An iconic DC character to come out as gay?

I heard this as a rumor, and through searching I found this Bleeding Cool bit and a few others that seem to point that it isn’t just a rumor.  Didio apparently has claimed that an iconic and major character in the DC Universe is going to be coming out as being gay.

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Batman Year One special: 2011 Batman Creative Team

Within the special features is an interesting interview.  It is led by Mike Uslan with Dennis O’Neil, Dan Didio, and Scott Snyder commenting on various aspects of Batman as well as DC comics itself at times.

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DCnU Timeline v2.1 (+ rant)

Version 2.1 is here!  Why 2.1?  Well this is basically version 2 but with a rant about Crisis events due to a recent message from Didio countering an older interview of Harras and Berganza.

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Review: Wednesday Comics #3

Wednesday

Last week’s Wednesday Comics was the first to really disappoint.  The premise of the project should suggest that the creators compress their stories as much as possible, at least in general – when all’s said and done, they only really have 15 pages to finish the story.  While some creators have risen to the challenge, like Caldwell on Wonder Woman or Pope on Strange Adventures, some strips that started out strong have begun to peter off already.

There is still the seeds of genius that were strongly evident in the first two issues, but there are too many non-starters here.  The flaws remain relatively unfixed, with the weakest pages among the first two issues showing little improvement.  Not all is bleak, of course – a project with this many gifted creators is bound to have some astonishing moments – but I am not sure that a book facing all the challenges that Wednesday Comics faces can afford to have many more issues like this one: Not bad, but not quite worth the trouble.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Wednesday Comics #2

Wednesday Comics #1

Review: Wednesday Comics #2

Wed2

Though Wednesday Comics #2 didn’t do much to improve over the flaws of the first one, and certainly won’t change any minds about the project as a whole, it also kept all the charm, wit and creative energy of the first issue, and even improved upon some of the slower stories.  The keyword with Wednesday Comics is variety, and you get a lot of it.

Busiek’s Green Lantern is a wonderfully retro The New Frontier-style sci-fi adventure, while Pope’s Strange Adventures is classic pulp action.  Flash reads like a bizarre blend of romance and super-hero stories, while Baker’s Hawkman offers a dark, fascinating look at a frequently muddled character.  As with the first issue, not every story is a hit, and the two biggest offenders from #1 (Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.) remain relatively weak, though both show at least some signs of improvement over the previous issue.

Meanwhile, the creators are making full use of the space, sometimes in interesting ways.  The Gaiman/Allred Metamorpho is essentially one enormous panel while Caldwell’s surreal Wonder Woman features roughly fifty panels on its only page.  

The format is definitely bringing out the best in many of these artists, most of whom have admirably risen to the challenge.  The less-glossy pages and creases that come from the folding were a worry to some people when it came to the quality of the art, but rest-assured, this is rarely the case.  Only Caldwell’s Wonder Woman and the Arcudi/Bermejo Superman seem to have been hampered by the fact, each of them a little too dark for their own good.  Despite that, however, both pages remain well-crafted and interesting.

Wednesday Comics is too scattershot to appeal to everyone, but those who try it out will find a selection of interesting stories by star creators that hearken back to the early days of comics and the traditional stories without being lazy or condescending.  Everyone involved seems to be having far too much fun to either.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Wednesday Comics #1

Review: Wednesday Comics #1

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Wednesday Comics is here!  While DC often struggles to stay relevant in the fact of a vastly more trendy Marvel Comics, it’s had a few successes in recent years.  One such success was their year-long event, 52, a weekly with an absolute powerhouse of a writing team that managed to gain both critical and fan acclaim – no small feat for an event comic largely lacking Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.  After that, of course, DC felt the urge to repeat their success story with the watered down Countdown and then again with Busiek’s Trinity.  Still, three years in and the weekly format, once a fresh revival, had begun to seem stale.

That all changed with the announcement of their next weekly, Wednesday Comics, a 12 week long project, packaged as a newspaper, in which superstar creative teams would be given continuity-free reins on a vasty supply of DC characters to tell their stories… one page each week.  There were a lot of risks, obviously, but the announcement of the creative teams was where they had it: Gaiman, Busiek, Allred, Azzarello, Risso, Gibbons, Pope, Baker and many more, all getting involved in the project.

So, with all that expectations, how does the issue stack up?

Very well.  Very well, indeed.

It’s tough to review due to the grab bag nature of the book – Caldwell’s Wonder Woman, for example, is gorgeous and surreal, while Kubert’s Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. on the very next page is about as bland as can be.   I toyed briefly with the idea of reviewing each story, but the simple fact is this: these stories stand together or fall together, but the strength of an Azzarello/Risso Batman doesn’t necessarily offset the slow start of the Berganza/Galloway Teen Titans.  You buy one, you get ’em all.

And, as a collection, it works.  This, this is traditional super-hero comics done right.  For those yearning for a set of simple, gorgeous stories, Wednesday Comics delivers.  Not every story will be a hit, but #1 offers a number of strong starts and relatively few missteps.  I eagerly await seeing where it will go.

As a note, however, the stand-outs of the issue for me were Batman, Kamandi, Supergirl, Metal Men, and The Demon/Catwoman, with Superman and Wonder Woman having okay starts but gorgeous art.  The only pages I didn’t really appreciate at all were Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co., so the bulk of the issue was, for me, a hit.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Some Thoughts about the News of the Past Week

It’s hard to avoid the rampant rumors and speculation that has been building over the past two weeks or so concerning the job security of DC’s Editor in Chief Dan DiDio. And 90% of it is just that: rumors and speculation. We all saw the hubub over the release of Diamond’s Top 300 comics for May that showed Secret Invasion 2 outselling Final Crisis 1 by a pretty good margin (which I don’t necessarily think is that big a deal, but hey) and the fact that despite three big event books (Final Crisis 1 and the two Batman RIP books) DC slipped below 30% in market share based on units sold for the top 300 comics. We saw Chuck Dixon’s unmistakable shots at the DiDio regime after being abruptly fired from DC. We saw the outcry after Grant Morrison’s post Final Crisis 1 interview where he basically enunciated the opinions of much of the comics populous that Countdown was a hastily put together mess that will be completely ignored during the course of Final Crisis. We all have seen these things. And they have led to rampant (and for the most part baseless) rumors that two things are due to happen any day now: 1. Dan DiDio will be fired. 2. Jimmy Palmiotti will replace him as EIC at DC. I still don’t know where or how Palmiotti’s name got pulled into this, but it’s arguably immaterial for what I find fascinating about all this.

I’m a big baseball fan, and one of the ongoing story lines of the 2008 MLB season was the sorry state of the New York Mets and the plight of their manager, Willie Randolph. All of that came to a head last week when the Mets fired Randolph in probably the most callous way possible, by putting him on a plane to start a west coast series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I know. Stupid name) only to have him manage one game and proceed to get fired, having it announced to the world via a press release put on the internet at 3:15 AM Eastern time (which, admittedly, was only 12:15 on the west coast and not too long after the game ended, but it still didn’t go over well). What we have here with Mr. DiDio is a strangely similar series of events that we are currently in the middle of. I find this fascinating myself, so let’s break it down.

The weekend before Willie Randolph got fired, someone from inside the Mets organization leaked to the press that they should expect to hear the final decision about the fate of Willie Randolph by the end of the weekend. This led to the assumption that Willie was going to get the ax, and he had to deal with constant questioning as to such during his meetings with the press before and after every game. Consider then the reaction to the internet comics culture spurned on when Warren Ellis (an industry insider as a writer) wrote a message about big news coming out of DC in some form on Friday. This turned out to be the announcement of the resigning of John Nee, Senior Vice President of Business Development at DC. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), people were not thrown from DiDio’s scent. Now, he doesn’t hold daily media conferences like baseball managers, but he did have to field quite a few questions from fans during the DC Nation panel at Heroes Con in Charlotte this weekend. Similar to a degree, enough for me to find it fascinating.

This seems to be the type of situation where the speculation has gotten so out of control that despite the fact that it is at its core almost entirely baseless (like speculation so often is) and despite the fact that all of this is coming from the internet’s infamous vocal minority, the minority has gotten so loud that it has completely clouded the issue. We’re constantly whipping ourselves up into a greater and greater fervor with every little snippet of news, every “no comment” made by Jimmy Palmiotti, every minute detail that it gets bigger and bigger and louder and louder.

At the end of the day, we’ve boiled ourselves down to the oft quoted Shakespeare line from Macbeth: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But here’s the thing. The sound and the fury may be meaningless at its core, but it’s loud and it’s noticeable, and in this case (much like what happened to Willie Randolph) it might lead to DC making some major decision before they’d like to. I could perceive a situation (and this is the only time I’m going to consciously put on my own speculator cap, but bear with me here) where DC is forced to act by the fervor and negativity surrounding their company (that may or may not be loud enough for big daddy Time Warner to actually take notice) that they make a quick decision to show some kind of movement toward the future. That could be one of three things: 1. DiDio gets fired immediately. 2. DiDio is given a contract extension, which is a show of support and good faith from the higher ups, with the added bonus of letting the poor man relax for a bit and not have to worry about the fans imagining a guillotine hovering over his neck with one of those suspenseful fraying ropes its only restraint. 3. Some announcement is made that DiDio’s contract will not be extended come October, but he will work out the rest of his term, allowing for time to be taken to find a suitable replacement to create a smooth transition. Do I know that any of these things are going to happen? Absolutely not. I have NO CLUE, and it would be irresponsible of me to claim otherwise. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this were a situation where no situation actually existed, and the perception of this nonexistent situation actually made said situation actually exist after all (and yes, I did my best to make that as confusing as possible. Believe me, it fits the feel of the weekend).

A quick aside before I wrap this up. I’ve made it well known that the way DC comics are currently written doesn’t excite me as a fan. And I know that I’ve generally put a good portion of the blame for that on Dan DiDio. I have done everything in my power to turn that section of my brain off while writing this and just approach it from the perspective of a disinterested third party looking at the facts. I hope I was successful in doing so. If you think I wasn’t, feel free to ignore everything I’ve said. I think I’ll be able to sleep at night.

In conclusion, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I can read all I want about Rich Johnston claiming we’ll be reading something significant about it in Lying in the Gutters tomorrow to Nikki Finke making claims that Warner Bros. is taking note of the goings on at DC, but no one is ever going to know until we’re told straight from the horse’s mouth. I just find it fascinating that for one weekend two things as disparate as comics and baseball come into a bit of an alignment, and the parallels and coincidences of this crazy little world we live in tickle the brain and fire those synapses. And sure, this article is an ultimately meaningless exercise in comparing and contrasting two different events (one of which isn’t technically happening), but I spent four years of higher education learning the delicate art of an analytical dialectic, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that go to waste. One thing’s for sure: with San Diego on the horizon and two major events being put out by the Big Two, this is a VERY exciting time to be a comics fan.