Archive for the ‘Comics/Graphic Novels’ Category

First Impressions: Legion of Doom, Graveyard of Empires

TITLE: Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #1
AUTHOR: Adam Glass
PENCILLER: Rodney Buchemi
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

You know, this First Impressions feature has prompted me to pick up more of these Flashpoint tie-ins than I ever thought I would. Doesn’t mean I have to stick with them, mind you. But I’ve gotten a few more samples off the platter than I was intending to take.

Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #1 is about Heatwave, normally an adversary of The Flash. In the opening pages, we see him murder Jason Rusch so that he can team with Ronnie Raymond and become Firestorm. He’s caught by Cyborg (who in the Flashpoint universe, is America’s greatest superhero), and hauled off to Queens Row Penitentiary, which from the exterior looks exactly like the “Darth Vader head” hideout the Legion of Doom had on the old Super Friends show. Heatwave is scheduled to be executed for the murder of Jason Rusch. But he has a hidden ally nearby, a man who is considered a hero in the regular DCU…

Based on the solicitations for the remaining two issues, it’s looking like this story will basically be Heatwave vs. Cyborg, with each having a partner at his side, amongst a prison riot. That’s a fairly interesting premise. Also inside Queens Row is Zsasz, the Batman villain who marks his murders by placing tally marks in his skin. Amazo is also there, but he’s a “super guard” robot. I’d like to see both those characters come into play later on.

I wasn’t blown away by Legion of Doom, but I certainly wasn’t bored. I don’t intend to come back to it, simply because we (presumably) won’t be seeing these versions of the characters again any time soon, and I’d rather spend my money elsewhere. But take money out of the equation, and I’d be interested to see where this story goes. It looks like it’ll do some interesting service to the Flashpoint version of Cyborg.

***

TITLE: Graveyard of Empires #1
AUTHOR: Mark Sable
PENCILLER: Paul Azaceta
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2011

OH NO! RUN! ZOMBIE TALIBAN!!!!!

Graveyard of Empires tells the story of a group of American soldiers in Afghanistan. As we open the issue, one of the locals slowly and silently approaches some of them, not saying a word. Naturally, this causes alarm and prompts one of the soldiers to shoot him dead. They later find explosives surgically placed in his body. These soldiers have no shortage of problems dealing with the locals, not to mention infighting. Toward the end of the issue, a soldier pulls a gun on his new superior officer, fearing he’ll get them all killed. But he’s interrupted by yet another silent man approaching. He’s shot down, but as his body is being inspected, he suddenly sits up and bites a soldier in the neck.

Little do these unfortunate Americans know that “Z-Day” has arrived, and that Afghanistan is about to be the center of a zombie attack!

Zombies in Afghanistan, huh? That’s…interesting, I guess. A little risque? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Graveyard of Empires just needs to watch its taste level. Thankfully, it appears to be doing that. There’s a scene where a local tells one of the soldiers who keeps calling him “Hajji” that the term actually is honorific, and “means one who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca.” So this won’t be a “let’s portray the Afghanis as horrifying zombies” book.

Now that the initial threat and tone have been established, I think Sable and Azaceta need to focus a bit on character development, as it can sometimes be hard to keep track of who is who. The soldier who stands out the most in this issue is Reddick, who has…aggressive tendencies, and doesn’t mind bending, or outright breaking the rules for the greater good. It’s Reddick who wants to kill his superior officer in hopes of saving more lives. One can only wonder how Reddick will handle a zombie attack.

While I’ve grown somewhat apathetic toward zombie stories, The Walking Dead in particular, this one has piqued my interest in the short term because of its setting. I can see myself possibly coming back for seconds on this one.

Front page image from angrykoalagear.com. Legion of Doom logo from theflash.wikia.com, partial page 1 from Graveyard of Empires from comicvine.com.

Share

Green Lantern: Brightest Day – Graphic Novel Review

TITLE: Green Lantern: Brightest Day
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke
COLLECTS: Green Lantern #53-62
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $22.99
RELEASE DATE: June 15, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is one of those stories that’s much better when you read it as a whole, as opposed to 12 issues stretched out over a year. I really wanted it to just end, already. It turns out I wasn’t giving it the credit it deserved.

Shortly after the events of Blackest Night, a mysterious being begin to target and capture the “emotional entities” of the various Lantern Corps. These emotional entities are essentially creatures that act as the embodiments of their respective Corps, and can bond with hosts. They include Parallax (the embodiment of fear who once bonded with Hal Jordan), Ion (the embodiment of willpower who once bonded with Kyle Rayner), and The Butcher (the embodiment of rage).  Now, Hal Jordan must form an unlikely alliance with Sinestro, Star Sapphire (Carol Ferris), Larfleeze, and the leaders of the various Lantern Corps in order to save these entities from whomever is targeting them.

This book has no shortage of cool comic book moments. Early on, Lobo shows up and has a great fight with Atrocitus, Hal Jordan, Sinestro and Star Sapphire. It actually makes Lobo look like the take-no-prisoners, pull-no-punches bad ass he’s always played up as. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character, but after this title, I now have a favorite Lobo moment.

Larfleeze is also real treat to read. Johns seems to have a lot of fun writing the greedy Orange Lantern, particularly now that he’s writing him in an Earthly environment. Larfleeze actually has one of the funniest lines I’ve ever read in this book. As Hal Jordan finds him sitting atop a personally-made junk yard, frantically jotting down some sort of list, he says: “I’ve learned of the gift giver who resides within your icy lands. He’ll give me all I desire as long as I send him my list! I know about Santa Claus!”

Interestingly enough, the book also gives us new insights into the entities and what they stand for, as they seek new hosts. For instance, The Predator, the entity of love, seeks out a man who desperately longs for the love of a waitress who he watches every day, but has never spoken to. There’s also James Kim, a man whose daughter was abducted and murdered, who is pursued by The Butcher. There’s also an absolutely heartwrenching story about Dex-Starr, the blue feline Red Lantern, and how he received his power.

While this book does lead us into War of the Green Lanterns, the current storyline flowing through the GL books, I get the impression that a lot of this book is just Geoff Johns having fun. As a result, it’s a fun book to read. Dough Mahnke isn’t my favorite penciller in the world, but he does a fine job here.

Though DC will be going through a “relaunch” this fall, I’m inclined to believe this story, and most of the Geoff Johns Green Lantern stuff will stay in continuity. Why? Because Geoff Johns is one of the architects of the relaunch, of course. Still, his Green Lantern run has been historic, so he’s got the talent to back it up.

RATING: 8.5/10

Front page Image from dccomics.com.

Share

First Impressions: Samurai’s Blood, Citizen Cold

TITLE: Samurai’s Blood
AUTHOR: Owen Wiseman
PENCILLER: Nam Kim. Cover by Jo Chen.
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $1.00
RELEASED: June 8, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So wait…you mean to tell me that there’s a kick ass, old school, no bullshit samurai comic book out there, and it only costs one measly dollar??? Where do I sign up???

Samurai’s Blood #1 is a bargain if there ever was one. It’s 32 pages long, the art is brilliant, there are NO ads, and the story is a classic tale of honor, family ties, vengeance and bloodshed.

Our story begins with the Sanjo clan of Japan. A traitorous samurai slays the clan’s master, and with the help of his own followers, begins systematically killing off members of the Sanjo clan until there is but one left. This samurai sends his son Jun, his daughter Mayuko, as well as young Katashi, away to avenge the fallen Sanjo. Katashi is apparently the descendent of a samurai, but he is oblivious to this. Even so, he is a highly skilled fighter, who is romantically involved with Mayuko.

One of the most interesting elements of Samurai’s Blood is the narration. At times it’s almost as if it’s made up of ancient Japanese proverbs. We get little gems like:

- “The sword is the weapon of the hero and the murderer alike.”
- “Betrayal is the atavistic spirit of man laid bare.”
- “Meet death with the same heart and the same mind as one uses to do anything else. The moment of death is no different than any other.”

How cool is that?

I also love how, unlike Shinku (also from Image), Samurai’s Blood isn’t riddled with vampires and supernatural stuff. It’s a very human story, and although we don’t know the characters very well yet, Katashi and Mayuko both seem very accessible.

I’m rarely as enthusiastic about a title at first sight as I am about Samurai’s Blood. The only real criticism I can throw at it is that folks who tend to read samurai stories might not find it nearly as intriguing as someone like me, who only dabbles in them every now and then. But even so, one can’t deny the value of 32 pages of awesome art for only a dollar.

Sorry Shinku, you’ve been out-classed.

***

TITLE: Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1
AUTHOR/ARTIST: Scott Kolins
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 8, 2011

Thank God Citizen Cold this isn’t a regular hero, because that is a really STUPID name.

But don’t tell the real-life Leonard Snart that, because as poor Mr. Freeze finds out in this issue, Cold doesn’t exactly have a set code of ethics. Though he’s loved by residents of Central City, Citizen Cold used to be a criminal, and has a rap sheet a mile long. He knows his days as Central City’s idol are numbered, but he’s still willing to do anything to protect his secret, as poor Wally West finds out as we close the issue.

In contrast to Barry Allen, Citizen Cold’s rapport with Iris West, Barry’s wife in the regular DCU, is rather creepy. Citizen Cold is a hero with very few morals or values. This runs in contrast to Captain Cold, Leonard Snart’s identity in the real DCU, who is a villain who can at times be moralistic, and even classy.

I’m not overly intrigued by what I see here. It basically looks like we’ll be seeing Citizen Cold taking on the Rogues, led by Mirror Master, as Iris uncovers the truth about his life as a criminal. There’s a rather interesting moment where Snart finds out about a man named Lawrence Snart being murdered by his daughter, whom he relentlessly abused. As Captain Cold was abused by his father, I’m assuming that’s who Lawrence Snart is, though that’s not to say he couldn’t be a sibling. I’m sure whatever Citizen Cold does as a result of this death will bring about his undoing.

Either way, I’m inclined to skip this one. I also flipped through the first issues of Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman and Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager. Like Citizen Cold, they seemed to have a few interesting moments, but they didn’t show me anything that prompted me to put my money down.

Front page image from investcomics.com. Samurai’s Blood page 1 from latimes.com.
For more Scott Kolins, check out
Solomon Grundy.

Share

The DCU Reboot: What We Know

***The following represents the opinion of Rob Siebert alone, and does not reflect the views of Primary Ignition or its staff.***

Last week, when DC announced they were going to relaunch and re-number their ongoing continuity in September, I ran my mouth a little bit. Now, we know a little more about what this relaunch seems to entail. So I’m going to run my mouth again.

Justice League International, #1

As of early Wednesday morning, almost all of DC’s new titles have been officially announced as part of the company’s 52-book relaunch There have been various leaks/speculations on the books that haven’t been announced yet, but most of what you’ll see here is based on what DC has said.

The Justice League will be revamped, with the franchise splitting into three titles: Justice League (the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee book), Justice League International, and Justice League Dark. The first title will feature DC’s big guns (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc), the second will have many of the team members who were part of the original JLI title in the ’80s (Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, and Batman as well). Justice League Dark, interestingly enough, will be supernaturally-based, with characters like John Constantine and Deadman.

Constantine in the Justice League? Sure…why not?

The JLI book isn’t a huge surprise. Over the past several years, DC has enjoyed revisiting elements from the original series with titles like Formerly Known As The Justice League, and the recent Justice League: Generation Lost bi-monthly book. If it’s anything like the original, it’ll be worth a look. It should be noted that neither Vixen, nor Augus General in Iron (the orange guy with the staff) were on the old team.

Martian Manhunter and Blue Beetle are conspicuous by their absence from these books, at least from a publicity standpoint. Until recent years, M.M. was a staple of the Justice League, and to see him left out of the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee run is slightly odd. He was also part of the original Justice League International, but he doesn’t appear to be there either. As for Beetle, after his participation in Generation Lost, you’d think he’d be a shoo-in for JLI. But alas, he is absent…

Batgirl #1

Over in Batman land, there’s a lot to talk about. Perhaps most notably, for the first time in more than two decades, Barbara Gordon will be Batgirl. That one rubs me the wrong way a bit, as Barbara in her Oracle incarnation has become such a symbol of the power and strength that transcends big muscles and hitting. Over at Newsarama, Jill Pantozzi wrote a heartwrenching column about the change that’s most certainly worth a read. I don’t doubt that the book can be good, especially since Gail Simone will be writing it. But somehow it feels…wrong.

In other news, Bruce Wayne will once again be the only Batman in the DCU. Under this new relaunch, he’ll star in Batman, Detective Comics, Batman & Robin (with Damian Wayne still under the Robin mask), Batman: The Dark Knight, and Batman, Incorporated. The latter will apparently be taking a lengthy hiatus, before picking up again next year with a new #1.

Batwing #1

Meanwhile, Dick Grayson will once again star in Nightwing, the ongoing Batwoman series will finally debut, we’ll get a new volume of Catwoman, and Birds of Prey will be revamped (without Gail Simone, and presumably without Barbara Gordon).

A new character, Batwing, will also debut. We saw this character in a recent issue of Batman, Incorporated. In effect, he’ll be the Batman of Africa.

For the first time, Jason Todd will star in his own series in Red Hood and The Outlaws, a book that will also feature Arsenal and Starfire.

Conspicuous by her absence is Stephanie Brown. Sadly, it seems likely she’s been retconned out of existence, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

Green Lantern #1

As I predicted some time ago, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors didn’t last long. This September, it will be replaced by Green Lantern: The New Guardians, which will see Kyle Rayner team with Lanterns from other spectrums (presumably Larfleeze, Saint Walker, etc). Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps will both return, with the latter featuring Guy Gardner and John Stewart.

A new series, Red Lanterns, will also debut, chronicling the adventures of Atrocitus and his rage-filled Lantern corps.

Not much of a shake up, here. It looks like most of the content that Johns has written in recent years, i.e. Green Lantern: Rebirth, The Sinestro Corps War, and Blackest Night will still be canon. Convenient, as Johns is one of DC’s co-publishers…

Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Arrow will continue with new first issues. Aquaman will have a new ongoing series, with Johns and Ivan Reis at the helm. New books debuting are: The Savage Hawkman, The Fury of Firestorm, Mister Terrific and Captain Atom. DC Universe Presents will feature multi-issue story arcs featuring various different DC Comics characters.

The Teen Titans will be back in a new book starring Red Robin (Tim Drake), Superboy, Wondergirl and Kid Flash, all of whom have rather bizarre new looks. Static Shock, and the team of Hawk and Dove will also have new books.

DC will also focus a number of books on the supernatural corner of their universe. A new Swamp Thing will debut, as will Animal Man, Demon Knights and Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE.

The Legion of Superheroes will star in the fittingly titled Legion of Superheroes, as well as Legion Lost.

Ya get all that?

In the case of books like The Flash, Green Arrow and Birds of Prey, I can’t help but chuckle. Those books were just re-numbered a year ago, and now they’ll be re-numbered yet again. It’s even funnier when it comes to Batman, Incorporated, which has only gone for eight issues so far. And then you have Batman: The Dark Knight, which has published a whopping two issues.

Birds of Prey #1

By the way, what the hell is up with the redesign of Black Canary’s costume (shown at left)? Various artists have tried to tweak her look over the years, but it ALWAYS comes back to the black leather and the fishnet stockings. Why would we put her in that blue and yellow armor she appears to be wearing? Also, it appears she’ll be teaming with Katana and Poison Ivy in the new Birds of Prey. When did Poison Ivy become a hero, exactly? And who is this mysterious tattooed woman? No sign of Huntress anywhere…

Come September, I’ll be steering away from most of this “dark” stuff, though I may give Justice League Dark a look. I also have very little interest in Captain Atom or Mister Terrific. One book that DOES intrigue me, however, is DC Universe Presents. I like the idea of a new character getting the spotlight every couple of months, sort of like DC used to do with The Brave and the Bold when they’d team a seemingly random character with Batman.

It must be said that despite my reservations about the reboot, I DO approve of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee taking on Justice League. Ever since they gave the keys to James Robinson, it’s been very unfulfilling. Hopefully, this book will give us back the “real” Justice League.

I’m still reasonably apprehensive about this whole reboot thing, but I’d say about half of what I’ve seen here has given me hope. the other half has left me either apathetic or turned off (Birds of Prey, I’m looking at you…).

Your thoughts?

Front page image from allgeeksrejoice.com.

Share

Comic Book Bloopers: You Can’t Do THAT Anymore…

***Comic books from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s tend to provide us with moments like that. Either a slang term meant something back then that it doesn’t now, or writers were simply under pressure to make stories lighter and less “explicit” (that was the case during the mid-20th century), or it’s simply a matter of stories being written in a different time. Retro comic books provide us with the occasional dose of unintentional hilarity. It is with that lovingly playful mindset that I bring to you: Comic Book Bloopers.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

When World War II broke out in 1939, the American comic book industry was still in relative infancy. When larger-than-life champions of good like Superman, Batman, Captain America and Captain Marvel were being created, the country was talking about unspeakable acts of evil overseas. Thus, it was only natural that these characters, in their own way, address the issue. But obviously, America wasn’t nearly as politically correct in that era as it is in this one. Comic book creators demonized the Axis Powers and glorified the Allies in a way that, had the war not seemed like such a clear cut good vs. evil conflict, likely wouldn’t have been accepted by the masses. It certainly wouldn’t be tolerated today. Superheroes encouraged their readers to go out and buy war bonds, and were often seen attacking Adolf Hitler, or Japanese characters who were more or less drawn to look like yellow gremlin-type creatures.

I suppose the question to ask is, where were/are the lines between humor and bad taste? And what qualifies as just plain weird?

Well, as long as Superman says it’s okay…

One question: Why is Superman turning the crank himself? Couldn’t he have just turned the machine on and posed with it or something? Eh… I’m probably missing the point, aren’t I?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s Superman! And he’s riding a giant penis metaphor!

Whoa whoa whoa! Hey! That’s…I mean…why? Why would you go there? I mean, it’s not like he didn’t deserve it, but does that have to be the FIRST place you go? I don’t know who this character is, but I do know that Captain America and Superman at least had the decency to punch the guy out upon first sight! Whole thing’s getting WEIRD, right here…

What throws me about this one isn’t that Captain Marvel Jr., a super strong character, is taking the time and effort to hit Hitler with a belt. It’s the fact that Hitler appears to be Irish dancing as a result of the buttocks belt shot. He doesn’t even look that uncomfortable, really. Maybe he’s used to it? After being knocked around by so many superheroes, maybe a belt whip to the ass doesn’t seem so bad…which sounds much worse than what I actually mean.

Also, note the demonized Japanese leader. Ironically, in supporting the Allies through their art, numerous comic book artists unintentionally exposed their own personal prejudices and slanted societal views through their art. This next cover speaks for itself…

Truth be told, I’m not even sure where to go with this one. It’s probably the single most racist piece of popular art I’ve ever seen. I mean…DAMN.

Look at the black character on the far left side of the page, and you’ll see a similar lip distortion. What’s worse? His name (I’m not making this up) is WHITEWASH Jones.

Image from cracked.com.

How do you even BEGIN to create a character this racist? It’s ignorance personified. It couldn’t have been done on purpose…could it? This guy makes the crows from Dumbo look passable! It’s one thing to make caricatures out of your enemies (though no more excusable from a racial standpoint), but Whitewash Jones was supposed to be a hero! He teamed with Bucky Barnes, for crying out loud! Now it’s just one racial stereotype against another!

However, in terms of propaganda-related stupidity, the best (if you want to call it that) cover I’ve ever seen is actually a product of the modern era. Drawn by Erik Larsen, one of the founders of Image Comics and creator of Savage Dragon, it’s probably the most gloriously blasphemous thing I’ve ever seen…

Unless otherwise specified, images from superdickery.com.
Front page image from supermantv.net.

Share

First Impressions: Shinku, Flashpoint‘s Batman

TITLE: Shinku
AUTHOR: Ron Marz
PENCILLER: Lee Moder
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 1, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

For 500…”Soaked Asian Vampire Tits.”
“What is the title of the latest vampire porno spoof?”
“Incorrect.”
“What is the most ideal nude scene for Zhang Ziyi?”
“Incorrect.”
“What is the coolest part of the new comic book Shinku?”
“Correct!”
“I’ll take controversial comic book reboots for 400…”

When I see unexpected nudity in a comic book, it tends to be an unexpected surprise. It’s like the vending machine gave you an extra Twix. One of life’s little pleasantries.

In Shinku, a caucasian blonde dude named Davis gets seduced by a sexy woman (who unbeknownst to him is a vampire), starts to get some action outside a night club, but is shocked when she’s beheaded by a woman on a motorcycle wielding a katana. Our clueless gaijin soon learns this woman, Shinku, is the last descendant of a clan of samurai who were once at war with a clan of undead samurai. Now, the descendants of these undead samurai are out to kill Shinku, unless she can kill them first.

For an issue about a vampire-killing samurai, this book is surprisingly low on action. Granted, the splash page where Shinku beheads the vampire seductress (shown at left) is awesome, and gives me hope for future action scenes in this title, the rest of the issue is bascically Shinku explaining things to Davis. I found myself wanting a less conversation and more action.

What caught me off guard (in a good way, I guess) about this book was how sexed up it was. We get two instances of nudity, and once instance of veiled nudity when Davis walks in on Shinku changing. Incidentally, her breasts are apparently very pointy. I’ll look out for them to be used as weapons in future issues.

This issue piqued my curiosity enough for me to at least look at the next issue. Who knows? Maybe if there are enough soaked Asian vampire tits and wanton violence, I’ll fork over another $2.99. But if it’s just another issue of Shinku and Davis talking, I’ll pass.

***

TITLE: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1
AUTHOR: Brian Azzarello
PENCILLER: Eduardo Risso
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: June 1, 2011

Well, this is all out of continuity, just like the entire current DCU will be in September, but what the hell? Here’s what Batman is like in the world of Flashpoint.

In this alternate reality, Bruce Wayne is dead, having been shot and killed along with his mother on that fateful night years ago. Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, has lived on and become Batman. He runs Wayne Casinos, and Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin) works for him. Harvey Dent’s twins have been kidnapped by The Joker, and it’s up to Batman to find them. As the issue closes, Batman is attacked by a machete-wielding Killer Croc.

A few things that jumped out at me about this issue:
- Thomas Wayne looks very much like Bruce Wayne did in The Dark Knight Returns.
- Harvey Dent’s wife calls The Joker a “child-killer” as opposed to a maniac, or a lunatic.
- Jim Gordon apparently knows Thomas Wayne is Batman. Also, Gotham City’s Police Force has been privatized.
- Poison Ivy, The Scarecrow and Hush are all dead, presumably having been killed by Batman.

Azzarello’s name is a big draw for this issue, as he also wrote Joker. We have no real indication of what the Flashpoint Joker will be like. We see him under a silhouette at the end of the issue, and at first glance all I notice is that his hair is a bit longer than we’re used to.

A book like this suits Azzarello well, as I think he works best when he’s not on the main continuity Batman books. He likes things a bit dirtier and gritter than even the Batman books are used to. That’s not to say it wouldn’t fit will in the main Batman books, but he has a style that seems difficult for a lot of writers to duplicate. Azzarello is just…Azzarello.

Risso, of course, works very well with Azzarello. Anyone who’s read 100 Bullets can attest to that. The fight scene between Batman and Killer Croc is especially strong. Hopefully once we bring The Joker into the equation more fully, things will get even better. As solicitations for the next two issues indicate, he apparently has a dark connection to the Wayne family.

As I’ve indicated in the past, I’m not overly inclined to pick up any of the other Flashpoint tie-ins. Unless something truly amazing happens, I’ll likely end up selling these issues in about six months. But for now, I’m interested to see what Azzarello and Risso do.

Front page image/Shinku preview page from comicbookresources.com, page 6 preview of Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1 from dccomics.com.

Share

The DC Universe Reboot: I Want To Be Angry…

***The following represents the opinion of Rob Siebert alone, and does not reflect the views of Primary Ignition or its staff.***

Image from comicsalliance.com.

Well damn. Now I know how all those Spider-Man fans felt during One More Day.

As some have speculated for months now, in September DC is going forward with a “reboot” of nearly their entire line of superhero comic books. That is, each book will have a new #1 issue, and all previous continuity will be erased. It’ll be a fresh start, a new beginning, a brand new day, etc. The company will release 52 of these new books, with some of them presumably being new, while others are continuations of already-established ones (though that hasn’t been confirmed).

In a letter to retailers, DC’s Senior Vice President Bob Wayne said: “We are positioning ourselves to tell the most innovative stories with our characters to allow fans to see them from a new angle. We have taken great care in maintaining continuity where most important, but fans will see a new approach to our storytelling. Some of the characters will have new origins, while others will undergo minor changes. Our characters are always being updated; however, this is the first time all of our characters will be presented in a new way all at once.”

Image from comicsalliance.com.

So in essence, the move is about bringing new readers to the table, perhaps in particular those who don’t typically read comic books, but need a jumping-on point. It’s also about “freshening up” the line and making it more modern.

I want to be mad about this. I really do. A lot of my favorite comic book characters are about to undergo drastic changes that may not be necessary at all. I understand the appeal of reboots in terms of new fans jumping in, but the bottom line is: People who want to read comic books are going to read comic books. They may like the characters, but they may simply not be interested or not want to spend the money. Big publicity stunts like this, or The Death of Superman back in the ’90s may bring casual fans in for the short term. But in the long run? Probably not. That’s not to say it can’t happen. But consider all the stunts Marvel and DC have done in recent years to bring in casual readers. If such short-term solutions had worked long-term, there’d be no need to keep doing them over and over again, would there?

Also, this move could potentially alienate a very large portion of the readers DC already has. This is a huge risk, in that readership may actually go DOWN. I glanced at the DCComics.com message boards today, and while some fans are enthusiastic, others are enraged. I think this is a natural reaction, considering the magnitude of a move like this. But is bringing in new readers in the short-term worth potentially angering the readers who’ve stuck with you for years, and have supported these characters through thick and thin?

Image from comicvine.com.

And my GOD, this is so cliche. I’m sick and tired of reboots, reimaginings, reinterpretations, rehashings, revisits and relaunches, and now DC is giving us 52 of them in the same month. Why is there such a heavy desire for writers to wipe the continuity slate clean? Story accessibility? Maybe. But why would you sign on to write about characters who are between 50 and 70 years old if you can’t handle the fact that they have a rich, storied history? If you can’t tell me good Batman stories without wiping the character’s entire history clean and reinventing it your way, then you shouldn’t be writing Batman stories. One of the reasons Grant Morrison’s run on Batman was so great was because he USED Batman’s continuity, but didn’t get wrapped up in it to the point that it bogged the story down. Heck, Geoff Johns, one of DC’s co-publishers and an architect of this reboot, has been doing that with Green Lantern since 2004! It CAN be done, people! And when it’s done well, it sells comic books! So why not do THAT? Why not focus on telling good, compelling stories instead of constantly hitting the reset button to make things easier?

What’s really confusing about this move is that DC has spent the last several years bringing back characters that had been phased out of modern continuity. Hal Jordan, Barry Allen and Arthur Curry were all brought back as part of major “event” comics. Why go through all that time and effort to bring these characters back if you’re just going to dump all the marbles out and start over? I understand those creative desicions were likely made long before DC decided to go through with the reboot. But in a sense, it’s almost funny.

Image from atfmb.com

I think what irks me (and most other fans who aren’t happy about this) the most is that starting in September, these characters are no longer going to exist as I’ve come to know and love them over the years. Will they fundamentally be the same? Yes. Superman will always wear a red cape and boots and Batman will always have pointy ears and utility belt. But I’ve been actively reading comic books for over a decade now. To an extent, I grew up and became a man with these characters and their stories, and now those stories will be, to an extent, gone. Batman: Hush, Identity Crisis, The Sinestro Corps War, Gotham Central, The Long Halloween, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Sterling Gates’ run on Supergirl, Jeph Loeb’s run on Superman/Batman, The Killing Joke, Brian Q. Miller’s run on Batgirl…gone. All gone.

And furthermore, what’s going to happen to the characters created post-Crisis on Infinite Earths who aren’t part of their franchise’s origin story? Kyle Rayner, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, Bart Allen, Damian Wayne…do we just forget they existed? Are they going to be inserted into these “new” origins somehow?

Yeah, I want to be angry. I really, really want to be angry…but I can’t.

What keeps these characters alive is their ability to evolve. There’s a reason most of them have been around longer than you or I have been alive. Like us, they change. They adapt to the times they live in. While I don’t ultimately deem it necessary, this is bound to go down in history as the next step in the evolution that is the key to their everlasting survival. I’m definitely not happy that I’m going to lose “my” Batman. But the thing is, he’s not just mine. These heroes don’t belong to any one generation. They belong to every generation. That’s why they live on.

So yeah, I’m grumpy about this. But I won’t be grumpy forever. Unlike a lot of fans, I’m sticking with DC, because I love their characters. Corny as it sounds, they’re part of who I am, to an extent. God willing, this isn’t just another bonehead move, and the folks behind this initiative have good heads on their shoulders. With any luck, in a few years, this “new” Batman will become “my” Batman.

Front page image from alexrossart.com.

Share

DC Universe to “Relaunch” This September

Image from comicsalliance.com.

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

DC Comics announced today that beginning in September, the DC Universe will effectively “relaunch,” renumbering all of its books and kicking off more modern interpretations of its iconic characters.

“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line,” DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio said. “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”

The company will release and renumber 52 new titles, including Action Comics, which recently reached its 900th issue, Detective Comics, which has published over 880 issues, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.

Co-publisher Geoff Johns promises a more human focus in the new books.

“What’s the human aspect behind all these costumes?” Johns said. “That’s what I wanted to explore.”

DiDio and Johns’ fellow co-founder Jim Lee reportedly redesigned numerous costumes for the DC characters. Johns and Lee will work together on DC’s new Justice League title (art from which is displayed above).

“We’re allowing people who have never bought a comic book in their lives to download them on portable media devices and take a look,” Lee said. “Having the ability to give people access to these comics with one button click means we’re going to get a lot of new readers.”

DC has “rebooted” its continuity before. In 1985, the event comic Crisis on Infinite Earths led the way for the DCU as it exists today.

Source: USA Today

Share

Modesty Blaise: The Double Agent – Graphic Novel Review

TITLE: Modesty Blaise: Double Agent
AUTHOR: Peter O’Donnell
PENCILLER: Neville Colvin
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: Titan Books
PRICE: $19.95
RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Here at PI, we’ve been on a bit of an old school British comic strip kick lately. It might sound odd, but once you get a look at some of these books, you understand. Strips like Johnny Red and Darkie’s Mob had amazing artwork and great writing. Modesty Blaise isn’t much different.

Created in 1963, the strip follows Modesty Blaise, who as a child escaped from a displaced person camp in Greece during the ’40s, and eventually became the leader of a crime organization known as “The Network,” alongside her right-hand man Willie Garvin. She later gained British citizenship by marrying a rich Englishman, who died a year after they were married. The strip revolves around Modesty’s adventures with Garvin, as they face various eccentric villains for the British Secret Service, and generally find trouble. Modesty’s creator, Peter O’Donnell, published her final story in 2001, when the character was nearly 40 years old.

The latest of the Modesty Blaise books put out by Titan, this book collects the classic stories The Wild Boar, Kali’s Disciples and The Double Agent. The book sees Modesty rescue the head of French intelligence, face off with a cult, and face off against a doppleganger.

The book certainly isn’t short on action. Both Modesty and Garvin are capable of handling themselves in a fight. She is tactful and resourceful, which you expect her to be. But what’s interesting about Modesty is that, to an extent, she’s one of the guys. Over the course of her career, she had numerous lovers, but also wasn’t opposed to doing what she had to do in bed to get information. That’s not to say she was an anti-hero or an “easy” woman, but she wasn’t a straight-laced Wonder Woman type character at all. She’s a sexy character, and O’Donnell and Colvin weren’t afraid to let her be sexy. I can certainly see her influence on modern characters like say, Jennifer Blood (though Modesty was never quite as messy as Jennifer is), created by another Brit, Garth Ennis.

In terms of how this book ranks with Johnny and Darkie, it’s good, but it has its flaws. Personally, I feel like it may not have aged as gracefully as the others. It’s certainly good, and before the actual content begins, creators like Neil Gaiman and Greg Rucka aren’t shy about complimenting O’Donnell and Colvin. But the art didn’t do quite as much for me. It’s hit or miss, to an extent. By modern standards, some of the body positions the characters find themselves in (no dirty jokes please) look slightly unnatural. I’m also a stickler for faces, and while certain panels look amazing (particularly the close ups of Modesty), others seem downright stagnant. Sometimes it feels like we’re looking at action figures instead of people.

Still, you can’t deny the overall quality of this book. When it comes to certain things, the British simply have their own unique flair and quality sometimes. Acting is one (as evidenced by the fact that Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and Wolverine, all American-created characters, will soon be played by British actors), and comics are another.

So here’s to you, Modesty…you AND your dangerous curves.

RATING: 7.5/10

Front page image from smallpressbigmouth.blogspot.com, interior  artwork from modestyblaiseltd.com.

Share

Comic Book Bloopers: Lois Lane’s Crotch Is In Danger!

***Comic books from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s tend to provide us with moments like that. Either a slang term meant something back then that it doesn’t now, or writers were simply under pressure to make stories lighter and less “explicit” (that was the case during the mid-20th century), or it’s simply a matter of stories being written in a different time. Retro comic books provide us with the occasional dose of unintentional hilarity. It is with that lovingly playful mindset that I bring to you: Comic Book Bloopers.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As we’ve seen in the past, Vintage Lois Lane wasn’t exactly the most stable woman. By modern standards, so many of the scenarios and stories that played out in the old Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane title made her look like a needy, manipulative bitch. She made Bella Swan look like Mother Teresa. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason Superman married her is because after decades of crazy schemes, he had no choice but to say: “You know what? You win. No other woman would pull so many batsh*t crazy stunts just to get a ring on my finger.”

Case in point…

(click to enlarge)

“Marry me, or I’m doing something that’s probably going to kill me.” Worst. Proposal. Ever.

Image from covergallery.com. (Click to enlarge)

Holy crap! Lois Lane marries Satan! That is an AWESOME storyline twist!

Except…not really. This is the fantastic world of comic books, and you’re telling me the best devil they could come up with is the old fashioned pitchfork and red tights gag? That worked wonderfully in Three Stooges shorts, but when the lord of darkness is up against Superman, he needs to look a bit more imposing! And on his wedding day none the less!

Oh, wait, never mind. As I look closer, I see that both Satan and Lois now have hoofs for feet. That’s a brilliant creative call. In hell, demons look exactly like humans do, except they have plastic red horns and hoofs for feet. There must be a lot of blacksmiths working in hell. Because you have your hoofs walk around on that hot ground without horseshoes. If hell should ever come to Earth, it’ll sound like a billion horses clomping around on the street. It’ll be super scary, you guys.

I can see why Lois Lane would go to hell though. After all, she’s always spreading her legs…

Okay, I know this post has been a bit perverted, but seriously…look where ALL the darts are pointing. Somehow, Lois Lane has been captured by a group of men who are just bound and determined to throw darts directly into her vagina. That WOULD be a difficult task to pull off, but that’s not the point!

Also, I love how Superman is completely oblivious to the whole situation, simply because some guy in a poncho told him she wasn’t there. Because you can always trust someone when they’re wearing a poncho. Ponchos are what honest people wear. If you go and look at old photos of Abraham Lincoln, he wore ponchos all the time.

Again, Superman is completely oblivious to the fact that he’s chasing an empty space suit, while Lois drifts through space with her legs WIDE open. And what’s the deal with that one henchman who’s pointing directly between Lois’ legs? He’s got a really devious look on his face, too. I wonder what he’s thinking…

“Yep, we went into space, and we brought the tang!”

I’m sorry. It’s just one of THOSE posts.

*sigh* Okay, AGAIN, Superman is completely oblivious as Lois Lane is about to have an EXTREMELY personal moment with a goddamn shark! Is Lois Lane’s vagina just a form of Kryptonite? Why is it that every time she opens her legs, he suddenly becomes a moron?

Wait…oh my God…the invisibility experiment! It worked! Every time Lois opens her legs, she becomes invisible! How else could Superman be completely unaware of her existence every time she’s in a vagina related danger! It all makes sense now!

Let’s just hope Lex Luthor never becomes a gynecologist.

One thing you have to give to Vintage Lois, though: She wasn’t shallow. Vintage Clark, on the other hand…

Really, Clark? “Plug Ugly?” Why is he ugly? Because he’s a ginger? Because he’s got that stock-henchman look on his face? What’s so ugly about him? You know what? You’re an asshole. He must be pretty strong, though. I mean, he slammed that other wrestler ass-first through the canvas! I don’t think Andre The Giant ever pulled that off…

Hey, you know who “Ugly Superman” kind of looks like?

 

Image from adherents.com.

Vintage Lois Lane loves Guy Gardner. I’m just sayin’…

Unless otherwise specified, all images from coverbrowser.org.
Front page image from comicmegastore.com.
For more Comic Book Bloopers, check out Superman Loses His Religion and Spider-Man Has a Nice Hat.

Share
Return top