Monday, January 23, 2012


I was getting a ton of comment spam a while back, so I turned on comment moderation, which is why it's taken some time for comments to show up on posts. I'll try to be more diligent about catching those and publishing them so folks' comments will show up in closer to when they're actually posted.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

6. If I Ran DC: The DC Relaunch Re-Imagined

So... as a thought experiment last year, me and my co-worker and friend Nick Budd, decided to figure out what we would have done if we had programmed the DC relaunch. There were several caveats: First of all, we had to stay somewhat within reality. By which I mean, we assumed that a lot of folks already had contracts with DC, so almost anyone who had been on books before the relaunch and was still on books after the relaunch, we had to use. Also, we couldn't just grab anybody we wouldn't be able to get. Nobody who's a Marvel exclusive, there was no way Mark Millar was going to work for DC, etc.

We also decided to tweak a few big things. For one, we went reboot, not relaunch. We're going with a sort of Brave and the Bold approach, where there's a history, and we'll explore it as it becomes relevant, but we're not assuming that any of the stories previously happened. Basically, unless it's specifically mentioned in the new stories, assume that it hasn't happened. This is a little more flexible than it probably should be, less specific than the "5 year timeline," but it is sort of the opposite of what DC went with, which is "assume it happened unless we outright tell you it didn't."

I also freely admit to nabbing several pitches from DC Fifty-Too and would immediately take Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone up on their plan to do at least 12 issues of a Wonder Woman book anyone could hand to their young girl. Because really, what kind of *idiots* wouldn't take that pitch?

We also each added a new imprint. For me, all-ages. For Nick, a space-themed imprint called Mystery in Space.

This is my half, Nick's half is on his site, Top 5 Comics, or if he doesn't, I'll ask him and post them up here.

Anyway... here are the solicits. Again, just a thought experiment. All art belongs to the artists, is used for illustrative purposes, and doesn't imply any consent toward this article or anything expressed within. If any artists would like me to take the art down (or move the pictures to my own site, rather than linking to the original piece, which I do as a means to send traffic their way and make them aware of the existence of this article in case any of them do have a problem with it), please contact me and I will respond amazingly quickly.

On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Detective Comics gets a new first issue for the first time in almost 75 years! A series of brutal killings hints at an ancient conspiracy, and Batman learns that Gotham City is deadlier than he knew. Plus, in the first in a series of 8-page backup stories by rotating creative teams, DAVE BULLOCK shows us the adventures of Slam Bradley, Gotham's hard-boiled private eye protector of the 1930s!

Written by ANDY DIGGLE
Art and cover by JESUS SAIZ
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Dick Grayson was the first Robin, but now he flies solo as Nightwing, guardian of Hub City! The Question, protector of Hub City, has disappeared, and it's up to Batman's first protege to keep the peace in this corrupt town while finding out what happened to the one man who held the corruption at bay. (Editor's Note: In the new continuity, Dick Grayson is African-American. The Question is still Vic Sage.)

Written by PAUL DINI
Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Arkham Asylum... empty. Gotham's criminals have spread across the United States, creating havoc too widespread for even Batman to deal with on his own. Be here as Batman teams up with a variety of superheroes from across the DC Universe against his most famous foes... and tries to track down the mastermind behind the massive escape. Who benefits from keeping Batman away from Gotham? And what does this have to do with the Mayor's secret "Arkham City" protocols?

On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Man of Bats. Knight and Squire. Mr. Unknown. Batwing. Black Bat. When crime and terrorism goes international, Batman needs to become an international force. Be here as Grant Morrison explores Batman's army of allies across the globe and their strange foes with superstar artists Frank Quitely and Chris Burnham.

On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Meet Cassandra Cain. The daughter of a world class assassin, rescued as a girl by Batman and trained alongside Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown as potential replacements for Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon, Cassandra was given the identity of The Black Bat to become Batman Inc.'s operative in Hong Kong. Now she'll face off against Triads, intelligence agents from around the world and super-criminals trying to infiltrate this high-tech, crime-riddled city of the far east. Brought to you by BURN NOTICE and PUSHING DAISIES writer Lisa Joy and BATMAN artist Tony Daniel, its high octane espionage and action as you like it!

Art and cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
At last! Batwoman’s new series begins, from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman!
In “Hydrology,” part 1 of 5, Batwoman faces deadly new challenges in her war against Gotham City’s underworld – and new trials in her life as Kate Kane.
Who or what is stealing children from the barrio, and for what vile purpose? Will Kate train her cousin, Bette Kane (a.k.a. Flamebird), as her new sidekick? How will she handle unsettling revelations about her father, Colonel Jacob Kane? And why is a certain government agent named Cameron Chase keeping tabs on her?

Written by PAUL DINI
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman have learned that to survive in Gotham City, bad girls have to stick together. But now they're facing a new vigilante, one who seems to have put a special focus on the capers of the Gotham City Sirens. Who is Thorn? And why is she so determined to put these women out of business?

Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
Art and cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
When the Joker's brutal attack put her in a wheelchair, Barbara Gordon thought her life as Batgirl was over. But combining her talent for hacking and information with a cybernetic-interfaced robot from Batman Inc's vault has put her back in the driver's seat, and she's gathered a team of super-operatives that includes Black Canary, Huntress and Starling (Stephanie Brown) to take on the worst that Gotham (and the world) has to offer!

Edge Imprint:

Art and cover by DAVID FINCH
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Jason Todd was training to replace Robin, but his violent methods caused him to strike out on his own with the identity of Red Hood. Now he's gathered a team of fellow outsiders and fallen sidekicks, including Arsenal, Rose Wilson, Grifter (from Wildcats) and Wise Son (from Blood Syndicate) to take on the criminals and terrorists of the world with more final methods than his mentor would have approved of. But is one of his new recruits secretly an operative of Batman Inc.?

Art by CAFU
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Khunds. Dominators. Daemonites. White Martians. These and more alien races have tried to infiltrate or destroy the DC Universe over the years, but they've always been stopped by the covert action teams of the World War II-era mystery man Wildcat. Now investigative journalist Lois Lane is on the trail of the Wildcats, and she has a major scoop: These alien fighters all share alien origins! Has their protection of Earth all been a scheme to take it for themselves? And if so, what does that mean for Lois, and are they the ones trying to kill her? Join Martian Manhunter, Warblade, Voodoo, Spartan, Starman (Mikaal Tomas), Maxima and Starfire as they battle the risk of exposure and the impending menace of alien conqueror Despero!

Cover by LADRONN
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
The Department of Extranormal Operations has been the government's answers to alien and metahuman threats for over 50 years. Whether it was the work of King Faraday and John Lynch's Team 7 during the Cold War or the more modern operations of Mr. Bones and Amanda Waller, they've been doing the covert work to keep the world safe, as the United States sees it. Now, however, a massive terrorist super-criminal threat is going to force these rival department heads to work together and coordinate all their resources, from Team 7 to Checkmate to the mysterious Task Force X, or else face the destruction of everything they've protected for so long.

Art and cover by NICOLA SCOTT
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Amanda Waller has a deal for the supervillains of Belle Reve. Take on dangerous and probably illegal missions for the government. You'll probably die. But if you don't, you get a few years knocked off your sentence. Bane, Ragdoll, Catman, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and Scandal have all taken her up on the deal. But several of them have their own agenda, until they find out their last teammate on their first mission: The Joker. And now all their plans and schemes take a backseat to staying alive.

O.M.A.C. #1
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
The all-seeing Brother Eye satellite has unleashed a new beast upon the DC Universe in this smashing new series! Kevin Kho has become an unwilling participant in a war between Project Cadmus and Brother Eye as he is transformed into the One Man Army Corps known only as O.M.A.C.!

Written by MIKE COSTA
Art and cover by KEN LASHLEY
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Welcome to a world waging a new kind of war that’s faster and more brutal than ever before. It’s fought by those who would make the innocent their targets, using computers, smart weapons and laser-guided missiles. The new enemy is hard to find – and closer to home than we think. Between us and them stand the Blackhawks, an elite force of military specialists drawn from special forces around the world and equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us.

Art and cover by MORITAT
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T+
Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Find out in this new series from HEX writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with lush artwork by Moritat (THE SPIRIT)! Future issues will feature 8-page backups by rotating creative teams featuring numerous western heroes, including SCALPHUNTER by THE SIXTH GUN team of Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt, THE KENTS by John Ostrander and Tim Truman and BAT LASH by Mike Carey & Dan Hipp.

Young Justice imprint:

Written by ADAM WARREN
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Tim Drake, the newest Robin, has a problem. Students have been disappearing from the Holt Academy for Advanced Learning, Mr. Terrific's private school which also doubles as a secret training center for young metahumans. And Tim is sure they've got an inside man. But he can't handle this problem on his own, and he can't bring in Batman, so it's up to Tim to put together a team of heroes from amongst his fellow students. Fairchild, the statuesque and powerful beauty with self-esteem issues, Kid Flash, the nephew of the Flash whose mouth runs twice as fast as his brain, Aqualad, the protege of Aquaman, Jaime Reyes, the teen with the scarab from the aliens known as The Reach, Connor Kent, the powerhouse clone of Superman who hides more than a few secrets and Grunge, the well-meaning doofus who hasn't quite realized that the '90s are over. Together these young teens will form the core of the Teen Titans in this new series from writer Adam Warren (EMPOWERED, GEN 13) and artist Pete Woods (ROBIN), with covers by lead YOUNG JUSTICE animator and character designer Phil Bourassa!

Written by JAKE EKISS
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It's the second decade of the new millenium, and the last place anyone thought there would be a violent youth revolt was the United States. After months of tense political stalemate punctuated by crippling social turmoil, a deal was reached. The minimum age to hold office was lowered, and in 2016, the youngest president ever, 17 year old Alejandra Perez "Prez" was elected to the highest office in the land. With the youth revolt still smoldering, and the country on the verge of schism or collapse, all the weight of our dreams, of our children's dreams, rest on one girl.

On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Virgil Hawkins has a great job at S.T.A.R. Labs, a new mentor in the form of the mysterious Hardware and a new life in New York City after his parents have moved him out of Dakota! But is he ready to take on the new villains who lurk in New York City’s underworld? And just what role did Hardware play in getting Static this new life?

Written by PAUL LEVITZ
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
In the 31st century, the heroic legacy of the DC Universe has been forgotten, as alien overlords The Dominators sweep through the galaxy and Earth struggles under the rule of Xevious Luthor, descendant of one of the worst super-criminals the world has ever known. But industrialist RJ Brande has a plan, and he's calling in heroes from all over the galaxy to take up the heroic banner of the Legion of Superheroes!

Art and cover by RYAN SOOK
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Raised in the Command D Bunker by Doctor Canus, Kamandi thought he was alone. But when a girl turns up at the Bunker on the run from the slaver tigers of Great Caesar, with a locket that might lead to a colony of intelligent humans in South America, Kamandi must gather his friends and set out on a quest to find out if he is indeed the Last Boy on Earth.

On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Teenaged geniuses "Doc" Will Magnus and T.O. Morrow have been rivals since kindergarten. The twin terrors of science fairs throughout Ivy City. Now they've turned to robotics. But who will the city choose as its official champion? Morrow's powerful, popular champion The Red Tornado, or Magnus's scrappy underdogs the Metal Men? Either way, the two science teens will be hard at work in the lab, trying to top each other again, and their robotic creations will have to deal with the fallout from experiments gone wrong, as well as the weird science threats of Ivy City and their animosity towards one another.

On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Jimmy Olsen and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Chloe Sullivan are constantly at odds. About who paid for dinner last, about who won the last argument... but mostly about who's going to get the best stories for Weird Worlds magazine. Join DC's most go-getting young reporters as they seek adventure and good copy in alien worlds, supervillain bases and all across the DC Universe!


Written by EVAN "DOC" SHANER
Art and cover by EVAN "DOC" SHANER
On sale SEPTEMBER 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED A
Meet the Wizard. Speak the words. Fight evil. SHAZAM! Evan "Doc" Shaner brings you a brand new, all ages take on Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, Dr. Sivana, Tawky Tawny, Black Adam and more!

Art and cover by MIKE MAIHACK
On sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED A
Can the same blonde-haired, wonder teen from Metropolis who helped Barbara Gordon finally put an end to Killer Moth's week-long crime spree also be the new popular transfer student at Gotham High? Good thing they have superheroics in common because Babs' and Kara Zor-El's student lives are about to clash.

Art and cover by J. BONE
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED A
Diana Prince has become one of the world's foremost heroes. A member of the Justice League. But before all that, she was a teenager on Paradise Island and a young heroine newly arrived in Man's World. Join Darwyn Cooke (DC NEW FRONTIER) and J. BONE (BATMAN BRAVE AND THE BOLD) as they show us the early days of Diana's adventures!

Written by MIKE NORTON
Art and cover by MIKE NORTON
On sale SEPTEMBER 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED A
Dan Garrett III, the long lost grandson of the original Blue Beetle, thought the scarab (and the legacy of the Blue Beetle) would be his. But when he approached his boss, Ted Kord, about the idea, he found out that Jaime Reyes had already been claimed by the scarab. But when Jaime finds himself in need of a partner, Garrett "borrowed" Kord's Beetle equipment and went to the rescue. Now the two teens, with guidance from retired Blue Beetle Ted Kord, look out for each other and the citizens of Central City!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

5. Top 5 Spider-Man Writers

So I'm just starting into Essential Amazing Spider-Man Volume 10, which is going to be bringing me pretty close to where I started reading Spider-Man when I was a teen. Which means that while I haven't read everything Spider-Man, I'm comfortable saying that I've read about 80% or more of the character's solo titles, and I'm comfortable making this list of my Top 5 Spider-Man writers.

Personal preference, not binding, blah blah, etc.

1. Stan Lee - It's true that when you go back to read some of Lee's early stuff, it can be a bit hokey and overly bombastic, but for me, his Spider-Man stuff holds up better than anything else, even better than Fantastic Four. Maybe that's because Lee and Ditko co-writing had a nice push-pull like you get with a good writer/editor relationship, or maybe it's any of a hundred other possible reasons, but at any rate, the early Spider-Man issues are some of my favorite Silver Age Marvel books.

Spidey's rogues gallery is one of the best in comics, and most of them were introduced during Lee's run. Green Goblin, Scorpion, Kraven, Doctor Octopus, Electro, The Lizard, Mysterio, Rhino, Shocker, Kingpin, The Sandman... a cornucopia of bad guys who remain in use today. Then there are villains who didn't endure, but who were memorable in their time, like Lee's epic about the magic tablet and "The Big Man," and the supporting cast that was established, from Mary Jane to Flash Thompson, Robbie Robertson, Gwen Stacy and of course J. Jonah Jameson, one of the best, love to hate 'em nemesis characters of all time.

In fact, Lee was #2 on this list until I realized just how much of a great foundation he laid for all that came later, and much as I love Stern's take on Spider-Man, it owes a lot to the groundwork from Lee's run.

2. Roger Stern - Stern wrote the perfect Spider-Man for me. Heroic, funny, neurotic, dangerous as hell when his righteous anger got kicked in. He also created one of the best villains of all time, the Hobgoblin, although of course points must be deducted for the lame ending when Stern left the book, and a few more for when he came back a few years later and did a miniseries that further confused the issue and had me thinking "Wait, who was that guy again?" 

Stern also wrote "The Kid That Collected Spider-Man" and "Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut," two of the best Spider-Man stories ever put to paper, and started the maturation of Mary Jane to the point where she became a viable long-term partner for Peter Parker. 

3. Gerry Conway - I've never been a huge Conway fan, but when I read his Amazing Spider-Man, I realized how good he could be. If nothing else, the guy gave us the original clone story (which was great, as compared to the '90s clone saga) and the Death of Gwen Stacy, but he also introduced the Punisher and made Harry Osborn the Green Goblin, a notable and important development in that character's history. There were also any number of fun, memorable one-shot stories throughout his run.

4. Peter David - Though he didn't write that many Spider-Man stories due to office politics, Peter David's brief tenure on Spectacular, and his work on Web of Spider-Man, was memorable. The Sin-Eater storyline and all the work he did on Jean DeWolff was probably the best thing to happen to Spidey's police interaction since Captain Stacy, and David's sense of humor, always a prominent aspect of his writing, was a perfect fit for Spider-Man.

In fairness, because his tenure was relatively short, David was able to avoid any handicaps that would move him further down the rank, unlike a few of my honorable mentions (below).

5. Brian Michael Bendis - I know, those of you who know I'm not a huge Bendis fan these days are surprised. But Bendis did the impossible, along with Mark Bagley, and made Ultimate Spider-Man not a terrible idea but a fantastic, modern reinvention of the character. He captured the neuroses and the humor of Spider-Man better than anyone since Stern, he expanded and filled out the character's origin and development as a hero, and while things started to go off the rails after a while, those first 30 or so issues of Ultimate Spider-Man are still some of the best stuff to hand a new reader who wants to try the character out.

In addition, Miles Morales is showing a lot of the same spark of originality that the early Ultimate Spider-Man issues had, and if the character does endure (which I hope he will), Bendis will be responsible for creating what is essentially another viable Spider-Man, more popular and more easily accepted than the only other character folks might accept as Spider-Man, Ben Reilly.

Honorable Mentions:
I'd love to credit Tom DeFalco, whose follow-up to Roger Stern's run was actually pretty true to the tone, especially at first, but his later work on the Clone Saga sort of disqualifies him.

Ditto J. Michael Straczynski, who started off relatively strong, hit on some really nice ideas (Peter as teacher, Aunt May figuring out the secret), but had some not so great ones and of course, bears some of the blame for the terrible One More Day story.

David Michelinie is a writer I've always been fond of, and like him or hate him, you have to admit that Michelinie co-creation Venom is a memorable Spider-foe. He also did great stuff with Silver Sable and Paladin, two characters I really like. But he was working in the '90s, and was drawn into all the terrible storytelling conventions that implies, so at least half his run is pretty weak.

J.M. DeMatteis needs to be mentioned for "Death of Kraven," and indeed some of his '90s and '00s work was pretty solid, but a lot of his Spidey stuff is unremarkable.

Mark Waid is fantastic at Spidey (Check out Amazing Spider-Man #677) but hasn't written quite enough of the character to be an all-time favorite. I'd sure love to see more from him, though.

Dan Slott can be fantastic on Spidey (see Spider-Man/Human Torch) but he's been shackled by the Brand New Day status quo, and seems to just now be fighting his way out of it. If he had his own continuity to work with rather than the one Quesada and company saddled him with, I'm sure he'd be on this list, and I still think he might wind up there.

Next time: Least Favorite 5 Spider-Man writers. Then I might tackle Favorite artists.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

4. Favorite Comics of Early January 2012

OK, so technically I missed the weekly thing by two days. In my defense, time measurement is arbitrary, and if we were using the Mayan measurement method, we'd all be facing apocalypse, so two days late is really pretty minor when you think about it.

At any rate, I figured a quick post about the comics I've been really enjoying for the first couple weeks of January would cover the bases, and as it turns out, there have been some really great comics in the first couple weeks of January. These aren't reviews, just quick thoughts.

Week One:
Action Comics #5 (The lead story was pretty weak, an unfortunate trend in Action Comics ever since #3, but the back-up feature, a short tale of Martha and Jonathan Kent, did it's job quite well)

Animal Man #5 (Creepy horror comics at its best)

Fatale #1 (Brubaker & Phillips never disappoint, and this mixture of crime and Cthulhu is no exception)

Huntress #4 (I've been really enjoying this straightforward superhero story by Paul Levitz, and the artwork by Marcus To is jaw-droppingly beautiful)

Punisher #7 (Rucka's Punisher hasn't been my cup of tea, as I don't really dig the "Punisher as bogeyman" take, but it was great to see him working with Lark again, and Lark's artwork on this one is terrific)

Swamp Thing #5 (Has a great sense of "the heroes are totally screwed" going on, a nice complement to the Animal Man series)

Villains For Hire #2 (Abnett & Lanning continue to show everyone else how to do street-level superheroics... or in this case, super-villains)

Wolverine And X-men Alpha And Omega #1 (I remain uncertain about the wisdom of a spinoff of such a young series, but this feels like a standalone story, with nice art by Mark Brooks and good writing from Brian Wood, and I'm a sucker for alternate future stories, even if this one is purely psychic/imaginary)

Bprd Hell On Earth Tp Vol 02 Gods And Monsters (I'd fallen a bit behind on BPRD, but caught up on the Hell on Earth stuff, and they are definitely still doing some of the best horror/superhero stuff in comics. Gods does some great stuff with Abe and the increasingly unlikable Devon, and Monsters is a great intro for Tyler Crook's art and a nice showcase for Liz)

Week Two:
Activity #2 (Nathan Edmonson's espionage/action book is a great follow-up to Who is Jake Ellis?, and the artwork by Mitch Gerads is stunning. I do wish I could tell the characters apart a little better, but I'm fairly certain that, like Ellis, this will read better in trade)

Amazing Spider-man #677 (One of the best comics I've read in the last several months, as Mark Waid delivers some of the best, funniest dialogue Spider-Man has had in years, tells a great story teaming Daredevil and Spidey looking for the Black Cat, and basically delivers everything he's been delivering on Daredevil but for Spider-Man. Gorgeous art by Emma Rios, too)

Batman And Robin #5 (My favorite of the four Batman books of the New 52, mostly due to the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Damian, and the artwork of Patrick Gleason. Still can't touch the Snyder/Jock/Francavilla Detective run we had to give up, though)

Batwoman #5 (Beautiful to look at, I love the use of Chase and the DEO... but the storytelling is sometimes a little hard to follow, a little too ethereal, and I kind of wish they'd ground it a bit more)

Demon Knights #5 (I'd been slipping on this a bit in the last couple issues, but this issue has some key character revelations and a betrayal that brought me back - still probably an easier read in trades)

Frankenstein Agent Of Shade #5 (Fun little one-off pitting Frankenstein against OMAC. Not up to the standards of the first story arc, but solid enough)

Green Lantern #5 (Surprised how much I'm enjoying this, given that it's got some of Johns's storytelling tropes I don't enjoy, like casual murder and mutilation from the protagonists, but Sinestro and Hal interacting is, it turns out, a lot of fun, and a conspiracy by the Guardians something I'm surprised to actually care about)

Lobster Johnson The Burning Hand #1 (I didn't think I was a huge Lobster Johnson fan, but art by Who Is Jake Ellis's Tonci Zonjic and a fun pulpy tale made this one of my favorite reads of the week)

Resurrection Man #5 (A little bit of origin, a little bit of mystery as to where Mitch Shelley is now, and I'm still very much enjoying this book)

Severed #6 (One of the best horror comics I've ever read. I have literally no idea what's going to happen from issue to issue)

Shade #4 (Great art by Darwyn Cooke, but I feel like the surprise twist villain doesn't make a bit of sense if you examine the story for even one second, which drains a lot of the appreciation from me)

Star Wars Agent O/t Empire Iron Eclipse #2 (Stronger second issue, with a very James Bond feel)

Strange Talent Of Luther Strode #4 (Some big secrets revealed, the stakes get a little higher, and one of my favorite new books of 2011 comes into 2012 looking pretty strong)

Suicide Squad #5 (I've been enjoying this, but with this issue, the book went from casual pleasure to "book I will probably buy in trade" - it's very different from my Squad, the '80s book that is one of my absolute favorites, but it's a good take, and it's clear that the writer gets the concept and isn't afraid to kill off characters in much the same way Ostrander did)

Wolverine And X-men #4 (Another book that crossed the "I'll probably wind up buying the trade" threshold this week, due in part to the change in artist, which I hope is permanent, in part to the young class of characters Aaron has put together, and in part to the fun, quirky tone of the book)

Unwritten Tp Vol 05 On To Genesis (Some big, big revelations in this. I forget how much I love this book until a trade comes out, but every time I read it, I'm reminded that it's one of my favorite Vertigo books, with a lot of ambition and a lot of smarts)

Friday, January 06, 2012

3. The Dans of DC

This one's kind of a whim post, I admit it. But recently, I picked up the new Chase trade paperback, and was reminded that for a time in the '90s, at least three of my favorite people at DC were named Dan. To specify:

1. Dan Curtis Johnson was the writer and co-creator of Chase. He had a great grip on the DCU, clearly had a plan in mind for Chase to run for many more issues, and it's a shame we never got to see the full extent of his vision. He even used the Starman-esque trick of "Times Past" type stories to show us tales of Chase as a P.I. in San Francisco, he was clearly building up to something with the DEO's "orphanages" where they trained young metahumans they captured, etc.

Unfortunately, while D. Curtis Johnson was one of the most talented writers working at DC in the '90s, his commercial profile never quite caught up to his creative skills and potential, and while I don't know where he is these days, I'd venture a guess that he's making a lot more money and getting a lot more respect in his other field of computer programming. Pity, as I'd love to see him writing for DC again.

2. Dan Raspler was an editor who I first noticed when he was working with John Ostrander on Suicide Squad. He then went on to edit some of my favorite series, including The Spectre and Hitman, and created and wrote Young Heroes in Love, a short-lived series in the '90s that I really loved. I met him on the shuttle bus at the first Chicago Comicon I ever went to (or possibly the second, my memory's a little shaky on that one) and even pitched him a story at one point when I was trying (thankfully, unsuccessfully) to break in as a comics writer.

3. Dan Thorsland was also an editor, and he was notably in charge of DC's horror mini-line in the '90s, including a really fun book about monsters on the run called Scare Tactics. He also edited some of the issues of Chase, and a few other notable books I really liked.

In all three cases, I don't really know where these guys are now. But I do know that if I could trade one of them for DC's current Dan (Didio) I probably would.

Dan Jurgens is the fourth Dan, and while he's hit and miss for me, he's done so much work that I've liked that I will always give his stuff a chance. So while I'm finding his Justice League International really boring, I still look back on his underrated runs on Thor, Aquaman, Captain America and of course the character he created, Booster Gold, and he'll always get a look for me. Unlike the aforementioned three Dans, however, Jurgens is very active in the comics community at present.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2. DVD Overview: Justice League Unlimited Season Two

After what I think of as the perfect culmination of Batman, Superman and Justice League cartoons in the first season of Justice League Unlimited Season One, I remember being somewhat disappointed in season two. Having now re-watched it, I maintain my opinion that it's considerably weaker than the first season, but I've realized it's still pretty great.

I think one of the big things that hurt season two was the half episode order. Thirteen episodes feels really tight given the amount of story they're trying to pack in here, and it becomes especially notable at the end. The Hawkgirl-Hawkman-Vixen-Green Lantern love quadrangle never quite gets a full resolution, the Martian Manhunter goes down among humanity starts abruptly and doesn't quite have enough time to make his return at the end have quite as much resonance as it could, Grodd's secret society is a great idea but feels like it's over before it really gets started, etc.

However... all of these stories are great ideas, and despite being compressed, they're still really good. In particular, I loved seeing the future Green Lantern/Hawkgirl offspring being addressed. And the plot structure at the outset, where Grodd is going after various artifacts from DC's history, allowing the writers to use the Viking Prince, Deadman and the Warlord, is terrific. In addition, the writers continue to expand across the DCU, so we get a Legion episode, an episode that feels like a lost Flash TV show and a follow-up to Cadmus with Wade Eiling adopting the General identity he took on in Morrison's JLA.

They also made time for some fun one-offs, notably Flash and Lex Luthor getting their minds swapped, and some follow-up from season one with Roulette and her new Metabrawl.

The show did not lack ambition, nor expertise, it just lacked in time to really explore all of the ideas in full.

Still... Darkseid invading Earth, and Lex and Superman teaming up, alongside their respective teams, to defend it? That's a hell of a final episode.

The DVDs have two notable extras, one where the writers, producers and directors discuss their favorite episodes and another where Mark Hamill and series creative personnel discuss the Cadmus arc, although I haven't actually watched either one quite yet.

1. 2012 New Year's Resolutions

Huh. Been a while. Which leads me to resolution #1 in 2012:

1. Post at least weekly on my blog. My hope is to some kind of weekly comic book post, but I imagine as we start getting into election season I'll get drawn into political blogging, and that despite my outlets of LEOG (that's League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen on, TV Dudes & Loose Canon (on Lounge, I'll probably wind up posting on TV and other geeky stuff as well.

What lead me to start resolutions in the first place was my January 1st reorganization/clean-up of DVDs and Blurays, leading me to resolution #2:

2. Watch all of the Blurays and DVDs I have that are sitting unwatched on my shelf. I don't have as many Blurays, but there was a Christmas one or two years back where a lot of stuff wound up going, still wrapped, to the DVD shelf and I never got around to watching it. So the list I have to watch is as follows:

Breaking Bad Seasons 2 & 3 (I've seen the show, but not the special features)
Kick Ass (Saw in theater, but haven't seen since, plus special features)
Kill Bill 1 & 2 (Seen many times, but not special features, and haven't re-watched in a while)
Memento (Haven't seen in quite some time, plus special features)
No Country For Old Men (Re-watch, plus special features)
Rocketeer (Haven't seen in several years)
X-Men First Class (Haven't seen since the theater, haven't watched all the special features)
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Haven't seen in a while, plus *tons* of special features)

Band of Brothers (Haven't seen in a few years)
Batman Beyond Seasons 1-2 (Re-watch, but I haven't seen since original airing in most cases)
Batman Brave and the Bold Season 1 and Season 2 Part 1 (Have watched parts of these, and seen all of them on original airing)
Blazing Saddles (Still wrapped, so I haven't seen this in a few years)
Breaking Bad Season 1 (Seen the show, but not special features, and want to re-watch anyway)
Casablanca (Still wrapped, haven't ever watched the DVD though I saw it at the Paramount again in 2010)
Chaplin (Never seen, and I'm a Robert Downey Jr. fan)
Community Seasons 1-2 (Have seen original airings, but haven't re-watched, plus there are tons of special features)
Crimson Tide (Still wrapped, so haven't seen in a few years)
Kids in the Hall Complete Series (I've seen a lot of these, but not all of them)
L.A. Confidential (Still wrapped, not sure I've seen this since I first saw it in theaters)
Lost Season 4 (Still wrapped, will probably use this as an excuse to re-watch the whole series)
Manchurian Candidate (2004) (Still wrapped, white elephant gift from a few years ago, never seen)
Monty Python's Flying Circus Box 6 (Still wrapped, may or may not use this as an excuse to watch all the Monty Python I've got)
Natural Born Killers (Never seen, got as a white elephant gift a couple years ago)
North by Northwest (Same)
Police Squad (Still wrapped, saw it when it was on TV, love it, looking forward to the revisit)
Predator (Haven't seen in many years, may or may not watch special features)
Profit Complete Series (Still wrapped, saw a couple episodes back in the day, always wanted to complete it)
Pushing Daisies Season 1 (Still wrapped, have seen all of it's original run, will use this as an excuse to re-watch the whole series)
The Shield Season 5 (Still wrapped, have seen all of the show, might use this as an excuse to re-watch the whole series, one of my all-time favorites)
Wonderfalls (Still wrapped, saw its original run on TV, will probably follow up by Pushing Daisies watch with this)

So... that oughta keep me occupied for a while. And this leads me to #3 on the list:

3. Catch up on all the graphic novels on my to-read pile.

And while I'm at it, resolution #4:

4. Catch up on the novels on my to-read pile.

So that's the catch-up plan. And I plan to continue the Cheers and Terriers re-watch on Netflix. Beyond catching up on my various forms of entertainment, there's the other stuff.

In 2011, I went from 197 lbs. in January to 170 lbs. now. I lost about 18 lbs. from fixing up my diet and exercise (that's good!) and then another 9 lbs. when I had food poisoning that turned into extended stomach nastiness (that's bad!) Leading to resolution #5:

5. Keep my healthy weight, hopefully get back to exercising and eating normally again

Plus, of course, all the usual stuff about being a good husband, dad, boss and friend.

Happy New Year everyone!