Thursday, August 29, 2013

365 Comics...241/242: Superman Unchained #3 and Batman/Superman #3 (2013)

Really, DC, I've been trying to shed myself of your books, your editorially driven titles that are so obviously creatively bankrupt, with their '90's-style gimmicks and the ridiculous shenanigans that are merely there to drive sales, not so much fuel any creative itch.  I used to love you so much DC, I used to pour over your rich history and commit it to memory.  When I was a teenager I used to hope for an opportunity to be a DC historian and live buried in your back catalog, sorting out continuity flaws and learning as much as I could about DC's magic and mythology and technology.  But your actions of late are not those of respect or consideration towards your fans, your distributors or your creative talent.  You seem committed to alienating your strongest supporters and followers in favour of a fleeting collective who react fervently to gimmicks and hype.

I stopped buying into your hype over a year ago.  Candy coated bullshit is still bullshit and eventually the sweet smell fades, and the stink takes over.  There were a few slight exceptions to your hind-bovine-quarters-ejections in the guise of Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire and Brian Azzarello (Grant Morrison saw fit to jump ship after a year and a half, and I'm not optimistic about JH Williams III being around much longer after his Sandman stint is done).  These three guys somehow got the golden pass to do what they wanted in the New 52 without much in the way of monkeyshines from the editorial crew and their efforts have remained largely worthwhile.  Azzarello's Wonder Woman is the brightest, shiniest gem of the New 52, with the unified team of Cliff Chiang and sub-in Tony Akins still going strong on the book, it will wind up as a milestone run for the Amazon Princess without a doubt.  Snyder's Batman has equally laid out some landmark stories, revitalizing the character in the slightest of ways, even managing to shine without stepping on Morrison's more grandiose production.  Snyder and Lemire teamed to unify Swamp Thing and Animal Man, creating a surprising and engaging new plane of environmental fantasy, and though failing at Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, and getting caught up in whatever that scallywag Geoff Johns has going on in his DC- architectureing  over in the Justice League books, he's still managed to take Green Arrow and made something interesting out of him that would appeal to old fans and the new fans of the TV show alike.

But with a solid roster of six titles left under my belt (WW, Batwoman, Batman, Green Arrow, Animal Man and Smallville Season 11) I wasn't looking to add any more support to your company that has wounded me and failed me so greatly.  I couldn't fathom that there would be anything else worth my while beyond the books that haven't yet alienated me.  But here I am, jotting two more titles down on the list, two Superman titles no less.

The Man of Steel movie let me down so immeasurably that it was really only mediated by the utter surprise of both Scott Snyder and Jim Lee's Superman Unchained and Greg Pak and Jae Lee's Batman/Superman.  Here have come two books, both dispensed at the right time in an effort to capitalize off of the sure-fire blockbuster Man of Steel, books that could have so easily been just cash grabs, cynical editorial-controlled efforts to have more Superman stuff glutting the shelves, books that could so easily have been more of the same stupid crap that most of the other Super books have been dishing out, and yet they're not.  In fact, with these two books we're getting the sure-fire antidote to both the glossy bullshit of the New 52 and the misguided, tone deaf Man of Steel. 

In Superman Unchained, Snyder and Lee are giving us a Superman who acts like Superman should, if a little more fiery than I remember, as well as a Lois Lane who can do shit and get shit done, and a supergenius Lex Luthor, and a distrustful military, and, oh, another alien under the military's sway that appears bigger, stronger, more experienced, more skilled, and more proactive than Superman.  This guy's not out to beat Big Blue in a fight, so much as to bruise his ego. 

Meanwhile in Batman/Superman, Pak and Lee have a young Clark and Bruce facing older versions of themselves on Earth 2, and it's as much a comment on how different the New 52 Superman and Batman are different than their pre-Flashpoint counterparts as it is a rollicking cross-dimensional adventure of self-discovery. 

Dammit, DC, I want to be rid of you from my life for the continual heartache you keep causing me, but these flowers and chocolates you give me along with the flaming bag on my doorstep are sending me such mixed signals.

Oh and screw your villains month.  I'm only getting two of those books, First Born and Count Vertigo, because Azzarello and Lemire said they actually mean something to their ongoing storylines.

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