House of Bane

Secret Six #34

After the last storyarc sent the team to Hell, this issue is a much-welcomed rest break. The serial killer who’s kidnapped Scandal’s girlfriend Liana gets his meeting with the Six, and I don’t think it’s a big spoiler to reveal that it doesn’t turn out well for him. Scandal reconciles with Ragdoll, Jeannette sings an old Irish ballad, Bane goes on a date, and King Shark eats a turkey. But we’re warned that, as always seems to be the case with this book, more bad things are on the horizon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Awesome dialogue, great action, wonderful art. Bane’s date is a bucket of pure win. King Shark is awesome, even though he’s only in one or two scenes. It’s sad, it’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s profane, it’s awesome.

How to improve this series: I’m not real sure you could improve on this. Gail Simone is one of DC’s best writers, and this is one of their best series. If they don’t preserve this for the Reboot, they’re completely insane.

Avengers Academy #14.1

What’s “14.1” mean? Well, Marvel’s trying to make sure there are some “0.1” issues for their series, to give new readers a chance to jump on board — so this issue is, in part, meant to be an introduction to the series for those who aren’t familiar with it.

After the Academy students battle the oh-so-1970s-weird Ruby Thursday, they decide they want to see how other young metahumans who were tortured by Norman Osborn turned out — Finesse quickly tracks down a kid named Jeremy Briggs, a super-genius matter-transmuter who is now running a very profitable chemical megacorp. He introduces them to some other former “students” of Osborn’s — a kid who used to turn into a monster whose transformations are now held in check with medicine; a healer keeping people healthy in third-world nations; and a cold-controller who, unfortunately, has just been killed trying to stop the Wendigo. And Briggs has an ulterior motive for talking to the Academy kids — he wants them to quit the hero-or-villain business and come to work for him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a depressing little story, but it’s very well-told. Dialogue and action are good, and the characterization is excellent. I hope we get to see more of Briggs in the future — he makes a great foil for the team.

How to improve this series: Ya know what I think I’d like the most for this title? A new costume for Hazmat. I hate the way the helmet hides most of her face — makes it so hard to get anything but a vague impression of her emotions and reactions.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #5

While Morgan tries to hold off a horde of undead bandits, Sir Edward ends up getting gutshot, and then seemingly killed by the witch Eris, who is bartering souls of Christians for colossal mystic power. But with one hero surrounded by unkillable zombies and the other shot full of lead and sitting in the Paiute land of the dead, is there any way to stop Eris?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A good end to the series. Absolutely gorgeous art by John Severin and Dave Stewart. Nicely suspenseful, too — it really looks like Sir Edward and Morgan are done for near the end.

How to improve this series: Can’t think of much you could do to fix this. It could’ve been an issue or two shorter, but that would’ve shortchanged the great interpersonal stuff between Sir Edward and Morgan that really made this series fun. We also could’ve found out more about Eris’ motivations and the weird mysteries behind Isaac. But that’s nitpicking.

The DC Reboot

In a way, I don’t want to say very much about this — all we really have to go on is DC’s press releases. There’s no way to tell yet what is going to work and what isn’t going to work and whether it’s going to be a good thing or a bad thing.

But I am not looking forward to this.

Part of it is that DC has tried reboots before — Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis — and they never last. Before long, readers and creators start jonesing for “classic” comics, and everything goes back to the way it was before. This one will be no different.

What else? I hate the costumes, and that’s something DC really pushed hard. Look at that Justice League cover above. The costumes are not good. Superman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern all have corny pop-up collars, and Wonder Woman’s choker is essentially the same kind of collar. And what the heck are those things on Flash’s and Cyborg’s chins? I don’t know a thing about art or clothing design, but those costumes look like garbage — and that’s what you get when you have one guy — Jim Lee, in this case — design all the costumes. His design preferences creep into everything so they all look alike. And these will be the first things that get discarded after the reboot. I mean, look at ’em. Superman looks like a complete dork. And look up the costume design for Green Arrow — it’s a direct copy from the “Smallville” TV series. A series that has been cancelled and which, honestly, was never all that popular in the first place. The costumes are bad, bad, bad.

I’ll admit I’m looking forward to some of the titles. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang working on “Wonder Woman”? I’ll be buying that. But most of the others are just not filling me with very much enthusiasm. Gail Simone writing “Firestorm”? Okay, but why is she being saddled with Ethan Van Sciber as co-writer? It’s an insult to Simone’s writing skills, to be honest. Geoff Johns — a writer I’m rapidly coming to think of as DC’s version of Brian Michael Bendis — is writing too many series. Dan DiDio is writing another, and I’m pretty sure y’all know I’m not a fan of that guy. I don’t trust DiDio or Johns to do good work on these — their instincts tend to lie more with DC’s previous tired gimmicks of Silver Age worship and pointless, over-the-top violence.

The announcement of the reboot threw retailers into a panic, thanks to DC’s decision to release digitial editions of comics on the same day as they release the print versions. That’d be the equivalent of movie studios letting you rent DVDs on the same day they released the movies in theaters — and it had a lot of retailers worried that lots of readers would quit buying from stores in favor of buying comics for their iPads. On the other hand, DC wants to charge the same prices for print and digital comics, which has digital readers scratching their heads, because no one else charges as much for digital as they do for print. So DC managed to alienate both retailers and digital comics fans at the same time.

Another thing that bugs me is this seems more like a publicity stunt than something that’s going to lead to long-term increases in readership. There’s not much here that seems to be designed to bring in new readers — just a lot of stuff to make current comics fans angry. Sometimes, it seems like that’s all that DC or Marvel know how to do — stir up buzz by doing stuff to upset their current readers. Sure, it gets coverage in USA Today, but media coverage doesn’t necessarily lead to more readers, and that’s what DC needs.

And ya know, I’ve already gone on for a lot longer than I meant to on this topic. So I’ll reiterate — I don’t like the idea of the DC Reboot. It’s a bad idea at a bad time, and I worry it’s going to do long-term damage to the comics industry as a whole. I hope I’m wrong, of course… but I worry I might be right.


  1. Ted Said,

    June 3, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    The Van Sciver / Simone thing is actually pretty brilliant since they are two of the most different personalities in comics writing two people (Ronnie and Jason)who are two of the most different characters in comics. That and they’re friends, and wanted to work together. So this isn’t an insult. They wanted to do this. They teased about this sometime ago.

    Having said that, I agree on the JLA costumes, and I’m generally weary about this whole thing.

    And my Secret Six better not be axed either. >:|

  2. WizarDru Said,

    June 6, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    The only thing I’d say is just as a point of law: I’ve never watched a single episode (though I watched the last 10 minutes of the finale), and I totally agree that the costumes are ugly…but Smallville was on for TEN YEARS. I think that qualifies as ‘popular’. More people have watched Smallville than read Superman in the last 10 years, I guarantee you. Hell, more people watched the finale alone than have read Superman in that time.

    And if that makes you kind of sad, IT SHOULD.

  3. Wonder Dookie Said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 2:14 am

    The new Justice League designs are so 90’s they are actually making me a bit nostalgic.

    What in the world is up with the placement of Green Lantern’s guns? Call me a Freudian, but that’s just terrible.