Sunday, January 29, 2006

Well, the Hall of Justice was already booked

Leigh News - Leigh Today: A wedding fit for super heroes
"Louise had always dreamed of getting married dressed as Wonderwoman and as both of us had been married before and done the top hat and tails thing so this time we just decided to do something out of the ordinary which would be a good day and a good laugh without any pressure. I already had a Superman costume..."
With Elvis officiating. What, no pictures?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

No capes!

The Green Lantern Corps has a dress uniform? (Courtesy of Written World.)

Mag of The Comic Treadmill celebrates Siamese Human Knot Day.

Sleestak of Lady, That's My Skull runs a scan of a snotty letter column reply from Mort Weisinger. (Q: Why do Aquaman's Atlanteans have legs, but Superman's Atlanteans have fishtails? A: "Are you serious? We publish fiction, not documented history.")

And Newsarama has a page-by-page breakdown of Brokeback Mountain... er, I mean, Infinite Crisis #4.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A plea to DC

Detective #233Fred Grandinetti at Newsarama shares my affection for the original Batwoman and her teenaged, hyphenated Bat-Girl. She's usually dismissed as the "jump the shark" component of Bat-stuff and Bat-people who descended upon Gotham City in the late Fifties and early Sixties. Even Bat-Mite gets more respect.

I always thought it was an attempt to emulate the "Superman family" then coming together in the various Superman titles--which must have worked, since there were so many of them ("family" and titles). Superman headlined "Superman" and "Action", and his younger self Superboy carried "Superboy" and "Adventure". He was also (along with Batman) the lead feature in "World's Finest", and even his supporting cast were getting books of their own, "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" and "Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane". When Supergirl came along, she shoved Tommy Tomorrow out of "Action" and took over the second story, making "Action" another cover-to-cover Super-title.
Star Spangled
But the best Batman could do was for Robin to appear in solo stories in "Star Spangled Comics", before it converted to war stories. Doubtless in some parallel world, there were "Batwoman" and "Bat-Mite" comics, and Tommy Tomorrow shared "Mystery in Space" with the Batman of 2950.

Superman, however, was a Hot Property (fresh from a successful TV series), where Batman was struggling. And editor Jack Schiff was hampered in a way Superman editor Mort Weisinger wasn't: Weisinger could allow his writers to pull a story out of anywhere, due to the fantastic nature of his character. Another survivor of Krypton? Sure. A city of survivors in a glass bottle? Why not? Lex Luthor can synthesize kryptonite? Okay!

But Batman was a human being who dealt with street-level adventures. His stories had to make some kind of sense. You couldn't produce, say, Dick Grayson's parents after all these years (although another set of relatives did eventually turn up). There was a limit to the untold secrets of Thomas Wayne you could pull out of a hat.

Schiff did, eventually, reluctantly, try science-fiction in Batman, and these tales are widely (and unfairly) considered the series' low point.

Batman #153So, whatta ya gonna do?

Batwoman was, on top of all the other things mentioned in that Newsarama piece, a steady love interest. Batman had never really had a girlfriend strong enough to appeal to both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Batwoman (and Bat-Girl) changed the dynamic of the comic, and I think for the better.

In "Prisoners of Three Worlds", Batman actually told her he loved her.

Unfortunately, that was her finest hour. She had a half-dozen minor appearances more, and then new editor Julius Schwartz turned the comic upside-down, eventually commissioning the creation of another Batgirl.

If DC were to use its new Showcase format to collect all of the Batwoman stories in one volume (they'd fit), I'd stand in line to buy it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Finish the damn' story already

I'm still waiting for my copy of the Day of Vengeance Special to arrive, so I can't review it as such. I have read this week's Crisis Counseling, so I know pretty much what happens (and what doesn't).

I'm pleased by the presence of heretofore minor characters (or missing pieces) of the DCU. One thing the Infinite Crisis lead-in series have done is reinforce the possibility that anything could happen, and that anyone might matter. Why would (to pull an example out of a hat) Nightshade bother to put on her spandex in the morning if nothing she does really makes a difference? Having her take out Eclipso back in DoV #6 puts her on the board as a potential Major Player, something she hasn't been since DC acquired the character. And if Detective Chimp has a legitimate role in a Crisis, then anyone could.

I'm displeased by the fact that the Special invalidates the premise of the series. Okay, "Shadowpact", move over, the Big Boys are back.

I'm pleased at the resolution of the Rock of Eternity's destruction, which really couldn't have ended any other way. I'm displeased by the is-it-or-ain't-it resolution to the hostless Spectre.

Ultimately, I'm displeased by the fact that this special, and the other minis' specials, even exist. I feel cheated, buying into a six-part mini-series when the Powers That Be knew that there would be a seventh part. It's not like the series moved so fast that these threads couldn't have been tied up in six.

I'm further displeased that stories never end anymore, they just lead into other stories. The original Crisis on Earth-One/Crisis on Earth-Two ended. Zatanna's Quest ended. Crisis on Infinite Earths ended. Even Final Night and Zero Hour ended. I find it impossible to evaluate the success or failure of a story that never ends.

I understand the need to maintain continuing characters. I understand that each magazine's most compelling purpose is to make me want to buy the next one. But there are other ways to do that than creating an eternal middle. What I want is a well-told story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, in which characters cope with dramatic conflict, resolve it, and are in great or subtle ways changed by it.

So I can't tell you if DoV is ultimately any good until I know how it resolves--and that didn't happen in the pages of DoV Special. Maybe it will in Infinite Crisis.

Or the first, or second, arc in the upcoming Shadowpact title.

Or never.