Archive for Milestone Comics

Neon Lights

Astro City: The Dark Age, Book Four #2

It’s the down-and-dirty ’80s, everything’s nasty and cynical and brutal and cruel, and the Silver Agent has just traveled back in time to stop something from awful from happening. Charles and Royal Williams are chasing Aubrey Jason, a rotten piece of work who killed the Williams brothers’ parents decades ago. He’s got a mad scientist to agree to give him unlimited cosmic power, while the scientist’s vat-grown Dynamoids tear up Las Vegas and battle the local superheroes, like Mirage, the neon-wearing guy pictured on the cover. (Wow, that was a spectacularly long sentence.) Can Charles and Royal stop Aubrey Jason, even with the unwitting assistance of Mirage and the Silver Agent? And dark power has come thundering out of a dimensional vortex into Astro City?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still loving the adventures of the Williams brothers, and everything in the background is just great, too. What’s really impressing me in this one is how much acknowledged darkness there is in this story. When you look back at the ’80s and the “Iron Age,” a lot of the comic stories were dark and bleak, but they never seemed to be really aware of how dark things were. Kurt Busiek has grasped all the pessimism and nihilism of the ’80s and has brought it out of the shadows to make sure we don’t miss it. Everything from the violence-loving TV viewers exulting in the chaos to the ominous hoofbeats riding out of the alley combine to create an incredibly forboding and frightening picture.

Milestone Forever #2

Well, in the last issue of this swan song for the old comics of Milestone Media, Icon, Rocket, and the Blood Syndicate got their happy endings — this time, it’s time for Hardware and Static. For Hardware, he’s inherited Alva Industries, he’s taken out the bad guys, and he doesn’t know where to go next. For Static, he’s heading out for his tenth high school reunion, meeting friends, and beating up on old enemies. And in the end, just as Dharma had feared, the end of the universe is on the way…

Verdict: Thumbs up. You want my advice? Ignore the stuff with Dharma. It ain’t important. The Hardware story is really good, and the Static story is absolutely fantastic. And even then, it coulda been better — DC has some weird grudge against Dwayne McDuffie, and it looks like they went meddling in his story again. But what we get here is still pretty good and still worth picking up, even if it’s six bucks. Man oh man, how I have missed ChrisCross’s artwork…

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Final Milestones

Milestone Forever #1

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the comics produced by Milestone Media back in the ’90s. I loved the art, I loved the writing, I loved the dialogue and characterizations, I loved the idea that they were making superhero comics that looked like something other than a bunch of white people hanging out in spandex. Heck, “Blood Syndicate” got me back to reading comics, after years of ignoring them. And when I heard DC was going to bring all those characters back a year or two ago, I was real excited. It didn’t turn out so well — Dwayne McDuffie tried to re-introduce them during his run on “Justice League of America,” but DC kept taking control of the book away from him so they could promote new crossovers. And then DC announced that, whoops, they were foolin’, and other than Static, they had no plans to use the other Milestone characters for anything.

But the Milestone characters are getting one final hurrah — this very short miniseries, written by McDuffie, with artwork by John Paul Leon, M.D. Bright, J.H. Williams III, and Romeo Tanghal. We start out with a focus on Dharma, near-omniscient precog, obsessed with the only thing he can’t see — how the world is about to end. We catch up with Icon and Rocket, Flashback (still trying to kick her crack habit), Holocaust, still scheming, still trying to take over Dakota’s gangs. Holocaust wants his new Blood Syndicate to help him kill Icon, but he doesn’t know that Icon has allies on the way, including Static, Hardware, and even a bunch of Syndicate members. And former Syndicate leader Wise Son is back, ready to fight Holocaust for control of the gang he helped create. Is the ensuing battle going to be the spark that sets of the global armageddon that Dharma fears?

Thumbs up. It’s great to see all these characters again, even if some of them only show up for a panel or two. The dialogue is pretty good, and the story, set against the end of the world scenario that Dharma has foreseen since his first appearance, is still interesting. If I’ve got quibbles, it’s that there are probably too many characters — understandable, since they are trying to make sure all these people get to appear at least once, but it’s too bad we won’t get to spend more time with more of these characters. I also groused a bit about the consistency of the art — Dogg, for instance, ends up being depicted a lot larger than he was in the original comics, and Kwai has lost her Extremely Dramatic Eyebrows. The whole package is gonna run you $6, for just this first issue, but for Milestone fans, I’m still recommending it.

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3

Diana has just received her power ring and become a temporary member of the Star Sapphires. She sets out to bust up some Black Lantern zombies, particularly the resurrected Maxwell Lord, but she gets interrupted by Mera, Queen of Atlantis, now wielding a red power ring as one of the violently angry, blood-puking Red Lanterns. Of course, there’s a huge battle between the two — Mera’s rage won’t even let her think straight, and Wondy doesn’t want to hurt her anyway. Is there a way to get through to Mera before the zombies take all of them down?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As little as I’ve enjoyed the previous books in this mini-miniseries, I wasn’t expecting much from this final issue, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Character and dialogue hit on all cylinders, and the artwork by Nicola Scott is, as always, staggeringly awesome. Favorite bit? Wondy’s awestruck amazement on what it feels like to wield a power ring.

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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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Farewell to the Birds

Well, I was going to devote today’s blog to one of my rare sports posts so I could talk about the Mike-Leach-vs.-Texas-Tech thing. But Tech finally decided they didn’t want to deal with angry, torch-bearing mobs and gave Leach his contract. So in the absence of anything else, let’s hit some quick reviews.


Birds of Prey #127

It’s the last issue of this comic, and they don’t send it off on a high note. The Calculator has new powers that let him control any machinery, and he’s invaded the Birds’ HQ with a giant scary robot. They manage to get away, but lose their headquarters in the process. They raid the last stronghold of the Silicon Syndicate and mash ’em flat except, again, for Calculator. So Babs has a crisis of confidence and quits the team to see if she can get the use of her legs back and become Batgirl again. Wait, what?

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story was far, far too rushed. The ending was forced. Characterization was almost nonexistent. And I really don’t get DC’s new craze for rolling back their clock to the Silver Age. They brought Hal Jordan back, they brought Barry Allen back, they’re somehow going to shoehorn Babs Gordon out of her completely awesome role as Oracle the computer guru and try to turn her back into one of Batman’s dull sidekicks again. Wouldn’t surprise me to hear that they’re going to de-age Nightwing to get him back in the Robin costume next.


Justice League of America #30

The Justice League has managed to subdue the Shadow Cabinet, but they all get ambushed by the Shadow Thief, who’s managed to get a lot more powerful recently and has decided to kill both teams as a sacrifice to some unnamed god. They all have to fight shadow-versions of themselves. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Rocket shows up (Yay! Rocket!), schools Batman (Wait, what?), and reveals that the Shadow Cabinet has given Dr. Light (the female Japanese superhero, not the crazy evil barfbag villain) a new powersuit that lets her use her superpowers again. So they all manage to defeat Shadow Thief, but he has one last surprise — he’s created an evil shadow-version of the moon, and he’s going to crash it into the Earth. Superman manages to bash it to bits, but the Shadow Cabinet gets away.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I actually liked some parts of this — I still can’t get over how much I’m liking seeing the Milestone Media characters here in the DCU, some of the dialogue was quite good, and the Evil Shadow Moon was both cheesy and cool. But dangit, I just cannot take any comic seriously that tries to tell me that a halfwit dork like the Shadow Thief is a serious threat. And isn’t it about time they gave the superhero Dr. Light a new name?

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Everyone All Together

Justice League of America #28

It’s the Justice League vs. the Shadow Cabinet. For the most part, it’s a story about a bunch of super-people beating each other up, though the confrontation between Superman and Icon is… interesting. Very interesting.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, I’m still grooving on the return of the characters from Milestone Comics. But there is a lot of excellent fisticuffs going on here. I approve.

Madame Xanadu #7

Nimue is now in Victorian London, using her fortunetelling and spellcasting to try to protect people from Jack the Ripper. And of course, the Phantom Stranger appears, infuriating Nimue with his failure to act to save anyone. She offers to help the police, but finds her ability to see the future mysteriously stymied when it comes to discovering the Ripper’s identity. She lays mystic alarms around Whitechapel to alert her to any attacks, but will her spells be enough to stop the madman? And whose side is the Phantom Stranger really on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Obviously, this isn’t nearly as heavy as Alan Moore’s classic Ripper story “From Hell,” but there’s some good stuff in here. Ripperologists will find several interesting tidbits to enjoy.

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Icons and Milestones

Justice League of America #27

Well, there’s really just one reason I bought this one: the return of characters from Milestone Media and their integration into DC Comics’ continuity. Milestone was a comics imprint that was published through DC, but it had no connections to the regular DCU. It was probably the most successful comics publisher to specialize in fully multicultural comics. Its lead characters included Icon, Static (who made his new re-appearance in the pages of “Terror Titans” a week or two ago), Hardware, the Blood Syndicate, and the Shadow Cabinet. In this case, we’re getting re-introduced to the Shadow Cabinet, with the idea that they’ve somehow existed in the DC Universe all along, but somehow, few DC characters have ever met them before. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I guess it’s no more outlandish than Spider-Man making a deal with the Devil to end his marriage, so I guess we’ll roll with it.

Anyway, we start out focusing on Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi, the second Dr. Light, the one who wasn’t a supervillain. Her powers have been working only sporadically for years, so she’s mostly retired to raise her family. She is confronted in her apartment by the Shadow Cabinet, a clandestine, black-ops superhero team, including Hardware, Donner, Blitzen, Iota, Payback, Iron Butterfly, Starlight, Twilight, and Gloria Mundi. She tries to give them the slip, but is captured easily. Luckily, she has time to activate her old Justice League International distress signal.

Meanwhile, back with the current JLA team, the relationship between Red Arrow and Hawkgirl hits a major stumbling block because Hawkgirl keeps having dirty dreams about Hawkman. Oh, come on, Red, you’ve fathered a child with a supervillain — you got nothing to complain about. Elsewhere, Vixen’s powers are back to normal, and Black Canary finds out that Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman have been having secret meetings about the future of the League because they don’t trust her as the leader. She very sensibly tells them to get over themselves.

But back to the Shadow Cabinet. When the Justice League shows up to investigate Dr. Light’s distress call, they find that everything seems okay. But Batman quickly realizes that the Cabinet has disguised themselves as Dr. Light, her kids, and her babysitter. And other members of the Cabinet are attempting to infiltrate the Justice League HQ. All this means there’s gonna be some fightin’.

Verdict: A conditional thumbs up. I like seeing Milestone’s characters again. I loved these guys, and it’s wonderful to see them back in print. (But where’s the Blood Syndicate? SYNDICATE RULES FOREVAH!) It’s also nice to see the return of the “scrib,” a scribble in the word balloons that Milestone used to indicate profanity. And I am very fond of Black Canary’s characterization — of course, she would absolutely rake Supes, Wondy, and Bats over the coals for trying to undermine her leadership of the team, and it’s way past time that their secret meeting room got exposed.

On the other hand, the stuff about Vixen, Hawkgirl, and Red Arrow is completely useless soap-opera crap. And someone really needs to take artist Ed Benes aside and tell him to cut back on the gratuitous butt-shots. It gets really, really creepy after a while. I’m still not a big fan of Benes’ art — seems fine if you’re looking for something glossy, plastic, and Liefeldesque, but there are a lot better artists out there who should be drawing DC’s flagship series.

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There is never a cool time to describe yourself as “giddy,” but folks, after I read this news earlier today, I was absolutely, unapologetically giddy. We’re talking dancing around, making high-pitched giggling noises, and trying to hug strangers.

The Milestone Universe is getting incorporated into the DC Universe.

Announced Saturday at Comic-Con International, the characters of Milestone Comics will be folded into the fabric of DCU proper, in some very high-profile titles.

Static – co-created by Dwayne McDuffie, the fan favorite writer of DC’s top-selling “Justice League of America” – will be joining “Teen Titans” as an active team member.

The supercharged hero is arguably the former DC imprint’s most recognizable character thanks in large part to the animated series, “Static Shock,” that ran for four seasons from 2000 to 2004.

Late Saturday night, McDuffie, one of Milestone’s co-founders, also confirmed for CBR News that two of his most popular creations will appear in his next arc of “Justice League of America,” beginning in #27.

“You will definitely see Icon and you’ll definitely see Hardware,” revealed McDuffie. “And the Justice League will be going up against Milestone’s Shadow Cabinet too.”

Milestone was a comics imprint that was published through DC, but it had no connections to the regular DCU. It was probably the most successful comics publisher to specialize in fully multicultural comics, and most important to me, on a personal level, Milestone’s comics (specifically, “Blood Syndicate”) were the ones that finally got me back on the comics bandwagon again, back when I was in grad school in Denton.

Getting Milestone characters incorporated into DC’s continuity isn’t the same as getting Milestone’s seriously awesome comics published again, but it’s nice to see this, as Milestone’s contributions were being forgotten too rapidly.

And as long as DC figures out a way to bring back the badass OG’s from “Blood Syndicate,” in all their “Are They Heroes or Are They Gangstas” glory, I’ll be really happy. Giddy, even.

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