Justice League #1

Don’t call it a reboot; maybe a reshuffle or re-imagining, but not a reboot.

This is what I take away from that various hints/teasers/comments that staff at DC have been dishing out since the big news of DC’s new launch initiative: 52 #1s in the month of September, kicking off with the Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.

Why not a reboot? Personally, I think you’ll piss a lot of people off, both fans and creators. Why a reshuffle? DC needs new readers, and not just current fans to jump onto new titles, but new readers who are not currently reading comics period. A reshuffle can’t do this on its own obviously; I still claim that if you ask a few random people in your home town, especially smaller ones like mine, where the comic shop is, they’ll have either no idea or no idea that there was even a shop to begin with. How does one get to a new audience? well go to where that audience is, and that’s wherever digital content is sold and viewed. It’s a one-two punch that could go a few ways and only time will tell which way it will go.

For the purpose of this post, I won’t discuss the digital side of things; I want to look at the future landscape of the DCNu, as Newsarama calls it, and how we can expect to see more of the same and something new, and it all has to do with the Flash.

There is a great article over at Robot 6, a blog on CBR that highlights the Flash’s involvement in a lot of new eras of DC. The Flash in question is Barry Allen, first appearing in 1956, and is arguably the first Superhero of the Silver Age. Barry was also heavily involved in Crisis on Infinite Earths, a 1985 maxi series that ended with Barry’s death and the creation of a new, continuity free DCU (very quick synopsis). This DCU has been around for a little more than 25 years, and within that 25 years there has been a lot of continuity, so much that creators are beginning to retcon numerous pieces of history so that they may tell their stories, or trying to make a character more modern. There seems to be a need within DC to have a new set of continuity, and that’s where Barry Allen comes in.

Barry Allen

Barry was brought back to life in Final Crisis in 2008, much to the excitement of long time Barry fans, but also to much disdain for Wally West fans. Barry’s rebirth signaled the beginning of a resurgence of dead characters and status quos for a lot of DCs finest, and paved way for the DCNu to take place.

2009 saw the line wide event, Blackest Night, a Green Lantern centered event that saw the dead rise, including several mainstays such as Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, the Hawks and maybe most importantly, the Reverse Flash, all who ended up being brought back to life. Several of the characters who were brought back to life went on to star in the year long Brightest Day, which not only solved a number of continuity issues, such as the Hawks continuity plagued history and Aquaman’s heritage and missing hand, but also brought back Vertigo characters Swamp Thing and John Constantine to the DCU.

This brings us to DCs current event, the Flash centered event Flashpoint. Flashpoint is a bit different than previous events; it takes place in an alternate timeline, but will affect the DCU proper, and it’s this event that will change the status quo, giving readers the DCNu. How will it affect the DCU and turn it on its head remains to be seen, but one can venture a guess. My guess stems from information the previous events have given readers, as well as other things that are going on in the DCU concurrently with Flashpoint.

With the Reverse Flash brought back to life in Blackest Night, and freed by Captain Boomerang during Brightest Day, Thawne continues his quest to kill Barry Allen, but there is a catch; how does one kill the hero who ultimately makes you. You kill him, there’s no Flash, which means you never get to know about him, which means you can never be like him and never get his powers. But with the end of Johns and Manapul’s Flash series, Reverse Flash seems to have mastered the speed force and can use time to his advantage, and that’s the key to all of this.

Flashpoint #1

Flashpoint’s premise is that Barry wakes up in a DCU that is not his. He has no powers, no one’s heard of Superman and his mother is alive. For those of you who know your Barry Allen origin, Barry becomes a cop, a crime scene specialist, to solve the cold case of his mother’s killer. While working during a storm one night, a bolt of lightning strikes Barry’s lab, causing chemicals that line the lab to spay over him. The combination of lightning and chemicals give Barry access to the speed force, and he becomes the Flash. What readers find out later is that Reverse Flash, who is from the future, comes back in time and is responsible for Barry’s Mother’s death and the bolt of lightning. With Barry’s mother alive in Flashpoint, Barry has no reason to work diligently to solve her murder, and is not in the lab when it is struck by lightning. One would think with no Flash there is no Reverse Flash, but he’s around. This could mean several things: 1, that Thawne is detached from time, able to move in and out of it, or that he has made a separate time stream where he can be, but there is no Flash. We won’t fully know until Johns tells us this during Flashpoint.

Reverse Flash doesn’t seem to stop at Barry’s origin, and that’s one of the key elements to this key point of the reboot/re-imagining/reshuffle that DC is doing. Reverse Flash has seemingly affected every major hero’s origin: Superman doesn’t land in Smallville, so he isn’t raised by the Kents; Abin Sur doesn’t crash on Earth, and Hal doesn’t get the ring, which also affect the rise of Guy, John and Kyle; and *Spoiler* Bruce is killed in the alley with his mother instead of his father, who then becomes Batman. These are just a few origins that have changed, and I’m sure there will be more.

Concurrently in the main DCU, there is a ticking time bomb in Firestorm, a story line that developed out of Brightest Day. He is set to go off at the end of August, when surprise, surprise, Flashpoint ends. This is the other major piece to the puzzle; Firestorm’s big bang like explosion would cause the DCU to not exist, making room for the “reboot” to occur. This is where I put my theory cap on.

I think the DCU is about to get a Flash-like-origin overhaul. The combination of the end of Flashpoint and Firestorms explosion will be to the DCU like the lightning strike and chemicals were to Barry Allen. When it’s all said and done, the DCU will be different than it was before, much like Barry was different now that he had the speed force and became the Flash, but at the same time would still be the DCU readers know, much like Barry remained a police officer. It’s really genius when you think about it. Furthermore, like Barry’s origin, the origin of the DCNu could be caused by Reverse Flash, who may have the ability to create a new DCU out of the Flashpoint universe, or this ability may be given to Barry, who would then use it.

One of the many questions that have come about is, “will things that came before matter?” The answer is yes… and no. Ever since Barry Allen came back from the speed force in Final Crisis there has been a steady rebirth of many heroes, which I noted earlier. I believe that DC needs all these heroes back for their “reboot” to get back to status quo. If this “reboot” was a hard “reboot” than it wouldn’t matter if Aquaman was dead, the “reboot” would just have him there; or if it was important to have Swamp Thing and John Constantine come back to the DCU proper they wouldn’t have had Brightest Day end the way it did. Blackest Night and Brightest Day brought these characters back to populate the DCU again, and Flashpoint may be what “reboots” or shuffles these characters after Firestorm’s explosion. By having these characters back from the dead, you are able to tap into particular points of their continuity so one doesn’t have to re create it from scratch. Think of of it like a pre-made pie crust; a solid foundation which to fill with conent.

The Fury of Firestorm #1

This may be seen in DCs announcement of a few of the titles and creative teams that are involved in the new DCU. The Fury of Firestorm (include cover) will revert Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond to high school friends “drawn into a conspiracy of super science that bonds them forever;” the cover suggests a different type of Firestorm, one of a few characters who will go through more changes than some characters. Also, we have yet to see Firestorm in Flashpoint, which could have some significant meaning to the “reboot.” Plus, we have now seen the Green Lantern books that will be launched in September, and they seem to remain similar to current events ongoing in the DCU.

It’s hard to say how much certain characters will be affected by the Flash like origin of the DCNu, though there may be one or two characters who doesn’t change at all: Batman and Green Lantern. In Flashpoint, Bruce died as a child and isn’t in the Flashpoint world, which could allow Batman to escape any major changes to him or any current story line he has, i.e. Morrison’s Batman Inc. While Hal Jordan is apart of the Flashpoint world, he isn’t a superhero, and with him currently in the War of the Green Lanterns in the DCU, he could be far enough removed that he and the corp aren’t greatly affected by whats to come. Plus, these two characters are a part of a very large, long and dense story that would bad business if DC up and wiped them out.

This is just my theory, and it could very well be wrong and reading into a lot of things. I don’t really think this is a full on “reboot.” Will there be major changes for some characters? Yes. Will there be minor ones for others? Certainly. Will some characters not change at all? I think so. Once this announcement was made, I was disappointed, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. What I can say for certain is that I will pick up a lot of these first issues and give the DCnU a shot. There is great potential in these books.

I’ve been meaning to write this review for some time now. Daytripper by brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon from Vertigo comics is a comic I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. I don’t want to reveal too much about the story, only that it follows the life of the son of a famous Brazillian author, Bras de Oliva Domingos. And that’s all I will say, as there is a twist to the story that I can’t just give away, and for that this review will be short.

What the Brazilian brothers accomplish is a well paced, thought invoking tale about life and all the little moments that it encompasses. The brother’s greatest combination is their ability to draw (no pun intended) their readers to one panel, which then asks the reader to take an extra second to let the emotions that are taking place set in before they can move on to the next panel. It’s a great technique that they use from time to time when the story wants the reader to slow down and think for just a second.

Separately, the brothers excel at their portion of the story. Ba writes some excellent dialogue and orders his events so you need to know what happens next, or what happened before. This is also great for defining who Bras is, as well as the supporting cast around him. Moon creates a variety of scenes, scenes with scope that seem to look past the horizon, as well as scenes of closeness, where he gets right in your face and gets you to feel whatever the characters are feeling. Moon clearly has a cartoonist style that relies on a few lines to express any emotion that is going on, and it synchs with Ba’s  story telling, allowing panels to blend together when need, which are smooth and natural.

There is more I could say about this book, but the less I say means the more you get to experience. This is a powerful piece of work, and I highly suggest you find the time to read it and read it in one sitting; you’ll thank me later. One more thing, Please pass this book along if you can. The more people who read this, the more people who can see how comics can evoke some great emotion and be a great read, the better.

I thought a lot about Superman Earth One (SEO) after it was released in October. It wasn’t overly stimulated by the book, though I know i wanted to be. SEO presents a unique opportunity, one to re-establish The Man of Steel as a modern superhero. After I put it down, my first thought was, that’s it? Where’s the rest of it? Even during my read, I felt like something is missing. I chalked it up to being a bad book, but it got me thinking, why is this a bad book. It took me awhile to realize, but I finally figured it out; this book isn’t a bad book, merely a misguided book, and it took watching Superman: The Movie (STM) to understand this.

If you haven’t read SEO, it opens up with a young Clark Kent, somewhere between 20-25, on a train to the big City of Metropolis. Over these panels we have a conversation between Clark and his mother, Martha, about Clark deciding to take the train when he could easily fly. Clark wants time to think, to figure out what’s going to happen when he arrives. Upon arriving in Metropolis, Clark rents a hotel room for the foreseeable future and goes looking for a job. When you have superhuman strength, speed, intelligence and you can fly, any job could be at your disposal, and JMS shows us this. He tries out for a football and baseball, and is amazing. He goes to a high tech science lab and figures out a complex problem after only looking at it for seconds. He even looks into writing for a newspaper. Clark Kent of Earth One is capable of anything, but he still doesn’t know what or who he wants to be. JMS is tapping into a big fear of a lot of 20 somethings out there. What now, what can I do. As an older 20 something, I can tell you that this is a very big fear. Clark though is special; he can do great things, and his parents want him to do great things, like any parent would. However, they want him to be Superman, and even go to the extreme of making a costume for him, but you don’t know if Clark has ever said, yes I want to be a superhero. When Clark finally does become Superman it is because Earth is threatened by a race of aliens who are after him, and only he can stop them.

I decided one morning that I would watch Superman: The Movie while I did some writing, and I noticed one major difference between the two takes on the Man of Tomorrow. In STM, Clark becomes Superman within the first act of the movie, while in SEO, Clark becomes Superman at the end of the second act. The question immediately arises; why? What it comes down to is the journey that each Clark takes, or in the case of SEO, the lack there of. It’s not just any journey, but the hero’s journey that Clark goes through in STM, and doesn’t go through in SEO, well barely goes through.

Joseph Campbell, author of the Hero with a Thousand Faces, came up with a loose frame work that outlines the various steps/stages of the heroes journey. Campbell complies thousands of years of stories, from myths to fairy tales, to highlight each stage of the journey. The most important piece to remember about the journey that each stage has a variety of events that can take place and at the most the journey should be looked/read as frame or structure to set a story too. The best modern example I can give of the hero’s journey is Star Wars. After reading Campbell, director George Lucas applied Campbell’s work to his story. A year after Star Wars came out, Superman: The Movie was released and it too followed the hero’s journey, and that’s what STM and SEO start out with, but in different places.

When Superman: The Movie opens with Jor-El sending his only son on a journey to Earth, as Krypton explodes. Superman Earth One begins as Clark starts his journey to Metropolis. The audience then begins their own journey with these two characters in two different stages of their life. Martha and Jonathan take the place of the audience and are introduced to baby Clark at the same time we are, and we are shown his great strength as he lifts the back of the Kent’s truck up. Like Martha and Jonathan, the audience is stunned by this little boy’s strength. When the reader meets the Clark Kent of Earth One, he’s sitting on the bus choosing not to fly. Right away JMS is telling his audience that he wants to show you a different Superman, a thinking Superman. These openings also show something else to their audiences, different points of the hero’s journey.

The first stage of every hero’s journey is the call to adventure. It could be the call to fight the dragon or to save the princess, or in the case of STM be the call into the world of the hero, or as the call in the realm of superheroes, the origin story. Because both stories involve the origin of Superman, I am going to stay with the part of the journey. In an origin story, the call to adventure begins with our soon to be hero living his or her life in a world that is familiar to them. For Spider-Man, he is an awkward, geeky teenager, who is bugged by those at school. For Batman, he is just a boy out to the movies with his parents. The next stage of the call is the actual call, the inciting incident, the moment that soon to hero’s life is changed forever, a moment that will set him on his journey. For Iron Man this is his capture by the terrorists, which force him to build his suit of armour.

The call continues with perhaps the most important piece, the helper or guide. This character can direct him towards, give the hero an item or consul him in the ways of the world the hero towards the final piece of the call. Luke has Obi-Wan and Arthur has Merlin. The final piece of the call to adventure is the crossing of the threshold into the new world that the hero will now inhabit. Spider-Man crosses the threshold when his uncle is killed and he learns what responsibility is and has to live his life without him. Batman crosses the threshold once he steps onto the streets of Gotham as Batman after travelling the world, honing his body and his mind. Once the call to adventure is complete, well there are more stages to Campbell’s journey, some which include meeting helpers (guys like Han and Chewie). However, for this article, I will stick to the first stage of the journey, because without a first good step the rest of the journey can be rough.

Superman: The Movie opens up at the beginning of Clark’s hero’s journey. After landing in Smallville and being taken in by the Kents, Clark grows up as an teenager looking for acceptance and who he is. Clark lives on the farm, goes to school, has a crush on a girl, and besides his powers, is a normal teenager. His call to adventure is a tragic one; the death of his adoptive father due to a heart attack, something he can’t stop, even with all his powers. This sets Clark on a journey of self discovery after finding a piece from his ship, which leads him all the way to the arctic. Once there, he throws the green crystal from his ship into the ice, which, after much shaking and quaking, becomes a giant ice fortress. Within the ice fortress is the conscious/ knowledge of Clark’s real father, Jor-El, who explains to Clark who he is and why he was sent there, one of which is to help the people of Earth. After Many years at the fortress, Clark decides to become Superman, and fly’s off to Metropolis, the hub of America to help the people of Earth. Through the help of his fathers Clark can step into Metropolis, a different world then the farm and life he grew up in, and on to save the world, which he does.

Superman Earth One is a story that jumps between the present and the past, and opens up with Clark on the bus to Metropolis. When we first see Clark then, he is leaving what he knows in the farm and his family and crossing the threshold into the unknown. There is a large one page panel of Clark looking up at the skyscrapers in wonder; it is clear that Clark is in a world he doesn’t know. Opening the story this way is just one way to tell the hero’s journey, only becoming an issue if the story misses the other beats of the call to adventure. Working sequentially then, Earth One Clark grows up on the farm and has a difficult time fitting with those around him; he always needs to keep his powers in check so he doesn’t hurt anyone, making him appear weak. So Earth One Clark has a very similar childhood to STM Clark, and like their childhood both Clark’s fathers die, but unlike in STM, in SEO we don’t see Jonathan’s death and we don’t know if his death causes Clark to go on his journey to Metropolis. Also, in STM, Clark goes to Metropolis to help the planet that has adopted him, saved him even from certain death. Earth One Clark goes to Metropolis to find himself, he doesn’t even know about his Krypton heritage when he goes, just that he crash landed on a ship when he was a baby. It could be said then that Clark’s trip to Metropolis isn’t his threshold crossing moment. If not, then what is?

Clark of Earth One’s world changes when the alien attack comes to Earth looking for Clark. When the dust is settled at the end of the book, Metropolis is a changed place that Superman must now live in. So the alien attack is the call to adventure and defeating them is the crossing the threshold, or the dragon battle (more on this in a second), but there is still something missing. There is no guide/helper. The closest thing Earth One Clark has to a guide is a piece of his spaceship, which after being caught in a fire and touched by Clark, shows him his final minutes on Krypton, as his parents send him off to Earth. If we consider this an adequate representation of the guide figure, it would still be missing two important pieces. The glimpse does not offer any information on who Clark actually is and does it give Clark any advice as to what he should do going forward. However, I will argue that the supplementary guide in SEO lets Clark know that his parents sent him to Earth so he could live, and this may be the very reason that Clark decides to become Superman. Quickly going back to the dragon battle notion; if we replace the crossing of the threshold with the dragon battle ending to the call to adventure, the hero would still need a guide. The guide is not only synonymous will the crossing of the threshold, but any of ending stage to the call to adventure. While there is inklings of the call to adventure structure in Superman Earth One its lack of essentials, such as a proper guide and threshold can limit Clark’s rise to Superman. Furthermore, STM finishes the hero’s journey by visiting every stage of Campbell’s outline. SEO ends it’s tale half-way through the outline.

It may not seem necessary to follow Campbell’s outline as much as one can, but with a hero like Superman, the first superhero, following an outline is proven to work, see the many myths and fairy tales that have stood the test of time, plus the most well known Superman origin, the one that is still referred to today, Superman: The Movie even makes use of this outline. The hero’s journey is a story that has been used for so long that it has become a format that has been ingrained into our collective conscious. Even films use the outline of the hero’s journey to build their stories. A script is based on five plot points, each point mimics the plot points in the hero’s journey: the inciting incident or call and the lock in, or threshold crossing, are the first two points.

For Superman Earth One to create a modern telling of the Man of Steel, JMS would have needed to effectively use the hero’s journey to re-tell Superman’s origin. Only then could the audience have seen the first true superhero come to life, again.

I thought I was done with this topic. If you read my Picks of the Week post this week, you’ll know how angry I was with this issue; from the way it was market to the issue itself. Well, last night I read Skottie Young’s latest blog, which is about people being negative about the industry, but not giving positive examples of how to improve it. For those of you don’t know who Skottie is, he is an amazing cartoonist and comic book creator, who is currently working on the Marvel’s Wizard of Oz book. Check his site and his work out if you haven’t already; the man can draw.

As soon as I read Skottie’s post, I immediately thought about my PoW post from Wednesday; it really was a negative post with no real positive solutions or suggestions. So, I decided that I would take Skottie’s advice and give some of these positive suggestions on what could have been done different to market Fantastic Four #587: The Last Stand of Johnny Storm.

Pre-Release Marketing

Many of you already know that Marvel marketed this issue pretty heavily for the last five months or so, letting the comics community know that in this issue, a member of the Fantastic Four would die. This can be a common practice for the death of a major character in a superhero book. Earlier this year, the X-Men’s Nightcrawler and Cable were also killed, and leading up to his death, Marvel solicited that during the X-Men event, Second Coming, that two X-Men would die. This makes sense from a marketing stand point; let readers and retailers know ahead of time that way retailers can order enough books for the readers to find out who gets killed, and how it happens. On the other hand though, when Captain American, Steve Rogers, was killed about 4 years ago, it wasn’t announced in the solicitations and it took everyone by surprise (more on this later).

Announcing a character is going to die ensures sales rise; retailers have to order their books from Diamond months in advance, and if they know something big is going down in a particular issue, and they know that this something big is the death of a character, then they can be prepared for the readers who are going to want to read this issue. If you also read my post on Comics Aren’t for Everyone, you’ll know that I mentioned Marvel EIC Axel Alonso’s view on how readers want to keep up with everything that is going on in that particular universe. It makes sense then that readers would pick up this issue of Fantastic Four so they can continue to be caught up on continuity. Announcing the death then is procedure in the comics community. This obviously isn’t the best method as it gives away a piece of the story well before hand, but the way comics are bought and sold right now, and I don’t have any good ideas for that.

The Infamous Polybag

A lot of fans were taken aback and down right confused when Tom Brevoort announced that issue #587 would be placed in a polybag, thus keeping secret the member who would die. My problem with the polybag is that, as I said in my PoW post, it is an old piece of marketing that was used in the 90s when everything was over the top and every first issue and major event was a collectors item, and is a marketing tool that is made fun of today. Using it now can be seen as a bit of nostalgia, but in a time when readers want comics to be considered more than just funny books and wish that they reached a bigger audience, using the polybag is sort of Marvel telling their fans that they don’t care to move forward, they care that this issue becomes a collectors item and that it sells a lot.

Comics aren’t collectors items any more. Sure you can collect them, but they aren’t going to worth anything in the future, not when they can be reprinted as many times as Marvel wants and can be released digitally. Digitally though is where Marvel should have gone from the very beginning of marketing for this book. Releasing this digitally first would secure that the death remains a secret until its release; fans could even download it early, and as soon as the release date hits, it becomes unlocked. Think about how many people with apple devices, PC’s and Android phones could have read this that aren’t reading comics, and those fans that do have these devices. There are so many more options too when you release this digitally.Have the entire arc available digitally at a reduced price, get people to read the entire story, not just the end of it. Hell, give them away for free, that will really ensure people are reading the whole thing, plus it will highlight to people how stories work on an issue by issue basis. You could even sell and have ready other major comics where characters died, such as Captain America or Nightcrawler, and once the issue has been released, put on some more big Fantastic Four books, especially ones involving Johnny Storm (after writing this I checked my Marvel app on my iPhone, they do have a not of Fantastic Four books featured for $1.99).

Early Release and the Press Release

Last week Marvel quickly turned their lets-keep-this-book-secret-by-putting-it-in-a-polybag strategy to lets-make-this-issue-a-collectors-item by announcing that they would allow shops to sell this issue a day early, and then this week put out a press release telling the word who died. We know what happened, people flocked to a LCS and bought the issue. I’ve given my opinion on this decision, but what would alternatives could there been? If you are releasing the book digitally, why not release it early digitally instead of in the shops? Fans my cry foul to this, but I think a lot of them have cried foul over everything that has happened anyway. And if you are going to spoil it by sending out a press release, why not have the press release tell people how to get it digitally. Think about the press Marvel could have gotten if they promoted digital comics; it could have been great for the whole industry and not just them. Or do the best of both worlds, have the hard copy and digital copy released at the same time.

I am sure there are a ton of other ways that Marvel could have marketed this book without promoting comics as a collectors medium, as well as spoiling fans, these are just come of them. What are your ideas though? What could have Marvel done differently to promote and sell this book? Did they do the right thing, and I’m the odd man out? Tell me that too.

I’m going to do something a bit different again. Last week I gave you a run down of each book I read, this week I am going to give you my worst then my best, but there is a catch. There was one major release, which dwarfed all others, and that is my pick for worst of the week. If you haven’t guessed what my worst pick is, well frankly, I’m shocked. Before you read, just note that this review/blog gives some major spoilers.

Worst of the Week

Fantastic Four #587: This issue featured the death of the Human Torch, Johnny Storm, and it was a let down and actually made me mad, and not just because of the death. About five or six months ago, Marvel announced that one of the Fantastic Four would die, and then had a count down to that very issue. Then about three months ago it was announced that this book would be polybagged to keep secret who would die. The last time I can remember a polybag being used for the death of character was for the Death of Superman. That book was a big deal. I remember getting two copies of this book, one polybag to collect, which cost my dad $60, and a copy I could read, which I read. A lot. With the announcement that this issue would be polybagged, Marvel was saying that this death was on par with the death of Superman. First I have a problem with that. the Death of Superman was a big deal because Superman is the first superhero, the one who inspired the rest. The Fantastic Four, while the first big book to come out of Marvel in the 1960’s and would set up the direction of the company for the next several decades, is important, but they are no Superman. The second problem I have polybagging this book is that it uses a method of marketing that was highly used in the 90’s, a time in comics that is often made fun of. There is nothing wrong with marketing for an event such as the death of one of Marvel’s biggest heroes, but to use a method that people joke about? I don’t get it. With the industry trying to get new readership, to be more than funny books, they go back instead of forward? I don’t want to say this, but I will. It was dumb.

Now the issues keep coming out when last week, Marvel announces that, due to the new early shipping schedule Diamond has (Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays), Local Comic Book Shops can sell this issue, and this issue only, one day early. Why do they do this? Well it makes the wait that much shorter, but also, when Marvel makes their next move they can take advantage of this early day release. Tuesday the 25th comes, the day of FF #587’s release, and Marvel sends out a press release to the media, which not only include comic book websites, but all major media outlets. What’s in the title of the press release? You guessed it, the character who dies. Can you guess what happens next? that’s right, the whole world (hyperbole, I know) finds out. I decided that I would be spoiled, that I would read one of the many articles being written on the death of Johnny Storm. I would not allow Marvel to dictate how I spent my day online, because I knew that someone on Twitter or a forum, or hell a text message would tell me before I read it. And yes, I saw a tweet that spoiled it. So now I’m not only mad because Marvel decided to make the death not a surprise by announcing that a character will die, and not only because they decided to keep the character a secret by pollybagging the issue, thus reverting to a marketing method that hadn’t been seen in over a decade, but what do they do, they spoil the death themselves so people will rush into a comic book store, buy this historic issue a day before regular release, forgoing the number of sales competitors could get from new readers coming in to buy this ONE issue, but also forgoing any extra sales they could have gotten from their own books. What the fuck was Marvel thinking?!

Today on CBR, I read retailer reactions to this “milestone” issue.  A common theme between them was that they saw a lot of people they had never seen before, and a few they haven’t seen in awhile. People were hearing the news of the Human Torch’s death and coming into to get in on the action; after all, this issue could be worth something someday (my LCS sells the Death of Superman, pollybagged, for $25, a book that was released almost 20 years ago). Marvel then has created a hot commodity, a collectors item to be kept for a long time. The problem is though, new comics aren’t collectors items anymore; not like the used to be. Why? Because not only do they release a lot of copies, but we now live in the digital age where these copies can be reprinted however many times, or they can be released digitally, and read on a computer, any smart phone or iPad. That’s right, for those of you who bought this comic thinking it will be worth something, I’m sorry to say, but it won’t be. And what did Marvel accomplish by this bait and switch style manoeuvre? They made some money. Sure they had an influx of regular readers buy this issue, some who will probably continue reading this series, and yea they made some extra money off of people off the street coming in to buy the book because it’s on the news. But what about guys like DC, Image, Dark Horse, Boom! or any other small press publisher? I guarantee you they didn’t get an influx of sales because of this issue; the majority of new people coming into buy it came in a day early.

As for the issue itself; it was alright. I gave it a three out of five on iFanboy.com. This entire arc, which has been separating each member of the four and putting them in a do or die scenario, has been plotted for this particular issue. In the Reed and Sue plot lines, each member figure a way out of their problem in quick and efficient, bordering on deus-ex machina, manner, but it becomes evident very quickly that Ben and Johnny and the Future Foundation are in real trouble with tens of thousands of alien bugs descending on their broken gateway to Earth, and the only way out is the cliched someone must stay behind to close the portal. What would you know, the Thing, who two issues earlier was reverted back to his human form for 24 hours, volunteers his life away. But wait, at the very last second, Johnny decides that he will be the one to stay behind and throws Ben through the portal, sealing himself behind. With thier uncle about to face his death, both Franklin and Valeria barely protest what’s about to happen, they don’t even say good bye. The odd part is this; Valeria, the super smart, almost smarter than her Father, Mr Fantastic, genius, is the one who suggests someone staying behind like it’s nothing. For a girl under 10, she doesn’t seem to worked up about one of her uncles or friends staying behind to be slaughtered by monsters. Franklin has just gotten his reality altering powers back; yup, reality altering. When Johnny seals himself behind, Val suggests Franklin create more time. He can do that you ask? As soon as he received his powers back, he created a universe in the palms of his hands. So ya, he can do that, but Ben says no. You think with a character who has the power to alter reality, he could fix the broken portal, but he doesn’t. Well, what happens next is the death we’ve all been waiting for. As the portal begins to close down, Johnny flames on one more time, ready to take on the bugs, but he gets knocked out. The portal finishes closing as Ben, who in his great upheaval of emotion has turned back into the Thing, then we see him hugging the children. What I missed something you say. Where’s the death? Well, we don’t see it. All we see is the door closing, then a panel of it closed, and that’s it. No last breath, no eye closing, no body, but turn the page and we get the title of this issue, The Last Stand of Johnny Storm. The question arises, did he actually die? I don’t know, but what I do know is, that this is a superhero comic, and in superhero comics, deaths don’t tend to last long. So we get all this build up for a scene where we aren’t sure if a character dies, a character who will probably be back (there are only 12 issues to the 600th issue). All of that, for this? I’m sorry, that is not cool, that is not cool at all.

I could go on a bit more about the issue itself, how the plot was rushed and forced, but I’ve touched on that. I could say that while Steve Epting is a great artist, he isn’t great for this book, well I guess I just did. I will say though that this series will be ending with the next issue #588 (with a year to go to 600 they are cancelling the series?), then a new, different fantastic four series (sans Johnny of course) begins in a couple months. It’s called FF. I’m sorry to say Marvel, I won’t be picking it up, and the Fantastic Four are one of my favourite groups of superheroes, if not my most. Some readers of Hickman’s run may say, Kyle, stick around, this is all part of a bigger story. I know it is. I love Hickman’s SHIELD comic; it has all kinds of crazy ideas floating around, but that’s not why I am dropping this book, and if you haven’t been able to tell, it’s because the way Marvel treated this book, as a side show. I understand that it’s trying to make money, and as a publicly traded company it should be, but when you use ulterior motives to sell your books to people who will only buy this comic, and you do it in such a way that you highlight a marketing tool that is considered a joke in the larger comic community, you are not only telling your audience that you don’t care to push your medium forward, but you re-enforce the publics stereotypical views on comic books and those who read it.

I realize how angry this has made me, and yes it is just a book, but it’s also a book and a medium that I care deeply about, so I am sad this is what makes me stop reading about a family I love. Something funny happened today though. As I was going over this post in my head, plotting it out, waiting in anticipation until I could get my rantings on page (and this has been very cathartic), I heard about this great quote from writer Steve Niles that Robot 6, a blog on CBR posted, and it goes like this: “Can I say something I’ve wanted to say for a long time? If you like something, tell your friends. If you love it, tell the world. But if you hate something, just throw it away, don’t buy it again and move on. We spend way too much time tearing shit down. I just want to try the other direction for a while.” Up until I read this, I was wavering on dropping some books that were alright, but weren’t really doing it for me (two of them I read last night, not including this issue of Fantastic Four). So thank you Steve, I will be dropping several books in the comings months (I will wait for the arcs to be finished, it’s only fair to the story), and apologies Marvel, I think most of them will be yours.

Best of the Week

My Pick of the week for best comic goes to Detective Comics #873, simply because this a great Batman book, but it’s also a Batman book that moves the character and the mythos forward through a form of evolution that seems natural. This arc reminds me a lot of the post Jeph Loeb/ Jim Lee run on Batman done by Brian Azzerello and Eduardo Risso titled Broken City. Scott Snyder and Jock create a gritty and horrifying Gotham and still make Dick feel like he is Batman and not pretending to be him. I read this book last (and read Fantastic Four first) and I am happy I did.

Over at Uncanny Derek Presents, a friend of mine, Derek, discusses the age old conundrum, comic book acceptance. Take a second and go read his take, and give him some views while you’re at it. You’re back? Okay good. Now if you didn’t have time to read it (yet you have time to read mine? shame on you), I’ll let you know that Derek looks at how comic book’s are accepted as films, but not comics themselves. More importantly I think, why is it that comic book content, especially superheroes, are accepted as “cool” where reading this content in a comic book is “uncool.” I put these quotations because cool is a reletive term. Derek uses a great quote from Stan Lee to demonsrate how comics should be considered “cool” or acceptable. I was going to post a comment on Derek’s blog, but instead I’d thought I’d continue the conversation here and give some of my reasoning as to why there is still this disconnect between comics and acceptance.

Recently I read another blog over at Comic Book Resources, Tilting at Windmills, that was a response to Patton Oswalt’s Wired Magazine essay on the changing of geek culture (I really am giving you guys a lot of homework here, apologies), and in this article was a quote from new Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso, concerning the state of comics, which he says (and I am paraphrasing) that people are going into their shops on Wednesday and are buying comics that matter, comics that count. A comic that would count would be any comic that is apart of the whole, or a large scale story line. For example, when Blackest Night was running, there were a number of ongoing books that tied into that series, as well as a number of mini-series that were created to run along with it, expanding what was happening in the main event book. Not every person who buys comics needs to keep up with current affairs, but a fair number of people who purchase Marvel and DC comics, the two companies who sell the most, do want to know what they are reading matters. I do it, and it’s part of the attraction of comics, being apart of and knowledgeable of larger continuity. This though is one of the larger reasons why comics are not acceptable as say television or film is.

It’s ironic though, that when Superman frst appeared in Action Comics #1, he set off a powederkeg of sales that hadn’t been seen in the comicbook industry, which was mainly pulp comics at the time. By inflation standards, those sales today would astound anyone to see them. these where the books that a kid could run down to the corner store, not their LCS, which I guess it was, but you know what I mean, and buy a comic, read it ten times and then talk about it with their friends who also bought it. Next week same thing, and they read anopther fun story about Superman or Batman. Was there a continuity like there is today? Not even close. And it’s there that things get interesting.

I’m going to jump ahead a little bit and talk about one of the “best” and “funniest” sitcoms on TV in the past five years: Two and a Half Men. This show is a set of one liners that are rarely funny, with characters who can be shallow and idiotic for the sake of comedy, but you know what, that comedy was rated one of, it not, the top sitcoms for a long time. Many people wonder how that can be, and this is where I come back to the comic book purchases of yesteryear. When asked why Two and a Half Men did so well, a TV producer stated that you didn’t need to watch every episode to enjoy the show; if you missed one, you didn’t miss much. There are more reason than this as to why this show was popular; I’d say there format and one-liners made it easy to get in and out of, a show you can leave on the background if you wanted. I’d argue that comic books of the 1930’s and 40’s acted much the same way; it didn’t matter if you missed an issue, you still got the fun of Superman or Batman. Though I can imagine missing an issue of Batman might have left you out of discussion with your friends than missing an episode of Two and a Half Men.

Accessibility in content than can determine who reads a comic. Even for comic book readers, jumping on a new book can be daunting if they no nothing about that book. This does happen in TV too. When the final season of Lost aired do you think new people jumped on? Yea, but where they lost?  For sure they were. Another reason though that comics are as accepted as other mediums is another form accessibility, accessibility in format; this works in two ways.

While TVs and film were around in the 30’s and 40’s, they weren’t as accessible as they are today. Not every family owned a TV, though most did own radios, and going to the movies wasn’t a weekly adventure, and taking the whole family probably wasn’t cheap. Comics though were available at every corner grocery store, and unlike TV or movies of that time, you had access to that comic whenever you want; comics then had more value a medium than it does now. However, once the baby boom ended and TV and film became more accessible to families, comics began to take a back seat.

The second format accessibility has to do with where you can get these different forms of entertainment. TV’s were in every home by the 70’s, more and more people were also visiting the cinema due to the beginning of the blockbuster era with films like Jaws and Star Wars (the later which turned into its own monster). By the 1980s, comic books weren’t as readily available as they once were. Many comic book readers had to go to a comic book shop to purchase their books, and by the 1960s and 70s, comics started telling bigger, more connected stories. in the 80s, DC was weighed down by almost 50 years of continuity they had a massive event that allowed them to start over from scratch. Yes people were reading comics, but they were the ones who had to look for it, and that hasn’t changed. Ask someone who is familiar with the city or town you live in and ask where their movie theatre is, then ask them where your LCS is. More over, movies seem to be the format of choice for entertainment. Why is that? obviously a number of reasons, but going back to my Two and a Half Men example, with a film you can sit down and watch for two hours then you are off doing something else. Even with sequels, there isn’t a lot to get caught up on. Films also have a tried, tested and true structure, so everyone knows what they are getting into. Films can be powerful and entertaining, but they can also be the most convenient medium to watch. More people are willing to sink $10 into to hours than $3 – $4 a month for who knows how long and keep up with a comic book.

Finally, comic books have entered our movie theatres because technology is able to recreate what an artist once drew, and when you have a wealth of content to base a film off of, well you’ve got a potential cash cow on your hand. More importantly though, and in his Tilting at Windmills blog, Brian Hibbs discusses the branding that has occurred in the past 10 years. It is no longer Iron Man the comic, or comics, but the films, cartoons, toys and other merchandise, and coming in 2012, the Avengers film will come out, not only furthering the Iron Man brand, but the brands of Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, the Avengers and Marvel. These brands are able to entice any number of audiences; kids and their cartoons and toys, summer action movie fans, comic book fans, TV fans and video gamers. Comics will still be the red headed step child of the brand, but ultimately, this is where the brand started, and as a fan, i’m glad a medium I love so much can spawn a franchise that can reach more people than they could with the comic. And with comic books being a niche market more than it has ever been, and with Oswalt’s proclamation that “Everything That Ever Was — Available Forever,” it’s nice to have something that is still kind of just mine.

I had four comics this week; hardly enough to give an accurate idea of what the best and worst comics are.

Since I started picking this book up in November, Amazing Spider-Man has been very close, or has been, my pick of the week. This week is no different. With the second of this book’s two rotating artists, Ramos and Caselli, Caselli has a similar style but unique take on the wall crawler. There are some great action beats that are drawing very well, character moments that are true to those characters, but at the same time it moves them forward. This current arc is about Spider Slayer Alistar Smythe who is back to ruin the life of the beloved J. Jonah Jameson. Naturally JJJ has some moments that highlight his hate for Spider-Man, but also his realization that Spider-Man isn’t the nuisance he makes him out to be. It’s similar to Barney Stinson for How I Met Your Mother, who we all know is a jack ass, but shows moments of sincerity. Slott has been writing some cliffhangers that feel much like a comic book should. He leaves the story at a spot that is logical and makes you want to read the next issue. With a book that is bi-weekly, I don’t have to wait long.

My pick for worst of the week is Thor #619, a book that has been here lately. I am almost done with this book, a book that hardly has any structure, a story that is trying to get back to its former status quo and a book that makes brow raising choices that make you shake your head. The only reason i keep buying this book is Pasquel Ferry. This guy can draw some great fantasy characters and draws Asgardians that look both fantastical and science fictional at the same time. For those who know Thor, know that this is how they character should be drawn. With  Marvel changing Thor back to the title characters original book, Journey into Mystery and starting a new Thor series, The Might Thor, written by Fraction and drawn by former Thor artist Oliver Copiel, I may be done with this character for now. Gillen will be writing Journey, and he is a writer I can’t get into, and I haven’t liked what Fraction has done with Thor so far. Sorry Marvel, I am sure you will get lots of new readers with this maneuver, but I probably won’t be one of them.

I also picked up Invincible Iron Man #500. Marvel has decided to amalgamate all the volumes of Iron Man into one and go back to its original numbering, and to celebrate created a huge anniversary issue with three different artists telling two stories: one present and one future. The story was alright; jumping back and forth between the two time periods. However, the art was too wildly inconsistent, especially in the future story where I had no idea what was going on in some panels. Not sure if it was the colouring or the inking, but is seemed rushed and sloppy. The style is meant to be gritty, but this wasn’t pulled off well.

Finally, the last book was my only DC book this week, Brightest Day #18, and I am going to give spoiler warnings here. This issue focuses on the Hawks, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and their involvement in this series up until this point has highlighted the continuity mess that these two characters share. It would take too long to explain it all, so I will take the easy way out and point to a Wikipedia article on Hawkman . Brightest Day #18 finally gets the Hawks to a place where they can finally shed all that past continuity and start fresh, but Johns and Tomsai say that isn’t enough and kill off the characters for good. This May be the first real deaths of DC’s dead is dead that was pronounced by Hal Jordan back in Brightest Day #8. This may also be a way to create a new Hawkman or Hawkgirl that cannot be added to the continuity of the former. Brightest Day is almost over; there are seven issues left and this is book is bi-weekly, so that’s about three months worth of story to go and there is a lot that can happen.

The holiday season is an awful time to blog, unless your blogging is about Christmas or the holiday’s. This season can also be a difficult one for picking up and reading your comics every Wednesday, but there is good news. The holiday’s are over; mine were great, how were yours? I have also caught up on all my comic book reading.

I read some pretty great comics over the past month. Most of my weeks have been fairly big with the exception of this week, which was just two comics. Instead of doing a best and worst of each week I have missed, I’ll just be doing the best from each week. However, I’ll add some comments about other comics too.

December 22, 2010:

My pick for this week went to a series I just began to pick up in issues after reading the first three trades. Chew #16 opens up with some background on the chicken prohibition: where and when it began, but we still don’t know the what and the why. We also get a new type of, what I am going to call, food power. We get a character who actually gets smarter when he eats. Layman uses this issue though to demonstrate to his readers how one of these food powers can cause problems for it’s user. The story, as always, is a crazy ride where you’re not sure what’s going to happen, and this is one of the things I love about this book and another series I gave my pick to, and will talk about later. What we often see in a story can be predictable, which most times is a result of the genre it is placed it, as it follows certain beats and formulas; think CSI.  Chew is a book  that uses a number of genres and formulas, but uses them to it’s advantage, not only by using one formula instead of another or turning a genre staple on its head, but by also having a very different premises gives way to an unpredictability. I can’t forget to talk about the art and story telling of Rob Guillory. This man packs so much into his panel that forces you to read this book in a few ways. You can read it through fast or slow, or multiple times, and each time you will notice something different. A great example of this is the first couple pages of this issue where we see the progress of Mother Cluckers chicken from opening day to it’s eventual closing. Each panel offers lots of easter eggs, but more importantly tells a story about the declining mom and pop operations and the rise of the corporate world. these were pages I kept going back too. This series is one of my favourites right now, because it’s different, and it’s not super heroes, a genre I am slowly getting sick of, save for a few books.

December 29, 2010:

This week’s pick for best comic goes to SHIELD #5, a Marvel book set in the world of superheroes but isn’t about superheroes. What’ so inventive about this book is that actual historical figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Nostradamus and a few surprising others are responsible for the creation and maintaining of SHIELD, the world’s defence against anything that threatens it. More so, it re writes the histories of some Marvel characters, most predominately Howard Stark and Nathan Richards, the fathers of Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic respectively. This issue had some Kirby like flavour to it, lots of technologies introduced that seem far beyond the time period of the 60s, but presented, and drawn by Dustin Weaver, in fantastic ways, much like Kirby did in the 60s and 70s with books like the Fantastic Four and his creation of the New Gods. This tech is very different from Kirby’s, but its extravagance is very similar; this is a great way of making the technology used look fresh, but dated not only to today, but the time period it’s presented in. Also the big reveal and cliffhanger demonstrates the lengths and the thought put into the ideas of Jonathan Hickman, who, as with his other boo, the Fantastic Four, is creating a larger story, but re-building a part of the Marvel Universe. The only downfall of this book, and it is not much of a down fall at all, is that tis book is bi monthly, and we won’t see it until late February. The wait at this point has been well worth it.

I’d also like to point out quickly the final issue of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven‘s mini series Nemesis. I picked up this book on its concept, what if Batman became the Joker, and while this is an interesting one, a guy as smart as Batman, who plans for everything, have the mind of the Joker; it’s a scary thought. This book however was terrible, with unnecessary acts of violence, inappropriate twists and an ending that made a mockery of its self. I really love some of Millar’s work because he really does look at the larger aspects of society and how we are shaped by them, but this was just useless action and a reason to bring up some dumb ideas.

January 5, 2011:

Until this week I was collecting three Avengers titles: Secret, Young and Prime. This week I picked up two of these books, my favourite, Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade and my least favourite, and the book that ended this week: Avengers Prime. These two books had similar beats, which included a big action scene, and were beautifully drawn by a guy who has been around for awhile (Alan Davis on Prime) and a guy who’s been around for a few years (Jimmy Cheung on Young). The characterization and story however were opposite ends of the good/bad spectrum. Avengers Prime was to be the book that reconciled Thor, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark after so many years apart. It was also be the story that transitioned from Siege to Heroic Age. Unfortunately, due to timing and an emphasis and humour, Avengers Prime did not do its job well. The series started out very strong, but once it started ignoring continuity in other books, conversations about who slept with who, and Steve Roger turning into Captain Kirk, the book became less about the reconciliation of these three friends (which does occur but in an unsatisfying manner) and more about, well I’m not sure really. On the other hand, Alan Hienberg (yes of OC fame) crafts a story full of characterization, fantastic dialogue, an intriguing twist and a great surprise. for me, this has been the most Avengers-like book I have read. This issue does answer some questions about the whereabouts of the Wanda Maximoff, but it also leaves some to be answered later, and with five issues to go, it’s hard to say where this book is going to go, and that’s a good thing. The only weak characterization in this book so far has been Wolverine. This issue was his best so far, but ultimately he is being used for a particular purpose, which I don’t mind since he is in a dozen other books. I made Young Avengers my pick of the week because it was able to give you a lot without overcrowding the characters or the story, and the cliffhanger was great. These books are bi monthly as well; it hurt Prime, but Young’s quality is benefitted from this scheduling. I can;t wait to see what ramifications this book will have on the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Side note, Superboy #3 came out this week, and because I picked up this weeks comics a week later, I missed out on it, which was okay for me, because after two issues I decided a superman in high school story is not what I wanted. Sorry Jeff Lemire, I loved you Essex County, but your Superboy is not for me.

January 12, 2011:

After  this paragraph, I will be caught up on my picks. This week was small; one DC book and one Marvel book. the problem is, I loved both of these books, so it was very hard to choose. Ultimately I went with THUNDER Agents #3 because it is paced, characterized, drawn and plotted unlike most of the books I read. Now I realize I have given this book my PoW for best book every time I read it, but it really is something different, and lately, different has been winning out for me. With this issue we are introduced to N0Man, a Dr. Manhattan type hero, who was one of the original THUNDER Agents, who gets called back to duty. What we also get is a little more history of the older THUNDER Agents, and this is provided by the love him or hate him artist Howard Chakyin. His past NoMan pages really emphasizes two things: the past, which is important to this story, it almost seems like Chakyin is used to represent a story that was told in another book, almost like using older footage from a TV show in a later season. the other emphasis Chakyin gives the reader is the deterioration of NoMan’s ability to feel. He becomes emotionless, and is really brought out in the darken sockets of NoMans eyes, all while surrounded by slightly cartoonish figures. This is a great way to visually show the readers so they do not have to be specifically told. Kudos to who ever’s idea this was.

The other book I picked up was Amazing Spider-Man #651. Dan Slott has really re-invented Peter Parker. Not only does the finally to hist first arc Big Time have some modern silver age lining, it lets Peter has a life he has wanted to live without feeling to forced. You know that Peter will always get the short end of the stick, but this time when it comes, I think he will tackle this challenge in a completely different way then he used to. Slott also has this great way of making old ideas seem new, but natural at the same time. The next arc is a different, but similar artist, which has me excited to read it, plus very happy that I can read a Spider-Man books again.

I hope to get back to some articles this week or next. I am currently working on the second part of my “Can Superman be Modern” series, which is yielding some interesting thoughts on Superman’s future.

Yes, I did not do a pull-list post this week; I’m sorry. It’s been a busy few weeks, but it got me thinking, I think I’ll start joining my pull-list and picks of the week post. That’s fewer posts for me to write and you to read, but you get a better quality post.

This week was another small week for me; two DC books, Brightest Day #16 and Green Lantern #60 and one from Marvel Amazing Spider-Man #650. I was most looking forward to Brightest Day #16, the origin of Aqualad. DC has been weird with their solicitations with this book lately. I thought this book was supposed to come out two weeks ago but it wasn’t, and this weeks preview had a Firestorm cover. Needless to say this was in fact the origin issue for Aqualad. I was also looking forward to Amazing Spider-Man #650 because it has been a quality book with great writing and art.

So my pick of the week for best comic was in fact Brightest Day #16. I wasn’t going to make this my pick because it wasn’t a stand out in writing or art, though the Ivan Reis pages are always great to look at. I picked this as my best of the week because DC is doing one of the things I suggested they do to make Aquaman a big time player in the DCU. Not only does this issue give an origin to Aqualad and give him a connection to the Aquaman universe that makes sense, it creates new places that can enhance and grow the Aquaverse. This issue seems to go back to the silver age origin oh Arthur, who is the son of a lighthouse keeper, but there seems to be a twist. In the Adventure Comics #260, Aquaman tells a sub captain that he is half man, half atlantean, and tells of his father and mother and how, as a child, he learnt about his powers. This issue of Brightest Day though tells its readers that Arthur’s father was human and that Arthur believed he was human until the age of 13 when Atlantean terrorists came from him. This does not specifically say that the lighthouse keeper is biological father, but the fact that Arthur was raised as a human apparently never sat well with other Atlantean. The modern age origin of Aruthr being the son on Queen Atlanna and the wizard Atlan could still be enact, but I don’t think it is. Regardless, Johns and Tomasi are setting up Arthur and Jackson, the new Aqualad with the status quo of not belonging to either world. We also see a bit of an upcoming story line and that is the Aquawar, which I believe will take place in Brightest Day. I keep reading this issue because it looks like it’s going to be a great re-entry for Aquaman in the DCU by building a new community for him to participate in.

My pick of the week for worst comic was almost my pick of the week for best. Green lantern #60 opens up to this amazing two page splash of a Parallax infused Flash fighting Hal Jordan. Artist Doug Mahnke creates a panel that moves, has a lot of expression and really highlights the Flash’s powers, which can be hard to get right. These two pages alone almost made this book my pick of the week for best comic. The rest of the issue is really well done, and the art stays very strong. We get some good Hal Jordan moments  and lots of great action, and we also get a big reveal at the end of this issue, and this is where my pick turns from best to worst. Since Blackest Night has ended, we have witnessed this small figure capturing the different emotional entities, such as Parallax. It has been safe to assume that this figure is a Guardian by his size and ability to use the green light of will, and at the end of the issue we found out it is in fact a disgraced Guardian Krona, who everyone thought he was dead. I don’t know who this character is; I’ve only been reading Green Lantern for a short time, so this big reveal was really lost on me, plus the fact that another guardian gone bad made the reveal feel stale. I am sure if I knew more about the Green Lantern mythos I would have liked the end of this issue a lot more than I did.

Yes, I know its Sunday and not Thursday, but I’ve had a busy, tiring week. So without further a due, here are my Picks of the Week. As you may know from my pull list, it was a lightish week for me; just 4 books (3 of which were from DC)’ Let’s say I loved the books from one company and not the other.

Best of the Week

THUNDER Agents #2 – THUNDER Agents is my pick for Best of the Week because it’s a much different comic than the first issue, but it has a lot of the great twists and turns that the first issue had. This issue primarily focuses on the new heroes, and one hero in particular, Lightning. The characterization that Spencer doles out really gets to the heart of what a character wants so when it comes time to making a choice, to be a hero whose powers will kill him, it seems logical. the next few issues I am sure will be a spotlight on a particular character, while this mission is underway. What I like about this is that it allows Spencer to show how his world works, but makes us care at the same time. and the art of Chafu and Bat do not disappoint here. There is a two page splash of lightning running with his new powers for the first time and it’s in your face, it’s detailed and it convey’s a lot of the emotion that these guys want you to feel about these characters.  This book is really a different kind of superhero book, and at a point when I read a lot of superhero books, this one stands out because it’s different and not generic, like some of the books I read. Thank DC.

Worst of the Week

Thor #618 – This book is really starting to get on my nerves. The first issue posed these great cosmological ideas, and the art was so good I gave Fraction and Ferry a PoW for that issue. Each subsequent issue has been a bit of a let down. While the art has been great, the stories are lacking structure, things just seem to happen. It feels like Fraction is building his arcs to work better in a trade, which he does often enough, but in books like Invincible Iron Man each issue still has a story to tell. So far in this series, we have seen the resurrection of two characters, Loki, and in this past issue Odin, and they were such simple resurrections that they really lack any emotion. Thor seems to be able to do whatever; he’s that powerful. The art however is still really strong and I might just stay for that, but we will see. I will give this book another issue or two and see what happens.

Panel Flow

Kyle Lawlor

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