Archive for DC Reboot

Let’s Talk about Sextillion

This is something that’s been bugging me for the last couple of weeks.

I was surfing around the Intarwebz and landed on this Wikipedia page that listed Superman’s powers. We all know that Supes pretty much hit the superpower lottery — he’s got just about everything, and he’s got more of it than just about anyone else. But there was this bit that bugged me:

After being saturated with yellow solar energy in All-Star Superman, his strength was tested as exceeding the force of 200 quintillion tons (or 2×1020 tons, in scientific notation, i.e., two hundred billion billion tons), enough to pull the Earth away from the sun. As of The New 52 reboot, his strength now exceeds 5.972 sextillion metric tons.

I’m willing to buy that for “All-Star Superman,” when, again, he’d been overdosed on solar energy — and the focus of the story wasn’t on his physical strength. But the New 52 bit just annoys me, partly ’cause they’re just trying to one-up Morrison’s story, and partly ’cause it’s just so stupid. Here, lookit this panel from the Reboot’s Superman #13:

Superman-Sextillion

And here are the panels, if that’s too small to read. First, the technician helping test Supes says this:

Superman-Sextillion-b1

Superman-Sextillion-b2

And Superman replies:

Superman-Sextillion-b3

This bugs me, and not just for the arrogance the Man of Steel is flashing here.

Really, that level of strength is freakin’ unrealistic. Yes, even for a superhero comic book. Especially for a superhero comic book. Bench-pressing the planet is stupid — and I felt the same way when Grant Morrison had Superman, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter do it all the time in the classic “JLA” series.

Being powerful enough to juggle planets may be a power fantasy (but I don’t know anyone who fantasizes about juggling a planet — juggling bullies, sure, planets, no way), but it makes for boring storytelling.

Where’s the challenge for someone who can juggle a planet? Got a comet on the way to hit Earth? Juggle the planet out of the way. Lex Luthor has a new robot? Is it heavier than the planet? Toss it aside. Lex Luthor got a chunk of Kryptonite? Swat it out of the solar system before it actually reduces your powers or causes you any serious harm. Or have Wonder Woman or the Martian Manhunter or Apollo do it for you, ’cause it’s been pretty well established that they’ve all got Superman-class strength.

Challenge comes from being able to be challenged, and the DC Reboot just prioritizes a few creators’ feeble egos and shallow fantasies above good storytelling.

Superman was a better character back when John Byrne was writing him in the mid-’80s — not just because Byrne was a better writer, with a better grasp of the Man of Steel’s personality and motivations, but because he understood that Superman was more fun to read about when he couldn’t juggle a planet.

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Everyone Hates the New 52

This is a week or two old, but just too funny to let pass.

It started as a simple poll on the DC Comics Facebook page. “With Zero Month drawing to a close we’re wondering: How do you want to learn more about the history of the characters in DC Comics-The New 52?”

The problem was, as well as the expected choices, they left the poll open. So people could add their own choices.

Some of the most popular answers included:

  • Bring Back the old DCU
  • Crisis on Earth-New52: How the experiment ends and we return to the “real” DCU
  • Bring back some characters, such as Wally West, Cassie Cain and Stephanie Brown.
  • Fire Scott Lobdell
  • Give Booster Gold his own new 52 title and let him fixt the DCnU mess
  • Just end the New52 for God’s Sake!
  • Stop with all the 90′s-esque books
  • Get rid of Dan Didio!
  • Bring back Rucka and Waid; Lose Johns and Glass
  • Make Karen Berger DC’s EiC.
  • Quit flailing, dammit!
  • Go back to the old DCU and we all promise to pretend this mess never happened
  • Put all the DCnU shenanigans on a different numbered Earth
  • Burn a Didio Effigy
  • Hire artists who can properly draw women. Fire anyone ignorant of basic anatomy.
  • Again to make the Superman married to Lois Lane.
  • Wally West NOW!
  • Make batmite kill all new 52 charaters

When the people who like comics enough to join your actual Facebook fan page all hate your comics that much, you should maybe consider that you’ve made some serious errors with your career choices.

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More First Appearance Blunders

No time or interest in doing any reviews this week (suffice it to say that Batgirl #0, American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #4, and Punk Rock Jesus #3 are all solid winners), but I do think it’s probably important to, once again, point out that DC is listing their first appearances wrong again.

Of course, Barbara Gordon made her first appearance as Batgirl in Detective Comics #359, way back in January of 1967.

None of these zero issues have mentioned who actually created these characters, but I’d like to mention that Batgirl was created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. That’s an awfully nice pedigree — two of DC’s most important creators got together to create this character, and it seems a bit like a slap in the face for the company to pretend that Batgirl wasn’t created until 2011. I do think that DC should show a bit more respect for their past than they do.

And on a related note, DC is now retconning their histories from the very beginning of the Reboot! They’ve now edited the trade paperback of the new “Teen Titans” to say that Tim Drake was never one of the Robins, and that there have never been any previous incarnations of the Titans — again, despite the first issue of the comic saying the exact opposite.

As we talked about previously, it’s just really weird how focused Diane Nelson, Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras are on declaring that past continuity is no longer in effect. It’s irritating when it comes to rewriting characters’ personalities (Starfire), appearances (Amanda Waller), or relationships (Clark Kent and Lois Lane) or just erasing some characters completely from the company’s history (Wally West, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Donna Troy, and who knows how many others). But when they start doing that for things that really just don’t matter, like whether or not a kid calling himself Red Robin was ever one of Batman’s Robins (instead of his “Boy Wonder,” whatever that creepy little turn of phrase is supposed to mean), that it just gets… well, weird.

I don’t know if it’s some “It’s my sandbox now” fan fiction thing, if it’s a badly thought-out marketing ploy, or if it’s just the company’s new enthusiasm for trolling their own readers (and creators, I guess). Maybe they’re delusional enough to think that they’re the only people in the history of comics who really know what’s best.

Maybe they’re just idiots. Depressing to think that so many idiots could take over all the top rungs of the company’s ladder, but it’s not like it’s never happened in the past.

The thing is, it’s making me less and less angry every time they pull something like this. They’re rewriting things almost at random now, seemingly desperate to manufacture some fan outrage and/or mainstream media coverage, and it’s looking more to me that they’ve completely lost control of things. They’re fairly lucky that the real bigwigs at Warner Brothers don’t care much what happens in the not-exactly-profitable comics division… but at some point, they’re probably going to do something that the bigwigs will care about, and then there’s going to be some serious trouble.

And hey, DC freelancers, writers, and artists — I do hope you’re taking notes. The tell-all memoir about this amazingly messed-up period of the company’s history is probably going to be a best-seller…

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Born Yesterday?

So it looks like DC put a “Who’s Who” page in the back of this month’s Zero issues, as a way to re-introduce the rebooted characters to readers. Seems a bit of a foolish idea, since the creators should be introducing the characters in the regular issues, and if they can’t do that effectively, there are some bigger problems ahead.

The biographies for Power Girl and the Huntress in the back of this week’s Worlds’ Finest #0 (I hope to get to a review of that sometime next week, but I will say I thought it was a good comic) were… acceptable. Again, I think not really needed, since the title has only had four issues prior to this one. But it was mostly… acceptable.

But one thing really, really bugged me — something that I suspect is replicated across all of the “Who’s Who” features in the Zero issues:

No, DC Comics, I don’t care how much you want us to love the Reboot and accept that as ALL THERE EVER HAS BEEN, it just ain’t so. Power Girl’s first appearance was in All Star Comics #58 in 1976, and Huntress debuted in DC Super Stars #17 in 1977.

On one hand, I want to consider this a minor issue, but it does point up a certain tendency in the Nelson/DiDio/Johns/Lee era for the company to exhibit a lack of pride in their own long history, as well as a belief that the current leadership team is going to “fix” its comics by getting rid of the things the bigwigs are, for some reason, embarrassed about.

So please take some notes, Diane, Dan, Geoff, and Jim:

  • Your company’s previous 74 years of history are really not anything you need to retcon away.
  • Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Wally West, Lian Harper, Donna Troy, Misfit, and the original Justice Society were actually excellent characters who don’t deserve to be ashcanned.
  • Splitting up Clark Kent and Lois Lane is just plain stupid.
  • You should really stop treating Alan Moore like crap.
  • Barbara Gordon was a better character as Oracle.
  • Secret Six was better than nearly every comic you’re printing now.
  • Vertigo and Wildstorm characters really do not fit in the DC Universe.
  • Jim Lee’s costume design skills ain’t all that.
  • It genuinely will not make you look less manly if you hire more women to create your comics.
  • Beast Boy is actually green, not red…
  • …and nearly all of your characters were actually created prior to 2011.

Grow up, DC. You’re embarrassing us.

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Desperate Relationships

So this happened.

When DC Comics rebooted its entire line of superhero titles last year, the publisher did away with Superman’s marriage to Lois Lane to pave the way for a new romance. Without further ado, EW can exclusively reveal that Superman’s new partner in love is no mere mortal, but a superhero icon in her own right: None other than Wonder Woman. herself.

So the first thoughts that went through my mind were outrage and disappointment… but after that, I started thinking a bit more about it, and these were the words that ran through my head:

“Oh, DC, are sales down? Are the higher-ups at Warner’s grumbling about how the company’s doing and what potential damage you’re doing to the trademarks? Are you jonesing hard for the oh-so-addictive thrills of getting the news media to pay attention to you and of randomly pissing off the fanboys who, for now, shell out the cash for your books? Too bad, guys, so sad.”

The sweaty, flailing, wheezing desperation for controversy-for-the-sake-of-controversy makes DC look increasingly weak and inept. I mean, really, they don’t even work to promote their books as good storytelling, good art, good writing — it’s all focused on manufacturing controversy, however they can get it.

I feel sad for the writers and artists who are trying to create good comics in the face of DiDio-Johns-Lee’s ham-fisted gropings into the world of marketing. Because they’ve made it pretty clear that they don’t care about making good comics, they just care about trolling the readers with badly thought-out ideas, trying harder and harder to piss off feminist comic fans, and getting interviewed by entertainment reporters. It’s a sad state of affairs for any good comic creator.

But for the company itself? For DiDio and Johns and Lee? I just want to laugh. They’re fooling fewer and fewer people by the minute, and I don’t know if they realize that.

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Spike’s Peak

I know, I know, just yesterday, I said I was taking a hiatus — and fine, I will, I promise! But sometimes, some crazy fool thing jumps out at you and just demands you hit it with your blogging stick.

See, there’s this preview for Teen Titans #12 that was just released yesterday. I haven’t been reading the series, and couldn’t tell you exactly what’s going on, but apparently, Wonder Girl has some kind of new armor that’s a big to-do. And it looks like this:

That’s a quarter-ton of liquid crazy, mixed with another four hundred pounds of boiling-hot stupid.

That armor consists of a lot of ripped clothing, bizarrely floating hair, and gigantic, completely unsubtly phallic spikes.

We keep talking about how the DC Reboot was basically DC’s attempt to turn back time to the rotten days of 1990s Image Comics. And this is really the most embarrassingly crass example of that aesthetic. It’s a horny 14-year-old boy’s vision of what both femininity and badassery look like — except I think horny 14-year-old boys have a bit more maturity than the people currently running the show at DC.

Come on, Warner Brothers execs, I will throw you a pizza party if one of you guys steps in and calls a halt to the ongoing disaster at your comics division, okay?

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Curbstomping the Reboot

The Goon #39

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the comic that is likely to win some Eisners and Harveys for Eric Powell next year?

Well, Powell, creator of “The Goon,” has finally decided to sell out. He wants money, he wants collector speculation, and he wants some mass-media controversy. So the Goon reveals his new superhero costume and his new overblown superhero origin, and he takes Franky as his scantily-clad sidekick. Then they change costumes and origins a few pages later, and a few pages after that, and a few pages after that. Will Powell finally get the media coverage he craves, even with the giant splash pages, the Thong of Nobility, angst-ridden monologues, vector graphics software, gratuitous ass-shots, multicolored Goons, variant covers, inevitable betrayals, and constant reboots?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a pretty sure bet that Eric Powell is never going to work for DC Comics again, not after completely savaging the company this way. From the perfect Dark Horse With A Band-Aid logo on the cover to the DiDioesque/Johnsian plot twists and Jim Lee costume designs, this was a joy to read from beginning to end. Seriously, it’s a near-certain shoo-in for awards next year.

My only question is this: Are we seeing the beginning of the long-awaited backlash on DC’s Reboot? Or just a brief flare-up of dissent?

American Vampire #26

A new storyarc, this time focusing on Calvin Poole, a character we last saw all the way back in Issue #19. Calvin used to be a member of the Vassals of the Morning Star, a vampire-hunting organization, and he ended up getting turned into an American vampire when he was infected by a broken glass vial of Pearl Jones’ blood. Now he’s wandering the American South and occasionally killing and eating racist rednecks. He learns of an integrated doo-wop group and gets recognized by one of its members. He gets warned off by some teenagers who say he and the doo-wop group will die if they stay in town, and he gets some protection from a group of veterans. But the danger for Calvin is that he really has no idea who his friends and enemies really are…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was afraid Calvin Poole had been completely forgotten — glad we’ll get to see a story focusing on him — and with a setting in the Deep South of the 1950s, this story should be juicy in more ways than one.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Scraping Off the Reboot

Well, the first month of DC’s “New 52″ is over, and I’ve finally gotten all my DC reviews completed.

Obviously, I haven’t read all of the new books — I’ve read 13 of the 52, which is, to my surprise, exactly one-quarter of all the new Number Ones.

So we’ve got a few that I’ve thought were really, really good. We’ve had much too many that were really, really bad. And we’ve got a whole bunch that are just deeply mediocre.

There were some that I liked that everyone else seemed to hate. And there were some I hated that everyone else seemed to love.

Some of ‘em, I wish I could’ve reviewed — how much fun would it have been to slam already notoriously-bad comics like “Red Hood and the Outlaws,” “Detective Comics,” “Hawk and Dove,” or “Catwoman”? But I’m glad I didn’t end up paying money for ‘em, ’cause it’s no fun to support bad comics.

The thing is, it’s not much fun to support mediocre comics either. So the Rebooted DC is going to have to start impressing me really, really quickly. Some, granted, I really enjoyed, and I’ll keep reading them. Some of them I really hated, and I’ve already decided to drop them. But the mediocre ones are going to get maybe one to three more issues to convince me they’re worth getting.

And the mediocre ones include a bunch that I initially liked but soured on as the month went on. That includes comics like “Action Comics” and “Batgirl” and “Justice League International.” Seems kinda rough to say I might not be reading a Grant Morrison comic about Superman. But ya know, it’s a rickety economy, and I ain’t got all that much cash — and if DC ain’t worth my hard-earned hobby money, that’s just too bad. In a tight economy, boring/average/mediocre comics are just as bad as the ones that really, really suck.

I’m a DC fanboy. I’ve never been a real strong Marvel zombie. But I can live with giving Marvel more money, or more than likely, giving more to IDW, Dark Horse, Boom, and Red 5.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Hex

All Star Western #1

The Rebooted version of Jonah Hex has some very good points in its favor — specifically, that Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, longtime writers of the previous “Jonah Hex” comic, are again in charge of this one. It does lead to an odd question — when the series is set in Gotham City, long considered to be the DC version of New York City, is it really correct to call it “All Star Western“?

Jonah Hex rides into Gotham City in the 1880s and is soon entangled in an investigation into a series of serial murders, partnered with Dr. Amadeus Arkham. While Arkham knows a lot about psychology and book-larnin’, Hex is the guy who knows where to find trouble and how to get people to tell what they know — and how to hurt anyone who gets in their way. But do they have a chance at uncovering the fiend — or fiends — behind the murders?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So much to love in this one. You got scarred, violent, rough-mannered Jonah Hex as Sherlock Holmes and brainy, sophisticated — and also probably completely insane, if I read the conversation with his mother correctly — Amadeus Arkham as Dr. Watson. You got Gotham City at its grimiest, at least as dangerous and lethal as anything on the frontier. This one is definitely, right now, a keeper.

The Amazing Spider-Man #670

Everyone in the Big Apple is getting Spider-Man’s powers — and after a certain period, they actually turn into giant spiders under the control of the Spider Queen! The Spider-King makes an appearance before her — but it’s really Flash Thompson, the new Venom, in disguise, while Eddie Brock, Anti-Venom, does all he can to use his powers to cure everyone with spider powers. Spider-Man teams up — gleefully — with Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, who’s gotten his own spider powers — but JJJ starts to lose control when he gets near the Spider-Slayer, who killed Jonah’s wife. Will anyone be able to find a cure in time? Or is it already too late for New York?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice, crazy story in all the right ways. Love the writing by Dan Slott, love the art by Humberto Ramos. This has been a pretty fun series.

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #7

After the MechaGodzilla disaster from last issue, the U.S. government — heck, pretty much every government on Earth — has called it quits and gone underground while Godzilla destroys Washington, DC. Sgt. Steven Woods and Allie, the orphaned girl he’s watching after, are able to continue avoiding the monsters and scavenging food. The creepy twin girls in France discover that they’re able to control all monsters when they stop Battra and Rodan from fighting. And an old Tibetan monk has a plan to save the world using… King Ghidorah? Uh-oh…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m liking seeing more focus on Steven Woods and less on the government’s (and everyone else’s) response to the monsters. It’s long passed the point where the planet’s going to come back from this, so it’s more interesting to see how a few people deal with the end of everything.

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Dark and Dorky

Justice League Dark #1

The Enchantress has gone crazy again, and that’s causing hundreds of clones of her alter ego, June Moon, to start appearing and walking blindly into traffic. The Justice League shows up at the Enchantress’ hideout, but they’re powerless to stop her. Can anyone? Well, I guess we’ll see if Madame Xanadu, Shade the Changing Man, Zatanna, John Constantine, and Deadman can do it.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is not a very good comic. I like the art, but the dialogue is just plain goofy. And the whole blasted thing bored me to tears. They worked hard to build up some hype for this one, and it just fails miserably.

American Vampire #19

We get treated to an unexpected flashback all the way to the 1860s to the friendship shared by two Missouri boys — future American vampire Skinner Sweet and his future nemesis Jim Book. Skinner was an orphan taken in by the Book family and though he played rougher and took more dangerous risks than Jim liked (including catching a rattlesnake with his bare hands), they still got along pretty well. Years later, when they were both in the Army fighting the Indian wars in the New Mexico territory, they’re under the command of the naive General Hawley. They capture a scout for an Apache chief named Hole in the Sky, and the scout refuses to tell how many braves Hole in the Sky has, but claims that they’re about to unleash something he calls Mimiteh. But what is Mimiteh, and what’s it doing in a book called “American Vampire”?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see a return to the Wild West for this series, and nice to see Jim Book again. The story is excellent, too — wonderfully tense with tons and tons of personality.

Avengers Academy #19

Okay, I’m sick to the gills of “Fear Itself.” Ya know why? The covers for it are awful, and the blasted things just won’t… go… away.

The god-empowered Absorbing Man and Titania are causing the hyper-miniaturized “Infinite Avengers Mansion” to grow — and when it grows to its actual full size, it’ll be big enough to destroy a city. Finesse figures out a way to destroy the mansion and the villains — but she and another Academy member will have to sacrifice themselves to make sure the plan is successful. Finesse has to monitor the computers, and one of the kids has to hold off the villains — it’s decided that Hazmat has the best chance of actually hurting the bad guys, and Mettle decides he’ll help her. Is there any way out, or are three of the students about to become heroes the hard way?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good personality work all around, and that’s what this series has had going for it from the very beginning. Nevertheless, looks like the students have some big changes ahead.

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