Tuesday, May 31, 2011




commentary to come.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Taking a look at the August Solicits

Ever since I started frequenting a brick-and-mortar/direct market/LCS or whatever you want to call it, I've played the prognostication game, looking 2 months into the future and determining what it is exactly I will be buying. For a decade it was through the medium of Diamond's Previews that I would conduct my fortune telling/dispensing, but for the past decade the internet has just as ably enabled me to do so, though I don't tend to rummage around the smaller-presses as much anymore. I use this future-telling to gauge my general interest in the big guns, an interest that's in an ebb -rather than flow- state right now.

DC Comics

Green Lantern Titles - with the exception of the main GL title I've been avoiding these. I read Green Lantern almost solely out of appreciation for Doug Mahnke's artwork (see also Nicola Scott on Teen Titans), but there isn't even a new issue solicited for August (likely due to Johns' busywork on Flashpoint?). My eyebrow doesn't even twitch at the pairing of Guy Gardner and Batman in August's "Emerald Warriors".

Flashpoint 4-5 - "IMPORTANT NOTE: Because of its impact on the DC Universe, FLASHPOINT #5 is the only title that DC Comics is soliciting in this catalogue to arrive in stores on August 31."
This almost makes me want to read it... almost... but then I remember that EVERY even book has promised to impact the DCU in major ways, and they rarely ever do.

Other Flashpoint Titles - Skip. Not even going to bother reading the solicit text. Don't care. Skip.

DC Retroactive - wow, something I'm actually excited for here... because I'm old... and I believe the glory days of comics were in my youth, so comics that directly recall the 80's and 90's are, like, totally speaking to me man! I'm both being honest and sarcastic. I don't think there is an actual comics heyday. There are good comics that come out of every decade, just as there are trends which typify the times they were published in, for better or worse. I truly am looking forward to more than a few of these, the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire reunion most of all (starring the Injustice League). But to quibble a bit, Giffen/DeMatteis' 5-year run Justice Leauge started in '87 ended in '92, so they were as much the 1980's than the Detroit league. But the '80's Retroactive JLA by Gerry Conway, featuring the Detroit League might be fun, or it might be as horrendous as the JLA Classified issues that featured the Detroit League (years ago I wrote a long diatribe on how awful that story arc was, but it was lost when the computer crashed with no recoverable file).

It's also curious to me why Ron Randall is handling art on the 80's JLA Retroactive, same as Sergio Cariello on the 80's Superman Retroactive, and Mike Bowden on the 90's Flash Retroactive. None of these artists are representative of those books or the eras. I'm not even sure who Mike Bowden is. I'm quite excited to see Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove on Superman again. Bogdanove's style was eccentric but by the time they finished their work on Man of Steel and Steel, I was a firm supporter. Other awesome returns, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle on 90's Batman and Bill Loebs on both 80's Flash (Loeb's Flash was '88-'92, but I guess getting Cary Bates and Carmine Infantino together for a pre-Crisis 80's Flash reunion was out of the question?) and 90's Wonder Woman.

Detective Comics #881 - wait, what? "the extra-sized conclusion of the acclaimed run by Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Francavilla." Great Hera, why? As much as I've enjoyed Morrison's Batman stuff, Snyder's 'Tec has been absolutely incredible Batman. DC doesn't often capitalize of their Vertigo talent (Marvel tends to steal them away) but this was a masterstroke. They should keep this gang together until at least issue 900.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #10 - To be honest, I was expecting this to be the last issue ('specially since issue 7 came out this week and still doesn't have a letters column, which either means they're so far ahead in their production schedule that they couldn't accommodate it yet or it's not going to be around long enough to start one. See also Xombi. I'm happy "this ain't the end -- not by a long shot".

Night Force HC - At last! Because YOU demanded it... didn't you? Because I didn't...

Showcase Presents: All-Star Comics Vol.1 - me and comics from the 1970's don't get along very well. I want to like them but I find them frequently difficult, cheesy, patronizing and unreadable. But 448 pages of Earth 2 insanity from Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway for $20 bucks, sold!

The New York Five TP - I knew I didn't need to buy the floppies. Good ol' predictable Vertigo.

Batman Black and White Statue By Sergio Aragones - Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha

Marvel Comics

Fear Itself - If it's not obvious by now, I'm a DC guy more than a Marvel guy and since I generally avoid all Marvel's event books nearly everything with a "Fear Itself" tag I'm skipping. Even though I really dig Cullen Bunn's work (his awesome Superman/Batman story Sorcerer Kings wrapped up this week and is collected in HC in August), I'm not getting The Deep nor am I getting Homefront despite my general affinity for Speedball. I'll probably get Herc in TPB just as I did the entire Incredible Hercules run.

Ultimate Fallout/Hawkeye/Ultimates - I'm enjoying pretty much everything Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer are writing these days so I should really check this out, despite the fact that I haven't read an "Ultimate" book since Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine and don't care so much (or at all) about the Ultimate universe.

Amazing Spider-Man/Spider Island - It's been quite a few years now since Dan Slott became sort of the key guy on Spider-Man and I've been meaning to check out some of his stuff (is the Spider-Man: Infested collection solicited this month a good read?), but then it all comes back to the fact that I don't really like Spider-Man all that much that keeps me away. As for this "Spider Island" thing, Nick Spencer doing Cloak and Dagger intrigues me (see Ultimate Fallout above) and that Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu book look pretty rad.

Secret Avengers #16 - Warren Ellis? Jamie McKelvie? Sold. Wait. $3.99? Waiting for trade!

Captain America and Bucky #621/Captain America #2 - Brubaker's Cap is still going strong and an incredible read but this reminds me of that one time I was playing blackjack and winning, and got cocky and so I started playing two hands at once and very quickly lost everything (fake money thankfully). I'm worry there's not enough Cap juice in Bru's tank for two Cap monthlies.

X-Men/Iron Man/Thor - skip.skip.skip. The X-universe, despite having some writers I like on books in there, is just far too convoluted for me to wade into. Iron Man, outside of the movies, never really sustained my interest much (I like Ellis, Fraction, Nick Spencer but not enough to read Iron Man regularly). Thor... Thor... What is it good for? Absolutely nothin', say it again. Thor bores the tits off me.

The Punisher #1 & #2 - Big Guns Greg Rucka and Mark Chichetto (who?) take on Marvel's bad-ass vigilante. I know the Punisher has his fans, but personally it seems like after reading one Punisher story, you kind of read them all. If Rucka can shoehorn in some political conspiracy or clandestine organizations, however, it could be fun...I'll wait for the reviews to come in.

Mystery Men #4 - every time I see this I think of the Bob Burden Flaming Carrot spinoff and get a little disappointed I'm not going to see new adventures of Mr. Furious, the Spleen et. al. But even still, this looks kind of nifty.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 - Yay, S.H.I.E.L.D. is back.

X-Statix Omnibus - $125. 1200 pages. How does one read a 1200 page omnibus. One runs the risk of having their chest crushed if they fall asleep reading in bed. Anyway, X-Statix was pretty awesome, for its time. I wonder if it still holds up.

Image Comics

The Infinite #1 - Uh oh... Liefeld's back. Shoulder armor. Check. Thigh-belts. Check. Pouches. Check. Absence of feet. Check. It feels like 1991 all over again.

Malinky Robot: Collected Stories and Other Bits TP - I have some of this stuff from old Slave Labor printings, but Sonnie Liew is a damn phenomenal artist and his work is worth buying twice.

Morning Glories Vol. 2 TP - after reading the first volume I've been patiently waiting for this, resisting the siren call of the monthly floppies. So close, yet still so far away.

50 Girls 50 #3 Girls + Frank Cho= ... What? Cho's writing and not drawing? Why? WHY?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Light At The End of the Brightest Day Tunnel

The bi-weekly "epics" Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost both ended last week. Me being the Giffen-era Justice League fan I am I stuck with JL:GL through to the bitter end, while I abandoned Brightest Day about halfway through as it was doing little to sustain my interest.

I skimmed through the final two issues of Brightest Day last week at the comics shop, half a mind to perhaps pick them up and see how this thing closed out, but the wallet won out and I shelved them again. My curiosity was piqued however (SPOILERS ahead) as Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkwoman, Firestorm, and Aquaman became the earth, wind, fire and water elementals (respectively) in the 23rd issue to, seemingly, combat a Black Lantern Swamp Thing. Having these characters become elementals seemed like an interesting thing to do, and a rather monolithic change (except for Firestorm who has been the fire elemental in the past) for these characters. Of course, this was reversed in the final issue, Swamp Thing has returned to the land of the living (and the land of the superheroes) with John Constantine not far behind. So, it would seem, ultimately, the point of Brightest Day was to reintroduce a couple Vertigo characters back into the DCU proper. I didn't actually read the whole thing, but this is my impression anyway.

Over in JL:GL(the whole thing I did read and reviewed over at CHUD) - itself tangentially connected to Brightest Day - Maxwell Lord was reborn and decides to make the world forget he ever existed, which frees him to do whatever the hell he wants. The only exception is his former teammates in the JLI - Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice - haven't forgotten him and a cat-and-mouse chase ensues. (More SPOILERS) There's a lot of hinting at Max instigating a dystopian future, essentially bringing about the events of Kingdom Come using Magog as a pawn. But that doesn't come to pass and Max's grand designs ultimately are revealed to simply be revenge on Wonder Woman for killing him the first time. But he doesn't succeed in killing Wonder Woman, he's forced to lift his cloud of forgetfulness off the world (everyone remembering who he is once again, but with the complication that people don't remember who Wonder Woman is because of the events in her book, so they don't remember seeing her kill him), and he gets away to make a youtube video that is supposed to acquit him of all wrong doing in public perception. And Batman reforms the Justice League International... new series coming soon.

In both cases, these 24-issue, bi-weekly non-events were constructed as a gateway to new series. In the case of Brightest Day it's to bring Swamp Thing back to the DCU, in JL:GL, to launch a new, less funny, less heartfelt, less Giffen-y Justice League International. In both cases, it seems like a long way to go, and a lot of demand on the readers' wallets just to launch some new series.

If you want a new Swamp Thing or a new Justice League International title, then just launch them. You don't need to go through the whole pretense of an epic mini-series to get to that end. Quite frankly the experience of JL:GL has had the opposite effect than what I think TPTB at DC had intended. I don't want to revisit the Justice League International anymore. I'm done with that concept. It was awesome back in the late 80's, and the little things Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire have done over the years to stir up nostalgia were good, but this series didn't rekindle any of that fire and having a new Justice League International series, starring a fuzzy facsimile of the old cast, only seems like pissing on goodwill of the original. Dare I say it, it feels somewhat like the Star Wars prequels in that regard.

I had initially hope Brightest Day would be the testing ground for a new Justice League series starring Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Deadman, capturing the eclectic second-string feel of the book from the late 70's early 80's, but it instead seems to be angling for individual series for these characters. Had they launched a new Martian Manhunter, Firestorm or Aquaman series instead, I probably would have read all three with more interest than some "event book" that took its time in connecting the threads (if it ever did). And now, if there are new books for those characters, I'm not entirely sure how interested I am in them.

I'm feeling a little bitter about my JL:GL experience and even about my Brightest Day experience (despite bailing early). I think a maxi-series of 24 issues should contain a full, enriching story and not be just and excuse to lead you elsewhere. I'm not saying it has to be as good as Watchmen, but it should at least strive for that level of completeness and complexity. 52 is perhaps the better benchmark, having juggled multiple stories from multiple creators, but all of them completed and satisfyingly so. That derivative series were launched from 52 was more a result of the strength of the series and not some put-upon mandate to lead the reader into something else to try and achieve the completeness that should have already been offered.

Am I wrong? I certainly can justify this feeling with JL:GL but did I otherwise miss something in Brightest Day or is it as it seems, a 24-issue series designed to bring Swamp Thing back? Were the individual arcs for the other characters satisfying in their conclusion or were they left open-ended?