Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Compare and Contrast

Remington Steele: NBC television, 1982-1987. After four years of romantic tension between the male and female leads, the producers have the characters get married. The show dies after six more episodes, partly due to failing ratings (and partly, it must be noted, because NBC programming preferred Hunter and scheduled it in Steele's time slot).

Moonlighting: ABC television, 1985-1989. After two and a half years of romantic tension between the male and female leads, the producers (and the characters) yielded to temptation. The show's ratings took an immediate nosedive (aggravated by the stars' lengthy absences, Cybill Shepherd to have a baby, Bruce Willis to make Die Hard) and never recovered.

Catwoman: DC comics, 2011. After seventy-one years of romantic tension (off and on, mostly off through the height of the "seduction of the innocent" scare and the Comics Code) and endless did-they didn't-they hints and parallel-world cheats, Batman and Catwoman have undeniable on-panel sex in the rebooted issue #1.

In a similar vein: If you loved Starfire on Cartoon Network's Teen Titans, you'll hate her in Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Shortpacked! by David Willis - Math

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Last month I told you that, for no reason I could easily articulate, New Avengers #15 caught my eye. I told you how moved I was by the heroism of Squirrel Girl, and I expressed my hope that she wasn't being set up to die in the siege on Avengers Mansion.

Well, [SPOILERS], she wasn't, but what happened was worse. Bendis apparently lost interest in the story: That's really the only explanation I can come up with. The locked-down mansion that resisted the full-out attack of a team of Nazibots? Daredevil blew the front door off its hinges (something the Nazibots were apparently unable to do), then heroically led SG and baby Cage into the basement. (Did they not tell SG there was a basement?)

Cut to later, when the family Cage rewarded DD for knowing where the basement was by offering him an Avengers ID card. What happened to the Nazibots? "Well, we ain't goose-stepping, so I guess it worked out." That's a direct quote, and that's all the explanation we got. I guess they didn't finish bringing down Avengers mansion, since that job gets done over in New Avengers Annual #1 (also on sale this week) as a result of a completely unrelated siege. Does Marvel not have editors?

So after an issue to show us what a formidable threat Squirrel Girl actually is, her bacon gets saved off panel... by Daredevil? This goes far beyond unsatisfying, into the realm of downright insulting.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So far, so good

DC's New 52 is a decent collection of comics. Not everything is award material, but then only DC editorial may have thought it might be. But mostly it doesn't suck. I've already spoken about Justice League and the fundamentally wrong-headed idea of issuing it first. (Team-ups are something you build up to, not something you lead with.)

Week two gives us thirteen more titles. These are not detailed reviews, just hit 'em fast and move on first impressions.

Action Comics: Since I haven't drunk DC's kool-aid, I'm not predisposed to nominate Grant Morrison for sainthood for deigning to write Superman. Philosophically, though, I do like the approach. It is actually fun, as a comic named Action should be.

Animal Man: You can tell they like Morrison around here.

Batgirl: I'd almost rather The Killing Joke be written out of continuity than see Barbara freeze in a crisis because of flashbacks to it.

Batwing: Even in-story, marketing is the reason this character is wearing a bat. Have you no shame? (At least he isn't being called the Black Bat, which must have been tempting.)

Detective Comics: Ew. Thanks for reminding me why I stopped reading Batman. Is there supposed to be any detecting going on around here?

Green Arrow: When Green Arrow is a better Batman book than Detective, you're in trouble.

Hawk and Dove: Why does this look like an unused (with good reason) inventory story from 24 years ago?

Justice League International: Why does the Hall of Justice even exist? Why are we getting Justice League spinoff titles before the actual Justice League title begins telling contemporary stories? The book is counting on us already knowing and liking these characters: I thought this was supposed to be an All New DC Universe?

Men of War: Wow, real continuity. This isn't Frank Rock, who still served in WWII.

OMAC: Finally someone remembers OMAC is a Kirby concept. Surprisingly good.

Static Shock: Skimmed it. Found nothing that demanded a closer look.

Stormwatch: Week two of The New 52, and already we're getting footnoted flash-forwards to books that haven't been published yet. DC Editorial, this is a Calendar; Calendar, DC Editorial. Get to know each other, will you? Characters I don't know are introducing themselves clumsily and giving me no reason to like them. J'onn J'onzz' presence just looks intended to manipulate me into buying the damn book. Interesting how they mention his Justice League roots here, but not in Justice League or Justice League International. If they don't think he can carry his own book, why do they think he's going to lead me into Wildstorm? I think I'll start calling him "the Martian Moses."

Swamp Thing: Alec Holland and Superman stand around and talk. *Yawn*.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

All-Star Justice League?

Those of you who follow these spasmodic emissions (both of you) have doubtless long since given up expecting anything like reviews from me. That's one reason I wasn't inclined to write a review of Justice League #1. The other reason is that I think I already read this book when it was All-Star Batman and Robin.

There is no way the book could possibly have lived up to the hype that preceded it, and I think we all knew that going in, so I'll resist the temptation to throw stones on that basis. Although given that it is being written and drawn by people with publisher-level authority within the company, it's hard to place the blame for that anywhere else.

I could hop on my traditional soapbox of overly-decompressed storytelling: There's about 4 pages of actual story in this issue, at best. This flaw isn't unique to the New 52, so I guess I should let it slide. Perhaps, with seven lead characters to service, Justice League should be a 48-page or 64-page book. But then I don't know anyone who thinks Jim Lee can meet the long-term deadlines of a 32-page comic, so maybe not.

I could also gripe about overly-rendered artwork. I don't need to see stitches and seams, boot treads and beard stubble. (And lots of green lens flares.) Superheroes are inherently unrealistic: Photographically-exact renderings of same is obsessive to the point of mental illness (is "anal-retentive" spelled with or without a hyphen?), and undoubtedly a contributing factor to missed publication deadlines (see above). But All The Big Kids Are Doing It Now.

I think I can complain in fairness that in this issue of Justice League the second member -- well, the second person who will, some day, be a member -- shows up on page 6, the third on 17 (in a pre-origin appearance in which he doesn't interact with the others), and the fourth in a final-panel reveal on page 23. And the villain--

Wait. Is there a villain in this book at all? I mean, from the point of view of the police, there are two, but they are supposed to be the heroes (not that they act like it). Ah, there's a glimpse, briefly, on page 5, and another on page 10, and again on page 15. Those of us who've been reading comics for decades know it's an Apocalyptian Parademon, but certainly nobody in story knows what it is. And since we're doing a soft reboot and everything is new except when it isn't, nobody's going to tell us, either. Batman and Green Lantern must not be too worried about it, though, since they expend far more effort sniping at each other than worrying about whether Gotham Power and Light has subcontracted meter-reading to Granny Goodness. But it's extra-terrestrial, and Superman is reported to be extra-terrestrial, so it must be his fault, let's go beat him up. That's Some Mighty Fine Police Work There, Gree-- Oops. Well, that didn't work. The end.

The World's Greatest Heroes aren't off to a great start. It's pretty, but ultimately empty. Next issue was solicited as Batman vs Superman, which doesn't fill me with optimism, only deja vu. Bad enough that Everything Old is New Again, but when Everything Old is Always New Again For The First Time Ever, I feel like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. 

Hm. 50 First Dates vs the New 52. Now I get it.

Who is she?

Could this woman...

...first seen (we think) in Flashpoint #5, and apparently making at least a background appearance in DC's "New 52" in every #1 in September...

Could she be... the all-new 2011 Time Trapper?

Joining The Dots On The New 52 Strange Woman | Bleeding Cool

Personally, I'm rooting for her being the Sensational Character Find of 1983, Harbinger. [I'm not alone!] But comics being what they are, that doesn't mean she isn't the Time Trapper as well.