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The DC Reboot

dcrelaunchSo, DC’s apparently going to relaunch/reboot their entire superhero universe this September.

Black September II, maybe? (in 1995, Marvel/Malibu rebooted their Ultraverse superhero line in an event called Black September.)

50+ new #1 issues…in September. On twitter, I noticed that Erik (Savage Dragon) Larsen points out an interesting question: How is a store supposed to order that many #1 issues?

Another question: how is a CONSUMER supposed to afford to buy that many #1 issues?!? Even if DC “draws the line” at a $2.99 cover price (and even if they’re double-sized issues)…that’s $150+ for DC issues in September alone.

There are SO MANY facets to something on this scale that I wouldn’t even begin to be able to ‘cover’ them all in a quick blog post here. I have a knee-jerk reaction to the whole thing, but I also know that in the months to come, I may very well come to a different understanding or feeling on this.

But back in 2005, with the One Year Later thing…I used that “event” to jump off probably 2/3 the titles I was buying from DC, and that wasn’t even a reboot. This feels more like DC saying to me that I’ve had my fun, and it’s time to let a whole new generation officially jump on board to replace the likes of me.

And maybe that’s true.

SOURCE: USA Today article (and surely tons of others, just google it)

X-Men Legacy #249 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Action Comics #901 [Review]

Reign of the Doomsdays part 1

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artists: Kenneth Rocafort, Jesus Merino
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Kenneth Rocafort
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

The first thing I noticed about this issue was the banner at the top advertising the Green Lantern film due out June 17 “only in theaters.” Now, I know Marvel has done this for YEARS, but they’ve generally done it by way of the upper corner box by the issue’s number and such. And I appreciate this on the GL books–it’s most appropriate there. But on a Superman title, it’s less appropriate, except as the full-DC-wide blast of the advertising. After all, why hide the ad on an interior or the back cover when by having a banner at the top, you’re advertising off any and all ways of displaying comics that allow the top portion to be seen?

That aside…the cover doesn’t impress me all that much. I do appreciate that Doomsday looks a lot closer to what I’m used to than it has in awhile. But the image does seem rather generic to me–Doomsday standing amidst wreckage, the bodies of the Superman Family sprawled at its feet. Something about the imagery just doesn’t do it for me. Then again…the cover is not why I bought the issue.

The story picks up where the lead story of Action #900 left off–the Superman Family has found that they are facing several Doomsdays, each tailored to a diffeent power set, but all set on destruction of the entire group. Cyborg-Superman welcomes destruction, the chance at death. The others, however do not–so after Superman neutralizes the Cyborg, the group gathers up and heads away from their attackers into the depths of the prison they’ve found themselves in. Meanwhile, on Earth, an imminent extinction-level event is detected, and (in contrast to the controversy over a short in the previous issue) the American President proclaims the country’s need of Superman, of any super-powered beings able to help. As Superman & Co. realize their prison is fast approaching Earth, they encounter yet another threat, who steps forth to prevent them from saving the planet. Without wasting time arguing, he delivers a shocking blow to the group, leaving their reaction as our cliffhanger.

I’m not a huge fan of the split art duties on the issue. Rocafort‘s visual style seems a bit “off” to me, and reminded me of my least favorite art from #900, though on a double-checking, it’s not the same. There’s something to this style that makes the characters seem overly generic, Superman especially. Somehow it looks to me more like some guy in a Superman costume, and the face alone doesn’t say “Superman” to me. Merino‘s art in the middle of the issue stands out, and is far preferable to me–the characters look a lot more “on” on those pages…and it makes it rather jarring to then shift right back to a different visual style.

Cornell‘s writing is solid…I haven’t yet read much of his work…the first issue of the Black Ring arc and then the lead in Action 900. But I do like the concept, at least, that’s at play here…and I really enjoy having Superman teamed up again with Supergirl, Eradicator, Steel, Cyborg, and Superboy. And given the first time these characters all got together, it’s fitting that they’re dealing with Doomsday. Given this context–their teamup, and the Doomsday situation…I’m tentatively hooked. I came back for this issue, having figured to only pick up #900 as the anniversary that it was.

While much of the story is fairly serious and played straight…there’s a part where we actually get a thought balloon for Superman, which seems somewhat out of nowhere–especially as I’ve grown used to the LACK of thought balloons in favor of “voiceover” narration and such. The use of the thought balloon in this issue seemed hokey and a bit forced; and momentarily took me out of the story while I thought about it. Not a huge deal, but noticeable.

Where the story is most hurt in my eyes is that I have no idea how many chapters to expect…just as I had no clue how many to expect, really, with the Reign of Doomsday hopping along through various other books without really meaning much. I certainly hope this arc is not dragged out…though this is labled Reign of the Doomsdays part 1 (escaping Reign of Doomsday which was around a half-dozen issues), it’s essentially the same story continuing, so this feels like the 7th chapter, and I’m not sure I’ll want to stick around long-term if it’s simply a dragged-out slugfest or punch-and-run-and-punch-again kinda thing.

While this doesn’t really hold a candle to Reign of the Supermen, if you’re a fan of these characters, this packs a good bit of nostalgia and hope of a new classic. Worth picking up if you enjoy seeing these characters all brought together, and/or if you read #900 and want to follow this Doomsday story.

As of now, I’m interested enough to see where this goes that I plan to come back for #902.

Recommended.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6.5/10
Overall: 7/10

DuckTales #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Upping the random thoughts

I found myself up far too early this Saturday morning. It’s been a long week, and I’d certainly had zero intention of being up “early” on this long weekend.

But sure enough, woke before 7am and wound up staying up. Decided to check out Netflix, which I’ve neglected for about a week, and opted to “start” watching the film Grownups from last year. Wound up going all the way through.

Next searched for stuff to add to the instant queue, and then something else to actually watch and decided I wasn’t in the mood for anything else at length. But there was “Up,” sitting in the front end of the instant queue where it’s been for months. And I haven’t seen any of the film since I went to see it in the theater a couple years back.

Surely, knowing what the beginning held and having been moved in the theater, I wouldn’t ‘fall for’ it again.

But I found myself amused at the beginning–the kids playing in the old house. Smiling at the wedding, wistful as they built a home, crushed at her news, wistful as they moved forward. Nodding in appreciation as “real life” again and again interrupted their plans, and honestly in tears as their lives reached a twilight.

And all through that…really no dialogue past their being kids.

It’s just all this fantastic, recognizeable imagery or symbolism or whatever. It’s stuff that while watching you can follow along and “get” what’s going on. You can fill in the missing dialogue in your own mind, with your own experiences and thoughts and hopes and dreams. You might find yourself projecting a bit, or identifying with stuff. Maybe not exactly–this is a fictional, animated production–but it has such a sense of authenticity about it.

I turned it off after the opener. Oh, I’ll go back and rewatch the whole thing, but as said above–not in the mood for anything at length at the moment.

And then I found that it’s really burrowed into my head, and stirred up my thinking.

Unfortunately, despite all that I read and write, I can’t really find words for it. There’s just this feeling, that I can’t quite describe. And sometimes I think the best expression of it is an analogy that few but comic readers can “get,” and it’s also summed up by the Kurt Busiek (Astro City) story “The Nearness of You.” I know that’s not my life, it’s a fictional story.

But sometimes, with all the what-ifs and if-onlys and all that, it’s easy to imagine all these alternate lives that “could have been” or “might have been,” and all that.

This is real life, though.

And I have no idea what’s coming.

 

Booking Through Thursday: Rut

btt buttonDo you ever feel like you’re in a reading rut? That you don’t read enough variety? That you need to branch out, spread your literary wings and explore other genres, flavors, styles?

All the time. I’m a comics reader primarily the last few years. Between work, reading comics, writing reviews, obsessive 14-week runs through a 7-season tv series, and other distractions, I don’t read nearly as much as I tell myself I want to. And what I do read seems to be “more of the same,” even when I AM enjoying it and it engages me and all that.

With comics, after years of sticking primarily to DC with a bit of Marvel, and occasionally other stuff sprinkled in…last year, I decided to if not “branch out” at least “stick with the less familiar” stuff. Scaled back to mainly non-DC, non-Marvel comics; kept the superhero stuff in Invincible and Savage Dragon, with some diversity by way of The Walking Dead, Uncle Scrooge/Darkwing Duck (later adding Rescue Rangers), GI Joe: A Real American Hero, and Dark Horse’s “line” of comics with Doctor Solar Man of the Atom, Magnus Robot Fighter, Samson, and Turok Son of Stone.

I completely jumped off the Superman comics as those themselves seemed to be in a rut–at least as far as I was concerned. (I’m now back on Action Comics at least for the current “Reign of the Doomsdays” story…I love a good story involving the entire Superman/Superboy/Eradicator/Cyborg/Supergirl gang.)

Other than comics, my reading seems to be YA/fantasy-ish (The Lost Hero by Riordan right now, planning on The Red Pyramid and its sequel later this summer) and Authors I Read Whatever Their New Book Is (Grisham, Meltzer).

I’m not sure what other stuff I’d want to expand into…maybe there’s a rut, but darn it, it’s MY rut, and I’m actually honestly content enough with it so long as I don’t analyze it or myself and initiate temporary dissatisfaction.

And genre-wise with comics, not much there…I read what I’m interested in…it’s cool when there IS quite a diversity, but diversity itself in genres is not the key to what I actually read.

Well, again…out of time for the pre-work writing. Off to work I go!

Tonight’s review-writing was canceled.

pan02This morning I got to work, and with the heat and bright/sunshiny weather, figured I’d leave my car windows down, keep the car vented. Turned to my weather app on my phone, and it showed thunderstorms, so I opted to close the windows. Went out at lunch for the weekly comic shop run, and got back–same thing. Weather looked summer-y, but the weather app said T-storms.

Got out of work, looked gray, but nothing significant. ‘Course, thunder rolled as I got in my car to leave.

Got home, and put my bag on the car’s trunk, and got a decent-ish panoramic shot of the dark clouds around the building. Decided to fire up my Super-8 app (yeah…go, figure) and wound up catching the tornado siren as it started going off, before I’d even made it to the building.

pan02

Came in turned the tv on, and they had coverage going for this area, mentioning my city and those immediately surrounding; Tornado warning and all that. Stepped out on the porch and took another pano shot, as the sirens had gone silent. When they started up again, roommate and I headed to the building’s basement.

Wound up spending about 15-20 minutes in the building’s “gym” since there was a tv in there; a small crowd of us (shame on me not thinking to count bodies present). But we had folks around–some folks in the building’s library, some in the laundry room, others scattered up and down the hall (all these being in the basement). Even noticed some folks in the garage.

Of course, this being the country and society it is, the tornado warning was set to expire at 8, and the local news “gracefully” pointed out that the warning was about to expire, and bowed out so as to not prevent people from watching the start of American Idol.

Roommate and I were heading to the stairs to come back up but wound up stopping to be part of the congregation in the hall by the side entrance of the building–had some conflicting “news” about stuff from people coming in, so stuck around to hear stuff. Someone said some tower nearby fell, another mentioned a tree down on a main road nearby, etc. Adding some levity to the situation, my roommate and I both realized that the weather.com info then-presently available for our mobile devices showed 69-75 degrees sunny and “partly cloudy” (as we listened to the latest round of the emergency siren sounding all around, the rain drilling to the ground from the dark clouds, and a lengthy strip of lightning burning in the distance).

pan01

By then, someone updated everyone with info the local weather station had–tornado warning done, just “regular” thunderstorms rollin’ in.

Following a return to this apartment, some huge flashes of lightning (if we were on the ground floor, one instance would’ve had me SWEARING someone had stood at my bedroom window and taken a flash photo–several broad flashes before a really bright “pop” flash)…plenty of thunder.

But now it’s pretty quiet out…haven’t noticed lightning in awhile, nor thunder.

But after the unexpected “excitement” and sociality and all that…the review-writing I’d planned on doing tonight is not happening. But I took those photos and I felt like WRITING, hence this blog post.

BUT: snap thoughts regarding this week’s new comics…

  • Action #901: crap….I’m buying a Superman comic again!
  • Walking Dead #85: Did I miss an issue??? Not sure about that flip-book, but hey…maybe I’ll take a look at it for shiggles.
  • For a mere $8 (2 new single-Marvel issues) picked up good condition copies of Essential Killraven vol. 1, Spider-Woman vol. 1, Punisher vol. 2, and Amazing Spider-Man vol. 8. (that’s $8 TOTAL, if you were wondering. $2/each).
  • And a free copy of Ultimate Iron Man II, hardcover, cuz my shop is just THAT awesome.

essentials2bucks

Booking Through Thursday: Age-INappropriate

image

In contrast to last week’s question–What do you think of censoring books BECAUSE of their intended age? Say, books too “old” for your kids to read?

I tend to be torn on the subject of censorship, especially when it comes to books. On one hand, there are subjects that I–as an individual with my own personal beliefs–am uncomfortable with and would “prefer” maybe to not see spread. On the other hand, I fully believe that everyone should have the freedom to choose what we read, just as we have a choice in what we DO with what we read.

I’m honestly disgusted when I hear about schools banning entire books for a single instance of a single word, or for the historically-accurate use of a particular word in-context in a piece of historical fiction. Or when adults would apply a one-size-fits-all directive to hand down without accounting for the fact that everyone is unique, and just because one 9-year old might be too immature or simply “not ready” to handle or deal with certain material does not mean that another 9-year old hasn’t already faced something in real life and its presence in a book might be cathartic. (and any combination of situations in-between, etc.)

Given all that, I believe very firmly in having a ratings system. Some might say that even giving something a “rating” such as “MA 17” or simply “MA” for “Mature Audiences/over-17/over-18” or “A” or “K” for “All-ages/Kids” or such is censoring…but really, ratings are a guide. Sure, kids may intentionally seek out something rated for adults out of curiosity or simply because the subject matter interests them. (While books are not movies, I always remember Alien3. I’d gotten my hands on the book, and read it, but had to convince my mom to let me see the movie (I think I was 12 at the time and the movie’s rated R).

By applying a ratings system, it serves as a guide. Readers can determine what they’re up for or interested in–if they’re interested based specifically on the rating or how “age-appropriate” the material is.

And I also believe very firmly that if parents or other adults are particularly concerned about the age appropriateness of material, it’s on them to voice exactly why, and to share that with others, and still allow them to make a choice.

If I had children and they were interested in, say, Harry Potter (to take an easy shot)…it would be my responsibility to share the experience with them, and to express my feelings about it. I mean…I greatly enjoyed the series in and of itself, but also saw plenty of stuff that would make for valuable conversations with young readers.

On the comics side of things, comics are not “just for kids.” DC Comics has their Vertigo line, comics generally intended as being for adults. I would not hand The Sandman, Preacher, Y: The Last Man, or Hellblazer to a young child blindly. But particularly in the case of The Sandman, if a young reader is particularly interested I do not believe they should be hindered.

I do find it acceptable to separate graphic novels between “adult” and “non-adult” in libraries. I’m uncomfortable with–in a library setting–shelving the likes of Bone and Owly in a kids or intended-for-young-teens section with Preacher and Hellblazer right alongside ’em.

BUT even if everything’s separated specifically by age groups…no one should be DIScouraged from reading, in my mind. Reading’s highly important. And if the 60-year-old wants to look at the picturebooks, he should be allowed; and if the 9-year-old is ready to read something traditionally aimed at adults, she should be allowed as well.

[I’ve run out of time for writing at present…surely this is a far deeper topic that I could write much longer and at length on…and which–if I were writing academically–would certainly benefit from better organization of thoughts, rather than this stream-of-consciousness freeform this morning. Thoughts/questions/etc? Please post in the comments…]

Avengers: Warriors of Plasm?

avengerskreeskrullwarcardscoverI remember back in 1993 or so, a comic publisher (Defiant) teamed up with a trading card publisher and put out a set of trading cards. When assembled in 9-pocket pages, these cards became a quasi comic book, a zero issue.

Now, 18 years later, Marvel‘s hopping on-board with Upper Deck to do an Avengers: Kree-Skrull War “issue” that same way.

(see an official article at Marvel‘s site –  Kree-Skrull War: Upper Deck-ades in the Making | Marvel.com.)

plasmzero001What I don’t get is if something like this will actually sell. Granted, I’m absolutely NOT the target audience…but it seems that straight up “trading cards” fell out of favor with the advent of Trading Card Games/Collectible Card Games. I know I myself haven’t had any interest at all in buying cards that can’t even potentially be part of a playable game.

Then I spotted this gem:

The comic-card hybrid revolution is further celebrated with additional insert cards, richly presenting the set’s magnificent “cover” art by Harvey Tolibao–in full color as well as black and white–and even variant cover art by Paul Renaud.

avengerskreeskrullwarcardscover2“Love” the buzzwords here. Even in CARDS, can’t escape the “variant” cover for Marvel’s comics (DC, Dynamite, IDW, etc are guilty of the variants craze, but they’re not partaking in this card thing).

So even assembling a full set of the “basic” cards, one still has to track down the “insert” (aka “chase”) cards to have a TRUE “full set” by way of a so-called “variant” cover/art.

The cards come 9 to a pack, and I’m going to guess the packs individually will cost at LEAST $2. But let’s be generous and pretend they’d be $.99 per pack of 9 cards. And let’s assume that — just for the STORY — you get a complete set in the smallest number of packs necessary to physically acquire that set. plasmzero003190 cards, 9 to a pack…that’s a minimum of 22 packs. For just the story itself–supposedly “over 40 pages”–let’s assume 40 even. The cards’ll be double-sided, so a pack of 9 would make 2 pages (1 page on the fronts, 1 on the backs?)…so you’d need 10 packs BARE MINIMUM to assemble the story. $9.90 if there’s no tax. But probably double that as the cards would almost have to be $2/pack. Add another few dollars to account for inserts and variants.

And already this becomes at best a double-length “comic” for a minimum of $20, and probably closer to $30 or $40 on the cheap side when you account for the random assortment causing you to wind up with lots of duplicates to assemble just one actual unique set.

plasmzero002And then what? Are they going to sell a special binder for the set? Charge for the uniqueness of the card binder, maybe extra for special cover art?

And will card COLLECTORS really want to do all that JUST for “a comic?” Will “comic fans/comic collectors” really want to go to such trouble “just” for a complete set of cards to “read” the “issue”?

Me? I’d much rather take and spend that sort of money–if I had it–on a quality oversized hardcover or small omnibus, with 18-30+ ISSUES’ content or a couple/several TPBs or such.

Smallville Finale

smallville001

[Note: I do get into spoiler territory in the bottom half of this post for the finale. You should be “safe” up until the spoiler warning line later in this post.]

I remember when I figured a summary of Smallville could be spoken in three words: Clark Kent’s Creek. Another high school drama but instead of new characters, it would plug in names from familiar Superman characters. Add to that assumption the fact that I was in college, with no TV in my room and having largely gotten away FROM watching TV in general…and despite having been a Superman fan for over a decade, it didn’t bother me one bit that I didn’t see the pilot. Or the first season.

I’m pretty sure it was during the show’s second season that Christopher Reeve showed up in the role of a scientist who revealed to Clark his alien origins. By this time, I did actually have a tv in my room, and though I used it mostly for watching stuff on VHS, or cartoons, or CMT…a good friend told me about Reeve being on Smallville, so I watched it. Cuz hey…one Superman to another, and all that.

I never kept up with the show. A few years later when I was in grad school, I found myself intrigued by a commercial for a specific episode, and wound up watching it. That a friend from class was a fan and we chatted via IMs about the show helped–I think I MIGHT have seen as many as 3 episodes around then, as I had someone to talk about ’em with. (And it’s always cool to find another Superman fan in-person).

Another several years later, my roommate had Smallville on, and I recall there being mention of some Doomsday weapon. Come to find it was reference to THAT Doomsday. But altered for the show. Also some supposedly fan-favorite actor playing Brainiac (I realized earlier this year that it was the actor who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer…so I may go back and watch these episodes on DVD just to see the actor in another role).

And of course there was that Legion episode written by Geoff Johns. I don’t recall knowing about it ahead of time, but I do recall seeing Johns’ name in the credits while my roommate had it on, so I made a point of watching the episode, too. But again never really kept up with the show; missed the big finale with Doomsday and “Jimmy” and all that.

But when Season 9 came around, I decided to jump aboard, see what it was all about at this point. Seemed the show had actually gotten kinda good, in my estimation.  Plus I was frustrated with the comics, and finally decided Smallville was just some alternate reality and rather than seeing it as some definitive re-imagining of Superman’s past, just settled in to enjoy this alternate history for a character.

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