Character Study: Teen Titans

November 26, 2011

To me, the latest issue of Teen Titans feels like little actually happened to progress the story, but that it was mainly building up the characters in it.  So instead of an issue 3 review, I figured I’d do a slight character study instead.  Be warned, though I’ll try to avoid it this time, there could still be spoilers in here.

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Review: Teen Titans #1

September 28, 2011

Putting aside my annoyance that the last group of Teen Titans (volume 3) had their history completely erased… Well this issue is pretty darn good.

Spoiler Warning!

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Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 1)

September 11, 2011

I’m a fan of the Teen Titans, especially the latest incarnation that went from 2003-2011 and as this relaunch makes it seem their entire history may be erased, I wanted to give them a farewell starting with issues 1-7 (also collected in trade form as “A Kid’s Game” or the soon to be released Teen Titans Omnibus 1).  Like usual, beware of spoilers.

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Review: The Flash: Rebirth #4

August 27, 2009

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It’s been a little while since the last issue of Flash: Rebirth.  Late books happen, but sometimes the delay is more disruptive than others.  In this case, the tardiness of the book was significant enough to comment on.  The events in this issue have already been reflected in other books including Blackest Night.  As a result, those stories had scenes that read awkwardly and this book has lost some of its relevance and momentum.

Late books are bad, mmmkay?

If you’ve read my previous Flash: Rebirth reviews, then you know I haven’t been a fan of this mini-series.  In my eyes, Johns has taken the formula of the commercially successful (though criminally over-rated) Green Lantern: Rebirth mini and duplicated it here.  But it all feels so forced and tired.

(On the upside, the book didn’t have a lot of momentum to lose in the two months since the last issue.)

I liked this issue less than any of the previous issues.  As a long-time reader of Geoff Johns, I’ve gotten tired of some of his story-telling crutches.  And this issue is filled with the Johnsisms that I hate.

Professor Zoom gets talky.  He “monologues” long enough for Fro-zone to shut him down.  There’s just no reason for it other than for Johns to shove his point-of-view down the reader’s throat.  These aren’t things the character would say.  He’s just Johns’ mouth piece.  (See also: Sinestro in this month’s issue of Green Lantern.)

The story itself is pretty pointless.  This isn’t a story at all.  It’s an exercise in house cleaning.  Geoff Johns is reshaping the Flash mythos to suit his needs.  And of course that means he retconned the shit out of everything until Barry Allen became the center of the universe.  Yep, Barry created the Speed Force now.

Honestly, these kinds of stories annoy me.  I don’t need a 6-part story to justify continuity “fixes”.  Johns’ retcons don’t feel any more natural just because he wrote a story where Professor Zoom “explained” it all.

There are some good moments in the issue.  I was glad to finally see Wally, Bart and Max Mercury each get a moment to shine.  (Granted, each of them only got a moment.)  And Ethan Van Sciver’s art was definitely worth the wait.

I mentioned before that I thought Green Lantern: Rebirth was criminally over-rated.  Both min-series consistently mostly of retcons to ser-up Geoff Johns’ run on the ongoing series.  In the case of Hal Jordan, the retcons were needed to make him a viable leading man.  But all you needed to do with Barry was bring him back and that already happened in last year’s Final Crisis.

Fortunately, Green Lantern turned out to be a pretty good book once Johns got all the house cleaning out of the way.  Hopefully, that will be the case with the Flash as well.  So, let’s get on with it guys!  Pick up the pace!  No more late issues!

Prior reviews:

Flash: Rebirth #3

Flash: Rebirth #3 (by Bruce Castle)

Flash: Rebirth #2

read/RANT


DC Solicitations for September + Commentary

June 16, 2009

Same drill as always.  Just like the title says, this is the DC Solicits for the month of September + my commentary (for what it’s worth).

BLACKEST NIGHT #3
blackest night 3

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert

As the dead attack in full force, Green Lantern is faced with an impossible decision and the scattered remains of the Justice League suffer a terrible loss. Who can stop the Black Lanterns? Why are they rising? And how can the Spectre help?

Not a whole lot of info there.  I think DC may be trying to thwart my snarky commentary.  Frankly, what is here doesn’t sound all that appealing.  The JLA is already scattered.  How much more scattered can they be?  Another terrible loss?  Meh.  Another death in a mini-series in which the dead have come back to life seems pretty meaningless to me.

BLACKEST NIGHT: SUPERMAN #2

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Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Eddy Barrows & Ruy José

    It’s a crisis in Smallville as Psycho Pirate attacks! Plus, Superman’s dead bride returns as a Black Lantern! And she joins in on the haunting of Smallville in the second part of this terrifying 3-issue epic from writer James Robinson (SUPERMAN, STARMAN) and artist Eddy Barrows (TEEN TITANS, ACTION COMICS)!

Superman’s dead bride?  I assume we are talking about Earth-2 Superman and Earth-2 Lois.  Surely DC wouldn’t put such a huge spoiler in the solicits, right?  Hopefully, this will be better than it sounds.

BLACKEST NIGHT: BATMAN #2

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Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Adrian Syaf & John Dell

    The Dark Knight continues his journey into BLACKEST NIGHT! Will the new Batman join his predecessor in the grave? Will Red Robin’s reunion with his father be bitter and bloody? Can anyone escape the horror of the Black Lanterns? Find out in this new installment of the 3-issue miniseries from writer Peter J. Tomasi (GREEN LANTERN CORPS, THE MIGHTY) and up-and-comer Adrian Syaf!

I like Tomasi.  So much like the Superman mini-series, I am going to assume this is better than it sounds.  But I think this solicit kind of hits on part of the reason Blackest Night just doesn’t appeal to me.  Of course Tim’s encounter with his father will be bitter and bloody.  DC seems to think that all comics should be bitter and bloody these days.  Thank goodness for fun comics like Power Girl and Booster Gold!

BLACKEST NIGHT: TITANS #2
bln_titanscv2Written by J.T. Krul
Art and cover by Ed Benes & Rob Hunter

    Titan-on-Titan violence! Black Lantern Hawk has his talons set for the female Hawk and Dove! Meanwhile, Red Star faces a frightful family reunion with Black Lanterns Pantha and Wildebeest, and Donna Troy faces her worst possible nightmare! Plus, Black Lantern Terra terrorizes Beast Boy! Continuing the 3-issue miniseries from writer J.T. Krul (JSA CLASSIFIED, Fathom) and superstar artist Ed Benes (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)!

Holy crap!  That cover is disturbing.  It beats the zombie butt-shot from issue 1.

Buncha dead Titans fighting living Titans.  Zzzzzz.

GREEN LANTERN #46

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Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy
Oh, man!  I have to wait until September for the Mongul vs. Sinestro throwdown?  I was thinking that was coming right up.  No wonder the last issue of GLC seemed a little padded out!

    BLACKEST NIGHT continues! For months, Mongul has wrested control of the Sinestro Corps. Now Sinestro wants a word with him. And Hal wants a word with Sinestro. But in the midst of BLACKEST NIGHT, they’ll all become the hunted as the fallen Sinestro Corps members rise. What will happen? Here’s a hint: Sinestro gets some serious payback.

 

What else?  Well, looks like Hal has two arms.  Big flipping surprise!

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #40

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Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art and cover by Patrick Gleason & Rebecca Buchman

    The battle continues on Oa as the honored dead of the Green Lantern Corps and the recently deceased Sciencell convicts who lost their lives in the riots have all become Black Lanterns and will not rest until the bloody hearts and minds of the Green Lanterns are literally in their hands. Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardener and John Stewart resort to their most brutal fighting yet as the Blackest Night threatens to envelop Sector Zero and send the universe reeling into chaos!

Buncha more zombie stuff.  All these Blackest Nights solicits read the same.  I sure hope the books are more interesting than the solicits.

WEDNESDAY COMICS #9-12

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Yay!  Wednesday Comics!  Best idea in years.

FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: <Fill in the Blank> #5

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I haven’t been reading any of these aftermath minis and I’ve made my feelings about them known for the last few months.  Seventh Soldier has been reading them and posting reviews so far.  Since I’ve run out of things to say, I’ll just lump them all under one entry and post links to 7th’s reviews:

Run!

Escape

Dance

Ink

(Ink gets the picture since 7th liked it best.)

BATMAN: WIDENING GYRE #2

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Written by Kevin Smith
Art by Walter Flanagan & Art Thibert

    Kevin Smith’s newest Batman adventure has only just begun and already the surprises are pouring in! This issue has more guest-stars, more twists, more turns and more Batman than you can handle. Don’t miss the sensational second issue from Smith — the fan-favorite creator behind GREEN ARROW and Daredevil — and artist Walter Flanagan (BATMAN: CACOPHONY)!

Personally, I think Smith is way overrated.  But if you’re into him, more power to you.  I don’t know of anyone who’s into Walter Flanagan.  I found his art distracting in Cacophony…

BATMAN AND ROBIN #4

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Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion

All of us at read/RANT really liked Morrison and Quitely’s first issue.  I’ve got high hopes for this new dynamic duo.  Obviously Tan is no Quitely.  But it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make for a monthly comic as opposed to whatever schedule Quitely would keep.  Plus, Morrison is notoriously good at tailoring his scripts to the artist he’s working with.  So, I expect Tan to really shine here.

    Meet the Red Hood and his sidekick Scarlet, Gotham City’s vicious new “protectors,” in the start of a new arc! This dangerous duo is out to destroy the very reputation and legacy of the Batman by replacing it altogether. Writer Grant Morrison (FINAL CRISIS) teams with hot new artist Philip Tan (GREEN LANTERN) to bring you what’s sure to be the new Batman and Robin’s biggest challenge yet!

DETECTIVE COMICS #857

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Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III; co-feature art by Cully Hamner

    “Elegy” part 4 of 4! Batwoman faces off against Alice in an attempt to stop the villainess from unleashing a toxic death cloud over all of Gotham! But Alice has more up her sleeve than just poison, and Batwoman’s life will never ever be the same again.

This is bound to be a popular book here at read/RANT.  Usually, Seventh Soldier is all over the Rucka stuff.  But he’s going to have stuff competition from Bruce Castle who just can’t stop geeking out about this one.  I swear, you’d think he never saw a lesbian in a rubber suit before!

BATGIRL #2

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Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott
Cover by Phil Noto
    As the new Batgirl continues her nightly mission, the mystery of her secret identity intensifies. Now she has become the target of both Gotham City’s heroes (who don’t take kindly to a new person wearing the cape and the cowl) and its villains (who want to see the entire Bat-family six feet under)!

Please don’t let this be Barbara Gordon!  Please don’t let this be Barbara Gordon!

(The solicit says a new person wears the cape and cowl – so maybe there’s hope!)

Seriously, with Hal Jordan, Ollie Queen, Kara Zor-el and Barry Allen all back, I don’t think I can handle another Silve Age revival.  Please don’t let this be anyone but Barbara Gordon!

Also, if I don’t find out who the new Batgirl is in Batgirl #1, you can bet I will be ranting. 

BATMAN #690

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Written by Judd Winick
Art by Mark Bagley & Rob Hunter

    Penguin ups the ante in his bid to become Gotham’s top crook and enlists a few of Arkham’s finest to keep Batman busy. Meanwhile a mysterious presence enters the scene to aid the Penguin – or is there another motive at play? And Two-Face takes a massive leap forward in uncovering one of Batman’s greatest secrets.

I know it’s a backhanded compliment to praise Winick’s first issuefor being surprisingly good.  Coming from most any other writer, I would have considered it pretty average.  But these days I am surprised any time I don’t hate a book by Winick.  And I didn’t hate the first issue.  Good job, Judd!

BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM #4

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Written by Paul Dini; co-feature written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs; co-feature art by Jeremy Haun

    With Batman’s recent “Bruce Wayne” problems barely contained, Gotham City’s new Dark Knight must now deal with the most lethal arm of Black Mask’s growing empire – Victor Zsasz!
    And in the Manhunter co-feature, now that Kate has Jane Doe under arrest, what does Jane have to say about why she killed the former DA? Will she flip on her actual leader, the Black Mask – or will she continue to point the finger at Two-Face?

It’s funny.  For the last few months, I’ve been reading the solicits for the new Batbooks with little to no enthusiasm.  As good as RIP was, it kind of ruined the Batbooks for a while.  The main books were good.  But everyone else just passed the time until their books got relaunched.

Now that I have been pleasantly surprised by all of the Batbooks so far this month, all of these solicits sound a lot better.

GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #4

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Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March
    Bruce Wayne has always been considered the quintessential ladies’ man. But he’s never faced ladies quite like this before! Has Gotham City’s playboy prince finally met his match?

Paul Dini is just writing soft core Batporn now, is that it?  We have text that doesn’t make any sense (seeing as how Bruce is currently dead) and a cover that seems to portray Harly on Catwoman action (with a whip, of course).  And, oh yeah, there’s Poison Ivy’s ass!  This isn’t even Ed Benes slipping in an ass.  No, this is just Poison Ivy mooning the reader for no apparent reason (other than readers seem to like shapely asses – even green ones.)

Will I be buying this book?  You bet your (shapely green) ass I will.  But I think I may have to hide it from my wife…

OUTSIDERS #22

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Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin

    “The Hunting” continues as Metamorpho, Black Lightning and Geoforce scour the globe to track down Clayface. But when tensions rise, Lighting and Geoforce will find themselves at odds over the control of the team. Plus, the Creeper and Man-Bat head down to the bayou to catch themselves a Killer Croc!

These days, the JLA is scarping the bottom of the barrel.  Teams like the Outsiders are basically stuck with C-listers.  So it makes sense that they would pack the book with as many C-list Batman villains as possible.  Next month, the team will battle Poison Ivy’s ass.

RED ROBIN #4
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Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Ramon Bachs

    “The Grail” part 4 of 4! In this explosive conclusion to the debut arc, Red Robin’s search leads him to the deserts of the Middle East with the League of Assassins by his side. How many lines will he cross to prove that Bruce Wayne is alive? One journey ends, but a far deadlier one begins as Red Robin learns the truth – although he may not survive to tell anyone, because back in Gotham City, Red Robin faces off with the one man who could stop his quest: Batman!

I can admit when I am wrong.  For months now, I’ve been expecting the worst of Red Robin.  And while I still think it makes no sense whatsoever for Tim Drake to start calling himself Red Robin, the first issue was actually pretty damn good.  So, keep it up!

SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #1

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Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank & Jon Sibal

    Hot on the heels of their acclaimed run on ACTION COMICS, superstars Geoff Johns and Gary Frank reunite to present a 6-issue event that spells out the definitive origin of Superman for the 21st century – and it all starts with a gigantic 48-page issue! Chronicling Clark Kent’s journey from the cornfields of Smallville to the skyscrapers of Metropolis, you’ll witness a whole new look at the beginnings of Lex Luthor, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Lois Lane, Metallo, Jimmy Olsen, the Parasite and more! It’s a look at the mythic past of the Man of Steel with an eye toward the future!

Forget Blackest Night!  Forget Flash: Rebirth!  (Please let me forget Flash: Rebirth!)  This is the Geoff Johns book I am looking forward to!  I loved Johns and Frank on Action.  It was my favorite monthly comic at the time.  So even though they appear to be crapping all over Mark Waid’s “definitive” Superman origin from just a few years prior, sign me up.

ACTION COMICS #881

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Written by Greg Rucka; co-feature written by James Robinson & Rucka
Art by Julian Lopez; co-feature art by CAFU

    “The Hunt for Reactron” starts here! Spilling out of the stunning finale of “Codename: Patriot,” Supergirl and Flamebird find themselves at each other’s throats! What’s happened to these two childhood friends to put them at such odds, and can Nightwing calm them down before the situation escalates? And just what are they going to do about all of the guys who are surrounding them? You know, the guys in the tanks? Continued in SUPERGIRL #45!
    Plus! James Robinson and Greg Rucka’s Captain Atom co-feature continues! What is happening to Captain Atom, and more important, what’s happening to his mind? Team Breach is on hand to lend some answers, but Atom probably isn’t going to like them.

I expected to like Rucka’s Action Comics more than I liked Robinson’s Superman-free Superman.  But frankly, the book has been something of a disappointment.  Hopefully, things will improve when the book crosses iver with the always excellent (since rge new team took over) Supergirl.

And, I’m still hoping the Captain Atom back-up rocks!  If there’s one character in the DCU who needs some love, it’s Captain (What the hell has been going on with all the Monarcg shit) Atom.

ADVENTURE COMICS #2

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Written by Geoff Johns; co-feature written by Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker
Art by Francis Manapul, co-feature art by Clayton Henry

    Superboy is back and living out his teenage years in Smallville. But all is not as it seems in Superman’s hometown. And while Conner reunites with his former girlfriend, Wonder Girl, to see if they have a future together, Lex Luthor and Brainiac form a partnership that will cause havoc throughout the DC Universe. But what do their plans have to do with Conner and the other students at Smallville High?
    Plus, in the Legion of Super-Heroes co-feature, which takes place all the way in the 31st century, Lightning Lad travels to the prison planet of Takron-Galtos to confront his brother, Lighting Lord. There, Lightning Lord informs Lighting Lad of a shocking family secret that sets the pieces in motion for a war that will decide the future of the universe. Yeah, the universe. No big.

Awwww.  What a sweet cover!  I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.  It takes me back to the days of Young (So much better than Johns’ angst-filled Titans) Justice.  Of course, this being a Johns book, I expect that after a bloody trauma, the couple will realize they have no future together.  And there will be angst.  Angsty angst.  Like in Twilight but without the vampires.

SUPERMAN #692

superman_cv692
Written by James Robinson
Art by Renato Guedes & José Wilson Magalhães

    Tragedy strikes in the aftermath of “Codename: Patriot” as Metropolis buries one of its own! And with a man down, the Science Police are on their own to stop a cadre of Super-Villains from stealing a formerly common commodity that has suddenly become rarer than gold!

I have to admit to being wrong again this month!  I wasn’t really all that interested in Robinson’s take on the Guardian and Mon-el.  In fact, I let the book slip off my radar for a little while.  But once I got caught back up, Robinson hooked me!

Hopefully, I’ll have to apologize to him again when Cry for Justice comes out.  Because that 5-page preview was bad.  Real bad.

SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #7

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Written by James Robinson & Greg Rucka
Art by Pete Woods
There ain’t a whole lot I like better than World of New Krypton.  Maybe a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich where the mutton is cut real thin…

    It’s never a dull moment on New Krypton – just when Superman was getting used to his place on his reborn homeworld, he’s thrust into a new position that makes his previous duties look like a cakewalk. And thanks to the fallout from the “Codename: Patriot” storyline, New Krypton’s ruler – and Superman’s aunt – Alura has her hands full keeping the people of Kandor from panicking. So of course it’s the perfect time for an alien threat to arrive and declare war…

 

SUPERGIRL #45

supergirl_45
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle & Jon Sibal

    Continuing from ACTION COMICS #881 – “The Hunt for Reactron” part 2! Can Supergirl rely on her seemingly unstable childhood friend to help her track down her father’s assassin? Or will she ultimately get burned by Flamebird?

If Bruce Castle does another list of the best covers of the month, he better remember this one!  I love the expressions on both characters’ faces.

Gates and Igle have been consistently excellent since they took over the book.  (Last issue made my list of the top 5 books of May.)  If you’re still hung up on all those years Supergirl sucked, it’s time to get over it!  Read Supergirl!

SUPERGIRL ANNUAL #1

supergirl-annual
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Fernando Dagnino & Raúl Fernandez

    In SUPERGIRL #34, Supergirl took the new secret identity of Linda Lang. But how long until someone finds out her secret? Now, for the first time ever, witness Supergirl’s initial attempt to live her double life in “Linda Lang: Day One”!
    Plus! The secret origin of Superwoman revealed! What drove Lucy Lane to become the superpowered threat known as Superwoman? How did she transform from Lois Lane’s little sister into Project 7734’s secret weapon? Find out here!

And as a bonus for being so awesome, Supergirl gets… an annual full of filler material.  Read Supergirl, but this looks utterly skippable.

THE SHIELD #1

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Written by Eric Trautmann; co-feature written by Brandon Jerwa
Art by Marco Rudy & Mick Gray; co-feature art by Greg Scott

    Spinning out of August’s “Red Circle” event from superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski comes the new ongoing adventures of the patriotic Shield and the mysterious man on the run, Inferno! Eric Trautmann (CHECKMATE) and Marco Rudy (FINAL CRISIS) take Lt. Joe Higgins, a.k.a. The Shield, into the hotspots civilians dare not go. His first mission takes The Shield to the razed country of Bialya, destroyed by the rage of Black Adam in 52. Something lurks in the mountains beyond militia activity, and The Shield must investigate!
    Plus, Inferno stars in a fast-paced co-feature from writer Brandon Jerwa (G.I. Joe) and artist Greg Scott (GOTHAM CENTRAL)! Who is Inferno, and why is he being pursued by the Dark Men? He’d better find out fast because Green Arrow and Black Canary have questions of their own for the new hero!

Hey look, DC bought their own Captain America knock-off!  Too bad they don’t have Ed Brubaker to write it.  (I tease!  I tease the Red Circle!)

I’m not sure what to make of these Red Circle on-goings.  I guess DC has to get their money’s worth since they bought the characters.  I hope they’re good.

THE WEB #1

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Written by Angela Robinson; co-feature written by John Rozum
Art by Roger Robinson & Hilary Barta;co-feature art by Tom Derenick & Bill Sienkiewicz

    Spinning out of August’s “Red Circle” event from superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski comes the new ongoing adventures of the selfish rich-boy hero the Web, and the mysterious-undying Hangman. Writer/director Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) and artist Roger Robinson (BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS) spin the tales of The Web, a man who has only recently come to understand the burden of true heroism. He’s fighting crime on his own terms, and for his first mission he’s hunting down the men responsible for killing his brother!
    Plus, the Hangman stars in his own co-feature with a touch of urban noir from writer John Rozum (DETECTIVE COMICS) and artists Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz, the team behind REIGN IN HELL! The Hangman haunts the streets of San Francisco and touches lives as he works to discover whether his powers are a blessing or a curse.

See The Shield.  Nice cover though.

Also, I wouldn’t brag about having the art team from Reign in Hell on the back-up.  the weakest thing about that mini-series was the art.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #27

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Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art & cover by Jesus Saiz
    The wait is over as J. Michael Straczynski arrives on THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD! First up, the best-selling scribe pairs Batman and…Dial H For Hero? Robby Reed and his grandfather thought their brief visit to Gotham City would go smoothly until one of Gotham’s petty thieves made the score of the century in the form of Robby’s H-Dial! Batman’s on the case, but The Joker’s crime wave has the city in a panic, and the power of the H-Dial has had a very unexpected effect on the hood who stole it. The choices he makes could change his life – and Robby’s – forever! Features the stunning art of Jesus Saiz (OMAC PROJECT)!

After waiting for what seems like years, JMS kicks off his B&tB with Dial H for Hero?  Oookay.  Well, at least the book promises to look good!

BOOSTER GOLD #24

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Written by Dan Jurgens; co-feature written by Matthew Sturges
Art and cover by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund; co-feature art by Mike Norton
    Booster Gold faces off against Black Beetle for the fate of the entire Justice League. But Black Beetle isn’t all he seems, and his one, true identity is revealed at last! Plus, Matt Sturges and Mike Norton take Blue Beetle out of El Paso and drop him directly into harm’s way in a battle against…Black Beetle!

I finally got around to catching up with Booster Gold last issue and I am so glad I did.  This book is perfect for anyone who likes fun comic books.  (And if you don’t like fun comics, well, phooey on you!)  The new Blue and Gold make a great double feature.  I’ll stick around as long as they stay this much fun.

DOOM PATROL #2

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Written by Keith Giffen; co-feature written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Matthew Clark & John Livesay; co-feature art by Kevin Maguire

    It’s a black hole, but it’s not a black hole. If you’re a Doom Patrol fan, that made perfect sense. And even if not, then you’re in for one hell of a ride as the Doom Patrol face off against the most annoying alien this side of G’nort. Who’s G’nort? What, do we have to spoon-feed this stuff to you?
    Oh, and we send the Metal Men into space. Just because.

I’ve never been a fan of Doom Patrol or the Metal Men, but I am really hoping this book can change both of those things.

THE FLASH: REBIRTH #6

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Written by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver
    In a battle along the outskirts of time, the secrets of the Speed Force have been revealed! The new archnemesis of those who ride the lightning is coming for Iris Allen. And the Barry Allen you knew is gone forever…or is he? What change does Wally West face? What destiny will Kid Flash choose? Prepare to meet a Flash Family that’s both familiar and different…and get to the starting line for the next epic adventures of the Speed Force!

It’s not like we didn’t all know Barry was returning to the role of the Flash.  But that cover pretty much ruins what little drama this tepid mini-series had left.  I’m looking forward to wrapping up this Rebirth nonsense and moving on to the actual series.  Honestly, Green Lantern Rebirth was terribly over-rated too.  Johns didn’t hit his stride on Green Lantern until he was about a year into the on-going.

GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY #24

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Written by Andrew Kreisberg
Art by Mike Norton, Josef Rubinstein and Bill Sienkiewicz

    The main feature this month focuses on the DC Universe’s bizarre answer to Thelma & Louise as Black Canary and her rival Cupid end up on the lam from both Big Game and the Star City Police! Meanwhile, this issue’s co-feature sees Green Arrow doing his best to bring down Big Game himself before the baddie can find either woman in GA’s life!

I seriously hate this book.  Please do something, DC.  Both Green Arrow and Black Canary deserve better.

And while I sometimes rant against senseless killing in comics, please kill Cupid dead.  Let Sean McKeever write it if you have to.  Just kill her as soon as possible before she can further stain the pages of this comic.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #37

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Written by Len Wein
Pencil art by Tom Derenick

    It’s the epic finale of the 3-part Royal Flush arc as Roulette and Amos Fortune raise the stakes, and the JLA go all in! But with the odds against them, the team had better pray for a last-minute miracle before their chips are cashed in for good.

As much as I am excited to see Plastic Man back on the team, this is clearly just filler until DC is ready to move forward with a new direction for the book.  DC, you screwed this book up!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA 80-PAGE GIANT #1

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Written by Chuck Kim, Josh Williamson, Rich Fogel and others
Art by Mahmud Asrar, Adrian Syaf and others

    With a tale this massive, we could only fit it in an 80-page giant! When a battle between Epoch and the Time Commander spills over into our era, the Justice League finds itself scattered throughout time. That leaves Superman and Dr. Light fighting alongside a tornado-powered Samurai, Green Lantern and Red Arrow locked in a showdown with Cinnamon in the Old West, Green Arrow and Firestorm facing the Bride of Frankenstein in WWII, John Stewart and Vixen drawing swords alongside the Shining Knight, and Black Canary and Zatanna evading gangsters with the original Crimson Avenger!

Looks like someone had a little extra filler in their JLA drawer.

The Samurai?  Was Apache Chief too busy?

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #31

jsa_cv31
Written by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges
Art and cover by Jesus Merino
    Magog and Wildcat square off as the team traitor involved in the attack on a fellow JSAer is revealed! It all leads to greater tension and permanent rifts within the most storied Super Hero team of all time! Clearly, this was an inside job, and though they may not realize it now, the damage to the group is deeper than any of them suspects.

Now this sounds good.  Why are JSA and GLC the only decent team books DC is putting out these days?

JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #3

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Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mauro Cascioli
    The team welcomes two new members as Supergirl and Shazam join the roster! And it’s just in time, too, because when Prometheus is finally caught and his evil machinations are revealed, the League finds out they may be unable to stop him.

Oh boy!  That 5-page preview for this book was awful.

I wanted to punch Hal Jordan in the face.  This was Hal at his worst!  Where the hell does Hal Jordan get off getting on a soap box.  Hal, you are one massive retcon away from being a supervillain and now you’re going to lecture Superman about how to get the job done?

For 5 pages?!?

Oh boy!

I couldn’t stand that the rest of the Justice League sat there and listened to him go on and on.  I lost respect for them.  Superman or Wonder Woman should have put the little crybaby in his place.  And Ollie should have shut his buddy up instead of standing on the sidelines saying “Oh boy!”

The upside is that this book can only get better.  Because those 5 pages were some of the worst I’ve read this year.

And please, someone show Mauro Cascioli how to draw Wonder Woman so that her crotch is covered.

JSA VS. KOBRA #4

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Written by Eric Trautmann
Art by Don Kramer & Michael Babinski

    The trail of Kobra leads the Justice Society of America to Fawcett City! Jason Burr may think that it’s safe to venture into former Shazam territory, but he’s about to learn that the JSA protects each other’s turf no matter what. And now that Burr has gotten them mad, there’s no holding the Justice Society back!

I wasn’t going to buy this book.  It just looked like another unnecessary mini-series from DC.  But I skimmed through the first issue and it looked pretty darn good.  I brought it home, but I haven’t read it yet.  I spent the weekend catching up on a pile of Dark Reign books.  But, this looks like good stuff.

Check back later.  I think we may have a review of the first issue coming from Seventh Soldier.

MAGOG #1

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Written by Keith Giffen
Art and variant cover by Howard Porter & John Dell

    Introducing the latest member of the Justice Society of America to break out into his own monthly series! Tired of chafing at the restraints that being a member of the JSA put upon him, Magog decides to take justice into his own hands and track down who’s behind the dealing of high-tech arms to lowlife scum around the DC Universe! Be here as the hunt starts Magog on the path to discovering his own unavoidable destiny thanks to writer Keith Giffen (JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, DOOM PATROL) and artists Howard Porter and John Dell, the acclaimed team behind JLA!

When I heard DC was putting out a Magog on-going, I was confused.  Of all the JSA characters out there who could be getting their own on-going series, Magog seems like an unlikely candidate.  If nothing else, he has the least track record.

(For the record, I’d buy a Mr. Terrific series, DC.)

I’m not a huge Giffen fan.  And I usually dislike Howard Porter.  So, I’m far from sold on this on-going.  But I will say that I read Dan Jurgens’ issue of Brave and the Bold in which Magog took on Booster Gold.  And it was good.  So, maybe this character has some life in him beyond JSA.

By the way, read Booster Gold.

RED TORNADO #1

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Written by Kevin VanHook
Art by Jose Luisí & J.P. Mayer

    Think you know everything there is to know about the mighty Red Tornado?
Well think again!
    This miniseries shines a new light on the true origin of Red Tornado, the Justice League of America’s resident android Super Hero! You’ll not only discover a crew of characters new to the DC Universe, if Red Tornado has his way, you’ll also uncover the hero’s true android family! But will it cost him the love of his adopted human one?
    Get caught in the whirlwind of this exciting new series from writer Kevin VanHook and artist Jose Luisí!

I may not know everything there is to know about Red Tornado, but I’m pretty sure I know everything I want to know about him.  Frankly, I got my Red Tornado fix when Brad Metzler shoved him down my throat, ruined the Justice League, wrote a multi-part JLA story centering on this third-tier character.

Although, in a world where Magog gets an on-going, I guess a Red Tornado mini series makes sense.

POWER GIRL #5

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Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art and cover by Amanda Conner
Variant cover by Guillem March
    “Space Girls Gone Wild!” part 2 of 3! As the trio of sexy alien marauders continue their rampage across Earth, Power Girl tries to figure out how to stop ’em! But with aliens this gorgeous, readers won’t ever want them to leave!

PG is a fun comic book.  On that basis alone, issue one made my top books of May list.  Yes, you should be reading it…

SECRET SIX #13

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Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott & Doug Hazlewood

    War breaks out on the new Devil’s Island and the Six are split in half. Now they’re on opposite sides and ready to die (or kill) for their cause! But what in the world are they fighting over that’s strong enough – and brutal enough – to take down Wonder Woman?

I love this book.  Last issue kicked off this storyline on a high note.  You know this is going to be a classic.  I can’t wait.

And lest you think I am alone in my praise of the Secret Six, issue 9 (which was a bit of an off issue) also made Seventh Soldier’s top 5 list for May.

TITANS #17

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Written by Pat McCallum
Art by Angel Unzueta & Wayne Faucher

    Spotlight on Beast Boy! Gar Logan grows tired of not being taken seriously by his Titans teammates. And what he plans on doing about it will shock you!

Confession: I sort of half-read the last issue of Titans that spotlighted Cyborg.  It wasn’t half bad.  Which is a giant leap above Winick’s run on this title.  Is it possible that the Titans franchise is righting itself?  Am I wrong to get my hopes up?

Probably.

TEEN TITANS #75

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Written by Felicia D. Henderson; co-feature written by Sean McKeever
Art by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson; co-feature art by Yildiray Cinar & Júlio Ferreira

    Come celebrate our gala 75th issue with an all-star cast of Titans past and present! Joining this issue for the extravaganza is new ongoing writer Felicia D. Henderson, a co-executive producer on TV’s hit show Fringe! Don’t miss this start to a fresh new take on DC’s premier teen team!
    And in the Ravager co-feature, Rose lies nearly dead in the Arctic when a horrific discovery chills her even more!

Well, the book needs a fresh start.  Hiring TV writers is often times a deal with the devil.  They tend to put their comics work on the back-burner.  And rightly so.  The money’s in TV.  But it sucks when your favorite comic is a low priority for its creative team.  After the train wreck that was McKeever’s run, I’ll take any change and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, McKeever’s still here writing his own Mary Sue, Ravager.  That main story is going to have to be pretty darn good to make up for the annoying back-up feature.

WONDER WOMAN #36

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Written by Gail Simone
Art by Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan

    “The Rise of the Olympian” has changed Wonder Woman’s life completely, and it’s not over yet as repercussions are still being felt all over the world! In this issue, Diana finds herself fighting for her life against the man destined by the gods to take her place – Achilles, the Warkiller!

A few people have asked me why I haven’t written up anything on Rise of the Olympian.  Honestly, I’ve been stock piling issues.  I’ve found that Gail’s big WW stories read better when you have the whole thing in front of you.  So, I plan to read the whole story at once and do a write-up then. 

Thankfully, Seventh Soldier has been following this story monthly.  And his write-ups are far better than my ranting anyway.

That’s it for this month!

read/RANT


How Many Green Arrows is Too Many?

May 8, 2009

First, I want to thank geist0 for the link to his article about the number of potentially redundant characters running around the DCU these days.  You can read his original article here.  In the article, geist0 suggests that all of these characters shouldn’t be running around the DCU at the same time.

It’s a difficult situation.  And as a big fan of some of those characters, it’s one that’s near and dear to my heart.  So, I’m going to borrow/steal his topic and ramble on for a few paragraphs.  Thanks again, geist0!  :)

I started reading comics in the early 90s.  It was a strange time to get into comics.  Superman had just died.  And suddenly, every character in comics was getting replaced with a newer, hipper, edgier version.  Most of these replacements were never intended to go the distance.  But some of them had pretty good runs.

I remember when Kyle Rayner first replaced Hal Jordan.  I’ll admit, I was won over really quickly.  I grew up on Hal, but was never really attached to him as anything more than a cool costume and cool powers.  But I could relate to Kyle.  We were about the same age and we were both struggling to find our places in the world.

In those early days, I was always afraid someone was going to pull the rug out from under Kyle.  DC frequently hinted that Hal Jordan might return as Green Lantern.  Each time they pulled that stunt, it worried me a little less.   Eventually, I accepted that Kyle would have a good, long run as Green Lantern.

I always figured one day he would be replaced.  But to tell the truth, I didn’t think Hal would ever be back as GL.  DC had gone to great lengths to make that seem impossible.  First they turned him into a sympathetic villain.  Then they gave him a redemptive death.  And finally, they turned him into the Spectre!  It just got cazier and crazier.

Probably my favorite book at the time was Mark Waid’s the Flash.  I came on board at the same time as the late, great Mike Wieringo.  But I quickly caught up on back-issues to the beginning of Waid’s run.  Wally was my Flash and I loved him.  I related to him just as much as I did Kyle.

I came to know Barry Allen too in flashbacks or the occasional time travel story.  I liked Barry in his role of patron saint of Flashes.  And I was fine reading about his past adventures.  But it always confused me that anyone wanted this guy back as the Flash.  Wally was just so much more interesting to me.

Another phenomenon of the 90s was the creation of new teen heroes.  The third Robin was getting his own mini-series which eventually let to his own series.  One of the replacement Supermen became Superboy who also got his own series.  And a new Kid Flash (but don’t call him that!) showed up in the form of Bart Allen/Impulse.

Yep, I loved all these guys too.  Even with Superboy’s ridiculous costume.  They were just a lot of fun.  To tell you the truth, I miss fun comics.  There’s still a few of them around, sure.  But it seems like they are fewer and fewer in the post-Identity Crisis DC.  (And yes, I still miss Young Justice.)

Well, nothing good lasts forever.  Although sales on his book are still solid, the Connor Hawke Green Arrow book was canceled to make room for Kevin Smith’s relaunch featuring Ollie Queen.  While I enjoyed Smith’s take on Ollie’s return, I read each issue waiting for the inevitable.  I figured Connor would have to be bumped off to make room for Ollie.

To me, the smartest thing Smith did in his relaunch was to keep Connor alive.  He even made room for him as a supporting character.  It seemed like the best of both worlds.  To my surprise, the DC Universe was big enough for two Green Arrows plus Arsenal.

Later on, Judd Winick took over the book.  One of his largest contributions to the GA mythos was transforming Mia Dearden from a wayward teen into the new Speedy.  As the Green Arrow family grew, you started to wonder how many archers the DCU really needed.

Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner’s run as Green Lantern came to an unglamorous end.  Hal Jordan’s return was the next big thing at DC.  And once again I read each passing issue with a sense of dread.  Surely, Kyle was a goner.

To my surprise, Kyle stuck around.  DC didn’t seem to know what to do with him.  But they kept him around nonetheless.  The Green Lantern book belonged solely to Hal.  There was no room for Kyle even as a supporting character.  Instead, he would be part of the ensemble cast of the Green Lantern Corps.

And then, he wasn’t.  Instead, he was turned into Ion and given his own on-going series.  Then the series that had been previously announced as on-going became a 12-issue maxi-series.  The maxi-series just kind of ended in an unsatisfying non-conclusion that set things in place for Kyle’s next transformation.

In the Sinestro Corps War storyline, Kyle was stripped of his Ion power and possessed by Parallax.  I had a bunch of reactions to this.  One was that it was a pretty cool, unexpected twist.  But I also knew right away that Kyle would be forced to kill someone as Parallax to even the score.  Kyle fans could no longer hold Hal’s crimes as Parallax against him.  The score would be evened up.

Then things got weird.  Unfortunately, Kyle got dragged into the mess that was Countdown.  The less said about Countdown, the better.  But dammit, I don’t know when to shut up.

When I saw the teaser art for Countdown, the thing that excited me the most was the shot of Kyle standing next to Donna Troy.  In the early days, the Kyle/Donna relationship was one of the things that sucked me in.  And thanks to John Byrne, that relationship ended suddenly.  Byrne wanted sole use of Donna.  So she was ripped away from Green Lantern.

For years, I waited to see some kind of resolution to the Kyle/Donna relationship.  I didn’t need to see them back together, but I wished DC would give them a better parting.  But with Donna’s death and resurrection, DC just never got around to it.  So, when I saw that image on the Countdown teaser, I thought I would finally get the resolution I was seeking.

Instead, Donna had a weird and uncharacteristic crush on badboy Jason Todd through most of Countdown.  And when Kyle showed up, everyone started acting weird.  Kyle seemed jealous of Jason in spite of the fact that 1) there didn’t seem to be anything going on between Donna and Jason and 2) Kyle and Donna had broken up years ago.

Anyway, Kyle finally settled down in Green Lantern Corps.  He gets treated pretty well there.  But he’s definitely been marginalized as a character.  Personally, I’m just happy to have him around in a book I can read without wretching.

Connor and Kyle are one thing.  Wally West is something else entirely.  Wally has been the Flash for a long time.  Barry Allen died over 20 years ago.  His death was considered one of the few constants in the DC Universe.  Anyone else could be brought back.  But bringing back Barry was considered a sacrilege.

Besides, Wally had gotten very popular as the Flash.  Mark Waid had a long and popular run which was briefly interrupted by a year-long run by Grant Morrison.  And when Waid finally left the book, a young upstart named Geoff Johns took over the book.  Johns stepped up with a long, popular Flash run of his own.

Little by little, the seeds were sown for Wally’s downfall.  Mark Waid ended his run with a wedding.  In interviews, he said he did so to keep DC from killing off Linda Park – a character he had grown to love.  Later, Johns had the couple get pregnant.  At first, the storyline seemed to end in a miscarriage.  But through the magic of comics, Johns ended his run with the Wests having twins.

Suddenly, the former Teen Titan seemed older than most of the other superheroes in the DCU.  He had more responsibilities than Superman.  The once relatable Wally West was starting to seem like dad.  Or worse, Reed Richards.

DC’s solution was to more or less move Wally and the Wests off stage for a while.  In Wally’s place, we got an age-accelerated Bart Allen as the Flash. 

(Age-acceleration is never a good idea.  Remember I said that.  It will come back later.)

DC has said that they never intended Bart to be the Flash for long.  But surely they never imagined the backlash that followed.  Bart’s run was a disaster.  Bart was quickly killed off and Wally was brought back from the Speed Force limbo he had been sent to.

Fan-favorite Mark Waid was brought back to write the new adventures of the Flash.  But Waid had a problem.  What do you do with the twins?  His solution was to age-accelerate them to a more acceptable age.  Suddenly, Wally seemed a lot like Mr. Incredible.

No one wanted to read about Wally as a suburban dad and Waid was more or less booed offstage.  Wally’s book ended again and the once-unthinkable happened.  Barry Allen was brought back.

There was a time when I would have been outraged by such a move.  Barry’s death should never be reversed.  Wally has earned his place as the Flash.  But by now, DC had screwed up Wally so badly that I almost welcomed Barry back.

We’re merely two issues into Barry’s return.  So, who knows what the future holds.  So far, I’m a little underwhelmed (read my review of issue 2 here).

Back to the original question. How many Green Arrows (or Flashes if you will) are too many? Some people feel like having a bunch or archers or speedsters (or Kryptonians) running around dilutes the concept. It’s hard for me to argue against that.

But, we’ve also seen what happens when DC limits itself to one version of each character. When DC enforced a 1-Kryptonian law after the John Byrne reboot, the old Superman concepts slowly crept back into continuity anyway.

During the Kyle years, there was a decree in place that Kyle would be the last and only Green Lantern. Guy was stripped of his ring and given ridiculous new powers. Alan had to change his name. But eventually, the whole Corps came back.

DC EIC Dan Didio came very close to killing off Dick Grayson based on the idea that he was just a watered-down Batman. Thank goodness Geoff Johns talked him out of that one.

My point is, I don’t think having these characters around is inherently a problem. What I do see as a problem is when DC tells bad stories just to keep them around. (See Kyle Rayner in Countdown.)

Recently, Judd Winick ended his run by revamping Connor Hawke. It was the kind of hatchet job Winick’s critics expect of him. Everything that made Connor unique was stripped of him. The peace-loving vegetarian who was raised in a monestary started wolfing down meaty chili and beating thugs to a pulp on rooftops. Suddenly, he couldn’t shoot an arrow to save his life. But he had a kewl new healing factor to make up for it.

And then he was written off stage. DC butchered the character only to write him off stage anyway. Why?

Needless to say, I’d have been happy if they just sent Connor back to the monestary without the extreme make-over. He’s got a built-in way to be moved on and off-stage as DC sees fit. This one seemed like a no-brainer.

But what about Wally? Didio has said in interviews that he sees Wally’s future being bright just like Kyle Rayner’s. What? Look, Kyle’s got a pretty good thing going all things considered. But in no way is this a fitting treatment for Wally. Wally should not be marginalized to a supporting role in Titans (a book in desperate need of a new creative team).

I’d rather see Wally written off stage for a while. Let him live with his family. (No getting rid of them now!) He can come back in a dramatic fashion for the big Flash stories and DC events.

But, here’s my concern with the “off stage” solution. I don’t trust DC to handle it elegantly. When a character moves off stage in the DC Universe, they become cannon fodder for those “event” stories DC is addicted to these days.

In order to justify it’s existence, every event story needs at least one “shocking” death or resurrection.  It’s sad.  But as long as people keep buying these things, DC’s going to keep killing off and resurrecting characters in a morbid, vicious cycle.

So, what’s the answer?  Do we need two Green Arrows a Red Arrow and a Speedy in the DCU?  Is the world better off if Connor Hawke or Mia Dearden are killed off in some bloody fashion?  Can we trust DC to keep them off stage until a story warrants their return?

I don’t know.  But I love a lot of these characters.  And I can only hope that DC does right by them.  Unfortunately, DC’s track record tells me to expect otherwise.

For more comic goodness, go here.


Adventure Comics – Spoilers

May 1, 2009

Did you read Legion of Three Worlds 4 yet?  If not, go read it before you scroll down.

I’m not kidding.  Spoilers below.

 

I take it you either read Legion or you just don’t care about being spoiled, right?

 

Okay, suit yourself.

I’ll use some spoiler space to give you a little background.  First of all, I don’t give a damn about the Legion of Superheroes.  Never did.  Although Geoff Johns excellent Superman and the Legion of Superheroes arc in Action Comics did warm me up a little.

Most everything I’ve read featuring the Legion was an incomprehensible mess.  Legion of Three Worlds, while fun, has been a pretty big mess of continuity as well.

Last issue we saw the return of Bart Allen.  And I cheered because I love Impulse.  Never really cared for what Johns did to him in Teen Titans by making him the new Kid Flash and giving him a Barry Allen Jr. make over.  But I came to terms with it.

This issue, we see another return…

Last chance on those spoilers…

 

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An announcement has been posted at The Source announcing that the upcoming Adventure Comics will star none other than Superboy/Conner Kent.  Like Bart, I’ve been a fan of Superboy since he first appeared.  (Well, maybe not at first.  They were both kind of unlikable jerks in their early appearances.  But from early on.)

By the way, the art previewed at the Source looks amazing.  Be sure to check it out.

Given my lack of interest in the Legion, I wasn’t all that excited about Adventure Comics.  I planned to give it a look because Johns’ Action arc was a good read.  But it wasn’t something I was actively looking forward to.

I am now officially stoked about Adventure Comics.

I wish DC would stop killing and resurrecting characters the way they do, but that’s a rant for another day.  For today, I’m just happy with this announcement.


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