wally…who had the same voice actor as his adult counterpart, leading me to personally believe that Wally got his powers in an accident as a child, and grew up as a superhero. You can base a movie on that, just leave out the lab accident.

Speaking of accidents, the origin where Wally gives himself powers via his uncle’s notes in Young Justice is a good origin, really! But his comics origin was very different, and involved him accidentally getting powers in a freak coincidence where the Flash was showing him how he’d gotten his own powers in Barry Allen’s lab. Wally didn’t learn that his uncle was the Flash until a bit later. Still, in both instances, his powers are gained through his adult mentor, something that would have to be changed for a movie.

It would, of course, mean that you’d be cutting out Barry Allen completely, something that the big hats at DC don’t want to do. Still, in Earth-2, Jay Garrick got his powers from the god Mercury. In the new 52, Barry got his powers from the same old experiment. Wally’s been shown to be a fairly bright kid, maybe he was struck by lightning while carrying home his science fair project and that’s how he got his powers in JLU/Teen Titans. It was never really addressed, I don’t believe.

To the current generation of young adult comic readers, Wally is our guy. We remember him from Justice League and JLU. Teen Titans. The Batman. Hell, he even raced Superman in Superman: The Animated Series. He is, to people between the ages of 18 and 25, the best known Flash. Aka, the demographic that the Flash movie would be hoping to reach, alongside the 8-14 year old demographic that all superhero movies hope to pander to. 

But the people in charge of such a thing are part of the nostalgia generation. Dan DiDio recently stated that DC was making comics aimed at 45-year olds, a pretty stupid business practice. Let me put it this way: cigarette companies used to market their product in a way that would interest kids. Get them smoking young, and they’ll carry that habit into adulthood. Comics are the same way, and just as bad for your heart. DC’s obsession with Barry Allen and subsequent refusal to touch Wally West will hurt them in the same way that letting Scott Lobdell write Starfire hurt them. Comics have an audience of 100-200 thousand, for the best-selling titles. The least-watched episodes of Teen Titans and JLU still drew in over a million viewers. Casual fans look for what they know. Casual fans don’t know Barry Allen. You do the math, DC.

See y’all next week, when we take a look at the wonderful world of Li’l Gotham!

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Faster, speedster! Will! Will!

Welcome back to your regularly scheduled programming. It’s the last week of July, everyone! And more than that, it’s the fifth week of July. Also, I totally didn’t review last week’s comics. So what does that mean? It means you best hold onto your pants, as five comic reviews are coming your way!

Gonna start off with the one that made me the most angry. For the past two weeks or so, the internet has been blowing up because of Morrison’s interviews of him saying that he’s destroyed Batman, that Batman can’t come back from this. I have but one thing to say:
Fuck you.
Because Batman? Batman will always endure. In the long run, more people will pay attention to things like Snyder’s Death of the Family and Court of Owls storylines than they ever did to Batman Inc. Batman Inc was a vehicle. A death vehicle. Over the course of the last 13 issues, we’ve lost Knight and Robin, and now we’ve lost Talia al Ghul. One can argue that we’ve regained Kathy Kane, but bullshit. “Don’t try to find me.” She says. “I don’t exist.” It’s practically a warning for other writers: do not use this character ever again. As for the reaction to Talia’s death in the other Bat-books? Maybe we’ll see something in Red Hood and the Outlaws, those of you who still read it should give me the heads-up if a mention occurs. As for Batman and-, and the main Batman book? Bruce is still reeling from Damian’s death, too broken up over that to really give a shit that his mother died right in front of him. And the main Batman book is waist deep in something called Zero Year. I don’t know, I stopped reading it after Death of the Family.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not a Batman fan. For a long time, I could have considered myself a Grant Morrison fan and really, I still am. Just…not when he writes Batman. And with the end of Batman Inc, he’s officially done. The endgame has been played. The Morrison era of Batman is over. You can all go about your lives. We’re free.

If you went into the second Animal Man annual thinking you were going to get an awesome fight and not have your heart broken, haha, have I got news for you, buddy! The story itself is half present-tense, half-memory. Buddy, still in mourning for Cliff, goes to a convenience store to buy beer. He sees a gossip rag that poses the question: “Was Animal Man’s son’s death a hoax?” and loses his shit entirely. We are then taken back four years. To the day of Maxine’s birth, actually. Buddy and Cliff are waylaid by Anansa, the Spider Mother, who has been kidnapping people to feed on their dreams. Buddy doesn’t actually have to fight her, as she’s peaceful in nature, and he actually later returns to help her move to an unpopulated area, where she and her children can eat all the animal dreams they want. He finds her again, all these years later, in order to retrieve the dream she’d been given by Cliff, and my heart tapdanced out of my chest, leaving me sitting here.

There’s this little game I like to play with the new Young Avengers series called ‘Loki, no’. In it, I count how many times I tell Loki not to do something in an issue. I think I may have said it twelve times over the course of two pages in the middle, help. Anyway, the Young Avengers are on the hunt for Tommy and his…kidnapper? Vaporizer? The not-Patriot, anyway. So they run through countless dimensions searching, picking up his trail but not finding him. And so, so many of those non-616 dimensions have various members of the team going evil. Though, there is a dimension where no one goes evil! Mother’s home dimension, where they end up finding not-Patriot. Two guesses as to who said oh shit out loud. And then they end up leaving Teddy and David behind accidentally in order to fall into a land where…oh shit. I call this book Journey into Misery 2: Electric Boogaloo for a reason, y’all. Leah, whom Hela banished at the end of Loki’s run on Journey into Mystery, has made a reappearance. I am going to die a painful death. Oh, speaking of dying a painful death, I have this little feeling that Billy is going to turn David inside-out if he ever finds out about…well, see for yourselves:

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Though, I do have a theory. A few pages earlier, David reminded himself that, yes, magic existed. And for those playing the home game, Teddy is currently stressing himself out because he believes, ding ding ding, that his entire relationship with Billy is fueled by Billy’s powers. Perhaps, because he and Billy are dimensions apart, any possible sway Billy’s powers could have held over him are gone. If Teddy pushed David away and protests that it wasn’t right for him to do such a thing, their relationship is real. If not…well, I’ve had my heart broken before by a queer Marvel relationship, when Xavin had to leave Karolina to go with the Majesdanians (and I can’t believe I remembered how to spell that). Broken hearts heal.

So, level with me here, DC. You want us to legitimately ship Barry/Patty, but then you dangle Barry/Iris in front of us. The marriage that stood the test of time 1000 years into the future. The matriarch and patriarch of the Flash family. Good to know your own characters shut you down, though. If even she wasn’t directly meaning to, Iris attempted to stir the paranoia pot in regards to Patty and Barry living together…and Patty was basically, “Nope, it’s all pretty natural. Nothing scary about it.” For observant readers, Iris works on Broome street, named after John Broome, co-creator of the Barry Allen Flash and a prominent part of the Silver Age as a whole.
Then again, there is one definite “Barry, you asshole” moment this issue:

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What a beautiful bit of misdirection, Barry. Ah, but the interactions with the womenfolk are the potatoes of this issue. The real meat lies in the mystery of our big bad, the Reverse Flash. One thing we know for sure: it’s not Dr. Elias. Also, if I may take a moment to gush, the fact that he uses the plates of his Speed Force suit as projectiles is awesome. There’s an application Barry never thought of, tell you what.

And now, for our grand finale before my brain fails on me, the Brave and the Boyfriends. Bold, I meant to say bold. But really, Hal, when you refer to your first team-up as your first date, after you’re pulled from your actual man-date to the planet of the fight clubs, people tend to talk. In any case, the main story in this annual is about the first time Flash and Green Lantern worked a case together…as well as the consequences of that first team-up. Someone is snatching children from group homes, and police scientist Barry Allen is on the case! Of course, he had to choose to be on the case in Coast City, California, home of Green Lantern. There’s a moment of wacky misunderstandings, and then the two must jump into action! Though, Barry can’t just go as himself, he has to do a quick costume-change, first. As it turns out, the children are being kidnapped by space aliens from the planet of fight clubs, in order to be strapped in EVAs and sent to fight in an arena to the death. Hal makes a deal with the team leader that if they stop kidnapping children, their team will be padded with a pair of superheroes. A pity he never mentions that to Barry. It’s a good, solid story, probably my favorite Flash story since Barry came back to life. Sami Basri really kills it on the art, too. All the things that made me hate him on Power Girl have me swooning here. He’s really improved in the last couple of years!
The back-up story is also quite good, about all the little ways the Flash has touched the lives of people in Central City. Some are good, some are bad, but the one the story is based around is terrible. A woman dies before the Flash can save her, and her husband takes it hard. Years later, he attempts to take revenge. Cully Hamner’s art is a little distracting in places, but it doesn’t detract from Nicole Dubuc’s wonderful story in the least.

That was this, and last, week in comics! I’m so tired, I may decide to not wake up tomorrow. Hope to see you again, in August!

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The Flashpoint Paradox: A dramatic review by someone who cares too much about the Flash

As an apology for never getting around to reviewing last week’s comics (they’ll be in tomorrow’s post, honest), I come bearing a peace offering:

A full, detailed review of The Flashpoint Paradox, released on video today!

Now, even though Flashpoint itself came out almost three years ago now, many things were changed in the jump to the small screen, so I’m invoking the magical honor system that is the SPOILER WARNING. If you’re planning on getting the movie yourself and do not wish to be spoiled, come back tomorrow for reviews of the Flash, Young Avengers, the Flash annual, the Animal Man annual, and the final issue of Batman Incorporated.

However, if you’re not planning on spending money on a movie made from one of DC’s worst major events in recent memory, read on. Read the rest of this entry »

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IOU one comic review

I’m sorry to inform you that there will be no comic review today.

My grandmother has been in the hospital for the past four days, and had her gallbladder removed yesterday. She’s reacting oddly to the medications the doctors have put her on, too. I spent about 8 hours at the hospital today, and am in no shape to crack open the books I bought earlier.

Tune in tomorrow for reviews of Flash and Young Avengers.

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