Monday, April 02, 2012

Catching Up Can Be Maddening

So this week I managed to get caught up on quite a few comics and yet fell slightly behind on my Marvels, Indies and Vertigo books. I still have till Thursday to get that resolved, but it was a big week of comics and I felt it was necessary to whittle away on some of the DC books as well as wipe out my backlog of Mars books from Dynamite. Seeing Dynamite being sued by Burroughs people is a sad testimony that Dynamite appears to be preying on public domain material. Of course I’m still not sure how I feel about the idea of things being copyrighted forever and I also don’t like creators getting nothing when someone else exploits the characters.

The Mars books themselves are funny in some ways in that the Dejah Thoris’ artist draws her so ridiculously posed at times I’m surprised she can stand up. The Warriors of Mars book seems to be a pure expansion of what Burroughs did, but since the last few books after the first trilogy are somewhat of a blur to me I could be wrong. Avrid Nelson seems to have the best handle on the characters and is doing fateful adaptations with a little modernization here and there and touches of humor. All in all it is nice to see what I long considered Burroughs best, but most under rated work be given so much time in the sun. Marvel’s official adaptations, the movie and Dynamite have all helped make John Carter at least be a name that is known as opposed to everyone only knowing Tarzan.

I keep finding myself horribly disappointed in the DC books. Flash was a glaring example where we have Barry Allen now dating Patty and Iris Allen is more like a friend to him. The Flash is considered a menace to some people; Captain Cold is a tougher yet whiny overly emotional foe. Add to that the needless limitation being put on the Flash’s powers and instead of an ultra cool super hero, we have a handicapped one.  This limitation is that if he goes too fast he will create a wormhole. Now he has a built in monitor to tell him when that happens. Of course he violates it right away and sends half of a cruise ship into a wormhole. At one time they had Wally West only being able to go the speed of sound. They need to stop pretending there is a scientific basis for something that is flat out impossible. Plus I have this endless feeling of thinking I know something when I don’t. The heroes all have clouded histories. We have no idea how much of what we think we know is true or not. Continuity is out the window in the DCU.

The reason why having some level of continuity is important is so we can know there is an internal consistency and logic. By starting over in the middle for all of the characters it impacts the characters we think we know the most. I’m not worried if the Justice League lines up with Flash or Batman, but I want internal consistency. In Batman Dick Grayson is so young as to be absurd, that must mean he was Robin for five seconds. This Batman certainly never went through life and death at Darkseid’s hands. All of Grant Morrison’s work on the character has been severely undercut. We get a Batgirl that is unsure as she can now walk and is worried about new injuries. Of course there is no indication that her Oracle character every existed. Plus we have her mother showing up and she lives with her Mother now and a roommate. How can we expect her to have a super hero life? We just did something like this with Stephanie Brown learning to be Batgirl and live with her Mom and it was better. Superman is still a convoluted mess. Between Action and Superman I have no clue about the character is anymore. Wonder Woman is the only exception since she was a mess before and Azzarello is wisely just telling a story about her and about her learning the truth of herself and her culture. For stuff like Frankenstein, Demon Knights and other books it is not as important since these are new elements being added to the mix. The problem is for me that reading the DCU is like try to hold onto mercury. It is shiny and feels good as the coolness touches your hand, but its nature is to slip out of your hand. The love I had for the Legion has been destroyed, the fondness I had for Dick Grayson character is being eroded, I have no feeling for the Superman character and this Justice League is a joke. Re-read what Grant Morrison did when he wrote JLA and it kills this stuff even with Howard Porter being the artist versus Jim Lee. The new DCU has some good stuff, but all in all I could drop most of it like a stone and will probably cut my list even more once the Court of Owls story is over. Catwoman, Detective, Dark Knight, Teen Titans, Superboy and more are going to be kicked to the curb.

Oddly even with the endless re-telling of the same stories at least Marvel has a level of continuity. Their insistence on re-visiting the same story over and over is maddening. I also find the rapid remaking of Hawkeye into the movie version to be amusing as the movie crowd never flocks to the comics. Still the staleness of their stories and the inability to move forward has me moving more towards re-reading the old stuff that was fresh and new instead of following the same old stories. The green Hulk’s book is a farce and while the Red Hulk is more entertaining it too lacks a certain feeling. One thing both companies have lost is the ability for the heroes to be anything other than heroes. When Stan Lee was the driving force at Marvel what he did was humanize his characters. There is no humanity left in our spandex heroes.

Of course the Indies have their own brand of insanity such as Choker issue #6 coming out a year or two late with no explanation as to what happened in the book. On top of that it had the audacity to tell us to come back for the next series at the end for the continuing adventures of this character. Waiter, check please, I will be leaving this series. At least give the fans of the book a little word about what is going on inside the book. Do not assume I give a crap about your twitter feed or that I’m reading every press release or interview about you and your work. I actually have a life too with work, family and more.

I did actually read a few books from this week.
Aquaman – It is adding a whole host of additional characters into his background that I actually know nothing about. Why do I care about revelations about a character that is a blank slate.
Flash – See Above
New Avengers – The story was already ended in a prior Avengers book.
Avengers – See the Vision cry – again – yawn.
Avengers vs X-Men #0 – Marvel says thank you for $4 as nothing happens.
Walking Dead – Good issue, Rick greets a new community with killing someone, always a great way to make friends.
Hawken – I’m sure an overlooked Western by Ben and Tim Truman, great gritty hard edged book.
Cobra – This book is getting close to being cut for me. I liked it more when it was a psychological thriller.

Anyway comics in general have a lot of issues, but with my reduced hard cover mania and reduced monthly stuff I can at least line my own pockets with more money. Next week’s list Action, American Vampire, Animal Man, Detective, Fairest, Flex Mentallo Deluxe HC, IZombie, Red Lanterns, Stormwatch, Swamp Thing, Sweet Tooth, Age of Apocalypse, Avengers vs X-Men, Daredevil, Hulk (Red or Green I forget), Secret Avengers, Thunderbolts, Wolverine and the X-Men, Wolverine Alpha and Omega, Chew (a fun book), Fatale (a great series), Hell Yeah (entertaining), Invincible (will black Invincible make us forget Mark Grayson?), Danger Club (new series, why not try it out), Criminal Macabre (Cal is now one of the undead) and Dejah Thoris and the White Apes (we may be pushing the Mars stuff too far).

Hope to see everyone back here next Monday.

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