DC News & Views 01.20.04

I apologize to everyone who depends on the Saturday edition of News and Views to get them through their weekend. Through a fluke of technology, my e-mail of that edition never left my Outbox. Totally my fault and I am a totally consumed by guilt about it. However, the good news is that that means there is news for today as this weekend was exceptionally quiet for DC. So here it is, delayed, but chock full of Detective Comics (as in the company, not the Bat-book) goodness.

DC Focuses On The Real World

What would happen if real, everyday people, from a world where superheroes didn’t exist suddenly developed super powers or gained items that would have the same effect? That’s what’s being explored in the new DC Focus line making its debut this February. Edited by Joan Hilty and Matt Idelson, the four series: Touch, Hard Time, Kinetic, and Fraction are the next wave in reality-based comics. Hard Times bows in February, followed by Kinetic in March, and Touch and Fraction in April. We sat down with the editors for details on what makes each series tick.

Make it all so much clearer at The Pulse

A few weeks ago on this site someone took to task the concept of superheroes in the real world, explaining that in this individual’s opinion, the moment the superhero or villain was introduced, the world ceased being “real.” (I believe it was Daron, in which case I apologize for nothing I am about to say. If it is someone else on this site, Daron is making me write all this, but I totally agree with and respect you. Like completely). I think this opinion takes the phrase “real world” a touch too literally.

“Real world” superhero stories are based on the storytelling technique that my father links to Stephen King. You take the world and slowly expand upon it. It starts simply with your neighborhood, for example. Then, what if it was your neighborhood, but their was a nest of vampires that was slowly marching down the street turning those in your town into the walking undead? Every night, more and more neighbors, more and more fellow Rotarians, more and more friends were joining the vampire army. Now what if you discovered the only weapon that could return their humanity and save the town? And so on the process goes. “Real world” means that the events, which propel the story, begin in a reality very much like our own. It does not mean, however, that those events cannot shape and alter the “real world.” The criticism does bring up a legitimate concern of the “real world” technique though. In some cases, the real is so quickly dispensed with it is difficult to tell why the writer ever bothered with it in the first place.

Obviously, given that I would waste two paragraphs on that explanation of “real world” storytelling, I very much dig the device. Comic books are fertile grounds for all sorts of storytelling and just as novels can be “real world” there is absolutely no reason comics cannot perform the same feat. I am very excited to see where the Focus line will run with it. My fear, as hinted at above, is that the moment the superpowers enter into the frame, the real world idea will fade from sight. The key, for myself, to real world storytelling is being sure to reintegrate whatever occurs into reality. If superpowers are gained, it should have resounding implications, although not necessarily black helicopters, shadow government agencies, and evil genius super villains rising to the challenge. If DC intends the Focus line as the birth of an entirely new sub-line of DC where superpowers will soon be as prevalent as in the main DCU that is fine and dandy. In advertising the line as “real world” oriented, however, I hope that DC sticks with the concept and builds a universe where the conventions of the DCU do not make their presence felt too soon.

Lastly, before I give you a glance at articles on the entire Focus line (free of my commentary…WHEE!!!!-) I would propose that real world need not mean slimy, criminal, or opportunistic. Certainly it can and should, but there is plenty of heroism in the real world too. The lack of any mention of that in the Focus line does make me weary, but as always, we give it a look see before we administer a verdict. Okay, dig into the Focus-y goodness.

Um…yeah…I never said that, nor do I even have any idea where you got this from. And for those of you who were offended by any of this…go ahead and take it out on Tim, I know I will be. – Daron………The Dark Overlord

Moore and Craig Want To Touch You…Seriously

If superheroes existed, there’d be people trying to exploit them. Just like Cooper Santiago, a huckster/agent who finds super powered individuals, represents them, then gets rich quick off of their talents, sometimes through deception and misrepresentation. Rory Goodman’s a mechanic who would be happy spending his life working as a grease monkey, but Cooper has other plans for him. In John Francis Moore and Wesley Craig’s Focus April debuting series Touch.

Enjoy the closeness at The Pulse

Focus Brings the Energy…The Kinetic Energy

The second series of the DC Focus line, making its debut in March, is Kelley Puckett and Warren Pleece’s Kinetic. The story features Tom, a sickly young man, who, as if it wasn’t bad enough that getting a hug too tight or a smack on the back could break bones, also has to deal with the mother of all overprotective mothers. When he’s suddenly blessed – or maybe cursed – with super powers, will that be the answer to all his prayers or just the start of more troubles?

Pay a visit to a poor sickly young man at The Pulse

Who Loves Math? Because Here Comes Fraction!

Take four bad ass former high school friends, have them steal four pieces of a powerful experimental armor suit, add in lots of trouble, and you’ll get all the right ingredients for David Tischman and Timothy Green’s new DC Focus series, Fraction. Can friendship survive, when the opportunity to be the sole power with all the pieces exists? According to scribe Tischman, “It’s Treasure of the Sierre Madre with a high-tech battle suit,” and it all begins in April.

Remind yourself of fifth grade at The Pulse

Gerber Needs You to Endure Hard Times

One veteran creator involved in the new DC Focus line is Steve Gerber. No stranger to character driven stories, Gerber’s Hard Times tells the story of a 15-year-old sentenced to life in prison for his part in a violent school incident. Although the teen also has superpowers, that doesn’t make prison or his existence any easier. Hard Times is the debut title in the Focus line and drawn by Brian Hurtt. Gerber described, “No talking ducks. No dancing ostriches. No attempts at satire and absolutely nothing resembling whimsy — although there are moments of unexpected humor.” Find out more in this “focus”sed interview.

Check out The Pulse because these puns are slowly killing me.

Ok, I don’t know which of these titles everyone is thinking about getting, but you should all check this one out. Why you ask? Because I used to work with Brian Hurtt (and he’s a good guy) so it’s my job to pimp his work. There I’ve done my good deed for the year… –The Overlord

Rucka Discusses the Wonderful New Lady in His Life

You might not want to tell anyone, but Greg Rucka has a big secret:
He’s in love with Diana, better known as Wonder Woman.

Tell Rucka to back off your woman at CBR

Ugh…I thought I was finally reading an article about Wonder Woman that would not involve the mention of the damn invisible jet. But nooooo, there it is, last question. At least Rucka brought up a good point about the inherent impossibility and/or uselessness of having an invisible vehicle where the passengers where still visible inside of it.
Anywho, invisible plane aside, I have to say I am still enjoying Rucka’s take on WW. The first issue was eh for me, but I have found myself progressively more and more seduced by his take on the character and his introduction of a new supporting cast while weaving through aspects of previous supporting casts.

I know the book takes some flack for its methodical pacing, its decompressed storytelling, if you will (by the way, next edition, I will respond to a letter and explain what exactly my issue is with the term “decompressed storytelling” and why every time I use it, it drips with sarcasm). I think of it this way though; we have seen all action takes on Wonder Woman where she smashes things and fights and so on and so on. We have seen Diana replaced by someone else with a different take on Wonder Woman-ing. WE have seen her in a white jumpsuit using karate for goodness sake. For the most part, none of this approaches really clicked. Arguably, the only wholly successful take on Wonder Woman in the past 30 years was Perez’s (although I would nominate Jimenez for at least some consideration). I think Rucka’s approach is different and different is a good call when other approaches just don’t seem to be gelling. For my money, Diana is as compelling as she has been in quite some time and the story is different and, more importantly, interesting.

Levitz Chats Up DC/Humanoids Collaboration

As announced yesterday, thanks to a new agreement, DC will serve as the English language publisher for Humanoids, allowing DC to offer a wide variety of European graphic novels to both the direct and bookstore market. Newsarama spoke briefly with DC President Paul Levitz about the new deal.

Part of what makes the deal significant (despite the fact that while every publisher has been looking to the East and manga, DC looked to Europe) is the strength of the Humanoids’ library, which includes many genres, world-renown creators, and projects that have been bestsellers in Europe for years. For DC, it’s the next step in an expansion on both the direct market and the bookstore market.

Tap the European market at Newsarama

Good for DC expanding their horizons and incorporating another catalog of titles into their line. To make a (perhaps obvious) music comparison, it is like a record company acquiring song rights. It is almost always a good idea (provided the price is not excessive) to add diversity to the titles and genres one can offer in any type of art, be it comics, music, film, or literature. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am blessedly ignorant on Humanoids specific title offering, but those in the know mentioned some intriguing ones in talkback following the article at Newsarama. There are worth scanning through if you are the slightest bit interested in checking out Humanoids soon to be available in the US offerings.

Batman, Superman, and GIANT ROBOTS!!!

DC Comics has provided Newsarama with a three-page preview of next month’s Superman/Batman #7, featuring art by Pat Lee. Confirming what was a suspicion for fans of Lee’s work, yes, it’s got a giant robot or two.

Late last year, in an interview with Newsarama, Lee explained the genesis of the deal that got him over to the issue, which features a story with Superboy and Robin:

Steel Baron, Lord of the Robots commands you go to Newsarama and read about his giant kin

Pretty quick article, nothing startlingly new mentioned. Check out that giant robot though. That be some nice robot there. Perhaps, if we are lucky, we will be treated to some robot dancing. Robot dancing? Bear is driving, how can that be? (Ask your friendly neighborhood Kevin Smith fan, all will be explained).

Ellis Clears Up The Confusion

In his latest Bad Signal mailing list missive, Warren Ellis took the opportunity to clear the air in regards to his upcoming projects, as well as address some rumors about both his work and his collaborators.

In regards to Planetary, Ellis explained that issues #19 and #20 constitute the the first two-part story of the series. Issue #21 is, according to the writer, the “90s Weird Science And Drugs issue…All these are written. The one I’m working on right now is #22, which I typoed as #21 when I made the call for research. #22 should be finished in a couple of weeks.”

Celebrate at least 3 more issues of Planetary at Newsarama

Yeah for more Planetary!. Oh…I am sure it is great news about all those other titles too.

Hostess Needs Your Superheroes to Protect Their Pies

DC Comics, Cartoon Network and Kids WB! have partnered with Hostess to offer kids the opportunity to create their own Super Hero.

This January and February, kids can go online to www.createyourownsuperhero.com to electronically create their own Super Hero and enter the “Create Your Own Super Hero Sweepstakes” for the chance to appear with their Super Hero in a comic strip created by DC Comics.

As part of the grand prize the prizewinner plus one parent/family member or friend will win a trip to New York City for a tour of DC Comics. The consumer does not have to create a Super Hero to enter the sweepstakes.

Submit to the pie at Newsara,a

First off, special thanks to Paul Sebert for being the first person to bring this rockin’ contest to my attention. Creating your own superhero and having that character be featured in a pie ad? Man, one of those on its own is grand. Superheroes and pie together though is magnificent.

Fun fact about the pie in the wax paper envelope genre of food stuffs. Back in my high school days, I was a part of a program that took us off campus once a month or so to a college whose cafeteria sold the aforementioned pie in a wax envelope. As it turns out, your typical pie in wax envelope runs you something like fifty percent of your daily allowance of calories and seventy-five percent of your fat calories. I think, in my estimation, it is the most dangerous food on this earth. But if any food is worth all the badness, it is pie, God’s most perfect dessert (except for pumpkin pie…ugh).


So I asked you folks what was the most disappointing wrap up to a title or arc was and I received so many similar responses that I am going to let this one letter summarize for you:

This is an obvious rhetorical question you know you want everyone to say Batman the “hush” story arc.


Honestly, it wasn’t. I really expected at least a few different responses. I guess Hush is still fresh in everyone’s mind so that was what the respondents naturally gravitated to. I maintain that Riddler as the big bad (but not Hush) was pretty neat-o. Anyway, if anyone else has any different feeling on the question, feel free to write in, I will still publish unique and entertaining responses.


New Year’s Resolution Time:
What is the one title this year that you are going to give the old college try?

Well that is all for tonight folks. See you Saturday for all new News and my View on “decompressed storytelling”. You’ll love it. So says Un Gajje.