Not to mention that naked Commissioner Gordon being tortured by circus freaks should look terrifying, not goofy.

§ August 29th, 2016 § Filed under batman, cartoons, movie reviews § 8 Comments

So it turns out I was able to pick up the Batman: The Killing Joke Blu-ray for a reasonable price (“not cheap enough!” I already hear some of you saying) so I was able to form an opinion on the thing for myself rather than depending on the internet’s wailing and gnashing of teeth that followed its unleashing upon the world.

And…well…I mean, the cover’s nice:

thekillingjokebr
…though looking at a large version of the image, I can’t precisely tell if this is a brand new image based on the cover of the original comic, just with extra details that extend beyond the borders of that comic’s cover, or if it is the original drawing, with those additional details added after the fact, or what. My vote’s for brand new drawing, since it wouldn’t surprise me if Brian Bolland exactly duplicated every strand of hair, every glare on the camera, for this new image. There are enough little differences that could be attributed to recoloring/Photoshop manipulation, I suppose, but…

“Hey, Mike, what about the actual cartoon?”

…Now, the discs inside are certainly very round, with nice labels, and…

“MIKE.”

Oh, okay, fine.

What we have here are two very different cartoons basically just glued together to make a feature with the expected run-times of DC’s usual home video product. You have the first half (more or less), which is relatively standard issue Batman/Batgirl fighting bad guys, and the second half which is the actual adaptation that you presumably bought the movie for. The big problem is an issue of tonality…the second part does not flow from the first part. You have slam-bang action with relationship melodrama, and then you swing into a story that, as originally presented in print form, has a measure of melancholy and introspection that the cartoon at least attempts to duplicate.

The elephant in this particular room is of course that Batgirl and Batman perform, to borrow a phrasing from my initial Twitter response, the horizontal Batusi in the first half of the story. Now, this seems very much to be wildly inappropriate for the characters, to say the very least, given the “mentor/student” relationship that the two have…and is in fact reinforced throughout this half of the film, despite Batgirl’s efforts to alter that status. Batman even says to her at one point “we’re not equals,” emphasizing the apparent power imbalance that makes this “hook-up” even more cringeworthy. Yes, in context, they’re both adults, but that’s not how their relationship has ever read. At any rate, I will say that to the film’s credit, their sexual encounter is presented as a Very Bad Idea, so for a one-off film, I suppose can deal with it…

…Not that there’s any real point to it, beyond (as I’ve seen some folks suppose) to give Batman even more reason to hunt down the Joker, since apparently just shooting one of his crime-fighting partners and, oh, the simple fact that he’s the Joker aren’t enough. This is part of the larger idea that the producers added this extended prologue to give context as to who Batgirl is, so that we’ll feel the loss more when Joker shoots her in the back half of the movie (oh, SPOILERS, by the way) and…I don’t know. I feel like if you had to it, an entirely separate adventure, giving us not just the classic context for Batgirl but the Batman/Joker conflict as well, would have provided sufficient contrast and not have diminished the whole by pretending to be part of “The Killing Joke.”

Now the actual adaptation itself is…serviceable, if viewed as its own thing. There are some highlights, like Mark Hamill’s voicework as the pre-Joker Joker, which was as good as I’d hoped. He sounds like a perfectly normal guy…with just the faintest hints of his eventual Joker voice at the edges. And the scene where Barbara opens the door and the Joker is waiting there with the gun pointed at her…that’s just as terrifying and horrible as it needs to be. In fact, that entire scene is probably the best paced of the film, and most closely resembles the source material. There are attempts at some of the visual transitions from the comic, too, and those aren’t too bad, I suppose.

But overall this trip didn’t feel necessary. Nothing’s really added by giving voice to the dialogue, by making the pictures move. Part of the appeal of the original Killing Joke is, like I’d said, the quiet melancholy, as in the scenes where the Joker is clearly reflecting on his past. And Batman’s opening speech to who he thinks is the Joker, about how he’s been “thinking about you, about me” — that works read on a page. It doesn’t work when read out loud. Even the joke that ends the story…the timing on its telling feels like it’s off…and we don’t get the sirens that drown out the laughter, even though Batman has explicitly said that the police will be coming. You can still interpret the ending in this way, however, which is a good thing since in my mind I do think that’s an important part of the story.

It’s like animating The Killing Joke has made it smaller, taking its sadness and its nightmarish qualities and reducing them to Just Another Cartoon, and tacking on an unnecessary prologue didn’t help.

I mean, believe it or not, I’m glad I saw it…I think it’s interesting from the perspective of what happens when direct adaptations like these are attempted (see also The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen), but maybe we’re better off when these stories are used as inspirations for new media adaptations rather than expecting accurate translations.

And every Valentine’s Day for the past decade, I think about doing another one of those lists.

§ August 26th, 2016 § Filed under how the sausage is made, self-promotion § 9 Comments

I’d been on hiatus from the Trouble with Comics crew for a bit, since of late what small amount of blogging time I’ve had I’ve been focusing right here on this site, keeping the content up, patching up some old entries, and otherwise justifying the ol’ Patreon. But, the Trouble with Comics Question Time feature was hitting its 50th installment, and who am I to pass up an anniversary issue?

The Question this time was simply to list 50 Things We Loved About Comics, and you can read our answers in the three installments right here (1 2 3) and my entry is located in Part the Second.

Those of you who’ve been around a while may remember three consecutive Valentine’s Day entries where I listed “100 Things I Love About Comics” in each — they’re right here and I should warn you I haven’t fixed any dead links in those posts yet. As I say in the first post, that was inspired by a couple of Fred Hembeck strips (1 2) and by a post by Chief Troublemaker Alan David Doane (which included my then-relatively new site, which surprised the heck out of me!). Lots of people did lists of their own, but leave it to Tom Spurgeon to have unleashed the 1000 Things He Loves About Comics, and hoo boy that’s hard to beat.

Anyway, for my new Top 50 list I was going to do something similar to my old Top 100 lists…just list a bunch of stuff I like, whether it’s characters or creators or titles or what have you. In fact, my first past at my entry, I did just that…and it turned out I duplicated quite a bit from my old lists, and I didn’t want to do exactly what I’d done before. So the second time ’round I tried to stick to just listing specific events in comics (though a couple more general entries slipped in there), and I hope you are reminded of some fun things when you read my entry (and everyone else’s entries, too!) or maybe are intrigued by some bit of nonsense you hadn’t heard of before.

When I started my second pass at that list, I figured “oh man, this is going to take forever,” but I’m pleased to say that it took hardly any time at all to fill up all fifty spots. I had plenty more besides, and of course a day or two later I’m thinking of entries that should have been in that list but they simply slipped my mind.

Top of that “shoulda been in dere” list is Hawkman #4 in which we learn at long last the secret identity of Kite Man, who turns out to be a real blockhead. I can’t believe I left it off the list, but one of the wonders of the Comics Internet is that I been able to tell the writer of said issue, the eternally swell Tony Isabella, how much I loved that comic, so hopefully that makes up for my recent forgetfulness.

I also forgot to mention Lex Luthor anywhere in that list, which stuns me because I do loves me some Lex Luthor. It’d be hard for me to narrow it down to just one entry, but I think that one panel in Superman #149 (1961), “The Death of Superman,” where Luthor contemptuously thinks “The puny ants!” as he is on trial for Superman’s murder. Maybe more generally, I always liked those stories where Luthor is shown that, despite his hatred for Superman, he’s not entirely a monster and reveals some soft spot or ‘nother for, like, his sister, or for Einstein, or something like that. That’s an element lost in post-Crisis Luthor, who was just straight up pure evil, 24/7. (Maybe that’s part of the reason why I’m enjoying the Rebirth Superman titles so much, with Luthor’s redemption arc…he’s still an arrogant jerk, but he seems to be doing the right thing.)

And then there’s Dr. Doom, who really should have been in there somewhere, too. Again, it’s hard to pin down one particular moment or story…maybe that one Fantastic Four issue where we follow Doom around during a typical day in his country of Latveria. Or more generally, I just love the fact that Reed Richards and Doom were once (very briefly, like for what, a minute?) college roommates, now mortal enemies which I expect more than a few people can relate to.

And plenty more besides. Nobody needs to tell me what else I forgot…believe me, I know. I did manage to keep the Swamp Thing entries down to just one, but it’s a good’un. There are entries for three different Frank Miller Batman-related things, however. You’re welcome!

I could make a tortured Woodrue Morgue joke but only I would think it’s funny.

§ August 24th, 2016 § Filed under swamp thing, this week's comics § 7 Comments

So you Swamp Thing fans out there, of which there are at least one or two I’m pretty sure, should keep a lookout for this edition of the British Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue:

ruemorgue169
…that’s issue #169, and I normally just get a copy in that shop for a pull list customer, but of course once I saw what was being featured I had to get my mitts on one myself. I like the cover, which of course incorporates Steve Bissette’s cover from Swamp Thing #51. It’s a nice seven-page chunk of the mag in full color, featuring interviews with cocreator Len Wein, artist of the recent mini-series Kelley Jones, and writer of the back half of the New 52 series, Charles Soule. There’s a brief overview of Swampy’s history, and a review of the aforementioned mini. It’s a welome addition to the ol’ Swamp collection.

Checking with my distributor, it appears to be no longer available through them (and any other retailers checking there themselves should note they have a different cover attached to the item information for this issue). However, it appears you can mail order a physical copy from the official site for the magazine, or even get a digital copy, if that’s the way you swing.

And speaking of swinging…er, I mean, of Swamp Thing:

thehellblazer1rb
…there he is, palling around with his old chum John Constantine in the first issue (as opposed to the Rebirth one-shot that came out a month ago…thanks for making me have to explain the “two number ones” thing to every customer, DC) of The Hellblazer, which is different from the other Constantine series called Hellblazer in that there’s a “The” there in the title now.

Inside the comic, Swamp Thing needs John’s help with something-or-other, and the two trade quips and barbs and it kinda feels like the Good Old Days in case you read that previously-noted one-shot and didn’t care for it (as some of my customers expressed to me). There is an odd continuity thing, which…well, to catch you folks up:

1. Lab explodes, and Alec Holland’s burning body plunges into the swamp.

2. The chemicals Alec was working on merge with the swamp and with Alec’s body, and out pops Swamp Thing.

3. Swamp Thing believes he is Alec Holland, mutated by science gone awry.

4. It is revealed that isn’t the case, that Alec did in fact die in the explosion, and the plant elemental that arose used Alec’s memories as a template for itself.

5. That Swamp Thing hangs around for a long time, before eventually going away.

6. Alec is returned from the dead, and this time he actually is turned into Swamp Thing to replace the previous one.

As per what seems to exist in New 52/Rebirth continuity, that Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing still happened, and in one issue Actually-Is-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing meets Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing. What of the published stories is still in continuity is anyone’s guess, especially since a major thing that happened to a supporting character during the Alan Moore/Bissette/John Totleben era seems to Have Never Happened now.

In The Hellblazer #1, we get a discussion referring to a specific something that happened during the Not-Holland-Swampy’s tenure, with John chiding Current Alec-Swampy for it. Now it could be that maybe Alec-Swampy did a similar thing off-panel and this is the first we’re hearing about it, or that John somehow forgot these are two different Swamp Things, or that the previous Swamp Thing merged with the current Swamp Thing somehow and they’re basically the same being, or it’s a complicated Rebirth re-fiddling with the continuity thing, or this was all explained somewhere and I missed or forgot it because I don’t reread every issue multiple times anymore, or maybe I’m just thinking too much about it.

Anyway, it’s just a very minor point in this issue and only some crazy person who’s been reading Swamp Thing for the better part of four decades and also has a blog would really bring it up.

I think this new cartoon should open with a live-action version of the original show’s animated credits.

§ August 22nd, 2016 § Filed under adam west, batman, cartoons § No Comments

batreturnbrOkay, so I’m a little behind on this, but I’m thrilled this is happening…Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar returning as Batman, Robin and Catwoman for a new animated feature based on the ’60s Batman TV show.

There’s a trailer at the link…the animation looks nice, West and Ward’s voice work sounds good…it feels like West may be pushing the “jokiness” of his voice a bit more than we got in the show (similar to his voice work in Lego Batman 3) which sort of gives Batman more seeming self-awareness of the inherent ridiculousness of his circumstances. In the show, the joke was Batman was deadly earnest about everything, and making him in on the joke would undercut the show’s tone. HELLO, I’M THE GUY NIT-PICKING A NEW ADAM WEST BATMAN THING — I’m sure it’ll be fine, and will be perfectly happy getting new Adam West Bat-anything. I mean, I’m sure my voice won’t sound exactly the same 40 years from now. I’m just glad that The Bat-Powers That Be were able to get this accomplished while West and Ward and Newmar were…still available to perform, shall we say.

I’d love for there to be a series of these films, but I’m going to hazard a guess and say that one’s all we’re getting. Besides, they’ve already done an animated Dark Knight Returns adaptation, which is basically the only other story I’d insist on West voicing.

At the very least, it’ll be nice to have a new Batman direct-to-home-video cartoon that kids can watch, as opposed to the Killing Joke flick that was released a few weeks ago. I haven’t yet seen it, and I’ve been hesitant to do so after hearing about a wholly unnecessary and distasteful expansion to the story, with Batman and Batgirl having a sexual relationship. (Apparently to give Batman more reason to be angered at what the Joker ultimately does to her, since “the Joker seriously injured my crime-fighting partner” isn’t enough.) From what I hear, the adaptation of the actual comic itself isn’t bad…I mean beyond the problems with the actual story itself, which has undergone quite a bit of reconsideration in recent years…though apparently the ending is made less ambiguous. What I’ve been most curious about is Mark Hamill’s voice work on the pre-Joker Joker…I want to know what he does with that. Ah, well, maybe if the price on the Blu-ray drops a bit more, I’ll pick it up, or I can just Netflix it eventually.

Maybe instead of tacking on that unnecessary prologue, they could have used that portion of the disc’s runtime to adapt a different Joker story? Like “Dreadful Birthday, Dear Joker.” They didn’t do an adaptation of that already, did they? Or while I’m thinking of it, how ’bout a series of two or three discs adapting this series? Sure this scene needs to exposed to the cartoon-viewing public.

Probably some spoilers for DC Universe Rebirth in here, if that’s still a problem for anyone.

§ August 19th, 2016 § Filed under watchmen § 10 Comments

Okay, for the life of me, I have no idea how I missed this on my pass through Previews for the most recent installment of the End of Civilization:

watchmenshirts1
This is…just nuts, really. Now don’t get me wrong, I love ridiculous exploitations of the Watchmen property, mostly out of what I’ve described in the past as the “sheer hilarious gall” of the publisher to continue finding new ways to aggravate the purists. There’s a part of me that’s all “I can’t believe they’re still doing this” but it’s vastly overwhelmed by the cultural observer in me, fascinated by whatever new permutation is about to be inflicted upon us. True, the toaster set the bar fairly high in terms of sheer crassness, but I still have a soft spot for all these neat little Heroclix figures.

Anyway, what you see above is the listing in the August 2016 Previews for a bunch of Watchmen tie-in shirts, featuring the Big Three Super-logos all affixed with the bloodsplash that you’ll remember from the Comedian’s smiley-face button (and repeated as a motif throughout the story). Here’s a better look:

watchmenshirt2
This…is a strange item, certainly, which will confuse anyone not up-to-date on current DC continuity (so pretty much “the population of Earth +/- 0.0001%”) and will wonder “why the red blotch? What does that mean?” Not that “being clear to the mundanes” has ever been a top priority with fan merch…it’s more for signaling to others in the same club, as was pointed out to me when I expressed curiosity over the choice of design for that Sandman “it was good being your raven” t-shirt that came out decades ago. Or of course I’m just overthinking it, and some folks out there will just like the design and not care a single bit if anyone else “gets it.”

The real purpose, however, is for fans to wear these shirts and remind each other that Watchmen is part of the DC Universe now, though to what extent exactly is not entirely known, beyond what was presented in the initial DC Universe Rebirth one-shot (though there are theories). Like I’ve said before, we’ll get some kind of event down the road where the Watchmen/DCU connection will be addressed in full, and that these shirts exist at all implies its inevitability. Whether this means “BATMAN VS. RORSCHACH, FOR ALL THE MARBLES” remains to be seen (but boy, I sure hope so).

Showing their true metal.

§ August 17th, 2016 § Filed under dc comics § 2 Comments

Speaking of the Metal Men comics I received at my shop recently, I noticed something on them that I don’t think I’d paid much attention to before:

metalmenartcredita

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I hadn’t noticed signatures on DC’s Silver Age books before with an affixed “ART:” or “ART BY” credit. These particular examples are from Metal Men #2 (1963) and #11 (1964/5), telling one and all that these swell cartoon robots were delineated by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Just seemed a little odd to me, though perhaps inspired by the increased realization of the marketability of specific creators as the Silver Age progressed, particularly with Marvel’s “we’re all your pals here!” editorial emphasis and cutesy nicknames, making sure you knew which comics were by “King” Kirby and “Jazzy” John Romita.

Anyway, whatever the reason, these sure look neat blown up nice an’ big like that.

In other Metal Men news, I continue this current semi-obsession in asking a related question of the War Rocket Ajax fellas, at around the 1 hour 22 minute mark, more or less.

It was either this or loading up Pokemon Go.

§ August 15th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 6 Comments

So a couple of weeks ago my parents got themselves a pair of new iPhones, and as part of the deal they received a couple of free iPad Minis. They kept one, and gave the other to me.

Now I was trying to figure out what to do with it, exactly…I have another tablet, a Nook, which I used primarily for book readin’, as I generally used desktop computers for fooling around on the internet. But given my recent entry into store ownership (that store being Sterling Silver Comics, located in the heart of beautiful Camarillo, CA) and my increased work hours, I’ve been falling behind on my reading, be it comic books, actual physical novels or virtual novels on said Nook. Now, I did power up the Nook again just recently, to take advantage of the recent ebook settlement credit I had in the Barnes and Noble account to finally get that final Dexter novel, and I totally plan on reading it as soon as I finish these other two books I’m in the middle of (yes, two, I paused reading one to read the other). If it takes me this long to get around to reading something on my Nook (which I do enjoy, by the way), what am I going to do with yet another tablet?

Well, I think I may have found a possible use…the Comixology app.

GASP! What? A gentleman whose livelihood depends on the selling of physical media comic books, delving into the digital alternative of same? MONOCLE LOSS: IMMINENT.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Mostly I poked around some of the free offerings just to see what reading a digital comic on one of these newfangled contraptions was like. Of course, I tried it out with Swamp Thing #1 (1972), and enjoyed the guided reading, where it goes from panel(s) to panel(s), zooming in when necessary, as you swipe the screen from page to page. (I did notice Swamp Thing’s word balloon from this page was miscolored…don’t know if that was a deliberate artistic choice or a mistake.) Anyway, for an Old Person like myself who still prefers holding an actual comic book in my hand, I found the Comixology thing an interesting novelty. I know many people find it a convenience, and it’s certainly a cost-effective way for smaller publishers to get their material into the marketplace.

Now, while I would prefer comics on actual paper, the digital alternative does seem to solve a particular dilemma I have as an owner of an Actual Comic Book Store That Sells Actual Back Issues.

Recently, I acquired another collection of ’60s and ’70s comics, including a small stack of Metal Men. Metal Men is one of those series I’d always meant to collect…it was one of those series I’d planned on tackling after finishing my run of the original Doom Patrol, though after completing that run, I never got around to seeking out the other series. It’s not like I didn’t have opportunity, as my previous place of employment usually had a good selection of them. But it was financial constraints, not really wanting to get started on chasing down more comics, getting distracting by other shiny objects…there were a whole lot of reasons why I never got around to it.

And here we are, years later, at this point in my comic collecting, and I’m still not really looking to start yet another back issue hunt. Yes, I’m still filling holes in my ’70s Atlas/Seaboard comics, I need a couple more comics to round out my Inferior 5, and I’ll grab any fanzines that come within reach, but I’m now buying back issues to resell in the store, not to fill my own boxes at home. I need to show some restraint, as any old comic I decide to keep for myself is suddenly a comic that’s not going to make me any money. As much as I’d love to take all these recently-acquired Metal Men home and love them and pet them and squeeze them and call them George, I need them to make me some scratch. I don’t even particularly want to “borrow” them and take them home, since it might take me a while to get through them and I don’t want to take a chance on losing a sale. (And no, I don’t really have time to read comics at the store.)

Here’s where the digital comics thing comes in. If I were to buy them as digital comics, that’s not taking product out of my store that I could resell, and that reduces the time I’d spend searching for these. I don’t necessarily need to have all these Metal Men in the original physical format…I’d just like to read them, and digital versions would be good enough.

Of course, after thinking about all that, it turns out those original Metal Men are not available through this app, but I suppose it’s only a matter of time. If DC eventually does some softcover color editions, as opposed to the high-end DC Archives or that black and white Showcase book, I’d rather get those, but digital would be fine. But this particular strategy might come in handy for any other older comics I’d like to read but not take away from store stock…or even comics that I’m likely not to see anytime soon, like that New York World’s Fair book.

So this iPad Mini looks like an interesting way to supplement my comics reading…I certainly don’t want digital to replace my beloved physical comics, but I realize the day may come sooner than I’d want it. Just give me two or three decades to make a living off of selling actual items before you younglings push Old Man Mike out of the way to download Marvel’s newest line of monthly first issues.

I mean, nothing against Sweden, it’s a lovely country.

§ August 12th, 2016 § Filed under swamp thing § 5 Comments

So ye olde Google Alerts pulled up this article about the recent Heritage Art Auction, and yeah, a Frazetta painting brought in a lot of dough, and sure, an Action Comics #1 sold for whatever, but what you’re here for is Swamp Thing news!

Bernie Wrightson’s original art for the cover for the first issue of the classic Swamp Thing series, published in 1972, went for over $191,000:

st1

…and Wrightson’s wraparound cover for DC Special Series #2 (1977) went for the relative bargain price of just under $66,000:

dcspecialseries2
What sort of surprised me is that these pieces were still out there, trading around on the market. It makes me wonder where all the Swamp Thing original art from House of Secrets #92 might be. Hey, if you see the original art for this cover pop up on eBay for, like, $100, maybe even $150, let me know, okay?

Speaking of original art, Twitter pal Jason pointed out this Amazon listing for the very-forthcoming Swamp Thing Bronze Age Omnibus due on in 2017. The listing notes that it includes House of Secrets #92 and Swamp Thing issues #1 through 25. As all true Swampheads know, the original series only published through #24, which has me wondering if the omnibus is going to include those unpublished pages from #25 that turned up in the original art marketplace a few years back. That would be nice, particularly if they were able to find other pages from the issue, if they exist.

It could just be a typo, though Twitter pal Christopher notes that the same information turns up elsewhere. That could just mean the typo’s in whatever press release got sent around to everyone, though. Wouldn’t be the first time a Swamp Thing #25 got typo-ed into existence…the Overstreet Price Guide mistakenly had it in their listings for a few years.

Anyway, it’s not like I’m not going to get one for myself, regardless. Can’t pass up my, what, fifteenth, sixteenth reprint of House of Secrets #92? Oh, and it’ll be nice to have the rest of the the Nestor Redondo-illustrated issues on good paper, after only getting three of them reprinted in that Roots of the Swamp Thing book from a while back. And speaking of that, the theoretical Roots of the Swamp Thing Vol. 2 that I wrote about a couple of years ago seems to still be a shadow of a whim of a dream, judging by this Amazon listing with no potential arrival date noted. If that even means anything. I have no idea. You should probably ask someone who knows something about comic books.

But regardless, thassa lotta Swamp Thing heading our way in our format or another. Now let’s hope this book sells well so we can get a second omnibus with all those Challengers of the Unknown and Super Friends and other Swampy appearances under one cover. And maybe that second installment of the Patchwork Man story that only appeared overseas, too. That’ll save me a trip to Sweden, at least.

I hope they do a year-long story about Superman having an ant head.

§ August 10th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 4 Comments

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• • •

flintstones2cvr

So Flintstones #2 from DC’s strange Hanna-Barbera revamp project isn’t quite as peculiar as the initial installment, but it does firmly establish the milieu as some sort of terrifying nightmare world. It goes well beyond the humorous shrug of the various appliance-animals exclaiming “it’s a living!” to…well, worse things, frankly. That’s just a small portion of the overall theme of the issue, which is a critique of consumerist culture, with a little poking fun at religion mixed in, and overall I think I’m beginning to really like this series. The first issue caught me off guard, as I said at the time, but I think with the second issue I’m catching on to what they’re doing.

superwoman1cvr

Superwoman squeezes a whole lot of storytelling into those 20 pages…many panels per page, lots of dialogue, along with an additional surprise character that I wasn’t quite sure I was expecting as a regular in this series. The title brings an additional permutation of the Superman franchise, which has been going in some unusual directions of late, and generally for the better. Like I said last week, I feel like this weird fiddling with the Super-books will all go away once the Rebirth event reaches its eventual conclusion, but in the meantime it’s nice to see them break out of their usual ruts. And I mean in a good well-thought-out way, not in the rushed-to-the-marketplace-New-52-retooling way.

And yes, I know “Superman’s girlfriend gets super powers!? WHA–!?” ain’t exactly a new story, but neither was “Superman’s identity — REVEALED!?” but taking those old Silver-Agey one-off plots and turning them into The Status Quo (for at least a while) is still an appealing way of doing things, at least to me. Remember, I was into that whole Superman Red/Superman Blue thing before it was cool!

darthv24cvr

Darth Vader wraps up next issue, which kinda surprises me given that it’s been a success for Marvel (not that any of the Star Wars books haven’t been successes). However, it’s nice when it’s recognized that a series that comes to a natural conclusion (and will sell forever in collected book form) is preferred to an eternally-running series with diminishing returns. Or restarting with a new #1 immediately to boost up sales for another month or two. Not that we won’t see another Darth Vader mini-series at some point, I’m betting, but taking the first one off the shelves finally makes room for that Lobot: P.I. mini-series that I would totally write for free if Marvel is listening.

Anyway, this issue is like the total opposite of Superwoman in that it’s all big panels and light on dialogue, but for some reason I’m a little more forgiving of this in a Star Wars comic, probably because George Lucas has brainwashed me since I was a child. It’s mostly mindspace-type shenanigans, as Vader reflects on the incidents that made him who he is, so we’re getting a lot of Prequel Trilogy imagery mixed with the Big Guy as we’re familiar with him from the Real Trilogy, which is intrinsically interesting to the Star Wars nerd that I am. It’s not quite as shocking as the one appearance-of-sorts of Darth Vader in the Clone Wars cartoon series, but it’s neat to see nonetheless.

asbatman1cvrrebirth

Okay, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but 1) no, despite the name it’s not a continuation of DC’s finest Batman title, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and 2) the multiple covers for this first issue reminds me of the multiple covers for the first issue of the somewhat similar Legends of the Dark Knight. At least this time they gave us actual drawings on each variant (well, except for the blank sketch cover)…I like that John Romita Jr. cover (pictured above) the best. A quick flip-through at least looks interesting, and I enjoyed Scott Snyder’s Bat-writing previously, so I’m reasonably sure I’ll enjoy this too.

[TEMPUS FUGIT]

Okay, fine, I read it instead of going to bed like a sane person. It’s a fun Batman comic, featuring our favorite Caped Crusader in some locations you don’t usually see Batman in. Plus, there’s the return of a character that I’ve always liked and that we’ll get to see more of (well, more or less…you’ll see what I mean) in the next issue. Don’t know if we need yet another Batman book, but so long as 1) they’re good, and 2) they’re taking different approaches to the franchise, I guess I’m okay with it, which I’m sure makes the folks at DC let out sighs of relief.

Bringing up the possibility of a Misfits of Science: Season 2 comic didn’t really fit in the body of this post, so here it is in the title.

§ August 8th, 2016 § Filed under indies, television § 1 Comment

So when I was talking about the black and white boom books a while back (1 2 3) there’s one I totally forgot about and was reminded of when Zack Soto brought it up on his Twitter: MacKenzie Queen!

macqueentpb
Yeah, that’s the cover of the trade instead of one of the issues of the actual series, because if I’m going to “borrow” a pic from the Grand Comics Database, let it at least this time be one that I scanned for that site myself.

Anyway, I’ve written here before about MacKenzie Queen, mostly about the fact that it took me what seemed like forever to track down the last issue of the series. In fact, I found it after I bought the trade, because it figures. And you should go to that link for the ultimate punchline about the whole MacKenzie Queen #5 thing.

I definitely did want to point out this comic, even if it’s a bit after the fact of my black and white funnybook discussion, because this was the first time I was exposed to the work of Bernie Mireault, and just loved it to pieces. Beautifully detailed art delineating crazy magic and aliens and even music, with a great sense of humor…this was right up my alley. The Jam is a later series of his that’s just as great, and even just typing out that name makes me want to pull those out of the boxes and give ’em a reread. …Man, if only I had time to reread all the comics I want to reread.

So, in conclusion: MacKenzie Queen and The Jam…two more positive results from the black and white boom of the 1980s. ASK FOR THEM BY NAME.

• • •

In other news, the long-running Wild Cards anthology series that took comic book superheroes and turned ’em into prose (and then people would occasionally turn them back into comic books, for some reason) is apparently just about to get a live-action adaptation, apparently. Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long, kinda sorta, especially now when people are scrambling for superhero stuff to turn into movies and hopefully get some trickle-down from that enormous pile of Avengers movie bucks.

I’m only “kinda” surprised because, as has been brought up in the occasional discussion I’d get into friends with this, the sheer number of different writers and characters they’ve created for the series might complicate any media adaptation deals, though I have zero idea what kind of agreements were in place for this very thing. And it might have been the cost…a superhero TV show means lots of special effects, and while those are probably cheaper to do now than they ever have been, it still ain’t free, and multiply the number of different effects they’d have to work out by the number of characters that could be involved. I mean, there are ways to work around this, of course.

On the other hand, given that George R.R. Martin was one of the instigators of this particular book project, I’m not surprised someone finally pushed this project forward. Seems like I remember a long time ago, reading in Comics Scene, that this was a possible Disney project at one point, maybe?

But whatever. I do look forward to it, as a Wild Cards fan since that first paperback came out way back in 1986 (thirty years? good gravy…and I know it has a 1987 copyright, but I’m about 98% certain it came out in late ’86). I’m trying not to get my hopes too far up, given my reaction to another adaptation of something I greatly enjoyed, but if they can sell me on a live-action version of The Great and Powerful Turtle, I think I’ll be okay with it.

And speaking of comic book TV adaptations…is Dreadstar still in the works? Oh Lordy I hope so.

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