Archive for Dan DiDio

Reboot Hill

The big San Diego Comic Con was this past weekend, with comic publishers and movie studios showing up to make big announcements and try to generate positive buzz for new projects. There was, of course, more attention than usual going to DC Comics, as they made multiple announcements and conducted numerous panels about the upcoming DC Reboot in September.

And the more I hear about it, the less I like.

First, I really do try not to give in to the desire to scream “THEY CHANGED IT, NOW IT SUCKS” because that’s such a pitiful nerd stereotype. I mean, there are lots of things about the Reboot that I like. I like seeing a new “Blue Beetle” series. I like seeing a new “Static Shock” series. I like seeing a new “Batwoman” series. The previewed “Wonder Woman” art looks incredible. I don’t even mind all the costume changes — I can deal with a Superman who doesn’t have the red underpants, and I can deal with a Wonder Woman who wears pants. Granted, most of the new costumes are spectacularly bad (Hello, Flash. Hello, Arsenal. Hello, Starfire. Hello, every character in “Teen Titans.”), but most of those costumes will only last ’til the artists decide they want to draw the classic costumes again.

Nevertheless, the more I hear about the Reboot, the more I think it’s going to be a colossal failure.

How bad are things looking? Well, there was a report this weekend that Wonder Woman was going to have retractable pants. I’m pretty sure that was a joke — but the real announcements coming out have been so bizarre, I’m not really sure whether they were kidding or not.

Among other things:

  • There’s still no indication that the new DC Universe will have a place for popular characters like former Batgirl Cassandra Cain, former Flash Wally West, or anyone from the Justice Society.
  • Superman is going to be pushed as a grim, brooding, anti-social loner. In fact, Supergirl and Superboy look like they’re going to be brooding loners, too. This is completely counter to the past few decades, where one of the Man of Steel’s most unshakeable character points was his optimism and charisma.
  • Batman has been active for just five years but has already burned through four sidekicks of varying ages. This is going to cause huge continuity problems — for example, Damian, Bruce Wayne’s son, is about 12 years old, but I doubt Bruce tangled with Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter (and Damian’s mother) Talia prior to becoming Batman.
  • And something that just infuriates me. Remember Lian Harper? The five-year-old daughter of Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow — adorable and much-loved supporting character — who was shockingly killed at the end of the reviled “Cry for Justice” miniseries. Well, Dan DiDio announced that, in the rebooted DCU, the character never existed at all. What the heck is DiDio’s problem with the character? Jason Todd gets brought back to life, Deathstroke gets multiple unsuccessful series, Sinestro gets shoehorned into the Green Lantern Corps — but Lian Harper is apparently so hated by DC’s top brass that they have to basically kill her off twice? Seriously, DiDio, this next bit is just for you.

Other problems? DC’s PR blitz for the Comic Con seemed at times to focus less on promoting their new comics and more on insulting fans who had legitimate questions about the Reboot. People who asked why DC chose to hire an alarmingly small number of female creators were shrugged off and sneered at. At one point, Grant Morrison told female creators to submit their work to DC — despite the fact that DC doesn’t accept unsolicited submissions. DiDio insisted that DC only hired the best creators, implying that there were no female creators who were good enough to work at DC. I mean, last year, Marvel filled up three issues of the “Girl Comics” anthology miniseries with nothing but work from women, but DiDio doesn’t think any of them are any good.

Seriously, Dan DiDio thinks Rob Liefeld is better than Amanda Conner, Nicola Scott, Kathryn Immonen, Colleen Coover, Marjorie Liu, Devin Grayson, Ann Nocenti, Trina Robbins, Stephanie Buscema, Jill Thompson, Louise Simonson, Molly Crabapple, Nikki Cook, Ming Doyle, Faith Erin Hicks, and Carla Speed McNeil.

That’s not how you do PR. Any normal company would have your PR manager scrambling to fix the damage over the weekend, waiting in your office the next morning ordering you to stop speaking to the press, and telling his supervisor he needs a raise if he’s going to fix your disasters anymore.

I don’t wanna keep rattling on about this forever, so let’s hit another couple of serious issues about the Reboot and call it a day.

First, there’s this from Todd McFarlane. Now listen, I’m not the biggest fan of McFarlane’s comics — but he’s been running an immensely successful company for a couple of decades, and I think he’s making tons of sense in this interview, where he outlines his reasons why he believes the Reboot isn’t going to be successful for the company or for retailers.

Second, there’s an issue that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but which I think could cause major troubles for the Reboot. While most of the superhero comics are set in the present day, Action Comics and Justice League are both set five years in the past. It seems to me that’s something that’s going to cause tons of confusion for readers, especially new readers. Why is Superman a nonflying superhero wearing a T-shirt and jeans in one comic, but a flying, armored powerhouse in the other? Besides confusing readers, you’re also guaranteed to cause even more continuity headaches down the line.

And finally, there are the $64,000 questions: Why is DC being rebooted, and who ordered the reboot? The members of one of the Superman panels said the Reboot hasn’t been planned for that long — probably not much more than six months ago.

I don’t think this was an idea that came from within DC Comics. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Reboot was cooked up after Time-Warner started taking a stronger interest in the comics division. And I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the changes being made in the Reboot — dark, brooding Superman, weird costumes, increased emphasis on “dark comics” like “Justice League Dark” and “I, Vampire” and “edgy comics” like the new Wildstorm relaunches — sound exactly like what you’d expect a clueless Hollywood movie exec to come up with in an attempt to make comics “hip.” I think the whole Reboot was ordered from the higher-ups at Time-Warner — either from Diane Nelson, in her role as the head of DC Entertainment Inc., or from someone even higher up in the corporate hierarchy.

Is that a good thing? I mean, we expect the folks running Time-Warner to know how to make popular entertainment, right? Well, I do hope that they can re-create the success of the “Dark Knight” movies within comics themselves — but on the other hand, these were also the people behind the recent film versions of “Watchmen” or “Catwoman.” On the whole, I’m not particularly hopeful.

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A History of Violence

I really enjoyed Maxo Romero’s post last week about the current grim-and-gritty trend in comics. It’s too good to excerpt, so go read it, then come back. I’ll wait for ya, don’t worry.

(clips toenails, prepares Bruschetta, builds a stereo cabinet)

Hey, you’re back!

Well, I agreed with a lot of what Maxo had to say. I haven’t seen “Kick-Ass,” and I probably never will. I’m an official member of the “Mark Millar Licks Goats” anti-fan club — and if he wrote the comic version of “Kick-Ass,” I wasn’t much interested in watching the movie, either. The fact that the movie is a flop is the type of thing that puts the sunshine in my orange juice.

I really am expecting Marvel’s “Heroic Age” and DC’s “Brightest Day,” despite their promises of happier, more fun comics, to very quickly devolve back into random bloodletting, cheap and easy character death/resurrection, and general sociopathy.

I hope that readers will react unhappily to this — getting sold a specific bill of goods and picking up something that’s completely different isn’t a good way to keep business healthy in most industries — but I don’t know that the readers will actually react that way. After all, the “Kick-Ass” comic sold very, very well, and it wasn’t just Millar and Joe Quesada buying extra copies.

The reason we get comics that read like they were written by sociopaths is pretty much because we’ve got sociopaths writing comics and sociopaths running the comics companies. If Mark Millar could convince Joe Quesada that he could sell a series that featured Spider-Man raping a baby, the series would get approval in a hot minute. If Judd Winick could convince Dan DiDio to let him take over “Tiny Titans” and turn it into the angst-and-murderfest that the mainstream “Teen Titans” comic is, there’s nothing that’d stop ’em from making it so.

But of course, as should be obvious to anyone familiar with this blog, I read a lot of horror comics, with a lot of violence, gore, death, and dismemberment. I was a fan of “Blackest Night,” which was chock full o’ death and blood and gore. I’m a fan of other comics — and fiction in general — that features violence, sex, cussin’, outright blasphemy, and worser stuff. Am I a hypocrite? Well, I reckon I am, but not about this.

Context really is the big thing here. And not just context-within-story (which is important, but can be bent like crazy in the service of smacktastic awesomeness), but context-within-character. Does Spider-Man work as a character who’d make a deal with the devil? Does Deadman work as a character who’s not dead? Does Prometheus work as a character who’d let an utter schmuck like Green Arrow get the drop on him?

And context-within-artform, too. I accept levels of violence within horror and alt-superhero comics that are entirely inappropriate within mainstream superhero comics. I can deal with mutilation and child death in comics like “Umbrella Academy” or “Crossed,” but not in anything with “Justice League” in the title. You see a title set in the mainstream Marvel or DC universes, and it should be expected that it comes with an unspoken promise that you won’t get something awash in pointless gore and contempt for the audience. Sure, there are exceptions — you can’t have “Blackest Night” without zombies. You can’t have the Punisher without mass murder. You can’t have “Nextwave” without snarking at comics readers. You can’t have Spider-Man without the death of Gwen Stacy.

I’m not saying DC and Marvel comics should all be kid-friendly. There’s a place for all-ages work and a place for more mature work and a place for work that’s drenched in violence, sex, and adult sensibilities — yes, even within mainstream superhero comics. But creators and publishers have to be mature enough to grasp what context they’re writing for — and far too many either can’t do that or are unwilling to make the effort. They’re not interested in writing stories — they’re interested in inflicting their psychoses on the readers.

I’ve got my problems with Alan Moore, but he writes within context. He can write violent comics like “Watchmen” and “From Hell” and “V for Vendetta,” but he knows that you write differently for “Tom Strong” and “Top 10” (which still had death and violence that made sense within the context of the TV police procedural). He knows who he’s writing for, and he respects the characters, the story, and his readers.

Writing within context is something that mature, competent writers do. Writing any blasted thing because “Oy, it’d be radikal and exxxxxtreme!” is something that immature hacks like Mark Millar, Jeph Loeb, and Brian Michael Bendis do.

Is there a solution for that? Heck if I know. You can’t talk sense to Quesada or DiDio — they both believe they were put on Earth to publish bad comic books. But maybe the only real solution is time — high quality work has a tendency to last — people remember it, recommend it, and help ensure that it sticks around. Low quality work is eventually either forgotten or held up for justified contempt and derision. How well is Rob Liefeld regarded today? That’s what Millar and his cohorts have to look forward to.

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Shakeup at DC!


It was just a bit over a week ago that the big news broke about Disney buying Marvel Comics, and now there’s another big shakeup.

Time Warner, which has owned DC Comics for decades, has announced that they’re going to restructure DC, and Paul Levitz, DC’s publisher and president, is stepping down, supposedly so he can focus on writing comic books again.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (WBEI) has created DC Entertainment Inc., a new company founded to fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand and characters across all media and platforms, to be run by Diane Nelson, it was announced today by Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, and Alan Horn, President & COO, Warner Bros.

DC Entertainment, a separate division of WBEI, will be charged with strategically integrating the DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Bros. Entertainment and all its content and distribution businesses.  DC Entertainment, which will work with each of the Warner Bros. divisions, will also tap into the tremendous expertise the Studio has in building and sustaining franchises and prioritize DC properties as key titles and growth drivers across all of the Studio, including feature films, television, interactive entertainment, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products.  The DC Comics publishing business will remain the cornerstone of DC Entertainment, releasing approximately 90 comic books through its various imprints and 30 graphic novels a month and continuing to build on its creative leadership in the comic book industry.

In her new role, Nelson will report to Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, in order to best capitalize on DC Entertainment’s theatrical development and production activities and their importance to drive its overall business with each of the divisions of Warner Bros.

Nelson will bring her expertise and more than 20 years’ experience in creative brand management, strategic marketing and content development and production to ensuring DC Entertainment’s dual mission of marshalling Warner Bros.’ resources to maximize the potential of the DC brand while remaining respectful of and collaborative with creators, talent, fans and source material.  Additionally, Nelson will continue to oversee the franchise management of the Harry Potter property, which she has done since 2000, and also continue to represent the Studio’s interests with the author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling.  Nelson will segue from her post as President, Warner Premiere but maintain oversight responsibilities of that division.  (An executive succession plan for Warner Premiere will be announced shortly.)

Paul Levitz, who has served as President & Publisher of DC Comics since 2002, will segue from that role to return to his roots as a writer for DC and become a contributing editor and overall consultant to DCE.  This transition will take place as expeditiously as possible without disrupting DC’s business operations.

In his new role, Levitz will be called upon for his deep knowledge and more than three-decade history with DC Comics, both as a comic creator and an executive.  Besides serving as a writer on a number of DC Comics titles, he will be a contributing editor and consultant to DC Entertainment on projects in various media. 

Okay, that’s a LOT of corporate marketing-speak (and there was a lot more that I cut out, too), and corporate marketing-speak is designed to say as little as possible while looking like you’re saying a lot. Basically, all this says is: Levitz is out, Diane Nelson is in, and Warner’s is kinda tired of getting their butts whupped by Marvel’s movies. There’s a lot they’re NOT saying. Sure, we have no idea what really went down, but as they say in the blogosphere: Would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to!

First, there’s not much question that this all went down because of the Disney-Marvel deal. The Warner bigwigs opened up their business section one morning, read about Disney’s big purchase, and said, “Hey, don’t we own a comic book company, too?”

At that point, research was done into one of Warner’s smallest properties, and someone came up not happy with what they saw. It would be nice if they said, “Holy cats! They cancelled Blue Beetle?! Teen Titans has turned into a murder parade?! They’re relaunching old characters and then abandoning them again?! These comic books are crap!” But ya know, like Disney, Warner’s almost certainly doesn’t care about comics. Comics are small fry. Movies and video games are where the big money is, and for the past few years, DC’s comic book movies have been, except for “The Dark Knight,” an unrelenting parade of suck. And even then, the pace of production has been ploddingly slow. Marvel had a huge hit last year with “Iron Man,” and they’re already filming the sequel. DC had an even larger hit with “The Dark Knight,” but they haven’t even started pre-production work on a sequel. To be honest, this was probably more about lighting a fire under their film division than it was about comic books.

…except for Paul Levitz. His resignation — and I have little doubt that this was a “resign-or-else” resignation — would not have happened if this was all about movies, ’cause Levitz isn’t in charge of making any movies. It looks to me like Levitz was pushed out because one of the higher-ups at Warner’s didn’t like something about how the comics side of the business was being run. It could’ve just been “Wait, why are Marvels comics more popular than ours? We’ve got Batman, dangit!” But that’s not certain — maybe someone at the top actually reads comics and is tired of seeing DC publish bad comics.

Now what does this all mean for us funny-book fans? With Marvel, I’m figuring Disney won’t care to interfere with the comic book side of things, but I’m not sure that’s the case with DC. Getting rid of the publisher means someone wants some changes made.

If we’re lucky, maybe Dan DiDio will get shown the door, too, and maybe DC’s books will see some improvement.

If we’re not lucky… Well, Diane Nelson doesn’t seem to have any prior experience in the comics biz — it’s all movies, brand management, and marketing. And I think we’ve all seen far too many marketing-driven comics to expect good things on that front. It doesn’t take too great a stretch of the imagination to see that DiDio might actually be very, very happy about this new arrangement — he may be afforded more power than he ever was before…

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Abandoned Milestones


How frustrating does something like this gotta be?

kryptofan1 asked:

Do  you have plans for the Milestone characters (other than Static in the Teen Titans) after the Brave and Bold stories?

DiDio: At this particular time, we have Static in the Teen Titans, and we’re looking at a storyline that might be built around Static later in the run. But right now, no other plans.

I don’t even have to go digging through archives to remember that Dan DiDio used to be (or at least claimed to be) wildly enthusiastic about the Milestone characters. They had a big splashy debut in “Justice League of America,” Static got made a member of the Teen Titans, they were spotlighting them in “The Brave and the Bold”… but it turns out, DiDio now says he’s not wildly enthusiastic about them at all.

So how thrilled are we supposed to be about the “Red Circle” characters that DC is reviving? Or the plans to bring Doc Savage and the Spirit into DC continuity? Yeah, they keep saying they’re high priorities right now, but what’ll happen to them the next time Dan DilDio gets distracted by a shiny pebble?

I also liked a lot of David Brothers’ analysis here:

All of the drama, all of the hoopla, is about money. It’s about being able to make a profit on the short-term, and hoping that that keeps you going enough that you can catch more later on. It’s an extraordinarily near-sighted way to do business. According to McDuffie, a number of comics creators, ones with names, ones who sell books, wanted to do Milestone work. They remembered the universe, they wanted in on what looked like a good thing. But, money talks, and if you aren’t looking at an immediate profit, well, sorry. You aren’t talking loud enough.

But when arts meets commerce, commerce eventually wins out. It doesn’t matter how groundbreaking (original, cool, artistic, awesome, whatever) a character is. For the companies, and this includes Marvel, they are products to be sold, and whatever gets them sold is the right thing to do. DC dicking McDuffie isn’t about a grudge. It’s about having more action figures in the toybox that you can pull out, rather than creating new ones. It’s about being able to point and say “This is a comic for _______ people!” and expecting them to come just because you built some mediocre, at best, story.

Y’all know by now that I was a colossal fan of the old Milestone comics, back in the day. My very favorites were the Blood Syndicate, followed by the Shadow Cabinet, but all of them were pretty rockin’, partly because they were just really, really good superhero comics, and partly because their entire purpose was to correct the racial imbalance of comic characters, and thus to bring in new readers who may have never seen a superhero who looked like them before. And I was absolutely overjoyed when I heard DC was going to bring them into their regular continuity. And I am plenty unhappy that DilDio is once again going back on what he said.

I don’t know if DC’s problem is that the only character they wanted was Static, so they played nice with Dwayne McDuffie ’til they could get him in the Titans. I don’t know if their problem is that there are too many racist fanboys who don’t want to read about characters who aren’t white. (And I think it’s impossibly weird that some comics fans can understand the point of the X-Men and still think it’s okay to hate people because of how they were born — cognitive dissonance and all that, I guess.)

I do think a large part of the problem — with DC as well as with Marvel — is that they’re run by people who have the attention span of a gnat. Of course, focusing solely on short-term profits seems to be what big business does the best, so I’m sure both DiDio and Joe Quesada are perfectly safe in their jobs. I doubt there’s anything they could do that’d get them fired, no matter how much they may deserve to be. But short-term thinking is no way to build your business for the long-term. And teasing your fans only to slap them down later is no way to build brand loyalty down the line.

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A New Year of Horror

Well, it’s 2009. Not really feeling thrilled about it. One thing I learned long ago — every year is always worse than the last. There’s no reason to celebrate the new year — it’s just a reminder that time keeps passing, and that all our hopeful dreams for the future will inevitably end up as ashes and dust.

I came up with some predictions last year at this time, and they were generally wildly off-base, as most predictions are. The problem was that I tried to mix some optimism in with the pessimism, which isn’t a mistake I’ll make again.

Short-and-simple predictions:

Dan DiDio will stay on at DC, and Joe Quesada will stay on at Marvel. They’ll continue to make rotten comics, because their movies will make money, and their stockholders only care about how much money the movies make, not whether the comics are any good or not. Movies are big business — comics are small business.

More comics cancellations on the way, all for comics that don’t suck. Readers seem to hate comics that are good, and with the worsening economy, the publishers won’t be willing to stick with comics that don’t sell.

More giant crossovers on the way. Because the last thing you need in a rotten economy is a giant crossover that forces readers to spend their dwindling leisure dollars on badly-written crossovers that will be ignored next year anyway.

Bankruptcies ahoy. DC may be safe, because they’re part of Time-Warner. Marvel is a smaller fish, so they may be on shakier ground — on the other hand, the movies make lots of money, so that may help a lot. Lots of smaller publishers are probably on the verge already. I have no idea which ones, ’cause for some reason, they won’t let me look at their budgets and account info. But I think we’ll see some of them go belly-up.

Is that enough predictions? Probably so. Let’s hit a couple quick reviews. And just to stick with the bleak, depressing, pessimistic, staring-doom-in-the-face mood I’ve been working with, let’s look at a couple horror comics.


Crossed #2

We follow our small pack of survivors as they continue to try to avoid the attention of the Crossed — people who have become infected with a condition that turns them into psychotic, sadistic serial killers. The only way to tell one of the Crossed from a normal person is the bloody cross-shaped rash that develops on their faces. Anyway, our survivors make a narrow escape from a group of gun-slinging Crossed in which one of their number are injured by gunfire. They also discover two things about their adversaries: first, that the Crossed sometimes turn on each other when they can’t find anyone else to kill, and second, that the Crossed aren’t just giggling zombies — they can think, they can plan, and their strategies are, while twisted, dangerously effective.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Have I warned y’all before that this is not a comic for kids? I’ll do it again. Parents, feel free to enjoy this comic for all its horrifying, depressing beauty, but don’t go thinking all comics are for kids and leave it with your child’s Archie books. There’s nudity here, there’s a great deal of violence, there’s adult content galore. I’m not saying it’s a bad comic — this is an absolutely excellent comic. It has everything you want in horror, and one of these days, it’s going to get made into an outstanding horror movie. I highly recommend it for adults. I just don’t think you should give it to the kiddies.


Necronomicon #4

Well, I missed several issues of this one, but it looks like innocent collegian Henry Said is in over his head. The people he thinks of as his friends have captured an eldritch elder horror and plan to torture it to learn of its masters’ plans for the Earth. Henry’s compassionate nature leads him to wait ’til no one’s looking, then he frees the creature. This sets the Miskatonic University crew against him, and the creatures may still try to destroy them, despite Henry’s kindness. And more trouble is on the way — Henry’s football-loving friend Maxey may have been co-opted, the horrendous Mi-Go are still active, and the girl Henry loves, Rachel, is slated to have her brain removed and transported to another planet. Can Henry survive when a war between the Mi-Go and the shoggoths erupts around him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It really is a tribute to the writing on this that I was still able to catch on to what was going on and enjoy the heck out of it, even though I’d missed the entire middle of the story. You’ll get the most out of this story if you’re already pretty familiar with the pulp horror of H.P. Lovecraft, but if you aren’t, the story and plotline are still pretty clear. (And if you’re not familiar with Lovecraft’s cosmic horror yet — get ye to your local library or bookstore and start reading his stuff!)

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Red Hot Super-Powered Cheesecake!

Terra #2

It turns out that the new Terra is an exact genetic match for the old Terra — namely, the crazy one who had underaged sex with Deathstroke and tried to kill the Teen Titans. Power Girl and Dr. Mid-Nite try to calm her down while she runs around Mid-Nite’s lab in her birthday suit. When she and Power Girl finally leave, they have to deal with an attack on a subway by Silver Banshee. She’s after a guy who’s stolen a mystical artifact, and when he accidentally steps on the third rail, his death allows the ancient Sumerian god who was inside the artifact to take over his body, grow to giant size, and try to take over the planet. Meanwhile, Richard Whozits, the wealthy geologist guy who got turned into living rock in the first issue, hangs out with his nekkid girlfriend and tries to decide what he’s going to do with his life. And finally, zombies invade Markovia, and Terra shows up to help Geo-Force fight them all off.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story’s pretty good, and the dialogue is fun and funny, but the best part of this is Amanda Conner’s wonderful artwork. Yes, she has a near-perfect eye for classic good-girl art (you did notice that cover up there, right?), but she’s also stellar at action, facial expressions, body language, and everything else she decides to draw. She’s one of my favorite artists out there, and I hope she gets lots more comics work.

Kull #1

Dark Horse continues their recent trend of making awesome comics out of old Robert E. Howard stories with this new series about Howard’s barbarian king. We get a story about siege warfare, political intrigue, and a really ugly monster. Can Kull, Atlantean exile and new king of Valusia destroy the monster and unite his kingdom?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story, excellent action, excellent monster. Hope they keep making this one, ’cause it’s fun.

Ambush Bug: Year None #4

Dan DiDio is dead, Jann Jones is the ultimate romantic manga heroine, Argh!yle is running around bothering people in the “52” mega-series, and Ambush Bug gets kicked in the jollies by Batwoman.

Verdict: Dan DiDio is dead? Thumbs up!

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Worst of the Week


Teen Titans #62

I’d love to review some good comics today — goodness knows, I got a lot of good, entertaining comics that’d be a lot more fun to review — but this one just made me wanna smack the tar outta someone, and I’m not gonna dilute any good reviews I’ve got by pairing them with this turkey.

Okay, backstory time. A while back, after DC revamped the “Teen Titans” series again, they brought in a couple of hipster kids to serve as general maintenance/techheads for Titans Tower and as low-key comic relief. They named them Wendy and Marvin — yes, just like the comic-relief teens in the old “Super Friends” cartoon back in the ’70s. And yes, I rolled my eyes when they were introduced, because it really is a completely silly idea.

Well, in this issue, Marvin and Wendy find a dog. They name him Wonderdog, because no one can really figure out how he got all the way out to Titans Island. While all this is happening, Miss Martian leaves the team, Robin tells Wonder Girl that his old girlfriend Spoiler is alive again, and the remaining members of the team go off to the gym for training. And while no one’s looking, Wonderdog turns into a monster, kills Marvin and Wendy, and disappears into the night.

Yeahhh, how ’bout that?

DC has this ongoing problem where they can’t decide if they want to embrace the innocence of the Silver Age or if they want to tack the other direction, so they can tell everyone they’re making comics for grownups. Hence, you’ve got DC bringing back Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, and the silly kids from the “Super Friends” because it appeals to their sense of nostalgia. And then, to make ’em feel like they’re hardcore badboys who’d fit in at the nastiest corner of Image Comics, they kill Sue Dibny, they kill Bart Allen, and they turn Mary Marvel into a psychotic bimbo. It’s a constant push-and-pull — Is DC all about innocent, goofy fun? Is DC all about gritty and adult mayhem? Wait five minutes, and the answer will change again…

This is the same thing. They bring in Wendy and Marvin — isn’t it cute? It’s just like the crazy cartoon you loved when you were a kid! Then someone else at the company thinks to himself, “Hey, this is like a kid’s comic! I don’t make no kid’s comics!” And so they make yet another “Teen Titans” comic that looks like it was written by some sadistic lunatic.

It’s not like I really mind death in comics. I mean, I’m a pretty huge fan of horror comics of all types. What I do mind is gratuitous and unnecessary death in comics. And this was a picture-perfect definition of gratuitous and unnecessary.

And lo and behold, who’s that listed down there as one of this comic’s editors? Dan DiDio. Of course. What a complete and utter surprise. The guy who ain’t happy unless his comics are blood-soaked slaughterfests supervises yet another completely pointless and gratuitous blood-soaked slaughterfest.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I’m dropping this comic as of now.

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Predictions for the Future


“Gee, Scott, why illustrate your New Year’s post with something as grim as ‘House of Mystery?’ Couldn’t you have found a happier cover?”

Well, let’s just say that, the way I view 2008, that’s the most optimistic illustration I could use.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis: It’ll suck less, but it’ll still suck. And it’s going to lead into…

Infinite Crisis: …which is going to suuuuuck. Yes, even with Grant Morrison attached. Any changes made will be undone as soon as people start realizing how awful the changes are.

After Infinite Crisis: They’ll start planning for “Even Bigger Infinite Crisis.”

Spider-Man comics: Now that “One More Day” has thrown 20 years of Marvel’s continuity onto the trashheap, is there anything to look forward to? Actually, yes. We can look forward to, some morning in the next few months, when Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada looks at his sales figures and his shredded continuity and realizes just how badly he’s screwed things up. On that day, I hope to be looking in his window, laughing loudly. And then I’ll hit him with a brick.

Other people I hope to hit with a brick in 2008: DC bigwigs Dan DiDio and Paul Levitz, hack artists Rob Liefeld and Greg Land, neo-nazi thugs in general, and that guy who stole all my other bricks.

Blue Beetle: I think it’s gonna get cancelled. Very bad news, but the sales numbers are weak, and DC’s already stuck with the title much longer than it normally would. Read it while you can, people. And if you’re enjoying other low-selling titles, enjoy them while they can. I’m thinking there’s gonna be a bloodbath of cancellations later this year.

Secret Invasion: One or two A-list characters will be revealed to be Skrulls, along with several dozen Z-list characters. The invasion will fail after killing another few Z-list characters. Joe Quesada will be revealed to be a Skrull, and Marvel will bring back Spider-Man’s marriage. The series will end with a warning that the Skrulls are still out there, and everyone must continue to be paranoid… and then it will never be referred to again.

Non-comics predictions: My same prediction as every year — things will get worse and worse and worse. More disasters, worse economy, more things to make you wanna hammer yer head against a wall. The worst candidates will get the nominations, and whoever wins will get busy making sure that 2009 is even worse than 2008. And yes, I tend to be right on these predictions a lot more often than I’m wrong. I’m not a pessimist — I’m a realist.

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