Saturday, August 18, 2012

Random Thoughts

Lee, Gwen, Thomm, Matt and I have been discussing the blog back and forth. I have at times advocated ending the blog or continuing in some different manner. I believe that things have a natural life cycle and perhaps this blog has run its course. Maybe we should rechristen the blog and repurpose it. On one hand I may like to do some focused reviews of single books, solicit for people to send their various projects to us and do reviews of the projects. Of course if I absolute hate something I would just tell the person and pass on the review. Why would I do that, because I see no reason to denigrate someone’s work when they are trying to make a go of it, I would happily pass on my comments as to why I disliked something, but I would only publish books that I thought were at least a C. Bigger publishers and more successful writers can certainly survive my scorn. I still have a lot to say just not sure about how I want to say it. Any reader feedback would be welcome.
I have been reading a ton of different stuff and have some impressions I would like to share.

Mind Mgmt #3 by Matt Kindt and published by Dark Horse was a great read. From the first issue it has been a good book, now it is finally starting to flow into a more cohesive narrative. I look forward to any book by Matt and this book is no exception and is shaping up as one his best works. The story of who is Harry Lyme and why he made everyone on a plane forget what happened is a good one. Matt is also having fun with Frankenstein Agent of Shade in DC comics, check out both of them.

Speaking of DC Comics, the new 52 has been hailed as saving comics and it has certainly garnered a lot of positive reviews. Many people are remarking that sales are better than before. I have not studied the sales charts; I can only tell you that it has killed my interest in the DCU. What I see is a lot of gimmicky storytelling and characters that no longer connect with me. I have constantly wanted changed and understand the need for the heroes to be younger, but this way of doing it has cut the affinity I had for the DCU. Plus the constant starting stories in the middle to have action in the first few pages is fine as a storytelling device, it is boring when it feels like it is an editorial mandate. Also some of the stories are taking way too long to come together. Animal Man and Swamp Thing have felt very stretched out to build up the whole Rotworld cross over. Batwoman is twelve issues in and we are still on the same case. Tell a story and get out. Even my favorite super hero book by one of the best writers in the business (Batman by Scott Snyder) fell flat with the last couple of issues. Batman and Robin had Batman in an armored suit, what the hell is that. Batman should not be gimmick man, I was done with that years ago and let Iron Man have the armor. I think long term the new DCU could have been done better and the short term (because even two years is short term) gain may eventually be a long term problem. Done right, the DCU should have just restarted from ground zero. I have been reading the old Earth 2 stuff from years ago and it was fun having one world where the heroes aged and another where they were still beginning. Just like the Earth 2 series now, the entire DCU could have gone that route or just let new people be Batman, Green Arrow and the rest. Organic change allows for new readers to come in and old readers to still have a sense of continuity. The new DCU does not feel like a shared universe anymore. In some ways that is fine because I follow what I want and enjoy the individual stories, in other ways it makes it easy to move on whenever I want.

Thrillbent the digital comic site is producing an excellent story. Insufferable is a story by Mark Waid and Peter Krause that is starting to take full advantage of reading the comic as a digital book. It has 14 weeks already produced and I finally sat down on my computer and read it all at one time. It is a great story of a Batman and Robin type scenario, where Robin has grown up and is now a media obsessed super hero. He is also the son of the older hero and all sorts of things are going on. I love how a few twists here and there and you can make the Batman archetype very different, but build in enough familiarity so you have a feel for the character from the jump. This is one of Waid’s best efforts (which is high praise as Mark has a lot of great work under his belt) and beautiful work by Peter Krause. As you “read” by clicking the arrows they do great work with just changing a small thing here and there within a panel which makes it something that works best in a digital format. They are producing this book to take advantage of it being digital as opposed to just publishing a book in a digital format. Finally it is all free, so click here and check it out.

I have cut out a ton of Marvel stuff and I’m following the Avengers vs X-Men and will test the Marvel Now stuff out as it comes out. I’m not sold on the idea because Marvel is trying to say they are new starting points but the history all happened. Books like Hawkeye (at least one issue in) are great because it just ignores everything and tells a story about Hawkeye. The MU is acknowledged within the book but that is about it. Again just telling new stories about the exact same people under the masks is boring but it makes it easy to come and go whenever I want. I think nothing will ever get my interest back in Spider-Man. I just wish someone would grow up or someone would actually change in a Marvel or DC book. I want Dick back as Batman, I want Bucky as Captain America or something else, anything else. Anyway Marvel Now sounds like more the illusion of change, but it does not mean we can’t get some good stories out it.

I think my problem with most of the Marvel and DCU stuff is the weight of history has crushed the ability to do something new. Plus the secret identities of heroes are essentially a thing of the past. Another major problem is the inability to tell a short story. Every story is a magnum opus. I have been re-reading the old Huntress stories by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton. The material was from the seventies and it has many weaknesses as Levitz was just learning and Staton’s work is borderline cartoon style. Still within eight or nine pages Paul and Joe told adventures of the Huntress (at that time the Earth 2 daughter of Batman and Catwoman) and gave us a life for Helena Wayne. The desire to tell huge canvass type stories and big double page spreads has led to our heroes always being super heroes and nothing else. At least with a secret identity we as readers had a chance to relate to a character in their private lives and understand that part of them, now we can’t possible relate to being a super hero.

Also, I have been reading Showcase Presents Rip Hunter Time Master. It is great stuff and so much fun. It is full of the innocence of the early sixties where Rip would take his time sphere back in time for any goofy reason and take along his assistant Jeff, Bonnie (his girl friend?) and Corky her younger brother. I guess Corky was the idea of a kid sidekick. Comics were considered to be only read by boys between 8 and 12, so the character could be you (the reader). That explains so many kid sidekicks and Johnny Quest type stuff.  The science is non-existent and the sophistication level is nowhere near what most books achieve today. It reads odd at times, but with art by Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, Nick Cardy and others it is just a relaxing fun book to read an issue or two at a time. Over 500 pages for $20 or less dollars makes it a bargin.

Finally a note about Joe Kubert, the man was a legend in his own time and will always be remembered as one of the all time greats as an artist and from everything I read as a man. I have so much of his material in my collection and yet I could never have enough of it. Joe will be missed, but not forgotten.


  1. i check you blog quite often for the sole purpose of trying to figure out what new releases real comic-heads are excited about getting in the coming months. i dont have time to sift through all the releases in order to make wise selections. i mean i have my stand-by's (Batman and mignola stuff) but it is quite nice to see what you guys think will be good choices so i dont waste my time or money on crummy comics. if you close up shop i just want to say thanks for doing that.

  2. "...and I also finally got around to reading that 100 issue run of the Flash from #250 to #350, which means as soon as Matthew sends me the shipping charges they'll be headed for his house..."

    Rats I only dreamed you said that! :) Don't worry if you've already sold them on ebay -- with my luck I could see that as a possibility.

    Great post and its good to have something new by you to read whenever it comes out!

    I told y'all (I'm a native Virginian folks, not a gaffing politician) people liked the previews the best, but I love the mini or spotlight reviews too, because it keeps me up to date on what's going on (and we all know I don't read near as much as the rest of you).

    I don't see a need to rechristen the blog (name recognition to go with our T-shirts you know), but if ever did a spin-off I'd want to be involved with the Jeffersons and not Archie Bunker's Place.

    I hope to have something myself soon...

  3. Jim, you weren't kidding -- Thrillbent is AWESOME and a quick read too. See if you hadn't mentioned it, I would probably not have read it. P.U.R.P.O.S.E


  4. Matthew - I can make a deal and send you the Flash books and once you read them send them back, since it may take a long time before I get around to reading them.