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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Gratuitous Wildcat Shot
Employee Aaron made me this for Christmas. He knows me well.
So, I've been amused by DC Universe: Decisions, and not particularly in the "wow, this is a really good comic" sort of way. Now, this comic series isn't as bad as you've been hearing, not by a long shot...but it's not any good either. I've been enjoying it as "stupid DC fun", and since it's been coming out during the Final Crisis skip-month, it's also filled my "DC heroes team up and bicker" quota for the month.
But it's still hard, even as someone who is finding some enjoyment in it, to see what the point of the series is, other than to give people on message-boards something to complain about. To be sure, there are the usual complaints about the writers, Bill Willingham and Judd Winick, mostly of the fan-anger and fan-entitlement varieties. I was hoping for more overt attempts to alienate fans from characters by revealing previously unguessed at abhorrent political beliefs of various super-heroes, like finding out that the Question is a Libertarian with Objectivist overtones (oh, wait...), as I joked about in this post. So far, the closest we've come is the laughable revelation that Lois Lane is a Republican:
I mean, this characterization can sorta work...if this is the hateful, emasculating shrew Lois of the Golden and Silver Age Superman comics. But the modern Lois is a muck-racking journalist with an emphasis on exposing corporate crime, and her background consists pretty much of rebelling against her hard-line conservative military father. I mean, the whole reason that the Lois Lane as Bill O'Reilly bit works in Trinity is that it represents a complete inversion of the character's personality:
And we can tell this is what Busiek is going for, because the same issue gives us mobster Dick Grayson and nerd Donna Troy. But Lois as a Republican in the mainstream DCU? That's just laughable. That's making a character a Republican just to do it. It shows no thought or creativity.
Which is the big problem with Decisions, it's lazy. For a book that's supposed to tell us the political opinions of super-heroes, all we've really been told is that Green Arrow and Guy Gardner are jack-asses. We don't know anything about the politics of the candidates, which makes the endorsements from the various heroes utterly meaningless. We can infer something about their policies based on who endorses who: Green Arrow's candidate is probably a far left liberal activist who is more than willing to pay lip service to progressive politics, and then ditch them when they become politically inconvenient, because that's just the kind of candidate old Ollie would gravitate towards. And we can presume that Guy Gardner's candidate is just shy of being a fascist because it's inconceivable that Guy would support anyone else. That Hawkman, who pretty much is a fascist, supports the same candidate would seem to support this, except that Power Girl, a militant feminist, supports the same candidate as well. Which leads me to the real significant problem with this comic:
You see that? That's Wildcat and Power Girl supporting the same politician. And this is how I know the book has lazy writing, because it's painfully apparent that neither Willingham nor Winnick has ever read a book with Wildcat or Power Girl in it before. Ted and Karen...agreeing on something? No, never, that's simply not going to happen. Since Power Girl was first introduced, she and Wildcat have never agreed on anything, and they will pointedly disagree on things just to get a rise out of the other. I mean, come on...let's get on the ball here and at least write Wildcat correctly, guys.
I really can't decide if I want to write up anything more about Wizard World, especially since Mike pretty well covered it. The dealer's area alternately depressed, angered and overwhelmed me, and I think in future I'm just going to have to stay in the Artist's Alley type areas, because as confusing as that was, at least I got to briefly chat with Amanda Connor, Jimmy Palmiotti and Todd Nauck and his wife Dawn, which was nice. I also meant to find Matt Maxwell again and give him some money for Strangeways, but I couldn't remember where in all that chaos he had been sitting.
So, I'll just share a couple of the good shots.
Here's a man beating a woman with a dead pig, from Ken Shannon #3. Forget all those new comics that are either too expensive or too cheap; just point me in the direction of coverless Golden and Silver age books at the next con and I'll be happy.
A trio of costume shots...I have NO IDEA how that last one ended up on my camera. Honest. I think Pete took it.
And finally, my first ever convention sketch, by Todd Nauck, which I'm absolutely thrilled with.
Nauck is drawing the upcoming American Dream series for Marvel and his creator-owned book Wildguard is returning to Image soon. I really like Nauck's work and he's not an artist I usually get to bring up here, so go out and buy those books and encourage more work from him.
The new DC solicitations have been released, and these are the ones containing the first solicitations for Final Crisis and the, by the scale of these things, modest number of cross-overs. And, predictably, I've already seen, here and there, a few mumblings of discontent over the fact that, judging by these early solicitations, two obscure and nearly forgotten villains are at the center of Final Crisis, namely Libra and the Human Flame. "Oh, why can't it be someone important, like Darkseid or Mongul or Sinestro?" they say. "Why can't it be someone cool, like Hush or the Joker or Doomsday?" a few say as well.
Well, bah to the whiners I say, because:
There are a couple of very good reasons to use obscure characters for a project like this. Primarily, minor and forgotten characters are great tools for writers. They have no huge backlog of history or continuity to get tangled up with. They're blanks, and a good writer will take that blank and turn it into whatever they want it to be. History, motivation, personality; the characters were one-off and one-note when they first appeared, now they can be more. But more importantly, there's a very practical reason why a minor Justice League villain and an unknown Martian Manhunter villain are ideal for a project like this. Frankly, no one cares about them. They're not going to be appearing in any movies. They're not going to be featured in any cartoons. No one is clamoring for a Libra lunch-box. This means that Morrison is free to do...pretty much anything he wants with or to them, and no one is going to be terribly upset. No marketing or licensing opportunities of significance will be lost if the Human Flame is killed off. No will send death threats to Morrison if Libra dies in the story. Well, except for the people who post to scans_daily, and they whine if a character so much as stubs their toe in a comic.
Also of note: DC Universe Special: Justice League of America, reprinting issues 111, 166, 167 and 168 of the original Justice League series. These would be the issues that feature Libra and the Secret Society of Super-Villains, including the infamous "the Society does a mind-swap with the League" story that so many DC writers have referenced in recent years.
There was some recent toy news that got me excited, for appallingly fan-boy-ish reasons.
There's a new 3 3/4 inch line of DC figures coming out, featuring the usual suspects (Batman, Superman, Hawkman), some pleasent surprises (Question, Commishoner Gordon, Batwoman), some head-scratchers (Hush, Weather Wizard) and several generic figures (Gotham PD, Thangarian Wingmen). And of course, an absolute MUST HAVE figure for everyone:
There was also an official announcement of the long-rumored Doctor Who Mini-Mates. These were a no-brainer buy for me anyway, but this seals the deal:
What kind of interesting tableaus can I create with a Mini Jack Harkness, Mini Wildcat and Mini Leather Daddy Wolverine...
Countdown to Adventure looks to be padding of the basest variety, as so far DC has yet to give us a reason to think Lady Styx is a credible threat other than telling us that Lady Styx is a credible threat. Oh, sure, she took out Captain Comet and a couple of Green Lanterns, but who hasn't? ...Yes, I'll be buying it...
Lots of Countdown secrets being spoiled by solicits this month. The significant one is in All New Atom, where we learn that it's the new Atom, Donna Troy, Jason Todd and..."Bob the Monitor" looking for Ray Palmer. Why do people think mundane names like "Bob" means "instant funny?" Is it just me not getting the joke?
Amazons Attack ends, and gets at least three tie-ins. So I guess it's not all that self-contained.
All New Booster Gold: Booster as the sheriff of time and space. I'm there for that. But, honestly, was calling it just "Booster Gold" not enough? Is "All New" DC's response to Marvel relaunching everything as "New?" Is "All New" just that little bit more new-er than regular "New?"
52 continues, sort of, with a Four Horsemen one-shot and a Black Adam mini. I like the teams on both, so I'll probably get them. Plus, you know, sad pathetic fanboy DC-nerd over here...
Outsiders: Five of a Kind really probably should lead to a title change for the regular Outsiders book to Batman and the. We'll probably get All New Outsiders though. Honestly, that does kind of bug me now. Anyway...Batman forces potential team members to duke it out for a position on the team. Because he's still kind of jerk, I guess, after Morrison and Dini went to all the trouble of fixing that personality defect. At least we know that it's not any of the Outsiders that die as a result of this current cross-over with Checkmate. Which stinks, because I'd rather lose a couple of Outsiders as a sacrifice to the continuity gods than any of the characters in Checkmate. Except for Waller and Faraday. I think we've done about as much with the "doing wrong for what they think is the right reasons, but really they're just trying to maintain a tenuous grasp of power because that's all they know" personality types as is possible.
Batman Annual #26: Head of the Demon: I'm the only one who actually preferred Nysa to Ra's, aren't I?
Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious brings Sam Keith back to work-for-hire commercial super-hero work. Which means, hopefully, he'll be able to afford to do some of his own original work again in the near future.
Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or Worse is, as expected, a "best of" collection focusing on the unconvincing romance between the two. I don't know if I'll get it or not. I mean, it is prime material for Green Arrow being an ass, and as we all know, nobody actually likes Green Arrow, we just want to see him get what's coming to him...but I suspect he'll probably come off on top in most of these stories. Dammit.
The cover for Black Canary #4 suggests more dead children in the future of the DCU. If we take it for granted that this is not a fake-out, this is a trend I'm not terribly looking forward to going through.
Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Morality: Even if you don't believe me when I tell you that this series was utterly brilliant, and damn near the best use of postmodern theory as applied to super-hero comics as you're ever likely to come across, look at this cover:
How can you not want to rush out and buy that book?
Justice Society of America #8: I'll be the first in line to complain about Alex Ross making a bone-headed statement, or letting his peculiar Super Friends fetish take over a project, or even the generally stiff and lifeless nature of his art, but when he gets something right, even I have to admit that he gets it right.
Yes, that's what Power Girl is supposed to look like.
Okay, fanboy rant, so brace yourselves. JSA All Stars Archive has this description: This brand-new series collects all of the Golden Age solo stories of Johnny Thunder, Hour-Man, Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Mr. Terrific, Wildcat and Red Tornado from FLASH COMICS, ADVENTURE COMICS, ALL-AMERICAN COMICS and SENSATION COMICS (January 1940-May 1942)! Okay, first of all, there's enough Golden Age Wildcat material to justify giving him his own Archive, dammit! And the same is true of Johnny Thunder and Mister Terrific as well, I suppose. But any Golden Age Red Tornado material really should be in a Scribbley book, not a JSA book, while we're on the subject.
I detect the hand of Grant Morrison in this Metal Men description: Doc Magnus’s creations are ready to take on all-new threats and some old, reimagined ones: Chemo, Doctor Yes, B.O.L.T.S., The Balloonatic and his Orphan Army, as well as the Robot Renegades led by an old Manhunter Robot! But the greatest threat lies in Le Cabinet Noir and its bid to control the natural order using dangerous lieutenants like the Nameless, an armored being that feeds off the blood of the innocent and controls the Gogoloth, giant stone Golems made of Granite, Bizmuth, Onyx and Lime. That sounds like stuff that didn't make the cut for Doom Patrol to me!
Sword of the Atom and Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders get formally solicited, and the Captain Carrot Showcase does not include the Oz/Wonderland War. Dammit.
Keith Giffen is the new regular writer of Midnighter. That's...interesting.
Mike will be happy to hear that Swamp Thing villains The Un-Men get their own series. I'm sure Swampy will eventually make a guest appearance.
Okay, we're all probably sick of talking of female super-hero character statues and toys, but I think this deserves comment:
That just doesn't look right to me. Her body, particularly her arms, seems far too delicate to support a chest that big. And speaking of which, maybe it's just the perspective in the photo, but it looks like her right breast is about three times as big as her left. I'm not really getting a "yay! Girl Power!" vibe off this toy.
DC Beefcake for August Very slim pickings this month. All we really get is this beautifully rendered shot of Batman's ass from Detective #835:
I sometimes wonder how some of Marvel's covers get approved. I'm sure nothing was intended with this image, other than to create a dynamic cover that makes you say "what the hell? I have to own that!" But, I don't know...an African-American man, on fire, in front of an American flag...did it not occur to anyone that an image like that could be easily misconstrued?
But then, Marvel signed off on this picture as well, so...
I mean, there's no way anyone could misinterpret a boobies and naughty tentacle cover, is there?
Neilalien has a short piece up responding to the "Doctor Strange is teh ghey" meme, which most recently reared it's head at right-wing news-site National Review Online. An important point he makes is that Doc is actually quite the stud and lady-killer...but the model of virile masculinity he's based on is very much out of time.
I'm not usually one for picking on the "scans_daily" crowd (it's a real "fish/barrel/gun" proposition at the best of times), but I felt this thread was noteworthy. I'm honestly baffled by the number of people who seem to seriously think that this:
Is an actual forth-coming cover for the Wonder Woman series. Now, I don't expect everyone on the internet to immediately recognize that picture as a Glen Hanson piece that's at least a year old (NWS link, by the way), as I did, but come on! To even think for a moment that DC would ever seriously consider putting an image like that out on a cover shows a painful disconnect from the realities of the comics publishing world. What's worse are the responses that seem to think that, okay, because here's an unabashed piece of super-hero themed beefcake, that excuses all the sexist and misogynist portrayals of women in super-hero comics. Uh, no. When Newsarama forum posters get the joke you have to have fallen pretty far off the clue train to miss it...
Oh, what the hey, have a Wildcat picture, from Sensation Comics #36:
Yeah, yeah, it's a cheap-shot, "fagged" just means "tired" in this context...but that's actually a guy in drag Wildcat's fighting. Subtext becomes text!
Why Wildcat? Wildcat’s the baddest mother----er in comics, that’s why. There… I said it. Wolverine, Batman, Punisher… all pussies in comparison. And while some of those characters may be stronger or more skilled or could take Wildcat in a fight, certainly none are tougher—and this from a guy who’s written his fair share of tough guy characters. Ted Grant throws on that crazy-ass cat costume of his and goes out there to fight the good fight in the DCU with no powers or claws or guns or utility belts or whatever—but with his fists. Think about that. That’s totally nuts. You have to have stones the size of casaba melons to even consider doing what he does. And consider this other little tidbit-- he’s been doing it since the days of ducktails and Ozzie and Harriet.
And you know what? That’s another reason why I like him—he’s old. I mean, actually old old—like not “Heaven’s to Mercatroid-- he’s in his 30’s!” old but “Oh my God, they actually let somebody in comics turn 50” old. This whole notion that comic companies sometimes have that their characters have to be young and “kewl” makes me want to puke in a pair of Depends spandex undergarments. It’s beyond stupid. Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson… I guess those guys weren’t kicking mucho ass and taking multiple names, huh? Sometimes you like to see the old, grizzled vet come along and smack the crap out of some snot nosed punks—and Wildcat’s perfect for that.
I'm listless tonight, and not feeling particularly enthusiastic about anything I'd planned to write about. Not even my mini-rant about the quality of the paper Dark Horse is using as cover-stock on Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, which starts to curl the moment I take off the shrink-wrap and expose it to air. Not even a (slightly) mock expression of surprise that super-hero fans are appalled at over-sexualized anime versions of super-heroine action-figures, given that the plastic statues in question are positively tame in comparison to most examples of anime-gal figures I've seen. The only thing that did immediately catch my eye today was the relase of the DC solicitations for May, in which I note that a JSA Classified story-line will focus on Wildcat.
Only thing is, it's written by Frank Tieri. Whose work hasn't particularly impressed me in the past. I have a dim recollection that his run on Wolverine wasn't terrible, but that's largely in comparison to what came before and after.
So, I think I'll just post some pictures of John Tristram instead.
Oh, what the heck. John Barrowman and Ruthie Henshall singing "Anything You Can Do"