This Week’s Comics

I’m still getting caught up on the last two weeks worth of comics — the Electric Mayhem’s official position is to frown upon reading of any sort — but I got way more books for the past 2 weeks than I have in many months. It was pricy, but a nice change of pace. Expect some reviews later in the week, especially Nemesis…That book was better than I expected, and yet Mark Millar still found a way to let me down.

And here’s the noteworthy books of this week.

  • BLACKEST NIGHT #8 (OF 8 ) – It’s finally here! I still haven’t gotten #7 yet, but I’m super-curious as to how this is going to shape the DCU for a while. Plus, it’s kind of nice that the madness is going to be over, for a while at least.
  • GOD OF WAR #1 (OF 6 ) – We don’t talk video games that much, but God of War was my favorite game ever (I’m currently playing the new HD GoW Collection and waiting for the price on GoW3 to drop) until Batman: Arkham Asylum came out. I don’t know much about this one, but Marv Wolfman will put out a solid story if nothing else, and the chance to see Kratos run around killing more famous figures from Greek mythology is one I’ll take.
  • IMAGE FIRSTS YOUNGBLOOD #1 – I LOVE that Image is releasing issues of key books from their history for only $1, but I’m somewhat puzzled by this one. Something like 17 trillion of them were printed, so this may be the only one that’s actually overpriced. Quarter bins around the world are stuffed to the gills with this book.
  • IMAGE FIRSTS WALKING DEAD #1 – This one makes a lot of sense, though. The first issue is only a few years old but incredibly expensive. Sure, it’s been collected in various types of trades (with various types of price points), but this is a great way to give someone a taste without making them dive in. And for the record, it’s an excellent zombie book.

The All-New, All-Different New Guardians

In Blackest Night, Geoff Johns pulled a giant deus ex machina out of his hat when he revealed that each “New Guardian’s” ring can create one additional ring. I’m sure Johns picked DCU characters he thought would be cool and fit the story, but what if he wasn’t limited to the DCU?  What if any cartoon or comic book character was available to him?  I imagine if that was the case we’d see a much, much different alliance.  One that would look something like this.

Red Lantern Corps (Rage)

Hulk – The Hulk is all about rage: the madder he gets, the stronger he gets.  There’s even a red one out there running around these days, busting things up and acting like a jerk.  Just picture him constantly vomiting up blood and you’re already there.

Runner Up: Yosemite Sam

Agent Orange (Avarice)

Ash Ketchum – Ash is the greedy little kid determined to capture one of every animal (excuse me, pokemon) in the world, to the detrimtent of every relationship he’s ever been in.  That describes avarice much better than a mad scientist who wants to rule the world because Superman made him lose his hair when he was a boy.

Runner Up: Bender

Sinestro Corps (Fear)

Gargamel – The Scarecrow is a terrific if obvious choice for the yellow ring.  Much like Parallax is the only thing to scare Green Lanterns, there’s only one thing Smurfs fear, and that’s Gargamel.  He takes delight in capturing them, either to eat them or turn them into gold.  That’s fairly scary if you’re Belgian.

Runner Up: Starscream

Green Lantern Corps (Will)

Hank Hill – Have you ever met one of those people who seem like they can do anything by sheer force of will?  Hank Hill is that guy.  Slap a ring on him and as long as you assure him it’s a military weapon and not hippie jewelry or an improv prop he’ll get the job done.

Runner Up: Panthro

Blue Lantern Corps (Hope)

Superman – Of all the characters Johns had to play with, I can’t believe he didn’t go for the obvious choice to represent Hope: Superman.  If Barack Obama had a cape, superpowers, had saved the world hundreds of times )and the universe dozens), then MAYBE he could sit in on a lecture Superman gave on how to give people hope. Superman could be caught with a live boy AND a dead girl and people wouldn’t lose hope. He’s like Michael Jackson and R. Kelly wrapped up in a cape and with heat vision, that’s how much people believe in him.

Runner Up: Charlie Brown

Indigo Tribe (Compassion)

Optimus Prime – Optimus Prime’s only weakness is his compassion for all living creatures.  Being part of the Indigo Tribe would allow him to turn that into his greatest strength.  Of course, a giant metal robot covered with tribal tattoos and holding a tiny stick wouldn’t be very imposing, but it would be compassionate.

Runner Up: She-Ra

Star Sapphires (Love)

Tenderheart Bear – Wikipedia says “Tenderheart Bear helps everyone show and express their feelings and helps his fellow Care Bears be the most caring they can be. In the 1980s movies and cartoons he was the leader of the Care Bears. He is orange (originally brown) and his tummy symbol is a big red heart with a pink outline.”  That sounds about right.  What do I know about Care Bears?

Runner Up: Hello Kitty

Those are my thoughts.  Did I get someone right?  Or very, very wrong?  Hit us up in the comments sections.

This Week’s Comics — Again??? Really, Diamond?

Well, it’s that time of the week again.  Diamond is experiencing technical difficulties.  When this week’s comics are posted, This Week’s Comics will be posted.

Still, I managed to read some good stuff this weekend, so some reviews are in order.

Siege #1-2 – It’s probably somewhat telling that I haven’t read most of Marvel’s output in the past couple years. Between snoozer events and Bold New Directions That Will Change EVERYTHING!, I just haven’t
been that interested in what is essentially the asshole-ization of the Marvel U.  I’ve been keeping up with the broad strokes, but not the details.  So if Siege is going to change all of this and lead to a Brand New Day, then I’m all about Siege.

The scene set as Siege opens is fairly unrecognizable to me. Asgard is hovering twelve feet above Broxton, Nebraska, there are two Captain Americas, Thor is back but apparently not doing much, Iron Man is holed up someplace, injured, and Nick Fury is paired up with a bunch of kids I can only assume are the Secret Warriors.

Norman Osborn and Loki set up a series of events that lead to Volstagg creating a huge incident like the one that opened Civil War.  This gives Osborn the excuse he needs to lead an attack on Asgard and dupe
Ares into forging the plan.  Once Ares discovers the treachery, he fights The Sentry in the most gratuitously violent display I’ve ever seen in a mainstream comic (but correct me if I’m missing something egregious).

Despite not knowing where we are or how we got there, I enjoyed the book.  Olivier Coipel’s art is stellar, and Brian Michael Bendis is telling a concise, action-packed story without the wordy repetitiveness of some of his earlier work.*  And in only 4 issues!

I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going, but not nearly as much as I’m looking forward to seeing a cohesive Marvel Universe again.  I still don’t trust Tony Stark, though.  That bridge has been burned.

Blackest Night #6 – I think all of the reviews I’ve read about this have been fairly negative, but I didn’t mind it.  Sure, the “every ring can create one more” deus ex machina came out of left field, but at least it’s fairly interesting, even if I don’t really understand Nekron’s motivations.  Is it just bringing back everyone who’s escaped death?  How the hell is Barry figuring all this stuff out?  I can barely keep things straight from one issue to the other, although to be fair, that’s mostly my fault with the 3 month gaps between issues.

I don’t get all of the choices Johns made for who gets rings. The Atom is Compassion? The Flash is Hope?  Lex Luthor is Avarice? Why?  And why does Ganthet give himself a ring?  Doesn’t he channel the green power through his own body?

Still, the choice of Scarecrow for Fear was well-played. Of course I’ll have a complaint, though, and in this case it’s motivation.  I never recall seeing Scarecrow motivated by the desire to feel fear, and I’m afraid that this is just more of Johns looking to create order where none was necessary.  Dude, if it’s a Batman villain you can throw common sense out the window.  Those cats are all just batshit crazy (pun intended).

Hmm…Maybe I liked it less than I thought.  Expect more from me on the New Guardians (and who else SHOULD have gotten the call) in the next few days.

Green Lantern #50 – I suspect Matt may have posted his second GL #50 review specifically for me after I emailed him threatening to buy it. And I did.  It had some questionable moments in it (and confusing, since I haven’t been following every spin-off…Where did The Spectre come from???) but in all, I thought it was okay.  To be sure, this one book had more action in it than any issue of Blackest Night so far.  I completely missed the point behind releasing Parallax, and his beef with the Spectre, but other than that I thought it was a nice change of pace.  My only quibble is that they’re replaying this so shortly after having Kyle get possessed.

So, that’s what I’ve been looking at.  Hopefully we’ll get a look at this week’s books soon.  In the meantime, I’m going to start re-reading some Starman.

* It’s not that I mind the wordy repetitiveness, it’s just that I refuse to believe that every character has this same type of conversation.

Sunnytime Review Show – Starman Edition

I’m flattered that Matt said he was looking forward to my review of Starman #81, but also a bit surprised. While I’ve definitely loved the series, since he’s a bigger Golden Age fan (and to be honest, a bigger fan of times past) and the one who introduced me to Starman in the first place, I expected that I would take my cues on this book from him.  Still, I’ll give it a shot and hopefully not let him down.

As disappointed as I am in the Blackest Night experience so far, this is the perfect opportunity to revisit Opal City.  This is a natural tie-in since most of The Opal’s heroes are gone at this point. Most of the story revolves around the relationship between The Shade and Hope O’Dare, whose soap-opera ramblings seem completely out of character.  This is not a Shade I recognize, and even though he doesn’t seem to recognize himself anymore, either, the difference is just too stark.  By the end even his speech  patterns have changed to become Jack’s, with verbal pauses and references to Crackerjack prizes.

The art isn’t doing the story any favors, either.  I’m not familiar with Fernando Dagnino’s work, but it was completely overpowered by Bill Sienkiewicz. Maybe it’s just because I don’t get Sienkiewicz’s art in general, but it was too sketchy for my taste, and the characters look far too different from the people we’re used to.

Matt’s right, there’s an awful lot crammed into one issue.  I imagine it wouldn’t have been quite as rushed if Robinson had all the space he needed rather than just a one-issue tie-in.  I’m still willing to believe that a Starman revival could work, but only when Robinson finds his (and the characters’) voice again.  It’s great to see our friends after so long, but if these aren’t the people we know then there’s little point.

Starman 81 isn’t a bad issue, but it’s not stellar (no pun intended). I just hope that if we see more of Starman and opal City, Robinson gives himself more of a warm-up to really get back into the rhythms of Opal City.

This Week’s Comics

Because of the Martin Luther King holiday, I’m surprised that New Comic Book Day (from here on NCBD) is still Wednesday, but Diamond says it is, so it is.  Maybe they’ll startle me by having shipping some comics I’m actually going to pick up.  Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • AVENGERS VS AGENTS OF ATLAS #1 – I hope there are some extra pages in here to justify the $4 price tag, because I really want to read this.
  • BLACKEST NIGHT THE FLASH #2 (OF 3) – I completely forgot what happened in the first issue and I haven’t read one BN mini that I’ve actually enjoyed (JSA is still waiting on me), so I’m going to pass.
  • STARMAN #81 (BLACKEST NIGHT) – It’s James Robinson and it’s Starman, so I’m in, but I’m only cautiously optimistic.  My confidence is that Robinson’s more attached to these characters, than I am.  The synopsis sounds good, though.

And…I guess that’s it for me.  Another stunningly light week.  Expect some back issue reviews later in the week, because I’ve been reading some pretty cool stuff lately.  And what are YOU getting this week?

Bonus Random Links For Your Weekend. For You. For Christmas.

  • James Robinson talks Vibe, Blackest Night, and Superman.  I’m okay with his return as long as it’s just for BN, since that seems like a solid idea.  Robinson makes it sound like he’ll be back for a while, though, which seems a little less okay.
  • Damn it!  I said no!

(Insert Your Favorite Color Here)-est Night

So.  Blackest Night.   Matt is terrified of it’s potential sucking, and I can’t afford it.  Still, it’s worth looking at (SPOILERS and SPECULATIONS ahead).FLSH?  Flesh?  Oh!  I get it now!

A few things to get out of the way first:

  • I thought the idea of the Sinestro Corps was brilliant.  I can’t believe no one had ever thought of it before!  It’s a definite credit to Geoff Johns that he was able to find something so novel and run with it.
  • I think the idea of the Rainbow Corps is a little suspect, though, especially right after the creation of the Sinestro Corps.  Obviously someone would have come up with it eventually, since the yellow corps was genius and broadening the concept is just reducing it ad absurdum.  Still, Johns put a ton of thought into this.  We saw him at the Green Lantern panel in San Diego last summer, and he knows how everything plays out and interrelates.  It’s quite impressive, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Even if you're a White Lantern, it gets chilly in space.Now here we are at Blackest Night, a pretty good concept even if the war of the colors is overcomplicating things (staggering them would have been a little easier to absorb).  I may be wrong here, but it seems fairly obvious that we’re going to see a White Lantern by the end of this cosmic adventure.  My original post was going to be questions and pontifications about who the most likely candidate for White Lantern.  At the top of my list was going to be Kyle Rayner, since he’s been a Green Lantern and a godlike space deity (a great name for a band, too).  Then I read this over the weekend and it all became clear.  No more guessing required, I think it’s all falling into place that Kyle will become a (the?) White Lantern in the end, potentially after becoming a Black Lantern.

I just hope he doesn’t drift off to “learn about the universe,” DC’s standard tactic when they create a character so powerful they no longer know what to do with them (I’m thinking of The Spectre and Firestorm here, specifically).

Any other thoughts or theories out there?  Am I right or way off-base?  I’d love to hear what other people are thinking.

Happy Endings

I don’t know about anyone else, but my jaw dropped the other day when Dan DiDio announced that Starman would be getting an issue 81 as part of Blackest Night. First things first: James Robinson is writing, and I have to assume he’s on-board with anything DC has planned; that’s the most important thing. But the whole topic got me thinking about endings, and the strange relationship fans have with them.

Robinson has said in the past that he’s always being asked about bringing Starman — Jack Knight, specifically — back. While that’s somewhat reassuring, because it never felt like that title had a particularly strong fanbase while it was being published, why would anyone want to destroy the life of a character they love?

To jump back a bit, in 2001 Starman ended with issue 80, when Jack Knight gave up the hero game and moved to San Francisco to be with his girlfriend and son. He received what too few of our favorite characters get: a happy ending.

Spider-Man has been continuously published since 1962 and can’t stop getting dumped on. It’s even worse when you think that all of those bad times have happened in the span of roughly 10-15 “comic” years. He needs a BREAK! I’m sure all of us have a favorite series that was canceled before its time. Those usually end with our hero embracing the future and the unknown, which is almost certain to include more heartache and villainy. But Jack? Jack got a graceful, beautiful exit. He got the rare chance to put that life behind him. Since he was a reluctant hero even at the beginning, I can’t imagine anything that would bring him out of retirement other than evil, and I can’t wish that on him.

Which brings us to Blackest Night. Robinson, at least for the time being, has wisely decided to let Jack stay happily out of continuity. This seems to indicate that we’re going to see a Black Lantern Ted or David Knight, and I’m not afraid to say that while so far none of the other Black Lanterns have disturbed me, I will be absolutely horrified to see those two characters desecrated and zombified.

We all have a tenuous relationship with endings. Spoiler alerts are necessary on the Internet and DC had to do some spin control after Previews revealed the villain behind Blackest Night, yet in every interview or convention panel, without fail there is someone who wants the ending told to some ongoing story. Our love/hate relationship with finales apparently holds true even if a series has been over for 8 years.

James Robinson has had it up to here with nerds

Perhaps it’s the serial nature of comics that sends us on the incessant quest to learn what’s next. Is anything ruined when there’s always another event or issue to look forward to? Maybe it’s just bragging rights to guess the ending first or trick an Editor into revealing more than he intended. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from superheroes it’s that sometimes a person MUST do the selfless thing for the greater good. Let’s let Jack Knight live in peace. It’s the heroic thing to do.

Game Tape

Wednesday has come and gone. The heroes have fought their battles and villains have hinted at things to come. Now it’s time to review the game tape…

As I read Blackest Night as a whole, I have a few questions. Why isn’t Krypton back? How scary would it be to have a planet full of Kryptonian zombies? Why just J’onn J’onz of all Martians? The villain in the background (Nekron evidently) doesn’t seem to want to win this little game. Still and all, the books have been pretty decent. Did you know who was in central battery of the violet lanterns? Shocked the hell out of me. I also like the idea that there are two opposing halves to the violet lanterns. This predator idea intrigues me. Sinestro also has some nice moments.

X-Men Forever 8 continues the trend of this title to be strong and enjoyable. Although these are throwbacks, the X-Men most of us grew up with, Claremont isn’t keeping them frozen in time. He’s taking their individual arcs in different directions and developing each member pleasantly. If anything, the book moves a tad slowly. Still, it’s my the only X-book I’m looking forward to each month.

I liked the art in GI Joe: Cobra. In this one-shot epilogue I don’t think it worked as well. There were panels where I had to play Where’s Waldo to find either Xamot or Tomax. Art aside, the issue is a nice origin of Xamot and Tomax. I like the idea that there is a rift growing between them. The dual narration was novel, but a little confusing at first. Final analysis: great ideas, execution needs work.

Briefly, I don’t think the last page of Willingham’s JSA was supposed to surprise us as much as perplex us. How can I be shocked at the “death” of Mr. Terrific when I know in a few months the solicits say he’ll be fighting the undead Golden Age Mr. Terrific? Dan Didio made an interesting observation about spoiler solicits on Newsarama yesterday. Read the whole thing, or scroll to question 10.

That’s it for this week. It was pretty light on books. I’m going to enjoy the rest of the day eating birthday cake and not having to teach a class. Fall Holiday! WOOOOooo!

This Week’s Comics

Diamond Releases for 8/19/09

Well, I’m apparently not going to be picking up Blackest Night…I’ve really been looking forward to it and the first issue was a solid read, but with a $4 price point and no extra pages (previews still don’t count, DC!), it looks like if I want to read it I’m stuck rummaging through back issue bins in a couple months.  And trying to avoid spoilers on teh intarwebs.  Here’s what I AM getting this week:

  • BLACKEST NIGHT SUPERMAN #1 (OF 3) – This is more of a “might get,” depending on how good or bad it (and the rest of this week’s books) are. I feel like I need some sort of Blackest Night storyline, especially since Superman is still alive and I’m not picking up Blackest Night.  Still haven’t made it through BN Batman #1, yet…
  • EX MACHINA #44 – At this point, you’re either picking up and digging Ex Machina or have long since given it up. With 5 issues left (at least if Brian K. Vaughn is still planning on wrapping up with #48, it’s been some time since I’ve heard anything) you know what you’re getting: The West Wing with enough sci-fi to keep things interesting. Still, while the arcs have been good and the ideas have been interesting, I’ve been wondering what the point has been with the whole series. Especially with a set ending, what’s the raison d’etre for Ex Machina? I have to admit I’m not sure. Perhaps after re-reading them all at once I’ll have a better idea.
  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #603 – We’re still getting solid Spider-Man stories for $3 a week and that’s always a plus. I confess I’ve been reading it only sporadically since Brand New Day began, picking up a bunch of issues at the beginning in dollar boxes and finding that they were pretty dull. I never found the new cast, red herrings, and new villains as interesting as I was supposed to. I also picked up New Ways to Die, but with only one creative team I was getting a known quantity. At this point we’ve gotten “re-establishing the new status quo” out of the way and with the re-introduction of MJ and The Gauntlet looming around the corner, things are picking back up.
  • DAREDEVIL #500 – Again, I’m a sucker for anniversary issues, and ever since DD relaunched with Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada it’s been worth checking in on from time to time. I find the timing of all these anniversary issues curious, though. I think the numbering is being rigged, especially with Incredible Hulk #600. Archie #600 is an anniversary best left to better men than I, though…

What are YOU getting this week?