Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who Died And Made You Green Lantern?

One of the things I'm not loving so much about the Superman: New Krypton/War of The Superman storyline is that it takes away from the uniqueness of Superman. I really dig the idea that any given time, there's maybe two others out there who can do what he does.

And a dog. Cannot forget the dog!

That said; let's take a look at The Green Lantern Corps.

Over the course of two decades, the protection of Earth and the galaxy has fallen to four, count 'em, four Earthmen, begging the question:

"What makes THEM so damned special?"

There's like, a kabillion people (or not-people) who can do what they do!

Depending on when you were exposed to the Green Lantern mythos; he's been Hal Jordan, a test pilot who fought aliens, fell in love with a girl but not really, quit being Green Lantern, came back, went crazy after a Superman storyline, killed the whole damn Green Lantern Corps, committed suicide, became The Spectre, gave that up and became THE Green Lantern, again.

Or he's been John Stewart, a formerly angry black man who was re-introduced as a "not-so-angry," an ex-Marine and architect. He's kinda awesome but only in cartoons.

Or he's been Guy Gardner, a formerly brain damaged, alpha-male, ex-school teacher who who had more attitude than sense, who found out he was the last of an alien race, could turn his hands into bazookas and when that didn't work out, he opened up a bar. And yes, he was sort of awesome.

And then there was the final Lantern. You know, Kyle Rayner, the Gen-X'er with a heart of gold. He was just standing in an alley one day and because of his good heart, his girlfriend was stuffed in a refrigerator. And yes, he was sort of awesome.

Now here's the thing: anyone of these guys could actually headline a comic called, "Green Lantern," and at different points in time, all of them except Guy have been. So, Hal's parent company, DC Comics, decides Hal Jordan needs to come back from the dead and "BIGGREENBOXINGGLOVE" later and he's THE Green Lantern, despite the fact the other were doing just fine without him.

Seriously? What makes Hal so great? He quits things, alot. He's sort of just always there, lurking. Glowering. Being...

I don't know... Hal Jordan?

He punched Batman, you know. In. The. Jaw.
"One Punch!" (© Ted Kord)

Let's look at it. John has his troubles. He can be a little broody, when he wants to be he can be a bit of a bad-ass but lately, he sort of has played the role of "Magical Negro," speaking on things he's familiar with like regret and forgiveness; freeing the hearts of his fellow Lanterns to be OK with themselves, absolving them of all past screw-ups. Stewart was last seen covering someone's ass with a lime-colored, ring generated machine gun.

Guy has been cured of his brain damage and what we're left with is intriguing; the big brother you sort of want. Guy follows his own logic. And like most males, when he's using it, it makes glorious sense to him. In that, he is awesome. He's become the the embodiment The Corps' fighting spirit and that's never been more apparent than when Kyle "died" during Blackest Night. Guy watched as someone who'd become like a brother to him fell and declared war upon everything connected with death. 'Til this day, the image of Guy with a Red Rage chainsaw is still emblazoned on my mind. What it proved was Guy's loyalty to his fellow Corps members and just how scary he could be if he ever, sort of, lost it again.

And what can we say about Kyle. He's a good, good man who's had circumstance beyond his control thrust upon him and did the best with what he had. I've always considered Kyle to be "YOU" as a Green Lantern. His heart has been broken, he's watched those closest to him die, he comes from a single parent household, he was usually in over his head but was always willing to learn from his mistakes. He was a man, that's what a man does.

And Hal? I get why folks like him, I just don't get him. He's brash and loves baseball. He shuns authority, he flies a plane and breaks girls hearts. He quits alot and still gets rewarded. Because of his ability to do these things, he is the face of the Green Lantern Corps.

He's the knucklehead all we wish we could be or could marry.

He's the ultimate American male.

When did it go and become so damned two-dimensional?

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Dead bird! Gonna put it on yoooou!!!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Detective: Comics

I left you in suspense to blaze my own trail,

leading me to a series of amazing experiences.

I dared go where no one else would and walked away a champion.

I've put kings and queens in jeopardy while many considered me a pawn.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

On Brightest Day

I missed, almost in its entirety, the Blackest Night event, as I was waiting for trade. I have noted the many hardcover collected editions coming out next month but I'm no longer sure whether I'm going to be purchasing them or not (hence "was" and not "am").

At the same time, I was looking forward to Brightest Day, a little bit at least, since it's a bi-weekly series. One of my favourite comic book experiences in recent years was 52. Four of the mainstream's best writers telling one massive, self-contained story on a weekly basis. I was hopeful for a repeat with Brightest Day, but I'm waffling now.

The weekly format was something I was fond of early in my comics reading years, with Action Comics Weekly and the tightly organized "Superman Triangle" books, and last year's Wednesday Comics solidified that I do so very much enjoy the weekly comics experience. But I'm still waiting for something to equal the scale and caliber of 52 ((Countdown, obviously, didn't fit the bill). With both Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost going bi-weekly on alternating weeks, it's a pretty close approximation, one which I was starting to get excited about. 50-some pages of Brightest Day #0 later and I'm contemplating giving up on the bulk of the "new DCU" altogether.

Was it that bad, this zero issue? No. It's not. Not really. But as "zero" issues tend to be, it's a tease on what's to come, a prologue, and not the actual story, so it's a whole lot of spinning wheels and marginal set-up with little to no pay-off, a repetitive series of vignettes which the reader is plunked right into. I get no sense of the grander scheme, other than to sell readers on another half-dozen comics.

As I said, I didn't read Blackest Night, so I don't know what resulted at the end, I don't know why or how these characters - Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Max Lord, Firestorm, Aquaman, Captain Boomerang, Martian Manhunter, etc - were resurrected, but apparently neither do they and there's a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of "why me, why not xxx". (This book is more emo than My Chemical Romance's back catalog.)

If I hadn't been reading the internets, I wouldn't have known that the whole story of Brightest Day is positioned to answer why these specific characters were resurrected aside from the obvious "iconic" reasons. It would have been great if this issue intoned that in any respect.

I felt a little lost, as well as somewhat detached from the material, even though these were some of my favourites returning. It felt... unexciting. I guess it's that we're so trained in the language of comics that when a hero dies, it's a sad thing, only we know they'll be back and the celebration of their return will be heralded in advance. But when it's a dozen characters, all at once, it's a whole lot less special, them coming back from the dead, and their emotions in response to it seem redundant. There's also an element of ridiculousness to "rebirth" that's exposed when it happens en-masse (something I think Johns was intending to tackle with Blackest Night but only serves to exemplify it further here), scenes where the dearly departed return to their old/new lives.

Ronnie Raymond parties it up with his old buddies? Really? Under the banner of "Welcome Back Ronnie!" How does he explain his death?

Boston Brand defaces his own tombstone? Seriously? Why? Is that the first thing you'd do if you came back to life? Isn't someone going to wonder who's defacing tombstones? If they dig up his corpse what will they find?

J'onn J'onzz is terraforming Mars? I didn't know he could do that.

Somehow Max Lord is back at Checkmate or at least backdoored his way into their systems... I guess that makes sense?

Carter and Shayera Hall have made themselves at home pretty rapidly in the home of another iteration of Carter. How'd they know where it was? I must be missing something.

Captain Boomerang is in jail. How'd he get there? I dunno. Why's he there? If you're dead for a year or two, and you come back to life it's back to serving for your crimes, I guess. What's the legal precedent on that?

Aquaman, well, fresh back from the dead he beds his estranged wife. That, I do get.

But this whole zero issue is uninspiring. It's fan-wank interlude material, and not all that well thought out. I've heard tell how great this series is supposed to be to let any casual reader in on the ground floor. But this issue isn't showing it. If you hadn't read a DC Comic in 5 years and picked this up, you'd be up to your eyeballs in questions... you'd be wondering how these people died and how they came back to life, and most of all what's the point? That's not very new reader friendly. There's no sense of direction to this specific issue at all.

And I have to wonder, is this the result of Blackest Night? Is this what the point was, to resurrect these characters, lead into another series and spin off a few more? This is why I'm reopening debate about whether to buy the collected edition. There seems something askew when the point of a story is to explain why death has a revolving door, and then to revolve a large group of people through that door, and then have them lament the fact that others are still dead (like they won't be resurrected at some point down the road too). I read a recent trade of the Incredible Hercules, wherein Hades was a casino and all the dead Marvel characters were playing the slots and the tables trying to beat the house and win their resurrection. It's absurd, but perhaps the most ingenious interpretation of the revolving door of death.

I'm really of the firm belief that with the rebirth of Barry Allen, death in the DCU has no meaning. His was the greatest sacrifice and it had been heralded for years as such. His return signifies that when any hero gives "the greatest sacrifice" that it really, really doesn't mean much at all.

It's been made clear that Jade, Hawk, Max, Osiris, Boomerang and Reverse Flash are off to other books (in Justice League of America, Birds of Prey, JL: Generation Lost, Titans and The Flash, respectively), so I suspect (or perhaps I'm really hoping) that Brightest Day winds up being a team book, with J'onn, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Aquaman and Deadman becoming a rag-tag Justice League working together to figure out exactly what the point of their life is, both as individuals and as a collective, sharing in the communal experience of rebirth rather than redundantly going it alone.

Afterall, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Flash (not to forget Jason Todd, Guy Gardner, Ice, Superboy, Impulse/Kid Flash, and dozens of others) have all gone through it already, so it's not like they're that unique. There should really be a support group already established in the JLA Watchtower/Satellite/Cave that meets every Thursday at 8 to talk about their feelings about being dead and then alive again.

So let's just say that Brightest Day is on thin ice with me. I'll give it a month - or two issues - to become something (ditto with Generation Lost).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Answer Sheet

As promised, the key to the Marvel Super Heroes Fantasy Jigsaw Puzzle (click image to view large)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Do we need variant covers?

Seriously, do we?

Aside from holding onto that blown-over overblown '90's-decade notion of "comics as collectibles" (which, I might add is the reason my CD collection is covered under my house insurance by my comic collection isn't) what is the purpose of variant covers? Does it increase sales? Are there still people out there that buy multiple copies of the same book, panting over each month's Wizard price guide hoping that they've increased in price (and don't most comic shoppes already overvalue the unevenly distributed variants already?)

And isn't it kind of insulting to the artist of the variant cover for them to put the work into doing a cover when 1 out of every 20 or 50 people are going to see it? Just a little? Like this gorgeous David Mack Jade piece that's the variant cover to the fourth issue of the bi-weekly Justice League: Generation Lost maxi-series (do they even call things maxi-series anymore? What is/was the actual difference between a mini-series and a maxi-series anyway?), shouldn't more people see that? Perhaps as a pin-up within the issue? Isn't that where art like this used to go, as a fill-in page or the pin-up section of the extra-sized 25th issue spectacular or 5th anniversary issue? Now I guess they get duplicated in the backs of trades, but perhaps they should just go there in the first place.

If they variants are evenly distributed, I actually find it a little maddening when I go to pick up an issue of, say, G.I. Joe/Cobra II off the stands and I'm presented with three cover options... the little collector gnome in my brain won't permit me to just grab at random, but rather he wants me to figure out which one I like best... and so help me if there's a theme or style to each of the different variants that carries throughout the series (like one's done by the series artist, the other by Howard Chaykin and the third is the Chaykin cover sans logo) and I have to remember which one I'm getting. It's a petty annoyance true, but an annoyance none the less.

I was putting together some books for sell and I noticed that, before we got together, both my wife and I had picked up Infinite Crisis, but whereas I picked up only the George Perez covers, she picked up the covers at random (she doesn't have a little collector gnome in her head, apparently), having a mix of Jim Lee and Perez covers. Who's going to buy a series set of mixed covers I ask you?

I suppose variant covers do help support the many, many artists that have flooded the industry over the years, as getting paid for a variant cover is still getting paid afterall. But as a reader of comics (and not so much a collector anymore) I find it awkward and purposeless.

But then again what harm are they really doing, these variants. Am I way off base with my loathing of variant covers, Second Printers? Am I just a confused individual trying to suck the fun out of other's simple enjoyments?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Found in my parents basement...

This is the 1983 Marvel Super Heroes Fantasy Jigsaw Puzzle produced by Whitman. As you may notice there's some French text on the box cover and they spell "favourite" the right way, so it's a Canadian release. I'm not certain if there was an American release.

I've had this for a very long time, and despite growing up a DC junkie, this was always my favourite puzzle (I'm not certain if there ever was a DC version... we also have a Looney Tunes puzzle of the same type). I never knew who a lot of the characters on the box were when I was a lad, and looking at it now, there are still quite a few I don't recognize.

Here's a scan of the boxtop image (click for a massive screen-filling version to get a closer gander at the details):

I have no idea who drew this, but I think it's a pretty fantastic piece. Any comic aficionados that might have a guess, I'd be interested in hearing.

The back of the box has one of those great outline character keys (my tabloid sized Superman vs Muhammad Ali cover -previously referenced here- also had one, so I have a lot of fond memories of those kinds of things):

(again, click for a much larger version)

You will notice, Second Printers, that I didn't include the character key itself. I thought it might be fun to give you folks some time to test your Marvel character identification skills, and use the comments section as a place to ask each other for help. In two weeks (April 15th) I'll post the full Key.

Have fun!

P.S. Didja know Super Heroes(R) is a registered trademark jointly owned by the Marvel Comics Group and DC Comics Inc. used with permission.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spoil Sport: Blackest Night #8

So... did you read Blackest Night #8?


Well, I don't wanna spoil anything for you but something happened.

Something big.

Major characters returned from the dead.

A lot but some simply... didn't.

Amongst the still-dead are some really major characters. Among them are:



















Where are THE NEW GODS?

Do you think their not returning might have a little to do with Brightest Day?