Archive for September, 2012

Zero Month ends not with a whimper…but with a lightning crash!

Welcome to the final week of zero month! We’ve got a pretty small haul today, only four books, but I’m very excited about, er, two of them! Let’s just dive on in!

Excuse me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the origin of Batman Inc the entire Batman Inc series from before the reboot? Because, wow, yeah, this entire issue read like Batman Inc: The Director’s Cut. I like how Morrison made sure to let us know that the Black Glove storyline is still apparently canon, though, minus Tim Drake as Robin, if Lobdell is to be believed. Nightrunner made it into the New 52! And Dark Ranger/Squire is a thing. These are both very good ideas, in my eyes. Let’s not lose them somewhere along the way.

Tim Drake: The best goddamn thing to ever happen to the DC universe at large, you betcha! Scott Lobdell, you are making me want to vomit. I just…Tim figured out Batman’s identity on his own because he figured out who Robin was, when Dick was Robin. He took it upon himself to seek out Bruce after Jason died, because Batman needs a Robin. He wasn’t too busy for his family, they were too busy for him…until a tragic accident that left his mother dead and his father in a wheelchair. This is Tim Drake’s secret origin. He’s a smart kid whose boner for Batman got a little too hard to hide, so he pretty much forced his way into the Robin suit. Oh, I’m sorry, the Red Robin suit. Which is basically just the OYL, “these are his colors” Robin suit. So. His parents are in the Witness Protection Program, and he’s been adoptedish into the Batman family. Which means that “Tim Drake” probably isn’t even his real name. Oh, by the way, I’m going to pull something straight from the DC website: ” Plus: The beginnings of Skitter and Bunker.” They got one panel. One panel, which they shared, on the second to last page of the book. Lobdell, you’re fired. I’m firing you. Someone get Chuck Dixon on the line, we’ve got a lot of backtracking to do.

I’ve loved every issue of National Comics I’ve read, so far. Eternity was a new take on a character I knew and loved. Looker was a, pardon the pun, look into a character I’d never heard of, but liked anyway. Rose and Thorn, however, I knew pretty well, but didn’t always like. The original Thorn was a woman named Rose Canton, who was the first wife of Alan Scott and mother of his two children, Jenny-Lynn and Todd. She was actually a Golden Age Flash villain, which was pretty cool, and reading those stories was how I got to know her. I liked that version of Rose and Thorn, even though Rose ended up committing suicide so that Thorn couldn’t hurt anyone else. The most recent version of Rose and Thorn, pre-reboot, was a woman named Rhosyn Forrest, who developed a split personality in order to avenge her father’s murder. I dunno, I was more fond of the villain persona, myself. Then again, I also liked the Daredevil villain, Bloody Mary, so don’t judge me. This new version of Rose and Thorn seems like a combination of the first two. It’s Rose Canton again, but she’s after her father’s killer, like Rose Forrest was. This issue was really pushing the T rating it was given, pushing it as far as it would go. I wouldn’t personally recommend giving it to someone under 16, or anyone who is triggered by blood. All in all, it was a good issue in a good series, and I’d be very happy to see Rose and Thorn become an ongoing book.

I have exactly one complaint about Flash #0, and that is the use of the surname ‘West’ for the first criminal Flash catches. That’s not cool, Manapul. Not cool at all. In other news, I think Barry Allen is illegitimate. I mean, his mom is a redhead and his dad has dark hair, meanwhile, the “friend” of his mother’s that takes him in after her murder is blonde with blue eyes. I’m actually more invested in the secret life of Nora Allen than the story everyone knows. Lightning strikes through chemicals, hits a police scientist. Barry Allen becomes the fastest man alive. It’s a great story, a classic story. There’s no need to change it, because it’s perfect the way it is. Though, the fact that the Johns-created idea that Nora Allen was murdered during Barry’s childhood was a holdover from the DCU, it irks me. Because what’s the point? Why does Barry Allen need the same dead parent backstory that Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Hal Jordan, Arthur Curry, and countless other major characters within the DCU have? Sigh. Still, the origin of the Flash suit is awesome, both visually and in explanation, and it’s nice to see that a story with just Barry can still keep my attention. I feel justified in saving this comic for last, because it’s definitely the best one I’ve read this week.

And that was September! If you’ll excuse me, American Vampire volume 4 (as well as issues 28-31) are calling to me. Be sure to come back next week, because I’ll be tackling the newest issues of Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Green Lantern, and Earth-2!


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Ladies Week: 0 to heroes!

It’s ladies week yet again! Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batwoman are holding firm on my personal reading list, and on the other side, we’ve also got the origin issues of Catwoman and the first brand new issue starring Amethyst, the Princess of Gemworld over in Sword and Sorcery. Oh, and I’ve dropped Justice League. I’ve washed my hands of it, and I feel like a better person for it. But enough of my bitching. Seven books to go through today, may as well jump right in.

I figured I’d start this off with a lady whose name is literally Lady…the Twilight Lady, who features heavily in the Before Watchmen book, Nite Owl! You know, this reminds me of a recent plotline in Catwoman (I admit, I’ve been skimming the last arc), where a crazy dollmaker was kidnapping street workers, selling them for parts, and using their shells to make room after room of horrible ‘doll scenes’. Creep-o-rama. Anyway, the two different storylines, Dan’s and Walter’s, intersect in this issue. The clergyman Walter works for has been buying the missing hookers to kill them, as well as stealing people right off the street, those he considers to be ‘unclean’. Oh, and the rest of the issue is Dan and TL bumping uglies. Classy. Ah well, the kids are having fun between interrogating pimps and looking for missing hookers, who am I to judge?

Blue Beetle’s origin issue tells the tale of the scarab, Khaji-Da. I’m not going to lie, going through it hurt. A lot. You see, this issue was co-plotted by Keith Giffen, which got my hopes up. Keith ‘Bwa-ha-ha’ Giffen! Surely, this means that a certain weight-challenged brunette is going to show up somewhere? In a flashback, maybe? Surely, the scarab made its way into his hands at some point? I mean, they got Keith Giffen to work on this issue! Why else would they, if Ted Kord wasn’t going to pop up somewhere?
Spoiler alert.
He doesn’t. He’s nowhere to be found. Between his total exclusion in the DCnU and his write-of by murder in the DCAU, I don’t think I can take it anymore. A word to the wise: Never fall in love with a comic character, they’ll only break your heart.

Speaking of characters who’ll only break your heart, Brainiac 5, everybody! The Legion doesn’t really need its own origin issue; after all, they had a mini-series that already did that! So instead, we see the circumstances under which Brainy joins the Legion. It’s a fun issue, with a little twist at the end. It also shows us how Tharok got his Coluan-tech parts, which is cool. I’m a little bothered that Levitz was trying to keep up the early Legion Tinya/Brainy thing, but we all know how that turned out, so whatever. Also, I don’t praise Scott Kolins enough. He’s not my favorite Flash artist, but by damn did he knock the Legion kids out of the park! An overall good issue, if I do say so myself.

Supergirl made me cry. I said it. The Supergirl origin made me cry like a little bitch. It’s a story of hope, of a father’s love for his daughter being so great, that he’d do everything in his power to make sure she stayed alive as a world died around her. But what was the thing that really got to me? The panel where Kara comes out in her family crest for the very first time. She looks so happy, so hopeful, so proud. God. And it explains so much, too. Why she wakes up in such confusion. She didn’t even know the planet was dying until seconds before falling into a super coma. Jor-El wins father of the year, but he also gets an honorable mention in the douchebag category, because damn.

I’m spitting blood. Jesus take the wheel, and while you’re at it, get my red ring. Why am I still reading Red Hood and the Outlaws? I’d picked up this issue hoping that we’d finally get an origin for Roy, but nope. It’s the full story of the life, death, and second life of Jason Todd. I’m going to say right now that from this point on, pretty much everything is going to be a GIANT SPOILER.
But that means you were actually planning on reading this dreck at some point, so I feel no pity. In any case, Jason Todd’s life story is…not as important as the final four pages of the book? Long story short, the Joker decided to create a new Robin for Batman, so he made it look like his mother was dead and had his father shipped off to jail. Then he made sure Leslie Thompkins (who is super young and wicked hot now?) found Jason at his weakest, who then passed him off to Bruce. Which leads me to one conclusion.
Joker knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne in this new universe.
How else would he know to take Jason to Leslie? How else would he be absolutely sure that orphan collectin’ Wayne would take this wayward youth and turn him into a well-oiled justice dispenser?
Another thing, the re-imagining of A Death in the Family was worse than the scans of Deathstroke’s new origin that I’ve seen floating around. Fuck this, I need something to make me happy.

Batwoman: Elegy is one of my favorite trades of all time. It was Kate’s origin, from her youth as an army brat to her eventual expulsion from West Point because of DADT, to her finding a new way to serve and running with it. And I’d like to thank every deity, from major to minor, in all the various religions I don’t subscribe to that Batwoman #0 just added to it. It was like reading Elegy’s deleted scenes, stuff that had been cut for pages. And we got to see Renee (her name spelled Rene), if even for a panel. We got to see the things Kate had done to prepare to be Batwoman, and you know what? She’s more dedicated than Bruce. She trained harder, she suffered more. She was a soldier stripped of an identity because of her identity, remade as a night warrior. I love Batwoman. I have a poster of her on my wall. Batwoman, more than any other vigilante in her class, is my hero.

The ‘origin’ issue of Wonder Woman was…well. It claimed to be a reprint from ‘All-Girl Adventure Tales for Men’, and was, in itself, a spoof of a Golden Age Wonder Wonder story, featuring the lady herself back when she was Wonder Girl. Personally, I think it was just the creators way of having a bit of fun while also showcasing Diana’s compassion and warrior wiles. In any case, I liked it quite a bit. It was interesting, and wonderfully drawn, so of course I’m on board.

That does it for this week in comics, stay tuned for next week when we tackle Batman Inc, special National Comics one-shot Rose and Thorn, Teen Titans and, of course, the Flash! See you next time!

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How to complicate your timeline, the Batman way!

I’d like to preface this entry with a disclaimer: Last night, I went to bed with a sore throat. This morning, I woke up with a swollen uvula, unable to talk. I’ve been in and out of consciousness all day, in varying states of medication. So…there may be more than a few slips of feelings in here. What I’m trying to say is, shit be cray. Shit be extremely cray.

It’s the second week of Zero Month! I feel compelled to inform y’all that the “first” issue of a new book, Team 7, is out today, but I won’t be reading it, personally. Y’all feel free to make your own decisions. That being said, we’ve got four books to cover, woo! A moment of silence for the final issue of The Shade. Right. Let’s go!

Are you reading Marceline and the Scream Queens yet? No? Man, what’s wrong with you? I cannot say enough good things about this book. If you are a temperamental musician or have ever had to deal with one, this third issue is right up your alley. Bad reviews suck, but they’re also a good way of figuring out exactly what went wrong, and how you can change to be awesome! Though…I’m fairly sure that magazine is owned by the guy whose lips Marceline tried to eat, so it may not be a completely fair judgement. The backup story featuring the Earl of Lemongrab was cute, though it doesn’t make me like the character. Watch for a cameo from Marcie’s ex!

Nope. Nope nope nope. All aboard the nope train to fuckthatville. I don’t know why reboot Superboy is being treated like this. I really don’t. I mean, what’s the point? It’s like, Kryptonians are no longer allowed to just be heroes, they have to be sympathetic creatures, abused by us evil Earthlings. At least, that’s what I’ve been getting from the Superboy and Supergirl books. Okay, so. This origin issue of Superboy features Harvest, of course, and it details the history of the Kryptonian clone wars, more than it talks about Superboy himself. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Harvest is actually Superboy from a thousand years into the future, physically warped and ka-pinged back through time. Y’know, like Time Trapper was Superboy-Prime in Legion of Three Worlds. DeFalco, I have no idea what you’re going for with this book. Do you want to make Superboy a villain? Are you trying to get people to associate the name Kon with negative shit? What are you trying to do here, man? Look. Superboy hasn’t really been Kon since Young Justice ended. Post-Graduation Day, he was Conner Kent. And it was like, with the name change, his entire personality shifted. There was a time where I legitimately thought Kon and Conner were different people. Kon-El was this fun kid. He’d lived in Hawaii, he’d managed an apartment building in Metropolis, he delivered witty one-liners and ogled bikini babes and watched Wendy the Werewolf Stalker. Conner Kent…liked Wonder Girl. He was distressed that he was half Luthor. He died for our sins, at one point. I don’t know where I’m going with this. Preboot Kon? Fun dude. New 52 Kon? One step away from actually being Match. Next book.

How many times can one company do the origin of fuckin’ Batman? Dead parents, swears vengeance, I am the night, boy sidekick, yatata yatata yatata. I highly doubt that even Scott Snyder could…pull off…
That’s…new. Instead of starting at the beginning, the cause and effect process that turned Bruce Wayne into Batman, Scott Snyder instead chose to show the man before he became the Bat, but not before he became a vigilante. We also get our first look at the Joker before he was the Joker, in a unique spin on his Killing Joke Red Hood origin. The madman was always scum, it would seem. But the most interesting thing, to me, was the second story, written by James Tynion and featuring the sidekicks. It’s set five years in the past, which…well. Five years ago, Batman was only just starting out. Dick Grayson’s parents were still alive, Jason was helping to rob convenience stores so he could eat, and Tim was in middle school. Babs hadn’t put on the Batgirl suit yet. Where to begin.
Okay, first off? Five years is not enough time to go through three sidekicks. That’s just bullshit. Dick stopped being Robin because he felt he’d outgrown the role. He disagreed with Batman on many points, and was tired of living in the shadow of the Bat, so he became Nightwing. Jason died. That’s how he lost his Robin panties, he died. In a universe where Steph existed, Tim first gave up the suit to appease his dad, but later came back. The second time he lost the title, it was because Dick needed to keep an eye on Damian, and making him Robin was the best way to do it. All of this happened over the course of more than a decade and a half. Dick first became Robin when he was 8; here, he’s clearly in his late teens. Jason is probably about 15. Tim is 11 or 12. Uh. No? That makes Dick, at best, 24 right now. Not to mention Damian. If this story takes place 5 years before the current New 52 timeline, and Bruce had been gone from Gotham for four years training, and he was already established as Batman when he and Talia did the horizontal hoedown, how is Damian ten?!
And then there’s Babs. In order for this timeline to work, Babs would have to have put on her Batgirl costume the night after she saw the Batsignal for the first time. That’s the only way I can imagine how she could have a legitimate career as Batgirl, a time as Oracle, and the operation that gave her her legs back in the allotted time.
Ha. Did I say most interesting? I meant most infinitely frustrating.

God bless the Shade and all who sail in him. It’s fitting that the final issue of The Shade is his origin issue. I read earlier this week that James Robinson intended this issue to be set before the first issue of the Shade miniseries from years ago (which is a fantastic read, if you should ever happen upon it), but I didn’t realize it would be so…sad. Richard Swift is an enigmatic character, under Robinson’s pen. He has his faults, his failures, his victories. He is good, evil, neutral. He has friends, loves, family. He is something that most writers can only dream of creating, a fully-faceted, rounded, interesting character. It’s funny. This series isn’t connected to the New 52 at all, and yet, aside from Animal Man, it’s my favorite thing about the reboot. Could we have had a Shade book in the old universe? Probably, but as there were quite a few quality books running at the time, it might have been overlooked. Now, however, these twelve issues have been like gold dust in a windstorm. Will we see more in the future? Well, I suppose that all depends on whether or not DC feels that an ongoing book like this could make money. Now, this is just me, but I feel like it would.

It’s entirely too late for me to still be wearing pants. I’m sorry about wordvomiting all over your screens, but…yeah. Punk Rock Jesus also came out today, by the by. It’s a good book, I like it. In other news, one of my eyes keeps falling shut. I think this might be nature’s way of telling me to go to bed. Goodnight, everybody.

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Zero Month begins!

Welcome one and all, to the first week of Zero Month! I’ve decided to skip over issue #0 of Earth-2 for my own health. You see, the less I know about the Earth-2 trinity they better. Going to leave it at that. So! We’ve got a bit of controversy on the reading list today! I’m speaking, of course, of the third issue of Silk Spectre. I hear it’s gonna be…trippy. Let’s get started, shall we?

I’ve never done acid. I’ve never done acid, smoked pot, or popped pills. I’ve never even gotten so drunk I can’t stand. So I’ve got no personal experiences to compare to the opening pages of Silk Spectre #3 to. I have, however, woken up next to a loved one that had to be rushed to the hospital. I really feel for Laurie, which is an entirely new emotion for me. My reactions to her in the original Watchmen book usually involved exasperation, frustration. She wasn’t a character I liked, or could identify with. Here, I sort of can. She’s young. Idealistic. She does what she feels to be right, even if it may in fact make things worse. Bringing the Comedian into the picture was something I didn’t exactly see coming, but I still like it. We only got to see the Comedian in flashbacks in the original Watchman book, and what we saw, we didn’t really like most of the time. He was a violent jackass with about as much honor as Dollar Bill had personal dignity. Here, he’s…about the same. Still, he came running when Sally called. He went to find their daughter and bring her home. He may have destroyed Laurie’s world by doing it, but he did it with her best interests in mind. I’m not reading the Comedian’s Before Watchmen book, and I don’t like the way he’s being presented in Minutemen, but I like him here. We get to see that he clearly still cares about Sally, in some way or another, as he was willing to drop what he was doing to go find Laurie. And I like that.

Do you ever read something and wonder if you should be offended? That’s how I feel about Green Lantern #0. People of Middle Eastern descent, and of the Muslim/Islamic faiths, are still a touchy subject in America, and American comics. If they’re villainous, it’s racist. If they’re heroic, they’re some sort of exception to the norm, and their very existence will bring people with negative thoughts on them out of the woodwork. No matter what, they’re news. I still remember the stink some people at my LCS made when Nightrunner was made the Batman Inc representative of France. But enough about people who aren’t Simon Baz. This story, this origin, reminds me of the Power Girl mini-storyline from last year, We Can Be Heroes. In it, a metahuman Arab-American man named Rayhab Mazin was mistaken for a terrorist while saving a plane from crashing…from the inside. Our new GL was mistaken for a terrorist when the van he was stealing happened to contain a bomb, that blew up the factory where he used to work once he crashed it into the side. Feeling uncomfortable yet? It gets better. Simon is then taken to a Guantanamo-esque facility and, when the agents assigned to him are unable to get any damning evidence out of him, prepare to torture him for information. And then the ring finds him, and gets him out of there. End story. Actually, not end story. Hal and Sinestro make a one-page guest spot where they…aren’t dead? Yay? Ah, well. For a first appearance, it’s not incredibly, irredeemably awful. It makes the American government look like assholes but hey, what doesn’t these days? I’m the worst person to be talking about this, yeek. I’ll miss Sinestro, but I guess I’m going to keep reading Green Lantern anyway. I want to see what happens.

I don’t know much about Swamp Thing. I’ve only recently begun to read the Alan Moore run, and started to buy the New 52 issues, so I’m learning. But as it is? If I was picking up an issue of Swamp Thing for the first time, not knowing any of his history at all, this would work for me. We get a brief backstory on the Red, the Green, and the Rot. We’re introduced to Arcane. And then we meet Alec Holland, see the beginnings of his transformation. All in all, this issue does exactly what it’s supposed to do, exactly as DC promised. Scott Snyder and Kano hit it out of the park.

Animal Man is a great book. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best book in the reboot. Lemire and Pugh take the story of a common superhero and twist it so that he’s something more. Something greater. Superman can save the world all he wants, but Animal Man exists so that his daughter can someday save life itself. The origin issue, like Swamp Thing, delivers exactly what it’s supposed to. Buddy’s alien abduction origin is given new roots to the Red, we briefly meet the previous avatar, and we get to see some of the exploits of Animal Man prior to the birth of the new true avatar. It was a good issue. Simple, yet intensely complex in its simplicity. Interesting. And still one of the two books I look forward to the most every month.

That was this week in comics. Next week, we’ll be tackling Batman, Suicide Squad, Superboy, the final issue of the Shade, and the first issue of the new Team 7 series. Now if you’ll excuse me, the weather is horrible and I must journey home.

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