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?

This Week’s Comics

Diamond Releases for 8/12/09

A slightly bigger week for me this time.  Here’s what I’m picking up:

  • BATMAN #689 – I feel like I should keep giving Winick’s run a shot.  Plus, you know…It’s Batman. I picked this up too. I’ve been hoping something would happen…you know, other than getting a rehash of ’90’s Kyle Rayner. This was the first Winick issue that didn’t disappoint.
  • BLACKEST NIGHT #2 – Assuming there are extra pages in this book to warrant the extra dollar, I’ve really been enjoying the lead-up and the first issue. I’m hoping that, like Final Crisis, this reads better as a whole. I enjoyed the other week’s GL much more than this “clip show” of who’s coming back from the dead.
  • BLACKEST NIGHT BATMAN #1 – Yeah, I’m a sucker, but I need to know what they’re going to do here. Skipped it; maybe I’ll get it during a light week. How was it?
  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #602 – I actually wound up picking up #601 last week but haven’t read it yet.  Assuming it’s still good, I’ll keep rolling with it. I’m really enjoying this arc. It’s a good old fashioned SM story with little Twilight Zone tweaks. Harry’s broke, MJ’s always running late for a date, and JJJ is mayor. I’m tempted to go back and get things since Brand New Day started.
  • GI Joe #8 was solid, but it’s moving too slow.
  • Action 880 continues to surprise me. I never would have thought I’d care about a Rucka story again after his mediocre run on Batman back when Bruce Wayne was a fugitive. Nightwing and Flamebird are interesting.
  • X-Men Forever might be the best stuff Claremont has done in ages. AND the X-men are interesting and easy to grasp again.

What are YOU getting this week?

That about sums it up for me.